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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04 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a new poll finds more than two-thirds of Muslim Americans say they have experienced Islamophobia, with Muslim women experiencing it at a higher rate, meanwhile in Canada, the country is marking October as Islamic History Month as per a parliamentary decision passed in 2007, in light of increased hate crime targeting the community, and in New Zealand there are deep divisions brewing within Aotearoa’s Indian diaspora as some bring attention to the rise of a far-right Indian nationalist movement that’s made its way into the diaspora. Our recommended read of the day is by Niha Masih for the Washington Post discussing the campaign of hate targeting academics who took part in an online conference to discuss the rise of Hindu nationalism. This and more below:


04 Oct 2021

Under fire from Hindu nationalist groups, U.S.-based scholars of South Asia worry about academic freedom | Recommended Read

After U.S.-based researchers announced an online conference to discuss the rise of Hindu nationalism, a right-wing political movement with roots in India, the backlash was swift and staggering. Nearly a million emails were sent out in protest to universities, the event website went offline for two days after a false complaint, and an email account associated with the event was attacked with thousands of spam messages. Hindu groups said the event was Hinduphobic and fostered hate against the community. By the time the event unfolded Sept. 10, its organizers and speakers had received death and rape threats, prompting some to withdraw. Pro-government news channels in India aired commentaries that alleged the conference provided an “intellectual cover for the Taliban.” Hindu nationalism in India has been resurgent under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rose to power in 2014 and has pursued an agenda that critics say threatens the rights of its minorities and compromises its democratic institutions. The result has been deepening polarization not only in India but also in diaspora communities. Now those tensions are seeping into American universities. In interviews, a dozen academics based in the United States say pressure from Hindu nationalist groups and supporters of the Indian government threatens to undermine academic freedom on American campuses, creating a hostile environment for those specializing in India and South Asia. Some of those interviewed did not want to be named for fear of being targeted or because of employment concerns at their universities. read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Wife of Canadian Uyghur advocate held in China says Canada should boycott Olympics if he is not released

The wife of a Canadian Uyghur advocate who has been in a Chinese prison for 15 years says the federal government should use the use 2022 Beijing Olympics as a bargaining chip to bring her husband home. Kamila Telendibaeva told CTV's Question Period on Sunday that Canada should boycott the Olympics, or consider not sending athletes to Beijing, over China's human rights abuses. "First of all, before the Olympics start, before we're going to send athletes to China to Beijing, I want to see Celil home, I want to see my husband home to Canada," Telendibaeva said. Telendibaeva's husband, Huseyin Celil, has been detained in China since 2006. He was arrested in Uzbekistan and sent to China after his long-standing advocacy for the human rights of his Muslim ethnic Uyghur minority. Telendibaeva said the family's requests to Chinese officials to see Celil in-person have been unsuccessful. Their visits to him in prison were cut off about five years ago when Beijing first cracked down on Muslim Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang province, rounding them up into prison camps, citing the need to fight terrorism. Telendibaeva said she has not heard from her husband, either by phone or mail, since then. read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

8 Books By, For, & About Muslim Women

Throughout history, Muslim women have been boxed in by stereotypes. If they are not meek and oppressed, they are terrorists – threats to society. They face ridicule and mistreatment from trolls online, from employers, and even from their own Prime Minister. In the media, the story is much the same. Even comparatively progressive newspapers like the Guardian and the New York Times can create a sense of othering in their coverage of Muslim women, as Faiswal Kasirye, a Ph.D. researcher at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, found in a study of the two newspapers this year. And lecturers Catherine Bullock and Gul J. Jafri found this “us” versus “them” narrative played out in Canadian media outlets, too. Luckily, there are a wealth of books to turn to if you want to learn more about the lives of Muslim women. With hopes of steering the discourse away from stereotypes, these books provide a nuanced window into Muslim communities and experiences. Here are just eight to get you started. read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Meet the Designer Who Is Reimagining the Hijab

