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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07 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a Catholic Bishop’s remarks that youth from non-Muslim faiths are falling prey to “narcotics jihad” has stirred controversy in the southern Indian state of Kerala, while in France a new poll finds that the far-right, anti-Muslim pundit Eric Zemmour has eclipsed Marine Le Pen in support for the upcoming presidential elections, and in the United States, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case involving Abu Zubaydah, who’s been held at Guantanamo without charge since 2006, and whether the U.S. government can prevent court testimony that describes the CIA’s torture program. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Rose and Ruben Gerczikow for Haaretz on how Germany’s far-right AfD party, which pushes pro-Israel slogans and poses as allies against antisemitism and the ‘Muslim invasion’ of Europe, has won over an unlikely core of committed Jewish activists. This and more below:


07 Oct 2021

Why Jews Join the German Far Right | Recommended Read

The AfD is part of an emerging trend across Europe of radical right parties which declare that their anti-Muslim and anti-migrant stances actually benefit Jews by combatting the antisemitism that, they claim, has risen in tandem with the Islamist “invasion” of the continent. Thus the radical right which, at least in the case of Germany and Austria, has won endorsements from neo-Nazi elements for its commitment to nationalism and xenophobia, proclaims it is protecting Jews. In Goldhammer’s words: "Only the policies of the AfD protect Jewish life in Germany." Over-emphasis of support for the Israeli state is utilized to deflect accusations of racism. In the same way, Brazil’s hard right President Jair Bolsonaro waves the Israeli flag at his rallies (and is intensifying his relationship with the AfD); UK anti-Muslim agitator Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, attended a pro-Israel rally during this summer’s Israel-Hamas conflict, using the same tactic to present as philosemitic. Pro-Israel radical right sentiment is based on an essentialized conception of Israel as the resolute last frontier of Europe against a perceived homogenous, hostile, violent, repressive Muslim and Arab world. This fragile friendship likely rests on support for right-wing Israeli administrations and their policy agendas and does not represent an endorsement of Jewish self-determination across the breadth of Zionist expression. read the complete article

United States

07 Oct 2021

Can the U.S. shield a ‘state secret’ that’s not a secret? Supreme Court to decide

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in an unusual “state secrets” case as to whether the U.S. government can prevent court testimony that describes the CIA’s brutal treatment of alleged terrorists captured in Pakistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. This is hardly a secret. Justice Department lawyers agreed it is “public knowledge” that certain “high value” prisoners were held at “black sites” overseas and subjected to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Many of these techniques were widely seen as torture. A former president of Poland even acknowledged the existence of the CIA site there in news interviews. But the Department of Justice lawyers urged the high court to invoke the “state secrets privilege” to block two former CIA contractors from telling Polish prosecutors what happened at the sites, since U.S. officials have refused to confirm their existence. The case of U.S. vs. Abu Zubaydah is a test of how far the high court will go to shield the executive branch — past and present — from accountability in the courts for possible abuses and wrongdoing. “At a certain point, it becomes a bit farcical … if everybody knows” the supposed secret, said Justice Elena Kagan. “Maybe we should rename it or something. It’s not a state secrets privilege anymore.” read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

One state has never taken in refugees. Will it welcome Afghans?

“Together, we are exploring hosting an Afghan family here in Casper,” the headline said in bold blue letters. Whether that will happen, or even be possible, in this deeply conservative Western state remains in question. Wyoming, overwhelmingly White and Christian, has never formally welcomed refugees. Just a few years ago, debate over refugee resettlement spiraled into anti-Islam protests and a Koran-burning, alarming the state’s tiny Muslim population and dashing the hopes of its most prominent refugee advocate. And this summer, amid a deluge of support for Afghan evacuees spanning political and faith spectra, the leaders of just two states, Wyoming and South Dakota, said they did not want to take in refugees. Wyoming is the only state that has no refugee resettlement program, nor has it ever had one. It is unclear why Wyoming never established a resettlement program, experts say, but it is fairly clear why it is not doing so now: There is negligible overt support in a state where in 2020, 70 percent of voters cast their ballots for President Donald Trump, who slashed refugee admissions and banned travel from several Muslim-majority nations. In a sparsely populated state where just 3.4 percent of residents are foreign-born, a go-it-alone ethos, some say, translates into hostility toward refugees who might need help finding housing and jobs. “There’s honestly a little bit of a fear of the unknown,” said Landon Brown, a Republican state legislator who was one of few to voice support for Afghan resettlement. “They’re afraid of these people coming into Wyoming and living off taxpayer dollars, and maybe the fear of Islam becoming a main portion of our small population.” read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

