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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14 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Denmark, the country’s parliament today will debate whether it is or isn’t a criminal offence to burn a copy of the Quran in public or record a similar act with the intent to disseminate it, meanwhile in Canada, the founder of the Canadian Muslim Forum said in a statement that he has “never seen the level of anti-Islamic hate crime and intimidation” as has been reported since October 7th, and in the United Kingdom, the Guardian’s Owen Jones argues that while Suella Braverman may no longer be Home Secretary, her hateful views and rhetoric remain within the Conservative party. Our recommended read of the day is by the LA Times on the rise in hate incidents over the last two decades, noting that “instead of binding together in threatening times, we have become a society that looks for a group to blame, and then spreads ugly lies and insults about them.” This and more below:

United States

Editorial: The rising tide of hate crimes can’t be ignored | Recommended Read

Every day seems to bring a story of yet another violent or ugly incident. A young Palestinian boy brutally stabbed to death in Illinois. An Arab Muslim student at Stanford University injured by a hit-and-run driver — the same university where Jewish students allege that an instructor made them stand in a corner of the classroom while he berated them about Israel. Swastikas popping up at middle and high schools and synagogues. Threats and harassment against American Muslims are increasing as are antisemitic threats and vandalism. In an ironic twist, a woman was accused of purposely driving her car into the building of an antisemitic group because she mistakenly thought it was a school for Jewish children. In some ways, this increase in hate-driven incidents is not an anomaly. The number of hate crimes has been rising steadily before this. Horrific things will always happen. But somewhere along the way, we lost the ability to get through them without erupting into hate-fueled incidents against innocent people. Remember the attacks against Asians during the COVID pandemic? Or the virulence unleashed toward Muslims in the wake of 9/11? The FBI reported that anti-Muslim attacks soared from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001. Of course, hatred of marginalized groups has ignited violence throughout history. But the rise in hate incidents over the last two decades has taken on a discouraging pattern: When something traumatic happens, a signal seems to go off that it’s time to unleash violence or threats against one another. Instead of binding together in threatening times, we have become a society that looks for a group to blame, and then spreads ugly lies and insults about them. There is no cure for this. But it is clear that words matter. read the complete article

‘Huda F Cares?’ is more than its provocative title

For much of her life, Huda Fahmy, a Muslim American born and raised near Detroit, was dogged by questions about her hijab. Later, as an adult living in Houston, she was frequently asked, “Aren’t you hot in that?” The answer became the name of her comic strip, “Yes I’m Hot in This,” which Fahmy began posting on Instagram. It also became the title of her first book, a graphic novel for adults published in 2018. A former middle and high school English teacher, Fahmy turned her focus to younger readers in 2021, with “Huda F Are You?,” a graphic novel starring a teen much like her younger self. Her most recent book, “Huda F Cares?,” has been shortlisted for a National Book Award. The story follows an observant Muslim family on a road trip to Disney World, where siblings squabble, stand up for each other and discover that sisters truly are forever. In an email conversation, Fahmy discussed the book with writer Hena Khan. read the complete article

Biden administration bolsters effort to battle antisemitism and Islamophobia in schools

The Biden administration is rolling out new tools Tuesday to address the continued rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses nationwide following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war last month, according to a White House official. Among the materials are a list of resources from the Education Department for students, parents and staff members aimed at preventing antisemitism and Islamophobia in all school levels, from elementary to college. The two guides, one meant for young students and one for higher education institutions, were put together by the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, a technical assistance center funded by the Education Department, the White House said. President Joe Biden has been under pressure to respond to mounting incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses. On Friday, Columbia University suspended two student groups critical of Israel, accusing them of violating school policy with threatening rhetoric and intimidation. Cornell University canceled classes for a day this month after violent antisemitic threats led to the arrest of a student. Last month, the FBI said it was investigating death threats against a Palestinian staff member of American University in Washington, D.C. read the complete article


Denmark Debates Bill To Ban Koran Burnings

Denmark's parliament on Tuesday will debate a bill to ban Koran burnings, after a string of desecrations of Islam's holy book sparked anger in Muslim countries. The bill aims to make it a criminal offence to "publicly or with the intention of dissemination in a wider circle to treat a text with strong religious significance for a religious community... inappropriately," according to a summary on the parliament's website. Offenders could face up to two years in prison. Between July 21 and October 24 this year, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark, according to national police figures. Initially announced at the end of August, the bill was amended following criticism that its first draft limited freedom of expression and would be difficult to enforce. "The bill has been narrowed to specifically target improper treatment of scriptures of significant religious importance," the justice ministry said in a statement at the end of October. read the complete article


Muslim groups report 'skyrocketing' number of Islamophobic incidents across Canada