“From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes,” said Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in December 2019, in the wake of widespread protests following his government’s controversial citizenship law. His oblique remark against the country’s minority Muslim population is yet another reminder of how what we wear is not just about the clothes we put on everyday. And few Indian designers acknowledge that in their works and in their lives as Kallol Datta does. “When you have people who occupy the highest political office singling out a particular community based on how they dress, fashion becomes political,” Datta told VICE. Over the years, Datta has been called everything from “agent provocateur” and “the problem child” to a “rebel” and the “Lady Gaga” of Indian fashion. One of the rare Indians artists – he prefers calling himself a “clothes-maker” over a “designer” – who are unafraid of talking politics, Datta recently got shortlisted for the prestigious Jameel Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. At the ongoing exhibition of his clothes in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, one of his creations has the hijab draped on a man. For Datta, this rise of “design nationalism” in India is equal parts frightening and alarming – something he believes not many people call out and examine for what it is. To challenge the perceptions at the root of this problem, he is examining a quintessential piece of clothing laden with a lot of cultural baggage: the veil. Across India, many designers are increasingly referencing clothes and designs that are symbolic of an upper-caste Hindu aesthetic. “But they label these creations as ‘real India’ in their social media captions, as if to suggest that the act of veiling and hijab is Islamic and foreign.” read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Terrorism Is a Political Phenomenon. To Blame it on Islam is Wrong

Ever since the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamophobia in the world in general and India in particular has received a fresh impetus. A common refrain, which you are quite likely to hear even from those who are not self-proclaimed anti-Muslims is, “All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.” The insinuation implicit in this belief is that there is something such and fundamentally wrong with Islam per se, which predisposes Muslims towards becoming brutal terrorists. In fact, even the brutal beheadings of captives by ISIS terrorists like Jihadi John are, in popular Islamophobic perception, attributed to them being Muslims and not to the individuals’ perversity. Indiscriminate use of a term like ‘Islamic terrorism’ has created an impression in the minds of a large number of people that terrorists who happen to be Muslims exist because Islam, somehow ‘approving’ of terrorism, drives them inexorably towards it. This is a dangerous misconception – a vicious myth that is rooted as much in ignorance as in prejudice. Terrorism as we find it today simply did not exist in the early days of Islam when its religious concepts were crystallised for posterity. Hence, there is no question of there being any support for the modern phenomenon of terrorism in the Qur’an or the Hadis, a record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Prophet. The fallacy persists even if they use terms like ‘Islamist terrorism’, ‘jihadist terrorism’, ‘militant Islamism’, or ‘Wahabi terrorism’. All of them necessarily imply that it is terrorism inspired eventually by Islam, or perhaps an ‘aberrant’ variety of Islam – the blame on Islam, however, remains the same. read the complete article


04 Oct 2021

Canada marks Islamic History Month to shine light on community's achievements

Canada has decided to mark October as Islamic History Month as per a parliamentary decision passed in 2007, in light of increased hate crime targeting the community. In a statement released by the Canada Heritage department – the country’s official culture ministry – the month has been designated for people to learn about the community’s history in Canada, and "the many achievements of Muslim Canadians in the arts, sports, academics, sciences and literature". The month is also to allow Canadians to acknowledge ongoing challenges and barriers faced by Canada’s more than one million Muslims, who make up about 3.2 percent of the population according to 2011 statistics. That number has most likely grown in a decade. "This year has been difficult for Muslim communities across Canada, as we saw the horrific results of racism and hate," the statement read. "Together, we must combat all forms of discrimination, Islamophobia and hate-fueled violence directed at Muslim communities across the country. This month is a time to continue working toward a compassionate, inclusive and safer Canada for everyone". read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Quebec municipal party's comments about Islam prompt hate speech complaint

On its website, the Alliance Citoyenne de Québec (ACQ) calls Islam a "cancer that is growing slowly within Quebec society." Radio-Canada obtained an email sent to the Quebec City returning officer, in which the plaintiff says ACQ made hateful remarks aimed at Quebec's Muslim community. The plaintiff called the comments "problematic" and asked the returning officer to "take the appropriate action" against the party for sharing those words publicly. The ACQ platform the plaintiff took issue with says the party will never run a candidate who "favours the Islamization of Quebec City," and it vows to establish a municipal administration, which will "do its best to counter Islamization of Quebec City." It does not provide a definition or explanation of the term "Islamization." read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Equity and diversity were shamefully ignored during the election

