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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05 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Europe, a new survey on diversity, inclusion and respect at EU institutions finds that almost 60 percent of respondents from both categories (people of colour or with disability) say they have observed or experienced discrimination, meanwhile Bridge Associate Director Mobashra Tazamal argues that the recent French elections revealed that when it comes to Islamophobia, there is no differentiation between “mainstream” and “far-right,” and in the United States, writer Samira Ahmed spoke to TIME on how her own experiences of Islamophobia have informed her stories. Our recommended read of the day is by Júlia Belas Trindade for the Guardian on the ban on Muslim women wearing the hijab while playing football in France, and how “this is not just about France, [as] it affects how the world views female Muslim players – professional and amateurs.” This and more below:


05 May 2022

‘It’s brutal’ – how French football’s hijab ban is affecting Muslim women | Recommended Read

The women’s game is built on a foundation of work, sweat and tears all over the world to get us to where we are now – record-breaking audiences, professionalism and steady growth in interest. However, there are still an enormous amount of obstacles to overcome and one of them is the ban on Muslim women wearing the hijab in connection with football in France. This is not just about France, though, it affects how the world views female Muslim players – professional and amateurs. For her, more than hindering the chances of Muslim girls becoming footballers, the decision excludes them from being part of growing the game at every level. “It’s not just playing,” she says of the situation in France. “They cannot coach, they cannot officiate. They are literally excluded from the entire space. It’s brutal. There’s a clear ‘we hate Muslim women’ vibe.” This week, Muslim people celebrated Eid al-Fitr all over the world, a festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. But in France, as Lyon are getting ready for their 10th Women’s Champions League final, the French Football Federation still excludes women from the game because of the ban on “ostentatious” religious symbols (which includes the Jewish kippah). “It is part of a system of white supremacy, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment,” Ahmed says. “To ban Muslim women in headscarves from sport is extremely problematic.” Les Hijabeuses is a French collective fighting against the FFF ban to promote a more inclusive society in France. There has been recent success in the senate and parliament in overturning a recent bill that included an amendment looking to apply it to all sports in France. Now the next step is to get the FFF to change its ruling. read the complete article

05 May 2022

Islamophobia won the French elections

For French Muslims, the results marked an end to a toxic campaign, where candidates made them the centre of the debate, trying to one-up each other in restricting their rights and freedoms. This year’s election left them between a rock and a hard place, given Macron spent the last five years instituting Le Pen’s agenda and criminalising the community. For the past few years, Macron’s government has scapegoated French Muslims to manoeuvre attention away from his own failures at managing the economy, security, education, etc. He’s utilised the “Islamist” and “political Islam” bogeyman to clamp down on Muslim political participation and dissent. He’s weaponised violent events to institute broad policies aimed at collectively punishing the country’s nearly 6 million Muslims. When it comes to anti-Muslim bigotry, there is no accurate manner in which Le Pen can be categorised as far-right and still maintain that Macron is somehow moderate. It was Macron’s very own interior minister who accused Le Pen of being “too soft on Islam.” When it comes to Islamophobia, there is no differentiation between “mainstream” and “far-right.” Would Le Pen have proposed to ban the hijab in all public spaces had Macron not already pushed that leg forward by putting forth an amendment last year that would ban hijab for individuals under 18? Would Le Pen have promised to shut down mosques that contradict “French values” had Macron not already been doing that for the past five years? Macron played an integral role in the rise and popularity of Le Pen; he made her views palatable to the public. When it comes to Islam and Muslims, there is hardly a difference between the promises of Le Pen and the actions of Macron. read the complete article


