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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22 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, Tell MAMA reports that it recorded 1,432 anti-Muslim cases between October 7th and December 13, 2023, a seven-fold rise, meanwhile in Canada, a new survey finds that more than three-quarters of Canadians recognize antisemitism (78 per cent) and Islamophobia (75 per cent) as “major” problems, or problems that are “one among many others,” and in India, Muslim residents of Ayodhya are fearful ahead of the inauguration of one of Hinduism’s most sacred temples, which has been built on the site of the Babri mosque that was destroyed by Hindu mobs in 1992 and resulted in anti-Muslim riots that killed nearly 2,000 people, most of them Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Bridge Associate Director, Mobashra Tazamal for The New Arab on how systemic Islamophobia underpins US support for Israel’s war in Gaza. This and more below:


State-sponsored hate: How Islamophobia shapes US support for Israel's actions in Gaza | Recommended Read

From television screens to the halls of Congress, Americans have been drip-fed a steady diet of genocidal rhetoric about the people of Gaza. Thousands of dead children dismembered limb to limb by the US-funded war machine of Israel, Americans are told, had it coming. At the heart of this dehumanisation lies an insidious bigotry in the United States and the Western world over the past several decades, now deployed once again to delegitimise any sympathy, let alone solidarity or intervention to stop the war: Islamophobia. Ever since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, there has been an unprecedented spike in Islamophobic, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian rhetoric in America. And it appears the megaphone of hatred is state-sponsored. From the hundreds of members of Congress who refuse to call for a ceasefire to the Biden administration's unequivocal and unconditional support of Israel, it is the very individuals elected to protect citizens and uphold the law that are fanning the flames. The "terrorism" discourse that, over the past two decades, has shaped the dominant narrative is key to understanding the dystopian system that exists today. Post-9/11 witnessed the construction of the "Muslim terrorist," the ultimate boogeyman and woman existing beyond the realm of rational explanation and responsible for all things evil. This dangerous stereotype relegated all Muslims as inherently violent and prone to violence and constructed the religion of Islam as the source and driver. Islamophobia involves homogenising Muslims, constructing them as one mass of nameless, faceless figures with inherently menacing traits. Today, Islamophobia has become so embedded within the Western psyche that even the live coverage of Israeli atrocities from brave Palestinian journalists like Motaz Azaiza, Bisan Owda, Hind Khoudary, and Plestia Alaqad, of fathers collecting the body parts of their dead children, of mothers weeping over their babies, of children carrying decapitated bodies, of traumatised toddlers, of decomposed bodies of premature babies, there is still an unwillingness from those in power to do the very minimum of calling for a ceasefire. read the complete article

The West’s ‘poisoning the blood’ moment

Over the weekend, former president Donald Trump conjured a new metaphor in his anti-migrant demagoguery. He said undocumented migrants were “poisoning the blood” of the United States, in language critics immediately associated with the ideological worldview and obsessions with racial purity of earlier 20th-century fascists. Despite a backlash, Trump doubled down later in the week, repeating the line at another Iowa campaign event that those participating in illegal border crossings are “destroying the blood of our country.” This is, on one level, familiar terrain for Trump. In 2015, he launched his first presidential bid by casting Mexican migrants crossing the U.S. southern border as “rapists.” He then moved on to suggesting all potential Muslim refugees were terrorist threats and called for a ban on Islamic immigration. The rhetoric appalled many but played to a galvanized far-right base that helped bring him to power. In this maelstrom, the United States is hardly alone. In Europe, too, fears over migration are morphing the political landscape and boosting right-wing parties. It loomed over the results of recent elections in the Netherlands (where the far right came shockingly first) and is contributing to the steady rise of Germany’s far-right AfD party in the polls. It also saw France’s centrist President Emmanuel Macron join forces with parliamentarians on the right to push through legislation on migration this week that, among other things, would set quotas limiting arrivals to France and curtail benefits and state support to foreign-born migrants. read the complete article

