In November 2020, Dr. Farid Hafez’s home was one among 60 homes targeted by the Austrian authorities as part of Operation Luxor. It was later revealed that the Austrian government targeted Dr. Hafez due to his scholarly work on Islamophobia. Following the two year battle, the charges against Dr. Hafez were dropped as they had no legal standing but the long-lasting impact of the raid illustrates the increasing hostility academics and Muslim civil society are experiencing in Europe.
Over the past few years, a number of European governments, especially those led by right-ward leaning parties, have taken aim at academics and activists who call attention to the state’s discriminatory policies against Muslims. Scholars who have produced important work analyzing the state’s role in promoting and supporting Islamophobia have been subject to smear campaigns accusing them of being tied to extremism and terrorism. Additionally, organizations, such as the Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF) in France, that have documented the rising hate crimes against Muslim communities have been shut down by the state and many others continue to face intimidation and harassment by the authorities.
The Bridge Initiative brings together a panel of experts who have faced targeted harassment for their scholarly work on the state’s role in promoting Islamophobia, to discuss this growing and dangerous phenomena and the impact it’s having on academic freedom and civil society.