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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24 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a city council in Maine “approved a resolution condemning ‘hate and violence’ after a neo-Nazi rally in the town earlier this month,” meanwhile in Canada, an Edmonton man whose “assault on two Black Muslim women outside a local mall was the first in a string of attacks on the community has been sentenced to 16 months in jail,” and in the Netherlands, the anti-Islam group Pegida planned to burn a Quran near Rotterdam Central Station but police were able to arrest the group’s leader before the demonstration took place. Our recommended read of the day is by Rowaida Abdelaziz for the Huffington Post on how Hindutva is spreading across the globe, and people impacted by the far-right movement in the U.S. warn that it “has crept into their hometowns and workplaces, making life more dangerous for them and threatening to make their communities less diverse and tolerant.” This and more below:


24 Oct 2022

Far-Right Hindu Nationalism Is Gaining Ground In The U.S. | Recommended Read

Audrey Truschke, a professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, never thought her work could result in death threats and vicious vitriol. Yet Truschke, a scholar, mom, wife and author of three books, now sometimes needs armed security at public events. The publication of her first book, in 2016, challenging the predominant perception of 16th- and 17th-century Mughal kings — Muslim rulers who are widely vilified by Hindu nationalists — put a target on her back. Her email was bombarded with hate mail. Her Twitter account was inundated with threats. People wrote letters to news outlets about her. Far-right Hindu nationalism, also referred to as Hindutva, is a political and extremist ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy and seeks to transform a secular and diverse India into an ethnoreligious Hindu state. Hindu nationalism has been around for over 100 years and was initially inspired by ethnonationalism movements in early 20th-century Europe, including those in Germany and Italy. Champions of Hindutva have viciously targeted religious minorities including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and have sought to silence critics such as academics and activists. Hinduism, the faith, is not Hindutva, the far-right movement. But the label Hindu can be categorized as a religious, political or racial identifier depending on who is using it, explained Manan Ahmed, a professor and historian of South Asia at Columbia University. Hindu nationalists, he said, are morphing the religious, political and racial into one identity in order to advance a supremacist, majoritarian agenda. People impacted by Hindutva in the U.S. say the movement has crept into their hometowns and workplaces, making life more dangerous for them and threatening to make their communities less diverse and tolerant. The ideology has deep ties to white nationalist movements across the globe, and the targets of nationalist groups warn that the impact could be deadly if Hindutva is not addressed and defeated. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Malaysia: Surge in Summary Deportations to Myanmar

Malaysian authorities have since mid-August 2022 accelerated the number of asylum seekers summarily deported to Myanmar, where their lives and freedom are at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Malaysian immigration authorities have since April returned over 2,000 Myanmar nationals, including military defectors, without assessing their asylum claims or other protection needs – more than half of them in the past two months. Although more deportations are expected, the Malaysian government continues to deny the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, access to immigration detention centers. Since August 2019, UNHCR has been unable to assess whether those in detention are entitled to protection. The Malaysian government should urgently halt summary deportations and grant UNHCR immediate access to immigration detainees to determine their refugee status. “Sending asylum seekers back to Myanmar means putting activists, dissidents, and persecuted minorities in the crosshairs of the repressive junta,” said Shayna Bauchner, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Malaysian government should grant the UN refugee agency immediate and unfettered access to everyone held in immigration detention to assess their refugee status claims and other needs for protection.” read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Türkiye hosts OIC ministers meeting to combat disinformation, Islamophobia

Speaking at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ministerial meeting in Istanbul, Türkiye’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has said Islamophobia is one of the biggest threats the world is facing. "Indeed, one of today's global threats is undoubtedly Islamophobia. Hostility towards Islam and Muslims is intensely evident all over the world," Altun said during his opening remarks on Saturday. He said global institutions should be reformed in a way that decision-making mechanisms include Muslim countries. "Islamophobia also has a feature that divides the world community and threatens global peace and stability. Therefore, the whole world needs to see Islamophobia as an open hate crime, a crime against humanity and to fight against this crime effectively. "In other words, fighting this crime should be one of the main duties of not only Muslims but also of the international community," he added. Altun also criticised global mainstream media for not giving enough space to Muslims and said that disinformation accelerates the spread of Islamophobia around the world. He said the role played by the international media and global think tanks in spreading Islamophobia is "undeniable" as "international media paints an extremely negative portrait of Muslims." He also said right-wing radical parties and populist parties are playing an effective role in the increase of anti-Islam sentiments. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

