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.

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24 May 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, the Parliament House in Canberra will host a screening of the BBC documentary that explores Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, on the same day that PM Modi is set to meet his Australian counterpart, meanwhile in the UK, a Lancashire cinema chain said it won’t be showing the controversial Indian movie, ‘The Kerala Story’, which has been criticized for depicting Muslims as terrorists, and in the US, a new report from CAIR finds that the number of reported anti-Muslim discrimination cases in New Jersey increased sharply from 2021 to 2022. Our recommended read of the day is by TRT World on a new report from the Austrian Documentation and Counseling Center for Muslims, which found that over 1,300 anti-Muslim attacks took place in 2022. This and more below:


Austria saw over 1,300 anti-Muslim attacks in 2022 | Recommended Read

Austria has seen 1,324 incidents of anti-Muslim racism last year, according to a report. The 2022 Report on Anti-Muslim Racism released by the Austrian Documentation and Counseling Center for Muslims found that a majority of the attacks took place on digital platforms. The report said 15.2 percent of those subjected to anti-Muslim racism, verbal and physical attacks were men while well over double that, 40.2 percent, were women. The figures also showed that of the online attacks, 92 percent were hate speech against Islam and Muslims, while 5 percent were incitement. While 81.6 percent of the attacks were carried out on online platforms, 38.9 percent of them happened in various areas of social life in Austria, where some 700,000 Muslims live. Speaking to Anadolu, Selime Ture of the documentation and counseling center said that anti-Muslim racism is becoming "normal" in the Austria. She said some "so-called academic studies" by biased institutions play a key role in this rising trend. read the complete article


What’s Happening to India’s Rohingya Refugees?

The Rohingya people have suffered decades of persecution in Myanmar, most recently in 2017 when the country’s security forces launched a major crackdown on the minority group—causing more than a million Rohingya to flee the country. While the vast majority of Rohingya sought refuge in neighboring Bangladesh, India has been home to tens of thousands Rohingya refugees. A new report by The Azadi Project and Refugees International—A Shadow of Refuge: Rohingya Refugees in India—sheds light on the plight of Rohingya in India, drawing from field visits in Delhi and Hyderabad. The authors of this new report are Daniel Sullivan and Priyali Sur and they join Milan on the show this week to talk more about their report. The trio discuss the absence of an Indian law on refugees and asylum seekers, the Rohingya’s living conditions in India, and the shrinking number of vocal advocates for their cause. Plus, the three discuss the foreign policy implications of the refugees and what role the United States might play. read the complete article

‘The Kerala Story’ is a box office hit in India. It also vilifies Muslims, critics say

This is the original teaser for Indian filmmaker Sudipto Sen’s controversial new movie, “The Kerala Story,” the latest box office hit in India despite fears it is deepening religious tensions between majority Hindus and Muslims in the nation of 1.4 billion. The low-budget, scripted film has taken $24 million since its release just over two weeks ago, according to Box Office India, a worrying sign according to Debasish Roy Chowdhury, co-author of “To Kill A Democracy: India’s Passage to Despotism.” Movies like these are “custom-made to spread hate, trigger Islamophobia and justify violence against Muslims,” he said. According to the filmmakers, these women were pawns in a “dangerous conspiracy” hatched against India that has seen tens of thousands of Indian women follow the same path. But critics were quick to point out that simply wasn’t true – and there was no evidence to support such a claim. Last week, India’s Supreme Court ordered the filmmakers to add a disclaimer that says the film is a fictionalized version of events, and that there is no data to back its claims of broader conspiracy to radicalize Indian women. Kerala’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, has called the story “fake,” and others say the film perpetuates negative stereotypes of Muslims at a time of increasing religious polarization. Several BJP politicians have praised the film for drawing the nation’s attention to “love jihad” – a term used by radical Hindu groups who accuse Muslim men of attempting to convert women of other faiths to Islam. Some BJP-run states have introduced anti-conversion laws targeting “love jihad,” making it increasingly difficult for inter-faith couples to marry or for people to convert religions – a move lambasted by rights group for being unconstitutional and Islamophobic. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Indian film branded ‘anti-Muslim’ won’t be shown in local cinemas

A Lancashire cinema chain said it won’t be showing a controversial Indian movie. ‘The Kerala Story’ has been criticised for depicting Muslims as terrorists and opened in the UK on Friday 19 May. On a promotional poster among the list of cinemas said to be showing the movie were the REEL Cinemas in Blackburn and Burnley. However, REEL cinemas confirmed it had no plans to show the movie. The film has been criticised for being ‘anti-Muslim’ and for propagating stereotypes. It is said to falsely claim that thousands of women from the Indian state of Kerala have been converted to Islam and recruited into ISIS over the past decade. The true figure according to independent human rights groups was said to be around 200. There have been concerns over the plot and content which has been described as ‘right-wing’ Indian propaganda. Some parts of India have banned the film whilst others have attempted to promote it. The film has also found support among some Indian politicians but others have said it was not based on true events and could cause communal clashes. read the complete article

