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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29 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert has offered an apology to “anyone in the Muslim community” she offended after video captured her suggesting that US Rep Ilhan Omar was mistaken for a terrorist at the US Capitol, meanwhile in India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi experts say there has been a sharp rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims that is polarizing society and undermining India’s reputation for religious tolerance, and in France, many critics argue that laïcité has strayed from its original intent and has been at times used as a political tool to justify Islamophobic comments and acts, using secularism as a shield for discrimination. Our recommended read of the day is by Anchal Vohra for Foreign Policy on how minorities and liberals in all influential segments of society in India “have insinuated they are under pressure to silently accept the Hindu right’s discriminatory ideas about what India should be.” This and more below:


29 Nov 2021

Modi’s Growing Crackdown on Bollywood | Recommended Read

Last month, the son of superstar Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan was arrested for consuming drugs at a party. In most parts of the world, celebrity news of this sort provides a momentary public distraction. In India, where the divide between Hindus and Muslims has deepened since Narendra Modi became prime minister, Khan’s arrest has focused attention on India’s fraying social fabric. Supporters of Modi’s Hindu nationalist government defend the arrest as a matter of law and claim it reveals decadence in the movie industry. But India’s liberals contend it was a deliberate move intended to tarnish a Muslim idol’s image to appease the Hindu right. Khan has been a star for more than a decade and is widely referred to as “King Khan,” the King of Bollywood. He is also known for his rise from poverty; he often regales the public with stories of the hardships he endured, including having to sleep on Mumbai’s streets while trying to make it as an actor. Tales of his struggle and success have inspired millions of Indians, including Muslims, and his exalted status delivers on India’s promise as a secular and inclusive nation where anyone—irrespective of religion, caste, or creed—can succeed. But the Hindu right has a deep history of resenting the rise of Muslims, especially those who challenge their exclusivist politics—a group that includes Khan. In 2015, Khan spoke against the lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs for allegedly smuggling cows to be slaughtered and served as meat. Many Hindus consider cows to be holy. “We have made a huge thing about our meat-eating habits. How can the food habits of people be an issue?” Khan told NDTV, a local news channel. “Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot.” There is a pattern of far-right resentment focused on Bollywood stars. A year ago, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was accused of being a part of a nefarious drug network and was summoned for questioning by India’s national Narcotics Control Bureau. In 2019, Padukone joined a student protest against a controversial anti-Muslim citizenship law passed by the Modi government. The cases might expose a “nexus of drugs” in the film industry, as claimed by several pro-Modi news networks. But liberals suspect Khan and Padukone were punished for speaking up against Islamophobia, and the cases against them are part of a more insidious campaign to intimidate Muslims and liberals associated with Bollywood. This would be part of a wider pattern. Since Modi came to power, minorities and liberals in all influential segments of society have insinuated they are under pressure to silently accept the Hindu right’s discriminatory ideas about what India should be. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

India has an eroding image of tolerance in the West. A recent cricket loss proves why.

When India meets its archrival Pakistan on the cricket field, even those who do not follow the sport sit up and watch. But at the opening match of the T20 World Cup late last month, they were in for a rare disappointment when the Pakistan team beat India for the first time in almost 30 years — and by a lot. In the aftermath of the crushing defeat, ethno-religious tensions boiled over in India, a Hindu-majority country that neighbors Muslim-majority Pakistan. Cricket fans hurled online abuse at Mohammed Shami, the Indian team’s only Muslim player, unfairly blaming him for the loss. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who took office in 2014, experts say there has been a sharp rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims that is polarizing society and undermining India’s reputation for religious tolerance. “India had a very good image internationally, as the world’s largest democracy and the country of tolerance,” said Christophe Jaffrelot, the author of the 2021 book “Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy.” “Now gradually this image is getting eroded in the U.S. and Europe.” As prime minister, Modi has strengthened the economy, courted foreign leaders and ushered in some popular reforms. But critics say the Hindu nationalist policies of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have only intensified since he won a second term as prime minister in 2019. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

