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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13 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: Human Rights Watch is calling on the Australian government to take “firm action in response to further evidence that the Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs” in Xinjiang, meanwhile in Canada, the National Council of Canadian Muslims along with 27 other community associations, have called for Calgary lawyer Collin May’s resignation after Islamophobic comments made in 2009 resurfaced, and in Denmark, experts note that a proposal to ban the hijab in schools would “stigmatize, problematize, and cast suspicion on a large group of religious minorities.” Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Oborne and Imran Mulla for Middle East Eye on Britain’s King Charles III, a man who studied Islam, opposed the “class of civilizations” argument and the Iraq war, and has previously described Britain’s Muslim communities as an “asset to Britain” who “add to the cultural richness of our nation”. This and more below:

United Kingdom

13 Sep 2022

Charles III: How the new king became the most pro-Islam monarch in British history | Recommended Read

Two days after Truss became prime minister, King Charles III acceded to the British throne. A thoughtful man, he has studied Islam deeply, even going to the lengths of learning Arabic in order to read the Quran. The new king is the most Islamophile monarch in British history. The contrast with his government is stark. In a series of statements dating back several decades, King Charles III has rebutted the "clash of civilisations" thesis which argues that Islam is at war with the West. On the contrary, he argues that Islam, Judaism and Christianity are three great monotheistic religions which have far more in common than is generally appreciated. Since 1993, the new king has been a patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. In that year he delivered its inaugural address, entitled "Islam and the West". It wasn’t the sort of speech on religion that most people expect from politicians and royals; they tend to utter little more than empty platitudes. Then Prince of Wales, he launched into a sophisticated musing on Islamic civilisation and its relationship with Europe. The prince said that Islam is "part of our past and our present, in all fields of human endeavour. It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart.” Unlike those who demand that Muslims discard their identities in order to assimilate, Charles called for a process of two-way integration: Muslims must “balance their vital liberty to be themselves with an appreciation of the importance of integration in our society”, while non-Muslims should adopt a “respect for the daily practice of the Islamic faith and a decent care to avoid actions which are likely to cause deep offence." When it comes to European Muslims, Charles is a critic of the secularism of France and Belgium, disagreeing with their bans on women wearing the face veil in public. He has no time for the anti-Muslim politics gaining ground throughout Europe. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

British Muslims being reduced to 'second class' status by citizenship removal laws: report

British Muslims have been reduced to ‘second-class’ citizens in the United Kingdom, according to a report published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) on Sunday. Recently extended powers have given successive UK governments the power to remove citizenship from those who have access to another nationality. They “almost exclusively” target Muslims with South Asian heritage, according to the think tank. The report, written by the IRR's vice-chair Frances Webber, comes amid renewed controversy around Shamima Begum, the British Muslim who at 15 years old was smuggled into Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State extremist group. In February 2020, a tribunal ruled it was lawful for her UK citizenship to be revoked as she had access to Bangladeshi nationality through descent. However, it was recently reported that a spy working for the Canadian government was responsible for trafficking her to Syria. “The message sent by the legislation on deprivation of citizenship since 2002 and its implementation largely against British Muslims of South Asian heritage is that, despite their passports, these people are not and can never be ‘true’ citizens, in the same way that ‘natives’ are,” read the report. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

The Uses of Diversity

Under Liz Truss, there will be – for the first time – no white males occupying any of the great offices of state. As well as a new female Prime Minister, the new Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary are all politicians of colour. What does it mean that white prime ministers have now appointed four successive chancellors and three successive home secretaries from minority backgrounds? Many assume that there is nothing to see here except that, significantly in historical perspective, the Conservative Party now accepts – indeed promotes – ethnic minority politicians. The party which long epitomised the racialised British Empire; with an iconic wartime leader, Winston Churchill, who later wanted to fight an election on the slogan ‘Keep Britain White’; and which produced the notorious anti-immigrant racism of Enoch Powell, has now had more people of colour in senior roles than Labour. There clearly has been a cultural transformation in the elite and the parliamentary party, if perhaps not so fully at the grassroots. Having the right political attitudes and class affiliations (especially having gone to private schools) now appears to trump ethnicity. Yet the outgoing Prime Minister was notorious for his racial language (“piccanninies”), and his exploitation of racism to first win the EU Referendum and then the Conservative leadership (“bank robbers”). Truss seems to have less overt baggage but she dismissed “fashionable” concerns with racial equality when Johnson made her Equalities Minister, and recently referred to “setting up your own business” as a Jewish value, a view which was widely seen as antisemitic. At the policy level, the Conservatives’ euphemistically renamed ‘compliant’ (formerly ‘hostile’) environment for mainly less-skilled and lower-waged immigrants, as well as their cruel, internationally illegal policies towards refugees, reflect the ongoing importance of racism to their political offer. It is striking that (with the exception of Sajid Javid’s challenge to Conservative Islamophobia in 2019) all ministers of colour have fully accepted, like their white colleagues, the party’s elements of continuing political racism, including the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda. read the complete article

