Today in Islamophobia

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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.

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06 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., the FBI is “moving quickly” to stop a growing number of reported threats against Jewish and Muslim Americans across the country amid the Israel-Hamas war, meanwhile in the UK, Tell MAMA recorded 1,202 anti-Muslim cases between October 7 and November 30th, demonstrating a seven-fold increase in cases from the 2022 figure, and lastly, Raqib Hameed Naik, the founder of Hindutva watch, warns that a flood of disinformation and hate speech is around the corner as India heads into the general elections in a few months. Our recommended read of the day is by Ahmed Gaber for The New York Times on Paterson New Jersey’s “Little Palestine”, one of the largest communities of Palestinians outside the Middle East, where residents are dealing with grief and fear for relatives in Gaza, while also fearing for their safety in the wake of increasing Islamophobic and anti-Arab attacks. This and more below:

United States

In a Place Called Little Palestine, People Feel Afraid. And Forgotten | Recommended Read

Mr. Odeh also is a deputy mayor of Paterson. When he was asked his thoughts about the war in Gaza and its impact on Palestinians in New Jersey, a dozen men in the barbershop stopped talking and used the mirrors to gauge Mr. Odeh’s reaction. He fell silent. “This is a massacre,” said Mr. Odeh, 51. “I’m very worried. I wonder if Gaza is still going to exist next month.” In dozens of interviews over the last month, many Palestinians in this part of New Jersey expressed grief and fear for relatives in Gaza. They felt overwhelmed by television coverage and were glued to their phones, desperately checking social media and messaging apps for news from the war. Mohammed Abuassi, 29, a real estate investor, said he sends daily messages on WhatsApp to his cousins in Gaza. When one replies, he knows that cousin is alive. Nine of his family members were killed by a single Israeli airstrike early in the war, he said. The conflict has also hardened long-held feelings among many Palestinians in New Jersey of alienation from American institutions, even as they witness and participate in the largest pro-Palestinian demonstrations in American history. “The protests give me hope,” said Diab Mustafa, chairman of the Palestinian American Community Center in Clifton, a suburb of Paterson. “But the reactions to the protests, I don’t like. You should be able to march for Palestinian rights without being called antisemitic or a terrorist sympathizer.” Since shortly after the war began, antisemitic incidents have risen all across the country. Many Palestinians in Paterson also reported a shocking rise in Islamophobic rhetoric. According to a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the group received nearly 1,300 reports of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias and violence in the United States in the month after Oct. 7 — a 216 percent increase over the same period last year. “We feel abandoned and betrayed,” said Dina Sayedahmed, a spokeswoman for the council’s New Jersey chapter. “People are grouping Palestinians and Muslims as if suddenly we’re all the enemy.” read the complete article

College leaders face congressional hearing over antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus

Protests that erupted after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel have roiled college campuses across the country, with college administrators facing backlash over their responses to alleged incidents of antisemitism. That was the focus of the congressional hearing today, as the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology faced questions from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Claudine Gay, President, Harvard University: I know many in our Harvard Jewish community are hurting and experiencing grief, fear and trauma. I have heard from faculty, students, staff and alumni of incidents of intimidation and harassment. At the same time, I know members of Harvard's Muslim and Arab communities are also hurting. During these difficult days, I have felt the bonds of our community strain. In response, I have sought to confront hate while preserving free expression. This is difficult work, and I know that I have not always gotten it right. Geoff Bennett: All of the college leaders who were testifying said bigotry against Jews, Muslims, Arab Americans, or anyone else was unacceptable and described their efforts to protect students and foster civil dialogue at their schools. But since the outbreak of the war, it's been easier said than done. read the complete article

FBI "moving quickly" to stop threats to Jews, Muslims in U.S. amid Israel-Hamas war

The FBI is "moving quickly" to stop a growing number of reported threats against Jewish and Muslim people across the U.S. amid the Israel-Hamas war, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday. Antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes have surged in the wake of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, illustrating one of the ways the conflict abroad is impacting Americans at home. Police departments across the country have been on alert for increases in threats and hate crimes against Jews and Muslims. Both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have warned of increases in antisemitic and anti-Muslim cases since Oct. 7. Violent extremists have sought to target Jews and Muslims in the U.S. through "physical assaults, bomb threats, and online calls for mass casualty attacks," Wray said in statement for the record Tuesday for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by—or reacting to—the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim, and Arab-American communities in the United States," Wray said. "We have seen an increase in reported threats to Jewish and Muslim people, institutions, and houses of worship here in the United States and are moving quickly to mitigate them," he added. read the complete article


The man fighting against online hate speech in India

Hindutva Watch is a digital database that documents hate crimes against Muslims, and other religious and caste minority groups in India. Run by a small group of volunteers spread across multiple continents, the project’s recent findings reveal that anti-Muslim hate speech in India is heavily concentrated around elections. Raqib Hameed Naik, the project’s founder, warns that a flood of disinformation and hate speech is around the corner as India heads into the general elections in a few months. read the complete article

