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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16 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the “Alberta government has rescinded the appointment of the head of its Human Rights Commission in a dispute stemming from a passage in a book review that has been criticized as Islamophobic,” meanwhile a new study finds that the US, the UK, and India contributed a staggering 86 percent of anti-Muslim content on Twitter during a three-year period, and in Europe, the EU said it aimed to ban all goods that were the product of forced labor, a move that analysts predicted could hit exports from Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Pranay Somayajula for The Nation on the alarming rise of Hindu nationalism amongst Hindu American communities. This and more below:


16 Sep 2022

Hindu Nationalism’s Alarming Rise in the US Goes Beyond Texas | Recommended Read

The Babri mosque’s demolition was the culmination of a campaign launched eight years earlier by India’s Hindu nationalist movement, tired of decades spent on the political fringes in the post-Independence era. The rally featured several speakers who would go on to secure prominent positions in the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including soon-to-be home minister and later deputy prime minister L.K. Advani. Among these speakers was a woman known as Sadhvi Rithambara, whose oratorical prowess and incendiary rhetoric had made her a regular campaigner for the BJP in the 1989 and 1991 elections. Her speeches, which demonized the Muslim minority and called for war between Hindus and Muslims, had been widely disseminated on cassette tapes in the run-up to the Ayodhya rally. In the wake of the deadly violence that followed, Indian historian Tanika Sarkar described Rithambara and her speeches as “the single most powerful instrument for whipping up anti-Muslim violence.” Fast forward 20 years to Tuesday, August 30: Rithambara, invited by national Hindu groups, performed religious services at the Global Mall in Norcross, Ga. The event, which was condemned by civil society groups including Hindus for Human Rights, CAIR, and the Indian American Muslim Council, drew more than 100 protesters outside the mall calling for Rithambara to be disinvited and denounced as a “Hindu extremist leader.” Rithambara’s American appearances came just weeks after Indian Independence Day celebrations across the country sparked contention for featuring Hindu nationalist activity and imagery. At the August 15 India Day Parade in Edison, N.J., hosted by the Indian Business Association, participants marched alongside a bulldozer emblazoned with the faces of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, whose policy of demolishing the homes of Muslim protesters has turned the bulldozer into a symbol of Hindu nationalism and Indian state violence. These incidents in Edison and Anaheim, as well as the controversy surrounding Rithambara’s appearances in Georgia and New Jersey, highlight what Sunita Viswanath, cofounder and executive director of Hindus for Human Rights, calls the “dangerous spread of Hindutva” in the Hindu American community. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Twitter hate: 86 percent of anti-Muslim content comes from US, UK, India

The social media company should now focus its attention on user behaviour within three countries in particular, according to a new study, which found the US, the UK, and India contributed a staggering 86 percent of anti-Muslim content on Twitter during a three-year period. The study by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) – the apex Muslim body in the Australian state of Victoria which represents an estimated 270,000 community members– found nearly four million anti-Muslim posts made during a 24-month period between 2017 and 2019. The ICV also flagged a vicious cycle of hatred manifesting in both online and offline attacks on the community globally. Indian users alone generated more than half of these hateful and hurtful posts. Among India-based Twitter users, researchers blame India’s ruling party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – for the dissemination and amplification of anti-Muslim hate, saying, “(the) BJP has actively normalised hatred towards Muslims such that 55.12 percent of anti-Muslim hatred tweets now originate in India.” ICV also pointed to discriminatory laws that deny Muslims citizenship and other civil rights for the rise of anti-Muslim hatred online among Indian Twitter accounts. In the United States, the proliferation of anti-Muslim hate on Twitter is almost inseparable from the hateful rhetoric and policies of former president Donald Trump, who ranks as the third most frequently mentioned user in anti-Muslim posts, according to the researchers, with many tweets associated with defending his Muslim immigration ban and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, including those that posit Democrats as collaborating with “Islamists” to take over the West. As for the United Kingdom, researchers attributed the prevalence of anti-Muslim tweets to a multitude of factors, including the global reach of Trump’s anti-Muslim animus, anti-immigration sentiments sparked by the refugee crisis, and the discourse surrounding Brexit, along with the casual racism of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who once compared niqab-wearing Muslim women to “letter boxes”. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Europe Plans to Ban Goods Made With Forced Labor

