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 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, police are increasingly using CCTV cameras and facial recognition technology to monitor streets and public spaces, as experts warn that “weak surveillance and data protection regulations mean that this emphasis on CCTV cameras is likely to cause more harm than good,” meanwhile as the women-led protests against the Iranian government continue, many Iranians abroad want people to know that the issue is “not about the specific articles of clothing or religious symbols that they wear, but rather the choice to wear it or not,” and lastly, critics are accusing Indian actress Priyanka Chopra of “selective outrage” and “double standards” as she voiced her support for the protests in Iran, but remained silent regarding growing Islamophobia and attacks on Indian Muslim women’s rights in India. Our recommended read of the day is by Chetan Bhatt for the Guardian on how the “south Asian tradition of militant anti-communalism has been ruthlessly banished in India by the Hindu supremacist authoritarianism of the BJP and its supreme leader, Narendra Modi.” This and more below:


12 Oct 2022

In Britain and India, we must resist the tragic thinking that pits Hindus against Muslims | Recommended Read

The terrible events in Leicester last month saw several hundred young people marching to Green Lane Road on 17 September chanting, “Jai Shri Ram” (“Glory to Lord Rama”). Other youths, in response, gathered to chant “Allahu Akbar”. Both expressed heady allegiance to their god – not as a simple demonstration of faith, but as a combative slogan against others. Several British politicians have intervened, as have the governments of India and Pakistan. Social media “influencers” descended on Leicester to video themselves and their “patrols” and further provoke young people. With a few important exceptions, most of those intervening chose to enlarge, rather than contest, a dangerous logic of communalism. It is in their political interests to keep communities pitted against each other. “Communalism” is a term that will be familiar to those who follow the politics of south Asia. Perhaps less so to others: it refers to a negative, discriminatory, or hate-driven orientation to people of other faiths, and a superiority regarding one’s faith. Once upon a time, in post-independence India, it was a filthy word. To be accused of communalism was to be considered to be something like a racist or fascist, someone who harboured hatred and wanted to generate antagonism towards other religious or caste groups. But the south Asian tradition of militant anti-communalism has been ruthlessly banished in India by the Hindu supremacist authoritarianism of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and its supreme leader, Narendra Modi, both owing their allegiance to a massive fascism-inspired, paramilitary organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Their ideology is Hindutva, an early 20th-century blood and soil concoction that mimicked other ferocious ethno-nationalisms. It now dominates India. Hindutva forces cannot tolerate the presence of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, protesting farmers, secularists and liberals in India. The Indian people attacked by Hindutva politicians and armed groups proliferate daily and are routinely vilified as “anti-national” enemies and “terrorists” by a largely compliant Indian media. Other violent Hindutva movements have emerged with force, and these are not necessarily or always linked to the RSS family. The aim of the Hindutva groups is to remove the Muslim (and Christian) presence from the Indian civil and public sphere. It is now common to hear about the “early warning signs” of potential mass atrocities when India is being discussed by human rights folks. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

