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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27 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, police respond with gunshots and violence, killing two, after Muslim residents in Assam protest evictions, meanwhile an Austrian Muslim social media influencer was subjected to a racist attack for wearing a hijab. In the United States, Illinois becomes the first state to pass the Inclusive Athletic Attire Act, which allows all student athletes to modify their uniforms in keeping with their religion, culture or personal preferences for modesty. In Germany, Muslim women struggle to find employment due to the country’s various “neutrality laws” that have been used to deny jobs to women who wear the hijab. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Deepa Kumar for Truthout on how stories about the loss of women’s rights in Afghanistan and the United States have been used by some to revive “an older narrative that tries to explain white supremacy and right-wing ascendancy as the product of the encounter with the colonized ‘other.'” This and more below:

United States

27 Sep 2021

References to the “Texas Taliban” Are Racist and Colonial. Here’s Why. | Recommended Read

The media were awash in stories of the Talibanization of Afghan society and the loss of women’s rights in that country. We also saw stories on the attack on women’s rights right here in the U.S. However, rather than see these incidents halfway around the world as a product of right-wing forces wanting to control women and their lives, some have revived an older narrative that tries to explain white supremacy, neo-Nazism and right-wing ascendancy as the product of the encounter with the colonized “other.” Thus, Thomas Friedman in a recent op-ed in The New York Times posed the question of whether U.S. intervention in the Middle East has achieved its publicly stated goal of getting the region to embrace “pluralism and the rule of law,” or instead has wound up “mimicking” its “tribalism.” The common logic underlying Friedman’s op-ed, the photoshopped Supreme Court image, as well as the National Intelligence Council report is that of a “clash of civilizations.” The narrative of Muslim women as oppressed victims has animated U.S. culture to such an extent that portrayals of the rescue of Brown women from Brown men is ubiquitous. This narrative, which scholars have referred to as colonial or imperial feminism, has a long history that goes back to the height of European colonization of much of the world in the 19th century when women’s rights were weaponized in service to empire. But imperial feminism benefits neither women in colonized spaces nor the vast majority of women right here in the imperial center. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Parenting in the shadow of terror: How do you raise a Muslim daughter in a society that vilifies Islam?

My daughter grew but so did America’s proclivity toward Islamophobia. Within months of the attacks, Afghanistan was invaded. A few months after her third birthday, Iraq joined the list. Brown people were terrorists; they needed to be droned and bombed. The military had to be sent out to fight them and to keep America safe. How do you raise a daughter, a brown and Muslim daughter, to be proud of her identity when all the culture around her denigrates it? We ditched bedtime stories for bedtime talks. I realised at the time that if I was to provide a parallel narrative to what she saw around her, I needed to know what she was thinking. Luckily, she loved to share, to go over her day with me. In these talks, I learned about her fear and discomfort, every time “Muslim” or “Terrorist” came up in class or conversation. “Inside me I hold my breath,” she explained, “because I do not know what they are going to say.” She wanted to shrink, to disappear, be less brown, less Muslim. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Illinois passes legislation to allow student athletes to wear hijab without waivers

The Inclusive Athletic Attire Act allows all student athletes to modify their uniforms in keeping with their religion, culture or personal preferences for modesty. That means students no longer need to seek special permission to wear a hijab, undershirt or leggings with their uniforms — as long as it doesn’t cover their faces or interfere with their movement. The legislation, which was sponsored by State Sen. Laura Murphy and State Rep. Will Guzzardi and passed the Illinois General Assembly with overwhelming support in May, was an initiative of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, a partnership of activists, influencers and organizations that works on civic justice policies for underrepresented communities. Murphy, who represents Chicago’s northwest suburbs, said she’s been told Illinois is the first state to pass such legislation. “Sometimes legislation for women often lags behind, and we see that in so many areas, but that’s why it’s important to start to tackle these things as they come up,” she said. When the Illinois Muslim Civic Association approached her about it, she said she realized that not only would it benefit the significant Muslim population in her district, but also that “all young girls can benefit from the opportunity to have more modest attire should they choose.” read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Ken Burns portrays the multitudes of Muhammad Ali