In the lead up to the election, we had unprecedented conversations about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on racialized people; anti-Black racism in policing; Islamophobic violence; the unearthing of thousands of Indigenous children who died at Canadian residential schools; and a spike in hate crimes against members of the Asian community. Yet none of the political parties prioritized equity, diversity and inclusion issues in their platforms, tours or advertising. As voters, we had the power to hold our leaders accountable by asking the hard questions, but we didn’t. Even when there was a moment on the national stage provided by debate moderator Shachi Kurl, we didn’t seize it. Instead, we allowed the conversation around bills 21 and 96 to turn into a conversation about the impact on the horse race and the polls in Quebec, rather than a conversation about values. read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

Toronto Maple Leafs alumni host game in London, Ont. to stand against hate

The game followed the Toronto Raptors' annual open practice at Budweiser Gardens on Oct. 2. It was all part of a weekend of events hosted by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, organized with the aim of standing up against hate in the wake of a fatal attack on a Muslim family in June. At the end of the game, former Leafs captain Wendel Clark reflected on the importance of sports as way to overcome division. "It's looking out for one another," he said. "It doesn't matter whether you're on the ice or in the community, it's about being a good community person, and being a good team player." The Afzaal family was out for an evening walk when they were struck by a driver in a black truck in what police and prosecutors allege was an act of anti-Muslim hate. Four members of the family died. The youngest member of the family survived. He has since been released from hospital and is being cared for by extended family. The driver faces four first-degree murder charges, one attempted murder charge and associated terrorism charges. "I'm so happy I came," said Yasmin Khan, who was close friends with the Afzaal family. Khan watched the Maple Leafs game alongside her nieces and nephews. "Seeing the support, I feel like we can make a difference and seeing people who have a strong name in the community and them standing up for inclusion, this means a lot and this shows that we can all stand together and lead a world that is not based off of ignorance." read the complete article

United States

04 Oct 2021

Majority of US Muslims have experienced Islamophobia, poll finds

More than two-thirds of Muslim Americans say they have experienced Islamophobia, with Muslim women experiencing it at a higher rate, according to a new poll released this week. The survey, conducted by the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 67.5 percent of respondents said they had experienced Islamophobia, which it defined as an "individual verbal and/or physical attack, public policy, or the collective dehumanization of Muslims". Of the 1,123 Muslims that were polled, 76.7 percent of females said they had experienced Islamophobia, compared to 58.6 percent of men. An even larger percent of those surveyed, 93.7 percent, said that anti-Muslim hatred had affected their mental or emotional well-being to some degree. "This may suggest that even if a Muslim is not directly targeted by an Islamophobic act, the ubiquity of Islamophobia in our media and culture after 9/11 has created an atmosphere in which Muslims feel they are being monitored, judged, or excluded in some form," Elsadig Elsheikh, the director of the Institute's global justice programme, said in a press release. read the complete article

04 Oct 2021

For 9/11 Muslim detainees, another anniversary

While memorials of 9/11′s 20th anniversary slip into the past, hundreds of Muslim men mark their own difficult anniversary. In the weeks after 9/11, more than 1,000 Muslim men were arrested, held for months with no explanation, and deported. read the complete article

United Kingdom

04 Oct 2021

Muslim mum-of-three ‘terrified’ after being abused every day in most Islamophobic place in London

A Muslim woman who is subjected to abuse on a "daily basis" and almost had her Niqab set on fire by youths said she is scared to go out. Souad Mohammed, 47, lives in the London borough of Westminster, which has the highest number of Islamophobic hate crimes in the capital. The mum-of-three who is a community worker has previously been called an "ISIS bride" and "Osama Bin Laden's wife" while out in public. Souad, who was born in Westminster, told The Mirror: “It’s very unsafe to live here. I get anxiety every time I go out. “In all the years I’ve worn the niqab as of late it’s been the worst it’s ever been." Souad said she was targeted by a group of youths while travelling on a bus, “Last year I was on the top deck of a bus in Harrow Road and some guys behind me tried to light my niqab with a lighter. She has been a victim of racist and verbal abuse numerous times but says she has nowstopped reporting incidents to the police as they happen so often. read the complete article


