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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19 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the Aligarh Police booked Hindutva priest, Yati Narsinghanand, after he said “madrassas should not exist” and that they “should be blown to bits with gunpowder,” meanwhile in Canada, the human rights commission chief for Canada’s Alberta province has been forced to resign after a number of Canadian community organizations called for his removal due to Islamophobic comments he made, and lastly, the case of a Yemeni drone strike survivor who continues to need intensive medical care “highlights the seldom seen devastation to the lives of drone strike survivors and their families, especially those who live in areas outside formal war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.” Our recommended read of the day is by Faisal Hanif for Middle East Eye on the limited reporting in mainstream British media when it comes to the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in the city of Leicester, where provocation from Hindu nationalists against the community has intensified. This and more below:

United Kingdom

19 Sep 2022

Leicester riots: Are Muslims ever allowed to be victims in UK media? | Recommended Read

When video evidence emerged late last month showing Indian fans shouting "death to Pakistan" after a cricket match between the two rivals in the Asia Cup, the rather important detail of who was shouting what was absent from both local media and a BBC report. Instead, the reports used terms such as “racist and hateful chanting”. Police statements were quoted verbatim, and the only comment from an external actor came from the Federation of Muslim Organisations. One reader commenting on the coverage felt that the reporting implied it was Muslims committing the violence. The provocation has since intensified this weekend with a Hindutva-inspired march of around 200 men mostly in balaclavas echoing the anti-Muslim tactics inspired by the racist actions of the English Defence League in the not-too-distant past. The shouts of "Jai Shri Ram", a Hindu chant that became "a murder cry" in India, were audible and illustrative of what has plagued and continues to haunt Muslims in India. Remarkably the main BBC News report on this made no mention of the slogans being chanted or the ideology of those marching. It took a Muslim news organisation to investigate and document just what has been taking place in Leicester, as Muslims face increasing violence at the hands of Hindutva-inspired gangs. The “lack of action” from police, which authorities deny, has been given as a reason by some Muslims in the city for organising against this new wave of attacks. Some have blamed a recent influx of immigrants infused with Hindutva nationalist ideology from India, where Muslims are reportedly facing genocidal conditions. But as others have documented, the spread of Hindutva ideology in the UK took place long before Narendra Modi came to power, with Leicester becoming one of the key sites for spreading this ideology. While it would be radically overstating matters to say that Leicester’s Muslims are facing anything akin to their brethren in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India, the ill winds of Hindutva-inspired Islamophobia among certain sections of the British Hindu community have been documented and demonstrated. As one British journalist noted: “There is definitely a growing problem of bigotry against Muslims among Hindus. It’s spreading from India to the West.” read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

Police call for calm after ‘serious disorder’ breaks out in Leicester

Police and community leaders have called for calm after scuffles between large crowds led to arrests after “serious disorder” in Leicester over the weekend. Two arrests were made and a large number of people were searched under section 60 stop-and-search powers, police said. The disorder was the latest in a series of disturbances in the east of the city that have taken place after a cricket match between India and Pakistan on 28 August. In Green Lane Road, where there are several Muslim-owned businesses and a Hindu temple close by, a group of Hindu men were filmed marching through the area on Saturday. Rukhsana Hussain, 42, a community leader, described hearing loud chants of “Jai Shri Ram”, which translates from Hindi to “hail Lord Ram” or “victory to Lord Ram”, from several streets away. It is a chant that has recently become synonymous with anti-Muslim violence in India, where India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is under increasing scrutiny for the treatment of minorities, including Muslims in the country. Majid Freeman, 34, a community activist, filmed much of the disturbances in Belgrave Road on Saturday evening. In one video Freeman shot circulating on Twitter, the smashing of glass bottles can be heard, and police shout at Freeman to move away. “They were throwing bottles and all sorts,” Freeman said. “They were coming past our mosques, taunting the community and physically beating people up randomly,” he said. A gathering of young Muslims in the city was in response to the impromptu march, Freeman added. “That’s when the Muslim community came out and said: ‘We can’t trust the police, we’re going to defend our community ourselves.’" read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

