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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10 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, Muslim students at the University of Connecticut have received violent threats including voicemails with racial slurs and emails mocking dead Palestinians, meanwhile, the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that it received an ‘unprecedented’ 1,283 reports of anti-Arab and Islamophobic bias in the last month alone, and The Intercept reports that Europeans of Palestinian origin or dual citizenship across the continent are being silenced or intimidated against speaking out both in person and online about the war in Gaza. Our recommended read of the day is by Ismail Patel for Middle East Eye on how UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s rhetoric equating calls for justice for Palestine with antisemitism is exacerbating the crisis of anti-Muslim bigotry across Britain. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Israel-Palestine war: How Braverman is fuelling UK Islamophobia | Recommended Read

As Israel intensifies its massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, an institutionally Islamophobic narrative is being promoted in the UK. Almost immediately after the conflict erupted, Home Secretary Suella Braverman stigmatised those seeking justice and peace, advising British police to consider whether flying the Palestinian flag or chanting slogans could be criminalised. The threat was veiled behind the cloak of legitimate concerns over increasing antisemitism. She was also ready to ban the protest scheduled on Armistice Day calling for a ceasefire. While November is Islamophobia Awareness Month, it goes without saying that the government needs to police all types of racism. Yet, Braverman is equating antisemitism with those seeking justice for Palestinians. This framing reduces community relations in the UK to a zero-sum game; one's gains is another's loss. Such polarisation is grossly negligent when it comes to community cohesion and feeds into cultural wars between British Jews who support Israel and British Muslims who support Palestine. The Muslim Council of Britain has said that Braverman’s “escalating extremist language” is fuelling Islamophobia. But the home secretary is not new to this type of controversy. Braverman’s right-wing politics have also seen her flirting with “Great Replacement” tropes, a belief system that revolves around fears that migrants (read: Muslims) flocking towards Europe will result in the eradication of white people. One of the disciples of the Great Replacement theory in 2019 carried out a massacre of 51 innocent Muslims at a New Zealand mosque. In addition, Braverman has championed political commentator Douglas Murray, whose record of Islamophobic statements includes a recommendation that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”, a reference to Islam as an “opportunist infection”, and a description of Muslims as a “demographic time bomb”. read the complete article

Charities report rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools in England

Schools across England are struggling with the emotional turmoil set off by the terrorist attacks on Israel last month and the impact on students, parents and teachers. Specialist organisations such as the Community Security Trust and Tell Mama say they are seeing a big increase in reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia involving schools and pupils since the 7 October attacks and Israel’s invasion of Gaza. In one case, police were called to Woodford County high school for girls, a grammar school in the London borough of Redbridge, after Islamophobic graffiti was found in a toilet on Friday. According to images posted on social media, the graffiti said: “Death to Gaza, death to Arabs, death to Muslims.” Zara Mohammed, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The ongoing war on Gaza, Palestine, is gravely impacting communities here in Britain. Divisive political rhetoric is fuelling Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism and resulting in the targeting of British Muslims and the undermining of the Palestinian cause. “It’s worrying to think a young person is filled with such hate. Schools and colleges should be inclusive, safe places for all our young people.” read the complete article

United States

CAIR received an ‘unprecedented’ 1,283 reports of anti-Arab and Islamophobic bias in the last month, new data shows

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has documented an “appalling” rise in reported anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias incidents in the month since violence escalated between Israel and Hamas, the organization announced Thursday. The nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group said it has received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias in the month since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The organization said in 2022 it received an average of 406 complaints in a 29-day period. The new data, CAIR said, reflects a 216% increase in requests for help and reported bias incidents compared to the previous year. Corey Saylor, director of research and advocacy at CAIR, said in a statement shared with CNN that the data represents the largest wave of Islamophobic and anti-Arab bias the organization has recorded since then-candidate Donald Trump called for a Muslim Ban in 2015. Saylor said, the violence in Israel and Gaza is contributing to an “unprecedented surge in bigotry” in the US. The organization again called on President Joe Biden to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Saylor also urged Biden to do more to address anti-Muslim hate, noting that President George W. Bush visited a mosque in the days after 9/11 to address the rise in Islamophobia. read the complete article

Michigan Muslim leaders pledge to ‘abandon Biden,’ regardless of the consequences

Local Muslim leaders and Palestinian Christians gathered in downtown Detroit on Thursday afternoon, vowing to drive President Joe Biden out of office for failing to support a ceasefire in Gaza that could save thousands of lives. About 30 people, many holding signs that read, “Abandon Biden,” stood outside the federal courthouse to pledge to make Biden a one-term president. Mona Mawari, a Dearborn-based activist and community organizer who supported Biden in 2020, said she can no longer re-elect a president who did nothing to stop the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians. “Biden has caused irreparable harm, and its become clear that a vote for Biden is a vote for genocide.” Losing Muslim and Arab votes could harm Biden’s chances of winning in Michigan, a swing state that Donald Trump won in 2016. Biden won in Michigan by fewer than 150,000 votes, and some polls show Trump is ahead in the state. Metro Detroit has the largest Muslim population per capita in the U.S. read the complete article

'We won't forget': Has Biden's support for Israel lost him the Arab American vote?

