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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09 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a “key piece of the BJP’s agenda involves twisting history to demonize Muslims, and Hindu nationalists often zero-in on the Mughals,” writes Dr. Audrey Truschke, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the Conservative candidate for London’s mayoralty is facing criticism over her Islamophobic tweets, with a new poll finding that two-thirds of those surveyed view her social media activity as racist, and in the United States, filmmaker Assia Boundaoui writes about the government surveillance experienced by American Muslims following 9/11, including how officials “monitored our local gatherings, national Muslim conventions and our donations, and they recorded the most quotidian details about our lives.” Our recommended read of the day is by Areeb Ullah for the Middle East Eye on the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Human Dimension Conference that recently took place, and featured a number of Muslim civil society groups from Europe warning about the rising level of Islamophobia across the continent. This and more below.


Muslims 'unjustly placed on blacklists' across Europe, rights groups warn | Recommended Read

Muslim civil society groups from Europe warned of the growing level of Islamophobia spreading across the continent at a major security and human rights conference in Poland. On Thursday, seven Muslim groups from Austria, France, Sweden, Spain, and the Netherlands spoke out against the climate of "state-sponsored" Islamophobia facing them in their countries. Their address to the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Human Dimension Conference in Warsaw came days after Polish authorities banned Cage's international director, Muhammad Rabbani, from entering Poland after his name appeared on the Schengen Information System, which lets any Schengen member-state place an individual on a no-entry list to the Schengen zone. Adani el-Kanfoudi, spokesperson for Muslim Rights Watch in the Netherlands, told the OSCE conference that he was due to meet Rabbani alongside other European Muslim civil society groups. "This incident, among many others, is a perfect example of a broader pattern, where key figures from the Muslim community are unjustly placed on blacklists," said Kanfoudi. "We are facing a distressing reality where Muslims are systematically targeted, a blatant violation of their constitutional rights. This discriminatory practice not only infringes upon individual liberties but also instils fear and division within our communities." Commenting on his own country's situation, Kanfoudi spoke of the hundreds of Dutch Muslims who approached his organisation and said they had been wrongly placed on the terror list by the Dutch authorities, leading some to lose their livelihoods, face banking and travel restrictions and being treated like "second class citizens." read the complete article

India’s right wing embraces Israel, uses Hamas attack to fuel Islamophobia

In the wake of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, a disturbing trend has emerged on social media platforms in India. The right-wing extremist groups and online trolls have leveraged the conflict to perpetuate Islamophobic narratives and spread hatred against Muslims. These right-wing trolls, often operating under the guise of ‘patriotism,’ have flooded social media with inflammatory and offensive posts targeting Muslims. Hindutva trolls, including members of the ruling saffron party’s IT cells, have successfully orchestrated several online campaigns promoting hatred, particularly targeting Indian Muslims. These campaigns have involved the dissemination of misinformation, manipulated imagery, and falsified videos. Now, these same actors are fervently endorsing Israel on social media through trending hashtags such as #IndiaStandsWithIsrael, #IStandWithIsrael, and #IsraeliLivesMatter. This strategic alignment with Israel in the digital realm underscores the Hindutva right-wing’s affinity for divisive narratives and Islamophobia. read the complete article

Campaigners aim to lower support for China on UN human rights council

The elections on to the world’s premier human rights body take place by secret ballot on Tuesday with China guaranteed a seat in one of the uncontested seats from its region, but human rights campaigners are working to lower the level of Chinese support to show pressure on the country is not dissipating. In 2016 China received 180 votes but this fell to 139 in 2020 against the background of the Xinjiang controversies. Xi Jinping’s crackdown on the region and its Uyghur population has been labelled an attempted genocide by some governments, human rights groups and legal bodies. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) has now garnered support from MPs in 15 countries including Italy and Bolivia, two countries that have not greatly engaged on the issue before. The MPs have written to their foreign ministries urging them not to back China. The UN high commissioner for human rights last year argued that the treatment of Uyghurs “may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis”. The separate unofficial Uyghur tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice KC, found Beijing guilty of genocide on the basis it had acted to prevent Uyghur births. read the complete article


A toxic mix of tech and hate threatens India’s democracy

In India, social media platforms have become conveyor belts for hate under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliated groups. That is the takeaway from an unsettling Post series, “Rising India, Toxic Tech,” by reporters Gerry Shih, Joseph Menn and Pranshu Verma, which reveals that platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter, now known as X, were late and lame in stamping out vile content aimed at India’s Muslim minority. To be sure, Mr. Modi and the BJP have, first and foremost, driven the majoritarian nationalism and autocratic drift that undermine India’s democracy day by day. Yet platforms allowed bad actors to break their rules repeatedly, while they played catch-up or turned a blind eye. India’s dangerous combination of militant Hindu nationalism and pliant or overwhelmed social media shows how illiberalism can spread in a wired world. To halt it now would require a major change by the BJP, which is not likely, or far more aggressive policing by the platforms, which is hardly assured. But left unchecked, this toxic mix risks turning even more corrosive, eating away at the heart of India’s democracy. read the complete article

