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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16 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., a landlord stabbed and killed a six year old Palestinian-American Muslim boy and choked and stabbed his mother in what police are investigating as a hate crime, as the perpetrator shouted “You Muslims must die!” prior to entering the family’s home, meanwhile, a large amount of disinformation surrounding the war in Gaza has flooded social media since Hamas’s October 7 attack, with a large percentage coming from right-leaning accounts based out of India, and a new investigation finds that Youtube is autogenerating videos for ‘Hindutva Pop’, a music genre boasting Hindu nationalism and promoting anti-Muslim hate. Our recommended read of the day is by Prem Thakker and Daniel Boguslaw for The Intercept on how several Muslim and Arab civil rights groups have reported that FBI agents have been questioning and detaining Palestinian nationals as well as making unannounced visits to mosques in the U.S. in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel. This and more below:

United States


Federal law enforcement agents have questioned and detained Palestinian nationals and made visits to mosques in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel, according to civil rights advocates. Abed Ayoub, executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, said that his organization has fielded multiple reports of individuals and mosques being visited by the FBI this week. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a police accountability group, also said it had received reports of federal agents intimidating Palestinians and their supporters. The interactions are reminiscent of surveillance and targeting of Muslim and Arab communities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and Ayoub told The Intercept that they are contributing to a resurgence of fear among Muslim communities. “Like, ‘Oh my god, this is happening again, how are we going to protect ourselves?’” Human rights attorney Azadeh Shahshahani told The Intercept that greater surveillance and targeting of Muslim and Palestinian community members wouldn’t come as a surprise — and is rather a part of a pattern of federal law enforcement practices. Meanwhile, Muslims and Palestinians have reported incidents of discrimination throughout the nation this week. In New York, for example, a group of men waving Israeli flags assaulted an 18-year-old Palestinian in Brooklyn. Numerous individuals at a rally looked directly into a camera as they exclaimed threats including “Kill all Palestinians, all of them!” and “Flatten them like a parking lot … once and for all.” read the complete article

US: Six-year-old Palestinian boy fatally stabbed 26 times by anti-Muslim landlord

A six-year-old Palestinian Muslim boy was fatally stabbed and his mother seriously injured when their landlord entered their home with a 12-inch military knife on Saturday in Chicago. According to the police, the family was targeted because of their Islamic beliefs and in reaction to the violence in Palestine and Israel. According to the Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair), the landlord entered the home and proceeded to choke and stab 32-year-old Hanaan Shahin. She allegedly went into the bathroom and called 911. When she came back out, she found her six-year-old son Wadea Al-Fayoume with a knife stuck in his tiny body, stabbed 26 times with a 12-inch serrated military knife with a seven-inch blade. In texts to her husband, she wrote that the landlord reportedly yelled "You Muslims must die!" She remains in hospital in serious condition. Her son has died. On Sunday, authorities arrested 71-year-old Joseph Czuba accusing him of a hate crime. He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder in the first degree, two counts of hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. At a press conference on Sunday , the executive director of the Chicago chapter of Cair, Ahmed Rehab, said that while the blame lies on the murderer, it also lies on a hateful atmosphere that has been created. "I ask all people of conscience, to what extent have we created an atmosphere in which someone who may not have committed such an act this senseless, this meaningless... to what extent was this person radicalised and brainwashed by this lopsided, one-sided atmosphere that fans the flames of hatred of Muslims and Palestinians?" read the complete article

Jewish and Muslim Americans fear rise in hate crimes amid Israel-Hamas war

Jewish and Muslim Americans in cities all around the country are worried that escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine, which some are calling “isolating and scary”, will exacerbate hate crimes and harassment in the United States. For many Arab Americans in New York City, Bay Ridge was always a place of safety. The south Brooklyn neighborhood is 3 sq miles of Arabic bodega signs, halal grocers and a growing community of Palestinian, Yemeni, Syrian and Egyptian families. On Wednesday, that sense of safety was punctured by reports of a hate crime. Police said “three alleged assailants in three cars were waving Israeli flags” and yelled “anti-Palestinian remarks at three men walking on 86th Street”, according to a statement this week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “The group got out of their car and assaulted the three men.” Elsewhere in Brooklyn, local television station ABC7 reported that two men walked up to two people holding Palestinian flags, grabbed a flag and hit one person over the head. In Gravesend – also in Brooklyn – two juvenile boys pointed what turned out to be fake guns at the local B’nai Yosef synagogue, police said. The boys were given criminal court summonses. Earlier this year, FBI data revealed that the number of US hate crimes increased again in 2021, continuing an alarming rise. “But this moment is different,” said Corey Saylor, the research and advocacy director at CAIR. “Right now there is an unusually vicious targeting of students that support Palestine, and the volume and intensity is something I haven’t witnessed before.” read the complete article

