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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24 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, convicted killer Nathaniel Veltman’s apology was rejected by members of the victims’ family at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, meanwhile in the U.S., New York City public schools are expanding Islamophobia and antisemitism training as tension from the war in Gaza is impacting teens and teachers across the city, and in Germany, the country’s constitutional court approved a request to withdraw public funding from the neo-Nazi Homeland party, a move setting a possible precedent against other far-right groups. Our recommended read of the day is by for The Huffington Post on President Biden’s dismissal of concerns voiced by Arab and Muslims voters regarding his administration’s silence when it comes to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. This and more below:

United States

Biden Dismissed Arab Voters Threatening Not To Vote For Him. They Say He Shouldn't | Recommended Read

President Joe Biden continues to dismiss reports that Arab and Muslim voters are increasingly vowing not to vote for his reelection, even as those voters vocalize their frustrations with the president and distance themselves from him. When asked by a reporter last Thursday about the Arab and Muslim groups who have pledged to not vote for him, the president made clear that he was a better choice than former President Donald Trump, who will likely be the Republican presidential nominee. “Are you concerned with the Arab American votes voting for you during this election because of Gaza? Many say they will not vote for you,” asked the reporter. “The former president wants to put a ban on Arabs coming into the country,” said Biden, referring to the travel ban Trump implemented that barred individuals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. “We understand who cares about the Arab population.” But Muslim and Arab votes said Biden is underestimating the community’s long-standing frustration with the White House. Muslim and Arab support for the president has rapidly dwindled since Israeli forces began a bombing campaign in Gaza in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants, with full support from the White House. The U.S. has contributed around $130 billion to Israel since its founding, making the country the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing. Since October, Muslim and Arab organizers and advocacy groups have staged protests, signed petitions, written letters, and taken to social media to announce their disapproval of the president’s Israel strategy. Muslim American leaders from battleground states have vowed to mobilize their communities against Biden’s reelection. People who had their families killed in Gaza said they could not in good faith vote for him. And Muslim and Arab staffers working for Biden in the federal government have expressed their own frustration with the president. read the complete article

“I Always Outwork the Hate”: An Exclusive Interview With Rashida Tlaib

Washington insiders do not approve of Rashida Tlaib. Since her election in 2018 as the first Palestinian American woman and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the House, the Michigan Democrat has faced rebukes, condemnations, and censure. She’s been accused of everything from sympathizing with terrorists to antisemitism, mostly by Republicans but sometimes by members of her own party. Even the White House has targeted her. Yet outside D.C., and especially in her diverse Detroit-area district, Tlaib is known as a thoughtful and responsive representative with a long history of working across the lines of race, ethnicity, and religious difference. In the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing Israeli assault on Gaza, the condemnatory rhetoric has ramped up. But so, too, has admiration for Tlaib, who, with Missouri Representative Cori Bush, has emerged as the leading congressional advocate for a cease-fire. This conversation with Tlaib has been lightly edited; a shorter version appears in The Nation‘s January print issue. read the complete article

Bay Area Muslim organizations hold first-of-its-kind FBI training on Islamophobia

The rise in Islamophobia across the U.S. has been well documented. The challenge now is how Muslim Americans can work with the FBI to stop it. "We want (the FBI) to be partners with us in preventing and responding to hate," says Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director of Islamic Networks Group, or ING, based in the South Bay. "One out of two Muslim students are bullied based on their religion. And according to other polls, Muslim communities experience more prejudice than any other religious community in their interaction with law enforcement," she says. ING led a first-of-its-kind training with almost 200 agents and officials from the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department at the FBI field office in San Francisco. They were joined by several other Muslim American organizations. "The kind of training that federal agencies were getting wasn't coming directly from Muslim Americans. And that is why this training was significant," explains Elgenaidi. "We were able to discuss the topics that we wanted to discuss, who we are and how the public views Muslims." read the complete article

Gaza war divide hits New York public schools with new antisemitism and Islamophobia training

New York City public schools are expanding training on antisemitism and Islamophobia to middle and high schools as a result of tensions over the war in Gaza, underscoring how fallout over the conflict is trickling down to everyday life. The city’s public schools chancellor, David Banks, said on Monday that all middle and high school principals would be required to receive training on “navigating difficult conversations” among US teenagers and address tensions over the war. NYC public schools will also expand access to teaching materials on antisemitism and Islamophobia and offer anti-discrimination workshops to members of parent organisations amid reports that parent council meetings have descended into fighting matches over the war. The public school measures are the latest that underscore a sharp divide among Americans over the war in the Middle East read the complete article


Convicted killer's apology at London, Ont., sentencing rejected by Afzaal family members

Nathaniel Veltman's sentencing began earlier this month with two days of victim impact statements and continued Tuesday with legal arguments over whether the June 6, 2021, truck attack meets the legal definition of terrorism. Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her parents — Madiha Salman, 44, an engineer, and Salman Afzaal, 46, a physiotherapist — were killed, as was family matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, a teacher and artist. The boy survivor was among dozens of people who gave victim impact statements, in which many detailed the fears they now feel of walking down the street. After a 10-week trial in Windsor's Ontario Superior Court, the jury took about six hours to convict him of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. This case is the first time terror charges are being considered under Canadian law against someone following a white nationalist ideology. To meet the Criminal Code's definition of terrorism, the judge must determine the attack on the Afzaals was carried out to further a political, religious or ideological cause. Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance will make a finding of facts when she hands Veltman his sentence on Feb. 22, and will determine whether or not the attack constituted terrorist activity. read the complete article

Hamilton police log 26 antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate incidents since start of Israel-Hamas conflict