Twenty years after 9/11, Muslim students still need our help

Some, including a coalition of advocates who called for the inclusion of Arab American history, hoped that California’s new ethnic studies curriculum would reduce anti-Muslim sentiment. Though this lobbying effort was initially successful, the State Board of Education decided to remove the Arab American section. In 2019, the California Department of Education developed anti-bullying guidelines distributed to all educators and staff. However, Muslims as well as other faith groups are not specifically mentioned. Some say that these guidelines, though well-intentioned, are simply not enough to combat the Islamophobia that Muslim students experience. Enter programs such as the Youth Speakers Training, offered by the nonprofit Islamic Networks Group based in San Jose, which helps Muslim teens handle harassment, inform classmates about their beliefs and create more supportive school environments. One graduate of the program went on to give presentations to hundreds of students at her high school. As impressive as this is, the responsibility of combating anti-Muslim bias should not fall on their shoulders. Muslim students also need the allyship of educators, who play a significant role — for better or worse — in Muslim students feeling safe and supported at school. Disturbingly, nearly 30% of Muslim students report teachers and administrators making offensive comments about Islam, according to the Council of American-Islamic Relations. Here are some suggestions for educators and staff as they consider approaches to supporting Muslim students. read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala look was not iconic, it was hypocritical

As a Muslim woman who observes the hijab and has experienced firsthand discrimination for representing my faith, I find the response to Kim’s Met Gala ensemble to be awfully hypocritical. Kim’s outfit has sparked a large discussion, ranging from predictions for its “elaborate meaning” to praise for its “unique” and “original” nature. However, this conversation never included buzzwords like “oppressed” or “barbaric” the way buzzwords like these are presented when it comes to conversations regarding hijab. Naively, I thought Kim’s outfit would be regarded as a “miss.” Other than the fact that I felt as though it was simply ugly, I couldn’t wrap my mind around any sort of significance it could have possibly held. But could I say I was surprised when her praise began flooding my social media feed? No. After all, when Muslim women are covered, their practice is regarded as “third-worldly” and backwards. Kim’s outfit demonstrated that it is Muslim women, and Muslim women only, who face such bigotry. She was quite literally unable to see in her outfit, proving that when an A-list celebrity takes the practice to an even more extreme level, they are regarded as fashion icons. It screamed the double standard at play, and I couldn’t believe how explicit the hypocrisy made itself out to be. Why are you shocked? It’s always been this way. read the complete article


07 Oct 2021

In India, disinformation has emerged as a new form of state-sponsored violence

As Khalid’s advocate, Trideep Pais, demonstrated in front of a Delhi court on August 23, the charge sheet filed by the police was based on news reports of the speech on television channels Republic TV and News 18. However, the clip of the speech played on the channels was taken from an edited snippet put out on Twitter by Amit Malviya, the head of the Information Technology cell of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, Khalid’s speech in its entirety, played by Pais in the courtroom, sounded more like a call for unity than an incitement to violence. Beyond the absurdity of it all, three features of this story stand out. First, the source of the misleading information was linked to the ruling dispensation (regardless of whether its release was explicitly directed by the government). Second, the target of the misleading information was a critic of the government and someone who purportedly represents the interests of India’s Muslim community. Third, the information was legitimised by mainstream media, even as the initial source was dubious and the material unverified. These features are part of a more general pattern of false and misleading information in India, whose increasing pervasiveness adversely affects democratic practice in the country. There has been substantial documentation of the democratic “backsliding” in India in recent years (Sircar, 2019), with analyses focused on the narrowing space for criticising the government and the stymying of political opposition. However, the role of government-aided disinformation has been less clearly spelt out in these accounts. In the Indian context, the sheer scale of government intrusions and control over the media emboldens it to strategically deploy misleading information – what is often called disinformation – to develop a national narrative supportive of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindutva nationalist ideology, as well as to harass government critic and the Muslim community in India. read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

