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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13 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a police chief in Morris County is preparing to file a lawsuit, “alleging racist and anti-Muslim comments from within his own government,” meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Leicestershire Police “launched an investigation after their hate crime officer suffered a torrent of “racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic” abuse online, and in India, the Supreme Court “failed to deliver a verdict on whether Muslim students can wear the hijab in schools and colleges, with two judges expressing opposing views.” Our recommended read of the day is by Pieter Friedrich for Two Circles on how New Jersey has become “ground zero for US resistance to Hindutva.” This and more below:


13 Oct 2022

New Jersey marks ground zero for growing US resistance to Hindutva | Recommended Read

After the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey cancelled a 10 September 2022 speech by infamous Hindu nationalist demagogue Sadhvi Ritambhara, it sent shockwaves felt on the other side of the Atlantic. Throughout the Summer of 2022, from New Jersey to California, organized resistance against the influence of Hindutva (that is, Hindu nationalist) politics in the US resulted in multiple victories. The most recent victory started in the small village of Ridgewood, but it soon took on international dimensions. Ritambhara soon faced total defeat. After completing her US tour in mid-September, she was scheduled for a multi-city tour of the UK. It didn’t go as planned. She was still in America when British Members of Parliament launched demands to deny her entry to the UK. In letters to the Home Minister, MPs denounced her “xenophobic” and “Islamophobic” rhetoric, warning that it could stoke communal tensions in their constituencies. Within days, her entire UK tour was scrapped. “Just prior to her planned visit to the UK, she was disinvited from speaking in a church in the US, thanks to the campaigning by progressive groups in America,” noted British journalist Amrit Wilson. “She obviously did not wish to face a similarly humiliating situation in the UK.” “America, especially New Jersey, is a stronghold for Hindu nationalist groups who provide financial support and ideological guidance for the larger global movement,” explains Dr Audrey Truschke. Many anti-Hindutva activists ruefully refer to the state — in reference to the Indian city where the RSS is headquartered — as the “Nagpur of America.” Yet, surprisingly, New Jersey is ground zero for most of the latest victories against the movement. Striking back against the American Sangh, therefore, has great potential to undermine the agenda of the regime in India. read the complete article

13 Oct 2022

Mo and Sabra: Hollywood discovers the Palestinian, while 'genderwashing' Israeli apartheid

Representation matters. The enthusiastic response to the Netflix series, Mo, has as much to do with the storyline itself as it does with the fact that the titular character is a young, undocumented, Palestinian Muslim male refugee, trying his best to make a living even as his political circumstances inevitably put him on the wrong side of the law. In Mo, young Palestinian men saw their unapologetically unadorned selves, while Palestinian women saw a brother, son, cousin, or boyfriend. The complex character shattered longstanding racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes without a hint of an attempt at passing as flawless, or “respectable”, in the conventional mode - meaning college-educated, white-collar employed, or a doctor or engineer. But Mo’s success lies specifically in the series’ redemption of the Muslim Palestinian male, generally depicted as the quintessential bloodthirsty terrorist; because representation matters, we embraced the series. But as we were still basking in the euphoria of this breakthrough, we got the news that Marvel Studios would be featuring Sabra, an Israeli mutant Mossad agent, in Captain America: The New World Order, scheduled for release in 2024. For anyone familiar with the Captain America cartoons, Sabra is a controversial, if not outright problematic character, first introduced in 1980 as the alter-ego of Israeli police officer Ruth Bat-Seraph. "Sabra is all kinds of wrong", wrote Belen Fernandez. Indeed, even her name is unfortunate: for Palestinians, "Sabra" is the name of the refugee camp that witnessed the horrific massacres in 1982 - an attack as indelible in our memories as the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre. And Marvel’s announcement of this casting, within days of the commemoration of the massacres, added insult to injury. For Zionists, however, Sabra refers to an Israeli-born Jew, and as such is a source of pride, of achievement: the startup country is no longer in its infancy, it is multigenerational. But moving away from the name, to look at the symbolism of the character, it is hard not to notice that the attempt at refurbishing Israel’s image - and yes, there is absolutely a recognition among Israel apologists and advocates that Israel’s image is no longer as shiny as they would like it to be - comes through a woman. read the complete article


13 Oct 2022

Supreme Court on hijab: India top court judges split on headscarf in classrooms

India's Supreme Court has failed to deliver a verdict on whether Muslim students can wear the hijab in schools and colleges, with two judges expressing opposing views. One judge upheld a Karnataka high court order from March that said the hijab was not "essential" to Islam. The other said the high court order was erroneous and wearing the hijab was a matter of choice. The verdict was expected to cap a 10-month-long polarising debate in India. But Thursday's development means the debate over the hijab will continue to consume the Indian public and the judiciary - as the judges could not agree on a decision, they have now requested the chief justice of India to recommend it to a larger bench. read the complete article

13 Oct 2022

Despite RSS Outreach, Why Do BJP Leaders Continue With Communally Charged Words?

