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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24 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Stuart Seldowitz, a former high-ranking US government official has been arrested after being captured on video calling a halal food vendor in New York City a “terrorist” and saying the death of 4,000 Palestinian children in Gaza “wasn’t enough,” meanwhile in Canada, authorities state that the number of antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes in Toronto has spiked significantly since the start of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas, and in Germany, the co-author of a comprehensive report on Islamophobia notes that “Muslims in Germany encounter Islamophobic discrimination in their everyday life, for example in the education, in the labor market, while looking for accommodation, in the media, and much more.” Our recommended read of the day is by Ashifa Kassam for the Guardian on how Dutch Muslims are fearful of what lies ahead after Geert Wilders’ far-right, anti-Islam party won in the recent elections, a party that wants to ban mosques and the Quran. This and more below:


Dutch Muslims fearful for future after ‘shocking’ election results | Recommended Read

Geert Wilders described it as the “most beautiful day” of his political life. But for many across the Netherlands, news that Wilders’ far-right, anti-Islam party had emerged with the most votes in Wednesday’s election set off alarm bells over what might lie ahead in a country once regarded as a beacon of tolerance. At the helm of the Party for Freedom (PVV), Wilders has long taken aim at Islam, describing it as a fascist ideology of “a retarded culture” and a “backward religion”. Since 2004, he has been under police protection and in 2016 was convicted of discrimination after he called Moroccans “scum” at a campaign rally. Though he sought to soften his anti-Islam rhetoric in the lead-up to the elections, the party’s manifesto includes a ban on mosques, the Qur’an and Islamic headscarves in government buildings. As his party’s gains became clear on Wednesday evening, Wilders vowed to push policies “within the law and constitution”. The apparent change in tone was of little comfort to Köktas. “We have great concerns about the future of Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands,” he said. He hoped that people from across the Netherlands would join together to defend and protect the rule of law. “This is absolutely necessary, not only for the future of Muslims but also for the future of the peaceful Dutch society,” he added. “The distress and the fear are enormous,” said Habib El Kaddouri, who leads a Dutch organisation representing Dutch Moroccans. “Wilders is known for his ideas about Muslims and Moroccans. We are afraid that he will portray us as second-class citizens.”“I don’t know if Muslims are still safe in the Netherlands,” he told the news agency ANP. “I am worried about this country.” read the complete article


Relatives of family killed in London, Ont., truck attack worry about more hate, call for humanity

Ali and Hina Islam are the aunt and uncle of Madiha Saman, killed in attack on Muslim family in London, Ont. Hina and Ali Islam don't say the name of the white nationalist who drove his large pickup truck into members of their family. The killer tried to divide us, to isolate Muslims, that was his intention and what I saw instead was humanity coming out. People from different colours, faiths, walks of life, hugging us, coming to support us. I wish we can take that momentum and continue it forward, said Hina Islam, whose niece Madiha Salman, 44, was one of four people killed when the driver steered toward a Muslim family on June 6, 2021 in London, Ont. Also killed that day was Madiha's husband, Salman Afzaal, 47, the couple's daughter, Yumnah, 15, and Salman's mother, Talat Afzaal, 74. The couple's son, a nine-year-old boy, was seriously injured and survived. Nathaniel Veltman, 22, was found guilty last week of four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. read the complete article

Youth-led basketball club aims to break barriers for female Muslim athletes in London, Ont.

In her years playing competitive basketball on teams across London, Ont., Tala El Khodeir found that although her teammates were welcoming and inclusive, they didn't quite understand her Muslim faith and its traditions. "Being a Muslim athlete, you feel different with specific things like telling them 'I'm fasting today' or having to explain why I'm wearing a T-shirt under my jersey or letting them know when I have to pray," said El Khodeir, 20. "It's simple things like that where it just feels like you're not comfortable in your environment." It wasn't until she joined the London Royals Basketball Club, created by a group of Muslim youths in the community, that El Khodeir "felt at home and as if she found her sisters." That's why she now coaches the girls team. The club has and is open to players of all faiths and backgrounds, and offers subsidized pricing for low-income families. But its primary goal is to encourage more girls to take up the sport, said 23-year-old Hamdi Babeker, who co-founded the club in 2018. "We felt that women, specifically Muslim women in sports, didn't have a place where they could hone their skills and have community, so we saw that need and we wanted to provide it for them," he said. read the complete article

