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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25 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, just days after the city of Grenoble voted to allow swimmers to wear the full-cover swimsuit, the far-right mayor of Fréjus announced that he had decided to outlaw it, meanwhile in India, MP Asaduddin Owaisi writes that “Hindutva ideologues have openly embraced a vision of India that is rooted in anti-Muslimness; indeed, Hindutva has little else to offer in terms of a national vision besides a visceral hatred of Muslims,” and in the United Kingdom, a new survey finds that “75% of women of colour say they experience racism at work, 27% say they suffered racial slurs, and more than 61% have to change themselves to fit in – with Muslim women significantly more likely to do so.” Our recommended read of the day is by Anna Piela for Religion & Politics on how policies aimed at either enforcing the burka or banning it “flow from the same root idea: paternalism towards women.” This and more below:


25 May 2022

Burka Enforcement and Burka Bans: Where Extremist Policies Meet | Recommended Read

On May 7, the Taliban introduced a new law that makes wearing of the burka, a traditional garment that covers the entire body with just a grille for the eyes, compulsory for women in Afghanistan. The new law follows the shuttering of secondary schools for girls in March. These actions demonstrate that the Taliban’s promises to honor women’s rights when they seized power in August 2021 were empty. As fears about the dire future of Afghanistan turn into reality, the burka is poised, once again, to be a symbol of the Taliban’s brutality. For Muslim women in the West who freely choose to wear the burka or the niqab for religious reasons, the renewed focus on their clothing in the news does not bode well. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed double standards that continue to shape Western policies. In 2020, some European countries instituted mask mandates in which everyone was unidentifiable in public. Concerns about security, often cited as reasons for burka bans, were laid aside without consequence. People developed new communication skills specifically for mask-wearing context. Yet, the niqab, a face covering worn by some Muslim women for religious reasons, has been outlawed in seven European countries between 2010 and 2021: France, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland. Often incorrectly referred to as the “burka” in the media, the niqab has been portrayed as incompatible with “national values” and as a security risk. The pandemic mask-wearing demonstrated clearly that it is not the fact of face covering per se that troubles the European countries, but it is the Muslim face covering that is seen as the issue. The notion of banning traditional Muslim clothing is not new. Restrictions placed on Muslim women’s clothing have long been central to nation-making. In 1936, the Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi banned the hijab (the headscarf) as part of the “modernization” of the country. Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Afghanistan’s King Amanullah never officially banned the hijab, but strongly discouraged its use in the 1920s and 1930s. These enforced regulations of Muslim women’s clothing were more than publicity stunts designed by authoritarian rulers to impress Western allies. While supported by some middle-class women, they exposed religious women who continued to cover to social ostracism, police brutality, and financial loss. This coupling of state politics and women’s dress enforcement is by no means limited to the Middle East. The focus on banning the hijab played a key part in legitimizing the British colonial presence in Egypt and the French presence in Algeria. The goal to free Afghan women from the Taliban regime by sending white men to “save the brown women from brown men,” a phrase coined by postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakraborti Spivak, was symbolized by the removal of the burka in the name of women’s rights. This disingenuous mission was communicated by Laura Bush in her famous radio address when she said that the “fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” read the complete article

25 May 2022

Boat carrying Rohingya fleeing Myanmar capsizes, killing 16

At least 16 people from Myanmar’s Rohingya minority have died after a storm capsized the boat they were traveling on to seek refuge in another country, officials and a recovery team member said Tuesday. There were 35 survivors of Saturday's accident that took place Saturday off Myanmar’s southwestern coast and four people were missing, the officials said. UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, expressed shock and sadness about the accident in a statement and said at least 17 Rohingya, including children, had died. The boat left the western state of Rakhine last Thursday and encountered bad weather two days later off Ayeyarwaddy Region on Myanmar’s southwestern coast, causing it to capsize, the statement said. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority, have long been persecuted in Myanmar. More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled the country to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape the brutal counterinsurgency campaign of Myanmar’s military following an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group in Rakhine State. read the complete article