Actress Priyanka Chopra’s Iran stand ‘selective outrage’: Critics

Indian actress and United Nations goodwill ambassador Priyanka Chopra is facing criticism for her condemnation of the custodial death of Mahsa Amini in Iran while maintaining silence on women’s issues back home. “I am in awe of your courage and your purpose. It is not easy to risk your life, literally, to challenge the patriarchal establishment and fight for your rights. But, you are courageous women doing this every day regardless of the cost to yourselves,” Chopra wrote. Critics, however, have accused Chopra – who was appointed a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2016 – of “selective outrage” and “double standards” by not speaking for India’s Muslim women, who have been facing attacks for wearing a hijab. Nabiya Khan, a poet and activist based in the capital New Delhi, told Al Jazeera she expected an Indian celebrity to talk about the persecution of minorities in her home country. “They have the responsibility and voice to speak but they choose to look the other way. Indian celebrities are very quick to comment on anything happening outside the country – which is right, had they not been turning a blind eye to what is happening in India,” she said. Khan said thousands of Muslim women in the southern state of Karnataka are unable to attend schools and colleges because of a ban on wearing the hijab in educational institutions by the Hindu right-wing government, which has “outlawed their faith”. “Somehow it doesn’t catch the eye of Priyanka Chopra who is a so-called champion of women empowerment,” Khan told Al Jazeera. In recent weeks, a number of prominent women in the West have cut off locks of their hair to express their solidarity with the Iran protests. A news presenter working for the India Today network did the same during her show over the weekend. Muslim activists in India were not amused at the act by a news channel that has been accused of spreading hate against Muslims and being in the government’s thrall. “Forget Priyanka Chopra, TV anchors cutting their hair in solidarity with women of Iran is not just disingenuous but also laughable. Imagine working for a media house baying for Muslims’ blood and then claiming you care about the women of Iran. Someone show these people a mirror,” Twitter user Mirza Arif Beg wrote. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

Couture designer uses fashion to call for an end to the plight of Uyghurs

Louise Xin grew up adoring fashion and textiles, not knowing that years later, her love for design would catapult her to a global stage where she became outspoken about politics too. The 28-year-old designer is based in Sweden and is the owner of Scandinavia's first couture rental-only brand, named after herself. She created the brand during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when she found the time to focus on making her dream a reality. While she was known for championing sustainable fashion and diversity in the looks she creates, Xin’s work gained international attention when she used her brand to call for an end to the forced labour and detention of China’s Uyghur community. “I was in Japan at the time, during the pandemic, when I came across a BBC News article showing videos of the camps in Xinjiang,” she told Middle East Eye. “That was the first time I was hearing about it, it took me a year to properly research and educate myself because there was a lot of Chinese propaganda I was trying to filter through,” she explained. Xin spent days researching what was happening to the Uyghurs, reading various reports, and watching documentaries. What she discovered inspired her to do whatever she could to make a difference. And the most powerful tool she had at her disposal was fashion. “When I researched further into it and discovered that one in five governments worldwide uses Uyghur forced labour, I made it my mission to use my platform as a fashion designer to do something about it.” According to a United Nations report published earlier this year, the Chinese government has committed crimes against the Uyghurs that may amount to crimes against humanity. The report cites examples and first-person accounts of mass arbitrary detention, torture, cultural persecution, forced labour, and other serious human rights violations. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

Why Trump’s public support for a far-right party in Spain matters

Spain already had a prominent center-right political party called Partido Popular (the PP), but in 2014, some of its more conservative members broke off to form a new, xenophobic alternative called Vox. As an analysis from a few years ago explained, “Vox shares similarities with other far-right movements in Europe, such as the National Front in France or Alternatives for Deutschland (AfD) in Germany. Vox is anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and skeptical of elements of the EU. It is also very conservative on issues like LGBT rights, abortion and women’s rights.“ For a while, it was seen as a fringe entity, but in keeping with recent trends, Vox has made gains. It’s even picked up some international admirers — including a certain former American president who’s comfortable with Vox’s far-right agenda. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022


Mahsa Amini was detained for wearing her hijab improperly — some of her hair visible in the front. In response to the violation exhibited by the so-called “mortality police,” powerful images of women all over the world cutting their hair are circulating social media. Iranian women are cutting off their ponytails with tears in their eyes amidst the chaos at the protests, participating in a bold act of political defiance. This powerful act establishes authority, and rids the government of the notion that they possess any power over the lives of Iranian women. These images carry weight, frustration, and pain. These images demand to be seen. As emotions run high in the Iranian community this week, I asked my roommate Tara Mehr (age 20), an Iranian McGill student from Vancouver, to speak about the recent events. She is especially passionate about the misrepresentation of the cause of protests. Recently, most of the conversation in the media is about how the hijab itself oppresses women in Iran, when in reality that is not the case. The issue is about choice, personal freedoms, and women having autonomy over their own lives and bodies. It is not about the specific articles of clothing or religious symbols that they wear, but rather the choice to wear it or not. Tara expresses how it is easy for people to villainize Muslims and push the issue on the religion itself. Unfortunately, we have seen Muslims being targeted in Canada and across the world countless times. Although familiar, it does not make it any less painful when anyone, from world leaders to ordinary citizens, display blatant disregard for Muslim lives. It is a beautiful religion, but the corrupt Iranian government is weaponizing religion to take away people’s rights. The problem is not with the hijab itself, but rather the weaponization of the hijab and the religion by the government to strip women of their freedoms. read the complete article