05 May 2022

Working at EU institutions not easy for ethnic minority staff

EU institutions have failed to create an inclusive culture for Europeans of colour and people with disabilities, according to the European Commission's first-ever survey on diversity, inclusion and respect at the workplace. On average, respondents from an ethnic minority background are less likely than the overall average to work in the Commission, more likely to work in delegations, and less likely to be officials than the average (less than half compared to 63 percent for all respondents), says the survey. Working for the EU institutions is no walk in the park for people of colour or with disability, with almost 60 percent of respondents from both categories saying they have observed or experienced discrimination. Less than 30 percent of all respondents consider their organisation diverse in terms of the presence of people from an ethnic minority background or with a disability. And staff members who self-identify as having ethnic minority backgrounds are particularly harsh regarding the racial or ethnic diversity within their organisation: 64 percent disagree that their workplace is diverse. Work done to promote the diversity of ethnic and racial origin of staff is considered insufficient, with 55 percent of ethnic minority respondents expressing dissatisfaction. Not surprisingly, therefore, almost a quarter of them say they have refrained from applying for a career opportunity, a situation similar to persons with disabilities. More than a third of respondents say they would not report discrimination (for fear of negative consequences or because they think that no action will be taken). Another 23 percent would not know how to report. For all its limitations, the survey represents modest progress for EU institutions which have traditionally rejected allegations of racism and insisted they are "colour blind". read the complete article

05 May 2022

Israeli forces replace Al Aqsa call to prayer with national anthem to mark 'Memorial Day', sparking anger

Palestine's Religious Affairs Minister condemned the raising of the flag of Israel and the singing of the Israeli anthem at Al-Aqsa Mosque while preventing the call for the night prayer. Israeli forces raided Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday evening and banned the Muslim night prayer call to sing the national anthem and raise flags to mark Israel's Memorial Day. Memorial Day commemorations took place at the Buraq Wall - also referred to as the Western Wall - where Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivered a speech urging Israelis to stay united in the face of "hateful terror". The speech took place ahead of Israel's so-called Independence Day, which will be celebrated on Thursday. Police confiscated audio wires at Al-Aqsa to prevent them from praying, said Sheikh Hatem Al-Bakri, Religious Affairs Minister and head of the Islamic Waqf. He said that Tuesday evening's incident can only be explained by Israel wanting to spark a religious war that they will be able to start, but not stop. read the complete article

05 May 2022

Hikvision shares plummet after report that the Biden administration is considering more sanctions

Hikvision shares fell by 10% after a Financial Times report that the Biden administration is planning to impose more sanctions on the surveillance camera company, accusing it of enabling human right abuses. The Financial Times reports that the sanctions would have “far-reaching consequences because companies and governments that deal with Hikvision… would risk violating U.S. sanctions.” According to the Financial Times, this would be the first time that the White House has imposed these kinds of sanctions on such a large company. The company is the world’s largest manufacturer of surveillance equipment. In 2019, Hikvision and Dahua, another surveillance tech company, were placed on the U.S. government entity list for its role in enabling human rights violations among Muslim minority groups in China, including the Uyghurs. But many municipalities in the U.S. still use Hikvision cameras. According to contract data reviewed by TechCrunch in May, at least a hundred U.S. counties, towns and cities have bought surveillance equipment made by Hikvision and Dahua. They are able to do so because federal actions do not apply at the state and city level. read the complete article

United States

05 May 2022

Omar: The opera that tells the story of an enslaved Islamic scholar

The year is 1807, and Britain has passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, outlawing the British Atlantic slave trade. A year later, the United States follows suit with legislation outlawing the importation of slaves - but still, the domestic slave trade continues at its ports. Charleston, South Carolina, was one such port, with over 100,000 West Africans being shipped there. On one of those ships was Omar Ibn Said, a 37-year-old Islamic scholar of Fulani descent. His story is less well-known than that of abolitionists and former slaves, such as Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass. However, a new opera attempts to rectify this and bring his narrative to light. Named Omar, it follows Ibn Said's spiritual journey from Futa Toro, a desert region between present-day Mauritania and Senegal, through his enslavement in North Carolina under a man called ‘Johnson’ and later by General James Owen of Bladen county. Ibn Said died in 1864, one year before the end of the American Civil War that led to the abolition of chattel slavery. He was buried at the Owen plantation, and never gained his freedom. The production is based on Ibn Said's autobiography, which was written in 1831 under General Owen’s instruction. In it, Ibn Said talks about his life in West Africa, his enslavement, he carefully critiques chattel slavery and touches on the ‘kinder’ treatment he experienced under Owen when compared to his former slave owner. read the complete article

05 May 2022

‘When Childhood Is Shattered.’ Samira Ahmed on Writing Fiction Based on Real Incidents of Racism Against Kids

