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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18 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., a top official at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has warned of a potential rise in violence against Muslims and Palestinians in the country following the hate-crime murder of a six-year-old boy in Chicago last week, meanwhile, several prominent Arab American and Muslim leaders conveyed to the State Department in a call their deep concern over ‘problematic’ rhetoric, with some describing it as ‘dehumanizing,’ used by the Biden administration when it comes to the violence in Palestine and Israel, and in Canada, the London Police Service (LPS) is investigating a potential hate crime after graffiti calling for genocide against all Muslims was found in the stairwell of a south-end apartment building. Our recommended read of the day is by Nicquel Terry Ellis and Chandelis Duster for CNN on how leaders from Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American groups have reported an increase in attacks against their communities nationwide as the violence in the Middle East continues. This and more below:

United States

‘Anxiety and fear are high:’ US Palestinians, Muslims fear a return to post-9/11 Islamophobia | Recommended Read

As the Israel-Hamas War rages and the crisis in Gaza deepens, Taher Herzallah said he has exchanged frantic messages on social media with his family members who are trapped in Gaza. Their description of the situation is grim. He said they’ve told him they have no food, electricity, water or fuel. Herzallah said his concerns for his family thousands of miles away have also been compounded by a growing fear for the safety of his wife and children here in the US, as reports of attacks against people perceived to be Muslim or Palestinian surface across the country. Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Chicago chapter, said he views the attack against Al Fayoume and his mother, who is still hospitalized in serious condition, as an attack on all Muslims. “It is our worst nightmare come true. It is something we tried to warn against, creating an atmosphere of dehumanization that puts our community at risk, creates sitting ducks,” he said. “When this individual said, ‘You Muslims must die,’ this was a message not to the boy and the mother. This was to all of us. We were all stabbed that day.” Leaders from Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American groups told CNN in the days since Hamas’ surprise attack they’ve seen an increase in attacks reported against their communities, including vandalism, bullying at school and in the workplace, and threatening phone calls. read the complete article

War between Israel and Hamas raises fears about rising US hostility

A fatal stabbing in Illinois, a gun pointed at protesters in Pennsylvania, vandalism at synagogues and harassment of staff at a Palestinian restaurant all are raising fears that the war between Israel and Hamas is sparking violence in the United States. The tensions follow a familiar pattern of crimes against Jewish and Muslim communities rising when conflict erupts in the Middle East and Americans have been killed or taken hostage. While it’s too soon to say with certainty whether anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish crimes have increased during the war, hate crimes overall increased in the U.S. last year. In its annual report released Monday, the FBI estimated that hate crimes increased by 7% to 11,634 cases in 2022 compared to the previous year. With 1,124 incidents, anti-Jewish attacks were the second most reported hate crime, after anti-Black cases. There were 158 reported incidents of anti-Muslim attacks, and 92 reports of anti-Arab cases, according to the report. Civil rights organizations, however, believe that even before the Hamas attacks in Israel, crime data didn’t reflect reality due to a lack of participation by local police departments and internalized fear among the Muslim population, said Robert McCaw, director of governmental affairs for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In 2021, the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, released a study in which 85% of those who were subjected to Islamophobia said they did not report it to authorities. “The true number remains to be seen,” McCaw said. read the complete article

US Muslim groups warn over rise in violence after boy, six, killed in Illinois

A top official at the Council on American Islamic Relations (Cair) National has warned of a potential rise in violence against Muslims and Palestinians in the US following the hate-crime murder of a six-year-old boy in Illinois and the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Cair’s deputy director and a civil rights attorney, called the stabbing of Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother in their home “one of the worst-case scenarios”. Police said that the pair were attacked because they were Muslims and due to the events in the Middle East. Joseph Czuba, 71, a landlord to the family in Plainfield, Illinois, choked and stabbed the child’s mother and killed Wadea, according to text messages from the 32-year-old woman that were shared by Cair, the US’s largest Muslim civil rights organization. As he entered their apartment, Czuba allegedly shouted: “You Muslims must die!” Mitchell said: “The murder of this young boy was an act of Palestinian and Muslim hatred. It was one of the worst-case scenarios that we were worried about.” He added: “This young boy has paid the price for the bigotry and hatred that others have spread. There are no words to describe what happened to him. But there are words to describe why it happened. And why it happened is anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and it must stop.” “We’re dealing with this horrific violence overseas and trying to get our government to stop supporting it and at the same time, we are trying to protect protesters, students, employees and innocent people who are now facing the threat of discrimination or even violence.” read the complete article

Houston’s Council on American-Islamic Relations speaks out against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hate

