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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28 Nov 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., New York City police are searching for a man accused of slashing a Muslim woman and a bystander in an apparent anti-Muslim fueled attack, meanwhile in Qatar, soccer fans are reminding Germany of their history with Islamophobia by holding pictures of ex-teammate Mesut Ozil who left the German team due to theracist abuse he faced, and in India, a man was arrested after opening a museum out of his home honoring the heritage of Miya Muslims in Assam. Our recommended read of the day is by the Editorial staff of The Guardian on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and how “the international environment [might be] less accommodating if Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) continue to stir up hatred to win elections.”This and more below:


27 Nov 2022

The Guardian view on Modi’s India: the danger of exporting Hindu chauvinism | Recommended Read

When the US state department recently told a court that the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should have immunity in a lawsuit over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it portrayed its argument as a legal and not moral position. By way of evidence, it pointed to a rogues’ gallery of foreign leaders previously afforded similar protection. Nestling between Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who, it was claimed, assassinated political rivals, and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, whose security detail was accused of assaulting protesters in Washington, was India’s Narendra Modi. Dropping Mr Modi into such a list was no accident. It is a reminder that while New Delhi basks in its diplomatic success at recent G20 and Cop27 summits, it might find the international environment less accommodating if Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) continue to stir up hatred to win elections. Washington’s gesture suggests that its strategic partnership with India cannot be completely insulated from domestic political issues. Mr Modi’s failure, as chief minister of Gujarat, to prevent anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left hundreds dead saw him denied a US visa, until he became Indian prime minister. India is considered a geopolitical counterweight to China and, in many ways, an indispensable actor on the world stage. But Mr Biden’s team appears to see the position as more contingent, and will be less tolerant than the Trump administration of Mr Modi’s attempts to remould Indian democracy so that Hindus become constitutionally pre-eminent, with minorities reduced to second-class citizens. Last week, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom accused New Delhi of a “crackdown on civil society and dissent”, and “religious freedom violations”. read the complete article

28 Nov 2022

World Cup fans remind Germany of racism towards ex-teammate Ozil

Football fans in Qatar have appeared to hit back at the German team’s World Cup protest over the ban on “One Love” armbands by holding pictures of Germany’s former team player Mesut Ozil who became a target of racist abuse in Germany. The group of fans at the Spain vs Germany match on Sunday covered their mouths while holding copies of hand-drawn sketches of Ozil and pictures of him in action for Germany. The coordinated display was apparently in response to the German team players’ protest gesture last week when they covered their mouths during a pre-game photo to protest against the FIFA — world football’s governing body — clampdown on “One Love” armbands at the World Cup. In covering their mouths, the fans on Sunday appeared to be referencing Germany’s own questionable treatment of Ozil, their former player who quit the German national team after becoming a target of racist abuse and a scapegoat for Germany’s early World Cup exit in 2018. Ozil, a German-born descendant of Turkish immigrants, accused Germany’s football federation, fans and media of racism in their treatment of people with Turkish roots. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil said at the time of his departure from the German national team. read the complete article

27 Nov 2022

Hijab: Bloodstained or beautiful?

As I grew older, the warm bubble around my little corner of the world slowly began to fade away. At school, I read books about young girls in Afghanistan living under the Taliban regime, young girls who were forced to cover their hair and pretend to be boys just so they could leave their homes. It was then that I began to realize that the safety to which I was accustomed was not universal. I began to understand the privilege that living in a Western country afforded me. I came to appreciate the values of the country whose passport I held, and beamed with pride whenever Canada’s multiculturalism was mentioned. Here in Canada, I could dress however I wanted. In Canada, my jejune perspective told me that I could become whomever I wished. But when I did start dressing how I wanted, when I started covering my hair with a headscarf — as my religion, Islam, stipulates — I didn’t feel the same warm acceptance that my bouncy ringlets had enabled. The offhand comments laced with disdain, the stares and whispers I became a target of, shattered any pride I had in my country. Living in the Western world might indeed afford me certain privileges, but my identity as a Muslim woman mitigates these privileges. As the solace of the Western world faded away, I realized that my illusion stemmed from a very small corner of the world that preached freedom but then created a rigid definition of it. My world was small and safe; every step I took away from it made me realize just how small it was. read the complete article

25 Nov 2022

Is criticism of Qatar's World Cup racist?

