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.

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07 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, House Republican Representative Ryan Zinke has introduced a bill that would revoke the visas and refugee status of a number of Palestinians living in the country, meanwhile, an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was hospitalized after being struck in a hit-and-run that authorities are investigating as a hate crime, and in Canada, according to Senator Salma Ataullahjan the “evidence is clear” that Islamophobia is a threat to Canadian Muslims and that “urgent action is needed,” based on the findings of a new state report. Our recommended read of the day is by Azadeh Shahshahani and Juilee Shivalkar for Middle East Eye on how in the wake of the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, Muslim and Palestinian Americans have faced increased surveillance and legislative targeting from the state and federal government. This and more below:

United States

Israel-Palestine war: The 'war on terror' continues to target pro-Palestine activists | Recommended Read

Amid statements from US officials, including Biden himself, who stated that the 7 October attacks were like "15 9/11s" for Israel, it is impossible not to see the connections between the current crackdown on Palestinian and Muslim advocates and the US “war on terror”. Of course, the targeting and surveillance of Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities did not begin after 9/11: a 2021 Project South report, "Spying on the Margins", documented the history of US racist and Islamophobic surveillance stretching back to the colonial period. Over the last 20 years, national security frameworks have proliferated the use of surveillance while repressing dissent. This expanding apparatus has been weaponised against organisers for years. So, it is no surprise that the FBI and other agencies are once again targeting voices who speak in support of Palestine. After 9/11, the government instituted policies of mass surveillance and eroded civil liberties. Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities were subjected to numerous human rights violations, including discriminatory profiling and surveillance based on their identity. There was also an increase in the use of preemptive prosecution, which was used to criminalise people of colour, particularly Muslims and immigrants. Recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated there are multiple open investigations, signalling further preemptive prosecution and entrapment cases targeting Muslim communities. This model of intense governmental overreach, which continues today, was perfected over the last 20 years and continues to threaten Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities. Unlike the early 2000s, however, the government now has access to vast amounts of data, through surveillance technology and data brokers that can be, and has been, weaponised against entire groups or movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. read the complete article

House Republicans Introduce Bill to Expel Palestinians From the Country

House Republicans have come up with yet another plan to kick brown people out of the country. On Thursday, Representative Ryan Zinke introduced a bill that would revoke the visas and refugee status of a number of Palestinians.The Safeguarding Americans From Extremism Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to refrain from issuing visas or granting refugee, asylum, or temporary protected status to anyone holding a passport issued by the Palestinian Authority. It would also revoke visas and refugee or asylum status for anyone who was granted it on or after October 1. The radical bill is co-sponsored by far-right members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who this week led a failed attempt to censure the only Palestinian American member of Congress. Other co-sponsors include Republican Representatives Andy Biggs, Aaron Bean, Andy Harris, Scott DesJarlais, Clay Higgins, Ronny Jackson, Barry Moore, Ralph Norman, and Bill Posey. read the complete article

Harassment of Palestinian Students and Staff Is Spreading in US Grade Schools

Aaliyah is not okay. The 16-year-old Virginia-based, Palestinian-born high school junior says she has had a great deal of trouble concentrating on schoolwork as Israel’s war on Gaza escalates. “All of my free time is spent on social media, seeing what’s happening,” she told Truthout. “Trying to focus on homework, as if everything is normal, has been difficult. I have friends who support me but the war is not affecting them directly. I feel very alone since there are so few Palestinian students in my school.” That feeling was exacerbated when Aaliyah began working with a Muslim student group on campus to plan a walkout in solidarity with the people of Gaza. “We were told that posters could not use the words ‘genocide’ or ‘apartheid.’ Instead, we had to refer to the war as a ‘conflict,’” she said. “This made me upset because it was so inaccurate.” Aaliyah is not the only Palestinian student to feel this way. Throughout the U.S., many Palestinian and Muslim students in elementary, middle and high school are anecdotally reporting an uptick in silencing, harassment and bullying that rivals the period immediately following 9/11. What’s more, Palestinian and Muslim teachers have also experienced troubling behavior such as menacing emails, threatening phone calls, shunning by colleagues, as well as invasive scrutiny of personal social media posts that express criticism of Israel. read the complete article

Man charged with hate crime after tearing off postal worker's hijab in Wilton Manors

A man faces hate crime charges after he allegedly attacked a postal worker in Wilton Manors, tearing off her hijab and leaving her with minor injuries. The incident happened Oct. 24 outside an apartment complex on Northwest 9th Avenue. The victim, who was in full United States Postal Service uniform and operating a marked truck, was delivering mail when Kenneth Pinkney rode by on his bike, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office booking report. Pinkney, 47, then made his hand into a firearm and made a shooting gesture, police said. He started calling her derogatory names and told her to go back to her country, and the victim tried to laugh it off. Pinkney allegedly approached her, tore off her hijab and slapped and punched her in the face, making her bleed from her mouth and leaving scratches on her face. He attempted to grab her leg as she tried to get back into her USPS truck, police said. When the victim told Pinkney she was going to call police, he allegedly also threatened to call the cops, officials said. read the complete article