We Need to Replace White Feminism With Inclusive Feminism

According to author Koa Beck, “The goal of white feminism is not to alter the systems that oppress women—patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism—but to succeed within them.” For too long, women from other racial and ethnic backgrounds bought into the false promises of equality. Now is the time to pull apart the differences between “white feminism” and, as I like to call it, “inclusive feminism,” and hold the former accountable for its inadequacies. In Iran, the death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini has sparked worldwide protests and gestures of solidarity, including from white feminists. Amini died after being arrested in Tehran by Iran’s “morality police,” who enforce the country’s conservative rules on hijabs and other modes of dress and behavior. White feminists are cheering on the protesters for taking off their hijabs as a cultural triumph for the West (given that hijab is perceived as antithetical to the Western idea of feminism) rather than recognizing the Iranian feminist movement as a grassroots revolutionary development led by Iranian women burning down the symbols of oppression through dissent. Many white feminists fail to see that for a lot of Muslim women around the globe, hijab can also symbolize liberation and an expression of their religious identity. While a lot of Muslim women across the globe wear hijab out of choice, in Iran, hijab is weaponized as a tool by the state to oppress its women. Conversely, in France, where the hijab is banned, Muslim women are fighting for their autonomy to wear it. In Iran and France, the female population is being policed on its dress in entirely different ways. But in the case of France, white feminists are largely silent on the subject. By centering feminism on gender alone and conveniently sidelining the impact of whiteness, class, culture, imperialism, and religion on gender parity, white women have co-opted the feminist space. White feminists claim to carry the mantle of gender equality without reconciling it with its dimensionality. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

How the West demonised Muslim piracy while romanticising their own

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, piracy was rife in the Mediterranean. However, Muslim pirates were vilified and portrayed as an immense danger to the western world in orientalist narratives. Why is this? And why were they stereotyped as "barbaric infidels" and "lustful" beings? In contrast, western pirates are romanticised and seen more as lovable rogues. Professor Nabil Matar, an expert in the field of Barbary pirates, highlights how mainstream narratives paint an inaccurate image that these pirates were a huge threat to Europe and the West, and therefore needed to be crushed. “The pirates were not a danger as such; it's basically economic forces at work. At no point ever did the North Africans have the capability to bomb Plymouth in the way the British, for example, bombed Tripoli,” Matar told TRT World. “Pirates were part of the economy of that period in the Mediterranean,” said Matar, and they were rewarded for their efforts on behalf of their respective rulers. Therefore, the perception of pirates as ‘villains’ was relative, as one empire’s pirates were clearly another empire’s ‘swashbuckling heroes’. The perceived threat of Barbary pirates was not realistic according to Matar, who has written extensive academic works which try to portray a more balanced history of Barbary pirates and also address overtly anti-Muslim narratives. “By 1830 the fleets of Europe were by far more powerful, more sophisticated, more advanced in their military technology than North Africans; it was an excuse for colonisation rather than eradication of piracy,” he said. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Using Soccer to Spread the Word About the Plight of the Rohingya

Robi Alam is a Rohingya refugee. His family fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. A decade later, Alam was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Life was hard in the camps, and Alam and his friends would wrap rubber bands around a wad of plastic bags and play soccer until the ball fell apart. When Alam was 10, his family emigrated to Australia, where many people have never even heard of the plight of the Rohingya. To help ease their transition, Alam and some of his fellow Rohingya started playing soccer again, informally at first in nearby parks. But their passion grew, and they formed an official club. They call themselves Rohingya United, and their goal is to raise awareness of the Rohingya issue. Now, there are Rohingya soccer teams scattered across Australia as well as in Canada, the United States, and other countries. read the complete article

