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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
14 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, leading Republican candidate for North Carolina governor, Mark Robinson, spent years mocking and attacking Muslims on social media, according to investigative reporting by The Huffington Post, meanwhile in the Netherlands, incoming Prime Minister Geert Wilder’s claimed in a speech made in front of the Dutch Parliament to be a prime minister for “all Netherlanders,” a statement many critics claim as hollow due to Wilder’s history of Islamophobia, and in Switzerland, border authorities have barred Muhammad Rabbani, director of the UK-based human rights group CAGE from entering the country at “the request of France”. Our recommended read of the day is penned by a student at Wellesley College for The Wellesley News on how the university’s administration has overlooked and failed to acknowledge the pain of Wellesley’s Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students. This and more below:

United States


On Saturday, Dec. 9, President Johnson hosted a webinar for Muslim and Arab families concerned for the well-being of their students on campus. It must be noted that this webinar took place after the Wellesley administration received significant criticism from students, parents and alumni for selective support of the student body. On Nov. 5, more than a month ago, the administration hosted a webinar that only addressed the concerns of Jewish parents regarding the events of Oct. 7, completely overlooking the pain of Wellesley’s Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students. Why does the Muslim and Arab community at Wellesley have to audition for empathy? Why, in a meeting between the administration and Wellesley Al-Muslimat, did Muslim students have to read out the death threats they had received for supporting Palestine to gain President Johnson’s sympathy? Why, after three Palestinian students were shot in Vermont, leaving one student partially paralyzed, do we still have to justify the very real danger of Islamophobia? Considering that universities have already or are facing pressure to disband their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), websites like Canary Mission put up the names, faces and employers of anti-Zionist students, and conservative activist groups have sent ‘doxxing trucks’ around Columbia and Harvard University, it’s a little difficult for us to give interviews on major news outlets talking about how Israel’s psychotic bombing of Gaza has made us feel. I find it confusing that we have to spell out our pain like we’re speaking to toddlers to gain a morsel of understanding from the administration, professors or fellow classmates. But maybe I should be more understanding. Maybe, after decades of seeing brutalized, brown bodies in the media, it’s easy to forget that we’re humans too. read the complete article

Local Attorney Gives Talk on Islamophobia

In an event titled “Responding to Islamophobia in the College Community,” the executive director and chief legal officer of the Massachusetts branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, spoke before an audience in Stirn Auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The talk highlighted a recent spike in anti-Muslim incidents since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel. Amatul-Wadud began her talk by highlighting her personal connection to her work as a Black Muslim woman. “Everything about this moment feels deeply personal,” she said. She explained that defending one’s own community comes with an emotional toll that is often overlooked. “When you put people in positions, and they are part of the impacted community, they experience the issues for which they are hired and mobilized so much differently,” Amatul-Wadud said. “Maybe we’re a little sadder, maybe we move a little slower, maybe a little more emotional.” CAIR Massachusetts has seen a dramatic increase in anti-Muslim racism, specifically hate crimes, in the past two months, according to Amatul-Wadud. Her office has received three-and-a-half times more calls since Oct. 7 than they typically receive in an entire quarter. She emphasized that these incidents are widespread in Massachusetts, despite the perceived liberal demographic makeup of the state. One Muslim woman was grabbed by a male co-worker who tried to forcibly unzip her uniform top, falsely claiming that the woman wore a Palestinian keffiyeh under her hijab, Amatul-Wadud said. She spoke about the connection between school districts, colleges, and universities who have issued staunchly pro-Israel statements and communities in which anti-Muslim discrimination is enabled and ignored. read the complete article