Muslim Stanford student hospitalized in suspected hate crime hit-and-run

An Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was hospitalized after being struck in a hit-and-run that authorities are investigating as a hate crime, amid rising threats against Arab and Muslim people across the US. The student, Abdulwahab Omira, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by an SUV. “The driver is reported to have made eye contact with the victim, accelerated and struck the victim and then driven away while shouting ‘fuck you and your people’ out the lowered window of the vehicle,” according to the university’s department of public safety. Omira called on others to “collectively denounce hatred, bigotry, and violence”, while also denouncing a slow response from the university. He said the university’s “belated response came six hours later”, and said that it took “a multitude of emails and a cry for acknowledgement” before the administration responded personally, in a statement first shared by NBC News. read the complete article

Poll shows Biden support slumping among Michigan Muslims

A new survey conducted by one of Joe Biden’s former pollsters shows the president’s support has cratered among Muslim and Arab Democrats in Michigan, a key demographic group that overwhelmingly backed Biden in the swing state in 2020. The poll lends further credence to the warnings Arab and Muslim community leaders in Michigan and beyond have been issuing for weeks: that Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza could cost him a state that he won by just 150,000 votes in 2020 and is home to an estimated 240,000 Muslims. About two-thirds of Arab and Muslim Democrats said they now think they will vote to replace Biden, and three-quarters said they are willing to vote for a third-party candidate. The results appear driven by the U.S.-backed Israeli campaign in Gaza, with those voters almost unanimously giving Biden a “poor” rating for his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most negative response option available. read the complete article

Chicago-area Arab Americans, Muslims say Islamophobia has reached new highs

In the last month, two Chicago-area Muslim schools have received violent threats, a six-year-old Palestinian American boy was fatally stabbed and a suburban man was charged with a hate crime for threatening to shoot two Muslim men. For some Arab and Muslim Chicagoans, these news stories take them back to their lives in the days and weeks after 9/11. Reset learns more about what the community is experiencing. read the complete article

Muslim, Palestinian students call for University support amid reports of Islamophobia

Muslim and Palestinian students have reported several instances of Islamophobia on campus since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, calling on University administrators to provide protection and support they say has been lacking. Students said they know of at least four instances of unknown people ripping hijabs off of students on campus since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. Muslim students said they reported incidents of being spat on and confronted by students on campus to the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement and said messaging from officials has exacerbated their fears as cases of Islamophobia intensify in Foggy Bottom and across the country. University President Ellen Granberg has released a series of statements on the Israel-Hamas war, and her Oct. 25 message said GW must “stand united against antisemitism and Islamophobia, as well as all forms of harassment, discrimination, and violence.” But Muslim students said Granberg’s public statements, especially initial statements that condemned Hamas but did not include details of Israel’s history of violence in the Gaza Strip, weren’t enough to dispel feelings of animosity toward Muslim students. Abbas, who is studying international affairs, said Granberg’s stature as GW’s president means her imbalanced comments may justify blatant Islamophobia. read the complete article

Islamic Art Exhibition Postponed in Pittsburgh Amid Israel-Hamas War

The Frick Pittsburgh postponed an exhibition featuring 10 centuries of Islamic art that was supposed to open on Saturday, citing the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war and the fear that the show could become “a source of unintended insensitivity or offense.” The decision to postpone the show, which was to include scientific instruments, fine glassware, paintings and metalwork from across the Middle East, was denounced by some Muslim and Jewish groups, who said that the museum’s action seemed to suggest or imply a false connection between masterpieces of Islamic art and terrorism. Christine Mohamed, the executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that the “decision to postpone the ‘Treasured Ornament: 10 Centuries of Islamic Art’ exhibition under the pretext of potential harm to the Jewish community perpetuates the harmful stereotype that Muslims or Islamic art are synonymous with terrorism or antisemitism.” And Adam Hertzman, an official with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told the radio station WESA that “few people in the Jewish community would have been concerned about an exhibit on Islamic art because we understand that has nothing to do with Hamas, which is a terrorist organization.” read the complete article

Muslim Americans Are Skeptical About The White House's Plan To Fight Islamophobia

