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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16 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold a forum today to discuss and condemn the alarming 104% surge in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate witnessed in Houston since Oct. 7, meanwhile in Canada, the man accused of running over and killing four members of the Afzaal family in 2021 faces four counts of first-degree murder as the jury has heard closing arguments in the case, and in the Netherlands, Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders said that he is willing to “make concessions” when it comes to his anti-Muslim rhetoric in order to be part of the PVV’s next cabinet. Our recommended read of the day is by Aisling Ní Chúláin for on how the social media platform formerly known as Twitter has been falling short on hate speech moderation standards according to a new report by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). This and more below:

United States

X is failing to moderate antisemitic and islamophobic hate speech, according to a new report | Recommended Read

A new report from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit dedicated to countering online misinformation and hate speech, suggests the social platform is falling short in its commitment to combat content "motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance". The organisation reported 200 incidents of hate speech sent from 101 accounts on the platform X that related to the Israel-Palestine conflict and found that 96 per cent of the posts remained online a week later. According to the CCDH, the posts in question were all sent in the aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and included those which incited violence against Muslims, Palestinians and Jewish people, promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories and described Palestinians in Gaza as animals. Researchers from the organisation identified the accounts by searching through the followings, likes and posts of known hateful accounts and stressed that the sample should not be seen as a "representative sample of posts relating to the Israel-Gaza crisis, but rather as a means of testing X’s moderation systems”. The posts that remained online have accumulated 24,043,693 views with only one being suspended and a further two ‘locked’ meaning they cannot post, repost, or like content. Forty-three of the 101 accounts in question were verified accounts that benefited from the increased visibility of their posts. read the complete article

LOCAL NEWS Students at Tri-State Area colleges say antisemitism & Islamophobia are reaching a boiling point amid Israel-Hamas war

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are reaching a boiling point on campuses in the Tri-State Area, according to students. Several Jewish students at New York University have filed a federal lawsuit alleging the school is violating civil rights laws, and at Rutgers University, Muslim students tell CBS New York's Lisa Rozner they don't feel safe either. Rozner spoke with Sabrina Maslavi about antisemitism she says she's experienced at NYU and Jannine Masoud about Islamophobia she's encountered at Rutgers Law School. A protest was held Wednesday evening outside Columbia. Organizers said they were protesting what they call the university's systemic discrimination of pro-Palestinian groups, as well as the suspension of two student groups -- the Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. "I've been called a terrorist on campus," Masoud said. She says she and several Muslim students, as well as pro-Palestinian allies, were recently doxed, which means their personal information was published online in an attempt to embarrass them. One threatening text said, "Your employers have a right to know you support terrorist organizations." "It is not hate speech to defend and stand in solidarity with Palestinians," Masoud said. "They've had internships rescinded, they've had employment offers rescinded, simply because they said, 'I support Palestine,'" said Dina Sayedahmed, communications manager for CAIR-NJ. read the complete article

UC pledges $7 million to address Islamophobia, antisemitism on campuses

The University of California is committing $7 million to address what officials called “acts of bigotry, intolerance, and intimidation,” including incidents of Islamophobia and antisemitism, that have occurred over the past several weeks on its campuses, where tensions are high because of the Israel-Hamas war. Michael Drake, UC’s systemwide president, announced the funding during the board of regents meeting Wednesday and said it would go toward emergency mental health resources, new educational programs and additional training for leadership, faculty and staff. Drake’s announcement came as Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have called on California’s public colleges and universities to make sure their campuses are safe for Jewish, Arab and Muslim students. UC board of regents Chair Richard Leib also called on UC’s campus leaders to investigate incidents of discrimination and “enforce discipline” when necessary. Leib said he has met with Jewish, Arab and Muslim students who do not feel safe on UC campuses. “I’m appalled at the rise of hate speech directed at Arab and Muslim students, and I’m alarmed at the reports of threats and assaults and discrimination in the classroom experienced by our Jewish students,” Leib said. read the complete article

Jewish and Muslim students say they've become targets on American college campuses amid Israel-Gaza war tensions