Antisemitic and islamophobic sentiment on the rise in Europe

Europe is fearing a “huge risk of terrorist attacks" over the Christmas period, due to the fallout from the Israel-Hamas war. In recent weeks, a disturbing surge of islamophobic and antisemitic incidents has gripped the continent. The European Commission pledged 30 million euros to reinforce security in vulnerable areas, with a particular focus on places of worship. "One of the things that always happens when there's a big flare-up in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinians, there's always a spike in antisemitic incidents," explained Dr Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London. In November, the French Muslim Council said it had received dozens of letters containing threats or insults, and that 14 mosques were vandalised following Hamas' 7 October attack on Israel. In London, islamophobic offences increased by 140%, according to the Metropolitan Police. Many such acts have been reported across Europe since 7 October. “We are deeply concerned with such developments and express solidarity with our fellow Muslim citizens,” representatives of 10 EU countries wrote on 29 November. read the complete article

Guantánamo prisoner can sue UK government, supreme court rules

A Guantánamo Bay prisoner can sue the UK government in England and Wales over allegations that British intelligence services asked the CIA to put questions to him while he was being tortured in “black sites”, the UK’s highest court has ruled. The supreme court said MI5 and MI6 were subject to the law of England and Wales and not – as the government had attempted to argue – the six different countries where Abu Zubaydah was held. Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian national whose full name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, said that between 2002 and 2006 he was unlawfully rendered by US agents to Thailand, Lithuania, Poland, Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Afghanistan, Morocco and finally to Guantánamo Bay again, where he has been held without trial ever since. Last year, the court of appeal unanimously overturned the decision of the high court that the relevant law was that of the countries where Abu Zubaydah was held rather than the law of England and Wales. In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, by a majority of four to one, the supreme court upheld the court of appeal’s decision. read the complete article

United States

Some say discrimination widely felt at UIC, now under federal investigation by Education Department

The U.S. Department of Education is now investigating the University of Illinois - Chicago for alleged discrimination. The DOE is looking at more than a dozen schools as a part of the Biden Administration's efforts to take action against a rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents on college campuses nationwide. The UIC investigation stems from a 2022 complaint by Palestine Legal, which says it represents the interests of Palestinian people, but all types of students on campus say they have felt discriminated against. The Department of Education would not comment on the investigation, but said in a statement the released list of schools being investigated is "part of the Biden administration's efforts to take action amid the "alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and other forms of discrimination on both college and K-12 school campuses." read the complete article

CAIR Releases ‘Gaza: The Resurgence of Islamophobia in 2023’

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a new paper on the state of Islamophobia leading up to and during the ongoing attacks by the far-right Israeli government against Palestinians in Gaza, which many legal and human rights experts have indicated may constitute the crime of genocide. Titled “Gaza: The Resurgence of Islamophobia in 2023” this preliminary evaluation argues: That the drivers of U.S. Islamophobia have evolved since President Trump left office; That these evolved drivers have been on display throughout the recent wave of Islamophobic bias; and That institutions involved in promoting justice and mutual understanding need to expand their campaigns to address these drivers The paper documents how government and law enforcement officials, corporations, institutions of higher education, media executives, and social media networks have promoted Islamophobic tropes to justify the Israeli government’s violence against Palestinians and therefore emboldened anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian hate and rhetoric in the United States. read the complete article


Toronto police report staggering rise in hate crimes against Jews, Muslims

Hate crimes in Toronto are occurring at an alarming rate as Toronto police release another set of staggering statistics showing Muslim and Jewish communities continue to be targeted. Since October 7th, Toronto police have investigated nearly 100 hate crimes – 56 targeted the Jewish community and 20 of those incidents were categorized as anti-Muslim. Utham Quick with the National Council of Canadian Muslims says what’s actually being documented is just the tip of the iceberg. “The numbers we are seeing from Toronto police are alarming of course but what we are seeing on our side at NCCM is a lot worse than that,” says Quick. “I spoke to a Muslim woman who was spat at near a downtown university in Toronto and when she reported the incident to the campus police the experience that she had there dissuaded her from actually reporting it to Toronto police. So what you are seeing is a big disconnect.” The war is also taking a major toll on mental health with one organization that offers support to Muslims in the GTA reporting a 600 per cent surge in calls to their helpline. Many report anxiety, depression and marginalization in their schools and workplaces. read the complete article