It’s the role of his Muslim faith in those changes that I found most moving of all. There is more than a whiff of hypermasculinity in Ali’s conversion to Islam as a young man — even toxic masculinity you might say. For the Ali of the 1960s, Islam is not just the Black man’s religion, it is the strong man’s religion. None of this ‘Lie back while they hit me with their police batons’ crap. None of this ‘Please let me integrate with you’ garbage. But as his boxing career ends, as his marriages, one after another, fail, it is Islam that holds Ali up and guides him. Ali prays regularly, studies Sufi poetry, participates in exhibition bouts to build mosques, personally distributes pamphlets about Islam being a religion of peace. Religion is for the imperfect. It is a machinery for improvement. If you were cruel, it can help you become gentle. If you were hypocritical, it can help you be honest. If you shake while you stand, it can straighten out your soul, if not your spine. Some people were lucky enough to have a ringside seat for what Islam did for Ali. The rest of us, we have this documentary. read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

‘Shown their place’: Muslim livelihoods under attack in India

“The Bajrang Dal [Hindu far-right group] in this area distributed pamphlets ordering the closure of shops during the festival period. They have become very active ever since Yogi Adityanath came to power,” he told Al Jazeera, referring to the saffron-robed Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “We have nowhere to complain. The police and the municipality officials side with such groups,” adds Afzal, with some trepidation. On September 23, two Muslim men in Mathura, a temple town in Uttar Pradesh, were badly beaten up for carrying meat. Earlier this month, the government decided to make a large part of the city alcohol- and meat-free. About a month ago, in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh state, also governed by the BJP, a Muslim bangle-seller, Tasleem Ali, was beaten up because he was selling his wares in a “Hindu locality” allegedly under an assumed Hindu name. Within a week or so, in Ujjain city in the same state, a Muslim scrap dealer was forced to shout “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory be to Lord Ram), a war cry used by Hindu supremacist groups. All these incidents were recorded in a series of disturbing videos that went viral. The common thread in the videos is that they showcase Muslim vendors and small traders being assaulted because of their religious identity. Also, the assaulters in all such cases are alleged members of Hindu right-wing groups, who feel emboldened under Modi’s government and exercise significant impunity. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Hindu Mobs, anti-Muslim Boycotts: In Modi’s India, the Echoes of 1930s Germany Are Growing Louder

For Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) uses Muslims as the electoral bogeyman to consolidate a culturally diverse and caste-riven Hindu vote base against a common "other," it makes sense to bang on about Muslim "radicalization" all the same, as a means of Hindu mobilization. In reality, the radicalization of the majority is a much bigger threat confronting India than minority extremism. Lynching of Muslims by Hindu mobs have become so normalized that they rarely make news anymore. New laws against beef and interfaith love – termed "love jihad" by Modi’s party – now allow Hindu vigilante groups to attack Muslims with impunity. A pliant civil administration and police force mostly look away, if they’re not actively collaborating with the vigilantes. Ever since Modi’s thumping re-election in 2019, he has doubled down on the Hindu majoritarian project of remaking India’s secular republic as a Hindu state, and arm’s-length vigilante groups allied with the ruling party’s Hindu-first world view play a significant role in asserting the new order. The core messaging that emanates these days from Hindu supremacists is that development is not possible for all because Muslims, who constitute 14 percent of the population, are eating up the fruits of progress that should accrue to the Hindus, who account for 80 percent. Quite literally. Recently, the chief minister of India’s biggest state, Uttar Pradesh, which has a population the size of Brazil, triggered a controversy when he blamed Muslims for cornering the government-subsidized food meant for all. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Indian state hit by protests after two killed in eviction drive

Thousands staged protests in India's Assam state on Friday, a day after two people were killed when hundreds clashed with police over the state government's eviction of Muslim families from their homes. Assam's government has faced widespread condemnation over the tactics used to eject the families, with critics pointing to them as the latest example of discrimination against Muslims under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called the police use of guns against protesters "state-sponsored fire". Police said they were attacked with machetes and bamboo sticks. Assam's chief minister Himanta Biswas Sarma, a BJP member, said the police were only doing their duty, but halted the evictions on Friday. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Indian photographer in video stomps on man shot by Assam police

