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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08 Nov 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, a Muslim woman in Minneapolis was attacked by another woman with a knife at a gas station, at a time when cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise across the state, meanwhile in Germany, a new report from the country’s largest Muslim organization shows that there have been 81 attacks against mosques since the beginning of this year, with nearly half of the attacks recorded after Oct. 7, and lastly, a European Union official has released a statement saying that hate speech specifically targeting Jews and Muslims is on the rise as the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies saying further that, “hatred towards Muslims, in particular, has to do with negative stereotyping”. Our recommended read of the day is by Ali Harb for Al Jazeera on how Arab and Muslim Americans are deeply frustrated with the Biden administration’s “unwavering” support for Israel’s war in Gaza, and how recent efforts by the administration to reach out to the communities are viewed as disingenuous and simply a “damage-control response.” This and more below:

United States

Biden’s outreach to US Arabs, Muslims ‘falling flat’ amid Israel-Gaza war | Recommended Read

The front page came with a full-width photo of United States President Joe Biden and a stark message: “He lost our votes”, written in thick red letters. That was the main headline for last week’s Arab American News, a bilingual weekly publication out of Dearborn, Michigan, catering to the area’s large Arabic-speaking population. But as Biden campaigns for reelection in 2024, the newspaper’s headline serves as a bellwether for his prospects among Arab and Muslim American voters — and how his overtures to their communities are being received. Many Palestinian, Arab and Muslim Americans have expressed frustration over the Biden administration’s “unwavering” support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Biden and his top aides have responded with an outreach effort over the last two weeks, in an apparent push to allay some of the outrage. The US government’s rhetoric about the war has also shifted, with more explicit emphasis on protecting civilians and calls for “humanitarian pauses” amid the fighting to allow aid into Gaza. But Palestinian rights advocates say that the Biden administration’s charm offensive is falling short. “They’re trying to cover up. That’s why we’re not buying into this Islamophobia strategy. We’re not buying into these meetings,” said Abed Ayoub, executive director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). “We’re past that. We need action. We need this administration to show some leadership and not throw us crumbs. We don’t care about a meeting. We really, truly don’t. Nothing is coming out of those meetings obviously.” A survey by the Arab American Institute last month showed a drastic drop in support for Biden in Arab American communities. Only 17 percent of respondents said they would back the president, down from 59 percent in 2020. Similarly, an NBC News survey this week revealed that only 16 percent of Arab and Muslim respondents in the key swing state of Michigan said they would vote for Biden if the elections were held today. read the complete article

The Biden administration says colleges must fight ‘alarming rise’ in antisemitism and Islamophobia

The Biden administration is warning U.S. schools and colleges that they must take immediate action to stop antisemitism and Islamophobia on their campuses, citing an “alarming rise” in threats and harassment. In a Tuesday letter, the Education Department said there’s “renewed urgency” to fight discrimination against students during the Israel-Hamas war. The letter reminds schools of their legal duty to protect students and intervene to stop harassment that disrupts their education. “The rise of reports of hate incidents on our college campuses in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict is deeply traumatic for students and should be alarming to all Americans,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “Antisemitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of hatred go against everything we stand for as a nation.” Universities have faced mounting criticism over their response to the war and its reverberations at U.S. schools. Jewish and Muslim students on many campuses say too little is being done to keep them safe. Protests have sometimes turned violent, including at a recent demonstration at Tulane University, while threats of violence have upended campuses including Cornell University. The Education Department letter offered few specifics on how colleges should respond, and it did little to answer questions about where to draw the line between political speech and harassment. Instead, it outlined schools’ broad duties under the Civil Rights Act. read the complete article

Police investigating attack of Muslim woman at Minneapolis gas station

A Minneapolis mother believes she became a hate crime victim after an argument at a gas station turned violent. It comes as cases of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise. "I'm still feeling in pain," said Sabrina Yahya, through an interpreter. She says she's still healing, both physically and emotionally. "I'm seeking justice for what took place to me. I'm a mother who was wrongfully attacked," she said. Yahya said an argument over a gas pump at a Holiday Station store on Franklin Avenue escalated when a woman pulled out a small knife and began attacking her. She said a Good Samaritan and security guard intervened and the woman took off. "At the time, Ms. Sabrina was with her mother, who's with us today. And they both began to follow and identify who this individual was," said CAIR-Minnesota executive director Jaylani Hussein. They stopped in a neighborhood nearby where the confrontation continued, and Yahya said the woman began expressing anti-Muslim sentiments. "She made it very clear that she hates Muslims and she hates the people that they are," Hussein said. read the complete article

Muslim Democrats 'Horrified By' Ryan Zinke's Bill To Expel Palestinians, Call It 'Pure Bigotry'

