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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19 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., as the Muslim community in Chicago buried Wadea Al-Fayoume’s, the 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was stabbed to death in a suspected hate crime, Arab and Muslim American communities are fearing things will only get worse, meanwhile, two viral videos are circulating in India on accounts with Islamophobic and pro-Israel tendencies, which claim to show Palestinians faking injuries amid the war between Israel and Hamas, and in Canada, a Université de Montréal student says she was the victim of a hate incident, when a woman verbally assaulted her on a street just outside campus. Our recommended read of the day is by Holly Otterbein for Politico on how several Arab and Muslim American leaders met with officials from the Biden administration, and voiced their concerns regarding the insensitive and dehumanizing rhetoric coming from the President when it comes to Palestinians, and how this is also putting their communities in danger. This and more below:

United States

‘Great damage has been done’: Arab American leaders privately confront Biden administration | Recommended Read

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. On the call, 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

Our Leaders’ Shameful Response to Islamophobia’s Fatal Resurgence

Late Saturday morning in a Chicago suburb, a 6-year-old boy was found stabbed to death, his mother seriously wounded. The details of the crime that quickly emerged rhymed with the news cycle in a way that brought familiar dread: The mother and son were targeted by their killer—who turned out to be their landlord—due to their Palestinian and Muslim background. He had been angered by the Hamas attack on Israel nearly two weeks ago and his tenants ended up being the too-convenient target of his rage. The deadly assault and murder has drawn condemnations from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden. But these condemnations after the murder rang hollow against the backdrop of all that had been churning in the news cycle during the previous week. Not long after Hamas’s deadly incursion into Israel, the FBI reportedly visited Palestinian individuals, as well as mosques around the country. Running in the background was media coverage that stressed the horrific nature of the attacks and highlighted supposed atrocities. Biden claimed to have seen photos of babies being decapitated by members of Hamas, only for the White House to have to clarify later that Biden was merely talking about media accounts of such beheadings. Those reports had to be walked back after Israeli officials could not confirm them. This is only what’s documented. There are plenty of unconfirmed incidents of Islamophobia being shared on social media. Abed Ayoub, the national executive director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that his office had received well over 100 reported incidents of discrimination or hate crimes, with reports of employment discrimination just starting to arrive. read the complete article

Uncle of 6-year-old Muslim boy stabbed to death in alleged hate crime speaks out

The Justice Department opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the alleged murder of the boy, who was identified as Wadea Al-Fayoume, and wounding of his mother, Hanaan Shahin, according to a statement. Joseph Czuba, the family's landlord, allegedly stabbed the boy 26 times with a "military-style knife" and his mother more than a dozen in the incident at their home in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Illinois. Wadea's uncle, Yousef Hannon, spoke to ABC News on Tuesday, saying the family was shocked over the alleged murder because Wadea was previously "like a grandson" to Czuba and there were no other signs he harbored any anti-Muslim views. read the complete article

Trump vows to expand Muslim ban and bar Gaza refugees if he wins presidency

Doubling down on the hardline immigration policies that have long animated his base, Donald Trump on Monday vowed to bar refugees from Gaza and immediately expand his first-term Muslim travel ban if he wins a second term following the deadly attack on Israel last week. Speaking to supporters in Iowa, the former president said that if he returns to the Oval Office, he will immediately begin “ideological screening” for all immigrants and bar those who sympathize with Hamas and Muslim extremists. Trump’s proposals would mark a dramatic expansion of the controversial – and legally dubious – policies that drew alarm from immigrant rights and civil liberties activists, but helped him win the presidency in 2016. Trump has long railed against the US taking immigrants from countries he has called inferior, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, and told the crowd Monday that while he was president the US stood up for Israel and “Judeo-Christian civilization and values”. read the complete article

White House calls Trump's Israel-Hamas war response 'revolting and dangerous'

The White House is going after former President Donald Trump's response to the Israel-Hamas war, characterizing his call for an expanded travel ban "revolting and dangerous." "It is revolting and dangerous to tear people apart right now with cruel poison that undermines our basic values as Americans," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement to NBC News. "And no one who praises Iran-backed terrorist groups has any credibility when it comes to protecting our national security from terrorist threats." read the complete article

Muslim woman says she was verbally assaulted, spat at by man in alleged Burlingame attack

Burlingame police say they are investigating a possible hate crime after a Muslim woman says she was verbally assaulted and spit at this week. read the complete article

