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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12 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Activision, the video game developer of the Call of Duty franchise, has apologized for including imagery of “torn pages of the Quran in the zombie mode of the game” and said it would remove the offensive content, meanwhile in Austria, November 9th marked one year since the violent police raids, declared “Operation Luxor,” which targeted key members of the Austrian Muslim community; a year later, and not one of the dozen people affected by the raids has been charged with any offence, and in India, the death of a young Muslim man in police custody in Uttar Pradesh, which the police declared as “suicide” has triggered outrage. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Rose for The Conversation on Eric Zemmour, the anti-Muslim French commentator, whose Jewish heritage has become a useful tool for the far-right. This and more below:


12 Nov 2021

Eric Zemmour: Jewish heritage is a useful tool for the French far right | Recommended Read

French commentator Eric Zemmour has risen to political notoriety off the back of anti-Muslim hatred and anti-migrant incitement before even officially announcing his candidacy in the 2022 French presidential elections. Zemmour sits firmly to the right of his rival Le Pen. He has convictions for inciting racial hatred and is an open proponent of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. This suggests white people are being ethnically cleansed by Muslim migrants and Jewish puppet-masters, and has emerged as the ideological underpinning for attacks including the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting in 2018 and the Christchurch Mosques shooting in 2019. Zemmour has made various ahistorical comments, including that Vichy France, the regime that collaborated with the Nazis during the second world war, actually “protected French Jews”. He has also questioned the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus, who was falsely convicted for treason in a notorious example of 20th century antisemitism. His stock in trade has become to give oxygen to antisemitic conspiracy theorists. It may therefore seem surprising that Zemmour is himself of Jewish heritage. He is the descendent of Algerian Berber Jewish immigrants. Yonathan Arfi, vice president of the Representative Council of French Jews, describes it all as a “double punishment. First, French Jews have to hear the false narratives Zemmour espouses, then they have to deal with the fact that these words have come from someone who is identified as coming from Jewish heritage himself – which adds a false air of legitimacy to the claims. There are questions over how much Zemmour actually engages with his Jewish identity – but, as philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy argues, that has become irrelevant. Despite rigorous criticism from the Jewish community, "what Mr Zemmour does, whether he likes it or not, [is] in the Jewish name”. read the complete article


12 Nov 2021

Dr Dalia Fahmy on Muslim women and US foreign policy

“The most visible other in Europe is the Muslim woman in a headscarf.” Long Island University professor Dr Dalia Fahmy discusses how Muslim women are used as justification for US intervention and to push far-right political agendas domestically. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

Republicans accuse John Kerry of lobbying against Uyghur forced labor ban as US, China enter climate agreement

Republicans have taken aim at Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry after the U.S. and China entered into an agreement Wednesday to tackle climate change, accusing him of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses. "It doesn’t get worse than John Kerry," former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told Fox News. "He’s willing to accept Chinese slave labor to promote his radical climate agenda. What happened to defending human rights?" Haley’s comments come just one day after the U.S. and China agreed to work together to lower greenhouse gas emissions, a significant step as both nations are responsible for roughly 40% of the world’s annual carbon footprint. Under the agreement, the U.S. and China would share technology and policy developments in order to lower emissions in accordance with goals set in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. But Kerry raised eyebrows when asked by a reporter whether or not he discussed the issue of Chinese forced labor used in developing technologies, like the production of solar panels. The climate envoy said U.S. concerns regarding forced labor have been "articulated" to Chinese officials, but added, "That’s not my lane here." "My job is to be the climate guy and stay focused on trying to move the climate agenda forward," Kerry said. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