Profiling Modi’s India

Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his second term in 2019, he has pursued policies that have corroded the country’s democracy. His government has abused existing legislation to squelch dissent, misused investigative agencies to pursue dubious charges against political opposition, and created detention centers designed to hold those who cannot prove their citizenship status—with disproportionate effects on Muslims. Through multiple measures, Indian democracy is in a state of precipitous decline. The overwhelming victory of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the last national elections accelerated this process. Armed with a clear parliamentary majority, Modi’s government has implemented legislation that raised questions about its commitment to democratic principles. The August 2019 decision to rescind Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status did not follow constitutional procedure, and the Citizenship Amendment Act passed in December 2019 aided religious minorities from neighboring countries but excluded Muslims, although many sects face repression in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These disturbing developments provide the backdrop for Christophe Jaffrelot’s latest book, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy. With some notable exceptions, books about Modi and his government have tended toward hagiography. Jaffrelot, a noted scholar of contemporary Indian politics, departs from these accounts. In the process, he argues that unless current trends are checked, India may become an ethnic democracy—a majoritarian state with scant regard for the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

‘Hate won’: Indian Muslim comic says he’s ‘done’ after shows axed

A Muslim stand-up comedian in India says “hate has won” and that he is “done” after at least a dozen of his shows were cancelled in the past two months following threats from right-wing Hindu groups. “Hate has won, the artist has lost,” Munawar Faruqui posted on his Instagram profile after his show, scheduled on Sunday, was cancelled by the organisers in Bengaluru, the capital of southern Karnataka state. “We called off 12 shows in last two months because of the threats to venue and audience,” wrote the 29-year-old, whom the police in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-governed state called a “controversial figure”. On January 1 this year, Faruqui was heckled by right-wing Hindus and forced to stop his performance at a cafe in Indore in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by the BJP. The members of a little-known Hindu Rakshak Sangathan group in Indore alleged he had insulted Hindu gods during the rehearsals of his show. The son of a prominent local politician belonging to the BJP claimed he overheard Faruqui “passing indecent remarks” about Hindu gods and the powerful federal Home Minister Amit Shah, but he could not submit any evidence for his allegations. read the complete article

United States

29 Nov 2021

Lauren Boebert makes rare apology after anti-Muslim remarks about Ilhan Omar

Far-right Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert has offered an apology to “anyone in the Muslim community” she offended after video captured her suggesting that US Rep Ilhan Omar, among one of two Muslim women in Congress, was mistaken for a terrorist at the US Capitol. “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep Omar,” said a statement from the Twitter account belonging to the office of the Colorado congresswoman. “I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction,” she said. In a video showing her addressing a group of supporters, Rep Boebert criticised what she has called the “jihad squad” in Congress, claiming that she and a member of her staff were in an elevator as a US Capitol Police officer reached for the door as it closed. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

Ilhan Omar: Boebert is a ‘buffoon’ and ‘bigot’ for ‘made up’ anti-Muslim story

The Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar called the Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert a buffoon, a bigot and a liar for claiming to have joked about terrorism when sharing an elevator in Congress. “Fact,” Omar wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “This buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout. “Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny and shouldn’t be normalised. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.” One of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Omar is also a member of a prominent “Squad” of House progressives. Boebert is a first-term far-right Trump ally who consistently seeks controversy. Her connections to the deadly attack on the Capitol on 6 January remain under investigation. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

Hear former GOP lawmaker's plan to get Greene and Boebert out of Congress

Former Rep. Barbara Comstock discusses anti-Muslim comments made by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) doubling down on Boebert's comments. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

‘Outrageous’: Pelosi condemns McCarthy for GOP’s ‘bigoted rhetoric’ in wake of Boebert attack on Omar