United States

24 Oct 2022


Twenty-one-year-old Alia Saleeban started wearing the headscarf when she was 14. A senior at Howard University, she hadn’t been forced to make the decision; instead, she donned the head covering when she felt comfortable being visibly Muslim. Yet, her choice has always been a source of contention. “A lot of times I had to let people understand that I chose to wear the hijab, no one forced upon me wearing the hijab and I’m not oppressed,” she says. “It was like, ‘Why are you guys telling me how I should feel? You’re not giving me a choice to feel the way I feel.’” Since the late 19th century, this personal yet public symbol of a Muslim woman’s faith has been used as a political tool to control women’s bodily autonomy. The first known instance of a hijab ban dates back to when the British colonized Egypt. The consul general, Lord Cromer, called the hijab a “fatal obstacle” to Egyptian women participating in Western civilization. Back home in Britain, though, he presided over the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage. But when she worked in Century City, an upper-class white neighborhood, she says she was afraid of how people would respond, so she would switch her niqab for a face mask when she clocked in. “A lot of places aren’t safe, comfortable environments for Muslims to wear the hijab confidently,” she says. Data reflects this: In America, Muslim women are more likely to experience Islamophobia, likely because they wear the hijab. Noor Zanial was in junior high when she decided to wear the hijab. The hostility that followed created trauma for her, which took a long time to work through for the now 27-year-old public health researcher at the University of Washington. “I was bullied, I was physically harassed. I don’t know why I’m, like, tearing up,” she says. “I was begging my parents, ‘Please homeschool me.’” Her parents didn’t homeschool her, and Zanial says she developed a “tougher personality” to help cope with the bullying, making high school a better experience. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Georgia’s Ruwa Romman Set To Be The First Muslim Women Elected To State Legislature: Exclusive

Ready to tackle the issues directly, Ruwa is now running to be the representative of Georgia’s 97th House District, which is located in western Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta. If elected, the Democratic newcomer will be the first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Detail-driven and kind, with an encyclopedic knowledge of Georgia public policy, the self-professed Taylor Swift die-hard poured over campaign details with HL, talking everything from education boards, to property taxes, to legalizing cannabis. The Georgetown grad also explained how her faith factored into her stance on abortion. Like Judaism, Islam does not believe that life begins at conception. Prioritizing the health and well-being of the woman, Ruwa compared pro-life beliefs to “cutting down the tree to save a branch.” She remembers being hurt when fellow Democrats began comparing the U.S. to an “American caliphate” after the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision in May 2022. She told HL, “I couldn’t believe I was dealing with all of that Islamophobia while simultaneously having to fight as a woman for my reproductive rights.” read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

After US 'neo-Nazis target Somalis', Maine city council condemns 'hate and violence'

A city council in the US state of Maine has approved a resolution condemning "hate and violence" after a neo-Nazi rally in the town earlier this month. On 2 October, a group of more than 20 members of the Nationalist Social Club-131 gathered at a local park in Lewiston and walked through nearby neighbourhoods, according to local news reports. An image posted online showed a demonstrator holding a sign reading "End Somali Violence" in front of Lewiston's City Hall. The city council's condemnation of the recent white supremacist demonstration was largely praised by civil rights advocates, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We thank the Lewiston City Council for standing by the Somali community and other minority communities against white supremacist intimidation and hate," said CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison, noting that the previous day the group had urged the city council to adopt the resolution. However, several members of the local government have criticised the wording of the resolution and described it as a "watered down" version of the original which referred to the recent neo-Nazi gathering. Others, however, saw the revised wording of condemning "all forms of hate and violence" as augmenting the message against hate. The state of Maine, the whitest state in the US according to a recent census, has seen an influx of Somali refugees over the past two decades. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Sept. 11 Case Awaits Biden Administration’s Reply on Plea Deal

A military judge has canceled pretrial hearings in the Sept. 11 case at Guantánamo Bay while prosecutors await a response from the Biden administration on a proposed plea deal that would avert a death-penalty trial for the five defendants. The judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, postponed the next hearings until at least Jan. 16 while “policymakers” decide whether to agree to conditions from the defendants concerning their post-conviction confinement. His order, dated Oct. 13, quoted prosecutors as saying they did not expect a response until perhaps next year. Colonel McCall ordered the prosecutors to update him on the issue every two weeks starting on Dec. 16. The judge did not describe the issues that are being discussed. But people with knowledge of the negotiations have said the defense is seeking a pledge from the government that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of masterminding the attacks, and the others will not be held in solitary confinement. The men, who were secretly held for three and four years in C.I.A. “black site” prisons, have also asked the government to establish a civilian torture treatment program for them. read the complete article


