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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16 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, British TV presenter Rachel Riley says she’s “sorry” after tweeting false claims that the Sydney attack, which killed six people was due to Islamic extremism, meanwhile in Canada, hundreds marched in Toronto this week to call for peace after a series of violent anti-Muslim incidents in the city, and in Germany, the number of Islamophobic crimes in the country have more than doubled last year according to the German Press Agency. Our recommended read of the day is by Josef Burton for The Guardian on his decision to quit his job at the State Department, a decision he made after discovering that there is nothing to stop a future president from reinstating a Muslim ban similar to that enacted during the Trump administration. This and more below:

United States

As a US diplomat, I helped circumvent Trump’s Muslim ban – then realised I was part of the problem | Recommended Read

On 27 June 2017, Donald Trump issued orders to begin implementing the “Muslim ban”. My routine job had suddenly become deeply morally fraught and instead of blandly facilitating the American dream, I was denying it to people based on their faith. My first instinct was to draft a resignation letter, but I didn’t immediately send it because it felt at the time like I was part of a nigh-unanimous institutional rejection of an illiberal policy. More than 1,000 US diplomats put their signatures on an internal dissent cable against the Muslim ban when it was proclaimed. My boss hated the ban, my boss’ boss hated the ban, and the dozens of US ambassadors summoned to the foreign ministries of Muslim-majority countries to explain the policy tried to disown it as much as they possibly could. When I pushed back as much as I could, I did so with the full support of my bosses and colleagues. But, and this is the most important part, we always did so within the regulations. The presidential proclamation repealing the Muslim ban did not surrender a single iota of the authority to implement future bans. It was only when the Muslim ban was finally over that I fully realised what I had been part of; we created another tool in the toolbox, a set of procedures and standards for processing travel bans, waivers and exemptions that could be put to literally any purpose. Our internal resistance was fundamentally morally agnostic because we fought within the technical bounds of policy implementation rather than the fact of its declaration. read the complete article

60+ Muslim, Arab & Allied Groups Condemn ADL for Anti-Palestinian Hate, Call for Firing of CEO Greenblatt

Over 60 Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, and allied organizations today condemned the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its pattern of enabling anti-Palestinian hate and called for the termination of CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who recently sparked an uproar by analogizing the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf to a Nazi swastika. The joint statement reads, in part: “Hate crimes and acts of discrimination against Palestinian-Americans have risen dramatically in recent months. This includes numerous attacks sparked by the public display of the keffiyeh. The rhetoric that Mr. Greenblatt and other extreme supporters of the Israeli government have used to smear Palestinian human rights advocates has contributed to this ongoing surge in hate. “Sadly, this is part of a pattern for the ADL. For far too long, the organization has launched dishonest attacks on Black Americans, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and others who stand up for the rights of the Palestinian people. The ADL has also platformed anti-Muslim hate speakers like Pastor John Hagee, shared the same stage as anti-Palestinian racists, dehumanized Palestinians by justifying the Israeli government’s attacks on civilians in Gaza, questioned the Palestinian death toll, pressured colleges and other institutions to silence students who peacefully advocate for Palestinian freedom, and downplayed hate crimes against Palestinian-Americans. The ADL did not even initially acknowledge the Palestinian identity of six-year-old hate crime victim Wadea Al-Fayoume. read the complete article

United Kingdom

‘Prejudice, Islamophobia’: Free speech fears as UK redefines extremism

The United Kingdom government’s new definition of “extremism”, touted as a bid to tackle rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the aftermath of Israel’s war on Gaza, has ignited fierce debate across the political spectrum, with critics on all sides claiming it will erode freedom of speech and civil liberties. Communities Secretary Michael Gove last month named several UK-based far-right organisations, including the neo-Nazi British National Socialist Movement and the Patriotic Alternative, which will be held “to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and [we] will take action as appropriate”. Amid heightened domestic tensions since October 7, he also named several prominent groups advocating for Muslims’ civil rights, including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain – which he described as the UK affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cage, and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND). “The fact that there are immediately Muslim organisations who are labelled as [‘extremist’] tells you exactly what this piece of legislation is intended for,” said Imran Khan QC, the British lawyer who rose to prominence representing the family of Stephen Lawrence, whose racist murder in 1993 exposed institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police. Organisations deemed “extreme” under the new definition will be blacklisted, made ineligible for government funding, and they will be banned from meeting with ministers. read the complete article