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives issued a furious joint statement condemning Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP officials for failing to discipline their members for “inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric” in the wake of the latest attack against US Rep Ilhan Omar. “Leader McCarthy and the entire House Republican Leadership’s repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous,” they said in a statement on 26 November. “We call on the Republican Leadership to address this priority with the Congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism,” they said. Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert issued an apology from her congressional office’s Twitter account after video of her suggesting Rep Omar – one of two Muslim women in Congress – was mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator on Capitol Hill. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

'White Hot Hate' details foiled attack by white supremacists on immigrants in Kansas

From Charlottesville to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, the public has come to realize that white supremacists pose as much, if not more, of a threat as Islamic extremists. Now comes a book that takes a deep dive into one of those cases, a plot to attack a community of Somali Muslim immigrants in the small town of Garden City, Kan. In his new book, "White Hot Hate," investigative journalist Dick Lehr unspools a gripping account of the small group of men driven by hate behind that plot but were foiled by an FBI informant. Dick Lehr joins me now. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

Republican McCarthy risks party split by courting extremists amid Omar spat

The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, said on Saturday he had “reached out” to Democrats over Islamophobic comments made by one of his party, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, about the Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar. In a statement to CNN, McCarthy said: “I spoke with Leader [Steny] Hoyer today to help facilitate that meeting so that Congress can get back to talking to each other and working on the challenges facing the American people.” McCarthy did not condemn Boebert’s remarks. He also faced criticism from within his own ranks, after another pro-Trump extremist, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, tweeted that she had “a good call” with McCarthy and liked “what he has planned ahead”. Greene had criticised McCarthy, seeking to cast doubt on his ambitions to be speaker should as seems likely Republicans take back the House next year. A Republican who spoke anonymously to CNN and was described as a moderate said McCarthy was “taking the middle of the conference for granted. McCarthy could have a bigger math problem [in the election for speaker] with the moderates”. read the complete article


29 Nov 2021

Weaponizing Laïcité: How Secularism Fails France’s Muslim Women

Although some terrorism experts have praised Macron’s new bill, stating its power to dismantle political Islamist organisations which provide networks and ideological ecosystems for radicalisation, there are strong concerns that new legislation could further denigrate innocent Muslims, forcing them to pay the price for the actions of terrorists. The draft law calls for more transparency on the provenance of foreign funding for religious organisations, makes it more difficult to allow children to be home-schooled, and extends laïcité beyond public sector employees to all private contractors of public services. Laïcité was born out of a 1905 law to separate the state from the growing influence of the Catholic church, and today guarantees liberty of opinion, the equality of all citizens before the law, and the right to choose whether to adhere to religious belief. It prohibits ostentatious signs of religious worship in parts of the public sphere, notably in government, hospital and school administrations. This allows the government to be free from any religious affiliation and to not subject French citizens to any religious influence. In this way, laïcité at its origin is the freedom to believe or not believe, without any influence from the state or those in power. However, with a rise in extremist terrorist acts in the country over the last 30 years, many critics argue that laïcité has strayed from its original intent and has been at times used as a political tool to justify Islamophobic comments and acts, using secularism as a shield for discrimination. Many supporters of laïcité have argued that France’s secularist ideal is applied equally to all religions, and does not just target Muslim women. However what this fails to take into account is that laïcité itself is partly incompatible with the way in which many Muslims currently practice their religion, while it is not with the large majority of practices in Judaism or Christianity. While the incompatibility of laïcité with Islam may not be reason enough to abolish a concept so central to the republic, the government’s failure to acknowledge this disparity is telling, considering much of Islam’s history in France is rooted in labour immigration from French North African colonies in the 1960s. A number of laws in the last 20 years have specifically targeted Muslim religious symbols in the public sphere; including the 2004 ban on the headscarf and other visible religious symbols in schools and the 2011 ban on full-face veils in public. Additionally, although Macron’s new bill targets Islamism, also known as ‘political Islam’ or ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, due to its potential for providing a framework through which radicalisation could flourish, the proposition in his new bill of extending the ban on “ostentatious religious symbols” targets the average Muslim woman – not Islamism as a political ideology. read the complete article

