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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31 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, a Lebanese-American lawyer has accused a national law firm of discrimination alleging she was fired the day before she was set to start a job at the firm’s Chicago office because of her Muslim and Arab identity, elsewhere in the US, an investigation reveals that a recent trip by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to Israel to meet with PM Benjamin Netanyahu was fully funded by the Jewish Policy Center, a nonprofit whose board is composed of several anti-Muslim figures, and in Myanmar, despite the ICJ’s intervention on the targeting of Rohingya Muslims, the community in the country continues to experience violence from the army. Our recommended read of the day is by Jane Dalton for The Independent on how ex-Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen has said publicly that she may pursue legal action after her party blocked her from standing in the general election, saying that she faced ‘racism, Islamophobia and bullying’. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Ex-Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen says she faced ‘racism, Islamophobia and bullying’ from inside party | Recommended Read

A left-wing candidate dropped by Labour claims she faced “a systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia and bullying from some within the party”. Faiza Shaheen said she was considering legal action against the party after it blocked her on Wednesday from standing at the general election. Hitting out at Labour insiders, the former candidate claimed there had been numerous examples of how she had been singled out for unfair treatment. “I have not experienced this level of relentless hostility in all my personal or professional life – not even from the Conservatives,” she wrote in the statement issued on X. Labour is already under pressure after veteran MP Diane Abbott claimed she’d been barred from standing for the party again, prompting accusations of a purge of left-wingers. Ms Shaheen, an economist, was set to take on former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith for the Chingford and Woodford Green seat, and many had predicted she would win on 4 July. She had contested the seat for Labour in 2019. But she said she was told on Wednesday that the party was suspending her after she liked social media posts that criticised Israel and its actions in Gaza. She claimed she had been banned from speaking publicly about racism in the party, stripped of a paid party organiser when seven months pregnant and told to “curb the attitude” when she said Labour was not taking Muslim concerns seriously enough. read the complete article

Nigel Farage refuses to back down over British Muslim comments in clash with Robert Peston

Nigel Farage defended his comments claiming young Muslims “do not subscribe to British values” in a heated clash during a live interview with Robert Peston. The former Ukip leader, who claimed there are British Muslims who “loathe” much of what the country stands for, was accused of alienating them by the ITV political journalist on Wednesday (29 May). Mr Peston suggested during the clash: “What we should be doing is building bridges between communities, not alienating them.” “So ignoring it - brush it under the carpet,” Mr Farage replied. read the complete article

Top 6 highlights not to miss at the Muslim International Film Festival

The UK Muslim Film charity has launched its inaugural Muslim International Film Festival (MIFF) in London to spotlight this year's most commendable films and filmmakers, showcasing the breadth and depth of Muslims worldwide. From the UK to Morocco, Jordan, and Palestine, the program features an eclectic mix of features and short films, as well as industry panels and events, for patrons to attend at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square from Thursday, May 30th to Sunday, June 2nd. "We are presenting some great films that showcase the creative brilliance of filmmakers from around the world," says festival director Sajid Varda. "But we also aim to respect our faith." MIFF has arrived to counter the one-note, stereotypical depictions of people of the Islamic faith often seen in Western cinema. read the complete article

‘Appalling cull’: Britain’s Labour bars another left-winger from election

Britain’s Labour Party has barred prominent left-winger Faiza Shaheen as a candidate in the upcoming election after she allegedly liked social media posts that raised questions about her suitability to run, most notably one allegedly downplaying anti-Semitism. Shaheen told the BBC programme Newsnight on Wednesday that the party’s National Executive Committee had emailed her that evening to remove her as a candidate for the Chingford and Woodford Green seat in northeast London, having previously questioned her about 14 social media posts. The programme highlighted one post in particular, which referenced a Jon Stewart sketch on freedom of expression in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Shaheen had liked the post, prompting the Jewish Labour Movement to complain its members were “concerned” about the “tone” of the Labour candidate’s social media posts in a quote read out on air. Among the 14 social media posts, the party had also taken issue with content relating to her experiences of Islamophobia in the party. “Like, how am I not allowed to talk about my experiences of Islamophobia and the double standards that I’ve seen?” she said. The Labour Muslim Network said on X that Shaheen’s deselection was “unacceptable”. read the complete article


Trapped and Persecuted: The Rohingya Crisis Worsens Despite ICJ Order

Nearly five years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered provisional measures to protect the Rohingya, the humanitarian crisis facing this predominantly Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar’s Rakhine region remains dire. For decades, the Rohingya have endured violence, displacement, and human rights abuses. Despite the ICJ’s intervention, Rohingya communities continue to face atrocities in Rakhine State. Speaking to The New Humanitarian, Rohingya sources describe their community as trapped in an escalating civil war. They are coerced into conscription by Myanmar’s military junta and abused by the ethnic rebel Arakan Army. At the same time, neighboring states are closing their borders and offering few rights to asylum seekers, exacerbating the plight of the Rohingya, who have been denied citizenship rights since 1982. read the complete article

United States

Arab-Muslim lawyer files lawsuit against Chicago-based firm over revoked job offer