Like so many other colleges across the United States, George Washington University is a campus divided in the wake of the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war. The prestigious institution, not far from the White House, has suspended a student accused of taking down posters of Israeli hostages from inside a Jewish student centre. A student group has been temporarily banned from taking part in on-campus activities over pro-Palestinian messages projected onto a school library. And a person has been barred from coming onto the campus for a year, for what’s been described as "harmful, verbal misconduct" against a Muslim student. The tensions at GW are reflected at universities all over the country, as administrators grapple with how to both preserve free speech and protect the safety of their students. But amid nation-wide spikes in reported anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, including shocking acts of violence, many young Americans are fearful. read the complete article

Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hate Speech Surges Across the Internet

Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech has surged across the internet since the conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out. The increases have been at far greater levels than what academics and researchers who monitor social media say they have seen before, with millions of often explicitly violent posts on X, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Antisemitic content soared more than 919 percent on X and 28 percent on Facebook in the month since Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group. Anti-Muslim hate speech on X jumped 422 percent on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, and rose 297 percent over the next five days, said the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based political advocacy group. On fringe platforms like 4chan, Gab and BitChute, antisemitic and Islamophobic content rose nearly 500 percent in the 48 hours after Oct. 7, according to the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, a nonprofit that tracks hate speech and extremism. And the surge has been global, with antisemitic posts also widely shared on state-backed social platforms in China. The outpouring has been both driven by deep-seated emotions over the violence and stoked by extremists looking to further their own agendas, said researchers who study social media. “Hate actors have leaped at the chance to hijack social media platforms to broadcast their bigotry and mobilize real-world violence against Jews and Muslims, heaping even more pain into the world,” said Imran Ahmed, director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which monitors social media for hate speech. The discourse online has created a climate of fear and intimidation that may have influenced tense confrontations and violence in the real world, researchers warned, adding that causation can be difficult to prove. In the United States, Europe and Canada, the authorities have documented numerous acts of violence against Jews, Muslims and their places of worship in recent weeks. read the complete article

Biden to nominate attorney who would be first Muslim American judge on a federal appeals court

President Joe Biden will announce his intention Wednesday to nominate an attorney whose Senate confirmation would make him the first Muslim American judge to serve on a federal appeals court, a White House official said. The nominee, Adeel A. Mangi, has served on the board of directors of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York and Muslims for Progressive Values and as an ally board member for the National LGBT Bar Association, according to his biographical page at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, where he’s a partner. If he’s confirmed, he would sit on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia. The court covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands. The White House on Wednesday highlighted Mangi's handling of court filings before state and federal appeals courts, including one that appeared before the Supreme Court on behalf of a multifaith religious coalition. Biden has faced increasing pressure to address Islamophobia as both Muslims and Jewish people face growing threats in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Some Muslim voters have expressed frustration with Biden’s declaration last month of unwavering support for Israel without seeking a cease-fire. read the complete article

Tom Horne is violating students’ rights and promoting Islamophobia, critics say

A local Muslim civil rights group is pushing back on criticism of Amnesty International in Arizona schools leveled last week by Tom Horne, the state’s schools chief, saying his comments violate the free speech rights of students and contribute to rising Islamophobia. Earlier this month, the student-led chapters of UNICEF and Amnesty International at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale met during lunchtime to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict, presenting a slideshow that, among other information, accused Israel of committing various human rights violations against Palestinians. An early iteration of the slideshow was posted to social media, where it drew ire from right wing activists. Horne responded by calling on superintendents across the state to disband clubs aligned with the two organizations and denouncing the slideshow as antisemitic and anti-American. On Wednesday, the Arizona arm of the Council on American-Islamic Relations publicly excoriated Horne, saying the superintendent of public instruction took a political stance at the expense of Muslim and Arab-American students. “Tom Horne sounded more like the ambassador to the state of Israel than he did the superintendent of public education in Arizona,” said volunteer board member and civil rights attorney David Chami. “He was more worried about protecting the image of the state of Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces than he was in protecting the students in his state.” read the complete article

CAIR-Houston to Discuss Alarming 104% Rise in Anti-Muslim Bigotry in Houston Since October 7, Calls for Local Leaders to Repudiate Islamophobia, Anti-Palestinian Hate