President Joe Biden’s administration is developing a national strategy to combat Islamophobia as the White House faces skepticism from many Muslim Americans for its staunch support of Israel’s military assault on Hamas in Gaza. The launch of the anti-Islamophobia effort has been anticipated for months after the administration in May released a national strategy to combat antisemitism that made passing reference to countering hatred against Muslims. There had been widespread agreement among Muslim Americans on the need for a national strategy to counter Islamophobia, according to a fourth person familiar with the matter, who added that the Israel-Hamas war has made the timing of the White House announcement more complicated. The person, who was also not authorized to speak publicly about the internal deliberations, said the administration wants to keep the two issues separate, while some prominent Muslim American groups see them as interrelated. Nashashibi said he believed such an effort would be “dead on arrival” with the Muslim community until the president and administration officials forcefully condemn members of the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have openly called for the eradication of Palestinians from Gaza and until the administration more aggressively calls out hate crimes targeting Muslims and Arab Americans. He and other leaders also want Biden to apologize, or at least publicly clarify, his recent comments in which he said he had “no confidence” in the Palestinian death count from Israel’s retaliatory strikes, because the data comes from the Hamas-run Health Ministry. read the complete article

White House calls on Fox News to apologize after top host’s ‘sickening’ Islamophobic rant

The right-wing television network has remained entirely silent amid fierce backlash stemming from Islamophobic comments made on its top-rated show, “The Five,” by one of its top hosts, Jesse Watters. In an astonishing and ugly rant, Watters on Wednesday said that he was fed up with Arab Americans and the entire Muslim world. “We have had it with them,” Watters declared during the diatribe, which aired during a segment about activists ripping down posts spotlighting Israeli hostages. “And so, if you’re an Arab American in this country, and you ripped down posters of Jewish hostages of American hostages — no, no, no, no, someone is going to get punched in the face when you rip down posters of hostages like that,” Watters added. The remarks earned Watters and Fox News another stinging rebuttal from the White House, which called them a “sickening attack on the rights and dignity of their fellow Americans.” The White House added that Fox News “owes an apology to every single viewer.” If you’re waiting for an apology from Fox News, however, don’t hold your breath (you should probably know this by now). As usual, Fox News hasn’t said a word about the hateful rant that streamed out of a top host’s mouth and into the homes of millions. And it’s not the first time that Watters has made abhorrent comments since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out. In October, Watters said, “I don’t like how people try to differentiate between the Palestinians and Hamas.” “To me, I see people with guns. That’s Hamas. The people without the guns are the Palestinians. They believe the same thing,” Watters said at the time. “The Palestinians hire Hamas to run their government. You poll them; they all love killing Jews. It’s in their charter. They say they believe in suicide bombings.” read the complete article

Trump, other Republicans call for travel restrictions, sparking new 'Muslim ban' fears

The doors to Adam Abusalah's local mosque, once open to the public, are now locked. Since the deadly attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7, leaders at Abusalah's Detroit mosque have increased security during prayer times. It's a drastic move in a community that prides itself on welcoming Muslim immigrants from around the world, including Abusalah's Palestinian American family. "Not only are we mourning the lives of people we lost in Palestine, but we have to worry about our safety," said Abusalah, 22. "We are talking about safety during prayers. Right now if you go, the doors are locked, but there is someone at the door who lets you in – that’s not normal." As Jews face a surge in antisemitism and hate speech, Muslims in the U.S. say they're also facing a flare-up of Islamaphobia not seen since 9/11. They're not just worried about rhetoric; they fear a new wave of retaliatory policies. At least a dozen Republicans in Congress and two on the campaign trail – including former President Donald Trump – are calling for another so-called Muslim ban that could restrict travel to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries. They've introduced legislation to bar Palestinian refugees and called on the president to revoke the visas of anyone supporting Hamas. The proposals are "reminiscent of post-9/11" said Zainab Chaudry, Maryland director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. "The fear of being profiled and being discriminated against because of one’s identity is very much at the forefront of many Arab American and Muslim Americans’ minds," she said, as the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth week. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'The Anti-Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions Bill is Another Way to Silence Pro-Palestinian Voices’

The escalation in the violence in recent weeks has exposed a grotesque level of dehumanisation of Palestinians and those who advocate for their cause. This dehumanisation is compounded by the attempt to shut down the peaceful non-violent act of boycott via BDS, from which this bill seeks to exclusively protect Israel. Not only do Palestinians have to weather displacement and arguably genocide, but even peacefully protesting their circumstances is being legislated against as a racist affront. The dehumanisation of Palestinians is such that any act of resistance is considered unacceptable. As Gaza becomes a “graveyard for children” the government seems to be conveying to the Palestinian people that any act of protesting their circumstances will be shut down, that they should accept their fate of perpetual oppression, violence and subjugation. ‘Human animals’. ‘Fleas’. ‘Children of darkness’. ‘Finish them’. ‘Erase the memory of them’. These are examples of the dehumanising language adopted when speaking of Palestinians or of those that simply advocate for the Palestinian cause. Israelis are ‘killed’ and Palestinians ‘die’. Even those that protest the violence in Gaza are accused of participating in a ‘March of Hatred’. The presence of many Jews and Jewish groups in these marches and in the opposition to Israels bombardment of Gaza seems to go unnoticed to those that accuse the marchers of hate. read the complete article

