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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26 May 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the southern state of Karnataka has voted out the Hindu nationalist BJP government in a “stinging rebuke” of the party’s divisive agenda, meanwhile in Germany, a mosque in Goettingen received a letter containing anti-Muslim threats with a swastika and other neo-nazi symbols this week, and in the US, a new report by CAIR New Jersey, finds a 46 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the state in 2022 compared to the previous year. Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Walker for the Guardian on an open letter signed by 50 researchers and more than a dozen organizations, urging Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak to avoid narratives on abuse based on “misinformation, racism and division.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

‘Inaccurate’ grooming gang claims putting children at risk, Sunak and Braverman told | Recommended Read

Politicians who make “inaccurate or divisive claims” about child sexual abuse and grooming gangs undermine efforts to tackle the crime and almost certainly make children less safe, organisations and experts in the subject have warned in an unprecedented joint letter. The letter, signed by 50 researchers and more than a dozen organisations, including the NSPCC and Victim Support, urges Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak to avoid narratives on abuse based on “misinformation, racism and division”. It follows much-criticised comments by Braverman, the home secretary, who has repeatedly characterised so-called grooming gangs targeting vulnerable girls as a predominantly British-Pakistani problem, one based on different “cultural values”. The letter, which notes that the Home Office’s own research has contradicted Braverman’s views, calls for an evidence-based response in the light of the government-commissioned independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, or IICSA, rather than one based on “short-term media cycles”. “To this end, we urgently ask all politicians to refrain from making partial, inaccurate or divisive claims about child sexual abuse. Doing so undermines attempts to ensure policymaking is evidence-based, fair and inclusive,” it said. It added: “Whatever the intention behind these partial narratives, children will almost certainly be less safe as a result.” read the complete article

Tameside's first Muslim mayor hopes to use role to 'open doors for many'

A councillor who has become a borough's first Muslim mayor has said she hopes she will "open doors for many". Tafheen Sharif, who has also become the first person from an ethnic minority group to be mayor, was handed Tameside's chains of office on Tuesday. The Labour councillor said her appointment showed the area was "a welcoming and diverse place". Councillor Jacqueline North, who nominated Ms Sharif, said it was a "proud moment" for the borough. The Local Democracy Reporting Service said the new mayor told councillors it was "a real honour and privilege for me to be representing so many people in so many ways as the first citizen of Tameside, a home I have come to love". She said her appointment was "symbolic of Tameside being a welcoming and diverse place where people are judged on their qualities" and she wanted to use her time as mayor to "open doors for many and bring our flourishing communities closer together". read the complete article

United States

Nearly 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey, report finds

There was a 46 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the US state of New Jersey in 2022 compared to the previous year, a new report shows. According to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (Cair) new 52-page report, “Beyond the Courts”, the civil rights organisation received 152 complaints last year. In 2021, the number of complaints was 104. The numbers do not account for every incident of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias in New Jersey, rather they reflect sample data that consists of reports by community members and greater trends overall, the report stated. "While it is true that the tragic events of September 11, 2001, shot Muslims into the international spotlight overnight, structural anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry and the resulting violence have long preceded the events of 9/11." One of the main objectives of the report was to correct the narrative and “dangerous misinformation” campaigns “given the imploding anti-Muslim rhetoric that, ultimately, normalizes anti-Muslim bigotry and violence and makes way for anti-Muslim legislation”. Nearly 22.4 percent of the complaints, the report found, were related to employment. About 18.4 percent were referrals, which constitute community reports for issues that fall outside of Cair-NJ’s scope, such as criminal law, immigration law, divorce and family law, and financial assistance. According to the report, nearly 17.8 percent of the complaints were related to schools, which involved bullying, perceived bias, mistreatment, curriculum issues, and denial of religious accommodations. read the complete article

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Releases First-Ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

That is why, in December, President Biden established the Interagency Policy Committee on Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination, led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and National Security Council. As its first order of business, President Biden tasked this group with producing the first-ever U.S. national strategy to counter antisemitism in the United States. This national strategy sets forth a whole-of-society plan that both meets this moment of escalating hatred and lays the foundation for reducing antisemitism over time. Informed by input from over 1,000 stakeholders from every sector of American society, it outlines over 100 new actions that Executive Branch agencies have committed to take in order to counter antisemitism—all of which will be completed within a year. The strategy also calls on Congress to enact legislation that would help counter antisemitism and urges every sector of society to mobilize against this age-old hatred, including state and local governments, civil society, schools and academic institutions, the tech sector, businesses, and diverse religious communities. read the complete article

The US Continues to Try to Suppress Details About Its Torture Programs

Think of us, the American public, as that blindfolded child when it comes to our government’s torture program that followed the 9/11 disaster and the launching of the ill-fated war on terror. We’ve been left to search in the dark for what so many of us sensed was there. We’ve been groping for the facts surrounding the torture program created and implemented by the administration of President George W. Bush. For 20 years now, the hunt for its perpetrators, the places where they brutalized detainees, and the techniques they used has been underway. And for 20 years, attempts to keep that blindfold in place in the name of “national security” have helped sustain darkness over light. From the beginning, the torture program was enveloped in a language of darkness with its secret “black sites” where savage interrogations took place and the endless blacked-out pages of documents that might have revealed more about the horrors being committed in our name. In addition, the destruction of evidence and the squelching of internal reports only expanded that seemingly bottomless abyss that still, in part, confronts us. Meanwhile, the courts and the justice system consistently supported those who insisted on keeping that blindfold in place, claiming, for example, that were defense attorneys to be given details about the interrogations of their clients, national security would somehow be compromised. Finally, however, more than two decades after it all began, the tide may truly be turning. read the complete article


