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 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the murder and dismemberment of a Hindu woman and the arrest of her boyfriend has gripped the nation, but Indian media is using the fact that her alleged killer was Muslim to further polarize the nation, meanwhile in New Zealand, Twitter’s newfound “hands off” approach to content moderation has allowed a video of the Christchurch Mosque attack to be re-published, and in the UK, an independent review of the London Fire Brigade finds that British Muslim firefighters suffer anti-Muslim abuse in a culture where racism, bullying, and misogyny is widespread. Our recommended read of the day is by Evelyn Alsultany for TIME on diversity and inclusion initiatives across the U.S. and how these initiatives are routinely failing American Muslims, because they fail to tackle the structural dimension of Islamophobia. This and more below:

United States

28 Nov 2022

Diversity Initiatives Are Failing the U.S. Muslim Community | Recommended Read

Over the past decade, the Muslim community has become included in diversity initiatives in the United States. Hollywood is finally producing shows that feature Muslim characters, such as Hulu’s Ramy, Netflix’s Mo, and Disney+’s Ms. Marvel. Universities are adjusting dining hall hours to accommodate Muslim students who fast during Ramadan, and they are increasing the number of reflection spaces on campus to facilitate Muslim ritual prayer. Nike launched its Pro Hijab, a headscarf for Muslim women athletes, and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad became its model. These initiatives enhance our sense of belonging as Muslims in the U.S.—but they are not enough to actually challenge Islamophobia. How did Muslims come to be included in diversity plans in the U.S.? My research shows that this happened in the wake of crises, or moments that made it clear that Islamophobia was a problem. Diversity initiatives born out of crisis can produce important social change, but responding to a momentary flare up as opposed to longstanding structural inequality limits the extent of possible change. Social change requires addressing the root of the problem primarily located in a history of U.S. foreign policies that dehumanize Muslims. read the complete article

28 Nov 2022

New course at Stanford University teaches students about Islamophobia in the US

There’s a new course that was offered this Fall for the first time at California's Stanford University, and it’s all about teaching students how Islamophobia manifests in the United States. The course, named Interrogating Islamophobia, is being taught by Abiya Ahmed, the associate dean and director of Stanford’s Markaz Resource Center, the student-run newspaper, The Stanford Daily, first reported. Ahmed’s work examines the intersection of religion and education, with a focus on Muslims and Islam. She told Middle East Eye that the course aims to interrogate complexities around Islamophobia in the United States, both as a concept and in how it manifests. “This is important to do, in my view, because the more we understand a phenomenon, the better we can grasp the challenges and potential of countering it,” she said. “In essence, what we’re trying to do with this course is enhance the discourse surrounding Islamophobia in the US, such that students can walk away having examined the intersections and nuances associated with it.” Anti-Muslim rhetoric has long existed in the US. Muslims are five times more likely to experience police harassment because of their religion, compared to those of other faiths, a study by Rice University shows. read the complete article


28 Nov 2022

Twitter failed to detect upload of Christchurch mosque terror attack videos

Twitter has removed freshly uploaded footage of the Christchurch terror attack that was circulating on the platform, but only after the New Zealand government alerted the company, which had failed to recognise the content as harmful. The video clips, filmed by the Australian white supremacist who murdered 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019, were uploaded by some Twitter users on Saturday, according to the office of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. A spokesperson for the prime minister said Twitter’s automated reporting function didn’t pick up the content as harmful. Ardern launched the Christchurch Call after the attack, asking social media companies to counter online extremism and misinformation. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey had supported the initiative. Speaking to media on Monday afternoon, Ardern said that while “time will tell” over Twitter’s commitment to removing harmful content, the company had advised the government it had not changed its view over its membership to the Christchurch Call community. Thousands of content moderators, as well as the human rights teams, have been laid off since Musk’s takeover, and the platform has been struggling to police harmful content, including the proliferation of misinformation accounts and racist tweets in the lead up to the World Cup. read the complete article

29 Nov 2022

Why the West hesitates to condemn racism

In October, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a draft resolution against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. The resolution described colonialism and slavery as “grave violations of international law”. It asked former colonial and slave-trading states to, among other things, pay reparations “proportionate to the harms [they] committed”. In all, 32 – mostly Latin American, African and Asian – out of 47 countries voted in its favour. Nine countries voted against the resolution: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. In part, their “no” vote is a reminder of the rightward shift in US and European domestic politics that makes even more liberal governments reluctant to accept external scrutiny of their countries’ track records. The West’s unwavering support of Israel and its apartheid-like policies targeting Palestinians also makes any unequivocal criticism of racism difficult for these countries. But there’s also a deeper reason: the role that racism and colonialism have played in shaping the current global order. Committing to reparative action for these past crimes could threaten the West’s privileged standing on the global stage. read the complete article


28 Nov 2022

Can Narendra Modi Practice at Home What He Preaches Abroad?