United States

13 Sep 2022

9/11 anniversary: When ‘never forget’ is used to justify the ‘forever war’

Through carefully selected words, US presidents have successively offered consolation to the American people, particularly those who lost loved ones that day. Their speeches, offered as ritual mourning, however, are always part of a larger, political message - one rooted in violence and continually reproducing US claims used to legitimise the war on terror. On the 11 September anniversary this year, Biden delivered a speech at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon in which he explicitly justified the extrajudicial assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri in August. Biden’s words shouldn’t be merely read as a legitimisation of his extrajudicial assassination of al-Zawahiri, but as part of something much larger - the cumulative violence that has led to this moment - including the expansion of executive authority and the wanton and brutal tactics of the war on terror. This violence has become so normalised that after 21 years these actions are simply par for the course - a course paved with Islamophobia and the dehumanisation and disposability of Muslims. Instead of acknowledging this violence against Muslims who were subjected to profiling, detention, torture, and mass murder for more than two decades since the attacks, US leaders have been gaslighting them while perpetuating policies of collective guilt and punishment. In other words, to “never forget” means to firmly sustain the narrative of US victimhood, and to minimise, justify, and effectively shelter all manifestations of its vengeance under this guise. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

OPINION: Islamophobia runs rampant in a post 9/11 America

The terrorist attacks that took place Sept. 11, 2001 rocked the nation and implemented an ongoing fear of terrorism in Americans still going strong today. The nation developed a newfound passion to fight against terrorism. The War on Terror became synonymous with fighting not only Islamic countries, but also anyone who looked to be of Arab or South Asian descent, whether they were overseas or living in America. The association between terrorism and Islam created a movement of hate and violence toward Muslims that has yet to slow down. The movement was started and propelled by the U.S. government through several policies. In 2002, former Attorney General John Ashcroft required male visitors from a certain list of countries, almost all predominantly Arab and Muslim nations, to be registered and fingerprinted into a government database. Approximately 60,822 foreign male visitors were registered under this special registration program within the first year alone. The Department of Homeland Security announced the termination of the program in 2011 due to its controversy and inefficiency in stopping terrorism. Once the government of a nation normalizes the ostracization of a group of people, citizens will follow suit. Reported hate crimes against Muslims increased by over 500% between 2000-09, according to a study by Brown University. The Southern Poverty Law Center compiled an extensive list of reported hate crimes against Muslims, or those believed to be Muslim by perpetrators, starting from Sept. 11, 2001 to early 2011. The hate crimes on this list range from instances of Muslim store owners dealing with vandalism to physical and verbal assault, setting fire to mosques, posession of explosives with intent to target mosques and more. Though 9/11 was over two decades ago, anti-Muslim hate has continued to persist in both the political and social atmosphere. Former President Donald Trump fueled the fire of anti-Muslim hate throughout his 2016 presidential campaign and his following term. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