Gamers Blast ‘Call of Duty’ Developer’s Islamophobia Screw-Up

Video game developer Activision released its latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise to much fanfare this month—but it has instead pissed off its audience base and, according to activists, fanned the flames of toxic online harassment. Even after receiving a wave of criticism for content that was deemed offensive to the Muslim community, and making some changes to fix the issue, fans still were not happy and said that Activision missed the mark. Call of Duty: Vanguard was released on Playstation and Xbox consoles and PC on Nov. 5 with great anticipation from gamers. However, The Sun reports that the excitement for Vanguard took a sour turn almost as soon as gamers powered up their systems. Torn pages of the Quran, which is the holy book of Islam, were in the zombie mode of the game. They were displayed on the ground and stained with blood as players explored a room in the first-person perspective. The issue erupted on social media when BKTOOR, a self-described physicist and gamer, wrote on Twitter in Arabic on Nov. 10, “Brothers I’m seeing pages from the Quran on the floor in the zombie map. I think it should be taken down as quickly as possible if it’s true.” From there, the Muslim community began to boycott the game, with some saying they wouldn’t play until the detail had been removed during the next software update. Others simply deleted the game and vowed not to play at all. Activision quickly apologized for its tone-deaf blunder and said it would remove the offensive content. It’s not the first time Call of Duty has been labeled offensive to Muslim players. The franchise was called out in 2017 for incorporating Muslim stereotypes and villainizing Muslim characters. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

Special forces hid evidence of Afghan killings

Senior military officers buried evidence that British troops were executing detainees in Afghanistan, the High Court has been told. Ministry of Defence documents reveal UK Special Forces officers suspected their men were killing unarmed Afghans who posed no threat. They also show the allegations were kept secret and not reported to the Royal Military Police (RMP). The MoD says the evidence is not new and has already been investigated. The court case follows a 2019 investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times that raised allegations of unlawful killings by special forces during the war in Afghanistan. The High Court is considering whether the allegations were investigated properly by the armed forces. The man bringing the case, Saifullah, claims four members of his family were assassinated in the early hours of 16 February 2011. read the complete article


12 Nov 2021

The thin veneer of India’s constitutional secularism

After India’s recent defeat by Pakistan at the T20 World Cup cricket tournament, Indian bowler Mohammed Shami confronted vicious trolling on social media. It was the latest display of the Islamophobic bigotry that has consumed Indian society under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Shami had performed poorly in the match. But so had 10 other Indian players in the rout by Pakistan. Shami was singled out because he is Muslim. His failure was viewed not merely as a sporting issue, but as a failure to do his best against an opposing team composed of his co-religionists. Unpleasant as it was, the Shami episode pales in comparison to other recent incidents of Islamophobia in India. In Darrang district, in the northeastern state of Assam, the state’s BJP government launched an eviction drive against Muslims whom it decided were ‘illegal settlers’ on public land. During a protest against the evictions, police shot and beat a villager, and a photographer officially documenting the demolition drive brutally stomped him, in full view of cameras, even after his body appeared lifeless. As disturbing as these trends are, they should not be surprising, given that senior political figures express their bigotry openly. Modi once declared that anti-government protesters could be identified by their clothes—that is, traditional Muslim attire. And prior to the 2019 general election, BJP president Amit Shah called Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants ‘termites’ and pledged that a BJP government would ‘pick up infiltrators one by one and throw them into the Bay of Bengal’. Islamophobic sentiment is stoked further via social media, often in BJP-curated WhatsApp groups, where the sins—both real and imagined—of past Muslim invaders and rulers are blamed on the entire community. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

‘Custodial murder’: Muslim man found dead in India police station

The death of a young Muslim man in police custody in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the subsequent clarification by the police has triggered outrage in India. Police on Wednesday said 22-year-old Mohammad Altaf hanged himself after he went to the washroom in a police station at Kasganj district in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state governed by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Altaf, a resident of Ahroli village in Kasganj, was taken into police custody on Tuesday morning in a case related to the alleged kidnapping of a minor Hindu girl. Police say he asked to go to the washroom during the interrogation, where he hanged himself using his jacket’s string which he tied to a water tap. “During investigation, he [Altaf] asked the cops that he needs to use a washroom. He was taken to the lock-up washroom, where he hanged himself to a tap using the drawstring of his jacket hood,” said Rohan Pramod Botre, the superintendent of police at Kasganj. The Times of India newspaper on Thursday reported that Altaf was about 5ft 6 inches (167cm) tall and the water pipe was less than three feet (91.4cm) from the ground. Altaf’s family has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into his death. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