Rachel Riley says she's 'sorry' after tweet suggesting Sydney attack was Islamic extremism

Rachel Riley has said she is “sorry” after posting a tweet appearing to link the Sydney attack to Islamic extremism. The Countdown star, who once called social media a “cesspit of hate”, is facing calls to be sacked by Channel 4 after falsely suggesting the fatal incident was linked to a rise in support for Palestine. Six people were killed in the attack, which police said was carried out by Joel Cauchi of Queensland. After news of the stabbing surfaced, Riley wrote: “For six months now, people have been out on our streets proudly calling for the ‘Intifada Revolution’. If you want to know what ‘Globalised Intifada’ looks like, see the Sydney Mall.” Riley’s post has been heavily accused of perpetuating Islamophobia, and on Sunday (14 April), the TV star issued what she described as a “clarification” of her comments. read the complete article


Germany sees Islamophobic crimes more than double last year

The number of Islamophobic crimes in Germany more than doubled last year, media reports said on Monday. According to the German Press Agency, citing a government reply to an inquiry by Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmaker Christoph de Vries, in 2023 there were 1,464 crimes nationwide classified as Islamophobic, compared with 610 in the previous year. Police have already reported 137 Islamophobic crimes in the first quarter of this year. The dramatic surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes is linked to the escalating Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. The German government has repeatedly expressed concern about the rise in anti-Muslim racism in the country since 7 October. read the complete article


Toronto Muslims demand peace, respect at march

Hundreds marched in Toronto today to call for peace after a series of violent anti-Muslim incidents in the city, while Ontario's premier voiced her support for the Muslim community in Ottawa. Around 200 people turned up for the march, which ends at the elementary school where a Muslim woman was attacked and injured earlier this week. Police at the event vowed to track the men responsible for the attack. Marchers carried signs reading "Respect is a Canadian value" and "Intolerance is from the Dark Ages." The marcher also said that because she wears the hijab she feels like she's more at risk and the attack on a mother hit especially close to home. "It could have been me, because I live in the same neighbourhood," Fathima said. Recently, there have been racist incidents on the TTC and GO Transit, while a U of T student claims he was spat on near campus. Outside of the GTA, a Peterborough mosque was deliberately set ablaze, and a Hindu temple in Kitchener was also vandalized. read the complete article


Paris 2024: The controversial hijab ban at sport's biggest party

In September the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made clear that athletes in Paris can represent themselves and their faith, as well as their country. "For the Olympic Village, the IOC rules apply," an IOC spokesperson told Reuters. "There are no restrictions on wearing the hijab or any other religious or cultural attire." The French team, though, have been told something different. "The ban on the hijab [a type of headscarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear] is the consequence of two discriminations: it is islamophobia, but also gender discrimination," says Veronica Noseda, who plays football for Les Degommeuses, a Parisian football club set up to fight discrimination. Assile Toufaily, who moved to Lyon in 2021 having played football at international level for her native Lebanon, agrees. "It's not really about the French society, it's the government," she says. "There is a hate on Muslim people during these last few years in France and it's shown in sport." read the complete article


False claims started spreading about the Bondi Junction stabbing attack as soon as it happened

Each tragedy that attracts global attention is now an opportunity for social media accounts to attract followers and revenue off the back of inflammatory claims, or to fit the incident into a predetermined narrative before the facts have emerged, and this weekend was no different. Esther Chan, a disinformation researcher, said “Islamophobic and anti-immigrant comments” were rife online in the hours after the Bondi Junction stabbing, including speculation about the perpetrator’s skin colour, appearance and supposed religion. “In fact, several X accounts based outside of Australia and each with a large following were among the earliest to share these videos, some unverified, alongside comments with a racist or Islamophobic undertone,” she said. “It’s important to beware of how incidents like this can be used to promote harmful narratives.” In the aftermath of the attack, several prominent verified accounts on X, including those of journalists and far-right political leaders in the UK, speculated without evidence that the person responsible was motivated by Islamic faith. The verified account of Julia Hartley-Brewer, a presenter on British channel TalkTV, claimed the attacker was an “Islamist terrorist”, which she later clarified was incorrect. The verified account of Britain First co-founder Paul Golding made similar allegations, which had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) collected examples of “xenophobic and racist” remarks made in the Facebook comment threads of Australian news outlets following the attack on Saturday evening. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Apr 2024 Edition


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