A video of a photographer stomping and attacking the body of a man shot by the police in the northeastern state of Assam has gone viral in India, triggering uproar and protests. In the video, which has not been independently verified by Al Jazeera, a man is seen running with a stick towards a group of policemen in riot gear, holding firearms, in Sipajhar village in Assam’s Darrang district on Thursday. The photographer, identified as Bijoy Bania, is also seen with the policemen, who immediately open fire on the charging man. As soon as he falls to the ground after being shot, nearly a dozen policemen continue to attack him with batons. As the wounded man, identified by the police as Moinul Haque, lies on the ground – a red stain on his vest marking the area where he was shot – Bania approaches the body and begins to stomp on it. The photographer, his face covered and a camera slung around his neck, also punches and kicks the body before he is taken away by the policemen. Seconds later, Bania returns to repeat his attack. This time, Haque’s body appears to be lifeless. The violence in Sipajhar took place during a protest by Bengali-origin Muslims against a so-called “eviction drive” ordered by the Assam government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

Freed From Guantánamo, but Still in Limbo 15 Years Later

Accused by the United States military of being a terrorist in league with the Taliban, a devout Muslim man from western China spent four years imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay before being cleared and then dumped in Albania 15 years ago. “The Americans,” he said, recalling how he and four other wrongly imprisoned Uyghurs had been flown to Albania from Guantánamo, Cuba, and assured they would not be staying long, “quickly lose interest — they just threw us away.” Mr. Qassim has been granted “humanitarian protection” in Albania, the one country that was willing to take him in out of scores asked by the State Department, despite protests from China. He gets a monthly stipend of nearly $400, but he has not managed to get a visa or a passport, which makes travel anywhere difficult. The only country that really wants him is China, which considers him a terrorist because of his advocacy of independence for his home region of Xinjiang, which he calls Turkestan. China would certainly arrest him if he ever returned. read the complete article

27 Sep 2021

Why Nayantara Dutta started the ‘Unapologetically Muslim’ project

In an effort to understand how Muslim identity was changing and evolving, Dutta chose to explore the topic in her thesis. Her research culminated in an 82-page trend report titled ‘Unapologetically Muslim’. For her report, Dutta spoke to 50 women across the U.S., U.K. and Indonesia, documenting what being Muslim meant to them. “More than anything, the word they used to describe their generation was ‘unapologetic’ — proud of what they believe in and ready to share their full selves with the world,” she says. One key finding was that there’s no one way to be Muslim. “As a religious identity it has nuances. Many people around the world identify as being South Asian or Brown, but being Muslim is a different dimension to identity, and one that needs to be explored in its own right,” says Dutta. “There were a lot of stereotypes that I wanted to examine.” Rather than look at the religion through the lens of the Koran, Dutta chose to focus on how millennials were interpreting their faith and redefining their relationship with it. A new young generation of Muslim women, Dutta discovered, were more vocal and unafraid to hold on to their faith while living life on their own terms. They were eager to tell their own stories and not have them told on their behalf. Dutta says, “These influential and self-empowered trailblazers are poised to become the most influential market demographic. They are tired of being typified, interested in defining themselves beyond their religion, and are reclaiming their narratives from the world’s stereotypical view of Islam.” read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

Muslim women struggle with Germany’s ‘hijab ban’ in workplaces

In theory, situations like Ahmad’s are illegal – workers are protected by German constitutional law from outright religion-based discrimination, and should be given an equal chance at jobs in almost all sectors. But the definition of workplace discrimination with respect to religious expression in Germany is complicated. In July, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a 2017 ruling allowing employers to adopt neutrality policies banning religious garb in the workplace. But the decision added conditions. Now, employers are required to prove that the neutrality policy they have adopted is essential for business. July’s ECJ ruling requires workplaces to prove more concretely that religious symbols in the workplace could cause palpable financial or interpersonal harm, according to Hamburg civil rights lawyer Tugba Uyanik. Each German state can adopt its own neutrality rules. Some have laws banning public lawyers from wearing the headscarf, for example. Berlin, for many years, had its own law banning public school teachers from wearing the headscarf. “The institution of yet another neutrality law at the federal level sends the wrong signal to [veiled] women, because they think, why are you so preoccupied with me?” Uyanik said. “I am not doing anything. It’s enough to have to fight the laws in my own state. Why are you doing this?” read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

