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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17 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a Hindu-American community leader appointed to the DHS faith-based religious council is a senior member of an organization associated with a Hindu supremacist group in India, meanwhile in France, the Minister of Education has “pledged to confront an increase in clothing associated with Muslim cultures in schools, which, he says, is counter to French values of secularism,” and lastly this past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the passage of of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, which green-lit the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Our recommended read of the day is by Imran Mulla and Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye on how Meta “has become a broadcaster of genocidal hate speech through Facebook, with potentially nightmarish consequences.” This and more below:


17 Oct 2022

Facebook in India: Why is it still allowing hate speech against Muslims? | Recommended Read

The head priest was clear about what had to be done. “I want to eliminate Muslims and Islam from the face of the Earth,” he declared. His followers listened, enraptured. Delivered in October 2019, the speech by Yati Narsinghanand, head of the Dasna Devi temple in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was filmed and posted on Facebook. By the time Facebook removed it, the tirade had been viewed more than 32 million times. The priest spelled out his vision more clearly in a speech posted on Facebook in the same month, which has received more than 59 million views. “As long as I am alive,” he promised, “I will use weapons. I am telling each and every Muslim, Islam will be eradicated from the country one day…” Three years after it was delivered, the speech can still be viewed on Facebook. Meta, as Facebook’s parent company has been known since October 2021, failed to explain why when asked by Middle East Eye. This, experts say, is the language of genocide. Hate speech directed at religious minorities has become a routine feature of public life in India. From 2009 to 2014 there were 19 instances of hostile rhetoric towards minorities by high-ranking politicians. But from 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) entered government, to the start of 2022 there were 348 such instances – a surge of 1,130 percent. Today, some genocide experts speak of a possible genocide against India’s Muslims. In this article, we will examine how Meta, one of the biggest media organisations in the world, has become a broadcaster of genocidal hate speech through Facebook, with potentially nightmarish consequences. read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

India dispatch: real issue in split SCI hijab ruling is denial of individual choice by an intruding State

On Thursday, a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India delivered a split judgment in the case of Aishat Shifa v. State of Karnataka and others, popularly known as the Hijab Case, with Justice Hemant Gupta dismissing the appeal and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia accepting the contention of the appellants. The case will now be directed by the Chief Justice of India to be listed before a larger bench. Justice Hemant Gupta, dismissing the appeals, held that religious belief cannot be carried to a secular school maintained out of State funds. Fundamental rights are not absolute and can be subject to reasonable restrictions. He interpreted the intent of the Karnataka state government circular banning headscarves to be for the purpose of maintaining uniformity and discipline. According to him, uniformness promotes an equal environment where fraternal values can be imbibed. He emphasised the importance of uniforms and their assimilating nature. He also opined that the prohibition of wearing a hijab was only during school hours and the students are at liberty to carry their religious symbols outside the schools but in college, students should look, feel and think alike. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, on the other hand, struck down the impugned High Court judgment, holding that when the girls were asked to take off their hijab at the school gates, it was an invasion of their privacy, an attack on their dignity and ultimately a denial of secular education. He pointed out that wearing a hijab is not against public order, morality or health or decency, some of the grounds on which curtailment of fundamental rights is allowed. He called for reasonable accommodation by society, taking into account the diverse cultures which exist in India. According to him, discipline could not be at the cost of dignity and fraternity requires tolerance and reasonable accommodation toward the belief and religious beliefs of others. In contrast to Justice Hemant Gupta, he felt that the pre-university college was the perfect place for the children to realise the diversity which exists in the country and imbibe in them the constitutional values of tolerance and accommodation. read the complete article

