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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13 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, the Biden campaign responded to revelations of Trump’s proposed immigration agenda should he win a second term, warning that there would be “mass detention camps, attempts to deny children citizenship,” and “mass deportations,” meanwhile, according to an Amnesty International report, surveillance cameras made by the Chinese company Hikvision, which is also implicated in the repression against Uyghur Muslims, are present in the occupied West Bank, and in the United Kingdom, the far-right teenager who plotted to attack a mosque while disguised as an armed police officer has been sentenced for 10 years in prison. Our recommended read of the day is by Nesrine Malik for The Guardian on how despite former UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman being sacked, her anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic views are still part of the political and media establishment. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Suella Braverman has gone, but she proved that hateful xenophobia is never far from the surface in Britain | Recommended Read

Suella Braverman is gone, but her message was heard loud and clear. “Hate marchers” who are not interested in Gaza, but in asserting “the primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists”. This is how Suella Braverman described pro-Palestine protesters in a piece for the Times last week. Far-right protesters, including Tommy Robinson, turned up in London on Saturday, the day of the pro-Palestine march, to assert their own primacy, and clashed with police. This was not inevitable, but always highly possible. A swirl of Islamophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric have been part of our politics for so long that all it took was one motivated actor to convert them into something explosive. Her departure won’t change that. I thought Islamophobia, though durable in both mainstream politics and the press, seemed a bit of a retro thing, peaking some time in the early 2010s, then replaced by a more generic, Brexit-triggered hysteria about “sovereignty”. It seemed that the time had come, in our carousel of public enemies, for another to replace Muslims. Brexit obliged, giving us civil servants, judges, lawyers, and treacherous remainers. But it appears that all it takes is one event and one high-profile politician to summon what is now clear has always been lurking. An episode in which Muslims – spoken of often as “immigrant” outsiders, whether British or not – can be cast as the mischievous protagonists, their motivations suspect, their organisation sinister. It has been easy to forget just how pervasive anti-Muslim messaging was, because we have in recent years also become engulfed in all manner of culture wars about identity, history and gender. But for the decade and a half after 9/11, it was open season on Muslims, first as terror suspects, and then as just dodgy wrong ’uns. One may not recall the detail of all the allegations, yet the essence has lingered and settled in our collective psyche. Away from the media, Islamophobia became incorporated into the bodies of the state. You would be entirely forgiven for not seeing how anti-terror legislation normalised suspicion, surveillance and discrimination, because those who suffered didn’t have a voice – and those who did, thought the collateral damage was justified. From 2001 to 2009, there were more than half a million stops and searches in the streets using section 44 of the Terrorism Act. A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Durham University found that none of them led to any convictions in relation to terrorism. There are Muslims in Britain who have never known anything different, who grew up in this heavily securitised environment and under the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, which mobilises untrained teachers and youth workers to monitor and report their behaviour. read the complete article

Braverman ‘fanning flames of hate’ towards Muslims over march row, cross-party MPs warn

Suella Braverman has been accused of “fanning the flames of hate” towards Muslims after her attacks on pro-Palestine rallies prompted a furious outcry over concerns she is fuelling “hatred and division”. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, a cross-party committee of MPs, hit out at the home secretary’s rhetoric, which has seen her describe the demonstrations as “hate marches”, warning she is “inspiring far-right” to engage in Islamophobia. Ms Braverman’s job is on the line after Downing Street made clear that it had not approved an extraordinary article in which she accused officers of playing favourites by tolerating the Armistice Day march while using stronger tactics against right-wing protests, with senior Tories urging Mr Sunak to sack her. In a statement condemning Ms Braverman’s remarks, the APPG warned that her comments risked the safety of British Muslims. read the complete article

British Muslims ‘feel betrayed’ as Sunak and Starmer both refuse calls for Gaza ceasefire