Top GOP Candidate For N.C. Governor Spread Islamophobia On Facebook For Years

Mark Robinson, the leading Republican candidate for governor in North Carolina, spent years mocking and attacking Muslims on social media, a review of his posts on Facebook reveals. Robinson, who is the state’s lieutenant governor, regularly made Islamophobic comments on his personal account from 2012 to 2017. He assumed his leadership role in January 2021. In November 2016, he called it “sad” that religious freedom applies to Muslims and that it means they are “free to do as they please.” What’s also sad, Robinson continued, is that “anyone who says anything about it is a bigot.” In a post a month earlier, Robinson said he didn’t respect or trust Muslims. “Someone just asked me if I trust Muslims and respect Islam,” he wrote. “I told them I’ll do both when I’m allowed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Saudi Arabia and Saudi women are allowed to drive to my church to hear it.” Robinson also argued that mosques shouldn’t be allowed to be built in the United States. “Until they let us build churches in Saudi Arabia, we shouldn’t let them build mosque in America,” he posted in June 2016. For anyone familiar with Robinson’s background, these posts may not be a surprise. He has a well-documented record of peddling wild conspiracy theories and has a history of demeaning women and referring to LGBTQ+ people as “filth.” He has also dabbled in Holocaust denialism and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including his agreement with a claim that the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” include the Rothschild family of “international bankers that rule every single ... central bank.” He has said that his statements were “poorly worded” but denied they were antisemitic. read the complete article

Is a new McCarthyism punishing pro-Palestine speech at US universities? Our panel reacts

Shadi Hamid: Well before the Israel-Gaza war broke out, a new McCarthyism was already widespread on American college campuses. It’s only going to get worse, and it is time to sound the alarm. Today, conservatives are using their political power to punish pro-Palestinian speech, including through chilling legislation that conflates support for Palestinian rights with antisemitism and terrorism. Brett Max Kaufman: The McCarthy era taught us that when campuses engage in ideologically motivated efforts to police student and faculty speech, those efforts not only backfire but severely damage the foundation on which academic communities are built. Yousef Munayyer: The US Congress, Ivy League universities and other centers of power have been gripped by a ginned-up hysteria aimed at silencing, intimidating and interrogating people and institutions for not being sufficiently pro-Israel. The absurd nature of the allegations being thrown around – including the performative outrage and cynical grandstanding of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who recently berated the heads of several Ivy League schools for ostensibly tolerating antisemitism on their campuses – will surely generate analogies to McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare. Unlike the Second Red Scare, which was a particularly American phenomenon, the intensifying repression against Palestine advocacy isn’t limited to the US but is happening in Canada and across Europe as well. That’s because this hysteria is not a reaction to the debate on American college campuses but rather the product of a calculated and global transnational strategy backed by the Israeli government since 2015. Natasha Roth-Rowland: A range of so-called watchdog groups have long countered pro-Palestine activity on US college campuses with tactics including aggressive monitoring, blacklisting, and intimidation. These groups are often funded by philanthropic foundations that also support Islamophobic and rightwing groups that share broad goals of smearing Palestinian and Muslim students and professors as antisemites and terrorist sympathizers. Since 7 October, this dynamic has reached disturbing new heights. read the complete article

There Can Be No Critique

The crisis of academic freedom we are currently facing is as acute as any since the McCarthy years in the United States. The charge of anti-Semitism has been instrumentalized to shut down speech in ways that should be acutely alarming for anyone who cares not only about free speech in the public domain, but academic freedom on college campuses. When even calls for ceasefire are considered anti-Semitic, only those who support Israel’s annihilationist war against the Palestinian people in Gaza are exonerated of the charge. The conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism can only serve the purposes of extreme censorship, for it constrains those who oppose ongoing Israeli violence, the killing of nearly 18,000 Gazans to date, from expressing moral and political outrage and defending fundamental principles of free expression and political justice. If we dare to name the killing as annihilationist, as bearing genocidal intent, or as genocide itself, as more than 800 jurists have recently insisted, then we are accused of anti-Semitism. But what does it mean to speak up against genocide only to be censored? It means that only speech that defends injustice is defensible. It makes sense that student groups form and join small and massive rallies alike to protest this detestable logic and the relentless campaign of slaughter it supports. Those who oppose their protests as “anti-Semitism” cheapen, inflate, and instrumentalize a charge that should be reserved for the clear instances of anti-Semitism that emerge in anti-Zionist rhetoric. Those should be named and opposed since all racism must be opposed. So too should Christian nationalist anti-Semitism that supports Zionism, to which Netanyahu gives a pass. But precisely in this moment we are called upon to ask how censorship, doxxing, and bullying not only suppress—or outlaw—the public condemnation of crimes against humanity but serve to justify the killing. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Piers Morgan Sparks Backlash by Calling Muslim Women ‘Oppressed’