Queen Elizabeth II: Police warn Muslim terror offenders to avoid late monarch's funeral

UK police officers have quizzed Muslim men convicted under terrorism legislation on their views of Queen Elizabeth II's death and urged them to avoid central London during her state funeral on Monday, Middle East Eye has learned. At least half-a-dozen men, convicted for non-violent offences under the Terrorism Act, were either visited or called by Greater London's Metropolitan Police counterterrorism command (SO15) this week over their plans on the day of the queen's funeral, according to human rights advocacy group Cage. The men are all under notification requirement, which means they are subject to strict monitoring and reporting by counterterrorism authorities. The requirements most commonly relate to their careers and personal lives, and very rarely to public events. In one instance, a plain-clothed SO15 officer visited the home of one of the men earlier this week, whose elderly mother told the officers that her son was at work. The officers then intended to turn up to the man's workplace over an "urgent matter", before agreeing to meet at a local police station. There, they asked him about his views on the queen's death and his plans for the state funeral on Monday. He did not confirm whether he would be attending, prompting authorities to follow up with him later in the week. "I was alarmed by the unannounced police visit to my home. My mother, who's extremely ill, was visibly shaken as she thought she will lose me again," he said. "For it to be all about the queen's funeral felt so unnecessary. I've rebuilt my life and have been compliant with all conditions placed on me for many years. The police should respect that." read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

Calls to ban 'divisive' Hindu activist Sadhvi Rithambara from UK speaking tour

Calls are mounting for the British government to ban a controversial Hindu activist accused in India of inciting anti-Muslim hatred from entering the United Kingdom for a speaking tour next week. Sadhvi Nisha Rithambara is the leader of the Durga Vahini organisation, the woman's wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist movement, and a close ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rithambara was scheduled to visit Hindu temples in Birmingham, Bolton, Coventry, Nottingham and London from 20-24 September as part of a tour organised by Param Shakti Peeth UK, a UK-registered charity founded by Rithambara. Param Shakti Peeth UK released a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that it will postpone Rithambara's UK tour due to her poor health. MEE understands that one scheduled event at a temple in east London at which Rithambara was due to speak has already been cancelled. The VHP was designated by the CIA as a "religious militant organisation" in 2018 and forms part of an umbrella group of Hindu nationalist groups close to Modi's ruling BJP party. Known to her followers as Didi Maa, Rithambara has courted controversy with calls for a "Hindu Rashtra" or "Hindu nation" by inciting violence towards minority groups in India - particularly Christian and Muslim communities. read the complete article


19 Sep 2022


In March 2018, the U.S. government decided that five Yemeni men were so dangerous that there was only one solution: They needed to die. After a U.S. military commander gave the final sign-off, a missile ripped through their SUV, near the village of Al Uqla, and tossed the car into the air. Three of the men were killed instantly. Another died days later in a local hospital. The only survivor was Adel Al Manthari. Al Manthari’s body was ravaged. His entire left side was burned. His right hip was fractured and his left hand sustained catastrophic injuries to its blood vessels, nerves, and tendons. Despite multiple surgeries and nine months of medical treatment after the strike, he was permanently disabled. The severe burns left his skin vulnerable to infection, and his body has regularly been covered in bed sores due to his limited mobility. The U.S. military claimed that Adel Al Manthari and the others in the vehicle were “terrorist” from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but independent inquiries said otherwise. There is no evidence to suggest that the United States ever reinvestigated the strike. And every day for the past four years, Al Manthari has paid the price for America’s shoot-first-ask-no-questions-later system of remote warfare. The irreparable damage to his body left Al Manthari unable to walk or work, robbing him of dignity and causing his daughters — ages 8 and 14 at the time of the strike — to drop out of school to help care for him. The psychological impact of the strike has been profound, leaving Al Manthari traumatized and in need of treatment. And the financial impact has been ruinous. Repeated surgeries and medical treatment plunged his family into debt and the bills have never ceased. While the U.S. has millions of dollars in funds earmarked for civilian victims of U.S. attacks, the military ignored pleas on Al Manthari’s behalf, leaving the 56-year-old to rely on a GoFundMe campaign earlier this year to save his life. But he’s back on the brink again, with more surgeries and bills, and, in an unusual move, his family agreed to share these new bills with The Intercept to provide itemized — and visceral — evidence of the financial as well as human cost of the U.S. attacking an innocent man and refusing to pay so much as a dime for his medical treatment. Al Manthari’s case highlights the seldom seen devastation to the lives of drone strike survivors and their families, especially those who live in areas outside formal war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