‘Mr President, put an end to this’: Palestinian Americans speak out on Gaza

Arab, Muslim and Palestinian rights advocates in the United States have denounced Washington’s unconditional support for Israel’s war in Gaza, decrying the “dehumanisation” of Palestinians by media outlets and politicians. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, representatives of several advocacy groups also sounded the alarm about the prospect of hate incidents against Arab and Muslim Americans. Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), slammed President Joe Biden, accusing him of failing to recognise the Palestinians’ humanity. “You are not helping,” Awad said, speaking as if he were addressing Biden himself. “You are, in fact, giving the green light for Israel to commit a genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. You failed us as American citizens. You failed us as Palestinians. And you failed the world community.” Biden, a self-described Zionist, has consistently voiced support for Israel. In a speech this week, the president pledged to ensure that Israel has the military needs to “defend itself”, while barely mentioning the Palestinian civilians under bombardment in Gaza. “We call on you, Mr President, to put an end to this violence. You have the ability and power to prevent a mass crime and genocide from happening,” Awad said. Leading rights groups, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have said Israel is imposing a system of apartheid on Palestinians. Chris Habiby, director of national government affairs and advocacy at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), said the US should be calling for immediate de-escalation to stop the violence. Instead, he said, “our elected leaders are perpetuating Israeli lies, calling for a religious war and openly advocating for the destruction of the second most densely populated place on planet Earth”. Several US politicians have called for unchecked violence against Gaza. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News earlier this week, “We’re in a religious war here. I am with Israel. Do whatever the hell you have to do to defend yourself. Level the place.” read the complete article

Gaza Crisis Unites American Muslims in Anger and Mourning

“The events that are happening in these days are affecting not only our brothers and sisters in Islam in one small spot of the earth,” but “affecting each and every one of us,” Imam Abdussamad Madad said during a sermon at the Indonesian Muslim Association in America in Silver Spring, Maryland. In sermons and conversations afterward, Muslim clerics and congregants grappled with whether they should speak out or stay silent, attend public rallies to support Palestine or stay away from potentially volatile demonstrations, track every horrifying development on the news or disengage. Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Islamic centers in the Minneapolis area had been reluctant to hold vigils and other public events to honor those killed. He said many were concerned for their safety in a city where mosques have been attacked in recent years. Muslim leaders say they have seen an increase in threats and reports of anti-Muslim harassment over the past week, an echo of similar spikes after the Sept. 11 attacks and terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris in 2015. Many mosques and synagogues have regular armed guards and keep in close contact with the police, but on Friday several Muslim leaders said they had added extra security. read the complete article

MSNBC suspends Muslim anchors amid Israeli war in Gaza

Two sources have confirmed to Arab News that US news network MSNBC has suspended the shows of three Muslim anchors amid rising tensions in Gaza. Earlier today, Semafor revealed that Mehdi Hasan, Ayman Mohieddine and Ali Velshi were “quietly taken out of the anchor’s chair since Hamas’ attack on Israel.” According to Semafor, the left-leaning news network did not air a scheduled Thursday night episode of “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” and dropped a plan for Mohieddine to anchor Joy Reid’s show on Thursday and Friday. Sources also revealed that Velshi was being replaced by another anchor for his upcoming weekend shows. MSNBC, however, “vehemently pushed back against any notion that either Hasan or Mohieddine were being sidelined in any way,” Semafor added. But two Arab News sources directly involved with the decision within MSNBC have confirmed the suspension. “There is a lot of unclarity over what happens next,” said one source. “But the mood is very similar to what had happened post 9/11 with the whole you are either with us or against us argument,” he added. “Sadly, this has now gone beyond political views and is targeting anchors of a particular faith,” he said. read the complete article