In his nearly 30 years as co-founder and then president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, Samer Majzoub said he has never seen the level of anti-Islamic hate crimes and intimidation reported since Oct. 7. “Honestly, it hasn’t just increased, it has skyrocketed,” Majzoub said Monday. “It has even exceeded the level we saw after the 9/11 attacks. And we’re seeing new types of anti-Islamic harassment.” People have called in to report intimidation at their places of work, at schools and at universities. They include drivers spitting at people from car windows and individuals being pushed or verbally abused. People have seen their addresses published on Facebook. Incidents are being reported across Canada, and Montreal police have tallied a growing number of hate-related crimes against both Islamic and Jewish targets in the last month. In late October, a mosque at the Badr Islamic Centre in St-Léonard was spray-painted with a swastika and the message “Kill all Musulman bastard” (sic). Last Friday and Saturday, the Canadian Muslim Forum received reports of Muslim women being verbally attacked near mosques. Montreal police received 98 reports of hate crimes or hateful incidents between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7. Of those, 73 were directed against the Jewish community and 25 against the Muslim-Arab community. The police release updated figures every Wednesday. The true number is much higher because many citizens are hesitant to file reports for fear of intimidation or reprisals, or that their complaints won’t be taken seriously by police, as has been reported in the past. Lately, however, Majzoub said the Montreal police force has been proactive in communicating with members of the Muslim community. read the complete article


Muslim representation is hollow if it doesn’t speak up for Palestine

In the face of Israel’s continued ethnic cleansing of the people of Gaza, and the world’s unwavering sanctioning of it, it’s hardly Muslim celebrities and influencers who deserve our harshest criticisms. That should be reserved for those aiding and abetting genocide. But amongst a sea of horrific, graphic, traumatising content online, it does seem like a glaring truth is becoming ever more visible. What purpose does Muslim representation in the mainstream really serve, especially now? And have we been sold a lie about what representation can do for us as a community? I have to say, I once brought into the idea of Muslim representation meaning something. The politics of representation tells us that it matters if there is a hijabi smashing our baking competitions, an athlete named after Islam’s most beloved prophet winning gold medals for Britain, Muslims presenting the news, featuring on makeup adverts and starring on Big Brother. These things are supposed to make a difference to us because they normalise Muslims as part of British society, exposing the public to perceptions of Muslimness that defy the stereotypes of us as oppressed or violent or foreign. That’s the problem with representation. It is hollow. Pointless. It’s useful, even lucrative, as a personal unique selling point to further own’s career. Indeed, getting to the table and just looking around at the view is meaningless without attempting to ruffle feathers whilst you’re there, disrupting the status quo rather than just of skin colour or religion and demanding your voice is actually heard over the cacophony of monolith. read the complete article


What do we know about forced labour in Xinjiang?

Xinjiang, a region of north-west China that is about three times the size of France, is an area that has become associated around the world with detention camps. The facilities are referred to by Beijing as vocational education and training centres. But critics say they are used to indoctrinate Uyghurs and other minority ethnic groups with the goal of transforming them into devotees of the Chinese Communist party. After unrest in the region and a series of riots and violent attacks by Uyghur separatists between 2014 to 2017, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, launched his Strike Hard Campaign Against Violent Terrorism, leading to the establishment of the camps. The UN has estimated that since then about 1 million people have been detained in these extrajudicial centres. People who have spent time in the camps have reported a litany of abuses, including beatings and sexual violence. According to their testimonies, several of the centres also have forced labour facilities in the form of factories. But forced labour in Xinjiang takes many forms, say experts, and is not just confined to the “re-education centres”. Prisoners are co-opted into labour – a feature of the criminal justice system across China. In 2019, a six-year-old girl in south London found a message that was apparently from a prisoner in Shanghai in a box of Tesco Christmas cards. In Xinjiang, the majority of prison labour happens in the agricultural sector, including cotton planting, harvesting and ginning, according to evidence submitted by Laura Murphy and Nyrola Elimä, researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, to the UN. The risk uncovered by the Guardian and Follow the Money in relation to the Bachu biomass facility concerns a third type of forced labour, which is not as widely understood in the west: state-sponsored labour transfers. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Suella Braverman was the pantomime villain, but don’t expect the story to change now she’s gone

While Braverman’s pantomime villain persona makes her downfall all the more satisfying, it would be a mistake to treat her sacking as a symbol of Sunak’s newfound moderation. That she crudely exploited Britain’s most extreme political sentiments in the name of self-advancement is undeniable. Decrying immigration as an existential threat to European civilisation was to summon a “great replacement” conspiracy theory beloved by the far right. She compared migrants to a hurricane – that is, a natural disaster that inflicts death and destruction. Her claims that most child grooming gangs were “almost all British-Pakistani” – disproven by Home Office research, which found most were actually white – were designed to foment racist division and hate. Her demonisation of Britons who object to the government’s support for Israel’s mass slaughter in Gaza – not least defaming them as “hate marchers” – played a pivotal role in whipping up the far-right mob that stormed the cenotaph on Armistice Day, members of which then racially abused peace protesters. Her demagoguery was always contrived, like she was rattling through a checklist of cliches for any hard-right chancer who aspires to be prime minister. But this made it no less offensive or her words any less harmful. Braverman, though, is but a crude distillation of the poison that courses through the Tory party’s veins. Braverman has now exited the stage – but Bravermanism is now the core of modern Toryism. Her role, though, is merely to replace the dog whistle with the loudhailer. Her colleagues may seek more subtlety, but the content remains the same. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Nov 2023 Edition


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