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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08 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Denmark, parliament has passed a bill that makes it illegal to burn copies of the Quran or other “writings with significant religious importance” in public places, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, members of Parliament from various sides of the political spectrum have harshly criticized the government for failing to address rising anti-Muslim hatred and ways to tackle crimes relating to Islamophobia, and in the U.S., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) it has received a “staggering” 2,171 complaints over the past 57 days amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. Our recommended read of the day is by Aymann Ismail for Slate on the killing of Wadee Alfayoumi, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was murdered by his family’s landlord, who was motivated by anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. Ismail speaks with Wadee’s parents and how they are coping with the loss of their son. This and more below:

United States

“Imagine a Child Gets Stabbed 26 Times” | Recommended Read

“That Saturday, as I was getting ready to go to work, I received a call from the sheriff,” he said. “They asked me, ‘Are you Odai Alfayoumi?’ I said yes. They asked, ‘Are you Wadee Alfayoumi’s father?’ I said yes. Then they told me Wadee was murdered.” Wadee was 6 years old. It didn’t compute. Who would kill a 6-year-old? As he learned more about the killing, he realized he knew the man accused. The man owned the house where his ex-wife and son lived; he lived just outside their door. The man had a good relationship with them, or so he thought. He would even sometimes greet them with the standard Arabic greeting, as-salamu alaykum. Now the man was alleged to have stabbed his son 26 times, until he died. He wanted, the police said, to kill Palestinians. Odai can’t get one detail of that day out of his head. “Imagine a child gets stabbed 26 times? This is the kind of question that has no answer. Which one killed him? The first, second, 10th, 12th, or the 17th? Which one ended his life? How did he feel being stabbed by someone who he might have thought was playing with him?” Everything changed after the start of the war in Gaza in October. According to the family’s lawyer, it started Saturday morning with Wadee undressed and about to take a shower, and Czuba knocking on the door in his living room leading to his tenants’ space. Hanan answered, and was surprised to find Czuba yelling at her, demanding to know why she wasn’t doing anything to “stop the war” in Gaza. She told him that she prays for peace. Then, the statement said, he physically attacked her. She was stabbed 12 times with a 12-inch knife with a 7-inch serrated blade. She took blows to her chest, torso, and limbs. Cuts to her face were still visible. The statement said Hanan fought back, scratching Czuba’s forehead. She pleaded with him to stop, telling Czuba, “Let’s go to the hospital.” But, the statement says, he continued to fight her. After, she laid immobilized on the ground, then pulled herself up, locked the door, and quietly called 911 from her bathroom so as not to alert Czuba. But unbeknownst to her, he had already broken back into the space she was renting and stabbed her son 26 times. She didn’t hear any crying or screaming. When she came outside the bathroom, the police said she found her son on the ground with the knife still lodged in his abdomen. read the complete article

White House Disavows U.S. Islamic Group After Leader’s Oct. 7 Remarks

A spokesman for President Biden condemned the remarks by Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who declared in a speech that Palestinians in Gaza “have the right to self-defense” but that Israel “as an occupying power” does not. Mr. Awad said his comments were being misconstrued. The remarks by Mr. Awad were made two weeks ago at a gathering of American Muslims for Palestine but were given wide circulation on Thursday morning by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, a Washington-based group founded by a veteran Israeli intelligence officer that monitors and translates Arabic and other media. “The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege, the walls of the concentration camp, on Oct. 7,” he said. “And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not allowed to walk in. “And yes,” he continued, “the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, have the right to defend themselves, and yes, Israel as an occupying power does not have that right to self-defense.” Mr. Awad said in a statement on Thursday that his comments were taken “out of context” by “an anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian hate website” to distort his meaning. In another part of his speech that was not included in the video, he said he denounced hate against Jews and called antisemitism “a real evil” that “has to be rejected and combated by all people.” He said his comments in the speech about Oct. 7 referred to Palestinians who crossed from Gaza into Israel after the border was breached that day but did not themselves engage in violence. “The average Palestinians who briefly walked out of Gaza and set foot on their ethnically cleansed land in a symbolic act of defiance against the blockade and stopped there without engaging in violence were within their rights under international law,” Mr. Awad said in the statement. “The extremists who went on to attack civilians in southern Israel were not. Targeting civilians is unacceptable, no matter whether they are Israeli or Palestinian or any other nationality.” read the complete article

CAIR Received ‘Staggering’ 2,171 Complaints Over Past Two Months as Islamophobia, Anti-Palestinian Hate ‘Spin Out of Control’