04 Oct 2021

Karnataka: Muslim Man Found Beheaded on Train Tracks, Police Suspect Right Wing Group's Involvement

A Muslim man was found beheaded and mutilated on railway tracks in Karnataka’s Belgavi district on Tuesday, September 28, with local police suspecting a right wing group of being guilty of the murder, the Indian Express reported. The victim has been identified as Arbaz Mullah, who had reportedly been in a relationship with a woman of a different faith when he was killed. His body was allegedly discovered in pieces strewn across a railway track in the Khanapur taluk, the Times of India reported. According to the victim’s mother, he had been threatened by members of a right wing group prior to the incident as well. A local member of the organisation had allegedly even tried to extort money out of him in exchange for leaving him alone. As of now, it is believed that the victim was summoned to the railway track by members of the same organisation and, following a fight, he was killed and his body was mutilated. read the complete article

New Zealand

04 Oct 2021

The rise of Hindutva and hate in Aotearoa's Indian diaspora

Deep divisions are brewing within Aotearoa’s Indian diaspora, highlighting parallels to the mindsets that preceded the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. Those fighting the rise of a far-right Indian nationalist ideology have spoken out. But they worry no-one is listening. Laura Walters reports. Professor Mohan Dutta seems conflicted. He wants people to know about the rise of a far-right Indian nationalist movement that’s made its way into the New Zealand diaspora. He wants a mature debate about the political ideology, Hindutva, and what it means for those minority communities that feel targeted by its majoritarian views. But he’s also worried about what having this conversation could mean for his safety. He is happy to attach his name to this story - that ship has sailed - but Dutta stops short of having his photo taken. In the past week, a fresh round of abuse has been lobbed at him. It followed a piece in the NZ publication Indian News, accusing him of an “anti-Hindu campaign”, and being “a left-leaning bigot under the garb of an academician, abusing his institution to spread hatred against Hindus, the world’s most peaceful community”. This is on top of the dozens of social media messages. “Bootlicker”, “brown servant”, they say. “If you were in India you would be burnt… We should do anything in our power to stop him.” The stream of abuse is in response to Dutta’s research paper about India’s answer to white supremacy, the Islamophobia central to the ideology, and how it is gaining a foothold in New Zealand. The blowback was hard and fast. The Hindu Council put out a press release accusing Dutta of advocating the abolishment of Hinduism. Dutta is Hindu. It says his research promotes Hinduphobia. read the complete article


04 Oct 2021

Review: ‘Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam’ provides a frustrating introduction

A Turkish German lawyer, activist, author and self-described feminist Muslim, Ateş is a well-known figure in Europe for her outspoken ideas about the need to transform Islam. Documentarian Nefise Özkal Lorentzen’s “Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam” serves as an introduction to her work for a broader audience, but the film aggravates with its refusal to interrogate its titular subject. A recipient of countless death threats from all corners of the religious and political spectrum who has been under police protection since 2006, Ateş has long spoken and written about the need for a “sexual revolution in Islam,” as she says in the documentary. Through speaking engagements, services at the Ibn Ruschd-Goethe Mosque Ateş founded in Berlin, conversations with her relatives, and discussions with Muslims looking to Ateş for guidance, “Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam” lets her expound on this ideology — without being challenged by follow-up questions or illuminated by contextualization. Because “Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam” doesn’t invite any other viewpoints, Ateş’ declarations about Muslim women being subjugated and Muslim men being hypocrites go unchallenged. “I’m not fighting against Islam. I’m fighting against patriarchy,” Ateş says. There is a trend in all of these stories and situations, though: Ateş’ seeming ignorance of, or unwillingness to admit, that Islam is not singular in its tendency toward patriarchy. Ateş speaks fondly now of how living in Germany made her feel more free, as if the country hasn’t in recent decades experienced an upswing in far-right politics. She demands that Muslims be more public about denouncing terrorist violence, as if Islamophobia isn’t widespread through Europe. And she wonders when Islam will experience its own Reformation, a la Christianity, as if that religion hasn’t also been seized upon worldwide by terrorists and extremists. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Oct 2021 Edition


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