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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20 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the Labour Muslim Network has called on Keir Starmer to cut ties with Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, after she said that Israel would not accept a Palestinian state, meanwhile in the United States, Eve Gerber, the wife of Harvard economics professor, Jason Furman, has apologized after a video of her harassing a Harvard graduate student wearing a keffiyeh went viral online, and in Canada, shelters for victims of domestic violence are reporting an increase in anti-Muslim hatred with one saying women who don’t feel safe at home are now not feeling safe enough to leave. Our recommended read of the day is by Sal Ahmed for TRT World on how “far-right European parties are eyeing an opportunity to position themselves as friends of Israel and the Jewish community while painting Muslims as dangerous” in light of Israel’s war in Gaza. This and more below:


Europe's far-right using Israel's war on Gaza to further Islamophobia | Recommended Read

Israel's war on Gaza has presented Europe's far-right populists with a glittering opportunity to build an anti-Muslim, white supremacist narrative. Organisations which measure Islamophobic attacks say they have observed a definite spike in attacks against Muslims and other minority groups across Europe. A European Union official tasked with combating Islamophobia, Marion Lalisse, says, "The hatred towards Muslims, in particular, has to do with negative stereotypes, considering Muslims as a monolithic group involved in violence. Such biases are spread across EU nations." While far-right populism has sharply risen in recent years in Europe, an odd trend has come to the fore over the last two months. Some of Europe's far-right populist groups have grasped the moment to temporarily shelve its anti-semitism, in public at least, and to unleash unabashed attacks on Muslims in Europe. Hungarian political scientist Peter Kreko says about the far-right, that "this sudden compassion for Jews is not genuine, .... it's more about exploiting Muslims than genuine sentiment for Israel". Bellingcat journalist Michael Colborne says that since the start of the conflict, far-right extremists "don't know who they hate more: Muslims or Jews." read the complete article

Israel, US campuses, and the fragility of the coloniser

The Biden administration is fully participating in Israel’s genocide in Gaza, sending every weapon Israel asks for and deploying military force to deter other countries from coming to the aid of the Palestinians. Instead of denouncing the genocide actually taking place against the Palestinians, America’s liberal establishment has instead focused its efforts on claiming that students speaking out against Israel’s brutality are calling for the genocide of Jews, and then denouncing this figment of its own imagination. This deranged process came to a head recently with US news dominated by reports that antisemitism is surging in universities. The New York Times, supposedly the voice of liberal good sense and objectivity, reported that “antisemitic speech has skyrocketed on college campuses across the country.” No serious evidence is given or needed; readers are expected to know that calling for Palestinian rights is essentially antisemitic. Mainstays of liberal America are now even calling for the group Students for Justice in Palestine to be considered a material supporter of terrorism. If this proposal were taken up, young people engaging in peaceful protest activity could be prosecuted under a federal anti-terrorism statute. The effect of all this is to produce not just outrage but a profound sense of mental disarray. Palestinians are being slaughtered on an industrial scale in a US-sponsored genocide, but the only person shamed into resigning is a university president who did not do enough to censor Palestinians. So appallingly absurd are the convolutions of US public life that the mind cannot quite accept the reality of it. It is as if we are being gaslit by the news. read the complete article

Israel-Gaza: Does Islamophobia play a part in US foreign policy?

As the war in Gaza rages on, the death toll keeps increasing and residents face starvation. Despite the heavy civilian toll, the United States keeps voicing its strong support for Israel. Criticism has been raised of Washington’s approach to Palestinian victims. Is there a double standard when it comes to Palestine? And why do some in the US seem to conflate solidarity with Palestinians with anti-Semitism? On UpFront, Marc Lamont Hill speaks with Sahar Aziz, professor of law and Middle East legal studies scholar at Rutgers University; and Mitchell Plitnick, president of Rethinking Foreign Policy and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace, about whether Islamophobia affects US foreign policy. read the complete article