The three Muslim members of Congress said in a joint statement Tuesday they were “horrified” by a Republican proposal to expel Palestinians from the United States. In an echo of former Donald Trump’s infamous “Muslim ban,” last week Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) introduced a bill that would bar Palestinians from traveling to the U.S. and revoke any visas issued to Palestinians in the U.S. since Oct. 1. Zinke served as Trump’s Interior secretary before coming to Congress this year. “Let’s be clear: using the full power of the state to target and persecute a particular ethnic group or nationality is fascism and pure bigotry,” Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Tuesday. “This legislation — by a former cabinet official no less — directly violates the U.S. Constitution, and would illegally destroy the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian immigrants who live in and contribute to American society,” Carson, Omar and Tlaib said. Anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric has spiked since the start of the Oct. 7 conflict. The White House announced last Wednesday a new initiative to battle the rising Islamophobia, alongside a parallel national strategy aimed to combat antisemitism. The announcement, which has been in the works for months, was accelerated ahead of the recent spike of anti-Muslim rhetoric nationwide. read the complete article

US House censures lone Palestinian-American lawmaker over Israel comments

The U.S. House voted on Tuesday to censure Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, Congress's lone Palestinian-American lawmaker, for comments she made regarding Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza. Twenty-two Democrats joined with most Republicans in the chamber to censure Tlaib for allegedly "promoting false narratives" on Hamas' Oct. 7 gun rampage in Israel and "calling for the destruction of the state of Israel." The measure specifically cited a video Tlaib published on social media containing the phrase "from the river to the sea," a pro-Palestinian rallying cry that is viewed by many Jews as antisemitic and calling for Israel's eradication. She also enraged many fellow Democrats on Friday when she posted a video accusing President Joe Biden of supporting "the genocide of the Palestinian people." Israel vehemently rejects accusations of genocide. Tlaib rejected accusations of antisemitism during a speech on the House floor on Tuesday. "I am the only Palestinian-American in Congress, and my perspective is needed more than ever," Tlaib said. "My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's actions... The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent," Tlaib said. "Palestinian people are not disposable," Tlaib added, taking a long pause as she became overcome with emotion. Her grandmother lives in a village in the occupied West Bank, territory Israel captured in a 1967 war. read the complete article

Trump administration considered ideological ‘screenings’ of noncitizens

During Donald Trump’s presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) considered the implications of expelling foreign nationals from the US for their political beliefs, newly unsealed documents have revealed. The memos examined intentions to perform ideological screenings on foreign nationals in the US, but ultimately concluded such a plan would be illegal to implement. The first memo addresses constitutional constraints on what the former US president in 2016 called the “extreme vetting” of noncitizens through the use of ideological “screenings tests”. One constraint in particular explored what could happen in the case of mistakenly including an individual on a watchlist. “There may also be claims against programs related to vetting that are targeted against particular individuals or groups, alleging that the targeting itself is on an impermissible basis,” the memo stated. The second memo addressed more specifically, people who “endorse or espouse terrorism”. It concluded that allowing for the exclusion or removal of these people would be unconstitutional, since a person cannot be targeted based on seemingly expressing support for terrorist-related activity due to their first amendment rights. read the complete article

Florida Man Accused Of Ripping Off Postal Worker's Hijab, Punching Her In Face

A Florida man faces a hate crime charge after police say he ripped off a postal worker’s hijab and punched her in the face. Fort Lauderdale police arrested Kenneth Jerome Pinkney, 47, on Oct. 24 after he allegedly attacked a U.S. Postal Service worker. In an arrest report obtained by Local 10 on Tuesday, police said the worker ― who has not been named ― was walking up to a home to deliver mail when Pinkney rode his bicycle past her and “made a shooting gesture.” Pinkney allegedly called the worker derogatory names and told her to go back to her country, according to the report obtained by Local 10. He then walked up to the woman, ripped off her hjibab, and started to slap and punch her in the face, police said. The woman sustained injuries to her face, including scratches and a bloody mouth, according to the report. Pinkney was arrested later that day and has been charged with battery and committing a second-degree felony with prejudice. read the complete article


Islamophobia, anti-Semitism rises in EU amid Israel-Hamas war: Official

Hate speech targeting Muslims and Jews in Europe is rising as the conflict between Israel and Hamas rages, a European Union official tasked with combating Islamophobia has warned. “We’ve seen a very clear rising trend of anti-Muslim hatred and anti-Semitic narratives. This hate speech ranges from microaggressions to clear threats and we’ve observed most of it happening on social media platforms,” Marion Lalisse told Al Jazeera. “The hatred towards Muslims in particular, has to do with negative stereotypes considering Muslims as a monolithic group involved in violence. Such biases are spread across EU nations.” But besides the UK, other European countries have not published statistics on reported Islamophobic incidents, which have also been increasing since October 7, according to Human Rights Watch. “This suggests they do not record hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim. Lack of data impedes effective policy responses to such hate crimes,” the rights group said in a statement. read the complete article


