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 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, journalists across the country are being detained, harrased, and imprisoned for reporting on and circulating stories of Muslim persecution in the country, while in Scotland, a new report estimates that four-fifths of Muslims living in the country have experienced some form of Islamophobia directly with women being the largest percentage of the survey, and thanks to a young student in the Montclair school district’s petition, Eid al-Fitr has been added to his school’s calendar as a recognized holiday. Our recommended read of the day is by Layla Aitlhadj on the People’s Review of Prevent, a new program aimed at gathering evidence on how the UK government’s “counter-extremism” programme has impacted ordinary people and organisations. This and more below:

United Kingdom

29 Jun 2021

Prevent: Shawcross review will lead nowhere, that's why we've launched our own

A Prevent referral always makes it into the statistics, even when it is false. This pushes up the numbers, exaggerating the “threat of extremism” and concealing the traumatic toll of the programme on children and parents. During a Prevent referral, the targeted individuals - even young children - are interrogated, sometimes by counter-terrorism authorities. Our records show this can happen to children without their parents being present. The highest number of Prevent referrals occur in the education sector, including many young children. Between April 2015 and April 2018, a total of 532 children under the age of six, and 1,181 children between six and nine, were referred under Prevent. The historic response of the Prevent industry to these shocking cases has been to downplay such “incidents” as misapplications and anomalies that can be fixed. We hear repeatedly that these are issues of mistaken practice rather than issues of policy. But the cases show quite the opposite: indeed, the problem with Prevent is the policy itself. Its frameworks, guidelines and overriding assumptions are based on a suspicion that has a cataclysmic scenario as its teleological endpoint. This suspicion, built around an enemy identity, is injected into the imaginations of frontline workers through Prevent training; chiefly impacted are those who demonstrate Islamic beliefs and practices. As such, even the most mundane expressions can be cause for acceleration to counter-terrorism police. Now, as a third “review” of Prevent is underway, Muslims and others who have come under its scrutiny are bracing for a further entrenchment of the programme. For 10 years, voices opposed to Prevent have been ignored, and the last "review" and the many iterations have been used only to expand Prevent’s reach and deepen its policing of thought. The farcical nature of the “review” process reached its peak when Lord Carlile was appointed to head the latest one, only to be deposed by a legal challenge. William Shawcross then stepped up to the plate, no doubt due to his vigorous support of some of the worst “war on terror” policies. Consequently, almost 600 individuals and organisations have boycotted the current review, which has become known, tellingly, as the Shawcross review. Those impacted by Prevent, and those who have taken a principled stance against it, have come together to form a People’s Review of Prevent, which will use evidence gathered on how the programme has impacted ordinary people and organisations. This newly launched platform is calling for submissions from all those impacted by Prevent, whether or not they have spoken up before. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
29 Jun 2021

Labour Islamophobia: How a 'party for all' became a party for none

In the Mail On Sunday, columnist Dan Hodges quoted an anonymous senior Labour official who, it seemed, wanted to get the excuses in early by citing leader Keir Starmer’s work on antisemitism as the reason why Muslims in Batley and Spen didn’t want to vote Labour. With the narrative set, a news article in the same paper then cited the Jewish heritage of Starmer’s wife as being among the reasons for Muslim disaffection. It is not clear who exactly gave this as a reason, or how many voters are even aware or care about the heritage of Starmer’s wife. But that wasn’t the point. Coverage of Muslim communities often involves cherry-picking unverified and unattributable statements and messages that fit certain narratives. This then allows for sections of the British media to support racist stereotypes about Muslims, while absolving media and political power brokers from having to listen to Muslims and their concerns. The Muslims of Batley know this all too well, having been derided as zealots and extremists for protesting against schoolteachers subjecting their children to racist caricatures in the name of “free speech”. A report on the furore vindicated the parents; it was clear that the media was the real mob outside the school gates. This is not the first time that Muslims making their voices heard on civil matters have been attacked. In reporting on the protests outside Birmingham primary schools opposing LGBT education, the media dredged up the fake Trojan Horse controversy that occurred five years earlier, while omitting many of the more concerning details of what Muslim children faced. Many Labour politicians from the centre-right of the party took umbrage at parents and their supporters. This nexus of Labour politicians and media demonisation of Muslim communities has continued in Batley and Spen. It is not only Palestine or foreign policy that explain why many Muslim voters no longer see any hope in Labour. Sizeable Muslim populations in former “red wall” constituencies, like other voters, might simply have tired of Labour’s bureaucratic tendencies, the deprivation of their towns, and Labour’s inability to mount a credible opposition to the Conservatives, even as the ruling party dishes out large contracts to cronies. As the journalist Basit Mahmood has observed, much of the commentary on Muslims in Batley and Spen overlooks the concerns around issues of class, poverty and inequality in favour of a "clash of civilisations" lens. read the complete article