Biden leaves American Muslims wanting

When President Biden was elected in 2020, Muslim Americans hoped to see a change in representation in government. At the time, hate crimes against Muslims were on the rise, and anti-Islamic rhetoric was surging, which critics attribute, in part, to former President Trump. But almost two years into the Biden administration, Muslims in the U.S. are split on the accomplishments — and failures — of the administration’s efforts to represent the community. Since his inauguration, President Biden has attempted to include Muslims in his government, appointing several Muslim Americans to high-profile public offices. The list includes: Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission; Sameera Fazil, National Economic Council Deputy Director; Reema Dodin, White House Office of Legislative Affairs Deputy Director; and Rashad Hussain, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. In addition, Biden’s first policies after being sworn in was to reverse the controversial “Muslim ban,” condemning the policy of his predecessor as a “stain on our national conscience.” But there are no Muslim Americans serving in the president’s Cabinet, and experts say that the community is still dealing with the consequences of the former administration’s policies. While Biden’s reversal of the ban was commended by advocates, CAIR added that both the Biden administration and Congress still need to “take action to repair the damage done” to everyone impacted by the ban. read the complete article


13 Sep 2022

Who Is Sadhvi Rithambara, Hindutva Leader Denied Approval for Meet in US Church?

On 6 December 1992, the day the Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindutva mobs, Sadhvi Rithambara was there, sitting on the Ram Chabutra, a platform constructed slightly away from the masjid and the site from where proponents of the Ram Mandir would address the karsewaks. Three decades later, a church in New Jersey, USA, disallowed permission for a fundraising event featuring the hardline Hindutva leader on Saturday, 10 September. Authorities at the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, took the decision following protest calls against the event, reported local news website Reverend Robert Miller of the church had reportedly stated on Friday that he had revoked approval to use of the church building after hearing from both opponents and event organisers. Miller also said that the church was not aware of the speaker’s background when the reservation was made. In the 1980s and early 1990s, she would rise among the Hindutva ranks and go on to play a crucial role in the movement demanding a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at the site where the Babri Masjid stood at the time. The Liberhan Commission, which was commissioned by the Government of India to probe the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, compiled a list of 68 people whom they stated were individually culpable for leading the country "to the brink of communal discord". Sadhvi Rithambara was one of them. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

Over 21 years later, the malignant impact of the US War on Terror remains alive for communities globally

Though we now speak in past tense, the 21 years that have passed since September 11th 2001 carry consequences that are just as alive, malignant and harmful for the rights of global citizens now as they were at the inception of the US War on Terror. In public discourse, the impact of the US global War on Terror is often reduced to obvious symbols of US military activity such as the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. These theaters of violence played host to the open use of torture and arbitrary detention by Americans. Though we are all familiar with the photos of kneeling Guantanamo Bay detainees in hoods and orange overalls, theseimages show only a scant face of the global War on Terror. While the War has led to multiple injustices that have spilled from US actions, it has actively spread its malignancy throughout the world, providing authoritarian regimes and liberal democracies alike with the means to take advantage of a global backsliding of due process rights. The logic and rhetoric of the global War on Terror have become key resources for countless actors and commentators justifying unlawful actions of the state. While the War on Terror has spread across the world in a shape-shifting fashion, it remains connected to the central body of harm initiated by the US. The global War on Terror has clearly exceeded the aim of ending al-Qa’eda and the Taliban, as the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) by the US set out to accomplish. Rather, as indicated by the use of ‘War on Terror’ as a proper noun, this piece has sought to show how the global manifestations of this conflict are inextricably linked in all the ways they have spread across the world. Like a malignant tumour, its tendrils have extended to almost every single part of the world, where states have taken it upon themselves to adopt rhetoric and policymaking set by the US, even when those states are ostensibly opponents of the US. The “forever war” remains ongoing, though the ‘shock and awe’ with which the US global war began has since faded. In the two decades since, Muslim citizens around the world have paid a heavy price for falling in the viewfinder of a narrative framing anything from their existence to resistance as an imminent security threat. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

Australia: Act on China’s Abuses in Xinjiang

The Australian government should take firm action in response to further evidence that the Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in the Xinjiang region, Human Rights Watch said today. These actions should include imposing targeted sanctions, introducing legislation to prevent the import of goods made with forced labor, and leading efforts for accountability measures at the United Nations Human Rights Council session starting on September 12, 2022. The groundbreaking UN report released on August 31 by the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, contained victim accounts that substantiate mass arbitrary detention, torture, cultural persecution, forced labor, and other serious human rights violations. It recommends that states, businesses, and the international community should take action with a view to ending the abuses and advancing justice and accountability. “Australia should impose targeted sanctions against Chinese government officials who are implicated in crimes against humanity and other grave abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “The European Union, US, UK, and Canada have already taken these steps, and Australia should join these efforts to hold those responsible for these abuses accountable and to stand with victims.” In a coordinated effort in March 2021, the European Union, UK, US, and Canada imposed targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on senior officials in Xinjiang who have been accused of serious human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims. read the complete article


