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 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has been listed as one of 20 established and emerging hate groups by a global extremism think tank, meanwhile in the United States, a lawyer for a number of Guantanamo detainees writes about what life is like for her clients at the prison, in response to a letter from 34 January 6th defendants who have asked to transferred from a DC jail to Guantanamo, and in the United Kingdom, new government data finds most victims of religious hate crimes in England and Wales were Muslims (42 percent) Jews (23 percent) in the year to March 2022. Our recommended read of the day is by Omar Suleiman for Religion News Service on how Hindu nationalism in India is exporting Islamophobia and joining forces with other “modern fascist movements across the globe.” This and more below:


07 Oct 2022

India’s Hindu nationalism is exporting its Islamophobia | Recommended Read

For years, one of the biggest threats to Muslims in the world has been the reinvention and rise of Hindu nationalism in India. This is in part because of the sheer number of Muslims in the country: Indian Muslims represent 10% of all Muslims worldwide. Now the movement known as Hindutva (“Hindu-ness”) is not only threatening Indian Muslims or India’s proud democratic tradition, it is spreading its radical nationalism around the globe. The man behind India’s modern revival of Hindutva is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose career began in the ultraconservative Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In the early 2000s, when Modi was chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, a series of anti-Muslim riots there led to nearly 2,000 deaths by some estimates. Modi, who implicitly condoned the violence by doing little to stop it, became known as the Butcher of Gujarat. In India, Hindutva has most egregiously impacted Muslims in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, but Hindutva has begun to come west. Last month in Leicester, England, young Hindu men marched through the streets chanting “Jai Sri Ram” — “Glory to Lord Ram,” a Hindu nationalist war cry — and attacking Muslims. Attacks at local houses of worship ensued, and nearly 50 people have been arrested. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a public intellectual in India, wrote that the tensions in Leicester followed a familiar ethno-nationalist playbook for stoking violence: “the use of rumors, groups from outside the local community, and marches to create polarization in otherwise peaceful communities.” Across the Atlantic, at an India Independence Day parade in Edison, New Jersey, the festivities included a bulldozer draped with a picture of Modi, whose political party, BJP, is associated with Hindutva causes. Bulldozers have become a symbol of Islamophobia in India, where they have been used to demolish homes belonging to Muslims on the mere suspicion of participating in protests or riots. A few months ago, I spoke with Afreen Fatima, an Indian Muslim activist whose home was bulldozed and her father imprisoned. Pranay Somayajula, outreach coordinator for Hindus for Human Rights, has emphasized the need for urgent action to counter the spread of Hindutva. “The diaspora, and in particular Hindu Americans, urgently need to speak out against the infiltration of Hindutva hatred into our communities,” Somayajula said. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

U.N. body rejects debate on China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in blow to West

The U.N. rights council on Thursday voted down a Western-led motion to hold a debate about alleged human rights abuses by China against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang in a victory for Beijing as it seeks to avoid further scrutiny. The defeat - 19 against, 17 for, 11 abstentions - is only the second time in the council's 16-year history that a motion has been rejected and is seen by observers as a setback to both accountability efforts, the West's moral authority on human rights and the credibility of the United Nations itself. The United States, Canada and Britain were among the countries that brought the motion. "This is a disaster. This is really disappointing," said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, whose mother died in a camp and whose two brothers are missing. "We will never give up but we are really disappointed by the reaction of Muslim countries," he added. Qatar, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan rejected the motion, with the latter citing the risk of alienating China. Phil Lynch, director of the International Service for Human Rights, called the voting record "shameful" on Twitter. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