29 Jun 2021

Islamophobia in Scotland: report reveals four-fifth of Muslims experience abuse

Four-fifths of Muslims in Scotland have directly experienced Islamophobia, according to a new report. The Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Tackling Islamophobia organised the first public inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland and gathered 447 responses. Of those, 83% of Muslim respondents said they experienced Islamophobia directly with Muslim women more likely to encounter it than men. The inquiry also found 75% of Muslims said Islamophobia is a regular or everyday issue in Scottish society with 78% believing it is getting worse. That figure rises to 82% of Muslim respondents with a Glasgow postcode. Individuals warned that verbal and physical assaults are intensifying, particularly on public transport. read the complete article

29 Jun 2021

Muslim punk show ‘We Are Lady Parts’ has me jumping for joy

Set in the U.K., the brainchild of writer/creator Nida Manzoor, “We Are Lady Parts” follows main character Amina, juggling graduate school and looking for love on various Muslim dating apps, when she is unexpectedly recruited to be the lead guitarist for fledgling punk band Lady Parts. The other band members are: intense frontwoman Saira, guitarist/Earth mother Bisma, overbearing drummer Ayesha and band manager Momtaz, who wears the niqab face veil and also works at a lingerie store. The show is full of fun juxtapositions like this, joyfully leaning into the satire at its heart. Four of the five main characters wear hijab — each in different styles and colours — and all identify as Muslim, of varying faith levels. This portrait of diversity within diverse communities, of young, creative, funny Muslims living their normal lives, is what has my heart beating with newly inspired evangelical fervour. “We Are Lady Parts” is so very rare. read the complete article


29 Jun 2021

Senators decline to label China's treatment of Uyghurs a genocide

Senators declined to label China's treatment of its Muslim minority Uyghur population as a genocide Tuesday evening. A motion brought forward by Sen. Leo Housakos called on the Senate to recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. Twenty-nine senators voted in favour of the motion, 33 senators voted against and 13 abstained. The motion also called upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games out of China should the Chinese government continue to perpetrate a "genocide." The vote in the Senate follows on a similar vote in the House in February which saw a substantial majority of MPs — including most of the Liberals who participated — vote in favour of labelling China's treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and almost all of his cabinet colleagues were absent for that vote. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was the only cabinet minister present. He abstained when it was his turn to vote, saying he did so "on behalf of the government of Canada." Trudeau and his government have been reluctant to use the word genocide to describe China's treatment of the Uyghurs, arguing that more evidence from independent investigations is needed. read the complete article

29 Jun 2021


A charter described as the “first of its kind” has been launched to ensure the faith of Muslim soccer players and other athletes is respected both on and off the field. The Muslim Athlete Charter, which was launched by non-profit organization Nujum Sports, aims to challenge organizations in the sporting world and encourage progress in supporting Muslim sportsmen and women. There are currently 250 Muslim players across the top four leagues of English football, including high profile names like Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, and Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané The charter includes elements such as ensuring Muslim players have appropriate places to pray, making sure that Muslim athletes are allowed to fast without judgment or impediment during Ramadan, and informing non-Muslim players that alcohol is forbidden in Islam. Other elements of the charter include the provision of Halal food and Muslim players being allowed to attend midday prayers on Fridays. Five English Premier League teams have already signed up to support the charter. read the complete article

30 Jun 2021

‘I am watching you’: Chinese students surveilled at Australian universities

Chinese state police allegedly attempted to enlist an international student to spy on the Australian Muslim Uighur community, offering to pay for his university fees, and threatening his mother after he attended a pro-democracy campus protest in 2019. Other students revealed they feared their families would be targeted by police in China, and they could be harassed by pro-Beijing peers in Australia, who they felt were monitoring what they said in classes in case they criticised the Chinese Communist Party. The accounts are among the testimonies of 24 pro-democracy Chinese international students and 22 academics interviewed and given pseudonyms for a new report by Human Rights Watch examining the impact of Chinese government surveillance on academic freedom at Australian universities. Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, who was briefed on the report’s findings, said it raised “deeply concerning issues” and said the government was working with universities to combat foreign interference on campus. “I am considering the report and its recommendations and we will take further advice from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which is looking into such matters,” he said ahead of the report’s release on Wednesday. read the complete article

30 Jun 2021

America's longest war is ending. A nation is left wondering whether it was all worth it.

