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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21 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemned what it described as “the targeting of Muslim communities in Leicester by far-right Hindutva groups,” meanwhile in Canada, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has documented “dozens and dozens” of Islamophobic incidents in schools including bullying, threats, and harassment against Muslim children, and lastly, Rohingya refugees living in the no-man’s land formed a human chain and wrote to the United Nations to take measures for their protection and safe return to Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian on how Hindutva and the RSS has gained prominence and influence not only in India but also amongst the Indian diaspora communities in the US, UK, & Australia. This and more below:


21 Sep 2022

What is Hindu nationalism and how does it relate to trouble in Leicester? | Recommended Read

Hindu nationalism is a political ideology that dates back to the 19th century. It encompassed a broad range of groups but at its core is a belief that Indian national identity and culture are inseparable from the Hindu religion. It began to gain prominence in the early 20th century as part of the independence movement in India, which sought to separate itself from the identity of British colonial rule and the Islamic Mughal dynasty, which had previously governed India from the 16th century. Hindutva – a term coined in the 1920s in the writings of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar meaning “Hindu-ness” – is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India. Hindutva is the belief in the hegemony of Hinduism in India and the establishment of the country as a Hindu, rather than secular, state. Hindus are viewed more as an ethnic, rather than religious, group. The Hindutva ideology has been associated with rightwing extremism and fascism due to the purist racial elements of the movement and its association with intolerance of minorities, in particular anti-Muslim sentiment and violence in India, which is 80% Hindu and 14% Muslim. Since Modi and the BJP came to power in 2014, there have been highly successful efforts to mobilise the vast Indian diaspora in support of the BJP, particularly in the UK, US and Australia, primarily through the use of social media. While overseas Indians cannot vote, they are known to retain strong connections to their communities still in India and often wield a lot of wealth and influence. In 2019, when Modi visited the US, a “howdy Modi” event was organised by his supporters in Texas, which was attended by then-US president, Donald Trump, and 50,000 supporters. The rise in global support for the BJP has also coincided with a rise in prominence of Hindutva groups and charities in the US. Some of these groups have been accused of trying to undermine academic freedom on university campuses by targeting academics whose work has focused on India’s Islamic history. In September 2021, organisers of an academic conference on Hindutva held in the US were bombarded with thousands of threats of rape, violence and death, allegedly by such groups. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

How India’s Violent Politics Came to Leicester

Last weekend saw unrest break out in Leicester, England, between groups of Hindus and Muslims of mostly Indian origin. Over a dozen people were arrested, cars were damaged and police were called away from duties related to the Queen’s funeral to deal with the disturbances in the city, located 100 miles northwest of London. Many were shocked by the violence in a place where Hindus and Muslims have lived peacefully, side-by-side, for decades. The disorder exposes a worrying trend, whereby national politics in India have created fault lines in the diaspora. Hindutva, the divisive political ideology endorsed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which advocates for Hindu supremacy – and wants to transform India into an ethno-religious state – has crossed over to Britain. To understand these events, and the recent violence in Leicester, we must understand the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and why fomenting division between Hindus and Muslims is a pivotal part of its ideology. The veteran activist Amrit Wilson, who has spent years raising awareness about the rise of Hindutva, has noted the growth of the ideology across the global Indian diaspora, with RSS branches from Britain to Kenya. Some of those arrested in Leicester over the weekend had traveled to the city from other parts of the U.K., including Birmingham. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

Uyghur activists stage hunger strike outside White House

Uyghur activists started a hunger strike outside the White House on Monday demanding the US hold Beijing accountable for the persecution of Uyghur communities. Photos posted by the Uyghur American Association showed activists waving the flag of East Turkestan - the name they use to refer to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region - and the US flag in Washington, alongside placards calling on Joe Biden's administration to protect Muslim communities targeted by China. The campaigners included four people who said they had survived Chinese concentration camps. They said they would continue their protest until Washington "at least" drafts and introduces a resolution defending Uyghur rights at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council, according to a video posted later by the American NGO. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

China faces pressure at United Nations after Xinjiang report

Diplomats and human rights advocates are stepping up pressure on the United Nations to act over China’s treatment of the Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, as Beijing tries to head off further scrutiny of what is happening in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The call for action took place as world leaders arrived in New York City for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, and two weeks after the UN Human Rights Council found in a landmark report that China had potentially committed “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

Rohingyas at no-man’s land write to UN, form human chain demanding safety

Rohingya refugees living in the no-man's land near Tambru of Bandarban's Naikhyanchhari upazila formed a human chain and wrote to the United Nations (UN) to take measures for their protection and safe return to Myanmar's Rakhine State. In the wake of the recent shellings at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, Dil Mohammad, chairman of the management committee of the Rohingya camp located there, appealed in an open letter on Monday on behalf of around 4,500 Rohingyas. They also formed a human chain protesting the demise of a young boy who died after being hit by a shell hurled by the Myanmar army from the other side of the border. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