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released new civil rights data showing that it has received a “staggering” 2,171 complaints over the past 57 days amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. In the eight weeks covering Oct. 7 to Dec. 2, CAIR’s national headquarters and chapters received a total of 2,171 requests for help and reports of bias, which is a 172 percent increase over a similar two-month period the previous year. “It’s staggering to see this kind of spike in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate in less than two months,” said CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor. “Far too many people and institutions have spent the past two months weaponizing Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias to both justify the ongoing violence against Palestinians in Gaza and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights here in America. “From Burlington to Chicago to DC and elsewhere, innocent Americans are suffering the consequences of this wave of bigotry,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Until our nation stops the violence IN Gaza and rejects bigotry here in America, we fear that both Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism will continue to spin out of control.” read the complete article

Biden hits Trump over travel ban threats on anniversary of ‘Muslim ban’ proposal

President Biden on Thursday took aim at former President Trump’s travel ban policies, marking the eighth anniversary of the so-called “Muslim ban” pushed by Trump in the 2016 election. Trump released the proposal in December 2015, when he was vying for the Republican presidential nomination, calling “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” “On this day eight years ago, candidate for President Donald Trump proposed his Muslim travel ban. Like millions of Americans, I was appalled. The proposal was a cynical ploy. It was about sowing fear and distrust of Muslim Americans and all Muslims — not about protecting our national security,” Biden said in a press release from his reelection campaign Thursday. Biden said that the ban “betrayed America’s long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all” and that it violated the constitutional principle that the U.S. is built on a religious freedom foundation. read the complete article

'Staggering' Rise in Reports of Islamophobia During Gaza War

Three university students were shot and wounded in Burlington, Vermont. A New York City food cart vendor was repeatedly harassed by a former U.S. State Department official. A six-year-old boy was stabbed to death in Plainfield Township, Illinois. Those are just three high-profile examples of what the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States said Thursday is a dramatic surge in Islamophobia across the country since U.S.-backed Israeli forces launched a devastating war on the Gaza Strip two months ago in response to a Hamas-led attack on Israel. From October 7 to December 2, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national headquarters and chapters received a total of 2,171 requests for help and reports of bias—a 172% increase over a similar two-month period the previous year. "It's staggering to see this kind of spike in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate in less than two months," said CAIR research and advocacy director Corey Saylor. "Far too many people and institutions have spent the past two months weaponizing Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias to both justify the ongoing violence against Palestinians in Gaza and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights here in America." read the complete article

United Kingdom

British lawmakers slam government for not tackling rising Islamophobia

Parliamentarians from various political parties, including the ruling Conservatives, have harshly criticized the government for failing to address rising anti-Muslim hatred and ways to tackle such crimes. In the opening of a parliamentary debate on Thursday, Labour MP Naz Shah said several members of parliament have repeatedly requested a debate on the issue for the past several years, but the calls “have fallen on deaf ears” by the government. “I assure all those listening to this debate who might not really understand the issue that when Muslim communities speak up on the issue of Islamophobia, we are not looking for preferential treatment. In fact, quite the opposite. We are asking for equal treatment, free of discrimination, injustice and hatred,” Shah stressed. During the debate, the government was represented by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Felicity Buchan, who insisted that “this government will always stand up for British Muslims.” Shah and some other lawmakers say the government is not treating the communities in an equal and fair manner. “If, at a time when antisemitism is on a sharp rise, the chancellor can rightfully announce an extra £7 million (about $8.8 million) of funding in the autumn statement to tackle it, why, at a time when Islamophobia is also rising, did he refuse to announce a single penny of extra support for British Muslim communities in the same statement? “If the government can have a working independent adviser on antisemitism, why, three and a half years after the announcement of an independent adviser on Islamophobia, have they been unable to appoint one or to take the role forward?” she questioned. read the complete article

One of UK's largest mosques in east London is suddenly evacuated after 'bomb threat'

An alleged "bomb threat" forced London's largest mosque to close and the evacuation of scores of people with a large police presence seen in the area. In a statement on social media, the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre said: "Due to an emergency, the Mosque has been evacuated and unfortunately we will not be able to facilitate Salatul Maghrib. Further update will be provided in due course, InshaAllah." A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the force was called at 3.02pm on Thursday (December 7) after a threatening email was sent to East London Mosque in Whitechapel. He added: "Officers carried out a search of the area and the building was evacuated as a precaution." In a post on social media, East London Mosque said it received a "credible threat" this afternoon, leading to "a swift and safe evacuation" under the instruction of local police officers. read the complete article