Karnataka has shattered Modi’s aura of invincibility

India’s political landscape is again alive with new possibilities after the southern state of Karnataka threw the Hindu supremacist Bhartiya Janata Party out of power in recently-held assembly elections and elected the long-struggling Congress Party. The decisive defeat of the BJP in Karnataka means that now, all of southern India is free of BJP rule – dashing the hopes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party to use the state as its gateway to a part of the country it has largely failed to win over. It’s a stinging rebuke for the BJP, which has been saying that it wants to make India free of the Congress. Led by Modi, the BJP had run a campaign that relied heavily on dog whistles and direct references to Muslims, portraying India’s largest religious minority – 200 million strong – as a threat. Modi also used a highly-controversial and Islamophobic movie released strategically when the campaign was on. But this, too, was rejected. The Congress Party’s reassertion of its secular resolve during the campaign is extremely significant, including in its suggestion that it might ban the Bajrang Dal, one of the most militant arms of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu supremacist parent body of the BJP. Muslims and Christians, who have long suffered from the violence of Bajrang Dal, had accepted it as a fait accompli that they would have to live with this violence irrespective of the political party in power. Not any more. The new Congress government in the state has announced that it would reverse the previous BJP administration’s fiat to ban the hijab in educational institutions – a move that has reassured Muslims their cultural rights will be protected and respected. read the complete article

False claims about ‘Muslim population explosion’ busted!

This article is the first of a four-part series of Hate-Busters by CJP. It dives into alarmist claims made by far-right politicians, fact-checks, and presents them to you. Part 1 of the series examines and debunks the contents spoken by Supreme Court Advocate and former BJP Delhi Spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, who has seemingly made alarming claims about Muslim and Hindu population growth in India. The Supreme Court has rebuked the advocate for repeated attempts to ‘target Muslims’ amidst other prejudice-laced legal measures. While these statements may be attributed to Upadhyay, the individual, they are but stray examples of an ecosystem of hate, generated, created, and sustained by money, right wing organisational power all coalescing into bedrock of wider party propaganda. Once generated in a speech, book or an ill-conceived PIL in the Supreme Court of India (remember the SC in earlier times dismissed his efforts with sharp rebukes six times!), they are unstoppable, take on a life off their own outside of the television, internet, and instant messaging applications. Their goal is clear, it is to further entrench hate in society. Claim: Muslim population growing by leaps and bounds, will overtake the Hindu Population. Busted: Various studies show that the Muslim population is stable, fertility falling, and not expected to overtake the Hindu population. Based on current trends and the population data from 1947 onwards, there is a wide gap between the two populations regarding numbers. The Hindu fertility rate is stable, with the Muslim fertility rate declining, according to experts, it is an insult to people’s intelligence to suggest that a 13 % minority can overtake a population of 80 % of a hundred crore! read the complete article


Mosque in Germany receives threatening mail sent by neo-Nazis

A mosque in Germany's central Goettingen city received a letter containing anti-Muslim threats with a Swastika and other neo-Nazi symbols on Thursday. Mehmet Ibrahimbaş, the Chairman of the mosque association, said the letter contained racist and Islamophobic language and had the neo-Nazi alias "NSU 2.0." "Our mosque community and Muslims in Goettingen are worried due to the continued threats of violence," he said, adding that it was the second threatening letter they had received in several months. In September last year, unidentified suspects also painted a swastika on the mosque's wall, run by the Turkish-Muslim umbrella group DITIB. "NSU 2.0" refers to the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terror group uncovered in 2011 that murdered 10 people and carried out bomb attacks targeting immigrants. Germany has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of far-right groups exploiting the refugee crisis and attempting to stoke fear of immigrants. According to the latest data, police registered at least 610 Islamophobic hate crimes in 2022 across the country. Some 62 mosques were attacked between January and December last year, and at least 39 people were injured because of anti-Muslim violence. read the complete article


Why Finland is set for its most right-wing government since the 1930s

For some minorities, particularly Muslims, Finland's April parliamentary election was confirmation that things could get worse before they got better. The success of the radical-right Finns Party (PS), which secured second place with 20.1 percent of the vote after the conservative National Coalition Party's (NCP) 20.8 percent, did little to dispel such concerns. The election results also reinforced the entrenchment of the radical right in the Nordic region, with openly hostile anti-Muslim parties in Sweden and Finland. Traditional left-wing parties, such as the Social Democrats (SDP), have embraced anti-Muslim policies and narratives to win elections, even in Denmark, which held elections in November. The election in Sweden and Finland lay bare how much Nordic welfare state societies have changed in the face of growing social ills like inequality, racism and discrimination. Although Marin's government did not fully address Finland's undocumented migrant situation - estimated at 3,000 people, 300 of whom are children - or significantly roll back all the strict immigration policies implemented by Prime Minister Juha Sipila's government (2015-2019), she will be remembered for refusing to form a coalition with the PS because, in her words, it is "an openly racist party". While the Left Alliance and the Greens, two members of Marin's government, said they would not be part of a coalition with the PS, one of its coalition members, the liberal Swedish People's Party of Finland, is in government talks. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 May 2023 Edition


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