Hamilton police have logged 26 hate crimes and incidents between Oct. 7, 2023 and Jan. 12, with 21 targeting the Jewish community and five targeting the Muslim community. That number, over a three month period, is already half as many antisemitic occurrences and the same number of anti-Muslim occurrences as in all of 2022, when comparing police data. CBC Hamilton was unable to compare the numbers to earlier in 2023 because statistics prior to Oct. 7 — when the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas began — will not be released until the service's annual hate crimes report is published in March, said Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman. read the complete article

Canada's controversial ban on adoptions from several Muslim countries sparks court challenge

A major challenge of Canada's ban on adoptions from several Muslim countries is set to play out in the Federal Court — a move some legal observers say wouldn't be necessary if the government wasn't upholding what they call a "discriminatory" policy. The case, which could be heard as early as April, comes more than five years after the federal government promised to review the ban introduced when the Conservatives last held office. Since then, the Liberal government has refused to say whether that review took place or what it involved, despite repeated inquiries from CBC News. In 2013, Canada suddenly put a stop to adoptions from Pakistan, arguing Shariah law doesn't allow for birth ties between a parent and child to be severed and that the Islamic principle of guardianship (kafala) could no longer be recognized as the basis for adoption. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia all continue to allow adoptions from Pakistan, despite Canada's claim that doing so would violate its commitment to the Hague Convention. While on paper the ban applied only to Pakistan, an investigation by CBC's The Fifth Estate found that in practice, immigration officials quietly extended it to other Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Qatar, Afghanistan and Algeria.One legal observer said that not only is the ban discriminatory, but it unfairly puts the burden on individual families to argue the validity of their religious traditions. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Sarwar : Inherent double standard exists in politicians’ view of Muslims

An “inherent double standard” exists in the way politicians view Muslims, Anas Sarwar has said. The Scottish Labour leader addressed the “disproportionate slaughter” happening to citizens in Gaza amid an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Mr Sarwar became the first political leader of Muslim faith when he was chosen as Scottish Labour leader in 2021. The Scottish Labour leader has previously spoken about the Islamophobia he experienced growing up in Glasgow, including receiving death threats towards his family during his father’s time in politics. Speaking during a visit to Alstom Transport Service Traincare rail maintenance depot, in Polmadie, Glasgow, Mr Sarwar described experiencing a “hostile environment” growing up following the 9/11 attacks. And he has now had his say on comments made by First Minister Humza Yousaf, who has in-laws in Gaza, who said at the weekend that Muslim and Palestinian blood is viewed as “very cheap” by politicians across the world. read the complete article


Watching the watchdogs: Law, Propaganda, and the Media walk into a bar

The hearings were historic for two reasons. First, this was the first time that Israel’s decades-long aggression against the Palestinians was articulated in detail for the world to hear, without having to pass through the distorting lens of Western media or politicians. Second, this was the first time that Israel was substantively held to account in public under international law, without being shielded from such accountability by its Western backers, as it has been for the past century. The unprecedented nature of the hearings drew international attention. The media around the world covered the proceedings extensively, often with live feeds of both presentations. But in the West, once again an anti-Palestinian media bias became apparent. Channels like the BBC were accused of not fully showing the South African presentation, while broadcasting more of the Israeli one. American, Canadian and British newspapers were chastised for not featuring the ICJ case on their front pages. The bias was clearest in the glaring parallels between the main points in Israel’s presentations to the court – which reflected the longstanding main themes of Israeli propaganda – and the reporting of Western mainstream media, with some exceptions. Indeed, Western coverage of the war has been skewed since day one. The US progressive publication The Intercept did its own analysis of three leading US newspapers – The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times – and found that their reporting “heavily favoured Israel”. It said that they “disproportionately emphasized Israeli deaths in the conflict; used emotive language to describe the killings of Israelis, but not Palestinians; and offered lopsided coverage of antisemitic acts in the U.S., while largely ignoring anti-Muslim racism in the wake of October 7.” read the complete article


Dublin riots: solace and simmering grievances at Muslim-run soup kitchen

When Dublin erupted in a riot last November masked youths looted shops, set fires and shouted slogans against immigrants and refugees. “Ireland is full,” said one banner. “Ireland for the Irish,” said another. Resentment at asylum seekers, demographic changes, a housing crisis, crime and the cost of living had boiled over, turning O’Connell Street, the capital’s main thoroughfare, into what looked like a war zone. Two months later, on another cold night, a different scene unfolded: hundreds of people queued at a soup kitchen run mostly by women wearing hijabs. In place of shouts there were warm greetings, including as-salaam alaikum, Arabic for peace be upon you. “The food here is unbelievable – falafel and chicken burgers, curry, salad, you name it, they’re one of the best groups around,” said one young man, an unemployed plasterer from Dublin. “We’d be lost without them, and they’re Muslims. So you see, the riot wasn’t a racist thing.” The Muslim Sisters of Éire, a charity, runs the service every Friday on the corner of O’Connell Street and Prince’s Street, serving up to 550 meals to people, Irish and non-Irish, in an area associated with crime, poverty and tension. Over seven years it has become a valued institution, offering sleeping bags, hygiene kits and food to desperate people even as desperation has worsened and fuelled a backlash against foreigners. Some of the Irish beneficiaries queueing for a meal acknowledged a contradiction – they considered the riot a legitimate revolt against “way too many” new arrivals yet appreciated the foreigners ladling dinner into cartons. read the complete article


Far-right AfD Could Be Next After German Court Defunds Neo-Nazi Party

Germany's constitutional court on Tuesday approved a request to withdraw public funds from the neo-Nazi Homeland party, offering what one official called a possible "blueprint" for action against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jan 2024 Edition


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