Denmark’s parliament adopts law banning Quran burnings

Denmark’s parliament has passed a bill that makes it illegal to burn copies of the Quran in public places after protests in Muslim nations over the desecration of Islam’s holy book raised security concerns. The bill, which prohibits “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognised religious community”, was passed with 94 votes in favour and 77 opposed in the 179-seat Folketing on Thursday. In practical terms, it will be forbidden to burn, tear or otherwise defile holy texts publicly or in videos intended to be disseminated widely. Those who break the law risk a fine or up to two years in prison. Before it takes effect, Queen Margrethe needs to formally sign it. That is expected to happen this month. The purpose of the law is to counter “the systematic mockery” that, among other things, has contributed to intensifying the threat of terrorism in Denmark, the Ministry of Justice said. From July 21 to October 24, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark, according to national police figures. The bill, initially announced at the end of August, was amended after criticism that its first draft limited freedom of expression and would be difficult to enforce. It was originally planned to cover objects of significant religious importance. read the complete article


With Islamophobic incidents on the rise, Muslim Canadians are worried

Since the horrific Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, I’ve been increasingly self-conscious when I’m walking down the street in my hometown of Ottawa wearing my hijab. Like many members of the Muslim community in Canada, I’ve been feeling anguish watching Israel’s brutal military response in Gaza, while also grappling with the disturbing rise in Islamophobia that is making Muslims feel unsafe. Last month, a Toronto man was arrested for a series of Islamophobic attacks, including allegedly assaulting and cursing at mosque worshippers, and spraying an unknown substance in the face of a Muslim cab driver and a woman wearing a hijab, who required hospital treatment. In Ottawa, the entrance of a Muslim centre was smeared with feces, while hateful, Islamophobic messages were posted on public property in a suburb. Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, has received death threats and has been put under security protection. Another Toronto man was recently charged for allegedly assaulting and pepper-spraying an individual who was wearing a keffiyeh – a Palestinian scarf – after a verbal altercation. Caseworkers at the National Council of Canadian Muslims received a more than 1,300-per-cent spike in Islamophobic reports between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24, including mosque vandalisms, the message “Kill all Muslims” scrawled on apartments in London, Ont., where a significant number of Muslims live, and instances of harassment and spitting on Muslim women wearing hijab. In Toronto, the police have said the city is experiencing a staggering increase in hate crimes, with 17 reports of anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian hate crimes and 38 reports of antisemitic hate crimes during the period. There are surely many more incidents that are never reported. read the complete article


Islamophobia is 'always again' and Palestine is its permanent fixture

The post-10/7 political climate has shattered the hasty post-racial assessment of the state of Islamophobia in decline. It has exposed how Islamophobia is what makes possible the defence of genocidal violence in Palestine. The surge in everyday Islamophobia at a time when the mass murder of Arabs and Muslims has never been more visible and wholesale indicates that something has gone amiss. In Melbourne, Australia, the alarming firebombing of a local business in Caulfield, described as a "suspicious fire" by Victorian Police, coincided with the Palestinian owner facing intense criticism for participating in "Free Palestine" and "Ceasefire" rallies. This incident underscores the urgent need to reassess the depth and intensity of anti-Muslim racism and its utilisation in various political agendas. For example, the Australian government's refusal to support a ceasefire during Gaza's bombardment and the national response to this crisis has cast a spotlight on the role of Islamophobia. It is crucial to question and observe what enables authorities and media to not only overlook the severe violence against Palestinians but also to criminalise and further vilify those who protest and voice the atrocities inflicted on them. Such a scenario calls for a critical examination of Islamophobia's influence on both societal attitudes and policy responses. In the wake of atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza and the firebombing of a pro-Palestine restaurant, Muslim academics and community organisers have come together to form Islamophobia Observer Australia (IOA). The scale of violence in Gaza and the policing, criminalising and censoring of Palestine advocacy networks - many of whom are Palestinian, Arab and Muslim - highlight the dangers of Islamophobia now more than ever. The violent conditions faced by Palestinians with reverberating effects globally signal how Islamophobia quickly securitises the political terrain. The launch of IOA points to a greater urgency to both understanding and opposing the impact of ongoing Islamophobia against individuals and communities, and its relationship to global and domestic military and political interventions, campaigns, and endorsement. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Dec 2023 Edition


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