United States

17 Oct 2022

The somber anniversary of a law worth repealing

Last month, as we’ve done for two decades, the United States honored the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families. Despite pleas from many families of victims and organizations, like the one I now lead, as well as one lone member of Congress to not respond to bloodshed with bloodshed, the U.S. launched wars in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and further military actions in dozens of other countries since 2001 in the name of a global war on terror. The actions Congress and President George W. Bush’s administration took in the days and months following the 9/11 attacks would set the tone for decades of endless wars. They would also leave dangerously ambiguous any governance over when, where, and with whom the United States would intervene militarily as Congress decidedly relinquished its authority over matters of war to the executive branch. Oct. 16 marks the 20th anniversary of another somber day in U.S. history, albeit lesser known. On that day in 2002, Congress passed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF), green-lighting war against Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and opening the way for a full scale “shock and awe” invasion by the U.S. That the war was based on the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened the United States made little difference to the Iraqi people, who suffered the most from it. The Iraq war was officially declared over in 2011, despite ongoing violence and instability for years to come. The law that authorized the war—though no longer necessary—has remained in the books. The executive branch does not rely on the 2002 Iraq AUMF for any current military operations. Yet, despite it being woefully outdated, the possibilities for abuse of this war authorization are endless. read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

The Problem of Marjorie Taylor Greene

Though the 48-year-old self-described “Christian nationalist” possesses a flair for extreme bombast equal to that of her political role model Trump, Greene’s assessment of her current standing within the Republican Party — owing to the devotion accorded her by the party’s MAGA base — would seem to be entirely accurate. Over the past two years, Greene has gone from the far-right fringe of the G.O.P. ever closer to its establishment center without changing any of her own beliefs; if anything, she has continued to find more extreme ways to express them. When she entered electoral politics in 2019, she had spent much of her adult life as a co-owner, with her husband, of her family’s construction company. Greene’s metamorphosis over the past year and a half from pariah to a position of undeniable influence presents a case study in G.O.P. politics in the Trump era. read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

Muslims suing over watch-list status say U.S. tactics block scrutiny

Saadiq Long was only allowed to visit his mother after FBI agents questioned her. He was strip-searched at an airport in Amsterdam and arrested when visiting Turkey. He was banned from two Persian Gulf states and fired from a trucking company. Nine years of such troubles, he came to believe, all arose from his placement on a list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel in the United States. Long, a veteran and Muslim convert, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Va. But as his lawsuit started moving forward in 2019, the government told him he had been removed from the list. Advocates say the reversal is part of a pattern from the government to evade scrutiny of the Terrorist Screening Database, a secret, FBI-maintained list of known or suspected terrorists subject to heightened security screening at borders, and of the smaller No Fly List of those barred from U.S. airspace. Hundreds of thousands of people have been placed on the lists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For years, civil liberties groups have challenged the process of determining who is on the two lists as unconstitutional but say they’re often hampered by the government’s tactics. “The Government removes people from their secret lists only when they fear that a court might impose restraint on their lawlessness,” said Gadeir Abbas, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) litigating Long’s case. “If the FBI has its way, delisting a person will become a kind of cheat code the federal government can use to deny people their day in court.” read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

US appoints leader of Hindu nationalist group to interfaith council

A Hindu-American community leader appointed to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) faith-based religious council is a senior member of an organisation associated with a Hindu supremacist group in India, Middle East Eye can reveal. Chandru Acharya, who was appointed by the DHS in late September to advise the US government on domestic issues, is a director of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS-USA), a group that has repeatedly defended the policies of India's right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The HSS says it is apolitical and says it acts as a vessel for celebrating Hindu cultural and religious values. Acharya confirmed his association with HSS-USA to Middle East Eye but denied any affiliation between his organisation and the RSS. Ria Chakrabarty, policy director for Hindus for Human Rights (HFHR), told MEE: "The RSS is the ultra-right wing Hindu extremist organisation and the founding of the Hindutva ideology, which is a Hindu supremacist and Islamophobic ideology." "The HSS is the overseas arm of the RSS. We firmly oppose the inclusion of organisations like HSS in any religious freedom council." Several Indian Americans, including activists and scholars of South Asia, told MEE that it was "very troubling" that a member of a known group linked with and inspired by a supremacist organisation that sees India's minorities as second-class citizens would now make their way into a body purportedly looking to shape the domestic policies of the US government. read the complete article