The death of Mahsa Amini and the truth about the hijab

As a female Muslim journalist and modest fashion enthusiast, most of the stories that I write about hijab for news outlets in the West have a distinctively defensive stance, and explicit motivation to dispel Islamophobic myths about veils being a symbol of oppression. Some days, I condemn European nations that enforce bans on burkas, burkinis and hijabs; on others, I try to shed light on the female Muslim entrepreneurs, designers, models and bloggers proving that when followed by choice, a lifestyle of covering up one’s body can be incredibly empowering. There are times, however, when current events involving the hijab fall squarely into the realm of oppression. The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini is a prime example. And while this all might be done under the guise of religion – the country calls itself the “Islamic Republic”, after all – there’s nothing Islamic about the morality police’s approach to bullying women into covering their hair. In Iran, hijab has been enforced since the 1979 “Islamic Revolution” – prior to which veiling was in fact banned under the rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi. After Pahlavi’s 1935 nationwide hijab ban, soldiers were known to forcibly remove the headscarves of women who wore them in public. Veiled women were not allowed to work in professional capacities, and weren’t permitted entry into restaurants or theaters. Only a few decades later were these policies completely reversed, and Iran became – and remains — the only country in the world (besides the Taliban’s new Afghanistan) where women must legally cover their hair. Frankly, this fickleness when it comes to approaches towards hijab goes to show that Muslim women are often the first casualty in a war of politics that aim to promote some sort of dogma – whether it’s Western-inspired liberalism or extremist, religious bigotry. Be it in the East or the West, state-sanctioned patriarchy takes many forms. Sometimes, it looks like the American Supreme Court curbing women’s constitutional rights to seek abortions. Other times, it looks like the systemic oppression of Muslim women through enforced dress codes masked as markers of piety. In fact, most rulings on Muslim women’s attire – be it burkini bans in France or mandatory hair-covering in Iran – have little to do with Muslim women themselves, and are instead a means of cementing patriarchal control over women. In the West, men may want women to shed their clothing to depict a more sexualized image that they prefer to see. In the East, conversely, men often want women to cover their bodies, lest they “tempt” fellow men to perform illicit sexual activity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Sep 2022

Leicester riots: When Hindu nationalism came to Britain

Hindus on one side, Muslims on the other. Police officers wielding batons keep the two sides apart. Close by, cars are being smashed. One is overturned and its driver beaten up. Local residents trapped in their houses, afraid to go out. Masked and hooded men march through the streets. This wasn’t a scene in India, a country notoriously prone to outbursts of brutal communal violence. It happened last Saturday night in the British city of Leicester. For locals, it felt close to civil war. Nothing like this has happened before in Britain’s most multicultural city. In recent months, though, something has changed. Hindu nationalism has come to Britain. In India, hatred against religious minorities, especially the country’s 200 million Muslims, is growing. It is fuelled by Hindutva, a common term for the Hindu nationalism propagated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary organisation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received his political education in the RSS. The ruling party, the BJP, was established in 1951 as its political wing. In Leicester, tensions have been growing amid a series of anti-Muslim attacks. The threat escalated once more last Saturday. Around 200 Hindu men, most of them masked and hooded, marched through a Muslim-majority area in East Leicester. As they marched, they shouted "Jai Shri Ram”. This innocuous-sounding Hindu religious statement, meaning “Hail Lord Ram!”, has become synonymous with Hindutva violence in India. Most press reporting so far suggests that both sides of the conflict are equally to blame, as Faisal Hanif has noted for Middle East Eye. It must be stressed that the picture is confused, and there have been horrifying Muslim assaults on Hindus. But the ugly events of this summer cannot be explained without taking into account the rise of the Hindutva movement in Britain. read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

Leicester riots: Muslim Council of Britain calls for action against 'Hindutva extremism'

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) on Monday condemned what it described as "the targeting of Muslim communities in Leicester by far-right Hindutva groups". Hindutva refers to the Hindu nationalist ideology promoted by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been accused of stoking violence and hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities. Witnesses, supported by videos circulating on social media, have said they saw hundreds of men wearing masks and balaclavas chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, which translates from Hindi to “hail Lord Ram” or “victory to Lord Ram”, words that have increasingly been appropriated by perpetrators of anti-Muslim violence in India. "This follows a series of provocations, including: chanting outside mosques, targeted mob attacks on Muslims, and vandalism to homes and businesses over recent months," the MCB said. "Groups of young people from both communities have subsequently come out on the streets to protest, resulting in physical altercations and running battles." read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

Hindu and Muslim community leaders in Leicester urge 'inciters of hatred' to end 'provocation and violence'

Hindu and Muslim community leaders in Leicester have called for an immediate end to weeks of violent disturbances following a cricket match between India and Pakistan. The widespread disorder - since an Asia Cup cricket match on 28 August - has led to one man being jailed and 47 arrests in total, with a faith leader saying it was sparked by a "country-based dispute" after the cricket. On Tuesday, city leaders urged "the inciters of hatred" to stop the "provocation and violence - both in thought and behaviour", and urged troublemakers from outside the city to stay away. "Leicester has no place for any foreign extremist ideology that causes division," they said in a joint statement. "We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters. "Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century. "We arrived in this city together. We faced the same challenges together; we fought off racist haters together and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity and community cohesion." read the complete article