Stoking the Flames

Far right engagement on migration is increasing as the Government’s ‘Stop the boats’ campaign ramps up. HOPE not hate found a 149% increase in messages on anti-migrant far-right channels on Telegram from 2021 to the first months of 2023. Far right activity online spikes around key Government announcements. In an example from May 2022, an announcement by Boris Johnson that 50 asylum seekers had been told they would be sent to Rwanda led to a 72% increase in messages about migration in far-right groups on Telegram. Far-right engagement on migration increases when media coverage increases. Articles in The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The Sun and local media are shared in far-right anti-migrant discussions on Telegram, often alongside extreme racist language. read the complete article


France's 'authoritarian' minister of interior warns US of 'Sunni Islamist terrorism'

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has warned of a "resumption" of the terrorist threat in Europe during a visit to the US last Friday in a bid to prompt the US government to “strengthen Franco-American counterterrorism cooperation” prior to the Paris Olympics in 2024. Darmanin, who has been described as "authoritarian" in his approach to law and order, said: "We have come to remind them [America] that for Europeans and for France the primary risk is Sunni Islamist terrorism and that anti-terrorist collaboration between intelligence services is absolutely essential." The French minister met with US law enforcement officials and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. He criticised what he called the US's "national vision" of security threats and its focus on white supremacism and conspiracy theorists, imploring the US to "not forget what appears to us be the primary threat … Sunni terrorism". Without citing any specific threat, Darmanin highlighted what he called the "exogenous threat" to France and Europe from Islamic terrorism. Darmanin's remarks are likely to alarm France’s large Muslim population, which is overwhelmingly Sunni. The government of French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of deliberately fostering Islamophobia and persecuting Muslims in the name of secularism and counterterrorism. read the complete article

Australia’s Parliament House Will Be Venue for Screening of BBC Documentary on Gujarat Riots

On the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks with his Australian counterpart, the Parliament House in Canberra will witness a special screening of the BBC documentary that explores his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to hold substantial talks with Prime Minister Albanese. That same evening, the Parliament House in Canberra will be the venue for a screening of the BBC documentary. The screening is organised by a group of lawmakers and human rights activists. After the 40-minute documentary is screened, there will be a panel discussion, which will include Australian Greens senator Jordan Steele-John, Aakashi Bhatt, daughter of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, and Aakar Patel, former head of Amnesty India. A report by Australia’s SBS News on the forthcoming event quoted Greens senator David Shoebridge as criticising the de-facto ban on the documentary in New Delhi. “We’ve made it very clear that Australia has and should have a strong friendship with India, but that friendship should be a friendship of truth,” he said. read the complete article

United States

Anti-Muslim discrimination in NJ appears to be on the rise, advocates warn

The number of reported anti-Muslim discrimination incidents around New Jersey increased sharply from 2021 to 2022, according to a new report from CAIR-NJ. Dina Sayedahmed, communications manager for the organization, discusses the report and what her group hopes state policymakers will take away from it. “We’ve seen some cases within law enforcement, FBI; we’ve seen cases with schools which tripled from the year before … it’s a mix of verbal assaults, physical assaults, stopping students or employees from practicing their religious faith,” said Sayedahmed, who added the hope is that policymakers “speak with Muslims, that they have Muslims on their councils, for example … to get an idea of what it is that Muslims in New Jersey need and what they’re experiencing for ordinary citizens.” read the complete article

South Korea

Muslims in South Korea want to build a mosque. Neighbors protest and send pig heads

On the right side of a narrow alleyway, a new mosque is under construction. On the left stands a tall display fridge with three pig heads inside, a resounding statement of opposition to the project. The otherwise quiet alley in the city of Daegu is the front line of a three-year-long dispute between Muslim students of Kyungpook National University and residents in the neighborhood just outside the campus. These tensions are proving to be a test of the nation's tolerance of increasing diversity, at a time when South Korea's leaders are looking to immigration to bolster the country's aging and shrinking workforce. "Islamophobic pamphlets were distributed throughout the area, and rallies targeting our religion, Islam, were held," said Muaz Razaq, a Ph.D. student from Pakistan who is the media representative for the KNU Muslim community. In a video Razaq shot last year, one placard near the building site said, in English, "Muslims who kill people brutally and behead them, get out of this area right now." Another said, in Korean, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim." Last October, a severed pig head appeared in front of the site for the first time. Razaq says he believes a neighbor of the site put it there. "That was a very disappointing moment for our whole community," he tells NPR. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 May 2023 Edition


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