“They’re the world’s largest community of stateless people”—the Rohingya, five years after the pogrom

FIVE YEARS after a brutal campaign that drove nearly 750,000 out of Myanmar and into Bangladesh, conditions for the Muslim minority remain appalling on both sides of the border. read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

Why Islamophobia in Europe is getting worse

History was made back in March, when the United Nations unanimously declared the 15th to be an annual International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution was accepted by every single member of the UN — although not without discussion. It was no surprise that India, where experts warn of an impending 'genocide' of Muslims, uttered criticism, but it should not pass unnoticed that two European speakers joined in the chorus: both the representation of France and the representative of the European Union (as an observer) expressed criticism of the resolution. Although the French did not oppose the resolution in the end, it shows that there are major forces within Europe, and especially countries like France, that are investing less in the fight against Islamophobia, and more — as again the example of France reveals — into normalising Islamophobia. And it seems that other worrying developments such as the rise of the far-right in European nation states are pushing this trend. Although the far-right FPÖ in Austria and the League in Italy had only a short-lived time in government, a revitalisation of the far-right has already led to the far-right Sweden Democrats becoming the second-largest party in last week's national elections that makes it prepared for joining government the first time ever. With these developments in mind, we have released our seventh annual European Islamophobia Report. The state of Islamophobia in Europe continues to be problematic with many policies which we have criticised in previous reports being further implemented —not least, the dissolution of Islamophobia watchdog organisations in France. On the other hand, there is increasing awareness and also evidence provided by European institutions that Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism is not only a pressing societal issue, but also structurally engrained in several institutions of the European Union and its member states. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) showed with its general policy recommendation No. 5 on preventing and combating anti-Muslim racism and discrimination in December 2021 that Islamophobia includes structural forms of racism. And the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Directive (EU) 2017/541 on Combating Terrorism — Impact on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms showed that counter-terrorism strategies especially affect the human rights of Muslims in the European Union. read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

The West is finally recognizing the agency of Arab women

On Wednesday night, the all-female Lebanese dance group Mayyas was crowned the winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” On Monday, Cherien Dabis walked the red carpet in Los Angeles as the first Palestinian woman director to be nominated for an Emmy Award, for Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” On Saturday, Ons Jabbeur became the first Arab woman to reach the U.S. Open final. Although Arab women are not seeking validation from the West, seeing them finally recognized on a global scale is an inspiring and crucially needed corrective to the stereotypes that have plagued them. For too long, narratives have fixated either on their appearance and body shape or their purported role as submissive women to overbearing husbands (unless they’re portrayed as terrorists). The author of “Reel Bad Arabs,” Jack Shaheen, highlights how Hollywood sidelines Arab women. Shaheen refers to them as “bundles in black” because their roles are usually “in the background, in the shadows — submissive.” Although no statistical data on Arab women in Hollywood seems to exist, data on Muslim women can be an indicator of their representation, as the media often (incorrectly) conflates being Arab with being Muslim. One study assessing Muslim representation by the University of Southern California Annenberg found that only 23.6% percent of all Muslim characters in film and television between 2017 and 2019 were women. The roles they did receive, according to the Geena Davis Institute, were those of wives or mothers who were often overpowered. Such narratives have reinforced the notion that Arab women are in need of being saved, with interventions ranging from the military to the sartorial. read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