Toronto police say hate crimes spiked since start of Gaza conflict

The number of antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes in Toronto, Canada's largest city, has spiked significantly since the start of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, authorities said on Friday. Police chief Myron Demkiw said 78 hate crimes had been reported between Oct. 7 and Nov. 20, compared to 37 in the same time frame in 2022. The real number was undoubtedly higher since some people were hesitant to come forward, he added. The number of reported antisemitic hate crimes in this period almost trebled to 38 from 13 last year, while those involving the Muslim, Palestinian and Arab population leapt to 17 from just one in 2022. "The impact of the events in the Middle East on our city are ongoing and have escalated since Oct. 7," Demkiw told a televised news conference. read the complete article


Islamophobia is an urgent problem in Germany, expert says

Islamophobia is a serious problem in Germany, and addressing it requires active participation of larger sections of society, a prominent expert has said. Mathias Rohe, who co-authored one of the most comprehensive reports on Islamophobia in Germany, spoke to Anadolu about the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. “Our study has revealed that Muslims in Germany encounter Islamophobic discrimination in their everyday life, for example in the education, in the labor market, while looking for accommodation, in the media, and much more,” Rohe said. “It’s an urgent problem, and we have to recognize that this is a problem for society as a whole. We must not leave the Muslims alone with this. This is a problem for all of us,” he stressed. According to the study of independent experts, which was published in June, anti-Muslim sentiment is not a marginal phenomenon, but widespread in large parts of the German population. Around every second person in Germany agrees with anti-Muslim statements. Professor Rohe from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg said while millions of Muslims have been living in Germany for many years and become an integral part of society, negative stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims are still widespread. He said many Germans still believe in the stereotypes such as Muslims cannot bring any positive change or their values are completely different. read the complete article

United States

Ex-Obama adviser Stuart Seldowitz arrested after Islamophobic rant

A former high-ranking US government official has been arrested after being captured on video calling a halal food vendor in New York City a “terrorist” and saying the death of 4,000 Palestinian children in Gaza “wasn’t enough”. Stuart Seldowitz, 64, who previously served as deputy director of the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, was arrested on Wednesday on charges of aggravated harassment, hate crime stalking, stalking causing fear, and stalking at a place of employment, New York police said in a statement. Video went viral this month of multiple arguments over Israel’s war on Gaza between Seldowitz and an Egyptian man working in a halal cart in Manhattan. “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, it wasn’t enough,” Seldowitz says in one exchange captured on video and posted on the social media platform X. The vendor is seen telling Seldowitz to “go, go, go, go” and “I won’t hear it”. Seldowitz then responds: “But you’re a terrorist. You support terrorism.” In other exchanges, Seldowitz is heard casting slurs against Prophet Muhammad, and calling the vendor “ignorant” for his lack of fluency in English. read the complete article


China Accused Of Genocide As Hundreds Of Mosques Are Destroyed

Human Rights Watch has exposed the Chinese government for significantly reducing the number of mosques in the Ningxia and Gansu provinces. As part of its "mosque consolidation" movement, China has violated the rights to freedom of religion and religious expression – says the Human Rights Watch. Several mosques have been closed down and decommissioned, only to be transformed into secular facilities that restrict the practice of Islam in China. In 2014, it was reported that China was home to almost 40,000 mosques, 39,135, with the largest number of places of Islamic worship being in the Xinjiang, Gansu and Ningxia regions. In 2014, the Xinjiang region was home to the largest number of mosques in any area of China, measuring at 24,100. Out of Xinjiang's population of around 25.87 million inhabitants, according to Statista, 12 million people are part of the Muslim ethnic group – known as the Uyghurs. For years, the Chinese government have been accused of committing atrocities, including a possible genocide, against the Uyghur population. In 2023, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimates that 65 per cent of Xinjiang's mosques have been demolished or damaged since 2017. read the complete article


Rhetorical question: Is Israel's war on Gaza genocide?

The term ‘genocide’ has divided opinions about the application of this label concerning Israel’s war on Gaza. As recently as Tuesday, Palestinian doctoral student Rabea Eghbariah’s 2,000-word essay commissioned by Harvard Law Review, which accused Israel of committing genocide, was blocked by over 100 editors. A letter published in the Guardian by prominent German and international figures influenced by the Frankfurt School of neo-Marxist “critical theory” against its most prominent living member, Jürgen Habermas argues what is unfolding in Gaza could amount to genocide. Still, it is not that hard to argue that the rhetoric coming out of many Israeli officials is borderline genocidal. Below is a sample of what Israeli leaders have said in recent weeks as their military relentlessly bombarded Gaza, killing over 14,000 people, over a third of whom were children. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Nov 2023 Edition


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