Houston's Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke out against an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hate related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas at a press conference on Monday. CAIR Houston representatives said a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in his home late last week in an apparent anti-Muslim hate crime. "While much of this rhetoric directed at our community only goes as far as cowardly words and petty vandalism, this rhetoric directly contributed to the death of a six-year-old boy in his own home in Chicago, Illinois," William White, the director of CAIR Houston, said. Amina Ishaq is a clinical social worker and a local Muslim mother. She said Muslim children are becoming targets of bullying and discrimination. "They endure pure hostility and become victims of violence, just as we saw after 9/11. It is our moral duty as a nation to keep our children safe and no child should be stabbed over 26 times for their religion or ethnicity," Ishaq said. CAIR Houston representatives also spoke out against harassment at the University of Texas earlier this week. They said an organization that scheduled an event about Palestinian history was harassed by men who did not attend the university. read the complete article

‘This phobia is not something new’: CRGC panel discusses Islamophobia and surveillance in the US

The Department of Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies, along with the AU Muslim Students Association welcomed three guest speakers to American University on Oct. 4 to address how Islamophobic narratives have developed over time. The speakers — comedian Bryant “Preacher” Moss, writer Maha Hilal and journalist Assia Boundaoui — shared their experiences as Muslim Americans and spoke to institutionalized Islamophobia they have witnessed increasing in the U.S. Hilal said the accompanying art exhibit showcased in Mary Graydon Center during the event was meant to represent the Muslim American perspective both pre-and post-9/11 to portray how Islamophobia has grown over time. “The exhibit is a timeline on the war on terror and is meant to answer the question of ‘How did we get to where we are today with the state inflicting violence on Muslim communities?’” Hilal said. According to Hilal, Islamophobia is ingrained into the systems that uphold the U.S., and the war on terror following the 9/11 terrorist attacks showed how this Islamophobia manifests. She also addresses this phenomenon in her book, “Innocent Until Proven Muslim.” “I think of institutionalized Islamophobia as a constructive hate and fear of Muslims that is based on a certain social construction of Islams and Muslims as barbaric and uncivilized who are opposed to normative democratic governance and so on and so forth,” Hilal said. “The point of a system of oppression like Islamophobia is to position Muslims outside of communities so that the mistreatment and targeting of Muslims is acceptable.” read the complete article

Arab American leaders privately tell Biden admin to change its rhetoric

Top Arab American and Muslim leaders admonished the Biden administration for being insensitive and even reckless in their rhetoric following Hamas’ bloody attack on Israel in a private call with State Department officials on Monday. The discussion was a blunt airing of concerns about the conduct of a president and his team. And it came at a particularly sensitive time: in the wake of the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy in the Chicago area, which authorities have described as a hate crime. On the Monday call, which is being first reported by POLITICO, Zaha Hassan, a human rights lawyer, addressed what she thought was the Biden administration’s problematic language: At a press briefing last week, a State Department spokesperson declined to say directly that Israel should stop cutting off medicine, water and humanitarian aid to Palestinians, though he said he expects Israel to follow international law. “It gave the impression that it’s okay to do that to Palestinians because they’re Palestinians,” she said on the call. “That’s dehumanizing, and it opens the door for people to think that, well, you know, certain things are okay because they must be bad people. They must be terrorists.” Also on the call, Warren David, president of Arab America, told Andrew Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, that his members were “outraged — outraged — to say the least at the rhetoric that’s been coming out the last few days” from the Biden administration. David warned of “the demonization of Palestinians in Gaza and of Arabs in general” that “has really escalated hatred” against them. And he asked Miller what the State Department and President Joe Biden planned to do to “walk back their negative discourse” in light of the slaying of Wadea Al-Fayoume. “We feel great damage has been done regarding the image of Arabs in the United States,” David said on the call. “In some ways, it’s worse than what happened in 9/11.” read the complete article


Police investigate Islamophobic graffiti as London Muslim community raises alarm

The London Police Service (LPS) is investigating a potential hate crime after graffiti calling for genocide against all Muslims was found in the stairwell of a south-end apartment building. The words written on the wall in what looked like black marker said "Kill All Muslims" and was posted to social media by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on Monday. The organization and police would not reveal the exact location of the message, except to say that the building was located near Wellington Road. At the time of publication, the graffiti had been removed from the wall, police said. The discovery of the hateful message didn't surprise Nusaiba Al-Azem, the legal director at the NCCM, as she says she's heard many such stories in the last few weeks. "We've been absolutely inundated with incidents across the country that have been extremely shocking and vulgar," Al-Azem said. "I think it would shock a lot of Canadians [to discover] just how much Islamophobia has run rampant," she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Oct 2023 Edition


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