The small, energy-rich Gulf country — the first Middle Eastern nation to put on this particular sporting mega-event — has been condemned for its treatment of migrant workers, the LGBTQ community and women, as well as for suspicions around how it was awarded the international tournament in the first place. But at the same time, another chorus has also been getting louder, too. Commentators from both inside and outside the Arabic-speaking world are asking why Qatar is being so harshly criticized, suggesting it has less to do with political issues and more to do with racism, Orientalism, even Islamophobia. "There are many things about Qatar that deserve to be criticized and put under the spotlight," Khaled al-Hroub, a professor in Qatar, wrote on the UK-based website, Middle East Eye. "But there is a huge gulf between criticizing a country for specific wrongdoings and using disparaging cultural statements and stereotypes that tap into embedded racism." Other columnists in Arabic-language media asked why there was far less intense criticism leveled at Russia, host of the last football World Cup. They also suggested it was hypocritical of European countries to criticize Qatar when they have yet to properly reckon with their own colonial histories in the Middle East and Africa and how they deal with migration. read the complete article

United States

27 Nov 2022

CSRE 30: Stanford’s first-ever course on addressing Islamophobia

For the first time, a Stanford course is working to catalyze discourse on campus around Islamophobia. CSRE 30: Interrogating Islamophobia is a new 1-unit course taught this fall by Abiya Ahmed, the Markaz Resource Center Associate Dean and Director. According to Ahmed, the course aims to expand students’ understanding on how Islamophobic manifests. “I could throw statistics at you and say ‘last year X number of Islamophobic acts or hate crimes or whatever occurred,’ but part of what we’re trying to do in the course is trying to expand how we understand Islamophobia,” Ahmed said. Every week, the class discusses a different topic, from Islamophobia as a phobia to manifestations of Islamophobia on the left and right sides of the political spectrum. The class aims to “interrogate” Islamophobia by exploring it through a variety of angles, according to Yusuf Zahurullah ’24, the Teaching Fellow for the course. “We’re trying to understand what are all the different ways in which you can think about Islamophobia and how Islamophobia actually manifests, whether it’s explicit, like hate crimes and verbal abuse, or more systemic things like the Muslim ban that Trump tried to pass,” Zahurullah said. read the complete article

26 Nov 2022

Record number of Muslims elected in US midterms: ‘We should lean into who we are’

As a woman, a millennial, a progressive – and a Muslim – Nabilah Islam faced long odds in her bid for elected office in Georgia. Two years ago, she ran for Congress but lost in the Democratic primary, despite a high-profile endorsement from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This year, she ran for state senate to represent parts of the Atlanta metro region and won. “People thought it was unthinkable that in the south, someone would vote for a woman with the last name Islam,” she said. “I’m like: they did. Fifty-three per cent of this district did.” Islam, 32, is among a record number of Muslims elected to local, state and national office in November. A new analysis by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), a civil rights and advocacy group, and Jetpac, a non-profit focused on increasing Muslim political representation in the US, found that Muslims won at least 83 seats nationwide, up from an estimated 71 in 2020. “I ran because I wanted to make sure that we had representation in the halls of power,” said Islam, a Bangladeshi American who is the first Muslim woman and the first South Asian woman to be elected to the Georgia state senate. “It’s so important that we don’t run away from ourselves and we lean into who we are. I think that’s what inspires folks to go out and vote for people, because they trust them.” read the complete article

26 Nov 2022

D.C. firefighters sue over policy banning beards for employees

D.C. firefighters have asked a judge to hold the District in contempt of court for a policy that bans beards, resurrecting a battle fought over facial hair decades ago. In a motion filed this month in federal court in Washington, firefighters say they were removed from field duty and reassigned to lesser roles and received less compensation because they refused to shave after the D.C. Fire and EMS Department issued a policy in 2020 prohibiting most kinds of facial hair. Steven Chasin, Calvert Potter, Jasper Sterling and Hassan Umrani each wear a beard “in accordance with the tenets of his Muslim or Jewish faith,” which was protected by a permanent injunction the men won against the District about 15 years ago under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), filings from their attorneys state. “There really is no excuse,” Jordan Pratt, senior counsel with First Liberty Institute, said in an interview. The D.C. fire department “decided to be their own federal judge and violate the federal court order. That violation caused our clients harm for a year and a half.” read the complete article

25 Nov 2022

Man wanted for slashing woman, good Samaritan in suspected anti-Muslim attack on NYC subway