The European Union said on Wednesday that it aimed to ban all goods that were the product of forced labor, a move that analysts predicted could hit exports from Xinjiang, the Chinese region where Beijing is believed to be forcing ethnic Uyghurs to work in camps. The European proposal followed a U.S. policy that became law in December that explicitly singled out goods from Xinjiang. The E.U. plan did not mention Xinjiang, but China is widely seen as a target of the bill following increasing pressure within the bloc to address human rights violations by Beijing. The U.S. law imposes a blanket ban on products from Xinjiang. By contrast, the European bill would apply to all goods circulating inside the bloc deemed to have been created with forced labor, without specifying particular countries or sectors, which analysts say reflects wariness over antagonizing Beijing and breaching World Trade Organization rules on trade. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Fearing for the safety of their families in China, most Uyghur-Australians choose to remain silent

When Hayrullah Mai*, a Uyghur-Australian, travelled to China in 2017 to visit his wife and stepson, he was unprepared for the terrifying experience that would follow. After arriving at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Sichuan province, Hayrullah told SBS Chinese that he was met by Chinese authorities before three police officers then escorted him to a flight to Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He was then sent to a detention centre and detained for nearly three weeks. "They chained me and handcuffed me," he said, adding that he was locked up with dozens of people. After his release, Hayrullah was finally able to meet his family, but after just over a week, he was forced to leave the country by China and banned from entering the country for five years. After returning to Australia, he immediately applied for permanent residency visas for his family, which were approved in August 2018, but his family remained trapped in China. Uyghurs who have migrated overseas are a major source of information for human rights groups. But Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Association (AUTWA) president Ramila Chanisheff told SBS Chinese that many Uyghurs chose to remain silent out of concern for the safety of family members. Hayrullah said he knew of 17 other Uyghur-Australians who had encountered similar problems as him, and were separated from their families. Ms Chanisheff said while the exact figure could not be confirmed, "there are Australians with family members languishing in either prison or camps, or in house arrest by the Chinese Government". read the complete article


16 Sep 2022

Hijab Ban| Rules say that educational institutions have power to prescribe uniform: Supreme Court

While hearing pleas challenging Karnataka HC’s verdict of upholding the ban on hijab, the Supreme Court on Thursday opined that there were statutory rules which say that educational institutions have the power to prescribe uniforms. Responding to Advocate Prashant Bhushan’s contention that the schools could not restrict entry for not wearing a dress and that a public institution particularly a government institution could not impose a dress code, Justice Hemant Gupta asked, “So your submission is that government schools can’t have a uniform?” “Yes but even if they can, they can’t restrict hijab,” Bhushan responded. “The rules they say have the power to prescribe uniforms. Hijab is different,” Justice Dhulia said. Bhushan also argued that over the years, Muslim girls wearing hijab had acquired relgious identity which was protected under article 25 of the Constitution “It may not be prescribed as an essential practice by Quran but if it is bona fide practice followed by several women, it cannot be proscribed,” he added. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Hijab ban order led to 17,000 girls skipping exams in Karnataka, advocate tells SC

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of Muslim girls challenging the Karnataka high court's verdict on the ban on hijab (a headgear worn by some women from the faith), told the Supreme Court that the ruling resulted in thousands skipping the examinations. “My friend (one of the lawyers) informed me that 17,000 students had really abstained from the exams after this particular judgement," Ahmadi told the bench that is hearing arguments on a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka high court verdict that refused to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the southern state. Questioning the credibility of the report, the bench said, "We don’t want to say anything about reports. We didn’t accept. The issue of the dropout rate was never raised before the HC. You are arguing for the first time here." According to Ahmadi, Muslim girls who had previously been confined to madrasas had broken stereotypes by enrolling in secular educational institutions while wearing the hijab, but the government order requiring students to not wear the hijab on school premises took that away from them. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Watch | ‘Hijab Ban Order Weaponised Against Muslim Women’: PUCL Study

As the Supreme Court continues to hear a batch of petitions on the hijab ban in Karnataka’s educational institutions, the human rights body People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) carried out a study to understand the impact of the ban on students in urban and rural areas of the state. The PUCL said in its report that the ban – which has compelled many Muslim women to choose between their attire and education – has taken a toll on them. Many of them are even scared to go to college alone, because of the harassment they have been facing after the high court upheld the government’s order on the hijab ban. “In each district, there’s a certain nuance or a certain struggle that these girls are facing [after the hijab ban]. And if we don’t stand with these girls at this point, we’ll completely fail as a civil society…and to be able to fight with them, we need to understand the gravity of it,” one of the researchers told The Wire’s Sumedha Pal. The researchers also pointed out that until now, the impact of the hijab ban, data collection etc. had been led only by Muslim civil society organisations; however, it’s important to understand that “this is not only a Muslim issue, this is each one of our issue." read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