In the pivotal United States election of 2020, Arabs and Muslims were instrumental in getting out the vote for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. Now, in November 2023, a month into Israel’s deadly war on Gaza, this small but growing bloc of American voters might not be as reliable for the Democratic Party as they were three years ago, with a recent poll showing Arab American support of Biden has dropped to 17 percent. It was this widespread condemnation of Israel's bombardment of Gaza pushed James Zogby, a veteran pollster and founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI) to conduct a poll to assess the sense of the community's frustration in numbers. Though he expected to see some drop in support, what he didn't expect was how much it had fallen. Just 17 percent of Arab Americans polled said they would vote for Biden in 2024, down from 59 percent in 2020, a 42 percent drop. Emgage, a Muslim voting advocacy group, found an even starker drop in support, with just over 5 percent of Muslims voters saying they would vote for Biden, down from 80 percent in the previous election. "We needed to put numbers to those sentiments. The data captured that feeling of betrayal," Mohamed Gula, national organising director for Emgage, told TNA. He explained that this sense of betrayal comes after Muslims organised to get out the vote for Biden, making them feel like they were part of the political process. Unlike former President Donald Trump, who had enacted what was known as the Muslim ban, Biden gave the impression that he would address their concerns. "It was like a friend or family member had betrayed you." read the complete article

Muslim students at University of Connecticut received threats over Israel-Gaza war

Muslim students at the University of Connecticut have received violent threats over the Israel-Gaza war and are pushing for protection. At a news conference on Thursday, a former leader of a pro-Palestine campus group played a voicemail she received which included a racial slur. The university's Muslim Student Association said it received an email mocking dead Palestinians, as well. The messages were reported to campus and state police and the FBI. The University of Connecticut, also known as UConn, "unequivocally condemns Islamophobia, just as it condemns antisemitism and all forms of hatred", a school spokesperson said. Lena Maarouf said she graduated from UConn in 2022 but her phone number was still listed on the website for a group that she formerly led, Students for Justice in Palestine. The man who left the voicemail message called her a "terrorist", used a racial slur and said: "I can't wait to see you dead." The call came from an Oklahoma area code, and the threatening email came from a Yahoo email domain, the students said. "The Muslim community does not feel supported, the Palestinian community does not feel supported," Ms Maarouf said during the news conference on the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut. "UConn needs to step up." read the complete article

Fla. Man Allegedly Tore off Postal Worker's Hijab and Punched Her — He Is Now Charged with a Hate Crime

A Florida man is facing hate crime charges for allegedly ripping off a postal worker’s hijab, physically assaulting her and making a hand motion to indicate shooting at her, according to multiple reports. Jail records show Kenneth Jerome Pinkney was arrested on Oct. 24, the day of the alleged incident. Pinkney, 47, was on his bike as he passed by the United States Postal Service employee and “made his hand into the shape of a firearm, and made a shooting gesture,” then called her insulting names and told her to "go back to her country," according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Local 10 and CNN. He is facing one count of battery and two counts of “felony evidence prejudice,” court records show. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, initially tried to laugh it off when Pinkney made the shooting motion, according to Local 10, CNN and NBC Miami. He then got close to her and punched and slapped her in the face, which caused her to bleed from her mouth. read the complete article

White House knocks Ron DeSantis over “so-called Islamophobia” remark at GOP debate

As President Joe Biden seeks to reassure Muslim American voters amid the Israel-Hamas war, the White House knocked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for downplaying what he called "so-called Islamophobia" at the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night. “In what is a heartbreaking crisis, violence and hateful rhetoric against Muslims and Arab Americans and Sikhs is spiking across our country," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said Thursday in a statement to NBC News. "President Biden believes we have an urgent duty to come together as Americans and stand against every form of hate. It is not leadership to denigrate the very real pain that Islamophobia is causing; it is cynical and cruel. Nor is it leadership to spread the dangerous pretense that fighting against one kind of hate somehow subtracts from fighting another; that is only a sign of a desperate need for self-reflection." In the debate, DeSantis and some of the other Republican candidates said the government should focus on combatting anti-semitism, not Islamophobia. read the complete article