The role of Islamophobia in the genocide in Gaza

Israel’s war on Gaza has received wide support from British politicians and public figures, often rationalised by citing Israel’s right to self-defence. But there appears to be another element at play which motivates this support - an aspect that frequently rears its ugly head: Islamophobia. The link between Islamophobia and the actions of Israel in Gaza is rarely addressed and it is worth considering how Islamophobia has shaped British attitudes towards the war. The APPG definition of Islamophobia refers to it as being “rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” While Islam is not a race, and while Muslims are from a vast array of different ethnicities, the racial element to Islamophobia cannot be denied. Where hatred of Muslims appears, extreme anti-immigrant sentiment is also found. Muslims are otherised as a separate racial group by racist people who identify them using anything they perceive to be Islamic. A document entitled “Calls for Ethnic, Genocide and the Dehumanisation of Palestinians” proves beyond reasonable doubt that the problem of Islamophobia in Israel is a systemic and structural one. It is an issue that exists across the ultra-right-wing Israeli government as well as within a large segment of the general population. The document, which continues to be updated, currently lists almost two hundred examples of racist and dehumanising speech from Israeli officials, commentators, the general Israeli population as well as Israel’s supporters from all over the world. The dehumanisation of Muslims in Israeli society shares notable similarities with the anti-Muslim sentiment prevalent in Britain. Islamophobic offences in London alone rose by 140% at the start of November 2023 - yet statistics do not paint a full picture. Street-level hate crime is often addressed without consideration for the root causes of this form of hatred. The reality is, there has been a long-standing, rampant disinformation campaign against Muslims across the British media which has become increasingly mainstream. There has also been an increased securitisation of Muslims through the Prevent strategy as well as a targeting of Muslim charities. read the complete article

Interview: Antisemitism and Islamophobia Spike in Europe

A German lawmaker of Kurdish-Syrian background received threatening notes with glass and feces. A Polish lawmaker brandishing a fire extinguisher put out Hanukkah candles in the Parliament building. A pig’s head was left near the site for a proposed mosque in England. A wave of antisemitic graffiti appeared in Paris and its suburbs. The escalation in hostilities in Israel and Palestine have led to a surge in antisemitic and anti-Muslim crimes and hate speech in Europe and around the world, a crisis only intensified by politicians’ inflammatory rhetoric. Amy Braunschweiger speaks with Human Rights Watch’s Almaz Teffera, who researches racism in Europe from Berlin, and George Wilkes, who researches antisemitism from Edinburgh, about the failure of European governments to effectively address antisemitism and all forms of racism and what should be done now. read the complete article

United States

Wife of Harvard professor issues apology after video of her harassing student, calling their keffiyeh a ‘terrorist scarf’ goes viral

Eve Gerber, the wife of Jason Furman, an economics professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and top economic adviser during the Obama administration, apologized this week after a video of her harassing a Harvard graduate student wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Palestinian scarf, was widely condemned. In the 26-second video, Gerber is shown following an unidentified student on a neighborhood sidewalk while launching into an anti-Palestinian tirade. When she realized she was being recorded, Gerber waved mockingly. “Hi, camera!” she says in the video posted to X. “Thank you for walking through neighborhoods and making families feel unsafe with your terrorist scarf.” The student, a young woman who asked to remain anonymous, said Gerber spotted her wearing a keffiyeh, a head scarf that has long represented Palestinian nationalism and more recently has become a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, and got out of her car to follow her. The student began filming the encounter. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, said this “type of harassment never gets reported, but it’s shameful and disgusting.” “People in our country have a right to wear whatever scarfs they want to wear and people following them and making them uncomfortable is just wrong and discriminatory,” Omar said. “Palestinians exist and need us to fight for their liberation.” Abdelhalim Abdelrahman, a Palestinian-American and graduate student at American University, said “Palestinians are being doxxed and fired for speaking out against Israeli occupation and the war on Gaza.” “But Eve Gerber gets to walk around on her high horse and harass my people,” he posted on X. “What chants did you find so disturbing that you felt it necessary to accost and berate an innocent Palestinian woman?” Abdelrahman added later. read the complete article

‘Poisoning the blood’: Trump’s ugliest moments on immigrants

When Donald Trump began saying that immigrants poison the blood of our country in September, he could have argued plausibly that he didn’t know the construct was one of Adolf Hitler’s infamous talking points. Today, that argument isn’t going to fly, thanks to the thorough airing that his use of the phrase received — including here — in a way Trump couldn’t have missed. Yet he is saying it again. Over the weekend, Trump returned to this rhetoric about undocumented immigrants. Trump’s comments are particularly notable in that he explicitly links the poisoning of our blood to predominantly non-White areas of the world. Back in September, Trump linked the term blood-poisoning to how “people are coming in with disease.” His new comments are merely the latest in a long compendium of ugly and racist comments about immigrants, Muslims and racial minorities. Here’s a timeline. read the complete article

I fled my home after Palestinians were shot. No one is immune to the rise of white nationalism.

