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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15 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, the Muslim advocacy group CAIR has filed a formal complaint against a Maryland physician for social media posts, which include comparing Palestinians to “depraved animals,” and have called for his medical license to be revoked, meanwhile, in a letter to more than 100 of America’s top law firms, 13 national and regional Muslim bar associations have called for the law firms to address Islamophobia and anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian hate, and in Canada, the trial of accused murderer Nathaniel Veltman is approaching final arguments with prosecutors saying that Veltman was “hunting for Muslims to kill”. Our recommended read of the day is by Moustafa Bayoumi for The Guardian on the stigma surrounding the support of Palestinian rights in the West despite increased calls for policies and practices that bolster diversity and inclusion. This and more below:

United States

Everyone loves diversity and inclusion – until you stick up for Palestinians | Recommended Read

The Downingtown area school district, the sixth-largest school district in Pennsylvania, claims to be “a twenty-first century district with the idealistic warmth and charm of a small town”. The district’s diversity, equity and inclusion program says it “works to create a culture where every individual can feel included and thrive”. And this charming and inclusive school district has also just trammeled on my free speech rights. I’ve been cancelled. Last March, the district approached me about offering a virtual event supporting their diversity, equity and inclusion program. Initially, I was asked to present a program on Arab Americans, but in May, the district proposed changing the focus to supporting refugee students and their families. The reason I was given for the cancellation was the “conflict in the Middle East”, even though the school district acknowledged that I had been contracted to speak about a different topic. “While the district is aware that the program is not about the conflict in the Middle East,” their email to me read, “the decision [to cancel the event] is primarily influenced by the ongoing conflicts overseas and the overwhelming number of emails we have received expressing concerns about the timing.” Well, I saw some of those emails, and they are in fact outrageous and fallacious assaults on my character, all because of my support for Palestinians in the face of Israel’s extremely brutal assault on Gaza, which according to Palestinian estimates has now killed over 11,000 people. One parent claimed to have found “several extreme antisemitic posts, videos and full out hate speech that he has very recently stated publicly”. Excuse me, what? The writer of that letter provided no evidence for these scurrilous allegations because there is none. If you are Palestinian, Arab or Muslim in the US today, or someone who is an ally of those groups, your speech is uniquely patrolled and your very right to speak is unfairly limited, if not banned outright. read the complete article

Tennessee county sued over forcing woman to remove hijab for jail booking photo

A Wilson County woman is suing Rutherford County and members of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office after she was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photo at the Rutherford County Detention Center in late August, a move she says violates her First Amendment right to practice her religion without interference. Sophia Johnston, a devout Muslim who had not removed her hijab in front of men outside her family since she was a child, was forced to remove her covering after she was booked into jail and told that she would “remain in jail (until she removed it),” according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Nashville. Johnston was originally pulled over for a broken taillight in Mt. Juliet on Aug. 23, but was then detained for a six year-old misdemeanor charge from Rutherford County for driving on a suspended license. When Mt. Juliet police took Johnston into custody, Johnston was instructed by a female officer to remove her hijab for the photo. She then “pleaded” with the officer to allow her to retake the photo while wearing her hijab, out of fear that the image would be disseminated to the public and be seen by men outside her family, in contradiction of her faith, according to the lawsuit. read the complete article

FBI seeks to combat hate crimes with anti-Islamic, anti-Jewish incidents on the rise in Chicago

There is a sweeping jump in the number of hate crimes reported to Chicago police, according to police figures just released and analyzed by the I-Team. The number of reported hate-crime incidents this year through the end of October has already surpassed the total number of reports in 2022, according to data from the Chicago Police Department. About two dozen of the incidents reported locally occurred in the days following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas. But, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly told the I-Team it's not just the Israel-Hamas War that has triggered a spike in local hate crimes. "There have been a variety of threats over the past couple of years, not just after October 7, but even before October 7," Kelly said. In 2023, there have been at least 256 reported hate crimes as of Oct. 31, compared to 206 for the full year of 2022. According to the newly-obtained Chicago police data, since Oct. 7, there have been 18 reported anti-Jewish hate crimes in Chicago, and seven anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to police. Alleged anti-Jewish crimes are headed toward last year's total number of crimes, while anti-Muslim hate crimes are already more than three times the number reported in all of 2022, the ABC7 I-Team found. read the complete article