Burqa comments crossed the line

Religion is important to the lives of many of our readers. That’s according to the Torstar Journalistic Standards Guide, a comprehensive code of principles that governs how the Star operates. This guidance came up during a controversy that erupted last week at the Star — one that caused pain for several Star journalists and some members of the public. Vinay Menon, a veteran Star entertainment columnist, wrote a column urging Hollywood to fight for Iranian women. He was moved by the death last month of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died after being arrested by “morality police” in Iran, a special unit that enforces strict dress codes for women there. He mentioned strolling by “quite a few women” in the east end of Toronto who are dressed in “full-on burqas.” He wrote that this made him feel like a “passerby to subjugation.” Then came a line that caused significant concern for several of his Star colleagues, many of them women and women of colour: “These women look like they are in Halloween costumes. I refuse to believe it is their choice,” he said, referring to women in burqas. A female Star journalist sent me this reaction: “I am not sure mocking and assuming oppression based on a woman’s clothing choice can simply be witty writing or sardonic opinion under these circumstances.” Mocking people who wear religious symbols is “extremely offensive and disappointing to see,” a male Star staffer wrote me. The Star’s journalistic standards say: “Do not hold up one religion or set of beliefs as superior to another. Do not single out a religion or religious practice for ridicule or stereotyping.” The column clearly violated these standards, even considering that Star columnists are, according to our guidelines, given a “wide latitude to express their own views.” That latitude, our policy says, is also subject to standards of taste. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

The silencing of a dangerously flawed film is not censorship

It was interesting to witness last week liberal America coming to the defence of filmmaker Meg Smaker, after her documentary, Jihad Rehab, came under criticism earlier this year for what appeared to be an unconscionable presentation of former Guantanamo Bay detainees held for "rehabilitation" at a Saudi Arabia re-education facility. Before the release of the film, I was contacted by former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were concerned over not only the content, but the set-up of the interviews. From the very beginning the question hung in the air: how is Smaker, or indeed any filmmaker, going to mitigate the intense scrutiny and sanitised environments that the Saudi regime would inevitably inject into any such film? Despite this exceptionally repressive environment, we are encouraged to believe that Smaker’s film was able to circumvent this system of violence and provide agency to the men she was interviewing. Yet, throughout, it is the elephant in the room. How can anyone trust that these men are opening themselves up fully without the fear of repercussion on their lives, and the lives of their families? Perhaps Smaker has not engaged with literature around the global War on Terror and the manifold ways in which silencing occurs. The reality for most Muslims living under regimes of repression and Islamophobia is that silencing and self-censoring has become a habitual survival skill, particularly when white liberalism is unaware of the violence that sits behind the questions it asks. Knowing full well how Muslims in so-called free societies regularly self-censor, it is not beyond the scope of imagination that Smaker’s interview subjects were fully aware of the power dynamics in the interview. Ultimately, they would never have been permitted to sit in front of the camera without being perfectly aware of the consequences of stepping outside an accepted narrative. read the complete article


07 Oct 2022

India: Surge in Summary Punishments of Muslims

The authorities in India are increasingly using summary and abusive punishments against Muslims deemed to have broken the law, Human Rights Watch said today. In several states ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the authorities have demolished Muslim homes and properties without legal authorization, and most recently, publicly flogged Muslim men accused of disrupting a Hindu festival. On October 4, 2022, in Kheda district, Gujarat state, police arrested 13 people for allegedly throwing stones at a “garba” ceremonial dance during a Hindu festival. A police officer in civilian clothes wearing a gun holster was filmed publicly flogging several Muslim men with sticks while other officials held the men against an electricity pole. In videos shown and even praised on some pro-government television news networks, several uniformed police officers watch the flogging and strike the accused with sticks, while a crowd of men and women cheer and applaud. The police ordered an inquiry only following social media criticism of the video recordings. On October 2 in Mandsaur district, Madhya Pradesh state, police filed a case of attempted murder and rioting against 19 Muslim men accused of throwing stones at a garba event and detained seven of them. Two days later, without any legal authorization, the authorities demolished the homes of three of the men, claiming they were constructed illegally. The authorities tried to justify the demolitions by claiming the structures were illegal, but their actions and statements indicated that the destruction was intended as collective punishment for Muslims, holding them responsible for the violence during the communal clashes. “Houses that were involved in stone pelting will be turned into rubble,” the BJP home minister in Madhya Pradesh stated. The authorities razed at least 16 houses and 29 shops in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