British Muslim communities have said they feel “betrayed” by the government and the Labour Party over the UK’s response to the war in Gaza. Despite widespread pleas to demand a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reportedly exceeds 10,000, Rishi Sunak has not only refused to do so but sacked a Tory MP calling for one. Home secretary Suella Braverman has been accused of stirring up division as she persistently brands pro-Palestine protests “hate marches” and “mobs”. Sir Keir Starmer has also attracted criticism for refusing to call for a ceasefire, and this week one of his frontbenchers quit over the Labour leader’s stance. Imran Hussain MP, who has been on Labour’s frontbench for almost eight years, said he felt “deeply troubled” by the Labour leader’s much-criticised interview on LBC. A recent survey by Muslim Census of 29,000 responses suggests 66 per cent of Muslim voters would no longer back Labour in the next general election. Dr Haitham Al-Haddad, chair of the Fatwa Committee for The Islamic Council of Europe, told The Independent Muslim communities feel “disappointed and disheartened” by the government’s attitudes towards the invasion in Gaza. “It is not just because we are talking about Palestinians or Muslims,” he said. “But we are talking about human beings and children who have been killed in front of the entire world.” read the complete article

Joe Metcalfe jailed for plotting mosque terror attack dressed as PC

A far-right teenager who plotted to attack a mosque while disguised as an armed police officer has been jailed. Joe Metcalfe was aged 15 when he planned a murderous assault on the mosque in Keighley, West Yorkshire. He was sentenced to 10 years for terror offences and rape at Leeds Crown Court. Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb KC told Metcalfe he was at "high risk of posing serious harm to others through sexual behaviour and future acts of terror". The court heard that Metcalfe, who lived with his parents in Haworth, Bradford, was referred to the North East Counter Terrorism Prevent team in 2021 after his school raised concerns about his behaviour. He had sessions with a anti-terrorism support worker but the court was told that Metcalfe, who is now 17, lied to the worker and continued to share videos relating to acts of terrorism and wrote a "manifesto". He also "idolised" Brenton Tarrant, who filmed himself as he shot 51 people in two mosques in New Zealand in 2019, and was convicted of murder and terrorism. The court heard Metcalfe conducted a scouting trip on a mosque in Keighley after stealing his father's Lexus car on 5 June 2022, as part of a "written plan" for a terror attack. He then crashed the car into a fence, which led to his arrest on 21 June 2022. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said he had contacted a gun seller outside the UK with the aim of having a weapon illicitly shipped to him. read the complete article

United States

‘I will not be silenced’: Rashida Tlaib won’t stop fighting for Palestinian rights

As Israeli ground troops battled in Gaza City amid a spiralling civilian death toll on Tuesday, the congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian American member of the US Congress, rose to answer a censure motion rebuking her for comments she made about the war. Gripping a photograph of her sity, her grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank, she defended her stance and declared that she “will not be silenced” and “will not let you distort my words”. “I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable,” Tlaib said, her voice breaking. The congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota reached to comfort Tlaib, a show of solidarity between the only Muslim women in the chamber. Tlaib continued: “The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me.” Late that night, 22 Democrats joined nearly all Republicans in censuring Tlaib, a punishment one step below expulsion. As the gavel came down, her closest allies in the Democratic party’s progressive wing, all people of colour, encircled Tlaib as if to form a protective shield. The extraordinary scene crystallised the fierce devotion and respect that Tlaib – one of 14 children of Palestinian immigrants to the US – commands among her political allies, friends, staff members and, according to supporters, many of her constituents in her Michigan congressional district. read the complete article

The Biden Campaign Warns of “Extreme, Racist, Cruel” Immigration Plans Under Trump

