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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20 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Denmark, “a new list to categorize Muslims based on their countries of origin is at the heart of what critics call an attempt to further discriminate against the community,” meanwhile in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees who sought safety in the country following genocide in Myanmar are now experiencing hostility that has left them pondering a dangerous return home, and in Europe, the recent comments by the EU foreign policy “are nothing short of a smokescreen to cover up Europe’s ongoing and actual neocolonialism in Asia and Africa,” writes Professor Joseph Massad. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Audrey Truschke for The Immanent Frame on “unpacking the expansive and exclusive notion of ‘indigenous status for all Hindus and only Hindus,'” noting that “Hindu majoritarian mistreatment of religious minorities bears marked similarities to how white Christians have abused native communities in North America.” This and more below:


20 Oct 2022

Hindutva appropriations of indigeneity | Recommended Read

Hindu nationalists frequently anoint themselves the Indigenous people of India. This identity claim—informed by upper-caste sensibilities and a core part of Hindutva mythology—is misleading and harmful to numerous minoritized Indian communities. It undermines the status of Adivasis, “first dwellers.” It also provides fodder for assertive Hindutva conversion campaigns and land grabs that seek to disenfranchise Adivasis and Muslims. In this essay, I explicate the distorting Hindu nationalist claim of indigeneity, unpacking the expansive and exclusive notion of “indigenous status for all Hindus and only Hindus.” Hindu majoritarian mistreatment of religious minorities bears marked similarities to how white Christians have abused native communities in North America. More broadly, Hindutva ideology on indigeneity resonates with a global far-right agenda to enforce nativist policies and undercut multiculturalism. I explore Hindutva’s global links and North American parallels to help highlight the ethical and material implications of Hindutva aggressions that target others’ identities and land. Claiming indigeneity for the politically powerful, Hindu nationalists seek to disempower already precarious marginalized communities and use the implausible projection of themselves as oppressed to further harsh majoritarian goals. read the complete article

20 Oct 2022

Q&A: Understanding India’s crackdown on Muslim groups

India’s government late last month banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) and affiliated organisations for five years, accusing the groups campaigning for Muslim rights of involvement in “terrorism”. Authorities also arrested dozens of members of the nine outlawed organisations after conducting raids across the country. The organisations have denied any links to armed groups and dubbed the action by the Hindu nationalist government a “witch-hunt”. Critics have said that little evidence has been provided to tie the groups to violence, adding that the government has been ignoring the violence committed by Hindu far-right groups – a charge the government has denied. Al Jazeera spoke to Irfan Ahmad, professor of sociology and anthropology at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul and an expert on Indian politics and Islamist parties in India. The interview below has slightly been edited for brevity and clarity. read the complete article

20 Oct 2022

India: Modi government approved release of men convicted of raping Muslim woman

India’s national government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the release of 11 men convicted and sentenced to live imprisonment for gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman and murdering 14 members of her family, according to court documents. The convicts were part of a Hindu mob who had attacked Bilkis Bano during religious riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002. They were released from prison on 15 August, India’s Independence Day, and were welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the prison. Their release triggered widespread outrage at the time, and was contrasted with Prime Minister Modi’s Independence Day speech in which he championed respect for women. read the complete article