Argument over flags erupts in communal violence in Chhattisgarh’s Kabirdham

An altercation over two flags, one saffron and the other green, developed into 48 hours of communal tensions, and finally burst forth in vandalism and extensive damage to property in Chhattisgarh’s Kabirdham district on Tuesday (October 5). An estimated 3,000-strong mob led by Hindu organisations defied a curfew imposed by the administration to march with swords, lathis, and other weapons in the district headquarters town of Kawardha. They raised slogans of Jai Shri Ram, attacked homes and vehicles owned by Muslims, and pelted the police with stones. More than a dozen civilians and police personnel were injured in the violence. read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

After ‘Love Jihad,’ India’s Muslims are Now Being Accused of ‘Narcotics Jihad’

Catholic Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt’s remarks that youth from non-Muslim faiths are falling prey to “narcotics jihad” has stirred controversy in the southern Indian state of Kerala. “Narcotics jihad is the activity of spoiling the life of non-Muslims, particularly youths, by making them addicted to drugs,” the bishop said. Kallarangatt also referred to “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory that has been widely peddled by Hindutva activists but also endorsed by Catholic and Protestant clergy in India, according to which Muslim men are allegedly luring non-Muslim women into marriage and forcing them to convert to Islam. The bishop claimed that non-Muslim girls, especially from the Christian community, are being converted “after trapping them in love, exploiting and misusing them for destructive activities like terrorism.” The bishop’s controversial claims evoked an array of responses. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been at the forefront of accusing Muslim men of waging a “love jihad” against Hindu women, jumped at the opportunity arising from Kallarangatt’s claims. Its leaders rushed to meet the bishop to express solidarity and accused the ruling Left Front government and the Congress party of “supporting extremist forces.” Brushing aside the unsubstantiated allegations, Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it was the first time he had heard of “narcotic jihad.” The issue of narcotics is an “anti-social” matter and not a religious issue, Vijayan said. He cautioned those in positions of power to refrain from making divisive statements. Kerala has generally voted either for the Congress or the Communist parties. The BJP has virtually no presence in the state. The party has been trying desperately to gain a toe-hold among voters. It has been trying to attract the votes of Christians, who make up 18 percent of the state’s population, and is wooing the Christian clergy. This incentivization has led to Catholic and Protestant priests echoing the anti-Muslim positions of the Hindu nationalist BJP. Heading one of the biggest Catholic churches in Kerala, Kallarangatt exercises massive clout within the realm of the church. read the complete article


07 Oct 2021

Surge by far-right pundit Zemmour shakes up French election

Over the last month, Le Pen has lost her almost monopoly grip over the far-right which she has enjoyed since taking over from her father as head of the National Front party in 2011. Pundit-turned-politician Zemmour, an ultra-nationalist with several convictions for racist hate speech, has stolen much of her thunder since emerging as a more radical challenger in the same political space. A shock poll on Wednesday measuring voter sympathies ahead of next April's election showed Zemmour eclipsing Le Pen for the first time. Some 17-18 percent of people polled said they would vote for Zemmour in the first round scheduled for April 10 next year, up from 7.0 percent at the start of September, compared with 15-16 percent for Le Pen. That score would be enough for Zemmour to qualify for the second round run-off vote where he would face President Emmanuel Macron, who was shown winning the contest by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. The poll, published in Challenges magazine, is likely to lend further momentum to Zemmour's anti-immigration, anti-Islam campaign which has been boosted by exhaustive media coverage and interviews over the last month. read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