President Joe Biden’s campaign responded Saturday to a bombshell New York Times report detailing former president and current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposed radical plans for immigration policy should he be re-elected in 2024. The campaign criticized Trump’s policy ambitions—which the Times reported would amount to an “assault on immigration on a scale unseen in modern American history”—as “cruel and extreme.” “Mass detention camps, attempts to deny children born here citizenship, uprooting families with mass deportations — this is the horrifying reality that awaits the American people if Donald Trump is allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again,” said Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa in a statement. “These extreme, racist, cruel policies dreamed up by him and his henchman Stephen Miller are meant to stoke fear and divide us, betting a scared and divided nation is how he wins this election.” The NYT report, which drew on conversations with several close Trump advisors—including Stephen Miller, the architect of draconian immigration policies during Trump’s first term and an expected senior official in a future administration—revealed the ambitions of the nation’s 45th president to crack down spectacularly on immigration have only grown since leaving office. “Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown,” Miller vowed. read the complete article

Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim harassment complaints spike in Philly region

The first month of the Israel-Hamas war has led to a significant uptick in reported acts targeting Jewish, Muslim, and Arab residents in the Philadelphia area, according to advocacy groups that track such complaints. Advocates said the spike is alarming but perhaps not surprising, given the social upheaval brought by the latest chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reports of harassment and violence against both Jews and Muslims have spiked nationwide since the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 and the ensuing military siege in the Gaza Strip. The Council for American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, tracked 1,283 acts of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias nationwide over the last month, describing the spike as an “unprecedented” increase at more than triple the average volume for the same period last year. About 50 of those new claims came from the Philadelphia region, said Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, executive director of CAIR-Philadelphia. “For us, it definitely feels like post-9/11 with the range of cases and the different situations,” he said. Harassment and vandalism, ethnic slurs and assaults, intimidation and bullying — the alleged acts ranged in severity and touched virtually every corner of life in the region, from schools to office buildings to public spaces. 4) US Foreign Policy Establishment Is Instrumentalizing Islamophobia, Report Shows (United States) An incisive new report released by researchers affiliated with Rutgers University lays out in detail the many ways in which the U.S. political establishment has instrumentalized anti-Muslim bigotry and disingenuously redefined the idea of “antisemitism” in order to defuse criticisms of the Israeli government and justify dehumanizing policies toward Palestinians. Titled “Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in the Palestine-Israel Discourse,” the 68-page report offers a thorough examination of how the domestic foreign policy establishment and the associated Israel lobby employ Islamophobia as a tool of ideological legitimation. Though the report’s origins predate the immediate crisis, its critique is a valuable intervention in the current political moment. While civilian deaths accrue in the course of Israel’s indiscriminate, genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip — more than 10,000 have been killed as of this writing — lopsided Western media prerogatives continuously deny the populace a clear view on the crisis. In the background, the anti-Muslim bigotry that is rampant in U.S. culture helps ensure that Palestinians of all faiths, Arab people in general and Muslims across the world do not earn the public’s sympathies. The genesis of the report, said Plitnick, dates to two years ago, when the authors sought to confront “a long history of U.S. policy that really diminishes Palestinian rights.” As Plitnick explained it, other analyses often interrogate the question of “why we elevate Israel.” But in this report, he said, “We’re asking the other side: Why do we find it so easy to diminish the rights of Palestinians?” read the complete article