Modi’s statement to Putin that now is “not the era of war” has been celebrated both at home and abroad and was also included in the recently issued statement by leaders of the G-20 in their joint declaration after the Bali summit in November 2022. For the Indian media this was proof of Modi’s stature as a world leader and as a “Vishwa Guru” (a world mentor) to the world, teaching it Indian values of Vasudhaiva Kutambakam — the world is one family. But it appears that those associated with his ideological origins, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist movement that seeks to make India a Hindu state, and its affiliates, have not received the memo that their leader has declared the era of war over. In the past few months, three very prominent voices have declared the intention to take by force the region that India calls Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir). In April, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat predicted that the goal of “Akhand Bharat” would be realized in 10-15 years and anyone who stands in the way, will be destroyed. Akhand Bharat, or unified India, is the dream of Hindu nationalists who claim that India must include within its borders Afghanistan, Pakistan (along with POK), Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. His statement that “our vehicle has started moving, it has no brakes, only an accelerator, and will soon make Akhand Bharat a reality,” is essentially a declaration of intent to wage wars of annexation on all neighboring countries. Modi’s silence on hate speech and calls for the genocide of Muslims indicates that he is okay with it. If he was not, why would he not say so? Don’t these hateful calls violate the values he preaches? Are they not anti-Indian and anti-national? read the complete article

29 Nov 2022

Karnataka: Manipal University professor compares Muslim student to Kasab

A college professor in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has been barred from taking classes after he allegedly compared a Muslim student's name to that of a terrorist. A video of the student objecting to the remark has gone viral and been shared widely on social media. The college said in a statement on Monday that it had initiated an inquiry into the incident. The professor at the Manipal Institute of Technology in Udupi district allegedly asked a student for his name and then said, "Oh you are like Kasab" after hearing it, NDTV news channel reported. Ajmal Kasab was the sole surviving gunman from the 26 November 2008 terror attacks in India's financial capital, Mumbai. He was convicted and hanged in 2012. In the 45-second video shared online, the student can be heard telling the professor that comparing his name to Kasab's "is not funny". "Being a Muslim in this country and facing all of this everyday is not funny," he says. The professor is heard apologising and saying "you are just like my son", but that doesn't seem to pacify the student who says that the apology "doesn't change how you think". read the complete article

28 Nov 2022

Shraddha Walkar and Beyond: How Media Coverage Is Shaping Perceptions

That the chilling murder of 25-year-old Shraddha Walkar by her live-in partner, Aaftab Poonawala, received widespread media coverage is no surprise. As if the details of the case are not horrifying enough, however, a large section of TV media also used the event to further anti-Muslim narratives, like that of ‘love jihad’, given the couple’s religious identities. An anti-Muslim narrative is now being pushed by TV news anchors, right-wing influencers and BJP leaders that covertly suggests that Muslim men commit violence against women because of their upbringing and religious indoctrination. “Only those who believe in love jihad can commit a murder like Shraddha’s,” BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya said. The way the entire Muslim community is being blamed for Walkar’s murder has reaffirmed the significance of a recent observation by the Supreme Court, about how TV news has become one of the key enablers of hate speech and communal rhetoric. read the complete article

29 Nov 2022

The Kashmir Files: Row after film festival judge calls Modi-backed movie ‘vulgar propaganda’