17 Oct 2022

After the death of Mahsa Amini, women around the world share why they chose to give up — or keep — their hijabs

Women in Iran and abroad are taking to the streets, burning headscarves and cutting their hair to protest the death of Mahsa Amini in September. Amini died after Iran's morality police arrested her for failing to wear the hijab correctly. Their fight follows a decades-long history of rising up for a woman's right to choose. Young women around the world shared with Insider why they chose to give up — or keep — their hijabs, and what the choice meant to them. Some have requested to go by their first names only to protect their privacy. "I lost count of the negative comments I received online for wearing the hijab, and for being a Muslim in general. I have even been called a terrorist. On my first day of college, I was the only Muslim in class. I sat awkwardly with people who were disinterested in my attempts at conversation. The second day was better, and that's when I realized that as a hijabi, first impressions work differently for me. They want to know whether I'm dangerous first before they think to find out if I'm nice. The protests in Iran are both heartbreaking and inspiring. I can't imagine my hijab being anything but a choice and it is really disturbing to not only see it being forced on women but also being used as a pathetic excuse to senselessly kill them. It is ironic that people would advocate women's rights while demanding that women take off the hijab. And I think people are under the impression that those who continue to wear hijab in the light of what is happening do not care about Iran. That is a big, big misconception. If anything, being a hijabi in a non-Muslim country taught me to empathize more with those who do not have the right to choose like I do." read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

Religious Polarization in India Seeping Into US Diaspora

In Edison, New Jersey, a bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression of India’s Muslim minority, rolled down the street during a parade marking that country's Independence Day. At an event in Anaheim, California, a shouting match erupted between people celebrating the holiday and those who showed up to protest violence against Muslims in India. Indian Americans from diverse faith backgrounds have peacefully co-existed stateside for several decades. But these recent events in the U.S. — and violent confrontations between some Hindus and Muslims last month in Leicester, England — have heightened concerns that stark political and religious polarization in India is seeping into diaspora communities. In India, Hindu nationalism has surged under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, which rose to power in 2014 and won a landslide election in 2019. The ruling party has faced fierce criticism over rising attacks against Muslims in recent years, from the Muslim community and other religious minorities as well as some Hindus who say Modi's silence emboldens right-wing groups and threatens national unity. Hindu nationalism has split the Indian expatriate community just as Donald Trump’s presidency polarized the U.S., said Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California.Soni said it's important that universities remain places where "we are able to talk about issues that are grounded in facts in a civil manner,” But, as USC's head chaplain, Soni worries how polarization over Hindu nationalism will affect students' spiritual health. “If someone is being attacked for their identity, ridiculed or scapegoated because they are Hindu or Muslim, I'm most concerned about their well-being — not about who is right or wrong," he said. Anantanand Rambachan, a retired college religion professor and a practicing Hindu who was born in Trinidad and Tobago to a family of Indian origin, said his opposition to Hindu nationalism and association with groups against the ideology sparked complaints from some at a Minnesota temple where he has taught religion classes. He said opposing Hindu nationalism sometimes results in charges of being “anti-Hindu,” or “anti-India,” labels that he rejects. read the complete article

17 Oct 2022

Workplaces can impose hijab bans, rules top EU court

The European Union’s top court has ruled that companies within its members states can ban hijabs as long as it is done in a “general” way which does not constitute “direct discrimination”. The ruling, published by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Thursday, concerned an ongoing dispute since 2018 between a Muslim woman in Belgium and SCRL, a company that manages social housing. The woman was told during an interview for a six-week internship that she could not wear a hijab because SCRL had a neutrality rule banning all head coverings. She brought forward legal action against the company to a Belgian court, which later sought guidance from the top European court. Last year, the European Union court was condemned by Muslim women and campaign groups after issuing a similar ruling which stated that employers could, in principle, ban staff from wearing hijabs. In January, French legislators voted in favour of an explicit ban on "the wearing of the veil in sports competitions", triggering an uproar by women's rights advocates. read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Oct 2022