12 Oct 2022

'How the Hell Did Document Leak?' – Meta Internal Mail Belies 'Fabricated' Charge Against The Wire

After stonewalling questions about how an Instagram post critical of BJP leader Yogi Adityanath was rapidly taken down, Meta – the company that owns Instagram and Facebook – has called The Wire’s news report on BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya enjoying censor privileges “inaccurate and misleading” and said that the “underlying documentation appears to be fabricated”. This claim, made in an email attributable to ‘Meta Spokesperson’ on October 11, came within hours of a similar assertion on Twitter by Andy Stone, the Washington-based policy communications director for Meta. Stone said that XCheck status – Meta superusers like Malviya for whom the platform’s usual rules of the road do not apply – “has nothing to do with the ability to report posts”. Stone’s tweet was an attempt to refute The Wire’s claim – which was backed by a copy of Instagram’s post-incident review report – that the takedown of the Adityanath post was prompted by a complaint from Malviya, which was rapidly acted upon given his XCheck status. Stone’s public comments, though, are starkly in contrast to an internal email he sent to a group of Meta employees, asking “how the hell” the same document had been “leaked”. This email was shared with The Wire by a source at Meta and the screenshot is reproduced below. In his internal email, Stone demanded an “activity report for the document for last one month” – presumably in order to identify the source of the leak – and also asked why the reporter on the story was not on Meta’s “watchlist”. He said that the reporter and The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan must immediately be added to this “watchlist”, so that “any communication to them from our staff… is directly reported to me”. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

Indian police use facial recognition to persecute Muslims and other marginalized communities

On a humid afternoon in July, Mohammad Shahid can barely be heard over the noise in the bylanes of Jaffrabad as life continues undimmed. Occasionally Shahid turns his face to the wall. He is telling me about the 17 months that he spent in a Delhi jail before he was eventually charged with participating in the riots in the northeast of the city in February 2020, while then U.S. President Donald Trump was on a two-day visit to India. Many observers alleged that the police aided and abetted the Hindutva mob. Fifty-three people, mostly Muslim, were killed in the violence and many hundreds were injured and displaced. Weeks after the riots, bodies were still being found in open drains. Shahid has been home for about a year now, waiting for his trial to begin. He is one of 2,456 people who have been arrested, though nearly half have yet to be charged with any crime. Last year, the U.K.-based cybersecurity website Comparitech said Delhi was the most watched city in the world in 2021, with 1,826 CCTV cameras per square mile. Cities in China have since taken over, but Delhi remains among the ten most “surveilled” cities in the rest of the world, alongside the likes of Singapore, London, New York and Los Angeles. This has been hailed as an achievement by authorities who have promised the installation of more cameras. And in the last few years, CCTV cameras and facial recognition technology have been used not just to police streets and public spaces but also in public school classrooms. Experts say weak surveillance and data protection regulations mean that this emphasis on CCTV cameras is likely to cause more harm than good. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

By Its Inaction on Hate Speech Events, Isn’t Delhi Police Enabling More of Them?