The Kashmir Files, which presents a fictionalised account of the exodus of Hindu pandits from the Muslim-majority region in the 90s, has been mired in controversy since its release in March this year. Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid on Monday attacked the film for its content, saying “all of us [the IFFI jury]” were “disturbed and shocked” to see the film, which was screened at the festival held every year in the coastal tourist state of Goa. “All of us were disturbed and shocked... by the movie The Kashmir Files that felt to us like a propaganda vulgar movie inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” Mr Lapid said during the closing ceremony with government ministers present in the audience. In an unprecedented move, the film was promoted by prime minister Narendra Modi along with a plethora of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) lawmakers. With tax breaks in multiple states and the government’s backing, the Hindi language film was a major success at the box office. Critics have accused the federal government of using the film to forward right-wing propaganda narratives of perceived Hindu persecution in India. In the wake of the film’s release, anti-Muslim violence flared up in the country at a time when minority communities have already been facing persecution. read the complete article

29 Nov 2022

Indian media stoke religious tension over brutal murder instead of focusing on femicide

The murder and dismemberment of a 26-year-old woman in India in May and the recent arrest of her boyfriend has gripped the nation and media. But instead of focusing on the issue of femicide, a journalist and an activist say that Indian media is using the fact that the victim was Hindu and her alleged killer was Muslim to further polarise the nation. Journalist Somya Lakhani is shocked at the insensitivity of Indian media covering the case: Rather than sparking a public debate on domestic violence, the horrific murder has taken a political turn because Walkar was a Hindu and her boyfriend is a Muslim. “The theatrics around this case by the media are appalling and at the same time I think they are just belittling of the woman who has died,” Lakhani said. “It is a gender crime at the end of the day. I mean you may want to see it otherwise to suit our agendas, but it is a gender crime.” Rights activists say the case is being used to target the Muslim community. “So instead of looking at it as a case of domestic violence and talking about what needs to be done, media is playing a major role in further polarizing the society,” said Shabnam Hasmi, a human rights activist. “It is showing this case as a 'Muslim versus Hindu case' and how Muslim boys are luring Hindu women and how they are attacking them and killing them.” read the complete article


28 Nov 2022

The downfall of Quebec’s Bill 21 could come thanks to women

When the Charter was being drafted, women demanded equality rights – but they were derided at committee hearings for doing so. In 1980, Senator Harry Hays derisively countered by suggesting special rights for babies and children, since “all you girls will be out working and we’re not going to have anybody to look after them.” A year later, more than 1,300 women descended on Parliament Hill to assert equality rights in the Constitution, by affirming Section 15 on general equality and proposing Section 28, on gender equality rights. Initially, the notwithstanding clause could have been used on Section 28, too. But women fought for its exclusion, having had the foresight to ensure that gender equality rights could not be denied by the potential whims of future governments. We owe them a great deal. And yet, today, we see the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause leading to disproportionate damage to Muslim women in Quebec. François Legault’s government has pre-emptively used the notwithstanding clause twice since 2019, to ensure the passage of two bills. One of them, Bill 21, bans some public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols, but lawyers have provided evidence at the Quebec Court of Appeal – which heard a legal challenge to the bill this month – that only Muslim women who wear the hijab have lost their jobs as a result of it. Indeed, Quebec’s religious minorities have felt increased alienation and despair in recent years, according to the Association for Canadian Studies. Its survey found that the situation is particularly dire for Muslim women: 73 per cent of them said they’ve felt less safe in public since 2019, while 83 per cent said their confidence in their children’s future has worsened. read the complete article

United Kingdom

28 Nov 2022

British Muslim firefighters face 'institutional racism' at London Fire Brigade

British Muslim firefighters suffer anti-Muslim abuse at the London Fire Brigade, according to an independent review of the public institution, where a culture of racism, bullying and misogyny is widespread. The wide-ranging report, conducted by the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England, Nazir Afzal, was established after a trainee firefighter took his own life in August 2020. It found numerous occasions where racial slurs were casually directed towards people of colour working at the LFB. One Muslim worker said he faced constant abuse at the hands of his colleagues who bullied him over his religion, according to the report. In one instance, he said, bacon and sausages were placed in his coat pockets and a terrorist hotline number posted on his locker. The abuse faced by ethnic minorities, people of colour, and women was largely manifested through "constant mockery, baiting, and bullying", the report found. The report found evidence of "clearly racist bullying", which has had severe impact on staff in some cases, with one black firefighter finding a noose placed over his locker. At least one Muslim firefighter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the abuse he faced at LFB. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Nov 2022 Edition


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