Trump’s plan for giant detention camps points to a brutal 2024 reality

Donald Trump’s advisers have declared that if he regains the presidency, he will launch an extraordinarily cruel crackdown on immigration. Given that Trump lost reelection in 2020 after attempting a far tamer agenda, advertising such plans might seem like foolish political malpractice. That second-term agenda would revolve around what the New York Times calls “giant camps.” While detention centers already exist, the Times reports that Trump and adviser Stephen Miller envision a vastly expanded network that would facilitate the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, including longtime residents with deep ties to communities. Those camps would also enable Trump to dramatically scale up detention of people seeking asylum, which would be subject to shocking new limits. Trump would reinstate his ban on migrants from majority-Muslim countries, invoke new legal authorities to pursue mass expulsions and enlist the military to help carry them out. Ideologues such as Trump and Miller might truly believe the resulting disapproval of Biden means the public will fully embrace their radical vision. It’s telling that Trump, who recently declared that migrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” is trumpeting designs with clear White-nationalist implications, such as a revived ban on Muslims and a vision of detention and deportations that appears designed to showcase maximum cruelty for base-thrilling kicks. read the complete article

Arab and Muslim-American politicians caught between voters and party on Gaza

For decades, Arab and Muslim-American voters have gravitated towards the Democratic Party for its progressive stance on immigration, human rights and more. But that has been changing due to the party’s support for Israel’s weeks-long bombardment of Gaza that has resulted in more than 11,000 deaths. Last year’s midterm elections saw a sea change in US politics, as hundreds of Arab and Muslim-American Democratic legislators were elected to local, state and national office. Many were prompted to take up the political mantle following former president Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban in 2017. But those same representatives find themselves on the receiving end of anger from voters who want the Democratic Party to to do more to protect civilians in Gaza. Palestinian American Iman Jodeh, who represents a diverse community of voters in Colorado’s state legislature, says she has been getting emails from people across the state who are angered over the Democratic Party’s stance. “We just had municipal elections in Aurora and when I was doing a TV segment at the mosque, people there were saying, ‘Are these the Democrats? I’m not voting for Democrats,’” she says. While both the Republican and Democratic parties have sought to support Israel in its war on Gaza, a recent poll found that 40 per cent of Americans think Israel has gone too far. “My concern is if this continues, how can we, as a community, help get a Democrat elected when they’re not willing to help us?” Ms Jodeh asks. read the complete article

Law firms accused of fueling Islamophobia and chilling free speech

A coalition of Muslim bar associations is accusing leading law firms of contributing to Islamophobia and a climate of fear in the legal community. In a letter to more than 100 of America’s top law firms, 13 national and regional bar associations called for the law firms to address Islamophobia and anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian hate. “Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and other legal professionals, including many attorneys of color and Jewish attorneys, are terrified to openly express sympathy for the plight of Palestinians for fear of retribution,” the letter said. “Many legal professionals of Palestinian or Arab heritage, or who identify as Muslim are even afraid to reveal their heritage or religious affiliation to their colleagues.” The members of the Muslim bar associations said they were “dismayed” that there was only a “brief reference” to Islamophobia in the recent letter that leading law firms sent warning elite universities to crack down on antisemitism on campus or else the schools and their students would face consequences. It notes that while some law firms issued statements of support for Israel after the October 7th attacks, in the weeks since some firms “refused to even acknowledge the killing of thousands of innocent Palestinians” even though employees have loved ones killed in Gaza. The letter, signed by the American Muslim Bar Association, the National Association of Muslim Lawyers and other groups, added that some law firms raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Israel but did not raise money for humanitarian assistance for innocent Palestinians. The Muslim bar associations took issue with the November 1 letter to law school deans focusing primarily on antisemitism, arguing that contributes to an “environment of chilling speech advocating for Palestinian human rights.” 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. The new tools build on actions the White House has announced in recent weeks, including creating a national strategy to combat Islamophobia that tasks the departments of Justice and Homeland Security with thwarting growing threats of antisemitism on college campuses in conjunction with campus law enforcement after Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7 killed 1,200 people. read the complete article