21 Sep 2022

Why King Charles's support for Islam is important for Muslims and the world

While King Charles's accession to the throne means there are many issues he'll no longer speak freely on, he's already made his views towards Islam and Muslim people clear. "The Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasuries of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity," said the then-prince in a 2010 speech about Islam and the environment at Oxford University. He had a fascination with Islam, attempting to learn Arabic so he could read the Quran, as revealed in the book Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams. As a Patron of the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies, the King spoke in 1993 about building connections between the Islamic and Western worlds. "I believe wholeheartedly that the links between these two worlds matter more today than ever before, because the degree of misunderstanding between the Islamic and Western worlds remains dangerously high," he said. During a sermon earlier this month at the Cambridge Central Mosque, English Islamic scholar Abdal Hakim Murad said Charles deserved credit for his efforts to encourage "reconciliation". "In an age when misunderstandings about the Muslim religion are widespread, we welcome the fact that the new head of state has a long record of sympathy for Islam, having made many statements in favour of better coexistence, respect and understanding," Professor Murad told the ABC. "It is important for Muslims to appreciate that the beauty of their religion is understood by significant figures in the British establishment." read the complete article


21 Sep 2022

With hate on the rise, it’s a tough time to be a young Muslim in school

Imagine going to school worrying about someone threatening to kill you. Or heading to class the day after you see a TikTok (bearing your school’s name) with your face next to a bomb. These are two of the many incidents that happened last year to young Muslim girls in Canada, both still in elementary school. Neither are tall enough to ride the rollercoaster, let alone worry about being attacked for their faith or identity. The first had her hijab (Muslim headscarf for females) pulled by a male student who repeatedly insulted and threatened her. The second had her love of school scared out of her. Both were active students in and out of class. Neither has been able to regain their confidence. These are just a couple of cases out of the dozens and dozens of incidents Muslim parents reported last year to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), where caseworkers continue to deal with a backlog of families asking for help. They want to know how to deal with school administrators and teachers across the country who, according to them, simply don’t take Islamophobia in primary and secondary schools very seriously. They say they have little faith in the system to stick up for their kids. So instead of going through internal channels to complain, they ask for advocacy and help from the outside. It’s either that or suffer in silence — which many do. According to anecdotal evidence compiled by NCCM, the growing number of Islamophobic incidents in schools (and a lack of proper followup) isn’t a pattern that can be understood in a vacuum. Canada and many other countries have reached new levels of social polarization in recent years. Muslims have long been an easy target. Anti-Muslim hate crimes spiked about 71 per cent last year, according to Statistics Canada. Canada is now considered a major country for anti-Muslim incidents, with 11 deaths due to Islamophobia in the past five years. It would be naïve to assume that these societal shifts have had no effect in our classrooms. read the complete article

United States

21 Sep 2022

'Stranger at the Gate' tells story of 'shared humanity'

During more than two decades in the Marines, Richard “Mac” McKinney was “involved in so many deaths,” as he puts it. The experience of fighting the so-called global war on terror left him angry and desensitized. And when an injury ended his military career, he returned home to Indiana and began plotting to bomb his local mosque. “One time I had a discussion with a higher-ranking person about coping,” McKinney said. That military official “looked at me straight in the eye and said, ‘Mac, you’re on the range, you’re shooting at a paper target. As long as you can look at them as anything but human, you won’t have any problems.’ … And that’s what I did.” McKinney recounts this period of his life in the documentary short “Stranger at the Gate,” which is showing Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at WBUR CitySpace, in an event co-presented by GlobeDocs. The film explores McKinney’s transformation from a vengeful man planning to murder his Muslim neighbors in Muncie, Ind., to an eventual president of the Islamic Center of Muncie, where he converted to Islam after community members embraced him with warmth when he first showed up filled with rage at their place of worship. In an interview with the Globe, the film’s director, Joshua Seftel, said the story is a hopeful tale of the “shared humanity that connects us all.” “Stranger at the Gate” is the latest installment in Seftel’s Emmy Award-nominated series of short films, “The Secret Life of Muslims,” which seeks to combat Islamophobia with filmmaking. read the complete article


21 Sep 2022

Hijab Case Day 8|HC Should Have Avoided Essential Religious Practice Test: SC

During the eighth day of hearings in the Hijab case in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 20 September, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia remarked that the Karnataka High Court should not have gone into the question of essential religious practices. "High Court should not have gone into it (essential religious practice test). They have relied on a term paper of a student, and they have not gone to the original text. Other side is giving another commentary. Who will decide which commentary is right?" Justice Dhulia noted. The Karnataka High Court, in its judgement, referred to an essay which was titled, “VEILED WOMEN: HIJAB, RELIGION, AND CULTURAL PRACTICE-2013.” The essay, written by Sara Slininger, held that the hijab is at best only a cultural practice. "For me this is not a matter of religion at all, this is a matter of uniform conduct among all students," the SG said. However, Mehta added that it was the petitioners who approached the Court and raised the argument that the hijab was an essential practice. The SG also said that there are tests developed by the Court to see if a practice is an essential religious practice or not, and added that protection can be awarded only to such practices which meet the threshold of the test. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Sep 2022 Edition


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