Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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23 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, the “burkini affair” is yet another example of the country’s “compulsive obsession with the behaviour and dress of its Muslim citizens,” meanwhile in India, a 65-year-old man with disabilities was allegedly beaten to death over suspicion of being a Muslim, with the alleged attacker having ties to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and in the United Kingdom, the government has allocated £24.5 million ($30.57m) for mosques and “associated faith community centers” to protect their facilities from hate crimes. Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye on British author and political commentator Douglas Murray, and how his “most striking achievement is to have domesticated Renaud Camus’ Great Replacement theory.” This and more below:


23 May 2022

Douglas Murray and the mainstreaming of the 'Great Replacement' theory | Recommended Read

In this article I am not going to review Douglas Murray’s new book. Instead I will ask what his stellar success tells us about public culture in Britain and the United States. The New York Times ominously notes that the great replacement theory was “once associated with the far-right fringe, but has become increasingly mainstream, pushed by politicians and popular television programmes.” It’s not just in the United States where the great replacement has become mainstream. Indeed the term was invented in France as “le grand remplacement” by a writer called Renaud Camus in a book of the same name published in 2011. Camus - no relation of the Algerian-born French existentialist Albert - has admirers in Britain. Murray devoted a section of his best-selling The Strange Death of Europe, published in 2017, to the subject. “Any trip to thousands of locations across Europe can spark the fear of what the French writer and philosopher Renaud Camus has characterised as 'Le Grand Remplacement'." Murray then goes on to point to places, including in Britain, where what he calls “population replacement” is happening. Murray stops short of endorsing Renaud Camus. But he certainly echoes many of his themes. In The Strange Death of Europe, Murray warns that “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide.” In a thoughtful essay, Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King's College, London, called Murray’s book “essentially an intellectual version of the 'great replacement' conspiracy theory advocated by white nationalists here and the US - that liberal elites are plotting the demographic transformation of western societies.” One of Murray’s biggest targets is Islam. In 2006, he told the Dutch parliament that, "Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition.” He also said: "All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop." The inexorable rise of Douglas Murray tells us a great deal about public discourse in Britain. Twenty years ago he would be on the far right fringes. Now a man whose most striking achievement is to have domesticated Renaud Camus’ Great Replacement theory has become one of our most notable “public intellectuals”. read the complete article

23 May 2022

'Great replacement' conspiracy unified white supremacists long before Buffalo, N.Y., shooting

Whether it goes by the "great replacement" or another name, the conspiracy theory embraced by the accused Buffalo, N.Y., gunman has inspired several mass shootings in recent years — in Canada and around the world. The manifesto text, which was posted online, refers to the "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which promotes fears that Europeans are being replaced through so-called "white genocide." It also explicitly states the intention of the planned attack was "to show the replacers that as long as the White man lives, our land will never be theirs and they will never be safe from us." "The great replacement conspiracy theory is kind of like the primordial DNA of racist conspiracy theory," said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. In essence, the conspiracy — which is not true — suggests there is an orchestrated plot to bring in more non-white immigrants to replace white "European" people in Western countries. "They say this is actually a concerted effort by shadowy elites — in some cases it's the Muslim Brotherhood and in other cases, usually, they blame the Jews — [who] are controlling the media and the government so as to purposefully lower white birth rates," Balgord said of the conspiracy's proponents. The term great replacement was originally coined by French white nationalist Renaud Camus. Balgord, who said the idea has picked up steam in the last decade, is quick to list off recent mass murders rooted in the ideology: the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, which left six dead; the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which left 11 dead; and the 2019 mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51 dead. "All sorts of communities are targeted by this," he said. What makes the conspiracy theory such a catalyzing force for violence is the sense of urgency and the fear that white or "European" culture is under threat, according to Balgord. He said in online forums and sites like 4chan, the language around this idea of a "great replacement" is often violent. "They convince people that there's an apocalyptic situation, that you and your children — they're trying to replace you," he said. "That's scary for somebody who believes that." The false sense of imminent threat makes the conspiracy particularly dangerous, said Amarnath Amarasingam, assistant professor in the school of religion at Queen's University in Kingston and a senior fellow with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation. "The thing with some of these ideas is they kind of push general fear into a kind of emergency situation," he said. read the complete article

23 May 2022

UN rights chief begins landmark China trip from Monday

After years of requesting "meaningful and unfettered" access to far-western Xinjiang, Michelle Bachelet will finally stage a six-day mission to China starting Monday, her office said. The visit, at the invitation of Beijing, has been widely anticipated and marks the first trip to China by a UN rights chief since Louise Arbour went there in 2005. Bachelet herself has been demanding access to all regions of China since she took office in 2018. She has repeatedly voiced concern about allegations of widespread abuses in Xinjiang but has been criticised for not taking a strong enough stance. The visit comes as rights groups pile pressure on her office to release a long-postponed report on the situation in the region. Beijing has waged a years-long crackdown in the province in the name of stamping out terrorism and developing one of its poorest regions. read the complete article