On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Houston) will hold a media availability to discuss and condemn the alarming 104% surge in anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian hate witnessed in Houston since Oct. 7. The unprecedented rise in hate incidents is directly attributed to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the escalating anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric permeating public discourse since the onset of the war. CAIR-Houston expresses profound concern regarding heightened animosity towards Muslim and Arab students on college campuses, employees in workplaces across Houston, and the general public. Numerous individuals have courageously shared their experiences, recounting distressing encounters such as being told to “go back to your country,” facing racist or Islamophobic graffiti on homes and cars, and discovering hateful fliers left on lawns. read the complete article

Frick Pittsburgh apologizes over mishandling of Islamic art exhibition as academics speak out

In a statement made last week, Elizabeth Barker, executive director of the Frick Pittsburgh, apologized for the offense caused by the reasons she initially gave for the postponement of an Islamic art exhibition at the renowned museum. “My words gave the offensive and utterly wrong impression that I equated Islam with terrorism and that I saw Jews and Muslims — communities with millennia of peaceful interconnection — as fundamentally opposed,” she said in the statement. The announcement to postpone “Treasured Ornament: 10 Centuries of Islamic Art,” described by the museum’s press release as invoking “the rich history of the Islamic world and the shared human experiences that bind us,” was made 10 days after the Oct. 7 onset of the Israel-Hamas war. Christine Mohamed, executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, said: “It’s disheartening to witness such insensitivity when blanket statements are made about an entire religion, particularly when they have the potential to incite harm in the Pittsburgh Muslim community.” Adam Hertzman of the Jewish Federation Greater Pittsburgh told Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station, WESA: “Equating Islamic art and Muslims in general with Hamas is certainly biased and is certainly something we’re against.” Arab News spoke to two academics from the University of Pittsburgh to get their perspective on the issues. read the complete article

Ex-Fox News Staffer: I Was Fired for Calling Out My Boss’ Islamophobia

Tariq Khan, a former assignment editor and weekend foreign news desk manager for Fox News, claims the network unjustly fired him as retaliation after he repeatedly complained about his boss’s misogynistic, Islamophobic and bigoted behavior. In a complaint filed Sept. 28 in the Southern District of New York, Khan asserts that Fox’s VP of news coverage Greg Headen—who previously ran the network’s foreign news desk—frequently used foul and homophobic language in the workplace. Additionally, Khan alleges, Headen, who was his immediate supervisor, also “repeatedly demonstrated prejudice towards Muslim people and made a handful of remarks at work associating Islam with terrorism in the presence of Mr. Khan, who practices Islam.” Khan, who also served as the network’s resident Academy Awards expert, claims that Fox News “unlawfully terminated” him this past May, allegedly violating his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. read the complete article

Some questions for the 234 representatives who voted to censure Rashida Tlaib

You say you object to the slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Where in the lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea do you think Palestinians should not be free? You say this slogan is a “call to violence to destroy the state of Israel.” If a demand for Palestinian freedom can only mean to you the destruction of the state of Israel, then what does that say about your idea of Israel? Does it not mean that, for you, Israel’s existence is dependent on the unfreedom of the Palestinians? I hear you object to the slogan because it “does not advance progress towards a two-state solution” and that would be intolerable. Then why did you not censure yourselves for funding Israel while it placed 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank – settlements which shatter Palestine into a thousand fragments and make a two-state solution impossible? Why have you not censured yourselves for repeatedly asserting “Israel’s right to self-defense” while never speaking of Palestine’s right to self-defense? Is the two-state solution you have in mind really just one state, Israel, armed to the teeth, while Palestine lacks an army, borders of its own, or any of the other elements essential to sovereignty? And when Israel’s president Isaac Herzog came to speak to the US congress in July and declared his hope that Isaiah’s prophecy be fulfilled, that “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore,” why did you not condemn the hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders, who use Gaza as a laboratory to test out the weapons they sell to the world’s most oppressive regimes? Should we not conclude, then, that what you really desire is the status quo – a system of apartheid, upheld by military occupation? And when you pass resolutions asserting “Israel is not a racist or apartheid state,” are you not yourselves complicit in protecting Israeli apartheid with your lies? And are your denunciations of antisemitism not hollow if you fail to condemn the systemic racism that Israel deploys against the Palestinians? read the complete article