New York City police are searching for a man accused of slashing a Muslim woman and an intervening bystander on a Manhattan subway earlier this week. The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, occurred on an Eighth Avenue-bound L train at around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to police. The suspect allegedly stared at the 28-year-old woman for multiple stations. As she ignored him, he moved closer and closer until he was directly in front of her. The suspect then punched and slashed the victim in the face, according to schoolteacher John Catania, who stepped in only to get punched and slashed himself. The suspect, who police believe to be a homeless man, took off at Union Square station, Catania said. The good Samaritan and the Muslim woman were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the attack involving the Muslim woman, as it was alleged that the suspect made anti-Muslim remarks before slashing her face. read the complete article

25 Nov 2022

World Cup 2022: American Muslims 'identify' with US team despite off-the-field drama

It's five minutes before kick off and there's a jubilant atmosphere on the terraces. The stars and stripes are being waved, hot dogs devoured and selfies are being taken. This is a place where politics, religion, ethnicity and financial station are often tossed aside, replaced by an all-for-one-and-one-for-all mentality. For fans like Amani Mohammed, a 28-year-old living in Pennsylvania, there's a sense of togetherness that can be felt whenever the United States play. Born in Morocco and raised in the United States, she says she'll be rooting for the US national team at the Qatar World Cup despite her beloved Atlas Lions also featuring in the tournament. "The passion is the same, no matter if you're in Morocco or the US. I have always supported both teams because they are both my home." "You have all these people who either themselves emigrated from other counties, or they are the children of immigrants, proudly playing together on a team in a place where they now call home. And that is all celebrated." Mohammed said that among the descendants of Muslim immigrants, many second- and third-generation Muslims will likely support the US national team because they'll "see themselves" when the footballers take the field. Still, for others, it's difficult to rally around the US side - even if it's just for 90 minutes - given the damage inflicted against American Muslims by successive US administrations. Since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans have nearly always been in the crosshairs - facing attacks from politicians on both sides of the aisle and large sections of the media. read the complete article


27 Nov 2022

'Miya' Museum: The controversy around Assam's 'Muslim' museum

Mohar Ali was arrested a month ago after he opened a small museum in his house in a hamlet in Goalpara district in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. The museum, he said, was dedicated to the culture of 'Miyas' - Bengali-speaking Muslims in the state. Mr Ali, who is the leader of a local political party, spent around 7,000 rupees ($86; £71) to set up the place, which mainly displayed some agricultural tools and garments. But two days later, local authorities shut the museum down. They also sealed Mr Ali's home, alleging that he had wrongly used the house - which was allotted to him under a government scheme - for commercial purposes. The police also arrested Mr Ali and two others who had helped set up the museum. They have said that the case against them was not connected to the museum and was instead due to their alleged links to two terror groups. The three men, who have been charged under a draconian anti-terrorism law that makes it almost impossible to get bail, have denied the accusation. The arrests have shocked Assam's Bengali-speaking Muslim community, who say they are bewildered. Critics say the arrests are the latest in a long line of attempts to marginalise the community in Assam, a complex and multi-ethnic state where linguistic identity and citizenship are the biggest political fault lines. The state - residents include Bengali and Assamese-speaking Hindus, a medley of tribespeople and Muslims - has seen an anti-immigration movement against "outsiders" from neighbouring Bangladesh for decades. Bengali-speaking Muslims, in particular, have often been accused of being undocumented immigrants. read the complete article


25 Nov 2022

Concordia Public Scholar Arwa Hussain explores why her community’s Muslim women choose to wear the hijab

Concordia Public Scholar Arwa Hussain wants people to know that, for most Muslim women, wearing the hijab is a choice — not an obligation. Through her research, Hussain aims to show that Muslim women have complex and multifaceted lives and often embrace religious traditions. The PhD candidate in religion is investigating why the women of a small Islamic community, the Dawoodi Bohras, choose to live religious lives and wear a type of hijab called the rida. The research is deeply personal for Hussain, who is herself a member of the Dawoodi Bohras, and will be the first of its kind to shed light on the women of this community. "My research focus is centred on the women in my own Muslim community, called the Dawoodi Bohras. The aim of my research is to break stereotypes. We are a very educated, forward-thinking community where women have a lot of freedom to make their choices. And one of those choices is to live a religious life and wear religious dress," said Hussain. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Nov 2022 Edition


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