Israel-Palestine war fuelling Islamophobic attacks at University of Cambridge

The number of Islamophobic incidents at the University of Cambridge has risen since the onset of war between Israel and Palestinian groups, with students warning of a "climate of censorship" where pro-Palestine solidarity is repeatedly muzzled. The University of Cambridge Islamic Society released a statement on Tuesday encouraging Muslim students to "remain cautious [and] travel in groups where possible" after reports of "multiple incidents of religiously motivated attacks and Islamophobic hate crimes". Students told Middle East Eye that there has been a string of attacks against Muslim students since the start of the latest conflict, with some of the victims wearing clothes that clearly identified them as Muslim. According to the students, two of the incidents involved the perpetrators referencing the Palestinian group Hamas. The email, seen by MEE, said: "A significant number of hate crimes against Muslim students have been reported to the police in Cambridge over the last few days. "These include verbal and physical assault both on university grounds and around the city." Several Muslim students told MEE on condition of anonymity that the conflict had led to an intimidating atmosphere on campus, with many fearing administrative repercussions when speaking up about the situation in Gaza. read the complete article

Israel-Palestine war: Sunak and his ministers are the true extremists

This weekend, we learnt that, in the wake of Israel's war on Gaza, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government intends to broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who "undermines" British institutions and values. The Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) and Palestine Action are among the organisations targeted on the basis that they would be "captured" by the new definition of extremism. By this definition, the Sunak government itself should be designated. It is the most extremist government in modern British history. No government has ever waged war on British institutions with the sinister determination of the Tories. There is no British institution and no British value which the consecutive Tory governments have not undermined and attacked. Leading the way has been the home secretary, Suella Braverman. Braverman is, I think, Britain’s most bigoted (and extremist) mainstream politician since Enoch Powell. The home secretary falsely claimed that so-called "grooming gangs" were almost entirely made up of British Pakistani men, whom she said "hold cultural attitudes completely incompatible with British values". She has talked of an "invasion" of migrants. Now she wants to legislate to stop homeless people sleeping in tents. This is a basic attack not just on the most vulnerable members of our society, but a betrayal of British values. To use the kind of language favoured by the Tories themselves, the Sunak government hates Britain, British values and everything we stand for. This brings me to the language used by Braverman about the regular demonstrations across Britain calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. My wife and daughters have been on these marches. If I was in London rather than here in the West Bank reporting settler violence, I would have been with them. To Braverman these are "hate marches". It is possible to honourably disagree with all these great causes. But the Sunak government’s use of the term "hate march" displays a failure to understand that the right to protest is a fundamental British value. read the complete article


Winnipeg woman harassed with anti-Muslim slurs during school drop-off fears for her safety

A Muslim woman from Winnipeg says she's shocked, scared and in disbelief after being accosted twice Friday morning. Sarwat Qureshi was driving her son to Acadia High School in Fort Richmond, in the city's south end, when she was waved down by a man who then hurled anti-Muslim and Islamophobic slurs at her, she said. After dropping her son off and taking a different street, Qureshi crossed paths with the man again, and he tried to enter her van, she said. "That individual didn't know me, didn't know my name, we've never met before," said Qureshi. "But so much hate that he had for me just because of the way I dress, I can't understand it, it's hard to explain." read the complete article

Senate report on Islamophobia says urgent action needed to reverse rising tide of hate

Islamophobia remains a persistent problem in Canada and concrete action is required to reverse the growing tide of hate, says a new Senate report released Thursday. "The evidence is clear. Islamophobia is an acute threat to Canadian Muslims and urgent action is needed," Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, chair of the Senate human rights committee, told reporters Thursday. The report said the committee "was disturbed to hear that incidents of Islamophobia are a daily reality for many Muslims, that one in four Canadians do not trust Muslims and that Canada leads the G7 in terms of targeted killings of Muslims motivated by Islamophobia." The report's finding that one in four Canadians do not trust Muslims comes from a submission to the committee from Maple Lodge Farms, a supplier of Halal meat in Ontario's Peel region, which said it gathered the information from a "national survey" it conducted of 1,500 Canadians. The report found that Muslim women have become the "primary targets when it comes to violence and intimidation" because they are easily recognizable from their attire. As a result, many are afraid to leave their homes for work, school or other activities. "The profound effects of gendered Islamophobia are such that it compels certain women to consider removing their hijabs to enhance their employment opportunities," the report said. "Testimonies highlighted the fact that Islamophobia in the workplace is not merely the consequence of a handful of people's actions; rather, it is a systemic issue that is widespread." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Nov 2023 Edition


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