25 May 2022

Gyanvapi case: Hindutva group files plea seeking to ban Muslims from mosque complex

A Hindutva organisation has filed a petition before a civil judge in Varanasi seeking to ban Muslims from entering the Gyanvapi mosque complex, NDTV reported on Wednesday. The organisation has also demanded that Hindus should be allowed to worship a shivling – a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva – that was allegedly found at the site during a video survey. The plea has been filed by Kiran Singh, international general secretary of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh, before Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar, the Hindustan Times reported. The judge is slated to hear the plea on Wednesday. On May 20, a suit filed by Hindu plaintiffs seeking to offer prayers at the back of the western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque was transferred from Diwakar’s court to Varanasi district court by the Supreme Court citing the complexity of the matter. The plaintiffs have claimed that an image of the Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the site. The Supreme Court had also directed the district judge to decide on priority an application filed by the Gyanvapi mosque committee on the maintainability of the suit filed by the Hindu petitioners. read the complete article

25 May 2022

Imagine a World Without the Taj Mahal

Muslims in India can’t seem to catch a break. Every week there is a new assault on their faith, their culture, their heritage, their property, and even on their person. In the past few weeks alone Muslim women in Karnataka have suffered a hijab ban. In northern India, the police have used bulldozers to demolish their homes without due process. Muslims continued to be lynched by Hindu mobs; in the most recent such instance in Ajmer, a famous Sufi destination, a Muslim vendor was beaten to death. The burgeoning culture war against Muslims includes an elaborate multi-issue assault on the Islamic heritage of India. Hindu right-wing groups are now demanding that the Qutub Minar’s name be changed to Vishnu Stambh (Vishnu Pillar). There is already an ongoing campaign to designate the Taj Mahal as a Hindu temple and rename it as Tejo Mahalaya, an idea which is now being pursued more aggressively. The playbook and the players that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and beginning of construction of a Ram temple in its place are at it again. This time the targets are Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and Shahi Eidgah (royal place of Eid worship) in Mathura. For nearly a hundred years, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist movement, has been striving to redefine India as a Hindu state. With the successive electoral victories of its political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 2014 and 2019, RSS has exercised political sway over India for a while now. One can see the manifestations of its ideological endeavors in the policies of BJP governments. read the complete article

25 May 2022

The War on Muslims

Prime Minister Narendra Modi identifies himself as a Hindu nationalist. The Hindutva ideology of his political party—and that of its parent organisation, the paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—is expressly inspired by the Nazi and fascist movements of Europe. Hindutva ideologues had openly embraced a vision of India that is rooted in anti-Muslimness; indeed, Hindutva has little else to offer in terms of a national vision besides a visceral hatred of Muslims. During eight years of Modi’s Prime Ministership, Muslims have been subject to constant efforts to deprive them of equal citizenship. These include the unconstitutional repeal of the special status enjoyed by the Muslim-majority region of Jammu & Kashmir, the enactment of a citizenship law that excludes Muslims, and efforts to create a National Register of Citizens. The Hindutva movement has long undertaken a ‘division of labour’ between its political and ‘cultural’ parts. While the political organs have used state machinery to target Muslims, its ‘cultural’ wings have committed barbaric violence. Earlier this year, in various parts of India, Hindutva groups organised processions where armed men danced to anti-Muslim music. The mobs desecrated masjids and dargahs and attacked homes as the processions passed through Muslim neighbourhoods. BJP-led state governments revictimized Muslims further by arresting hundreds and illegally demolishing their homes and businesses. No action was taken against those who organised these processions or those who inflicted violence on Muslims. Rather than recognising India’s layered and diverse history, Hindutva ideologues insist that India was a continuous Hindu civilization with a single identity. It is based on the casteist idea that religious identity is not a matter of personal choice, but of birth. The sinister implication is that Muslims are somehow inauthentic Indians, and they can be full citizens only if they were to ‘acknowledge’ their ‘Hindu past’. read the complete article