23 May 2022

Fresh burkini debate reveals France's toxic post-election climate

‘Clothes maketh the man,’ says the English adage, but it is women’s garb that continues to obsess French politicians — and not for any sartorial reasons. The mayor of Grenoble wants swimmers to dress how they wish to in the swimming pools of his city, whether that means going topless or in full-body swimsuit. But many of his compatriots disagree with him, crying that the ‘burkini’ — a portmanteau with snide connotations of ‘burqa’ — should be banned. A few weeks after President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election, the atmosphere in the country has returned to its everyday toxicity and trivialities. The latest has been a debate in Grenoble, after the town council voted to allow the loosening of previous controversial rules on swimwear in open-air swimming pools. Bathers can now dress how they like in pools, wearing full-body swimsuits — or going topless. The French interior minister, a conservative, said the move was an “unacceptable provocation” that was against the values of the secular Republic. He announced he would try to block it. Many secular French feminists and even more politicians back the burkini ban, arguing that Muslim women should not be the subject of "male religious diktats". They refuse to consider that this might be a choice by the women themselves, and that a ban would unfairly forbid them from using public pools. It is curious that a woman exposing her breasts should be seen as a triumph for feminism by such persons, but another choosing to cover her legs is not. read the complete article

23 May 2022

OPINION: If France is to belong in a multicultural world it must accept its Muslim women

France’s compulsive obsession with the behaviour and dress of its Muslim citizens has taken on worrying proportions, and has turned over the years into a form of mass hysteria. The “burkini affair” is one of many examples. The controversy escalated in 2016, when the French Council of State – France’s highest administrative court – overturned a series of local initiatives to ban the use of burkinis on public beaches. These bans were implemented in an atmosphere of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment by local officials who argued that such attire disturbed the public order. The Council saw no such disturbance and argued that it was an infringement on constitutionally protected civil liberties. This, however, did not end the controversy. A recent controversy involved the Green Party Mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, who authorized the wearing of the burkini (as well as topless swimsuits) in municipal swimming pools, triggering an avalanche of criticism. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin accused Mr Piolle of entertaining “communitarian provocation” and that authorizing the wearing of the burkini in public swimming pools was contrary to France’s values. Once again, French Muslim women found themselves stigmatised and targeted. They were accused of being a conduit for Islamist extremism, separatism, patriarchy, and violating the principle of laïcité. This discourse, like so much before it, happened without inviting Muslim women themselves to be a part of the conversation. Modern interpretations of Laïcité – France’s unique way of managing church-state relations – have become an ideological tool for political identity, a factor of division, and the exclusion of French Muslims from the societies in which they live. How did we get here? A significant misinterpretation of the 1905 law persists to this day. The law does not require religious belief or visible signs thereof to be kept in the home. However, politicians and pundits on a daily basis cite the law in their efforts to erase any religious visibility (especially Islam) in the public square. read the complete article


23 May 2022

Man Killed on Suspicion of Being Muslim; BJP Confirms Accused Is Party Worker

After a man with disabilities, identified as 65-year-old Bhanwarlal Jain, died due to being allegedly beaten up over suspicion of being a Muslim, in Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district, Congress leaders claimed that the accused in the case has links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The incident had come to light after a video surfaced, where a man is seen asking Jain, "Tera naam Mohammed hai?... Aadhaar card dikha" (Is your name Mohammed? Show me your Aadhaar card). The incident is said to have occurred within limits of the Manasa police station in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch. The Congress has claimed that the accused, identified as one Dinesh Kushwah, has links with the ruling BJP in the state. Speaking to The Quint, BJP's Neemuch district president Pawan Patidar confirmed the claims, "Dinesh Kushwah is a normal party worker. His wife is a local BJP leader. Dinesh was not an office bearer of the party. I do not have much information about the incident as of now. We are trying to gather more details." read the complete article

23 May 2022

Hindu women press for access to Indian mosque, in latest dispute

A court case started by five Hindu women in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political constituency has become the latest battleground in India between the Hindu majority and minority Muslims over access to historically contested religious sites. The women, backed by an influential hardline Hindu group linked to Modi's party, said they were determined to secure the legal right for Hindus to pray daily to the idol of a goddess and relics that they say are inside a prominent mosque in Varanasi. Varanasi is one of Hinduism's holiest cities, and it is also where the Gyanvapi mosque is located - a common phenomenon across India after the Mughal conquest of the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Disputes between religious communities over such sites have flared up ever since independence in 1947, but they have become more common in recent years. Muslims make up around 13% of India's 1.35 billion people. Members of hardline Hindu groups tied to Modi's party believe that Islamic invaders destroyed Hindu temples during their 200-year rule. "We believe that idols of Hindu gods were lying inside the mosque built after a temple was destroyed by Muslim rulers to prove supremacy," said Ranjana Agnihotri, a lawyer appearing on behalf of Hindu groups questioning the legitimacy of the Shahi Eidgah mosque in Mathura. Surveyors involved in the Varanasi case said they found a large relic of the Hindu god Shiva inside the Gyanvapi mosque, but Muslim groups said that a fountainhead was being misrepresented to stir religious tension. Reports of idols found inside the mosque have further emboldened Hindu groups in western and southern states to demand searches in other mosques. read the complete article