29 Nov 2021

Eric Zemmour's Latest Book: Plenty of Attacks Against Women, Gays, Muslims – and Jews

If it wasn’t frightening, it could have been funny. In his bestselling new book “France Has Not Said Its Last Word Yet,” published in France two months ago, French-Jewish journalist Éric Zemmour describes his daily strolls through the empty streets of Paris during the COVID-19 lockdown, claiming that “the absence of the residents detaches Paris from the present and takes it back to its past. And it’s as though all the protagonists of French history – the heroes as well as the traitors, the rebel kings, ministers and authors, peasants and scientists, whores and nuns – reprimand me: ‘What have you done to our beloved capital?’” In his mind’s eye, all the heroes of France’s glorious history point at him, the reactionary provocateur Éric Zemmour, seeing him as France’s sole representative, he who has “not said the last word,” tasking him with the responsibility: what have you done to us? He himself can wander freely despite the lockdown, armed with a journalist’s card – or “Ausweis,” as he calls it, using the German name of the letter of transit issued by the Nazis during the occupation to pass from occupied to “free” France. Occasionally, police officers stop him for a selfie. After reading about Hitler’s visit to occupied Paris and the Ausweis, it no longer seems far-fetched to imagine Zemmour humming “Maréchal nous voilà!” (“Marshal, We Are Here”) to the glory of the French general, Philippe Pétain, who established the Vichy regime in 1940 and collaborated with the Nazis. And he, Zemmour, has been chosen to save France, occupied as he sees it by the Islamists, homosexuals and white-male-castrating women “invaders.” Why is this frightening? Because it’s no joke. Zemmour is persuasive. Never in France’s history has there been a similar case of a journalist, columnist, radical right-wing provocateur (recently defined as a “Pétainist”) and lacking any political experience who, in a few short months, has turned the campaign for the April 2022 presidential election on its head. read the complete article


29 Nov 2021

'The Perfect Police State' unveils how China uses surveillance on Uyghurs

Investigative reporter Geoffrey Cain writes about the Chinese surveillance of the Uyghur ethnic minority in western China, using sophisticated technology and a so-called predictive policing system designed to find people who might commit terrorist acts or harbor disloyalty toward the Chinese Communist Party. We revisit our conversation with him about his book "The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey Into China's terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future." read the complete article


29 Nov 2021

A growing alliance of Islamophobes looks to lobby governments

An alliance of supporters of the Indian and Israeli governments have found common ground with an Armenian group looking to push Islamophobic policies in the West. The day after the global financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), added Turkey to its revised list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring,” joining Pakistan and 21 other countries on what it calls its “grey list,” the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) posted an eyebrow raising tweet. “Retweet if you’re Indian, Armenian, Greek, Kurdish or Hindu, Chinese, Jewish or Muslim, or if you’re pleased to see Pakistan and Turkey held accountable for fostering hatred and financing terrorism,” tweeted ANCA on October 22. More curious still were the inclusions of banners belonging to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Hindu nationalist organisation with ties to Hindu supremacist paramilitary outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); and Middle East Forum (MEF), a pro-Israel group described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) as an “anti-Muslim think tank.” While commentators have pointed to the formation of an “Islamophobic Alliance” between supporters of the Israeli and Indian governments – which have become united in their respective subjugation of Muslim populations – with the latter taking a leaf out of the former’s international lobbying strategies, as observed by TRT World earlier this year, the inclusion of a pro-Armenian activist organisation makes this alliance a triumvirate. Essentially, this Hindutva-Armenian-Zionist triumvirate aims to fulfill several objectives, including: pressuring the US and European Union into sanctioning Turkey and Pakistan; normalising India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status; weaponising “Hinduphobia” against anti-Indian government opponents the same way pro-Israel groups have used bogus charges of anti-Semitism against their critics; providing diplomatic cover for Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian Territories. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Nov 2021 Edition


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