India police flogging Muslims ‘serious rights violation’: Amnesty

Human rights group Amnesty International has called the flogging of Muslim men by police in the western Indian state of Gujarat “a serious human rights violation” that shows “utter disrespect towards the law”. A video of the incident that took place on Tuesday in Udhela village of Gujarat’s Kheda district went viral on social media. It showed several Muslim men tied to a pole and beaten with a stick by policemen in civilian clothing, as a crowd that included women and children cheered. The men, accused by the police of throwing stones at a Hindu religious event, were told to apologise to the crowd after the flogging and then bundled into a police van. “The Gujarat police’s use of striking devices such as lathis [sticks] to beat Muslim men who were tied to a pole by the police themselves is a serious human rights violation and shows their utter disrespect towards rule of law,” Amnesty said in a tweet on Wednesday. “We remind the Gujarat Police that punishment is never a legitimate objective for a law enforcement action, even if using less lethal weapons. In this case, it blatantly ignored the guiding principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, and accountability.” Gujarat is one of India’s most polarised states, with religious riots in 2002 killing what some sources estimate to be more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims. Religious tensions in India have heightened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the country in 2014. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

What The Nobel Peace Prize Buzz Means For The Misinformation Battle In India, A Fact Checker Explains

Fact-checkers and co-founders of Alt News, Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair, are among the favourites to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, said an article in Time, published on 4 October, setting off a tsunami of reactions; ecstatic messages from their supporters and many very unkind ones from the right wing ecosystem, three days before the winner is announced (later today). Zubair and Sinha, PRIO said, were the co-founders of Alt News, “a fact-checking site making significant contributions to debunking misinformation aimed at vilifying Muslims in India. The winner is chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, composed of five members appointed by the Norwegian parliament. Since 2017, Sinha and Zubair have been running a fact-checking website, analysing and dispelling false and propagandist information, a growing menace in India since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014. A total of 1,527 cases of fake news were recorded in the pandemic year — a 214% increase — against 486 cases in 2019 and 280 cases in 2018, when the category was first included by the National Crime Records Bureau. At any given time, Alt News and its founders face legal cases and notices, abuse and online threats of violence, generated mainly by those close to the BJP and the rightwing ecosystem, which has allowed and facilitated anti-Muslim hatred to spread far and wide. This summer, Zubair, after he brought global attention to the abuse of Islam’s Prophet by a BJP spokesperson, was arrested in many groundless cases, including for posting an image from a 1983 Hindi movie, and jailed for three weeks until granted bail by the Supreme Court. In this interview, Sinha explained whether they win or not, the enormous attention they have received raises the profile of fact-checkers and foregrounds the misinformation crisis they are battling in India. Meanwhile, the polarised reaction (here, here, here and here) to them being called favourites shows how divided the nation is. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 Oct 2022

Most victims of religious hate crimes are Muslims and Jews: UK

Most victims of religious hate crimes in England and Wales were Muslims and Jews in the year to March 2022, according to official government data. The Home Office reported on Thursday that the overall number of hate crimes rose 26 percent from 2021 until 2022, to 155,841. Some 8,307 were religious hate crimes; 42 percent of offences were against Muslims, while 23 percent targeted Jews. But similar to previous years, most were “racially motivated”, which made up 109,843 offences and increased by 19 percent. “The upward trend in hate crime seen in recent years is likely to have been mainly driven by improvements in crime recording by the police,” the report said, adding that previously spikes had followed divisive and tragic events such as the European Union referendum in 2016 and the deadly attacks in London in 2017. “There was also an increase in public order hate crimes during the summer of 2020 following the widespread Black Lives Matter protests and far-right counter-protests,” the report said. read the complete article

07 Oct 2022

Mass Media Omertà: Burying Al Jazeera’s ‘The Labour Files’

The damaging revelations about the Labour Party in the recent four-part Al Jazeera series, ‘The Labour Files’, and the almost totalitarian silence in response by British news media, should ram home the illusory nature of ‘democracy’ in the UK. Based on the largest leak in British political history, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has exposed how Labour party officials smeared and intimidated rivals on the left of the party. The leaked data comprises 500 gigabytes of documents, emails, video and audio files from the Labour Party, dating from 1998 to 2021. They reveal: The weaponisation of antisemitism by the right-wing of the Labour Party to hinder Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of becoming Prime Minister. A ‘hierarchy of racism’ within the Labour Party disciplinary process which prioritises the investigation of alleged antisemitism cases over other forms of racism. Shocking examples of Islamophobia and anti-Black racism within Labour. The crushing of dissent within Labour under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership. read the complete article

United States

07 Oct 2022

Jan. 6 suspects in a D.C. jail think Guantanamo would be better. I’ve got news for them.