English broadcaster and television personality Piers Morgan sparked fresh controversy by calling Muslim women and women embracing Islam "oppressed." The controversial journalist made his remarks in an interview with Wahid Asif Shaida, an NHS doctor and head of the British wing of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In the interview, Asif Shaida spoke about Islam, emphasizing that many women embrace Islam. "Because they want to be oppressed," Morgan responded. The controversial answer sparked a backlash online, with many describing his remarks on Islam as "disgusting." "Piers Morgan goes off on a disgusting rant about Islam generically labelling Muslim women as oppressed and making sweeping statements. He arrogantly attacked the faith of 1.8 billion Muslims on the planet in a blatant act of Islamophobia," a commenter wrote on X, formerly Twitter. Morgan’s Islamophobic remarks caused an ire among many Muslims and non-Muslims, who stressed that such a comment is an insult for millions of Muslim women. read the complete article

Biteback acquires Asbali’s book on being a British Muslim woman

Biteback Publishing has snapped up “sharp and illuminating” Veiled Threat: On being visibly Muslim in Britain by Nadeine Asbali. Veiled Threat will be published in January 2024. Veiled Threat explores life as a Muslim woman through the lens of Asbali’s personal experiences, beginning with the formative event of choosing to wear the hijab as a teenager. It illuminates the everyday battles with structural inequality and racial stereotypes many Muslims fight every day, in a nation becoming increasingly hostile to difference, and particularly highlights the experiences of Muslim women who also contend with misogyny and the saviour-complex of white feminism, the publisher said. Asbali is a British-Libyan writer and secondary school teacher from London. read the complete article


Far-right Dutch election winner Wilders wants to be prime minister, promises to respect constitution

Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose party swept to a shock victory in last month’s Dutch general election, said Wednesday he wants to be prime minister for “all Netherlanders,” and pledged that he will ensure his policies adhere to the country’s constitution. Wilders’ comments during a debate in parliament were aimed at easing fears among potential coalition partners about his strident anti-Islam rhetoric and plans including banning mosques, Islamic schools and the Quran. “Sometimes I will have to withdraw proposals and I will do that,” Wilders said. “I will show the Netherlands, the legislature, Mr. Otzigt’s party — anybody who wants to hear it — that we will adapt our rules to the constitution and bring our proposals in line with it.” His words did not convince opposition lawmakers. Frans Timmermans, the former European Union climate czar who now leads a center-left alliance in parliament, told Wilders: “I consider your ideas a threat to the democratic rule of law.” read the complete article


Cage director banned from entering Switzerland to address meeting at UN

Border authorities in Switzerland have barred the director of a UK-based human rights group from entering the country to address a meeting at the United Nations office in Geneva "after a request from France". Posting on social media on Wednesday, Muhammad Rabbani, the managing director of Cage International, said he had been detained by border police on his arrival at Geneva Airport where he had travelled to attend a conference organised by the Baku Initiative, an NGO that aims to "support the fight against colonialism and neocolonialism". Swiss police held Rabbani for 12 hours before he was deported back to the United Kingdom. Speaking to Middle East Eye, Rabbani said he had been stopped and detained despite his lawyers confirming with Swiss authorities beforehand that he was not barred from visiting Switzerland. "When I spoke with the authorities here, they said that I was stopped from entering Geneva at the request of France," said Rabbani. “Human rights defenders must be allowed to work without state interference. It's fundamental. “How is it right that state structures are allowed to prevent members of civil society from engaging in vital discourse at international conferences?" he added. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Dec 2023 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results