19 December 2021. Anti-Muslim hate speech event in Delhi’s Govindpuri. 3 April 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Burari. 4 September 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Badarpur. 9 October 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Dilshad Garden. And this is not an exhaustive list. There have been several other such events in the national capital in the past couple of years. So, how many anti-Muslim hate speech events will it take for the Delhi Police to actually act against it with the seriousness it deserves? Through the course of this article, we will take you through how the Delhi Police’s inaction may be enabling more such hate speech events to take place in the capital. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

India’s top court says hate speeches need to be curbed as they ‘sully country’s atmosphere’

India’s top court on Monday observed that hate speeches against minorities sullied the “entire atmosphere” of the country and needed to be curbed. The Supreme Court, however, also added that it needed specific instances of such speeches and cannot act on vague and general submissions. The bench led by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit asked petitioner-in-person Harpreet Mansukhani to focus on specific instances of hate speech, the local media reported. The petitioner had claimed that hate speeches were being made against the minority community “to win the majority Hindu votes, to grab power at all costs, to commit genocide and make India a Hindu Rashtra [Hindu country] before 2024 elections”. Ms Manshukhani also told the court that “hate speech has been turned into a profitable business”. She even claimed that she had proof that a certain political party had funded a controversial Hindi Bollywood film, “The Kashmir Files”, that depicted the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley. The film has been accused of fanning anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri hatred in the country. Meanwhile, in a separate case, the Supreme Court asked the governments of Uttarakhand and Delhi about what action their police had taken against those who made hate speeches at several religious events, called “Dharam Sansads”. read the complete article

12 Oct 2022

Rohingya Refugees Recall Desperate Conditions With No Legal Recourse In Delhi Detention Centre

Amal Akhtar could not walk by herself. She sat up uncomfortably on a hard mattress and rested her back on a pillow and talked in a soft but firm voice. She looked straight into my eyes, as she recalled life after she was born in Myanmar’s westernmost state of Rakhine—a lush land riven by insurgencies and brutalities—bordering the Bay of Bengal. She grew up and lived there for 12 years with her mother, brother and cousins. Akhtar, now 25, had never seen anything beyond the sickle-shaped sliver of Rakhine because the Muslim Rohingya of Indo-Aryan origin—routinely discriminated against for not sharing ethnicity, religion or language with the majority Buddhist Burmans—were not allowed to travel beyond its boundaries. Approximately 9,000 Rohingya were killed in a genocide that played out over 2016 and 2017 after decades of discrimination. Rohingya were forced into bonded labour, regularly tortured and many disappeared, as the US state department reported in 2018. Rohingya women were raped, brutalised and murdered. In 2017, the United Nations called them the world’s “most persecuted minority”. As Akhtar spoke to me from her tarpaulin-roofed home without electricity in a fetid slum called Madanpur Khadar in south Delhi, she said the last time she saw her country and relatives was before she swam for over six hours to cross a river in October 2012 in search of refuge. After a three-month journey, mostly on foot, she finally reached India in 2012, enduring further abuse and witnessing several other Rohingya women being trafficked, raped and killed. But now that Akhtar is in India, she must live, like thousands of other Rohingya, with being called a terrorist, a termite or a security risk, terms used by politicians, the government and the media, and under constant fear of being detained and imprisoned without cause, explanation or legal recourse. read the complete article

United Kingdom

12 Oct 2022

Othered: How racism, xenophobia and religious discrimination were woven into the fabric of the United Kingdom

In the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protests swept through the United Kingdom, demanding the nation weed out systemic racism across its institutions. England’s footballers took the knee at every Euro 2020 match, books on racial injustice sold out, and the government agreed to hold inquiries. A racial reckoning was coming. Two years on, the urgency to find equitable paths forward appears to have been lost. The government is pressing ahead with plans to send to Rwanda hundreds — eventually tens of thousands — of men who arrive in the country from the Middle East, Africa and Asia seeking asylum. The government calls them “illegal” migrants because they arrive by boat. In reality, most are refugees. At the same time, the UK has opened its doors to more than 100,000 Ukrainians since Russia launched its war. British society has “othered” groups along the lines of race, ethnicity, nationality and religion over hundreds of years, whether through laws and institutional design, or in the culture wars stoked by prominent figures. Here are some key “othering” events through history that have shaped race relations in the UK. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Oct 2022 Edition


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