Palestine is the single most urgent free speech crisis in the U.S. today

The repression of Palestinian rights claims is the single most urgent crisis of free speech in the United States today. How we narrate this crisis, and the frameworks we use to analyze organized efforts to silence pro-Palestine speech, shape the strategies through which we resist them. As Gaza burns, the hegemony of anti-Palestine, pro-apartheid zealots seems suffocating – and that’s the point. The history of McCarthyism, as Alex Kane recently noted in Jewish Currents, offers one useful lens: doxxing trucks, rescinded job offers, law-firm blacklists, and the ignominious House censure of Rashida Tlaib all carry the eerie chill of the 1950s Cold War era. As a historian of censorship, I believe a complementary framework for analyzing the intensifying repression of pro-Palestinian voices can be found in recent censorship campaigns that have resulted in banning LGBTQ books and works of so-called “Critical Race Theory.” It’s firmly established that efforts to ban these texts are motivated by anti-gay sentiment and racism. But rarely is the suppression of Palestinian voices linked to such efforts – yet Islamophobia animates the pro-Israel crusade in strikingly parallel ways; these are deeply interrelated campaigns of political targeting. The only serious difference is that the recent censorship campaigns are aligned with the U.S. political right, whereas anti-Palestinian censorship is a joint project of the Republican and Democratic parties. A thorough new report released by the Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race and Rights maps out the role Islamophobia plays in structuring the national discussion of Palestinian rights. In Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in the Palestine-Israel Discourse, authors Mitchell Plitnick and Sahar Aziz identify how Palestinian rights claims are laundered by the Israel Lobby and others, through Islamophobic lenses. Self-styled experts imbue such claims – calls for Palestinian human rights, for the consistent application of international law, and the like – with the presumption they are antisemitic to preemptively nullify them. It’s essentially the same “folk devil” basis for moral panic that drives the book bans, with such organizations as AIPAC playing the parallel role to explicitly far-right groups like Moms for Liberty. read the complete article

Islamophobia and antisemitism on rise in US amid Israel-Hamas war

Islamophobia and antisemitism are seeing sharp increases across the US after war between Israel and Hamas erupted last month. According to a new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), the Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization received a total of 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias between 7 October and 4 November. Cair, which has called the spike “unprecedented”, revealed that the recent increase in Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment across the US mark a 216% increase over the previous year. In an average 29-day period in 2022, Cair received only 406 complaints.The top reported type of case was first-amendment – or free speech – issues, marking 23.39% of the anti-Arab and Islamophobia reports received by Cair. The organization also said 20.56% of the reports involved targeting employment, and 15.32% consisted of hate crimes. Cair said 9.2% of the anti-Arab and Islamophobia reports revolved around education and bullying. “The Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric that has been used to both justify violence against Palestinians in Gaza and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights here in America has contributed to this unprecedented surge in bigotry,” said Cair’s research and advocacy director, Corey Saylor. He added that “American Muslims are facing the largest wave of Islamophobic bias that we have documented” since Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate, called for a Muslim travel ban in December 2015. “Political leaders, corporations, media outlets, civic organizations and others all have a role to play in ending this surge in bigotry,” Saylor added. read the complete article

Local Muslims, pro-Palestinians face spike in doxxing intimidation

Muslims in Massachusetts, along with people voicing support for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, are facing a rise in anti-Muslim bias — including online attacks known as doxxing, according to the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Since the Hamas attack on Israel and the escalating war in Gaza, CAIR has fielded dozens of complaints about anti-Muslim acts and online shaming directed at Muslims, said Barbara Dougan, legal director for the Massachusetts Islamic relations organization — and more complaints of hate crimes than in all of 2022. CAIR’s headquarters announced that nearly 1,300 complaints have been reported nationally in the last month. “What we’re seeing in the employment context is [an] incredible amount of doxxing. And by that I mean pressure put on employers, oftentimes from total strangers — organized campaigns targeting various people to try and get them to lose their jobs or somehow get in trouble for the opinions they have expressed,” Dougan told GBH News. read the complete article

Woman Threw Coffee at a Dad and Toddler and Allegedly Called Them Terrorists, Triggering Hate Crime Investigation

The NYPD are asking for the public's help identifying a woman, who allegedly accosted a Brooklyn dad and his 18-month-old son at a playground on Nov. 7, throwing her cellphone and a cup of hot coffee at them and allegedly asking if they were "terrorists." The NYPD confirmed to PEOPLE the investigation was ongoing. The 40-year-old victim, who has been revealed to be Ashish Prashar, was wearing a black and white Palestinian scarf known as a keffiyeh at the time. He filmed the incident, later posting it to social media. It is still unknown if anything prompted the incident, but Prashar can be heard saying "I'm wearing a scarf and apparently I'm getting attacked because I'm a terrorist." An unseen witness can be overheard saying, "I'm sorry that happened to you." read the complete article