America's "forever war" in Afghanistan outlasted the first three commanders in chief of this century. But this week, Joe Biden is set to become the president who imposes closure on the US' role in the bloody, intractable conflict. Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks -- plotted by al-Qaeda from Afghan soil -- plunged the United States into a fractured graveyard of empires, the US pull-out will be complete within days, multiple military sources told CNN. As many as 1,000 troops could remain to guard the American embassy in Kabul, and to protect the airport -- a lifeline for the fragile government and its armed forces who are destined to carry on fight the perpetual war that raged before the US arrived and will continue after it leaves. But the American operation -- launched by President George W. Bush when New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon lay in ruins -- is functionally over. In a wider strategic sense, the withdrawal underscores how the War on Terror -- which US and allied leaders insisted would be the organizing principle of international relations for decades to come -- has faded as the dominant priority. Years of war abroad sapped US hegemony and contributed to domestic discord that further weakened its global footprint. A new era of great power competition, marked by China's rise and Russia's belligerence now most concerns Washington. And the Covid-19 pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands more Americans than terrorism ever did. After years of full-scale anti-terror blitzes, bitter land combat, nation-building, US neglect then fresh resolve, counter-insurgency offensives, negotiating with the Taliban and simple grim holding on, the US will leave with many citizens wondering why Americans are still in Afghanistan. read the complete article


29 Jun 2021

The Indian government continues to harass journalists. I’m facing prison over a tweet.

On June 15, the police in the state of Uttar Pradesh accused journalists, a publication and even Twitter in India of criminal conspiracy, promoting “enmity,” insulting religious beliefs and provoking riots in an attempt to destabilize the country. The accusation was made after a video circulated on social media of an elderly Muslim man who said he was attacked by a group of men. Several days after the attack, the man, whose initial video was posted without audio, went on Facebook to describe the assault. He said goons forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” (Glory to Lord Ram) and shaved his beard. The video was shared by me and other journalists, as well as by public figures. It was also shared and reported by many news channels and publications in India, including Times Now, Times of India and NDTV. The targets were no accident. It’s clear the investigation is an attempt to present journalists and opposition figures as the real instigators of violence, faking hate crimes against their communities. It’s also part of an effort to bring Twitter under tighter government control after daring to flag misinformation spread by ruling party officials. Twitter is accused of refusing to delete and censor our tweets, which simply amplified what the attack victim shared online. I can’t be a journalist — we are now enemies of the state. I have to keep a low profile, hide, switch off my phone — all in an attempt to protect myself against a vindictive regime. I even had to lie to my father, who suffered a serious palpitation while watching my image flash on news channels reporting that I had secured bail from the Mumbai high court. While I secured a four-week transit anticipatory bail last Monday, I don’t know what lies ahead for me. read the complete article

29 Jun 2021

India’s Hindu calligrapher whose art adorns more than 200 mosques

Self-taught calligraphy artist Anil Kumar Chowhan has written Quranic verses in Arabic on the walls of more than 200 mosques around India in a career spanning 30 years. Based in Hyderabad, the 50-year-old’s passion for calligraphy was ignited while painting signboards for shops around the southern Indian city in Urdu to earn a modest living. “I belonged to a very poor Hindu family and had to give up my studies after class 10th to support my family. I was good at drawing, so I thought why not leverage this skill to take up signboard painting as a career,” he says. Chowhan says he has also painted 30 temples with images of Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as countless dargahs (mausoleums) and monasteries. “While for over a 100 mosques, I was paid a hadiya [remuneration], I worked for free for the other 100. I felt a spiritual connect to the places which prevented me from demanding compensation,” says the artist who earns about $350 a month through his freelance assignments across the country. “I believe art has no religion. God, Allah, Jesus: they are all one. And we’re God’s children. Today, most of my friends are Muslims. We eat together, hang out together, participate in mehfils [gatherings] and enrich each other’s lives,” says Chowhan, who also dabbles in Urdu poetry and is often invited to the city’s gatherings to recite his couplets. read the complete article