Muslim And Arab Communities Worried Hate Crimes Are Only Going To Get Worse

Thousands of people showed up at Monday’s funeral for Wadea Al-Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian American boy stabbed to death by a neighbor in an apparent anti-Muslim hate crime. Nearby, students at Universal School, an Islamic private school, went into soft lockdown. The school shares a parking lot with the Mosque Foundation, the site of Wadea’s funeral. School administrators had been ramping up security measures since the young boy’s murder and fielding concerns from dozens of parents worried about their own children’s safety, many of whom were the same age and ethnicity as Wadea. Many were worried that another hate crime could occur. President Joe Biden released a statement late Sunday night after Wadea’s killing, calling on Americans to “come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred.” But some Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. say it’s too late, and that they are facing an uptick in anti-Arab, anti-Muslim rhetoric since Israel launched its retaliatory attack on Gaza after Hamas attacked Israel earlier this month. Jasmine Hawamdeh, the communications manager for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, D.C., told HuffPost that her organization is overwhelmed with calls and emails from people detailing incidents of harassment, discrimination and concern for their safety across the country. “The entire community is afraid. The entire community is petrified,” she said. Hawamdeh said the patterns of discrimination and fear mirror the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry was at an all-time high. read the complete article


The Israel-Hamas War is Leading to an Uptick in Hate Crimes

War in the Middle East is spurring violence against Muslim and Jewish communities around the world. Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year old Palestinian-American boy, was fatally stabbed over the weekend in Plainfield Township, Illinois. The boy’s mother was also critically injured in the attack by their landlord, with local officials confirming that the pair were “targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.” Following the death, Palestinian and Muslim leaders condemned media coverage of the war and Palestinian people. “Let’s be clear: This was directly connected to the dehumanizing of Palestinians that has been allowed over the last week by our media, by our elected officials who have lacked the moral compass and lacked the courage to call for something as simple as de-escalation and peace,” said Illinois State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, the first Palestinian American elected to the state’s general assembly. In the United States, advocacy groups have reported an increase in threats of violence and harassment against Palestinian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. Local chapters of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, have reported instances of Islamophobia in the days since the beginning of the war, including two alleged assaults in Brooklyn, NY and an individual who pointed a gun at a crowd of pro-Palestine demonstrators outside of Pennsylvania’s state capitol. And in New Jersey, Rania Mustafa, Executive Director of the Palestinian American Community Center, told ABC7 New York that many in her community have recently faced a wave of increased harassment. read the complete article

Anti-Islam Indian accounts on X falsely accuse Palestinians of faking war injuries

Two viral videos are circulating in India on accounts with Islamophobic and pro-Israel tendencies, which claim to show Palestinians faking injuries amid the war between Israel and Hamas. These videos are old and have nothing to do with the recent conflict. We tell you more in this edition of Truth or Fake. read the complete article

Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees must not be forgotten during other world crises, U.N. refugee chief says

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees urged the international community not to forget the plight of ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the midst of many other world crises on Tuesday. More support is needed to help the displaced Rohingya and also relieve the burden on the countries hosting them, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said. Speaking on the sidelines of a regional meeting on Rohingya refugee assistance in Bangkok, he emphasized that a “voluntary, dignified return to Myanmar” by the Rohingya refugees is the most desirable solution, but acknowledged there are “many challenges that need to be overcome.” More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh over several decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched a brutal counterinsurgency operation following attacks by a guerrilla group. The United States said last year that the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide, after U.S. authorities confirmed accounts of atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. The Rohingya, who are Muslim, face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with most denied citizenship and many other rights. read the complete article


‘Gaza this … Hamas that’: the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Australia

In Canberra, a Palestinian teenager is called a terrorist. In Melbourne, a Muslim man picks up the phone to face a torrent of abuse. In Adelaide, a man puts a sign saying “death to Israel” in his yard. As war between Israel and Hamas escalates, and the death toll rises, Australian communities are facing echoes of tension from across the globe. There have been death threats, abuse hurled in the streets, and alleged assaults, leaving Australian Arabic and Jewish communities nervous and distressed. Both the Islamophobia Register Australia and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) have spoken of terrifying surges in reports, as the national intelligence agency warns of “spontaneous violence” in Australia, sparked by the war in the Middle East. The Islamophobia Register Australia reported a quadrupling of reports since the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel. “Divisive rhetoric by people in leadership positions is irresponsible and dangerous, and clearly has an impact on domestic tensions,” the executive director, Sharara Attai, says. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network executive officer, Jessica Morrison, says they are hearing “lots of stories from lots of young people” being targeted, particularly at school, and that the community is “distressed” by the discourse about Palestinians. read the complete article


Muslim Montreal university student harassed on campus after start of Israel-Hamas war

A Université de Montréal Master’s student says she was the victim of a hate incident, with a woman berating her on the street right outside campus on Oct. 10, just a few days after the Israel-Hamas war broke out. “We are the direct consequences of what’s happening hundreds of kilometers away,” said Kamilla, who wears a hijab. “I was walking this way and over here this lady gave me the finger, right as we were crossing the road,” she said. “She called me a murderer among other words and as she kept walking, she said ‘you all are going around killing people.'” Kamilla describes not realizing the woman was speaking directly to her, until she made eye contact with her. “I was shocked.” “She’s calling me, someone who’s never done anything, a murderer.” “With the gravity of the words and the violence behind them and their cruelty, it’s highly possible that it was a trigger from what’s happening,” she said. “I’m wearing the hijab and that’s enough. It’s enough for her to picture me as everything that is inhumane and for violence and hate.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Oct 2023 Edition


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