25 May 2022

Thousands of detained Uyghurs pictured in leaked Xinjiang police files

A new trove of hacked Chinese police photographs and documents shedding light on the human toll of Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang has been published as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, visits cities in the region. The data trove – referred to as the Xinjiang police files and published by a consortium of media including the BBC – dates back to 2018 and was passed on by hackers to Dr Adrian Zenz, a US-based scholar and activist, who shared it with international media earlier this year. It includes thousands of photographs of detained people and details a shoot-to-kill policy for people who try to escape. The ruling Communist party is accused of detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and politicians in other western countries have labelled a “genocide”. In addition to mass detentions, researchers and campaigners accuse Chinese authorities of waging a campaign of forced labour, coerced sterilisation and the destruction of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang. In a separate academic paper published on Tuesday, Zenz wrote that the newly leaked files explained how political paranoia that promoted exaggerated threat perceptions had led to the pre-emptive internment of large numbers of ordinary citizens. read the complete article

25 May 2022

UN rights chief visits China as leaked files show abuse of Uyghur Muslims

China faced new accusations Tuesday that it was sanctioning abuses of Uyghurs at the "highest levels", as a vast document leak came out during a controversial visit by the UN rights chief. The ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang as part of a years-long crackdown the United States and lawmakers in other Western countries have labelled a "genocide". China vehemently denies the allegations, calling them the "lie of the century". Michelle Bachelet is expected to visit the Xinjiang cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a six-day tour. She met Foreign Minister Wang Yi who "expressed the hope that this trip would help enhance understanding", according to a readout of the meeting released late Monday. In its report of the meeting, state news agency Xinhua said Bachelet "congratulated China on its important achievements in economic and social development and in promoting the protection of human rights". The United States reiterated its view that Bachelet's visit was a mistake after the release of thousands of leaked documents and photographs from inside the system of mass incarceration. read the complete article

United States

25 May 2022

CAIR Expresses Deep Concern After FBI Appoints ‘Alumna’ of Anti-Muslim Hate Group to Serve as New Intelligence Director

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed deep concern about the selection of Tonya Ugoretz to lead the FBI Directorate of Intelligence due to her past work with an anti-Muslim hate group and far-right extremist Daniel Pipes. Last week, Ugoretz announced that she had been appointed to her new position. In response, Daniel Pipes publicly praised Ugoretz, describing her as an “alumna” of his anti-Islam hate group, the Middle East Forum (MEF). Pipes said that Ugoretz was “managing editor” of his Middle East Quarterly from 1994 to 1997. He also provided an example of a Wall Street Journal article they co-authored. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Pipes “has made a career of attacking Muslims.” In a 1990 article for the National Review, Pipes referred to Muslims as ‘brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene.’” Pipes has also written favorably of the U.S. internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. He was cited numerous times in Anders Breivik’s manifesto detailing the far-right mass murderer’s motivations for his July 2011 attack that resulted in the death of more than 70 Norwegians. In 2012, Pipes advanced the false narrative the former President Obama was raised a Muslim. read the complete article

25 May 2022

Clark: Nazem Kadri has handled racism and Islamophobia with grace — but he shouldn’t have to