Hijab ban: Ambedkar’s remarks cited in High Court order are offensive, Muslim petitioners tell SC

Muslim petitioners on Thursday told the Supreme Court that social reformer BR Ambedkar’s statements mentioned in the Karnataka High Court hijab ban order are “deeply offensive” and “totally biased”, The Indian Express reported. In its March 15 judgement, the High Court, while upholding the state government’s prohibition imposed on Muslim students from wearing hijab in educational institutions, had said that Ambedkar’s statements denouncing the purdah system in his book Pakistan or Partition of India applied to the headscarf as well, The Indian Express reported. “These burka-clad women walking in the streets is one of the most hideous sights one can witness in India…,” the High Court said, citing Ambedkar. “The Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women….” The High Court quoted another passage in which Ambedkar had denounced the way Muslim women are secluded from the world, which he added, could restrict their outlook. They are weighed down by a “slavish mentality” and an “inferiority complex”, the High Court quoted from his book. On Thursday, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves told a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia that Ambedkar’s statements about the purdah system should not be repeated in India, The Indian Express reported. The High Court judgement, upholding the state government’s ban, cannot be relied on, he added. He said that the High Court order links the wearing of the hijab with indiscipline, chaos, social separateness and sectarianism of every kind. read the complete article

16 Sep 2022

The Rising Intimidation of India’s Muslims & The Criminalisation of Eating, Praying, Loving & Doing Business

14 criminal provisions were commonly invoked and at least five Constitutional provisions ignored in the criminalisation of daily life of Muslims—doing business, praying, eating meat, loving, even drinking water—according to our analysis of 10 recent cases. The criminal procedures so used include threats to public order, unlawful assembly, outraging religious feelings, promoting enmity, national security and even terrorism. Almost every day, the media cite accounts (here, here, here and here) of criminal cases being filed against Muslims for no evident criminality or calls being made for economic boycotts against them: From ‘Corona Jihad’, ‘Love jihad’, ‘Economic jihad’, to ‘UPSC jihad’ and ‘Land jihad’. Blame is increasingly cast upon an entire community, rendering them both victims and supposed victimisers. Indian Muslims now find themselves implicated in criminal cases for engaging in events as ordinary as praying, eating, running a business or even falling in love. The most recent data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2021 reveal the effects of Muslims being singled out for special attention. More than 30% of detenues in Indian prisons were Muslim, even though they were 14.2% of the population (as per Census 2011). As on 21 December 2021, all 41 detenues lodged in Haryana’s jails were Muslim, as were 78.5% of detenues in West Bengal (Muslim population: 30.9%) and 56.7% in Uttar Pradesh or UP (Muslim population: 19%). In Assam, where 34% of the population is Muslim, 64% of convicts and 49% of undertrials were Muslim. Our analysis of recent events that led to criminal cases against Muslims revealed growing bias and prejudice in the State’s approach to India’s largest minority, often making ordinary events of daily life appear like a threat to public order, in some cases, to national security and even terrorism. read the complete article


16 Sep 2022

Alberta rescinds appointment of Human Rights Commission chief in book review dispute

The Alberta government has rescinded the appointment of the head of its Human Rights Commission in a dispute stemming from a passage in a book review that has been criticized as Islamophobic. Justice Minister Tyler Shandro’s department did not formally announce it had removed Collin May as head of the commission. Instead, it emailed to media late Thursday afternoon without comment a copy of the official cabinet order rescinding May’s job. The cabinet order contained no reasons for the decision or comment from Shandro. Earlier this week, Shandro publicly urged May to resign after a Muslim advocacy group said May had failed to keep a promise to meet with them over comments in a book review he had written in 2009 that they deemed Islamophobic. May refused to resign and instead hired a lawyer who announced earlier Thursday that May had done nothing wrong. “My client, the first openly gay chief of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, will not be resigning his position,” lawyer Kathryn Marshall said in a statement. read the complete article


16 Sep 2022

Crimes Against Humanity in Xinjiang: The UN (Finally) Weighs In

On her final day in office, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a long-awaited report on the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang. Among other things, the U.N.’s highest-ranking human rights official determined that the Chinese government has committed serious human rights violations against the largely Muslim, Uyghur population, and even more damning, that there is a substantial basis to believe that the government has also committed crimes against humanity. Yet horrific as it is, the report’s substance is less surprising than the circumstances in which it was issued. The report’s content, and the context of its creation, reveal just as much about Beijing’s influence at home and aboard, and the role of some U.N. institutions to promote “fundamental rights and freedoms.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Sep 2022 Edition


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