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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19 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, new documents reveal that PM Modi’s government approved the release of 11 men convicted and sentenced to life in prison for gang-raping a Muslim woman and murdering members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat religious riots, meanwhile in the United States, the theme of 2023 Met Gala will be ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,’ which has caused controversy given the designer’s “legacy is also marked with immense Islamophobia and misogyny.” and lastly, an Afghan teen is recovering from a brutal attack by several students from her school in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Our recommended read of the day is by Hadia Mubarak for The News & Observer on how “cases like that of Mahsa Amini need to be accurately understood through the lens of contemporary politics, history and sociology,” because to truly “understand why hijab has become so politicized in Iran one needs to examine the country’s recent history and politics, not religious texts.” This and more below:


19 Oct 2022

The West is looking at Iran’s deadly hijab protests the wrong way | Recommended Read

Many of us in the West are quick to read such stories through a cultural-religious lens. It becomes for us yet another example of the way a “misogynist” Islam or patriarchal Muslim world oppresses women. Cases like that of Mahsa Amini need to be accurately understood through the lens of contemporary politics, history and sociology. To understand why hijab has become so politicized in Iran one needs to examine the country’s recent history and politics, not religious texts. It was less than a century ago that the Iranian government banned the headscarf, known as hijab. In 1936, Reza Shah Pahlavi, declared a ban on hijab in an effort to promote European attire. Iranian women who failed to comply faced punishments such as imprisonment. Ironically these are the same punishments women face today for not observing the hijab. When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979, enforcement of hijab became a political statement of resistance to the previous Shah’s western-oriented reform. In both cases, women are denied agency to choose how they dress in public. read the complete article

19 Oct 2022

The Met Gala is ignoring Karl Lagerfeld's Islamophobia and misogyny by honouring him

New York’s fashion scene is already thinking about its next big event with an announcement of the 2023 Met Gala theme: ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.’ The decision to celebrate Lagerfeld despite his controversial career has been met with backlash, but this will likely do little to change the Costume Institute’s choice. Lagerfeld’s designs have proven to be a cornerstone of modern fashion for the last five decades, but his legacy is also marked with immense Islamophobia and misogyny. The fame and public platform he once enjoyed, and his huge industry presence, meant his controversial and largely harmful views always had the space to be voiced. In the early 90s when working as a revolutionary designer for Chanel, he unknowingly printed a verse from the holy Qur’an on to three dresses which went on to be dubbed ‘the Satanic Breasts’. He later admitted to choosing the Arabic scripture for its aesthetic and belief that the words simply arose from a love poem about the Taj Mahal. Chanel later apologised and burnt the garments after international backlash from the Muslim community, including revered religious leaders. Although perhaps one of the most controversial moments was back in 2017 during an appearance on French talk show, Salut les Terriens! where he criticised Angela Merkel for opening the German borders to Syrian refugees. Commenting that, “one cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.” The incident led to a stream of complaints to French media regulator, CSA, but there was never an apology from Lagerfeld. read the complete article

United States

19 Oct 2022

Muslims Should Speak Loudest Against Trump's Antisemitism

Donald Trump just threatened America's Jews. Over the weekend, Trump warned Jews that they need to "get their act together" before "it is too late!" The insulting comments are a new low, even for the notoriously white nationalist former president. His disgusting words rightfully drew immediate condemnation from the White House. While it's important to have such strong language and condemnation from the Biden administration, it's simply not enough. This time, we need a louder denunciation that should come from all Americans. But one group of American's voices must be the loudest: Muslim Americans. Why? Because the former president frequently and notoriously targeted American Muslims while he was in power, even instituting a literal Muslim ban while he was in office which separated countless Americans from family and loved ones in Muslim countries. According to the ACLU, many Muslim families remain separated because of this Trump-era hateful foreign policy. As an American Muslim, I think our voices should be the clearest and loudest defending American Jews because when Trump came for us time and time again while campaigning and in the White House, it was my Jewish friends, neighbors, and community members who supported us the most. read the complete article

19 Oct 2022

Afghan student recovering from violent attack at Baltimore school

An Afghan teen, who came to the US with her family last year for a better life, is recovering from a brutal attack by several students from her school in the city of Baltimore. The attack occurred last month in a locked school bathroom, where the perpetrators severely beat her, causing a concussion and bruising to the neck, including puncture wounds from the pins of her hijab, which they forcibly removed. "She could have lost her life," Zainab Chaudry, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Maryland, which is assisting the family in this case, told The New Arab. "She is back in school. But even being back in that space, walking the hallway, she has anxiety and fear. She was very worried about missing classes. Her siblings and parents are also still recovering from the trauma." This was one of three similar attacks, with two of the assault victims from the same family, reported recently at the same school, the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE), a secondary school in Baltimore, that were brought to CAIR's attention that appear to be related, Chaudry said. read the complete article

