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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10 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the hijab ban in Karnataka has severe implications for Muslim women’s right to education and freedom of expression, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Al Jazeera’s latest documentary, The Labour Files, exposes “a current of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in the party under Starmer, at times apparently encouraged by its most senior officials,” and lastly, data reveals that “most of the incendiary tweets, rumours and lies” that flourished online and resulted in communal tensions in Leicester, UK, came from India, “showing the power of unchecked social media to spread disinformation and stir unrest a full continent away.” Our recommended read of the day is by  for CNN on a new documentary recounts how Richard McKinney, a former US Marine who held deeply Islamophobic views, abandoned his plot to bomb a mosque “and ended up converting to Islam and embracing a surprising role at the mosque.” This and more below:

United States

10 Oct 2022

A Marine who hated Muslims went to a mosque to plant a bomb. His intended victims ended up saving his life | Recommended Read

As soon as some members of the Islamic Center of Muncie saw the man coming toward them, they knew he was trouble. He was a big guy with broad shoulders, marching toward their mosque with his head down and his face flushed red from what looked like anger. It was Friday at Muncie Islamic Center in Muncie, Indiana, and the mosque was filling with people who had come for afternoon prayers. As an outsider with a USMC tattoo on his right forearm and a skull tattoo on his left hand, he stood out. His name was Richard “Mac” McKinney, and he was there not to worship but to destroy. He was a former US Marine who had developed a hatred toward Islam during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. His fury deepened when he returned home to Muncie to see how Muslims had settled into what he called his city, and even sent their children to sit next to his daughter at her elementary school. Unable to contain his anger, he went to the Islamic center that day in 2009 on what he saw as his final mission. He was going to plant a bomb at the mosque in hopes of killing or wounding hundreds of Muslims. He was on a scouting mission to pick a location to hide his bomb and to gather intelligence that would validate his assumption that Islam was a murderous ideology. “I told people that Islam was a cancer; and I was the surgeon to cure it,” he says. But when McKinney entered the mosque, he encountered a form of resistance that he had not planned for. Something happened that day that would change him in a way he never expected. The people whose lives he intended to take would end up saving his life. read the complete article


10 Oct 2022

'A stab in the back': Uyghurs in Australia condemn Muslim countries' 'betrayal'

Uyghur Australians have condemned Muslim-majority member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council for voting down a debate on allegations of human rights abuses against minorities, including Muslims and Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. Among the 19 members who voted against the debate were Pakistan, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Australian resident and exiled Uyghur, Arslan Hidayat, described it as another "stab in the back" — singling out the votes from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, both Turkic countries with historical connections to the Uyghur community. Mr Hidayat says there are "billions of dollars to be had" from Chinese investment in central Asian countries, which is why he believes the Muslim countries voted down the UN debate. But he blames the governments, not the citizens of the countries, and says he's received private messages from Indonesians and Pakistanis apologising for their government's decision. Mr Hidayat says China will use the fact that Muslim-majority countries voted against the resolution to reinforce their narrative that denies human rights abuses in Xinjiang. "China uses Muslim-majority states’ inaction as proof that the Uyghurs are not being persecuted," he said. "Those that propagate for China say that if Uyghurs were persecuted, then how come the Muslim-majority states don’t condemn or call for resolutions to the human rights atrocities being committed?" read the complete article

10 Oct 2022

How the Leicester Communal Clashes Were Fuelled by Online Disinformation from India