20 Oct 2022

More than Just Fabric: Freedom, through Mahsa Amini’s Road to Revolution

Many of us at Harvard are aware of the protests that have erupted across Iran and the Middle East following Zhina Mahsa Amini’s death; some of us, myself included, have even rallied on the steps of Widener Library to call for justice for Amini. Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish descent, was detained by the Iranian morality police under the hijab law, which requires women to cover their hair under hijabs or headscarves and wear loose-fitting robes. She was taken into custody and reported dead three days later. There exist allegations that she was beaten during her detention, sparking widespread protests in Iran and beyond. The United States has previously launched efforts to aid the persecuted women of Iran’s Islamic Republic. These efforts, however, are facades for a deeper political agenda, intended to induce Iranian surrender to U.S. demands and economic coercion. The U.S. State Department has repeatedly placed a spotlight on the suppression of Iranian women’s rights, with social media posts reminiscing on an era where Iranian women dressed openly and offering belittling praise to successful Iranian-American women. The U.S. administration has long appropriated the Iranian women’s movement to further their own political and economic programs, while blatantly disregarding the oppression faced by women under Middle Eastern governments allied with the U.S. This is not the first or only occurrence of Western nations exerting their power in developing countries under the guise of empowering women. European colonial powers have long presented the hijab as a symbol of oppression in Asia and North Africa. In the 19th century, the British launched campaigns against the hijab in Egypt, fixated on the claim that it was an injustice against women. Such notions served as fundamental underpinnings of white saviorism, and also contributed to the development of misinformed conceptions of Middle Eastern and Muslim women. Both historical reflection and a deeper analysis of contemporary women’s rights propaganda reveal an important truth: These countries do not need saving. Muslim women do not need saving. Control of the female body and oppression of women is not inherent to Islam, nor the countries of the East. And Western intervention will most certainly not be the solution. Liberation is not equivalent to removal of the hijab. read the complete article

20 Oct 2022

Josep Borrell's European 'garden' is built on the plunder of the 'jungle'

Continuing the racist metaphor which Israel's former prime minister, the Lithuanian-born Ehud Barak, née Brog, posited in 2002 when he described Israel as a "villa in the jungle", European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell declared last week that "Europe is a garden. We have built a garden…The rest of the world – and you know this very well, Federica [Mogherini] – is not exactly a garden. Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden." In the 19th and much of the 20th century, the favourite metaphor that European colonial racists used against the rest of the world was that Europe represented "civilisation", while the rest of the world represented "savagery" and "barbarism". Borrell’s imperialist and racist metaphor was spewed as part of his opening remarks at the European Diplomatic Academy in Bruges last week and were addressed to the Italian Islam expert and former communist Federica Mogherini, rector of the College of Europe. Borrell used the Malthusian language of population control when he expressed his concern to Mogherini that "the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden". Like de Tocqueville before him, and even like Israel’s former prime minister, the Ukrainian-born Golda Meir (née Mabovitch), who was unable to sleep worrying about how many Palestinian children were being conceived or born every night, Borrell’s main worry is about the inhabitants of the jungle invading the garden. What is most bewildering about Borrell’s speech is not its ignorance of colonialism and neocolonialism, of which he is evidently aware, but that he thinks they only affect the “jungle” but not the “garden”. It seems that Europe’s own colonial and neocolonial institutions are not what made it possible to build the European "garden" - with the labour of immigrants from the “rest of the world” and with the stolen wealth of the "rest of the world". Rather, according to Borrell and the rest of Europe’s white supremacists, with the fantasised ingenuity of Europeans themselves. read the complete article

20 Oct 2022

Indonesia Shamelessly Abandons Uyghurs

In 2019, when my Human Rights Watch colleagues visited Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, they sought meetings with government officials and opinion leaders to encourage them to speak up against the discrimination and abuses suffered by Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, China. Instead of an enthusiastic reception, they encountered a wall of silence. While civil society activists expressed concern about Chinese government human rights violations, some Indonesian Muslim leaders criticized the “American media” or “Western organizations” for mischaracterizing the situation in Xinjiang. Indonesian government officials also didn’t want to address the issue, insisting that what happens to the Uyghurs is a domestic matter for the Chinese authorities. Now this disregard for the Uyghurs has gone from bad to worse. Following a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which found that human rights abuses in Xinjiang may amount to crimes against humanity, Indonesia’s representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Febrian Ruddyard, explained his government's decision to vote against a motion to discuss the situation in Xinjiang. Indonesia’s vote against the motion – which failed, 19 votes to 17 – was crucial. read the complete article

United States

20 Oct 2022

Man convicted of murder at Muslim-owned tire shop in Dallas faces hate-crime charges

A man convicted of murdering a Muslim man during a racism-fueled mass shooting at a Dallas tire shop in 2015 now faces federal hate crime charges. Prosecutors announced Wednesday that a grand jury indicted Anthony Paz Torres, 37, on one count of hate crime resulting in death and four counts of hate crime involving attempt to kill. He also was indicted on a charge of using a firearm during a violent crime. Torres does not have an attorney listed in court records. On Christmas Eve 2015, Torres shot multiple people at Omar’s Wheels and Tires, a Muslim-owned business in Pleasant Grove, during an attack that was motivated by his desire to avenge attacks by Islamic extremists in Garland and California, authorities have said. A week before the shooting, witnesses told investigators, Torres visited the business and went off on an anti-Muslim rant. read the complete article