19 Oct 2022

Guantánamo Detainees Ask Biden to Let Them Keep Their Art

In an open letter, eight former and current detainees at Guantánamo Bay are asking President Biden to free their art. They hope to reverse a Trump-era regulation that says artwork made in the prison is the property of the United States government—and that it can be held in Guantánamo or destroyed as officials sees fit. The letter is signed by six former detainees and two who have been cleared for release, as well as prominent artists and activists. “Art from Guantánamo became part of our lives and of who we are. It was born from the ordeal we lived through,” they write. “Our artworks are parts of ourselves. We are still not free while parts of us are still imprisoned at Guantánamo.” Detainees have been making art at Guantánamo for a long time, sometimes starting “almost as soon as they arrive,” according to Art From Guantánamo Bay, which houses photos of the artwork and information on past and present exhibitions. In 2010, after the Obama administration’s promises to close the camp didn’t come to fruition, detainees and their lawyers were able to negotiate small improvements in their living conditions, including access to an art class. In 2017, some of the works made their way to New York City for an exhibition at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which garnered a lot of media attention. Titled “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantánamo,” the show displayed paintings and sculptures by current and former inmates at Guantánamo. Shortly after, the Department of Defense announced that no more art would be allowed to leave the detention camp. Inmates were also informed that their work could be incinerated if they were ever released, according to the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg. “Items produced by detainees at Guantánamo Bay remain the property of the U.S. government,” Pentagon spokesperson Ben Sakrisson told the New York Times’ Jacey Fortin in 2017. read the complete article

19 Oct 2022

Muslim Olympic medalist sued for highlighting story of teacher pulling girl’s hijab

Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American Olympic medalist in fencing, is being sued by a teacher for defamation after a social media post she made about the teacher allegedly pulling on a girl’s hijab went viral. The incident took place in October 2021, when the seven-year-old girl told her mom that her second-grade teacher, Tamar Herman, “approached her, grabbed her hijab, pulling it back, touching her face and hair” and exposed her uncovered hair to the class. Later, the girl’s mother wrote about her daughter's accusations on Facebook, prompting Muhammad to denounce it as Islamophobia in an Instagram post that went viral. Muhammad's post on Instagram has since been deleted. According to Herman, a New Jersey school teacher, she was placed on administrative leave, forced to move out of her home after allegedly being ostracised by her community, and required police protection after Muhammad's social media post, the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit also alleges that Muhammad “knowingly, maliciously and willfully” posted false and harmful statements about Herman. read the complete article


19 Oct 2022

PFI: Kerala Police arrest three Muslim men under UAPA

The Kerala Police on Tuesday arrested three former local leaders of the now-banned Muslim group Popular Front of India under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The arrested are Shajahan, 37, Ibrahim, 49, and Shefeed, 39. All are the residents of Anchangadi, Chavakkad in Thrissur district. According to Kerala Police, Muslim men have been arrested for taking out protest rallies soon after the ban on the PFI. They were PFI leaders in the region, police claimed. The three leaders led a rally from the Kadappuram grama panchayat office to Anchangadi Junction in protest against the ban on the PFI, said the police. The arrestees were remanded by the Chavakkad Judicial First Class Magistrate on Tuesday. So far, hundreds of Muslim men have been held under draconian UAPA across India in connection with the cases related to the banned Muslim group. read the complete article

19 Oct 2022

India’s Modi government approved release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the August release of 11 men convicted and sentenced to life in prison for gang-raping a Muslim woman and murdering members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat religious riots, according to court documents. The approval letter from India’s home ministry, headed by Modi’s close aide Amit Shah, was uploaded on social media by legal site The Leaflet. The release of the convicts in August and their subsequent felicitation by right-wing activists had caused outrage. But it was not clear at that time if the central government okayed their release. Bilkis Bano, who is now in her forties, was five months pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in communal violence in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat state. Nearly 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in some of the worst religious violence in the country. According to an affidavit submitted by the Gujarat government in the Supreme Court, the state said its decision to release the convicts was based on them spending 14 years in jail and their good behaviour during their time in prison. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Oct 2022 Edition


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