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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30 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: A new report by Amnesty finds that “Meta’s algorithms ‘proactively amplified and promoted content’ on Facebook, which incited violent hatred against the Rohingya beginning as early as 2012,” meanwhile in India, Hindu nationalists continue to launch attacks on Bollywood’s Muslim stars, and lastly, “Muslim civil society organizations have raised the alarm about a rising tide of state-sponsored Islamophobia in Europe at a major security and human rights conference.” Our recommended read of the day is by Zahra Khozema for the CBC on how orientalist thought and imperial feminism may explain why “hijab-opposing laws in the West, for some reason, don’t enflame the same passions in us as the hijab-forcing ones in Iran and Afghanistan.” This and more below:


30 Sep 2022

Protests in Iran aren't about the hijab. They're about policing women's bodies | Recommended Read

Demanding justice and fighting for basic human rights is no easy feat, especially before a regime that uses religion as a shield to justify abuse. No part of Islam I know condones torture or murder for what tyrant men consider modest. The will and valour of these women should garner international solidarity and celebration. But before you think the West can take the moral high-ground on this, let's reconsider the role of Western states (and India) in eradicating the same freedom for women who choose to veil. France, Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Belgium, and Switzerland all have a partial or total ban on the hijab in some or all of their municipalities. And let's not forget the laws of a province in our own country, which ban some public servants from wearing religious symbols, including the hijab. But hijab-opposing laws in the West, for some reason, don't enflame the same passions in us as the hijab-forcing ones in Iran and Afghanistan. The leap to use foreign intervention is not the way to deal with those passions and the anti-Islam sentiments that underline them, yet the West often takes advantage of these situations. Maybe it's because of the narrative we've all been fed. You know, the one in which places like Tehran or Kabul are romanticized for once-upon-a-time being cosmopolitan centres where women could socialize in miniskirts and other Western attire. Then, medieval Islamists came to power and reverted them to the dark ages, legitimizing the foreign governments' need to go and "save" them. Politicians in the U.S. and its ally nations have long weaponized this imperial feminist rhetoric under a plight-of-women cloak to defend their wars. Even now, their response unsurprisingly remains the same. Last week, for example, U.S. lawmakers pushed for additional sanctions on Iran, enabling economic and political unrest that further marginalizes women and minorities. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

European governments accused over 'suppression of Muslim civil society'

Muslim civil society organisations have raised the alarm about a rising tide of state-sponsored Islamophobia in Europe at a major security and human rights conference in Poland. France, Denmark and Austria were among countries singled out over policies which campaigners said were contributing towards a “systematic suppression of Muslim civil society” across the continent. Addressing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Human Dimension Conference in Warsaw on Thursday, Lamies Nassri, a project manager at the Centre for Muslim Rights (CEDA) in Denmark, said Islamophobia was spreading throughout Europe and called on governments to protect their Muslim citizens. Nassri told delegates: “It is your responsibility as member states to see to it that citizens in these member states are protected from state racism, surveillance, stigmatisation and violence both symbolically and physically.” Highlighting the situation in Denmark, Nassri said Islamophobia was being “enabled directly through state policy and participation” and was “no longer a far-right issue but is shared across the political spectrum”. Campaigners from France highlighted the impact on Muslim communities of the so-called “imams’ charter” which was adopted last year by the French Council of the Muslim Faith at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron. Citing the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China, and violence and discrimination against Indian Muslims enabled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, Rabbani said: “France has now joined the company of China and India, who are both carrying out a religious persecution of an entire Muslim minority.” read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

The Tech Site That Took On China’s Surveillance State

IPVM’s office has no newsroom with reporters clacking on keyboards and TVs playing cable news. Instead, technicians run surveillance cameras and other security equipment through a litany of tests. Some journalist staff undertake more traditional reportorial tasks, digging through company filings and financial documents for reports that appear on IPVM’s website. For most of its 18 years of publishing, the company existed as a niche, industry-focused outlet, read by professionals and technicians who generally worked in the field of commercial surveillance. In recent years, though, IPVM has delivered a string of highly impressive scoops, many in collaboration with major news organizations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, that have revealed alarming and sinister aspects of what Chinese surveillance companies have been up to. A December 2020 report by The Washington Post based on a document unearthed by IPVM detailed efforts by the Chinese tech giant Huawei to develop a face-scanning system that could trigger a “Uyghur alarm”—referring to the mainly Muslim ethnic group of northwestern China that has faced heavy state repression. The article prompted a European executive to resign from Huawei shortly after, and in February 2021 to speak out about the company’s technology. The same month, the Los Angeles Times published a report based on a user guide found by IPVM in which the Chinese firm Dahua claimed that its camera technology could identify Uyghurs and automatically alert authorities when it did so. The revelation prompted a group of U.S. senators to write to Amazon demanding to know why the company had signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Dahua. Both the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the U.S. State Department have noted IPVM’s work in their reports on China. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