Bloody, beheaded doll left outside Ohio home flying Palestinian flag, group says

A beheaded doll was discovered outside an Ohio home flying a Palestinian flag in a possible hate crime, according to a non-profit. The headless doll — which appears to be covered in fake blood — was found staked in the yard of a home in Sylvania, a Toledo suburb, on Nov. 7, according to a news release from the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It was placed directly beneath a Palestinian flag flying from a tree, a photo shows. The residents of the home reported the incident to the Sylvania Police Department, which “advised the family to be careful,” according to CAIR. “We call on state, local and federal law enforcement authorities to monitor and investigate crimes related to the rising Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism,” Faten Odeh, the executive director of CAIR-Cleveland, said in the release. “We hope the Sylvania Police Department will do its due diligence in collecting all the information they need to identify the perpetrator and to consider bringing a hate crime charge,” Odeh said. “We should all feel safe in our neighborhoods and be able to display our heritage without fear of hate-filled retaliation from our neighbors.” read the complete article


'There's a lot of fear about people's safety,' says Canada's anti-Islamophobia rep

Amira Elghawaby, Canada's special representative on combatting Islamophobia, says she's concerned about a rise in Islamophobia in Canada, along with increased antisemitism, amid the Israel-Hamas war. She tells Power & Politics that leaders across the country need to step up to make Canadians feel protected. 8) Bloody, beheaded doll left outside Ohio home flying Palestinian flag, group says. read the complete article

Imams, rabbis and other religious leaders in London unite against Islamophobia and anti-semitism

Religious leaders in London, Ont., have come together to encourage Londoners to stand against rising hate crimes targeting both Jewish and Muslim communities, in the midst of ongoing violence in the Middle East. More than 60 interfaith leaders in the city signed a letter calling for compassion, peace and an end to hatred, asking people to instead acknowledge the pain and loss that many communities are feeling. "We each have our sense of pain and suffering that we're experiencing and we want to come together to provide a message that we do not accept the violence that is taking place where innocent lives are being taken," said Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal of London Council of Imams. The statement of solidarity comes as acts of antisemitism and Islamophobia have significantly increased across Canada since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7. Last month, graffiti was found in the stairwell of a south London apartment building calling for genocide against all Muslims. On Thursday, shots were fired at two Jewish schools in Montreal, with reports of synagogues and Jewish Community Centres also being targeted. read the complete article


How Chinese firm linked to repression of Uyghurs aids Israeli surveillance in West Bank

In the occupied Palestinian territories, there are cameras everywhere. In Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, residents say cameras were installed by Israeli police up and down their streets, peering into their homes. One resident named Sara said she and her family “could be detected as if the cameras were just in our house … we couldn’t feel at home in our own house and had to be fully dressed all the time.” Surveillance cameras now cover the Damascus Gate, the main entrance into the old city of Jerusalem and one of the only public areas for Palestinians to gather socially and hold demonstrations. It’s at that gate that “Palestinians are being watched and assessed at all times”, according to an Amnesty International report, Automated Apartheid. These cameras have created a chilling effect on not just the ability to protest but also on the daily lives of Palestinians who live under occupation, according to Amnesty investigators. The organization had previously concluded that Israel has established a system of apartheid against Palestinians. Among the vendors behind these surveillance cameras is a company that has been accused of aiding what the US has categorized as a genocide: Hikvision. Based in Hangzhou, China, the company is one of the world’s largest makers of video surveillance equipment. Already infamous among international human rights groups, it has been blacklisted by the US and identified by the UK as a security threat for being complicit in China’s repression of the Uyghur ethnic minority. The presence of Hikvision cameras in the West Bank was first revealed in the May report by Amnesty, which documented facial-recognition and surveillance-camera technology that the human rights organization concluded is being used to reinforce Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in an act of “digital repression”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Nov 2023 Edition


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