Are antisemitism, Islamophobia problems in Canada? Most say yes

A majority of Canadians believe both antisemitism and Islamophobia are problems in the country, according to a new survey from the Angus Reid Institute. Published Wednesday(opens in a new tab), the survey also found notable differences of opinion between age and religious groups. "Indeed, three-quarters see both as significantly problematic, while just 11 per cent of Canadians feel that each is 'not really a problem,'" the survey explained. "However, there are varying perceptions of the severity of the problem both antisemitism and anti-Muslim attitudes pose." In the survey, more than three quarters of Canadians recognized antisemitism (78 per cent) and Islamophobia (75 per cent) as "major" problems, or problems that are "one among many others." Fewer than one in five Canadians saw the issues as minor (11 to 14 per cent) or not problems at all (11 per cent). Canadians older than 54 were more likely to view antisemitism as a major problem (34 per cent) compared with anti-Muslim discrimination (20 per cent). The opposite was apparent for Canadians 18 to 34, who viewed Islamophobia as a significant problem (26 per cent) over anti-Jewish hatred (22 per cent). Canadians who identified as Jewish were very likely to see antisemitism as a major problem (75 per cent). Of those who identified as Muslim, nearly half (48 per cent) perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as a serious issue. Half of Muslim respondents (49 per cent) identified antisemitism as a minor or non-existent issue while one in five Jewish respondents (19 per cent) classified Islamophobia as a minor or non-existent problem. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Tell MAMA recorded 1,432 anti-Muslim cases between Oct 7 and Dec 13

Tell MAMA recorded a seven-fold rise in anti-Muslim cases between October 7 and December 13. We recorded 1,432* cases following the deadly Hamas terror attacks on October 7, up from the 2022 figure of 195 cases (153 offline, 42 online), and represents the largest rise in reports to our service across 68 days. Like with our previous statistical bulletins, we provide a brief geographic breakdown of where offline cases occurred: Of the 613 offline cases, 381 occurred in London, 55 in the northwest, 15 in South Yorkshire, 31 in West Yorkshire, 23 in the East Midlands and 35 in the West Midlands. In other areas, like the Southeast, we recorded 17 and in the Southwest of England, we recorded 19 cases. The final geographic areas concern Scotland (13), Wales (4), and the Northeast (20). In terms of categories, Tell MAMA received 387 cases of abusive behaviour, 52 threats, 49 assaults, 46 acts of vandalism, 40 cases of discrimination, 28 acts of hate speech and 11 examples of anti-Muslim literature. read the complete article


Some Muslims around major India temple fearful ahead of opening

Like many other Muslims, Indian tailor Safi Mohammad plans to send his wife and two sons away before thousands of pilgrims arrive at his hometown of Ayodhya next month for the inauguration of one of Hinduism's most sacred temples. The temple, built on a site Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Lord Ram and where a Mughal-era mosque once stood, stirs bitter memories for Mohammad. The 38-year-old said he remembers when a Hindu mob destroyed the Babri mosque in December 1992, sparking religious riots across the country that killed nearly 2,000 people, most of them Muslims. The dead included his uncle. "My family has gone through a lot already," he said as he worked at his sewing machine in his home, located a few metres away from the temple. "Anything can happen anytime." Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is home to some 3 million people, including 500,000 Muslims. Officials say at least one-tenth of these Muslims live in the immediate vicinity of the newly built Ram Temple, and some of these residents said they are still fearful of Hindus, especially visitors, because any incident could potentially escalate into a major event. At least a dozen Muslim men said they too planned to send their families to relatives outside the city ahead of the temple's opening ceremony which is due to take place on Jan. 22. "We cannot say what will happen around the opening - people in the community are a bit fearful," said Parvez Ahmad Qasmi, who runs an Islamic school in Ayodhya and lost his father-in-law to the riots that occurred more than three decades ago. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Dec 2023 Edition


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