How The US Congress Is Trying To Fight Against Uyghur Forced Labor

For many, the Uyghur crisis is a distant problem, but to Jewher Ilham, it’s personal. In 2013, her father, Ilham Tohti, an economics Uyghur scholar, was arrested at the Beijing airport as they both prepared to travel to the United States for Tohti’s fellowship at Indiana University. Being 18 at the time, Ilham was not considered a threat to the Chinese government, so authorities released her. Nine years later, she continues to advocate for her father’s release from prison by testifying before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Committee on China, writing op-eds in publications like The New York Times and recounting her experiences in a book titled “Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father.” “The genocide is affecting millions of workers not only in our homeland but also here in the diaspora where there are victims of transnational repression,” Ilham shared on a panel at the 2022 International Religious Freedom summit in Washington. An estimated 1 in 5 cotton garments on the global market is tainted by forced labor, according to Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and about 800,000 to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are detained in reeducation camps. Leaked documents and eye-witness reports reveal that this is an ongoing genocide by the Chinese government, systematically oppressing and exploiting the Uyghur community. Apart from working long hours with little to no pay and undergoing abuse, the prisoners have limited communication with family members. Textiles, thread and yarn, hair products and tomato products are some of the goods Uyghurs produce in these heavily-monitored factories. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

Rohingya seek reparations from Facebook for its role in massacre

With roosters crowing in the background as he speaks from the crowded refugee camp in Bangladesh that’s been his home since 2017, Maung Sawyeddollah, 21, describes what happened when violent hate speech and disinformation targeting the Rohingya minority in Myanmar began to spread on Facebook. “We were good with most of the people there. But some very narrow minded and very nationalist types escalated hate against Rohingya on Facebook,” he said. “And the people who were good, in close communication with Rohingya. changed their mind against Rohingya and it turned to hate.” For years, Facebook, now called Meta Platforms Inc., pushed the narrative that it was a neutral platform in Myanmar that was misused by malicious people, and that despite its efforts to remove violent and hateful material, it unfortunately fell short. That narrative echoes its response to the role it has played in other conflicts around the world, whether the 2020 election in the U.S. or hate speech in India. But a new and comprehensive report by Amnesty International states that Facebook’s preferred narrative is false. The platform, Amnesty says, wasn’t merely a passive site with insufficient content moderation. Instead, Meta’s algorithms “proactively amplified and promoted content” on Facebook, which incited violent hatred against the Rohingya beginning as early as 2012. read the complete article


30 Sep 2022

Narendra Modi’s BJP bans Indian Islamic group for ‘terrorist’ links

An Islamic organisation that says it fights discrimination against minorities in India has disbanded after the government declared it and its affiliates unlawful, accusing them of involvement in terrorism. The government of Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) accused the Popular Front of India (PFI) group of having been involved in “terrorism” and “anti-national activities”. The ban, under a strict anti-terrorism law, came amid a crackdown in which 300 PFI leaders and activists have been arrested. The PFI branch in the southern state of Kerala said that it had worked only “for the socio-economic empowerment of the downtrodden people”. PFI leaders have previously said that the terrorism accusations were baseless. “These cases against us are all fabricated. We are victims of a political vendetta by the BJP-led government,” Anis Ahmed, the general secretary of PFI, said just before he was arrested last week. Muslims, who make up more than 15% of India’s 1.4 billion population, often complain of persecution in the Hindu-majority country, and note that the marginalisation of the community has been increasingly prominent under the BJP. The BJP and the government deny the accusations. Founded in 2006 in Kerala, the PFI claims to fight for the rights of minorities and low-caste Hindus. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

In India, Modi’s Hindu Nationalists Declare War on Bollywood’s Muslim Superstars

Almost a decade ago, Bollywood actor and screenwriter Atul Kulkarni rewrote the script of Robert Zemeckis' 1994 film Forrest Gump for an Indian audience, renamed as "Laal Singh Chaddha," the name of the character around whose hyperactive biography the movie rotates. The next challenge was to persuade Aamir Khan, one of Bollywood’s biggest and most bankable stars, to play the eponymous hero. However, the Hindu right-wing organizations who constitute and are prime agitators of the voting base of the current Indian regime launched a sustained boycott campaign against the film, weeks before its August 11 release. So much so that when the movie hit the screens, activists with megaphones in their hands called on moviegoers outside the cinema halls not to watch it, accusing its star actor Aamir of engaging in "anti-national activities." That is barely coded language for "Muslim," and it is exactly the same kind of bigoted language with which other Muslim Bollywood superstars have been targeted in recent months and years, alongside suggestions they should leave India for Pakistan. The government's failure to stop boycotters led to widespread grassroots fear – either of intimidation or, conversely, from of a lurking, unsubstantiated fear unchallenged by the authorities that the agitators were right – ensuring the success of the boycott. The film earned an absolutely meager $6 million in India, and over $7.5 million in overseas markets, failing to even earn back the amount invested in its production. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

'There is no future for us': Rohingya refugees given little protection in India Social Sharing