My head has always been on a swivel. As an Arab American legislator in the predominantly white state of Vermont, I’ve always been hyperaware of just how I’m received. Despite the recent shooting of three Palestinian American students, Vermont has proved to be a welcoming place, which is why I’ve chosen to live here for the past eight years. But no state is immune to the growing rise of white nationalism, violence and discrimination that our country is grappling with. It’s here in Vermont. More hidden perhaps than in other parts of our country, but it’s here nonetheless. Numerous people of color, including those in government like former state Rep. Kiah Morris, have been bullied, harassed and targeted to the point of having to step down from their positions and even vacate the state. I’ve always known that having a last name and identity that didn’t flow easily over an American tongue, particularly in the wake of 9/11, put me at risk to be in the middle of stories of distrust, racism and hatred. Born and raised in rural Alabama, as the daughter of an Egyptian immigrant and a native Alabamian mother, I am very proud of my culture, particularly the one that my dad shared with me despite being far from the land he once called home. But that identity puts me at risk in my state. I remember receiving my first death threat only about a month after being sworn into office and after voicing support for access to affordable child care. I was accused of being a groomer, told to stay away from children and told that I would be better off dead. I remember going to other lawmakers of color when that happened. They were supportive of me but also acknowledged that this wasn’t abnormal. I remember thinking, “If this is some sort of club, I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t even want the club to exist.”So when the news broke that three Palestinian college students were shot four blocks from my home in Burlington, Vermont, I was not surprised. read the complete article

As reports of hate crimes against Muslims grow, here’s how you can help

The rise in anti-Muslim acts is undeniable and unnerving. Three Palestinian college students were shot in Vermont, and when a six-year-old was stabbed in Chicago, his mother couldn’t attend his funeral because she’d been stabbed, too. In Georgia, a middle school teacher was arrested after he allegedly threatened to behead a 13-year-old Muslim student. But most incidents of Islamophobia don’t make headlines – or even go reported. This recent unprecedented surge of anti-Muslim bias prompted the White House to announce a national strategy to combat Islamophobia. Corey Saylor of The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says his organization receives daily reports of Islamophobia, including incidents where people probably could have helped. In one case, they say, a woman was verbally harassed in a crowded grocery store without a single person coming to her aid. Saylor says that’s in stark contrast to a recent incident in the Fort Lauderdale airport, where a Muslim woman was harassed by a man who filmed her and threatened to “report” her to authorities. Two bystanders immediately sat down next to her. Others gathered around the victim. From across the room, a woman pulled out her phone and began recording the man, and then posted the video to TikTok. Saylor says this is an example of how when one person rushes in to help, others often follow. It’s easy to be paralyzed in an uncomfortable situation, but offering assistance - if it’s safe to do so - is like giving first aid, says Saylor. You might not know exactly what to do, but you do your best in the situation. The Maryland office of CAIR is offering bystander or “upstander” intervention training to teach people how they can help if they see someone being harassed. read the complete article

Advocacy group alleges Ann Arbor school counselor made discriminatory remark against Muslim student

An advocacy group announced it filed a complaint against Ann Arbor Public Schools, alleging that a school counselor made a discriminatory remark against a Muslim student. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) filed the complaint with the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education. Officials claimed that a counselor at Tappan Middle School referred to the eighth-grade student as a "terrorist." The complaint alleges that on Nov. 14, the student was waiting to speak with his guidance counselor when he asked the sixth-grade counselor if he get a drink of water, to which the employee told him he could not. When the student asked why, the counselor allegedly said "I don't negotiate with terrorists," according to the complaint. CAIR-MI, which filed the complaint on behalf of the boy's family, says the student immediately complained and told the counselor their comment was inappropriate. However, the counselor allegedly did not apologize and instead "reportedly elicited participation from other counselors who confirmed that they too do not negotiate with terrorists and that they often use that phrase with other students," the organization alleges. read the complete article