French government sets its sights on silencing pan-European Muslim NGO

The decision by France's top administrative court, the Council of State, to rubber-stamp the judgment made by French authorities last year closing the country's leading civil society organisation fighting against Islamophobia has been condemned by international human rights organisations. In December 2020, the right-wing French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin dissolved the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) on the grounds that its work, fighting against widespread Islamophobia in the country, constituted a threat to the state. Following the latest court ruling against CCIF, Human Rights Watch said the decision "seriously damages the country's self-proclaimed reputation as a champion of freedom of expression and association." Now, the French government is targeting the sister organisation of CCIF, the Collective for Countering Islamophobia in Europe (CCIE), which is based in neighbouring Belgium. In a series of tweets earlier this week when CCIE posted snippets of quotes from an interview by Darmanin, the French President's right-hand man in targeting Muslims in the country, Paris was quick to attack the organisation. In a recent interview, the country's interior minister described his joy at "spreading terror" against Muslim individuals and organisations that the government accuses of being "radical." Public Muslim figures and scholars in mosques that speak out against discrimination and institutional racism are among the individuals that the French state now considers a danger to society. read the complete article


07 Oct 2021

Coalition of Muslim Women organize events to celebrate Islamic Heritage Month

The Coalition of Muslim Women have organized several events throughout October in celebration of Islamic Heritage Month. "Islamic heritage month is when we can be unapologetically Muslim and unapologetically Canadian," said Mifrah Abid, who is with the coalition and is also the coordinator of Together Against Islamophobia. "Most people think of these as two separate identities, but I say they are not mutually exclusive. So it's a great time to be who you are." The coalition partnered with the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) and the Waterloo Public Library (WPL) to host several virtual and in-person events that include guest speakers, lunch-and-learns and family story time, which celebrates Muslim stories and characters. "Representation matters in everything," Abid said. "Young children need to see themselves in the crafts they do and in the culture they abide, and it's not just for Muslim children. It's important for their peers also see them and understand them. That they are part of their celebrations." read the complete article

07 Oct 2021

Peel school board approval of anti-Islamophobia strategy draws support from community groups

Community groups are welcoming a Peel District School Board decision to develop an anti-Islamophobia strategy because they say the plan will help make schools safer for Muslim staff and students. At its Sept. 30 meeting, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) passed a motion by trustee Nokha Dakroub that called for the adoption of the strategy. The plan includes mandatory anti-Islamophobia training for all board staff members. The board is the first in the Greater Toronto Area to commit to creating such a strategy, and Dakroub is scheduled to announce it at PDSB headquarters on Thursday. Aasiyah Khan, manager of education programs at the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), said the strategy is a step in the right direction, but if the plan is to be robust, it will require involvement from community members and the board to take specific actions. "We're hoping that this strategy is a first step in ongoing work that is necessary to ensure that all students feel included," Khan said on Wednesday. "We recognize that this is a systemic issue," she added. "And so, it would require a systemic commitment and response that does include centring student voice, reviewing curricular content that is problematic, affirming student identities, staff identities, creating spaces where, if folks are experiencing Islamophobia or any form of hate, they feel comfortable enough to report it. read the complete article


07 Oct 2021

Facebook’s role in Myanmar and Ethiopia under new scrutiny

“What we saw in Myanmar and are now seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it,” Haugen said in her striking testimony. Haugen warned that Facebook was “literally fanning ethnic violence” in places such as Ethiopia because it was not policing its service adequately outside the US. About half of Myanmar’s population of 53 million use Facebook, with many relying on the site as their primary source of news. In June this year, an investigation by the rights group Global Witness found that Facebook’s algorithm was promoting posts in breach of its own policies that incited violence against protesters marching against the coup launched by the military in February. Researchers began by liking a Myanmar military fan page, which was not seen to be violating Facebook’s terms. They found that Facebook then suggested several pro-military pages that did contain abusive content. The link between social media posts and offline violence in Myanmar had already been widely documented. In 2018 a Guardian analysis revealed that hate speech exploded on Facebook at the start of the Rohingya crisis the year before, when attacks by armed groups and ordinary communities on people from the Muslim minority erupted. Thousands of posts by nationalist, anti-Rohingya supporters gained traction online, including posts which falsely claimed mosques were stockpiling weapons. An independent investigation commissioned by Facebook later agreed with assessments that the site had been used to incite offline violence. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Oct 2021 Edition


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