The heat bears down on Mohammad Salimullah as he trudges through the makeshift camp in the southeast part of India's capital. It has been his family's home for 10 years, ever since they escaped a campaign of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. "We never imagined leaving our country and coming to India to live in these uncertain conditions," said Salimullah, 36. "In Myanmar, we were living in oppression. Here, you could say we are living a life of freedom — but look at our situation." The makeshift camp has been in Delhi's Kalindi Kunj area for 10 years, but numbers swelled in 2017. That's when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar that the United Nations described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and crossed into neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India. The more than 250 people living at the Delhi camp carry official refugee status cards issued by the United Nations, meant to offer protection from arbitrary detention. But that means little to Indian authorities. The Indian government considers the Rohingya "illegal foreigners," and officials have repeatedly stated they wish to deport the refugees to Myanmar, even after the military staged a coup to seize power in February 2021, plunging the country into further violence. read the complete article

United States

30 Sep 2022

The Debate Over the ‘Jihad’ Documentary

Your article fails to capture the full story behind this problematic documentary. Condemnations of the documentary go well beyond identity politics and go straight to the core of the film. Focusing the controversy on a debate between a white filmmaker and a group of Muslims oversimplifies the film’s unethical nature, portraying the filmmaker, Meg Smaker, as a victim and glossing over the real damage that the film’s Islamophobic approach has caused. Most egregiously, Ms. Smaker’s film directly put the lives of the Yemeni men seen in the film in danger. In an open letter published by the London-based advocacy organization CAGE, one of the men explicitly stated that he didn’t want to appear in the film and said that it posed a serious risk to their lives and to their families’ lives. The fight, then, against “Jihad Rehab” is not another example of America’s culture wars. It is an attempt to fight against xenophobic and racist media representations, the injustice of unlawful detention, and the continued victimization and dehumanization of those trapped within it. read the complete article

30 Sep 2022

NYPD cop of 18 years charged with hate crime over anti-Muslim attack

An officer who spent the last 18 years with the New York Police Department has been fired from the force due to his alleged involvement in an anti-Muslim attack earlier this year. Riggs Kwong, 50, is facing multiple charges — including hate crimes — for the Jan. 16 road rage incident, which allegedly saw him pummel, spit on and use anti-Muslim language toward a 32-year-old man. The altercation reportedly started when Kwong’s Honda Accord blocked Abdul Motalab, who was in a Toyota RAV4, from making a turn at McDonald and Church Avenues in Kensington, Brooklyn. Motalab retaliated by cutting Kwong off when the latter tried to turn from Church Avenue onto an Ocean Parkway service road. Kwong then filmed himself unleashing a series of anti-Muslim slurs, according to prosecutors. “I’m trying to make a left here on the service road and this terrorist is terrorizing me,” Kwong told Motalab. “You’re upset because I didn’t let you make a U-turn, Mr. Mohammed… Al Qaeda, terrorist, ISIS…” Motalab exited his vehicle to take a photo of Kwong’s license plate. Meanwhile, Kwong allegedly continued to hurl racial slurs. read the complete article


30 Sep 2022

Newly upgraded basketball courts a place to heal, have fun in memory of Our London Family

Basketball enthusiasts are now enjoying two courts in London, Ont.'s west end that have been newly upgraded to commemorate the Afzaal family. On June 6, 2021, Yumna Afzaal, 15, her mom and dad, Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and her grandmother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed when a vehicle jumped a curb while they were out for a Sunday evening walk. Police and prosecutors say the attack was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. A man has been charged and faces trial in 2023. The incident shined a light on the effects of unchecked Islamophobia, and the Afzaals became known as Our London Family throughout the nation. The basketball courts were backed by a $250,000 donation from the MLSE and MLSE Foundation, which collaborated with the city to make the upgrades possible. The city said in a statement that the courts at West Lions Park were selected in consultation with the Muslim community due to their proximity to the London Muslim Mosque. Several youth representatives from the Muslim community contributed their insight into the courts' redesign, said Eric Conway, landscape planner for the City of London. He said the turf's purple and green colours are symbolic of Our London Family and support for the Muslim community. read the complete article

United Kingdom

30 Sep 2022

Leicester’s communal violence reverberates across continents

Violence, in which 16 police officers were injured while holding the line between rival groups of young men, has served a warning of how extremist agendas are blowing in from elsewhere, threatening a relatively harmonious tradition of multicultural coexistence. The extent to which communal violence in the East Midlands city was linked to online religious abuse emanating from South Asia was not immediately clear. But MPs and commentators have been warning of the polarising effect of Hindu nationalism reaching Britain’s streets and this was the first large-scale unrest in which it had featured. The clashes on September 17 are also a reminder of how stripped-back youth services in inner cities have left local authorities without the intelligence or trust among younger people to pre-empt this kind of trouble. “It’s a firebomb that has exploded,” said Ayoub Zamadka, a social worker at the Highfields community centre in south Leicester appealing to the city council to take the lead in addressing tensions before they spread. “It can’t be swept under the carpet,” he said. While the disturbances only involved a small portion of the younger population, they have reverberated widely, drawing in agitators from outside Leicester, prompting further clashes at a Hindu temple in Birmingham and attracting media coverage as far as South Asia. Older members of both faith communities admit to having been blindsided by events, and attribute the flare-up to a mix of outside influence, misunderstanding, deliberate provocation and young blood. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Sep 2022 Edition


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