Hollow Fires follows 17-year-old Indian American Safiya Mirza, a student journalist in Chicago, as she embarks on a mission to find out who killed 14-year-old Jawad Ali, a local boy who went to a public school in the city. Jawad, the son of Iraqi refugees, had a passion for science. Less than three months before his death, he brought a homemade jet pack to class—only to be reported to the police by a teacher for wearing “something like a suicide bomber vest.” The arrest was traumatic, and after his death, it stains his legacy, lending him the nickname “bomb boy.” All while trying to uncover the truth about what happened to Jawad, Safiya must navigate white supremacy, a nerve-wracking crush, and some cryptic and frightening clues. Ahmed, 51, is also the author of Internment, and the first South Asian woman to write the comic book series Ms. Marvel. She spoke with TIME about the events that shaped Hollow Fires, how media and police bias impact the response to crimes, and her thoughts on the upcoming Disney+ TV series Ms. Marvel. What real-life news events shaped the narrative? The story of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed in Texas comes to mind. Police arrested him for possessing a homemade clock that his school said looked suspicious. Was there an intentional link there? His story is definitely one that stuck with me, although it’s not an isolated incident. There are so many stories about the young Black boy or brown girl or Muslim kid being viewed as suspicious. With Ahmed, you have this young boy who is bringing in this clock that he’s disassembled and reassembled in this cool way. He’s so excited to have reverse-engineered something and just wants to show his teachers. As a former teacher, I can just imagine this curious, inventive kid coming to school and then having a teacher be immediately suspicious and call the police on him. It was a heart-wrenching incident. Right-wing media jumped in with conspiracy theories saying he may actually have terrorist links. The family received threats. They left the country. What personal experiences informed how you told the story? People think Islamophobia in America began with 9/11. But it actually has much deeper roots. I was 7 or 8 and living in Chicago during the Iran Hostage crisis in 1979. Two white men pointed at me and said, “Go home, you goddamn f—ing Iranian.” It was very violent language, especially for adults to use against a child. I was confused for a second, like, What do you mean, go home? Do they know that I don’t live in Chicago and that I live in the suburbs? I remember thinking, Why do they think I’m Iranian? I look so Indian. Later, I realized: they’re racist, and racists are bad at geography. They think we’re all from the same place. I have had so many other experiences since then. My last name is Ahmed. And in the olden days when we had phone books, whenever there was any kind of incident in which a Muslim was suspected, I would get calls all night long saying, “Go home, f—ing terrorist” and “Go back to your own country.” read the complete article

New Zealand

05 May 2022

Christchurch attack inquiry to examine if Australian terrorist was radicalised online

The online activities of the Australian white supremacist who opened fire on two New Zealand mosques – and how much of a role social media and internet platforms played in his radicalisation – will form part of a coroner’s inquiry into the deaths of 51 Muslim worshipers in the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. But the presiding coroner, Brigitte Windley, who announced the scope of her inquiry in a decision released on Thursday, has warned of “monumental hurdles” to exploring the terrorist’s online activities – including Brenton Tarrant’s attempts to wipe parts of his digital footprint before committing the attacks. The 15 March 2019 attack was planned for an online audience; the gunman streamed live footage and posted a manifesto online before he shot dozens of people at two mosques during Friday prayers. “This is a landmark moment for the accountability of digital platforms,” said Aliya Danzeisen, the national coordinator of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand. She added that the coroner had “opened the door to investigating the responsibility” of online platforms in the radicalisation of Tarrant and others. Windley said she would focus on Tarrant’s online activities between 2014 and 2017, during which he travelled the world extensively, and before he moved to New Zealand from Australia and began planning the attack in earnest. It was a window not covered by earlier investigations, she said. It is known that Tarrant spent particular time on YouTube and the message boards 4chan and 8chan. read the complete article