CAIR files complaint against doctor for anti-Palestinian posts

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has submitted a formal complaint against a Maryland doctor for several social media posts attributed to him. "Disturbing social media posts reportedly attributed to Dr. [Darren] Klugman were recently brought to our office's attention which have raised substantial ethical and professional concerns," writes the organization in a letter to the Maryland Board of Physicians. CAIR is asking for the Board to investigate the validity of the posts attributed to the doctor and "for his medical license to be revoked effective immediately if they are substantiated to be authentic." The posts to which the letter is referring to was included in an appendix to the letter, a screenshot of which is below. Dr. Darren Klugman is the director of Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care at Johns Hopkins Hospital. read the complete article


Anti-Semitism and Muslim hatred: Middle East war hits home

Marcella, a 72-year-old Dutch Jew, lives in Amsterdam. She prefers not to use her last name. “I do feel less safe, because there’s more anti-Semitism,” she says, since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 and Israel’s ensuing military campaign. “I have a Jewish last name. And it’s in our DNA. We know what happened here in the 1930s.” About an hour’s drive south, in the smaller Dutch town of Culemborg, windows were vandalized in the Imami Azam mosque earlier this month. The police have arrested a suspect. “We don’t know why this person smashed the windows,” Selcuk Demirci, the secretary of the mosque’s board, told regional broadcaster Omroep Gelderland. “But it’s a reason for us to talk about security…. This is hitting the community hard.” The mosque told parents to keep their children home this week. Similarly, a week after the Hamas attacks on Israel, Amsterdam’s Jewish schools, citing security risks, shut their doors. For many of the country’s Jews and Muslims, the war in the Middle East is hitting closer to home, putting them on edge. “If someone sneezes in the Middle East, people catch a cold in the Netherlands and other European countries,” says Rabin Baldewsingh, the country’s National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism (NCDR). read the complete article


Canadian man was 'hunting for Muslims to kill,' prosecutors say

Nathaniel Veltman, now 22, is on trial for wiping out three generations of the Afzaal family in June 2021 in London, Ontario. He pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder, which prosecutors say were premeditated, as well as one count of attempted murder. The case marks the first time a Canadian jury has been asked to consider a terrorism motive related to white supremacy. While acknowledging Veltman's responsibility for the killings, the defense said he should be convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter. Prosecutor Fraser Ball told the jury they have "everything you could possibly need to convict in this case," including the defendant's confession to police. He said Veltman had penned a "terrorist manifesto," found on his computer, in which he espoused white nationalism and described his hate for Muslims. The accused "dressed like a soldier" wearing body armor and a helmet, and "pumped himself up" before the attack. "He was hunting for Muslims to kill," Fraser said. read the complete article


OPINION - European governments fighting antisemitism with Islamophobia

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the same coin. European leaders’ attempt to ostensibly fight antisemitism by defending Israel’s right to kill 11,180 Palestinians is nothing but the latest perversion of a necessary struggle against racism. Antisemitism and Islamophobia have always been twin brothers of the racial imagination of white Europe. Europe and the imagination of a white Christian continent is historically based on the exclusion of Muslims and Jews from the Spanish peninsula of Andalusia and both have continued to shape the imagination of what Europe was, excluding the external Muslim oriental as well as the internal Jewish oriental. In the aftermath of the Palestinian attack against Israel on October 7th, media coverage in Europe has reported on a spike in antisemitic incidents, while the European Commission warned against both anti-Semitic as well as Islamophobic acts in the wake of the Palestinian-Israeli war. However, while many European governments have largely criticized Hamas for its attack while simultaneously endorsing the Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, many European leaders seem to focus not on the repercussions this has on people rallying for Palestine, but only on casualties on the side of Israel. While European elites light up their national monuments and government buildings with the Israeli flag in solidarity, the Palestinian flag is waved by the masses on the streets of European cities. But rather than listening to their constituencies, pro-Palestinian rallies are being met with bans and vilification. When Israeli lives are mourned and Palestinian lives are ignored, Europe’s political elite sends a catastrophic signal to the people: Palestinian lives are worth less than Israeli lives. The main lesson European leaders seem to have learned from the Holocaust is that ‘Never Again’ means ‘Never Again’ for Jews rather than ‘Never Again’ for all human beings. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Nov 2023 Edition


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