13 Sep 2022

Alberta’s human rights commission chief asked to resign due to Islamophobic comments

Alberta’s human rights commission chief was asked to resign by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro on Monday after the resurfacing of Islamophobic comments made in 2009. This comes after the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and 27 other community associations sent a letter to Shandro on Monday, where they called for Calgary lawyer Collin May’s resignation after Islamophobic comments made in 2009 resurfaced. May was appointed to a five-year term as chief of the Alberta Human Rights Commission in July after serving as a member since 2019. May’s review of Israeli-British historian Efraim Karsh’s book Islamic Imperialism: A History on C2C Journal resurfaced in July after several community members expressed their concerns to the NCCM. In the review, May made Islamophobic comments calling the religion “militaristic” in nature. Since then, the NCCM said it tried to work with May multiple times to attempt to reconcile and build trust with Muslim communities. When May didn’t follow up as agreed, it prompted the NCCM to call for his resignation. read the complete article

13 Sep 2022

Évangéline assault 'creates a culture of fear,' says BIPOC USHR executive director

The executive director of an advocacy group for the BIPOC community on P.E.I. says she was taken aback after hearing about an assault in P.E.I.'s Évangéline region that has been characterized as a racially motivated attack. BIPOC USHR executive director Sobia Ali-Faisal says microaggressions and racist comments are common on the Island, but physical assaults are more rare. In the early morning hours of Sept. 3, after a dance sponsored by the Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival, RCMP responded to reports of an assault in the parking lot of the community centre in Abram-Village. Local groups say the victims were immigrants from Algeria, and have called the attack was racially motivated. Ali-Faisal calls the assault a case of Islamophobia. read the complete article


13 Sep 2022

Hijab ban proposal sparks debate, protests in Denmark

The Danish Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle – a body set up by Denmark’s ruling Social Democratic Party – has recommended that the country’s government ban hijabs (Muslim headscarves) for students in Danish elementary schools. The August 24 proposal is one of nine recommendations with the stated aim of preventing “honour-related social control” of girls from minority backgrounds. Huda Makai Asghar, 15, would be forced to take off her headscarf if the ban is implemented. The ninth grader at the Kokkedal Skole – a school outside of the Danish capital, Copenhagen, with close to 800 students – has been wearing the hijab for two years. “I have always known that we have freedom of religion in Denmark. I can wear what I want, and I can believe in what I like. So when I heard about the proposal, I was surprised,” she told Al Jazeera on the phone. Asghar feels the idea of a ban violates her freedom, and that of girls like her, and that it is wrong to force her to take the headscarf off. Iram Khawaja, an associate professor at the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University, has been outspoken against the proposal. According to her, simply making the recommendation and the debate that will follow could have negative consequences. “It will, of course, have consequences if the ban is put into action, but I believe there are already negative outcomes now. Simply putting the proposal out there is already stigmatising, problematising, and casting suspicion on a large group of religious minorities,” she said. “Although the intentions are good, it ends up stigmatising and disempowering the ones you are trying to help.” read the complete article


13 Sep 2022

‘Very Frightening’ to Enter Campus Alone: Muslim Students Recount Hijab Ban’s Impact

The hijab ban issued by the Karnataka government, later upheld by the high court, is creating and widening the social divide among student communities which could potentially lead to ghettoisation of education, a study published by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said. The ban has forced some hijab-clad students to seek a transfer to Muslim-managed institutions, thereby limiting their interactions with students of other communities, said the interim study for which the PUCL spoke to students who were impacted by the ban. This has also led to a deep sense of isolation and depression among these students, the study revealed. The PUCL report said that the high court’s verdict has denied women their right to wear the hijab as a matter of choice and agency for themselves. It’s important to note here that there are many women, irrespective of their religion, who like to cover their heads because it makes them feel safe. Hijab is a personal choice for several Muslim women, however, as The Wire had reported earlier, the headscarf has led to workplace discrimination for many in India. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Sep 2022 Edition


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