05 May 2022

India imposes curfew over Eid al-Fitr violence between Muslims, Hindus

Indian police have imposed a curfew in Jodhpur, a city in the north-western state of Rajasthan, till 4 May following an altercation between Hindus and Muslims over Eid al-Fitr. The violence left at least 16 people injured, including four police officers. Police have arrested 97 people so far in connection with the violence and have suspended internet services to stop the spread of rumours, according to the Indian Express. The trigger for the clashes was reportedly the raising of a flag in the Jalori Gate neighbourhood on a day when Muslims were celebrating Eid al-Fitr and Hindus were celebrating Parshuram Jayanti. “Preliminary investigation suggests that the reason for the escalation of tensions resulted from one community hoisting an Eid flag over the statue of a freedom fighter.” Vandita Rana, Deputy Commissioner of Police in Jodhpur West, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. Multiple images and videos of the violence have surfaced online showing stone pelting and the removal of flags and loudspeakers in Jodhpur on Monday. Anti-Muslim sentiments have surged across India in recent months, most recently around the use of loudspeakers for the daily Adhaan - the Muslim call to prayer. Multiple regional and national leaders have called on local governments to ban loudspeakers in mosques. read the complete article


05 May 2022

VIDEO: Anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burns a copy of the Quran in Sweden

Anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan tried to burn a copy of the holy Quran in front of Raslatt Mosque in Sweden’s southern city of Jonkoping. The Danish far-right leader was chased by a group of Muslims. A video showed Rasmus driving away in his SUV. Rasmus is the leader of the far-right Danish party Stram Kurs (Hard Line). He said on social media that he burned the Muslim holy book in front of Raslatt Mosque in Jonkoping despite Swedish police not allowing it. A video showed Swedish police rejecting Rasmus application to burn the holy book on May 1, coinciding the World Labor Day across Sweden. Meanwhile, a group of people in Malmo protested Rasmus provocation of burning the Quran in various Swedish cities. On April 14, Rasmus burned a copy of the holy book in Linkoping. He also threatened to burn copies of the holy book during further protests. read the complete article


05 May 2022

Why Is the Danish Far Right Vandalizing Left-Wing Artwork?

While sections of the Social Democrats clearly look to and even migrated from the Left, the dominant wing of the ruling party is now firmly oriented toward the Right. The demise of DPP is both cause and effect of the rightward turn of the Social Democrats. The anti-immigrant chauvinism of the “ghetto plan” is clear evidence of this. The plan introduced arbitrary punishment for inhabitants of deprived areas (“ghettos”) allowing the Social Democrats to evict tenants and sell off public housing. This development gives the lie to the Right’s insistence that they are the defenders of the welfare state. Anton Ösgård and Jonas Algers have rightly argued that when Denmark’s ruling party established these laws, “the racialized stigmatization of the poor in fact goes hand in hand with the privatization of their homes.” Ignoring this fact, some have argued that the tougher anti-immigration policies of the Social Democrats offer a path to power that should be copied by center-left parties across Europe. Yet political scientists have convincingly shown that such “accommodation” does not work. Rightward turns on immigration not only legitimize the far right’s agenda, they can also bolster its electoral support. The diffusion of far-right positions across most of the political spectrum is evidence of this. Although support for DPP has sharply fallen, two parties further to the right emerged out of this overall crisis situation. First among these is the New Right, pursuing the economically right-wing platform of the Conservatives twinned with an even more extreme version of the exclusionary politics of the Danish People’s Party. Second, Hard Line, an out-and-out fascist and racist party campaigning for the forced expulsion of all Danish Muslims and the codified white supremacy in Denmark. Notably, this party built a major source of support online, where it used YouTube to radicalize teenagers online. Open agitation and provocation on the streets has been Hard Line’s preferred strategy. The group has toured the most deprived and ethnically diverse Danish neighborhoods, led by the lawyer Rasmus Paludan, setting alight copies of the Quran in front of Muslim residents. One of the attendees of the vandalism of Jorn’s painting was convicted of assault in 2016 when he attacked two staff members at another museum — and his defense lawyer was none other than Paludan. As a follow-up to his assault, the far-right activist contributed a performance piece to a Polish exhibition last year in which he shouted the N-word while in blackface, set a Confederate flag alight, and reenacted the killing of George Floyd. The party narrowly missed the 2 percent electoral threshold in the 2019 parliamentary elections and was denied the right to run in elections by the Electoral Commission due to voter registration fraud in February 2022. These crises lead to multiple splinter-successors, including Nej til Islam I Danmark (No to Islam in Denmark) and Patriots Go Live, the group responsible for filming the vandalism at the Jorn Museum. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 May 2022 Edition


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