Europe grapples with the ascendant far right — and its own identity

The gathering menace of Europe’s ascendant far-right nationalists — hostile to minorities, migrants, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ communities, climate science and, often, pluralist democracy itself — is prompting mainstream leaders to make decisions that previously would have been unlikely or unthinkable. Almost no European country has found an elixir to defeat the surge of populist parties, some of which are in thrall to Donald Trump and have styled themselves in his image. Strategies to demonize, confront, accommodate or ignore these parties have dampened their appeal in certain countries more than others. But in some places, the cost for politicians seeking to marginalize extremist blocs has been high, and potentially destabilizing. In confronting the far right, European leaders are also grappling with their own identities. In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz struck what he called a “historic” agreement this month to slash social benefits for migrants and accelerate asylum procedures, potentially speeding deportations. That marked a sharp turn for his center-left coalition government, which includes the Greens, who have long favored immigration. It also carried a whiff of desperation, coming against a backdrop of rising poll ratings for Alternative for Germany, known by its German acronym, AfD. The anti-immigration, extreme nationalist party’s fortunes have soared along with flows of asylum seekers. AfD is now Germany’s second-most popular party. In France, centrist parties are incredulous at the steady rise of Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who has run, and lost, in three straight presidential elections. By all appearances, President Emmanuel Macron is paying attention. read the complete article


Wilders willing to step back anti-Islam rhetoric to be part of next government

PVV leader Geert Wilders wants to be part of the next Cabinet, and he is willing to make concessions to make that happen, also when it comes to his anti-Islam rhetoric. “There are more important priorities,” Wilders said in an interview with Nieuwsuur. Wilders stressed that the core value of the PVV is still the same as when it was founded in 2006 - limiting the “Islamization” of the Netherlands. But according to the leader of the far-right party, the Netherlands currently has bigger problems than pushing back Islam. The anti-Islam rhetoric is still very much part of the PVV’s election program. “The Netherlands is not an Islamic country,” Wilders wrote in the foreword of the program. The program still states that the PVV wants to ban mosques and Islamic schools from the Netherlands and to ban the Koran and Islamic headscarves from government buildings. “Do we say: if this is not achieved, then we will not govern? The answer to that is no. I understand that other points are now more important.” read the complete article


Jury hears Canadian man who killed Muslim family was on drugs

A Canadian jury has heard closing arguments in the case of a man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family with his vehicle. Nathaniel Veltman, 22, faces four first-degree murder charges and one count of attempted murder. Mr Veltman also faces terrorism counts, with prosecutors arguing that he targeted the Afzaal family because of their faith. Both the defence and prosecutors agree that Mr Veltman was behind the wheel. But Mr Veltman has pleaded not guilty, arguing that he was in a "dreamlike state" on 6 June, 2021, the day he allegedly ran over three generations of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario while they were out for an evening walk. The case marks the first time a jury in Canada is hearing legal arguments on terrorism related to white supremacy. The jury will not only have to decide on whether Mr Veltman is guilty of murder, but also whether his actions can be described as terrorism. Testifying in his own defence, Mr Veltman told the jury during the trial he ingested a large quantity of magic mushrooms about 40 hours before the crash. He admitted that the thought of running over Muslims came to him twice after taking the drug, but he resisted. Then, while out for food, he said he saw the family and could not stop the "urge". read the complete article

Toronto taxi driver speaks out after suspect asked if he was Muslim and doused him with foreign substance

A Toronto taxi driver is speaking out after an unknown assailant asked if he was Muslim and then sprayed him with a foreign substance that caused a “burning” sensation in his eyes.The incident happened just before 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, as the driver was stopped at a red light at Front and Yonge streets. “I pulled down my window a little bit and asked, ‘Do you need a cab?’” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “He (the suspect) just looking to me and say, ‘You are Muslim?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I am Muslim.’ And he [throws] something on my eyes and using f-words.” Bilal said he immediately called 911 following the incident and was rushed to the hospital, where he his eyes had to be flushed out. The suspect, meanwhile, fled the scene and remains outstanding. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Nov 2023 Edition


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