How Modi's BJP seeks Muslim vote in India's 2024 election

Nafis Ansari, a school principal who is Muslim, was enlisted this year by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a "Modi Mitr", or friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The resident of the central state of Madhya Pradesh promotes the party to neighbours and relatives at events such as weddings and tea sessions at friends' homes. He speaks about how the BJP's welfare policies benefit all communities, and talks up India's status as a rising global power under Modi. Ansari is one of more than 25,000 Muslims who is volunteering to help Modi win a third term in elections due by May, BJP officials told Reuters. The party looks for community leaders like educators, entrepreneurs, clerics and retired government employees willing to "objectively" assess Modi, said Jamal Siddiqui, head of the BJP's minorities unit. Specifics of the BJP's Muslim outreach strategy, such as the messaging it is using to target voters in these seats, have not been previously reported. The campaign is part of a larger push to woo India's 200 million Muslims, with whom the BJP and Modi have a long and fraught history. Muslims and rights groups allege some BJP members and affiliates have promoted anti-Islamic hate speech and violent vigilantism, targeted non-profits run by other religions with regulatory action, and demolished Muslim-owned properties. read the complete article

How India tamed Twitter and set a global standard for online censorship

For years, a committee of executives from U.S. technology companies and Indian officials convened every two weeks in a government office to negotiate what could — and could not — be said on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. At the “69A meetings,” as the secretive gatherings were informally called, officials from India’s information, technology, security and intelligence agencies presented social media posts they wanted removed, citing threats to India’s sovereignty and national security, executives and officials who were present recalled. The tech representatives sometimes pushed back in the name of free speech. One company resisted the most: Twitter. But two years ago, these interactions took a fateful turn. Where officials had once asked for a handful of tweets to be removed at each meeting, they now insisted that entire accounts be taken down, and numbers were running in the hundreds. Executives who refused the government’s demands could now be jailed, their companies expelled from the Indian market. New regulations had been adopted that year to hold tech employees in India criminally liable for failing to comply with takedown requests, a provision that executives referred to as a “hostage provision.” After authorities dispatched anti-terrorism police to Twitter’s New Delhi office, Twitter whisked its top India executive out of the country, fearing his arrest, former company employees recounted. This escalating censorship in the world’s largest democracy is part of a wider campaign by Modi and his Hindu nationalist allies to monopolize public discourse: tightening their grip on power, advancing their Hindu-first ideology and squeezing out critical and dissenting voices. American technology companies have increasingly fallen in line, fearing for their employees’ security and their profits. read the complete article


Temitope Oriola: Rising Islamophobia requires urgent action

The Standing Committee on Human Rights, Senate of Canada released its report “Combatting hate: Islamophobia and its impact on Muslims in Canada” on Nov. 2. The report is the outcome of a robust multi-stakeholder engagement process in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec with 138 witnesses and 21 public sessions. The themes interrogated in the report include “gendered Islamophobia,” how Islamophobia plays off of markers of identity such as race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, response to hate-motivated crimes, and misinformation and stereotypes, among others. The report notes how “visible symbols of faith” like the hijab make Muslim women vulnerable to hate crimes. Incidents of unprovoked attacks against hijab-wearing women have led to “substantial mental-health issues.” Such attacks create fear over mundane activities like leaving home for work, school or leisure. Witnesses also shared the difficulty they experienced when making reports of harassment to the police. The hijab, the report notes, appears to have contributed to high levels of unemployment among Muslim women. A statement on page 16 of the report puts the situation succinctly: “The profound effects of gendered Islamophobia are such that it compels certain women to consider removing their hijabs to enhance their employment opportunities.” read the complete article



Since October 7, Samira has been in a state of constant angst. Watching the news of the Gaza Strip reduced to rubble has left her sad, paralyzed, and fearful for the fate of the 2.2 million Palestinians living in the besieged coastal enclave. And, although the Palestinian-French mother of two living in Paris expected the Gaza war to reverberate across the globe, as previous wars have, she did not anticipate that it would affect her personally. “I’m scared for my children, so I always take them to school and bring them back, even though they are teenagers,” said Samira, who requested that The Intercept not use her real name out of fear of retribution. “I worry that things could go from bad to worse.” Samira said her son was beaten and accused of being a “terrorism apologist” at school for speaking about the Palestinian death toll and the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Dual nationals like Samira, who holds both French citizenship and Palestinian Authority travel papers, are frustrated with what they see as global hypocrisy of claiming to stand for a liberal world order while silencing Palestinians who would voice frustration over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege since 2007. People of Palestinian origin around the world who spoke to The Intercept said they feel as if they are being silenced both online and offline, rendering them frightened to speak about the plight of their Palestinians compatriots in Gaza, to display Palestinian national symbols like flags, or even to demonstrate peacefully. Meanwhile, the Gaza war specifically and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in general is once again testing what Western countries have long said is a basic tenet of their societies: the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Nov 2023 Edition


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