24 Oct 2022

Cambridge city hall Islamic heritage display aims to educate, spread love

Did you know that the mathematician and astronomer who introduced numerals and algebra to European mathematics was Muslim? Muḥammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi is known as the "Father of Algebra." And how about this: the fig plant is one of a few plants mentioned in the holy Quran, along with its health benefits. These are a few historical stories that are part of a visual display at Cambridge city hall for Islamic Heritage Month. Muslim Women of Cambridge is behind the showcase aimed at educating people on Islamic history in an effort to better understand one another. "Conversations like this bring people together … to know each other more as a neighbour and as a friend, to learn about each other," said Abiha Syed, co-chair and one of the founding members of the group that launched in 2017, noting Islamophobia has been on the rise over the last few years. "It's with the hope that we can reduce hate and spread more love," she said. read the complete article

24 Oct 2022

Man gets 16 months in jail for attack on Muslim women outside Edmonton mall

An Edmonton man whose assault on two Black Muslim women outside a local mall was the first in a string of attacks on the community has been sentenced to 16 months in jail. Concluding Richard Bradley Stevens’ crimes were “racially motivated,” provincial court Judge Ferne LeReverend on Friday said she did not believe Stevens’ claim that he attacked the women because his mental illness and drug use made him think they were “demons.” “I reject that, because he specifically referred to them as f—ing Somalis and demanded they leave the country,” LeReverend told a courtroom packed with members of Edmonton’s Muslim community. LeReverend noted that Stevens has shown a “history of prejudice,” including when he hurled racist abuse at the South Asian police officer who arrested him, telling the officer he would “do it again” if released. “He has not explained why he committed the offences, and tried to use his use of drugs and alcohol as an excuse,” LeReverend said. read the complete article


24 Oct 2022

The unmissable mainstreaming of the Hindu Right’s hate for Muslims

Just about a fortnight before Bharatiya Janata Party MP Parvesh Verma’s call for a “total boycott” of “these people,” a sinister anti-Muslim message emerged from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Nagpur headquarters. Together, these messages show that the communal rot has gone deeper and developed more formidable roots than many would like to believe—open calls to target the minority community have long moved beyond the so-called fringe to the Hindutva’s mainstream. Verma’s call came on 9 October in a public meeting in Delhi, organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and several organisations of the Hindu Right. The media reported that the meeting was to protest the killing of a man, identified as Manish, in which the six accused were Muslim. The police said the killing was the fallout of an old rivalry. In videos that emerged from the event, Verma can be heard saying from the dais, “Mai kehta hoon agar inka dimag theek karna hai, inki tabiyat theek karni hai, toh ek hee ilaaj hai. Aur wo hai sampurna bahishkaar”—I say that if you want to set their minds straight, if you want to treat them, there is only one remedy. And that is a total boycott. He asked all attendees to “repeat with me that we will totally boycott these people. We will not buy anything from them. We will not pay them any wages.” While Verma’s message was clear, after some outrage about his remarks, he told the media he did not name any religious community, but was referring to families of those who carry out such killings. read the complete article


24 Oct 2022

Anti-Islam group Pegida attempts to burn Koran in Rotterdam; Leader arrested

The anti-Islam group Pegida announced it would burn a Koran near Rotterdam Central Station on Saturday, amid outcry from Muslim counter-protesters. However, the police arrested the group's leader and confiscated the Koran before the demonstration was under completely underway, according to Rijnmond. Edwin Wagensveld, Pegida's foreman, could be heard insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad during his arrest. He was arrested for "insulting the faith," according to Rijnmond. Pegida announced beforehand that it would burn a Koran on the Stationsplein, which Rotterdam's deputy mayor Robert Simons said was not allowed. Muslim umbrella organization SPIOR responded to the announcement by filing a notice of objection, while city council party Denk requested a motion to ban the demonstration. However, Wagensveld still announced on Twitter on Saturday morning that he was en route to Rotterdam to carry out the demonstration. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Oct 2022 Edition


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