Islamophobia: Muslim woman attacked in Austria for wearing hijab

A Muslim woman living in the Austrian capital Vienna was physically harmed as she was subjected to a racist attack for wearing hijab. “This was truly upsetting for me, I did not really know how to react for it was the first time I found myself in such situation,” Baraa Bolat said in an interview with Anadolu Agency. Noting that the attack took place in a city bus, Bolat said: “A woman approached, and told me to go back to Turkey with prejudice as I was wearing hijab, even though I am not from Turkey.” Bolat went on to say that she ignored the racist attack and moved toward the front of the bus, however, the assailant did not leave her alone and continued with insulting and racist remarks. “I ignored her until she spat on me, which, during the epidemic, who knows, maybe she was carrying the disease. I thereupon got off, she followed me and attacked my hijab, pulling it very hard. The pulling caused needle attached to my hijab under my chin to wound me. I yelled at her but she did not stop until I took out my mobile phone and started taking pictures (of her), she then crossed to other side of street,” she said. read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

China’s Xinjiang Crackdown Reaps Millions of Dollars in Assets for the State

Chinese authorities have seized and sold at auction tens of millions of dollars in assets owned by jailed Uyghur business owners amid a broad government campaign to assimilate ethnic minorities in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region. Since 2019, Xinjiang courts have put at least 150 assets—ranging from home appliances to real estate and company shares—belonging to at least 21 people and valued at a total $84.8 million up for auction on e-commerce sites. read the complete article


27 Sep 2021

Opinion: Fighting Islamophobia goes beyond government

There is renewed attention over the past year to violent Islamophobic attacks in our home city of Edmonton. Sadly, Islamophobia in Canada and across provinces has been steadily on the rise and older Muslim women are wondering who will speak up and demand change. Islamophobia is the disproportionate fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims, and people who are perceived to be Muslims, leading to systemic discrimination, aggression and violence. Canadian data shows that hate crimes in Canada more than tripled in recent years with some of the highest percentages perpetrated against Muslim women. As we enter a period of post-municipal and federal elections, we ask our policymakers and leaders for concrete actions on Islamophobia. We need to continue to press for actionable plans at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government that respond directly to the 61 recommendations made by the National Council of Canadian Muslims. These comprehensive recommendations present a holistic approach and include human rights legislation, supports for survivors of hate crimes, anti-racist training, and opportunities for capacity building within Muslim communities. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Sep 2021

Picnic marred by 'racist and Islamophobic' attack

A family picnic to celebrate Somali women has been marred by a "racist and Islamophobic" attack, according to its organiser. Zahra Kosar tweeted that children were chased and terrorised while some parents were assaulted in St George Park, Bristol on Saturday afternoon. She said they were all traumatised by what appeared to be a "racist and Islamophobic attack". Police have said they are treating the incident as a suspected hate crime. Ms Kosar, a former social worker and mental health coordinator with the Bristol Somali Resource Centre, said the event had been organised to celebrate progress made by Somali women in Bristol. read the complete article

New Zealand

27 Sep 2021

New Zealand police say safety plans in place after Hindutva threats to professor

A professor of Indian origin in New Zealand has been receiving abusive messages on social media for criticising “Hindutva extremism” through his work, prompting the police to put in place plans for his safety, The New Zealand Herald reported on Monday. Mohan Dutta, the dean’s chair of communication at the Massey University, had in May published a paper on “Islamophobic elements” in the Hindutva ideology, according to the newspaper. Dutta, through his work, has called for a careful inspection of the presence of Hindutva in New Zealand, according to the newspaper. The professor started receiving offensive messages in August after he delivered an online lecture ahead of an international conference titled, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, The New Zealand Herald reported. He received abusive messages from Twitter accounts apparently supportive of the Hindutva ideology. “And not just from one or two, but a set of different people and what seem like organisations,” Dutta told the newspaper. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Sep 2021 Edition


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