West weighs calling for China Uyghur abuses inquiry at UN

Western powers are weighing the risk of a potential defeat if they table a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling for an independent commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses by China in Xinjiang. The issue is a litmus case for Chinese influence at the UN, as well as the willingness of the UN to endorse a worldview that protects individual rights from authoritarian states. The outgoing UN human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, issued a report on her last day in office – 31 August – claiming there was clear evidence of crimes against humanity committed by China during its suppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. It was the first time the UN made such a serious allegation against China. The report found evidence of systemic discrimination, mass arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence. Western leaders, in uncharted waters, are hesitating whether to table a resolution setting up an investigatory mechanism into China at the Human Rights Council (HRC), which started meeting in Geneva last week and runs to 7 October. Olaf Wientzek, from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation thinktank, said: “If such a resolution were passed it would be a watershed moment for the HRC and increase its credibility. Taking on China would be a first.” However, China’s diplomats have already been mobilising, and on Tuesday the Chinese ambassador in Geneva issued a statement, backed by 30 countries, accusing the UN rights office of acting without a mandate and warning of the exaggeration of “an existing trend to western polarisation and politicisation of human rights”. read the complete article


19 Sep 2022

Canada: Human rights commission chief forced to resign over Islamophobic comments

The human rights commission chief for Canada's Alberta province has been forced to resign after a number of Canadian community organisations called for his removal due to Islamophobic comments he made. Collin May, a lawyer from Calgary, was originally appointed to a five-year term as the head of the province's human rights commission. He served as a member since 2009. But earlier this week, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and nearly 30 other community groups sent a letter to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro calling for May's resignation over Islamophobic comments he made in 2009. That year, in a book review, May said that Islam was "not a peaceful religion misused by radicals" and instead was "one of the most militaristic religions known to man". In their letter, the NCCM and the other groups said May had agreed to a dialogue with the Muslim community, but later declined dates to meet and then also sent letters threatening to sue those criticising him. read the complete article

19 Sep 2022

Here's how Muslim artists in Calgary are working to increase representation

Sumaya Bernier says she doesn't remember ever seeing herself or her identity represented in the movies she watched, the books she read, or the art she marvelled over. Even at that age, Bernier felt there was a lack of representation of her culture and religion in Western media. Whatever little representation existed, she says was inaccurate. "Living in Canada and in the West, there aren't a lot of positive or even accurate representations of Muslims and Islam in the media," Bernier said. "We see a lot of the terrorist trope and the Muslim girl who needs saving, and all those shows and movies where she removes her hijab for a love interest, which is so awful and a really negative representation of Islam." Driven by an ambition to depict the religion as she sees it and create more accurate portrayals, Bernier started making art that is a representation of who she is. It's a fusion of paintings and drawings inspired by well-known European paintings crossed over with Islamic architecture and symbols. "I wanted to do it in a way where I'll do something that I love," Bernier said. "And just ultimately having the ambition to represent Islam and its adherence in a positive manner and show the truth and the beauty of the religion." read the complete article

United States

19 Sep 2022

With another Sept. 11 passed, let’s dedicate ourselves to faith without fear in Kansas and world