Anti-Muslim hate crimes explode in Germany amid ongoing Israeli onslaught on Gaza

Anti-Muslim hate crimes and attacks against mosques have significantly increased in Germany since the escalation of Israel-Hamas conflict, according to a report by the country’s largest Muslim organization. Eyup Kalyon, secretary general of the Turkish-Muslim group DITIB, has said propaganda by far-right politicians, and biased media coverage of the recent developments, have fueled anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. “According to a report of our anti-discrimination office, there have been 81 attacks against mosques since the beginning of this year. Nearly half of them were recorded after Oct. 7,” he told Anadolu, adding that more and more mosques are receiving racist threats. Kalyon said that in northwestern Germany, unknown perpetrators sent racist messages, burned pages of the Islam’s holy book Quran, threw pig’s meat and feces towards the mosques, and drew Nazi symbols on the walls of several mosques. He called on the government and authorities to take effective measures to ensure their security. read the complete article

Over 40% of Muslim men in Germany report about daily racism: Study

More than 40% of Muslim men are experiencing racism in everyday life in Germany, according to a study released on Tuesday. According to the report published by the German Center for Integration and Migration Research (Dezim) in Berlin, some 41.2% of Muslim men are affected by racism. Muslims often experience discrimination as well in public offices and dealing with authorities, including police. More than a third of Muslim men (39%) reported about more frequent experiences of discrimination and racism in the police, while 51% referred to negative experiences in public offices and talking to authorities. Among Muslim women, 46% said that they had often experienced discrimination in offices and authorities. When it comes to contact with the police, the corresponding proportion was 25%. Furthermore, Germany’s health care system is not free from discrimination either. “Discrimination takes place here in different places. For example, people who are racially marked are given worse appointments and their suffering is less heard,” said the director of Dezim Institute, Frank Kalter. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Palestine & Prevent: Justifying the silencing of British Muslims over Israel’s crimes

While Israel continues to carry out a genocide in Gaza, British authorities appear to be doing everything in their power to keep people from calling attention to it. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has labelled demonstrations calling for a ceasefire “hate marches”. Meanwhile, Metropolitan police head Mark Rowley warned that police are going to be “absolutely ruthless” when dealing with pro-Palestine protests specifically. While this would be concerning in itself, the risk faced by Muslims is amplified when considering that both Braverman and Rowley have made reference to the terror threat level in the UK when discussing support for Palestine. In the wake of escalated attacks from Israel on Gaza, what we are witnessing is an association between terrorism and support for Palestine that is both deliberate and thorough. And as ever, the brunt of counter-terror surveillance and policing will be borne by Muslims in particular. Thus we have the creation of a triangle where the Palestinian struggle is linked to terrorism, which is linked to Islamophobia, which in turn links back to Palestine. And so it follows that as long as support for Palestine is conflated with terrorism, any and all crackdowns on such shows of support, despite targeting Muslims disproportionately, are deemed not just legitimate but also necessary. read the complete article

Robin Simcox: A cheerleader for the UK government's own brand of extremism

Robin Simcox, the UK’s commissioner for countering extremism, has been mostly content to keep a low profile since he was appointed to the role two years ago. But on 19 October he made his first major public intervention by setting the terms of discourse for discussion of the Israel-Palestine War. By all accounts it was a substantial intervention. Simcox slammed pro-Palestine protests. He called the UK a “permissive environment” for antisemitism. He warned of a Hamas support network in the country - and urged a crackdown on non-violent Islamism. In this article, we will argue that Simcox should not be regarded as a neutral arbiter of extremism – as might be expected in such a role - but rather as a partisan figure within the landscape over which he has been appointed to cast scrutiny. We will examine Simcox’s links to right-wing networks accused of promoting Islamophobia in both British and American politics and media. He had made a name for himself at two influential neoconservative think tanks on either side of the Atlantic, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) in London and the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Prior to that, from 2008 to 2011, Simcox worked at the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), a right-wing think tank which produced work focusing on counter-terrorism and Muslims. Its director was Douglas Murray, who in a speech to the Dutch Parliament in 2006 had called for conditions for Muslims in Europe to be made “harder across the board”. Simcox’s past at right-wing, anti-Muslim think tanks brings us onto the central problem of his appointment to the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE). read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Nov 2023 Edition


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