29 Jun 2021

Ontario provides $300G to fight Islamophobia in schools

The Ontario government will provide $300,000 in funding to two Muslim organizations to help combat Islamophobia in school communities, Education Minister Stephen Lecce says. The Minister said there was an annual 9% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes across Canada in 2019. Out of its “Safe Return to Class Fund,” Ontario will give $225,000 to the Muslim Association of Canada to create digital resources to raise awareness of Islamophobia to train educators and support students and families, he said. “These resources will provide important information about Islamic practice and value and, more importantly, help address the misconceptions and root causes of Islamophobia and will support ways to stop it as well as combating other forms of racism and discrimination that exist,” Lecce said. Another $75,000 will go to the National Council of Canadian Muslims to facilitate outreach and engagement sessions with parents and family members of Muslim community members, Lecce said. read the complete article

29 Jun 2021

A Muslim former intelligence officer says systemic racism at CSIS is a threat to national security

A Muslim woman who worked as a senior intelligence officer at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said the systemic racism and lack of diversity she experienced firsthand at CSIS constitute a national security threat — especially in light of a recent deadly attack on a Canadian Muslim family. Huda Mukbil, a hijab-wearing Arabic-speaker, said she was treated as an insider threat and interrogated about her religion during her 15-year career at CSIS. Mukbil said she was forced to cut ties with Muslim organizations, ostracized at work and treated like a second-class citizen. She left the intelligence agency in 2017 after helping to launch a civil lawsuit against CSIS over claims of discrimination. "It's the reason why individuals in the Muslim community don't feel they can trust the organization to tackle far-right threats," Mukbil — who is seeking the nomination to run as the federal NDP candidate in Ottawa-South — told CBC News. "The lack of trust is because of the lack of diversity. We don't have officers like me who are going out and speaking to people who can relate to their experiences. There's a moment now to do something." read the complete article

United States

29 Jun 2021

Montclair students and staff will now have off for Eid al-Fitr, thanks to a fifth-grader

The Montclair school district has fielded requests over the years to add the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr to the school calendar, but it was a very persuasive fifth-grader who finally drove home the importance. The day off was added after the Bradford School student made the request to the Board of Education this month. Laila Khan, 11, who had collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to make Eid a school holiday, began her presentation at the school board meeting by asking members to reflect on times they'd felt excluded. "Close your eyes and think of how you or your child would feel if you were not able to celebrate the holidays that are important to you," she said. She said it was stressful to make up schoolwork, and she missed out on inviting friends to celebrate Eid with her. "I go to their holidays because I'm off, but they can't come to mine," she said. At the June 5 meeting, school officials applauded the student's "strength" in speaking out, and President Latifah Johnson said the same request had been made by others over the years. Superintendent Jonathon Ponds praised her for "sharing the commonalities with other religions," and said he would recommend the change to the board. read the complete article


29 Jun 2021

‘A Big Wake-Up Call’: Filmmaker Evan Williams on Germany’s Neo-Nazis and the Far Right

In Germany’s Neo-Nazis & the Far Right, producer Evan Williams sets out to trace that country’s recent rise in far-right extremism and violence by documenting attacks and plots against Jews, immigrants and political opponents, as well as how the authorities have responded to the threats. Williams spoke with FRONTLINE about what motivated the investigation, what he found and what he hopes we can understand about the resurgence of a dangerous ideology. read the complete article

New Zealand

30 Jun 2021

Fresh threats against Christchurch mosque as country debates hate speech reforms

As the country prepares to debate proposed hate speech reforms, Al Noor mosque (An-Nur Masjid) is being targeted with fresh threats of violence. Police have received three separate reports relating to the Christchurch mosque in the past fortnight; incidents a senior minister describes as "serious". The matters were reported to police either at or from a representative of Al Noor Mosque, Canterbury metro area commander superintendent Lane Todd said. Federation of Islamic Associations chair Abdur Razzaq is responsible for one of the reports after he drew police attention to an offensive image on the online forum 4chan. The image is a selfie of a masked man posing in a car parked outside Al Noor Mosque, with accompanying comments that threatened violence to those inside. News that the Government wants to move hate speech into the Crimes Act and introduce harsher penalties caught the Islamic Women's Council on the back foot last week. Its national coordinator, Aliya Danzeisen, said it was a lot to process, especially since she has not had any conversations about hate speech laws since the Royal Commission. The Islamic Women's Council has said its warnings about growing anti-Muslim sentiment were ignored by authorities before the Christchurch mosque attacks. Danzeisen fears nothing has changed, even though government action – like the proposed hate speech reforms – are in response to the terror attacks. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Jun 2021 Edition


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