When I saw that 34 Jan. 6 defendants signed a handwritten letter asking to be transferred from a Washington, D.C., jail to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I raised an eyebrow like everyone else. The letter was submitted in court Friday and started trending on Twitter on Monday. I have represented Guantanamo Bay detainees for almost a decade. The rosy picture painted in that handwritten letter bears no resemblance to the reality of Guantanamo Bay. One early major controversy was caused by guards’ desecrating Qurans — hardly “being respectful of religious requirements,” as the defendants wrote. Guantanamo Bay also doesn’t have the “centers for exercise/entertainment” the men think it has; I and other lawyers have fought — and lost, for now — a battle to allow them to continue creating and publicly sharing their artwork as a form of therapy for the torture they suffered at U.S. hands. Far from having access to “top-notch medical care,” the men have no meaningful care for their serious medical conditions, many stemming from that torture. It took years of lawsuits to get an MRI machine down to Guantanamo Bay, where it eventually broke permanently — but not before it confirmed one of my clients’ brain damage from his CIA beatings. But while the Jan. 6 defendants are wrong about conditions at Guantanamo Bay, they are not wrong about their own prison circumstances. Inhumane conditions at Guantanamo Bay are at least partly an extension of prison culture in the U.S. The Washington jail where the Jan. 6 defendants are being held was the subject of a memo from the U.S. Marshals Service last year, which described the denial of food and water “for punitive reasons” and “large amounts of standing human sewage.” Those issues have all been imported to Guantanamo Bay at various points over 20 years. And so has physical violence. Omar Deghayes has spoken about losing an eye after guards assaulted him. Military investigators uncovered that Mohammed al-Qahtani was forced to wear a bra and bark like a dog. When my clients Emad Hassan, Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, Abu Wa’el Dhiab and Samir Moqbel protested their detention with a hunger strike, they were brutally force-fed while immobilized in restraint chairs. The past few years have seen leaking sewage and failing infrastructure in the camp where my client Ammar al Baluchi was held, creating unsanitary conditions in times of Covid-19. read the complete article


07 Oct 2022

Hate charges welcomed after attack on student, but Muslim groups call for more action in schools

Muslim advocacy groups in Ottawa who supported a 15-year-old Syrian student after an alleged hate-motivated attack against him last month say they're pleased charges were laid but that more needs to be done in schools to support Muslim youths. Earlier this week, Ottawa police announced six young people had been charged with "multiple hate-motivated offences" after an assault near Gloucester High School on Sept. 8. The youths were not identified. The charges against them include robbery, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and intimidation by violence, police said. A petition had earlier sprung up in response to a video of the incident on social media showing the student being pushed to the ground and kicked by a number of teens. According to a spokesperson for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the charges police laid are linked to the assault depicted in that video. The board is conducting its own investigation, and worked closely with police. The National Council of Canadian Muslims, Ottawa Youth Muslim Association and the United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau said the victim is a 15-year-old orphaned Syrian-Canadian boy who they've been supporting since the incident. The groups said he had only recently moved to Ottawa, and that he moved out of the city after the incident. "During the attack he was threatened by one of the perpetrators, so he was very scared until these charges were laid," said Karine Devost, senior legal counsel for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. read the complete article


07 Oct 2022

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Has Been Declared a Hate Group

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has been listed as one of 20 established and emerging hate groups in Australia by a global extremism think tank, for its track record on anti-multiculturalism, white nationalism, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories. In a report released on Wednesday, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) added One Nation and the Australian Christian Lobby to its registry of Australian hate groups, as part of an educational global series aimed at illustrating how local hate groups interact with others around the world. In its Australian report, the think tank describes One Nation’s ideology as one centred around anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-globalist, white nationalist and conspiratorial sentiment. The report goes on to detail how the party, through senator Pauline Hanson, runs on a “broadly populist and protectionist platform”, couched in claims that other political parties are out of step with the rest of mainstream Australia. It also offers readers a speedrun of Hanson’s headline acts of racism and white nationalism, including an incident in 2017, when she wore a burqa into question time before tearing it off during a speech she tried to use to get the religious garment banned. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Oct 2022 Edition


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