Muslims in Leeds have 'lost confidence' in the face of discrimination

Almost half of Muslims living in Leeds feel they’re treated unequally because of their faith, a new report has suggested. A survey of 221 Muslims in the city found 49 per cent disagreed with the idea they were “currently treated as equal citizens in Leeds”. The report, which examined Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice in the city in great detail, concluded many local victims were “suffering in silence”. It found two thirds of those who’d experienced hate did not report abuse and attacks to the police or any other authority. Leeds Labour councillor Javaid Akhtar, who is himself Muslim, said many minority groups had “lost confidence” in the system, because “they don’t feel they will be listened to”. Councillor Akhtar said: “We need to build that relationship and that confidence so people feel able to report it and then at least we have a database and a record of it. “I’ve always said that minority groups, including Muslims, don’t get the same opportunities in either jobs or education. The reason why a lot of Muslims go into self-employment is because the career ladder isn’t as open for them. “Across industry generally, you’ve got to work twice as hard as your colleagues and you’ve got to be more pro-active.” The report was prepared for the city council by the Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations, which is based at Coventry University. read the complete article

New Zealand

17 Oct 2022

As a Muslim in New Zealand I’ve long yearned for a TV show that reflected my life. So now we’re making one

Overnight, my community went from invisibility to hyper-visibility, our identities and beliefs caricatured in an endless loop. Suddenly, we were the suits that others wore to feel powerful: terror experts, politicians, shock-jocks, racially ambiguous Hollywood actors. Except we weren’t superheroes, we were supervillains. My love for TV didn’t abate, but I became acutely aware that the stories I was consuming weren’t meant for me, and that my own experience would never be truly reflected. I entered journalism to try to fix these harmful narratives, but at times the tide felt overwhelming. If it wasn’t the terrorist, it was the war-stricken child. If it wasn’t the angry Muslim, it was the oppressed and downtrodden one. But these were still caricatures, two dimensional versions of ourselves presented through pain and trauma. Where was our nuance, our quirk, the things that made us truly human? After the 15 March attacks in Christchurch, a lot of my colleagues in the media looked inwards, examining the ways in which they had played a role in proliferating harmful narratives. We began seeing Muslims on TV, young and old, talking about their lives. For many it was the first time they had heard Muslims speaking for themselves, particularly ones with New Zealand accents and familiar backstories. It was a fundamental shift in narrative, but one rooted in grief. A retroactive attempt at fixing what had already been lost. The country was beginning to see us for the first time, but not on our terms. We had been seen now in our pain, but we deserved to also be seen in our joy. If we couldn’t see ourselves represented on TV in the ways we wanted, then maybe we should do something about it. We hatched a plan for a show that would centre our community, and nearly two years later we are close to bringing it to reality. Miles From Nowhere, a comedy about identity, surveillance and the Muslim community, is about to start production thanks to funding from NZ On Air, in partnership with Gibson Group and Sky Originals NZ. Ahmed and I, alongside Australian comedian Aamer Rahman, have launched a production company, Homegrown Pictures, aiming to bring many more stories to the screen that centre immigrant and refugee narratives. read the complete article


17 Oct 2022

French education minister to ‘limit’ Muslim clothing in schools

French government minister has pledged to confront an increase in clothing associated with Muslim cultures in French schools, which, he says, is counter to French values of secularism. Pap Ndiaye, the minister of education, described the phenomenon as a “wave” encouraged by online religious influencers. France banned religious symbols and clothing in schools in a bid to prevent Muslim girls from wearing veils 18 years ago. However, Ndiaye said influencers, especially on TikTok, were encouraging young girls to flout the ban by turning up to school wearing abayas, incidences of which increased by 40 percent in 2021. “We are going to do what is necessary to limit the harmful influence of these Islamist agitators. The Republic is stronger than TikTok,” Ndiaye said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Oct 2022 Edition


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