20 Oct 2022

Immunity Shaky for Official Who Fired Lawyer Over Islam Tweets

A federal appeals court panel in Cincinnati expressed skepticism that an official at the Tennessee Supreme Court’s legal ethics board should be able to avoid a lawsuit by a lawyer who says his termination for tweeting about Muslims violated his First Amendment rights. Judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pushed back during oral argument Wednesday on the claim that the employment decision merited immunity because it was a judicial function meant to protect the integrity of the disciplinary process for attorneys practicing in the state. Morgan’s appeal is challenging a federal district judge’s decision granting quasi-judicial immunity to Sandra Garrett, the official who fired him, thus allowing her to avoid being sued. He’s also appealing the grant of sovereign immunity to the legal ethics board, which the lower court said was an arm of the state. Garrett fired Morgan after Manookian, a lawyer who is married to a Muslim woman, moved to disqualify Morgan from his discipline case in 2020 for alleged anti-Muslim bigotry. Manookian cited various Twitter posts from Morgan, including tweets warning that Muslims will “take everything we give them” and use it “against us,” declaring that the “#1 issue of our time” is “stopping Muslims,” and stating that the “Constitution does NOT REQUIRE us to let in more Muslims!” read the complete article


20 Oct 2022

Switzerland plans to fine $1,000 for wearing a niqab

In March 2021, it was announced that Switzerland would ban women from wearing the niqab in public after 51.2% of voters in the country supported the notion. With the proposal being passed in a referendum last year, it meant that this law is more than likely to pass the proposal stage. In October 2022, Al Jazeera reported that the ‘Swiss government has sent a draft law to parliament, seeking to fine people who violate a national ban on face coverings up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,000).’ Those donning the niqab and burqa would still be permitted to dress in such a manner within places of prayer, but not in public spaces. Conveniently, face masks worn for COVID will not be included in this ban. Many have condemned such a move and have labelled this draft law as sexist and Islamophobic. read the complete article


20 Oct 2022

How Denmark is ‘othering’ its Muslim population

A bizarre new list to categorise Muslims based on their countries of origin is at the heart of what critics call an attempt to further discriminate against the community. Two years ago, Denmark’s former Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye wanted to find out if there was a connection between where people came from and how they appeared in the ministry’s crime and employment statistics. This led to Tesfaye overseeing the creation of a new and unusual statistical measure, MENAPT: Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Türkiye, which is different from the classification for non-Western countries already in use by Statistics Denmark — the central authority collecting, compiling and publishing statistics on the Danish society. MENAPT is an extension of an existing controversial term MENA (Middle East and North Africa), an European construct to club together nations of tens of millions in groups for their own foreign policy needs. Though the list was introduced in 2020, it has since then become an important part of the country’s political rhetoric. Moreover, the new citizenship regulations put into effect last year indicated that applicants from MENAPT countries would be judged separately from their counterparts in the non-Western list. Critics of MENAPT see this as an attempt that could lead to further discrimination against Muslims living in Denmark, and especially those belonging to countries on the list. read the complete article


20 Oct 2022

Welcome no more: Rohingya face backlash in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugee Noor Kamal found a sympathetic welcome in Bangladesh when he fled the soldiers rampaging through his village -- but five years later, the hostility he now faces has left him pondering a dangerous return home. Much has changed in the time since he and 750,000 other members of the stateless Muslim minority escaped neighbouring Myanmar, the survivors of a horrific crackdown now subject to a UN genocide probe. Back then, thousands of Bangladeshis, outraged by the anti-Muslim violence across the border, trekked from across the country to distribute food and medicine to the shell-shocked arrivals. But public attitudes have hardened after years of fruitless efforts to negotiate a safe return for the Rohingya, with media outlets and politicians regularly condemning refugees as drug runners and terror threats. "There is so much hatred among local people and the press here that I worry it may trigger violence at any time," Kamal told AFP from his home in Bangladesh's sprawling border relief camps. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Oct 2022 Edition


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