Whether by coincidence or by design, the post-Dussehra period has seen a surge in verbal and physical assaults on Muslims. In Karnataka’s Bidar, a slogan-shouting mob forced its way into a heritage madrasa on Dussehra itself and performed Hindu rituals. The next day, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sangeet Som urged a Rajput gathering in Meerut to arm themselves for protection because ”the population of a certain community is increasing’’ while that of Hindus is decreasing. Two days later, BJP Lok Sabha MP Parvesh Verma called for a ”total boycott’’. "No one should buy anything from their’ shops and no one should employ them,’’ he declared at a rally in Delhi. While some members of the Bidar mob were arrested, there is total silence from the BJP and the government on the two hate speeches. Verma is a sitting MP but party sources brushed away his remarks, saying he was speaking at The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) rally. “What else would he say?’’ was the explanation. The irony is that, all this is happening after a much-publicised engagement between the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and some members of the Muslim community. In fact, Bhagwat stunned RSS and BJP circles by calling on a prominent cleric in his office in a mosque in the heart of the Capital and subsequently visiting a madrasa where he interacted with Muslim students. Media frenzy dubbed it an “outreach’’ and wondered whether it was a signal for restraint to hotheads and fringe elements. Since Bhagwat’s interactions came on the heels of an international backlash from the Islamic world to suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s anti-Prophet comments in a TV debate, it was felt that the RSS chief was attempting an image-correction, not just for his organisation but on behalf of the BJP as well. read the complete article

13 Oct 2022

Each day brings some new horror and hate. Worrying that ordinary Hindus aren’t so shocked

The problem is not that we see an upsurge in communal battles or riots. It is that Hindus, followers of one of the world’s greatest, most tolerant religions, are no longer shocked or horrified by repeated attempts to target the Muslim minority or treat them as second-class citizens or even as the enemy. Each day brings with it some new horror. Policemen in Gujarat publicly flog Muslims who were allegedly engaging in ‘anti-Hindu activities’ while a crowd cheers. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP talks of an economic boycott of Muslims. Videos of Muslims being beaten up inside a police station go viral. Politicians spew anti-Muslim rhetoric (sometimes coded, sometimes quite blatant). Muslims are thrown out of garbas, which used to be occasions when everyone would get together to celebrate, regardless of creed or caste. The people who do this do not constitute the majority of India’s Hindus who are tolerant and free of hate. But here’s the thing: With each passing week, ordinary Hindus cease to be shocked by these displays of hatred and prejudice. Each new horror brutalises us a little more. And we are heading to a situation where all of this will seem normal and not in the slightest bit shocking or outrageous. read the complete article


13 Oct 2022

Swiss government seeks to pass law to fine ‘burqa ban’ violators $1,000

The Swiss government sent a draft law to parliament on Wednesday seeking to fine people who violate a national ban on face coverings up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,005) as it seeks to implement a “burqa ban” law. The far-right proposal to ban facial coverings in public won a narrow victory in a binding referendum last year after being launched by the same group that organized a 2009 ban on new minarets. The cabinet proposal to levy fines did not mention Islam directly and is also aimed at stopping violent street protesters from wearing masks, yet local politicians, media and campaigners refer to the measure as the “burqa ban.” After consultations, the cabinet watered down calls to anchor it in the criminal code and fine offenders up to 10,000 francs. “The ban on covering faces aims to ensure public safety and order. Punishment is not the priority,” it said in a statement. Several exemptions to the law were also included in the draft. The government suggested waiving the ban on aircraft, in diplomatic premises and places of worship. Coverings linked to health, safety, climatic conditions and local customs would remain valid. Artistic performances and advertising would be exempt. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Oct 2022

'Unacceptable' online abuse aimed at Leicestershire hate crime officer

Leicestershire Police have launched an investigation after their hate crime officer suffered a torrent of online abuse. Sumaya Bihi introduced herself in a post about her role on Twitter but then faced a barrage of abuse from trolls. Responses to the tweet included racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic language plus comments about her appearance. However they also included posts supporting her and her role, and condemning the abuse she suffered. The force said it had reported abusive comments to Twitter and begun its own inquiries. A police spokesperson said: "We are supporting our hate crime officer in a number of ways. "Unacceptable messages have been reported to Twitter and we have opened our own inquiries into the abuse." read the complete article

United States

13 Oct 2022

Long Hill police chief alleges former mayor asked him if he was in the Taliban

A police chief in Morris County is preparing to file a lawsuit, alleging racist and anti-Muslim comments from within his own government. Long Hill Police Chief Ahmed Naga says it is a pattern of behavior coming from the small town of fewer than 10,000 people. “The hostilities increased over a number of months, which forced me to file an internal complaint,” Naga says. Naga, 44, is Muslim. He was born in Egypt and came to the United States when he was a child. He says he has always wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. But he says his dream job has turned into a nightmare after a series of incidents. He says that one such incident involved the then-Mayor Guy Piserchia, who is the current deputy mayor. Naga alleges that Piserchia asked him if he was a member of the Taliban during a Sept. 11 ceremony. "He looks at me and he says chief full disclosure I have to ask you are you a member of the Taliban by any chance,” Naga says. Piserchia supported Naga's promotion to chief four years ago. "He goes, ‘I never knew where the name Naga stemmed from.’ And then he follows up and says, ‘Had I known you were Muslim I would have never promoted you to chief,’” says Naga. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Oct 2022 Edition


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