Rumour had it that a Muslim girl had been kidnapped and a Hindu temple had sent masked thugs into combat. Add in local fury over an India-Pakistan cricket match, and Hindu and Muslim men were soon fighting on the streets of central England. It was a social media storm – mostly cooked up a continent away – that materialised in real life in Leicester, where police made almost 50 arrests and a community was left in tatters. “It is a powerful illustration of how hashtag dynamics on Twitter can use dubious inflammatory claims to … escalate tensions on the ground,” said a spokesperson at fact-checking site Logically, which analysed the posts’ veracity. Experts say most of the incendiary tweets, rumours and lies came from India, showing the power of unchecked social media to spread disinformation and stir unrest a full continent away. “I’ve seen quite a selection of the social media stuff which is very, very, very distorting now and some of it just completely lying about what had been happening between different communities,” Peter Soulsby, Leicester’s mayor, told BBC radio. Rob Nixon, who runs Leicestershire Police, concurred, telling the BBC that misinformation on social media had played a “huge role” in last month’s unrest. Many of the misleading posts alleging that Hindus and Hindu sites were being attacked came from India, analysis showed. Some 80% of tweets with geographic coordinates, or geo-tagged information, were connected to India, Logically said. read the complete article

10 Oct 2022

Hijab rules have nothing to do with Islamic tenets and everything to do with repressing women

The connection between faith and practice in the Muslim world at large lies at the heart of my research. A wider look at some of the Muslim majority countries shows that even when they may claim to be diametrically opposed ideologically, they often have similar religious police, or other rules for enforcing faith in everyday life. Moreover, it is my belief, they have nothing to do with Islamic tenets. In many Muslim majority countries, imposing barriers on women has been a way of informing the world what kind of policy and ideology the government believes in. Islam’s basic tenets are that humans share a direct relationship with God without the interference of individuals or any organizations. The Quran does not stipulate that women shouldn’t drive, as in Saudi Arabia, or that women should be forced to wear conservative dress. While the Quran asks both men and women to dress modestly, it does not discriminate. In today’s political environment, women’s bodies and their sartorial modesty are often the quickest way for governments to express whether the country is secular. As opposed to a misconception that Muslim women are always forced to act conservatively in their respective countries, the truth is that women are violated for being nonconformist citizens in their respective political regimes. What is important to note is that these patriarchal practices often are not limited to policing modest dressing for women and penalizing them brutally, but also in forcing them to remove their veil. read the complete article


10 Oct 2022

Hijab Ban And Muslim Women's Right To Education: 'Reform Needed, Not Coercion'

The Hijab ban in Karnataka has severe implications for Muslim women’s right to education and freedom of expression. Since the Hijab ban by the Karnataka government in February, studies and media reports show a fall in number of school-going Muslim girls. In September, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of Muslim girls challenging the Karnataka High Court's verdict on hijab ban, told the court that the ban had resulted in nearly 17,000 girls skipping their examinations this year. There has been a 16 per cent drop in women attending college in Mangaluru since the ruling, according to a report in The Deccan Chronicle. Outlook spoke to women’s rights activist Zakia Soman, one of the founding members of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, about how the hijab ban impacts Muslim girls’ education and whether the hijab is essential in Islam. "Having said that hijab is a patriarchal imposition, what is happening in Karnataka is absolute discrimination and justice to the young girls whose education it hampered. They are giving this technical argument about uniform. But uniform cannot be more important than education of girls. The right to education is a fundamental right, as is the right to privacy and freedom of expression. What is happening in Karnataka is part of politics. By using this contentious issue, they are trying to polarise opinions on it." read the complete article

10 Oct 2022

Crackdowns, lawsuits and intimidation: the threat to freedom of expression in India