How India’s Hindu Nationalists Are Weaponizing History Against Muslims

India used to be a secular democracy, but its current leader, Narendra Modi of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), advances a radically different vision. Modi wants India to become a Hindu nation, in which India’s religious minorities (about 20% of the population) are second-class citizens and Muslims especially (about 14% of Indians) are compelled to accept increasing majoritarian violence. The BJP has always considered Muslims to be less Indian than Hindus. The political party was formed in 1980 as an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an all-male paramilitary organization founded in 1925 and modeled on Italian fascist groups such as Mussolini’s Blackshirts. Both the BJP and RSS view India as a nation for Hindus, by Hindus, and seek to coalesce and mobilize a Hindu identity that historically was porous and varied. Contemporary Hindu nationalists follow British colonial ideas regarding Indian history—but they go further in attacking the Mughals. Sometimes Hindu nationalists falsely accuse the Mughals of committing a genocide. Other times they falsely malign the Mughals as colonialists, which depicts them—and by extension all Muslims today—as a foreign threat to India. A key piece of the BJP’s agenda involves twisting history to demonize Muslims, and Hindu nationalists often zero-in on the Mughals, a dynasty that ruled parts of northern and central India during its heyday from about 1560 to 1720. Chief among Hindu nationalist disinformation about the Mughals are that these kings fuelled Hindu-Muslim conflict, a phenomenon that largely developed during British colonial rule (1757–1947). By vilifying earlier Indian kings, the British deflected attention from their exploitative and harmful colonial enterprise. read the complete article

United States

Opinion: What’s wilder than Hasan Minhaj’s tales? The FBI surveillance my Muslim community actually did endure

Last month, an article in the New Yorker detailed discrepancies in comedian Hasan Minhaj’s standup specials. In one story, Minhaj recounts growing up in a Muslim community in Northern California, and his experiences with an FBI informant, Craig Monteilh. The story was a fabrication. But Monteilh was real. In the mid-2000s, he was hired by the FBI to pose as a convert to Islam and work as an informant in Orange County mosques. As a journalist and filmmaker who has spent a decade documenting the surveillance of American Muslim communities, and as an American Muslim who has experienced it, I have felt deeply uneasy as these falsehoods came to light. I fear people will now believe that we are exaggerating or making up stories about surveillance. After the exposé, social media was flooded with disturbing posts — accusations that this is just another example of people of color falsely claiming victimhood. The fact is that all of us — Arab Muslims, Black Muslims, rich and poor Muslims, third-generation Muslims, newly immigrated Muslims, educated Muslims, working-class Muslims — have had our run-ins with the surveillance state. And the truth is wilder than any fiction a comedian could make up. They monitored our local gatherings, national Muslim conventions and our donations, and they recorded the most quotidian details about our lives. Our suspicions of what was going on paled in comparison with the reality of how intrusive and pervasive the FBI’s surveillance was. No one in our community was ever convicted of anything related to terrorism, and yet we were subject to this daily harassment for decades. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Calls to suspend London mayoral candidate accused of Islamophobia

The Conservative candidate for London’s mayoralty is facing fresh criticism over controversial tweets and alleged Islamophobia, with a new poll finding that two-thirds of those surveyed view her social media activity as racist. Several days ago, Susan Hall received the support of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in her bid to become mayor of the capital, The Guardian reported. But a series of retweets and comments on social media have ignited controversy, with claims that the 68-year-old fails to “fairly represent” the diversity of the capital. Hall had liked a tweet in support of former Conservative minister Enoch Powell, who delivered a speech in the 1960s linking immigration to “rivers of blood.” The candidate also engaged in “Islamophobic tropes” concerning London mayor Sadiq Khan, The Guardian reported, adding that Hall claimed the mayor’s “divisive attitude” left Jewish residents frightened. The poll, commissioned by advocacy group Hope Not Hate, found that six in 10 respondents believe Hall should be suspended from the Conservative party and investigated. A further 64 percent said that they view a mayoral candidate who “likes“ Islamophobic tweets as racist. read the complete article


Abaya ban in French public schools: Secularism or discrimination?

UpFront examines discrimination and secularism in France after the government bans the abaya in public schools.As schools begin again, the French government announced a ban on the abaya – a full-length robe frequently worn by Muslim women – in public schools. This recent decision has generated controversy in France. Several opponents protested in front of public schools, questioning the true motive behind this new rule. Why is this decision so contentious? And what can be justified under France’s secularism laws? On UpFront, Marc Lamont Hill talks with Rokhaya Diallo, a French journalist and filmmaker, to explore the reasons and consequences behind the ban on the abaya in public schools. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Oct 2023 Edition


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