Book Excerpt: The Many Anti-Muslim Laws Brought in By the Modi Government

Excerpted with permission from Price of the Modi Years by Aakar Patel, published by Westland. The Modi years have been marked by regressive legislation across a range of subjects. This has legally moved India away from the secular and pluralist moorings of its constitution. The laws have conflated vengeance with justice and the obsession with Muslims has continued to take legal form in laws attacking freedom of religion and freedom of occupation. India’s deviously named ‘freedom of religion’ laws had thus far targeted Christians, whose fundamental right to freely propagate had been guaranteed by the Constituent Assembly after much debate, but was taken away soon after Independence. The Muslims were brought into the picture after Modi through the so-called ‘love jihad’ laws, which criminalised inter-faith marriage. The desire for absolute control has watered down one of India’s best legislations, the RTI Act, and has also introduced the Kashmirisation of India through a law authorising the State to take away mobile telephony arbitrarily. The State appropriated for itself more authority and claimed more rights at the expense of those of citizens and to the detriment of individual liberty and access to justice. These are some of the laws that the Modi years have spawned. Of particular note is their desire to go after minorities and in many instances their reversal of the burden of proof. The first set of laws came in BJP states after Modi’s attack on the ‘Pink Revolution’ and they began to criminalise the possession of beef. First Maharashtra (then under BJP rule) and then Haryana in 2015 passed laws criminalising the possession of beef and later other BJP states responded. This began the sequence of beef lynching, a category of violence Indians were unfamiliar with (100 per cent of all known killings known as beef lynchings came after 2015) and is one of Modi’s gifts to India. Two years later, Gujarat increased the punishment for cattle slaughter to life. This is ostensibly an economic crime: the purported reason for banning cattle slaughter is the promotion of animal husbandry. No other economic crime in India attracts life in prison. And we are left to believe the absurd proposition that Muslims are getting lynched not because of religious hatred but because Hindu mobs are passionate about animal husbandry. read the complete article

12 Nov 2021

They Tweeted About Islamophobic Attacks. India Wants to Charge Them With Terrorism.

Qazi was referring to the anti-Muslim rally organised on October 27 in Tripura by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a far-right Hindu nationalist organisation affiliated with the central ruling party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The rally was in response to the burning of Hindu homes in neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh during the annual Durga Puja festivities – a rampage triggered by viral images of a blasphemy incident apparently meant to incite religious hate. Soon after the Islamophobic rally ended, the VHP went on an anti-Muslim blitzkrieg – mosques were vandalised and shops owned by Muslims were looted and charred, according to multiple media reports. Hashmi and his team of lawyers documented vandalism and arson attacks at 12 mosques, nine Muslim-owned shops and three homes occupied by Muslim families in a report titled ‘Humanity under attack in Tripura: #Muslim lives matter’. Their report stated that the latest violence was a “result of the irresponsibility of the administration, extremist organisations and the vested interests of ambitious politicians.” Amid all this, Michigan-based civil rights, Islamophobia and national security expert Khaled A. Beydoun, a professor of law at UC Berkeley, tweeted about the spate of violent attacks in Tripura. Local media reported that the Indian government had spotted his tweet, and charged him, two lawyers on Hashmi’s fact-finding team, and another hundred journalists or activists for their social media posts under its draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) with a maximum imprisonment of seven years. However, VICE World News did not spot Beydoun’s name on the final charge sheet submitted by the Tripura state police to Twitter, which had a list of 68 Twitter handles booked under UAPA. One of the handles was of CJ Werleman, an Australian with a history of hate speech and racism who now produces “journalism” by raising funds on Patreon “to expose injustices against Muslim communities.” Local media reported the Tripura state police also leveled charges under the UAPA against 32 Facebook account holders and two YouTubers. Technically meant to be used against accused “terrorists,” the stringent law has been widely invoked against academics, journalists, and tribal activists. Last week, Indian students cheering Pakistan’s victory against India in a cricket World Cup match were also booked under the law. read the complete article