As an American Muslim of my generation, the actions of those 19 hijackers altered my life in ways that I am still struggling to understand. It took me longer than most to register the implications. I had my own personal challenges at the time. I was nine months pregnant with my youngest son, and my middle son had just been diagnosed with a serious neurological condition. I was, for a whole host of personal reasons, already in survival mode. Initially, I tried to seek consolation in my faith, until that too began to crumble under the weight of so much interrogation and public scrutiny. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Muslims were forced to evolve in complicated ways. Many rushed to the podium promising a protestant-style revolution. Others packaged the rhetoric of female emancipation with everything from terrorism control to Islamic reform. But these self-appointed leaders failed to have any genuine impact because they had almost no grounding in religious tradition or any understanding of the people they professed to represent. Meanwhile, the demonization of Muslims continued. Haunted by Islamophobia, we scrambled to demonstrate our humanity to fellow Americans. Social justice became a serious rallying cry in the Muslim community. The traditionally conservative gravitated left, which was understandable considering that Democrats, historically the champions of social justice causes, opened their arms to the Muslim community in ways that made us want to “burn our bras” while still clinging to our headscarves. I struggled with this embrace. I found the idea of empowerment through an admission of powerlessness theoretically problematic, a kind of Catch-22. For me, the plot was lost when the phrase “moderate Muslim” quickly devolved into a kind of moral and political agnosticism. But the shifting political landscape that started with 9/11 and continued up until the Trump presidency has forced many Muslims to press the fast forward button on what should have otherwise been a decades-long process. We found ourselves scrambling to define who we are, with religion as a kind of hurried footnote. read the complete article


19 Sep 2022

The Black Gate: A Uyghur Family's Story, Part 1

It has been called a genocide and a possible crime against humanity. In the Xinjiang region of western China, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups have been arrested and detained. Many are still desperately searching for their families. In this episode, the first of a two-part series, NPR's China Correspondent Emily Feng and language rights activist Abduweli Ayup tell the story of one Uyghur man and his efforts to reunite with his wife and young children, who were detained by Chinese authorities. For two years, he had no idea what had happened to them. read the complete article


19 Sep 2022

Danish Hijab Ban in Schools: Freedom for Girls or State Overreach?

A recommendation by a Danish government commission to ban Muslim headscarves in the country’s elementary schools has stirred up both debate and backlash. The Danish Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle—a body set up by Denmark’s ruling Social Democratic Party—released the recommendation to prohibit students in elementary schools from wearing hijabs (Muslim headscarves) on August 24th as one of nine recommendations for preventing “honour-related social control” of girls from minority backgrounds. The 9-member commission includes three members with a Muslim or ethnic minority background. Recommendations related to adolescents and adults are expected by early 2023. The proposed measure on headscarves has unleashed a social debate as well as backlash. Al Jazeera reports that the committee had initially approved the recommendations unanimously but two members later retracted support for a hijab ban. One of them then withdrew completely from the commission, stating that she could not support the proposal of a ban. Opponents to the proposal include Islamic groups and the Jewish Association. “The Danish Islamic Religious Association believes that a headscarf ban will be a human rights violation that will increase polarisation and dissatisfaction at school,” a press release stated. “Social control of girls and women should be investigated and fought, but not at the expense of the Muslim girl’s right to wear a headscarf.” “The commission designates all girls with headscarves as victims of their parents’ need to be well-regarded in social circles,” the Jewish Society stated in a press release. “It is a completely unreasonable stigmatization of Muslim girls and their families. And it completely negates the religious reasons for wearing a headscarf.” It also accused the commission of lacking a factual basis for its recommendation of a headscarf ban. read the complete article


19 Sep 2022

Yati Narsinghanand booked for saying madrassas, Aligarh Muslim University should be blown up

The Aligarh Police on Sunday booked Hindutva supremacist seer Yati Narsinghanand for calling for the demolition of madrassas and the Aligarh Muslim University, India Today reported. Narsinghanand made the remarks after attending an event organised by the Hindu Mahasabha in Aligarh on Sunday. He was responding to a question on the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to conduct a survey of unrecognised madrassas in the state. “Madrassas should not exist in the first place,” he said. “They should be blown to bits with gunpowder or we should practice the policy of China and send the residents of the madrassas to detention camps.” Narsinghanand also described Aligarh as the place from where the “seed of India’s partition” was sown and said that the Aligarh Muslim University should be demolished using bombs. The Dasna Devi temple chief priest added that he is not bothered about the legal consequences of his actions. “Court cases keep on coming,” he said. “Maybe, for what I am saying right now, I will again face a case.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Sep 2022 Edition


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