Always say the right thing. Even if you want to say something else. Make sure your tone gives people comfort. Never mind how you feel. No one is saying you need to smile the entire time. But don’t show the sort of emotion that can be viewed as negative or threatening. You just need to be the bigger person even when the reason you feel this way is because of small-minded people. People of color know some version of this speech all too well. Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles say these things to prepare us for the inevitable. Not for the day but the days — as in plural — when we are going to be placed on display for simply being different. That talk serves as a roadmap for how to handle the duality that comes with being a person of color. You are made aware that there is a balance you must strike: one between being human and not showing your full humanity. You can never let everyone see the real you because it could be too much for them to handle. Nazem Kadri, who has faced an onslaught of racist attacks after a collision with St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during Game 3 on Saturday, has likely had some version of this talk with his parents. And as a parent, the Colorado Avalanche forward will eventually have this same discussion with his daughter because racism, racists and religious intolerance are generationally unavoidable in our society. We know Kadri will always be on display. What we don’t know is what part of him will be on display. Is it the part of him that is a hockey player? Or will it be the part of him that is a Muslim of Lebanese descent? The collision with Binnington happened because he is a hockey player. The fact Kadri is a Muslim and a person of color who is the son of Lebanese immigrants should not have a damn thing to do with this. But it clearly matters to the racists who threatened him and to those who claim not to be racist but who still find ways to craft those not-so-carefully worded coded statements. Kadri made a point Monday when he spoke to TNT after the Avalanche came away with a 6-3 win in Game 4 against the Blues. He said that he has been dealing with racism for a long time. That he is “getting real good at putting it in the rearview mirror,” while also noting that the hateful messages he received do not reflect every single Blues fan. Everything about what he said encapsulates the POC experience. It is acknowledging how confronting racism is nothing new. How you must learn to develop different ways to work beyond these problems and not let it become too much. Above all, it is about having the nuance to understand how the actions of a few do not represent how the rest of the group feels. So, how is it that a man who continues to be attacked can offer perspective, rationale and reason? Why is he able to separate all the moving parts? Why does he have to be on display to talk about problems like Islamophobia and racism — problems that he did not create just by simply existing? read the complete article


25 May 2022

French Mediterranean resort’s far-right mayor bans burkinis

Three days after the southeastern city of Grenoble voted to allow swimmers to wear the full-cover swimsuit, the mayor of Fréjus – a member of Marine Le Pen’s far right Rassemblement National party – announced that he had decided to outlaw it. “I learned with amazement of the authorisation given by the mayor of Grenoble to authorise the burkini in the swimming pools of its commune,” David Rachline wrote in a press release. In fact, Grenoble updated its rules for municipal swimming pools to allow all bathers to wear any swimsuit – including burkinis – that protected them from the sun. It also permits women to swim topless if they wish and men to wear swim shorts instead of Speedos. No-one seems to have had an issue with the swim shorts or the topless rule, but the addition of the ‘burkini’ to the list of accepted swimwear caused a major stir, with many lining up to condemn the move – including France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who ordered the local Préfet to review the decision, and later announced that he had asked for a legal challenge to the new regulations. Rachline has pre-empted any decision from the government by acting unilaterally, trotting out the familiar refrain from the right that the decision in Grenoble goes against the “fundamental republican principle of secularism”. “The express authorisation of the burkini is neither more nor less than an electoral provocation with a communitarian spring, implemented by the radical left,” he said. “I see a culpable complacency with radical Islamism, for electoral purposes and in defiance of national cohesion. “In order for things to be clearly stated, I have decided, as mayor of Fréjus, guarantor of public hygiene and safety, to modify the corresponding decrees to explicitly specify the ban on the burkini.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 May 2022

75% Of Women Of Colour Experience Racism At Work. Is Anyone Surprised?

An astonishing 75% of women of colour say they experience racism at work, 27% say they suffered racial slurs, and more than 61% have to change themselves to fit in – with Muslim women significantly more likely to do so. The report entitled Broken Ladders, commissioned by gender equality organisation the Fawcett Society and race equality think-tank Runnymede Trust, documented the experiences of 2,000 women of colour in workplaces. It looked at the structural racism faced by women of colour at work and of women from different religions. It found that 50% of women of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage and 48% of women of Black African heritage said they had been criticised for behaviours other colleagues get away with, compared to 29% of white British women. Black women of Caribbean heritage, and women of East Asian and Chinese heritage were the least likely to report ‘often’ or ‘always’ feeling comfortable in their workplace culture, at 43% and 41%, respectively. Muslim women were significantly more likely to make changes to themselves at work than non-religious women or women of other religions. 53% of Muslim women changed the clothes they wear at work ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’, compared to 37% of Christian women and 32% of non-religious women. The data reveals that institutional racism is common across all sectors and in all types of organisations and this leads to a cumulative negative impact on women of colour. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 May 2022 Edition


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