Four reasons why Modi’s BJP swept key India regional elections

India’s right-wing ruling party has scored a resounding victory in regional elections, wresting control of key states in a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to bid for a third term in national elections in May. In the elections concluded on Sunday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snatched Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh states from the opposition Indian National Congress party and registered a record fifth term in central Madhya Pradesh. The BJP, which was seen as pro-business and pro-urban party during its initial years, has successfully expanded its base. It has launched numerous welfare schemes to burnish its pro-poor credentials. Modi’s personal appeal – in the words of local media “Modi magic” – towers over the BJP. The 73-year-old leader remains hugely popular with 93 million followers on X, and he has exploited his foreign policy successes to his advantage. The BJP also used the January 2024 inauguration of the Ram Mandir temple in Ayodhya to its advantage. Modi launched its construction in 2020, pandering to the Hindu-nationalist sentiment in the country. The opposition has accused Modi of indulging in anti-Muslim dog whistles and providing immunity to far-right Hindu groups involved in attacks on Muslims and other minorities. India – an officially secular nation – has seen a rise in anti-Muslim violence since Modi came to power in 2014. Dozens of Muslims have been lynched on mere suspicion of consuming beef or transporting cows, considered sacred among a large section of Hindus. read the complete article


Is the Israel-Hamas War Spilling Over into Europe?

The Israel-Hamas conflict is spilling over into Europe, as threats and physical attacks targeting minority groups have escalated across the continent, and a terrorist attack in Paris was allegedly triggered in part by the Gaza situation. Anti-Muslim incidents have increased significantly as well, although there is less systematic monitoring of such incidents, according to Human Rights Watch. In the U.K., the British charity Tell MAMA recorded a sevenfold increase in Islamophobic hate crimes in the month after Hamas’s attack. In Germany, CLAIM, the umbrella organization for civil society actors combating Islamophobia, has recorded three anti-Muslim incidents per day over the past few weeks, including personal assaults and attacks on mosques. In France, unidentified individuals have tagged several mosques with racist slurs and death threats. Peaceful pro-Palestine events were targeted as well, raising concerns about escalation of violence between different groups. In France, far-right extremists violently attacked a pro-Palestine conference in Lyon. Online hatred against Jews and Muslims has also surged. Antisemitic content soared by almost 1,000 percent on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in a month, and a significant increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia on YouTube was reported, while anti-Muslim content increased by 300 percent in the week after Hamas’s terrorist attack. Over the past month, the hashtags #HitlerwasRight, #DeathtoJews, #KillMuslims, and #LevelGaza have received tens of thousands of engagements on X. This increase of hate speech and racially motivated crimes creates a feeling of insecurity among both Jewish and Muslim communities. read the complete article


How Germany Became Mean

Economically prosperous, politically stable and more welcoming to immigrants than most other countries, the Germans — many thought — had really learned their lesson.The past few months have been a bit of a rude awakening. The economy is stuttering and a constitutional court ruling has upended the government’s spending plans. The far-right Alternative for Germany party, fresh from success in two regional elections, is cementing itself as the country’s second-most-popular party. Migrants are in politicians’ cross hairs, threatened with deportation and reduced support. And the country’s commitment to fighting antisemitism seems not only to be failing but also to have given rise to an outpouring of anti-Muslim sentiment. The truth is that Germany never fully deserved its vaunted reputation. The export-led economy depended on a large low-wage sector and the country’s position in the European Union. The far right — ensconced in parts of the state — never went away, and the celebrated Willkommenskultur, short lived in any case, couldn’t conceal enduring xenophobia and suspicion about foreigners. The culture of remembrance and historical reckoning, too, was far from perfect. Even so, the sudden coarsening of public life in the service of a warped sense of national identity is striking. Germany, supposed model of fair-minded moderation, has become mean. The government’s habit of conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism has had some disturbing effects. Most notably, it has created an atmosphere where advocacy for Palestinian rights or a cease-fire in Gaza is seen as suspect, running afoul of the state-mandated position. The police, for example, have cracked down on pro-Palestinian protests in several cities and outright banned numerous demonstrations. The cultural sector has seen far-reaching acts of censorship, too. This is all concerning enough. But politicians, seizing on some evidence of antisemitic displays at pro-Palestinian protests to link Muslims and migrants with antisemitism, have taken the opportunity to advance an anti-migrant agenda. When Mr. Scholz was asked about antisemitism among people “with Arab roots” in an October interview, he said Germany needed to sort out more precisely who is allowed to come into the country and who is not. “We are limiting irregular migration,” Mr. Scholz pronounced, before adding a little later, “We must finally deport on a large scale.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

Tell MAMA recorded 1,202 anti-Muslim cases in 55 days

Tell MAMA recorded 1,202 anti-Muslim cases as of November 30 following the deadly Hamas terror attacks on October 7. Our latest figures cover October 7 to November 30, demonstrating a seven-fold increase in cases from the 2022 figure of 172 cases (135 offline, 37 online). The 1,202 cases* reported to Tell MAMA represents the biggest and most sustained spike in reports to our service across a 55-day reporting period. Like with our previous statistical bulletins, we provide a brief geographic breakdown of where offline cases occurred. Of the 505 offline cases, 324 occurred in London, 47 in the northwest, 13 in South Yorkshire, 27 in West Yorkshire, 17 in the East Midlands and 27 in the West Midlands. In other areas, like the Southeast and Southwest of England, we recorded 11 cases in each area, respectively. The final geographic areas concern Scotland (9), Wales (2), and the Northeast (17). In terms of categories, Tell MAMA received 331 cases of abusive behaviour, 37 threats, 43 assaults, 33 acts of vandalism, 31 cases of discrimination, 23 acts of hate speech and 7 examples of anti-Muslim literature. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Dec 2023 Edition


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