23 May 2022

Understanding China's brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims through two nonfiction books

It's estimated that more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims have been detained in camps in China, where they may be subjected to forced labor, sexual violence, torture, and religious restrictions. Today, we explore two nonfiction books that help understand the crisis. First, Geoffrey Cain speaks to Scott Tong on Here and Now about his book The Perfect Police State, an overview of the surveillance technology China is employing to monitor Uyghurs. Then, Nury Turkel speaks to Ayesha Roscoe on Weekend Edition Sunday about his book No Escape, an investigation into these torture camps and the life of Uyghur refugees. read the complete article

23 May 2022

In a remote Chinese region, thousands are coerced to work

Far out in China's western region of Xinjiang, authorities have imprisoned thousands of people from the Uyghur ethnic minority without legal justification. They've also coerced thousands of Uyghurs into state or factory jobs. China says it's trying to combat terrorism in the region and promote economic growth. And countries, including the U.S., buy millions of dollars' worth of goods exported from Xinjiang every year. But a new report from C4ADS, a nonprofit data analysis group based in Washington, says those goods could be made with forced labor. And joining us to explain more is Irina Bukharin. She's the lead analyst on this report. Irina, welcome. BUKHARIN: Yes. The important context here is that the Chinese government is interpreting the distinct identity, religion and culture of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang, who are predominantly Muslim, as both a national security threat and as a cultural threat to Chinese unity. And as such, they've been imprisoning Uyghurs and forcing them into coercive labor conditions, uprooting them from their communities, sending them to work in fields and factories hundreds of miles from their families. China has closed off access to Xinjiang, and that makes it harder to prove whether forced labor is happening by talking to people directly. But the Uyghur diaspora has provided overwhelming evidence, through sharing their own experiences and those of relatives and community members, that forced labor is taking place at a systemic level in Xinjiang. read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 May 2022

UK govt opens £24.5m fund for mosque protection against hate crimes

The UK government has allocated £24.5 million ($30.57m) for mosques and “associated faith community centres” to protect their facilities from hate crimes, Security Minister Damian Hinds announced on Thursday. According to police figures, 45% of religious hate crimes recorded in England and Wales between 2020-2021 were targeted against Muslims. "It is a fundamental right to be able to practise your faith in your community," Hinds said in a statement. "This new round of funding will cover the costs of security measures for places of worship to deter and prevent hate-crime attacks on vulnerable communities, making our streets safer.” Under the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, mosques will also be able to apply for resources to pay for security guards. “The provision of a guarding service will only be available at Muslim places of worship. Interested Muslim communities will be able to apply for both guarding services and physical security measures, such as CCTV and fencing," the Home Office said in a statement. UK muslim groups have long urged the government to take action on Islamophobia, while also highlighting the perceived normalisation of anti-Muslim sentiment among politicians and public figures. read the complete article

United States

23 May 2022

The alleged Buffalo shooter was also inspired by Islamophobia. That’s telling

The alleged shooter’s motivations were not only anti-Black racism. He uploaded a 180-page document shortly before carrying out his attack, and even a quick perusal will show the disgusting antisemitism that he also wallows in. The main frames of analysis for this attack, in other words, have been thoroughly American. Seen through the domestic American lens, this attack looks very much like a toxic mix of America’s anti-Black racism with a virulent strain of American antisemitism. There’s no doubt that this is true, but it’s not the entire story. Almost completely absent from the discussion is Islamophobia, and how this kind of extreme rightwing violence is in significant part a byproduct of the war on terror and the Islamophobia it spawned. Consider how the Buffalo shooter acknowledges, in his document, that the person who radicalized him the most was none other than the man who, in 2019, live-streamed himself shooting and killing 51 worshipers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In fact, the title of the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto (“You wait for a signal while your people wait for you”) is a line written in the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto, which itself was titled The Great Replacement. Moreover, the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto lifts many lines verbatim or nearly so from the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto, a move that is quite typical of the genre. By placing them side-by-side, what’s both amazing and completely unsurprising to see is how easy it is to replace Muslim with Black in the logic of the far right, grimly ironic for an ideology that is so violently dead-set against “replacement”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 May 2022 Edition


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