Donald Trump and Stephen Miller Exploit Gaza Crisis to Push Muslim Travel Ban

In the latest example of Republicans wrongly conflating disparate crises in order to whip up anger and fear, former President Donald Trump and others in his mold are responding to attacks on Israelis and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza by spreading disinformation about the Mexican border and promoting extremist anti-immigrant policies such as reviving the ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries that Trump pushed since 2016. Trump is also using the moment as an excuse to revive his pledge to reinstate the notorious “Muslim ban” he attempted to place on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries after taking office, which sparked protests at airports across the country and was initially struck down by the courts. Stephen Miller — the architect of the Trump administration’s disastrous policy of separating migrant children from their parents, and who cited white nationalists in emails — suggested on social media that one should “design your nation’s immigration policy so you don’t have to worry about a global day of jihad.” Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has escalated in recent weeks as his campaign aggressively raises money for a former president that faces a litany of criminal charges across multiple jurisdictions. Immigrant rights groups say Trump’s words are putting people at risk of violence. read the complete article


Analysis: Why is so much anti-Palestinian disinformation coming from India?

The cliche goes that the first casualty of war is truth. With Israel’s occupation of Palestine, disinformation often comes with a side of anti-Palestinianism and Islamophobia, turbocharged by social media amplification, especially under Elon Musk’s leadership of X, formerly known as Twitter. But an intriguing element of the disinformation that has flooded social media since Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel is that a lot of it has been produced or spread by right-leaning accounts based out of India. BOOM, one of India’s most reputed fact-checking services, found several verified Indian X users at the helm of a disinformation campaign. These “disinfluencers” – influencers who have routinely shared disinformation – have been “mostly targeting Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel”, according to BOOM. They have peddled tropes that have sought to showcase Palestinians as fundamentally brutal. Many of the accounts sharing these false videos also spend a lot of their time posting anti-Muslim comments on X. One account, Mr Sinha_, who shared the false video of a boy being beheaded by Hamas, included the hashtag #IslamIsTheProblem in the same post. Others have been more explicit in their hatred of Palestine. One Indian account, purporting to belong to a retired Indian soldier, stated, “Israel must finish off Palestine from the planet.” It is no secret that India has an Islamophobia problem, one that has only increased since the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A report by the Australia-based Islamic Council of Victoria found that the majority of all Islamophobic tweets can be traced back to India. read the complete article

Neither Palestinians nor Israelis Will Be Safe Unless All Are Safe

The unfolding catastrophe in Palestine/Israel grows increasingly horrific as details about the gruesome weekend attacks continually come to light, and as the Israeli government, backed and armed by the United States, uses Islamophobic “war on terror” rhetoric to justify a genocidal campaign of collective punishment, mass displacement, and destruction against one of the most vulnerable populations on the planet: the people of Gaza. We can and must reject all of these things and proceed differently for the future of all of us—Palestinians and Israelis. As a Palestinian Israeli American and human rights lawyer, I know the larger context of the current violence is essential. It is not senseless religious hatred, as “war on terror” stories pretend. I also know that any response to violence must start by rejecting the killing of noncombatants and affirming the need to protect humanity—especially in the darkest times. Some initially felt victorious that Hamas fighters broke through the walls of the punishing Gaza prison until the attack’s horrors came to light. Now, Israel is using this unprecedented attack and “war on terror” narratives to distort Palestinians’ fight for liberation, to further Islamophobia, and to commit mass atrocities with impunity. There is no rejoicing. Palestinians have always called for international protection and recognition of their human rights to life, safety, self-determination, freedom of movement, and freedom from collective punishment—all of which Israel’s government has continuously denied, regardless of the party in power. Israeli leaders have portrayed the Palestinian struggle as an illegitimate security and terrorism threat that must be eliminated—even when Palestinians resort to nonviolent forms of civil disobedience like boycotts, strikes, and protests. When Gazans protested and marched largely peacefully for weeks in 2018 to assert their right of return, for example, more than 200 were shot and killed by Israeli snipers and thousands more injured, many maimed and left with long-term disabilities. So where are we now? For real and just peace, global leaders must stop treating Palestinians’ liberation struggle as a security threat to quash militarily or through “counterterrorism” and must recognize Palestinians’ legitimate rights and take action to end Israel’s system of oppression and domination. Seventy-five years of state violence and subjugation are at the core of the current catastrophic situation. read the complete article

United Kingdom

‘We feel targeted’: families from two faiths in UK fear for relatives in the Middle East – and their own safety