12 Nov 2021

A year later, justice and accountability elude victims of ‘Operation Luxor’

One year ago the Muslim community in Austria — my community — was targeted by the government under the guise of fighting so-called “political Islam” — often conflated with “terrorism.” On November 9, 2020 key activists in our Muslim community were subjected to the baseless accusation of being “terrorists” by the Austrian state. It was part of what they termed ‘Operation Luxor’ — the largest set of police raids in Austrian peacetime history. At five in the morning, police raided 70 homes, traumatising Muslim families, taking all of their belongings — including their mobile devices and money — leaving them with nothing. They further terrorised our imams, friends, professors, and even charities. Yet a year later, not one of the dozen people affected by the violent police raids has been charged with any offence, let alone arrested. And this week, the terror allegations against one of the imams who was targeted have been dropped. Where does that leave us? read the complete article


12 Nov 2021

Rohingya in Bangladesh camps fear both the police and ARSA

Rohingya refugees living in sprawling camps near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh say they are caught in the middle of alleged police “atrocities” and violence by an armed group with members within the community. Bangladesh security forces launched a crackdown following the killing of Mohibullah, a prominent Rohingya activist, who was shot dead at close range by gunmen at his office in the Kutupalong refugee camp at the end of September. Following Mohibullah’s murder, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen pledged to take “stern action” against the assailants, saying “no one will be spared”. More than 170 Rohingya have been arrested so far as part of the crackdown. The refugees say Mohibullah’s murder has become a pretext for the Bangladeshi forces to treat them aggressively, with allegations of blackmail, extortion, violence, and even sexual assault being made. Ahmed* said he witnessed armed personnel asking a woman to “remove her niqab (veil)”. In another case, he claimed to have witnessed a distressed woman shouting at a checkpoint. “When I asked her the reason, she said the police used security reasons to touch her private parts,” he said. He said the ramped-up security measures after Mohibullah’s death have made nearly every Rohingya in the camp a suspect. “Ninety-nine percent of the refugees are not bad but they treat us like we are all the same.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK Muslim MP Zarah Sultana receives racist hate mail amid bereavement

British Muslim MP Zarah Sultana has reported receiving racist hate mail telling her to "go back to [her] country", in a tweet she posted on Thursday. Sultana said she found the email on her return from bereavement leave following her grandmother's death. "Go back to your country, you are in my country not yours, you do not belong here. Britain First [is] rising, we will soon get [our] heritage back and tough if you don’t like it," read the email, which made reference to the far-right Britain First party. Britain First registered as a political party last September after its application was approved by the Electoral Commission. The far-right group's leader, Paul Golding, was sentenced to jail for 18 weeks after conducting a campaign of hate against a group of British Muslims in 2018. He was also was found guilty of a terror offence in May last year after refusing to give police access to his electronic devices on his return from a political trip to Russia, according to the Press Association. Sultana has previously spoken out on her experiences of Islamophobia, stating at a UK parliamentary debate last September that “to be a Muslim woman... and to be left-wing is to be subjected to this barge of racism and hate”. In a separate incident this week, Oldham council's first female Muslim leader, Arooj Shah, revealed she has received regular death threats since taking up her role. At an Oldham council meeting on Wednesday, the Labour councillor called for less hatred and personal abuse, "most of which is fuelled by lies and misinformation... by the colour of my skin, by my religion and by the fact I am a woman", The Oldham Times reported. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Nov 2021 Edition


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