Across India, in the capital of Delhi, tax inspectors were simultaneously swooping on two more non-profits: Oxfam India and the Centre for Policy Research, a sober think-tank known for holding debates and publishing papers on such worthy topics as health and nutrition, federalism, and the regulation of India’s urban trees. During what Oxfam described in a statement as “35-plus hours of nonstop survey”, staff were not allowed to leave the building, the internet was cut off and their mobile phones confiscated. Oxfam said the tax team removed hundreds of pages of data pertaining to its finances and programmes, and cloned its server. The crackdown was not uncommon for India, where fiscal and law enforcement agencies are known for conducting regular — and, critics say, overzealous or politically motivated — searches of individuals and organisations, from opposition politicians to Chinese smartphone makers. In 2020, Amnesty International was forced to suspend its operations in India after its bank accounts were frozen following the human rights group’s criticism of Narendra Modi’s government. The searches were part of what liberal Indians decry as a clampdown on freedom of expression that, they say, has widened beyond media organisations and journalists to public intellectuals, think-tanks and comedians, too. “There seems to be a new strategy of claiming financial impropriety — not just for journalists, but for other civil society organisations,” says Naresh Fernandes, co-founder and editor of Scroll, a news website. “It immediately cloaks what is essentially a political attack and has been used against civil society and opposition politicians . . . Once you raise the spectre of corruption, it’s easier to get public opinion to fall in line.” India’s clamorous public square and disquisitive journalistic and intellectual culture has been a point of pride for many citizens. But the pressure on unfettered speech in the world’s largest democracy is palpable. Lawyers, journalists and activists say they see editors and reporters increasingly pulling their punches on topics that risk landing them in trouble. Even as the country moves to portray itself as a counterweight to an increasingly authoritarian China, rumours of self-censorship extend to people in business, with potentially harmful consequences for the development of the world’s fifth-biggest economy. read the complete article

United Kingdom

10 Oct 2022

‘The Labour Files’ exposes a toxic right-wing culture poisoning our party

The Labour Files, based on what producers say is “the biggest leak of confidential documents in British political history,” detailed harrowing bullying of party members by Labour’s bureaucracy and the rigging of democratic processes. Most chillingly, the series exposed a current of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in the party under Starmer, at times apparently encouraged by its most senior officials. The programmes detail a nasty racial dimension to this ongoing project that should concern people across the political spectrum. We read the WhatsApp messages of senior officials writing that Diane Abbott “literally makes me sick” and speculating about whether her diabetes is “the bad diet one”. We hear Abbott – the first Black woman ever elected to parliament – respond that “the Labour party isn’t a safe space for Black women” and accuse the party of “colluding with this type of racism”. The series explores the “hierarchy of racism” described in the recent Forde Report into Labour factionalism — a damning but under-reported document. Halima Khan, a former investigations officer in Labour’s governance unit, speaks of how reports of Islamophobia “would often sit in the complaints inbox,” while she would be asked to stay late to deal with antisemitism complaints. She tells of how Muslim Labour members in Newham were “stalked” by a local man who submitted a dossier detailing which school their children went to and where they parked their car. Although the dossier used racial profiling and was potentially based on a data breach, the party did not report it to the authorities, but instead suspended its branches in Newham, denying 5,000 mostly Muslim members a voice in the party. read the complete article


10 Oct 2022

Civilians in firing line as conflict returns to Myanmar’s Rakhine

Maung Ko Naing is one of at least five children to have been killed since conflict between the armed Arakan Army and the Myanmar military resumed in early July, amid unrest that has worsened across the country since the generals seized power in a coup in February last year. Fourteen people are thought to have died in just over two months since fighting resumed in Rakhine, a long-troubled state where the mostly Muslim Rohingya were driven out in a brutal 2017 military crackdown that is now the subject of a genocide trial. The United Nations in Myanmar said in an update on October 1 that the situation in Rakhine was “of particular concern” because some 17,400 people had been displaced since August and humanitarian aid was being disrupted by new movement restrictions. read the complete article


10 Oct 2022

China: Third Term for Xi Threatens Rights

Governments around the world should commit to pressing Beijing to respect human rights inside and outside China during President Xi Jinping’s new term, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling Chinese Communist Party is set to convene its 20th Party Congress starting on October 16, 2022, during which Xi is expected to further consolidate power and secure a landmark third term as the party leader. In the 10 years since Xi came to power in late 2012, the authorities have decimated Chinese civil society, imprisoned numerous government critics, severely restricted freedom of speech, and deployed mass surveillance technology to monitor and control citizens. Authorities’ cultural persecution, arbitrary detention of a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, and other abuses since 2017 amount to crimes against humanity. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Oct 2022 Edition


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