Palestinians in the UK can relate to the escalating tensions. Faced with mounting Islamophobia, thousands are also coping with the loss of contact with loved ones and friends in Gaza, their whereabouts unknown, their fate uncertain. Londoner Abdurrahman Tamimi lost contact for 36 hours last Thursday morning with his cousin Riyad, who lives with his wife, son and two daughters in northern Gaza. As the Israeli army issued mass evacuation orders for their neighbourhood, Tamimi began to despair. In 1948 his paternal grandparents were ejected from the West Bank, fleeing to Kuwait and then to Jordan. His father came to the UK in the 1970s as a student, the family settling permanently in London in the 90s. As a student at London’s City University, Tamimi identified strongly with his Palestinian heritage and had begun advocating for the rights of Palestinians, knowing it might lead them to contact with the UK’s principal counter-terrorism programme. “We were always fearful of the threat of Prevent being used against us by the university. We were already facing numerous restrictions and false accusations of glorifying terrorism.” Inexorably, anti-Muslim hatred became part of Tamimi’s life. “Islamophobia is always there. There are specific times when it is more visible: something will happen and people will say things about Muslims or Palestinians that you didn’t realise they thought.” Increasingly, Tamimi is concerned that freedoms of expression are shrinking in tandem with an increase in Islamophobia. read the complete article


Over 100 Muslim Homes, Between 50 & 60 Years Old, Razed For Rail Project In UP’s Mathura, Hindu Houses Intact

On 9 August and 14 August, officers of the Agra division of the North Central Railway demolished 135 houses in Mathura town’s Nai Basti, a cluster of brick and cement homes 250 m behind the Krishna Janmasthan temple complex, a group of Hindu temples that bring this town in western Uttar Pradesh (UP) several million tourists a year. Muslim and Hindu homes shared boundary walls in a few places in Nai Basti, but Hindu houses remained untouched, said residents. Some said they had lived in these houses for more than seven decades; the houses themselves were 50 to 60 years old, standing on land being cleared by the railway for a project to connect the town with the nearby temple town of Vrindavan, lying 14 km north. Kadir Khan, 50, sat under a tree near a heap of rubble that used to be his home in Nai Basti. “We have understood that this is a measure to remove us from here,” he told Article 14. “They do not want Muslims here.” He said the Hindu houses behind his house had not been touched. His demolished home used to share a boundary wall with a row of homes that were still standing, he said, all belonging to Hindus. Khan, who ran a small bakery shop next to his house, is now without livelihood. More than 60,000 homes of mostly low-income families were demolished across India by the union and state governments between January 2021 and March 2022, a new report by advocacy and research group Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has revealed. The HLRN report said State authorities had evicted over 1 million people in the last five years. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has increasingly used bulldozers to demolish Muslim-owned properties on charges that their occupants were “illegal encroachers” or alleged rioters, the latters’ families forced to face a form of collective punishment, said experts. read the complete article

YouTube is Autogenerating Videos for Songs Advocating the Expulsion of Muslims from India

The music videos themselves are low-budget. Just static images showing Hindu supremacist symbols and cut-out shots of singers. On occasion, they display photos of leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, the Hindu nationalist ruling party in India. But the lyrics speak of the slaughter of Muslims and have been chanted at religious rallies, sparking violence. These songs are part of a genre known as “Hindutva Pop”, named after a nationalist ideology associated with right-wing extremism that advocates for establishing India as a Hindu nation-state. And YouTube, one of the top music streaming platforms in the country, has helped this music expand its reach among young audiences. YouTube not only hosts such songs; it also generates videos for them. read the complete article

India’s accusation of ‘terrorism’ is a ploy to hide its own human rights abuses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused India of being involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh leader, on Canadian soil. Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Indian government is defiant and denies involvement. Indian officials have instead admonished Canada for being a “safe haven” for Sikh “terrorism,” a pejorative for Sikh self-determination. India’s weaponization of “terrorism” is a ploy to justify its transnational aggression. It is using the rhetoric of “terrorism” seemingly to imply that if the West can engage in extrajudicial killings, India can too. The tactic also deflects attention from the Modi government’s well-documented abuses of religious minorities, caste-oppressed and Indigenous people, journalists, activists and academics in India. Deploying “terrorism” as such mirrors a long history of its use by colonial powers to suppress political dissent. The term “terrorism” is intertwined with a colonial history of state violence. The British empire routinely invoked “terrorism” to suppress political dissent within colonies. The War on Terror resulted in the American-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, causing death and displacement of millions, as well as the securitization of Muslim citizens. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Oct 2023 Edition


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