Jewish Groups Line Up In Support Of Biden’s Muslim Court Pick Assailed By GOP

Fifteen Jewish organizations on Tuesday pledged their “strong support” for President Joe Biden’s historic Muslim court pick Adeel Mangi ― days after Republican senators subjected him to hostile and Islamophobic questioning in his confirmation hearing. The letter hails Mangi’s legal record and his pro bono work on behalf of religious organizations. It also highlights the numerous amicus briefs he has filed in federal courts on behalf of religious communities relating to LGBTQ rights, unlawful surveillance of religious communities and the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Mangi, if confirmed, will be the nation’s first-ever Muslim federal appeals court judge, and only the third Muslim federal judge. Biden tapped Mangi for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, based in Philadelphia. GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) yelled at and interrupted Mangi throughout his hearing. They demanded that he share his personal views on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Oct. 7 attack in Israel and the Israeli-Hamas conflict in general. They also repeatedly tried to tie him to pro-Palestinian comments made by people he didn’t know, and to events he didn’t know about. Mangi repeatedly had to attest that he wasn’t antisemitic or sympathetic to terrorists. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Muslim school in London facing Islamophobic threats amidst Gaza conflict

A London primary school received an Islamophobic handwritten threat calling for the killing of more Palestinians and children, raising safety concerns within Apex Primary School’s Muslim community. read the complete article

UK: Labour Muslim Network pressures Starmer to cut ties with Israeli ambassador

A Labour Muslim group has called on Keir Starmer to cut ties with Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, after she said in an interview last week that Israel would not accept a Palestinian state when the 7 October Israel-Gaza war ends. The Labour Muslim Network, which works to promote British Muslim engagement with the Labour Party, said the ambassador’s comments were “clearly Islamophobic”. “The right of self determination for Palestinians and an independent Palestinian state has been a long-standing position for the Labour Party, for the United Kingdom and for the international community,” the letter said. “To deny the right of Palestine to exist as an independent state is not only an extremist position, but also completely contrary to international consensus.” The network said Hotovely’s comments joined a long line of senior Israeli officials and members of the government who had made statements that were “genocidal in nature” towards the Palestinian people. “Associating with such individuals or endorsing their views in any way is not only Islamophobic and morally reprehensible but also poses a significant risk to the Labour Party's integrity and our commitment to human rights and international law,” the letter said. “We are therefore writing to you as leader of the Labour Party with the expectation that no further engagements be made or platforms shared by Labour Party representatives with the current Israeli ambassador,” the letter added. read the complete article

Revealed: data from UK anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent being shared with ports and airports

Details of thousands of individuals referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation Prevent programme are being shared far more widely than was previously known, with data secretly sent to airports, ports and immigration services, as well as officials at the Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Critics believe the widespread sharing of data could be unlawful, with sensitive personal details of those referred to Prevent being moved between databases without the knowledge or consent of the individuals concerned. A Metropolitan police document seen by the Observer also confirms that the sharing of details relating to Prevent across the police extends much wider than just counter-terrorism units, with local officers among those able to access such details. The stated aim of Prevent, which is a voluntary programme, is to divert people from terrorism before they offend. Most people do not even know that they have been referred, with about 95% of cases resulting in no further action. read the complete article


Muslim women facing increased instances of Islamophobia in shelter spaces

The war in the Middle East has seen a rise in instances of Islamophobia, even in locations designed to be safe spaces. Shelters are now reporting an increase in hatred towards Muslims with one saying women who don’t feel safe at home are now not feeling safe enough to leave. One woman, whose identity is being protected due to safety concerns, tells CityNews she experienced different forms of domestic abuse at home, and while she was looking for a way out, she was met with a new fear – worries that she would be subjected to Islamophobia at mainstream shelters. “It does definitely make women think twice about a mainstream shelter because we may be afraid to reach out because we might be understood wrongly,” she said. Nisa Homes is a women’s shelter space catering to Muslim women all across Canada. It was created eight years ago to offer culturally sensitive social services. Officials with the shelter say they have recorded a rise in incidents of Islamophobia experienced by their clients and those looking to access their services. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Dec 2023 Edition


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