A Lebanese-American lawyer accused a national law firm of discrimination in a recently filed lawsuit alleging she was fired the day before she was set to start a job at the firm’s Chicago office in late October because of her Muslim and Arab identity. Jinan Chehade alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court that Foley & Lardner discriminated against her because of her Arab Muslim background and political statements she’d made on social media and at public meetings about Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. According to the complaint, Chehade, a Georgetown Law School graduate, had been interning with Foley & Lardner in July 2022 when they offered her a full-time position to begin in fall 2023. Then, 15 hours before she was set to start work, she was fired, according to the complaint. The Sunday before her slated first day of work, Foley & Lardner asked her to come to the office where she said they interrogated her for two hours “in a very hostile manner,” Chehade alleged in the complaint. The firm also questioned her about her associations with Students for Justice in Palestine and public comments she had made regarding a proposed ceasefire resolution at a Chicago City Council Meeting, said Chehade, who is Lebanese but has family who live in Gaza. “It was devastating when they turned against me and vilified me in this way when I really respected their supposed commitment to diversity,” Chehade said. read the complete article


On Oct. 14, 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi was stabbed to death in a Chicago suburb. Joseph Czuba, the 71-year-old man who stabbed Alfayoumi is a longtime member of a church and, according to the Will County sheriff’s office, was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments and Israel’s war against Hamas. According to Joseph’s wife, Mary Czuba (who has filed for divorce), he had been radicalized by conservative talk radio. I live in a Chicago suburb and am the associate regional minister of American Baptist Churches Metro Chicago. When I heard Alfayoumi had been killed, I was horrified; as a mother, a Christian, a faith leader, and most of all a human, I took the news extremely hard. I wasn’t the only one who was saddened by the news. And recently, a group of people began organizing around a resolution dedicated to Alfayoumi. The Wadee Alfayoumi resolution, or H.R. 942 /S.R. 589, would honor Alfayoumi’s life and heritage, and denounce hate speech and hate crime against Palestinians and Muslims. It was introduced in the House by Rep. Delia Ramirez (D.-Ill.) on Dec. 19, 2023, and in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) on March 14, 2024. I believe this resolution is needed as anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim hate crimes have spiked since October 2023 — something Congress has not denounced. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed five pieces of legislation addressing the issue of antisemitism since that time. This contrast is glaring. read the complete article

Stefanik Israel Trip Funded by Group Tied to Anti-Muslim Figures

Rep. Elise Stefanik’s recent Israel trip to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was funded by a group with ties to multiple individuals who are commonly labeled anti-Muslim hate figures, according to a travel disclosure filed today with the U.S. House. According to a new disclosure, Stefanik’s trip was paid for by the conservative Jewish Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit. The organization spent nearly $48,000 on the trip, including on business-class airfare tickets for the representative and stays at luxury hotels. Stefanik’s chief of staff, Patrick Hester, joined her on the trip. The Jewish Policy Center has multiple individuals on its board of fellows who have been identified as anti-Muslim hate figures by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other left-leaning groups. Fellow Daniel Pipes, the president of the rightwing think tank the Middle East Forum, was listed as one of the top five purveyors of anti-Muslim misinformation by the Center for American Progress in its 2011 report Fear, Inc. on the roots of Islamophobia in America. Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multi-year research project on Islamophobia, has an extensive profile of Pipes’ comments over multiple decades, as he has argued for various forms of discrimination against Muslims to counter the threat of Islamic terrorism. The initiative says Pipes “supports racial profiling and the surveillance of Muslim communities and believes Muslims in the United States seek to infiltrate and overthrow the country.” Another fellow, David Horowitz, runs an organization that SPLC labels an anti-Muslim hate group called the David Horowitz Freedom Center. read the complete article

Where is Joe Biden’s fury about decapitated Palestinian babies?

The point, I have to keep reminding myself, is that all genocides begin with dehumanization, and we all have to do what we can to push back on this. This genocide was built on decades of Palestinians being demonized and dehumanized – and public consent for this assault on Gaza was manufactured with the help of dehumanizing narratives designed to ensure nobody could think of a single Palestinian as an innocent civilian or even a human being. One of the most inflammatory examples was the false rumour that 40 decapitated babies were found in the Kfar Aza kibbutz after the Hamas attack. Hamas, of course, committed atrocities on 7 October, including murdering 38 Israeli children. But the fake news about 40 beheaded babies – which the Israeli government press office has confirmed to Le Monde was not true – was potent and emotive and spread absolutely everywhere, including to and from the White House. Joe Biden repeated these unverified reports, even when his staff urged him not to. He even lied about seeing pictures of these babies. It was Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction all over again. It was the Kuwait incubator hoax all over again. It laid the basis for genocide; for politicians to look at pictures of Palestinian children, decapitated by US-manufactured missiles, and just shrug. We see this same dehumanization come into play when it comes to US campus politics. Pro-Palestinian protesters are painted as hateful and dangerous, while violence by pro-Israel voices is minimized. When a pro-Israel mob attacked pro-Palestinian protesters at UCLA, for example, the police (normally keen to crack down on protesters) allowed the attack to happen. The US press used the passive voice and characterized the violence – which was, by most accounts, extremely one-sided – as “clashes”. read the complete article


EU elections: Where do parties stand on anti-discrimination policies?

Only two of the European Parliaments seven political parties explicitly call for the swift adoption of a stalled directive to combat discrimination ahead of European elections despite NGOs warning of increased racism. Euronews looked at the manifestos of the main political parties vying for some of the 720 seats up for grabs in the European Parliament following the June 6-9 EU-wide election and found that only the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Left clearly promised to press for the adoption of the directive. The European People's Party (EPP), Renew Europe and the Greens/EFA make reference to the need to fight against all forms of discrimination, racism and exclusion but do not mention the legislation. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 May 2024 Edition


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