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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26 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians say they’re experiencing growing fear, with some equating the bigotry and hatred being experienced to that of a post-9/11 world, meanwhile, students across the college campuses in the country are facing heightened scrutiny including threats of expulsion from speaking out in support of Palestinians, and in the United Kingdom, CCTV footage in the city of Dewsbury shows a man throwing a concrete slab at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in what authorities are calling a suspected racist attack. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannan Adely for on how local Arab and Muslim community leaders in the state are saying that there has been a notable spike in harassment, bullying, assaults, and threats to members of their community since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. This and more below:

United States

Hate and harassment: NJ Palestinians, vilified as terrorists, are worried for their safety | Recommended Read

Threats to burn down businesses. Harassing phone calls. Cursing at students at a school. Since war in the Middle East broke out after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Muslims and Arab Americans in North Jersey are becoming more worried for their safety. And that was even before the killing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in the Chicago area, stabbed along with his mother, allegedly by a man angry over the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Local leaders warned that hateful sentiments have been allowed to fester as Palestinians have been cast in dehumanizing ways, vilified as terrorist supporters and ignored as civilians and victims. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, they say, their communities have faced a spike in harassment, bullying, assaults and threats. “American Muslim and Palestinian families here in America are hurting,” said Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of New Jersey. “Many have lost loved ones. Many have faced hate at home. Anxiety and fear is high.” Palestinian Americans are grappling with devastating loss, with over 6,500 reported killed in Gaza as of Wednesday, including at least 2,700 children, and at least 100 killed in the West Bank since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel. They say they also struggle at home amid a seeming lack of concern and outrage for their suffering and for the backlash many say they are facing. read the complete article

An increase in harassment against Jewish and Muslim Americans has been reported since Hamas attacks

Muslim and Jewish civil rights groups say they’ve seen large increases in reports of harassment, bias and sometimes physical assaults against members of their communities since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. The Anti-Defamation League and the Center on American-Islamic Relations saw increases in reported instances, many involving violence or threats against protesters at rallies in support of Israel or in support of Palestinians over the last two weeks as war broke out between Israel and Hamas. Other attacks and harassment reported by the groups were directed at random Muslim or Jewish people in public. A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that the organization’s chapters and national office had received 774 reports of bias-related acts between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24. The national headquarters had 110 direct reports during that period, compared to 63 for all of August. The council’s leaders believe it’s the largest wave of complaints since December 2015, when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump declared his intent to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. in the wake of the San Bernadino mass shooting that left 14 people dead. “Public officials should do everything in their power to keep the wave of hate sweeping the nation right now from spiraling out of control,” said Corey Saylor, research and advocacy director of the Center on American-Islamic Relations. read the complete article

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bans pro-Palestine student organisation

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned a pro-Palestine student group from university campuses in the state as tensions rise in the United States over the Israel-Gaza war. The State University System of Florida said on Tuesday that it would dismantle chapters of the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) due to the group’s “support for terrorist groups”. The SJP denounced the move and said DeSantis “continues to disrespect American values, such as freedom of speech”. “To bend the law in this manner shows the utmost disrespect not only to any pro-Palestinian organization but also to anyone who truly cares for political freedom and freedom of speech,” it said. Palestinian activists have described an atmosphere of hostility and censorship. Jewish communities across the US have also described an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents since the fighting began. DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination who currently trails former President Donald Trump by a wide margin in polls, has previously stated that all Palestinians are anti-Semitic and Palestinian refugees should not be allowed into the United States. He has also expressed support for Israel’s decision to cut off food, water, electricity and fuel supplies for the more than 2.3 million residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, which Israel has continuously pounded with air strikes since the attacks by Hamas. read the complete article

Jews, Palestinians and Muslims in the US say they’re experiencing growing fear about rising bigotry and hatred

There is a palpable fear and tension in communities across the United States already scarred by the violent incidents stemming from the early days of the Israel and Hamas war, with some equating the bigotry and hatred being experienced by Jews, Palestinians, Muslims and other groups across the country to that of a post-9/11 world. “Every one of us feels unsafe,” said Zein Rimawi, founder and member of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in south Brooklyn, New York, where three young men were attacked by a small pro-Israel cadre only days after the war started. “It’s worse than after 9/11.” On October 11 in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, which is home to a large Palestinian community, a group of men – some of whom were waving an Israeli flag – attacked three men on the street after asking them if they were Palestinian, yelling, “F**k Palestine, F**k Islam,” according to a criminal complaint. Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Chicago office, said his office typically sees four to six complaints a week from people who say they’ve been victimized or bullied. Since the start of the war just over two weeks ago, they have received 86 complaints. “My phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Rehab, who added he believes the current situation is much worse now than it was after 9/11. Not only are people scared, Rehab says, but now, no one seems to want to hear from Muslim Americans. “Palestinians are essentially dehumanized and there has been a conclusion that they deserve what’s coming to them because of what’s happened in Israel,” said Rehab. “There isn’t much appetite for the nuance that’s needed to have the discussion of the value of human life and of a civilian life.” read the complete article

White House increases outreach to Muslim and Arab Americans in face of criticism to Israel-Gaza war response

Hours before President Joe Biden gave a rare prime-time address last week, his head speechwriter sat down with a group of senior Arab and Muslim American officials to go over the draft and take suggestions. Dissent was sprouting even inside the White House, where some aides worried that Biden hadn’t shown enough empathy for Palestinian civilians and a Muslim community facing a torrent of anger, said a person familiar with the discussions, who, like others, requested anonymity to talk freely. The hourlong editing session reflects a vigorous outreach effort the White House is undertaking to reassure Arab Americans who feel they’re being scapegoated for the atrocities Hamas has committed half a world away. Senior advisers have been calling Muslim officials throughout the country and inviting community advocates onto the White House campus for frank conversations. A president's words carry outsize weight on any occasion, but they are even more magnified in wartime. Some Muslim advocates took note of Biden's address to Jewish leaders across the street from the White House on Oct. 11 and questioned why he hasn't spoken directly to their community. Within a week of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, by contrast, President George W. Bush visited a mosque and delivered a message that "the face of terror is not the true face of Islam." In the past two weeks, Democratic members of Congress have phoned senior White House adviser Anita Dunn and other top officials and warned that Biden needed to address the isolation and fear their Muslim constituents were experiencing, according to White House and congressional officials. Muslim advocates have told NBC News that women have been fearful of wearing the hijab and that parents have been afraid to take their children to school, worried they would be targeted because of their ethnicity. read the complete article

Bias is always part of being Muslim on campus. Now students face consequences for speaking up.

At Columbia University in New York, a student who is also employed by the university received phone calls from her dean threatening to fire her and rescind her much-needed stipend for vocally supporting Palestinians the past two weeks. In California, a Palestinian American student shared with me stories of Muslim students being harassed at the University Town Center in San Diego, particularly women wearing hijab or those wearing the patterned headscarf known as a kaffiyeh. The student, who is in her fourth year at the University of California, Irvine, said classmates who publicly support Palestine were physically attacked at UCLA. At the University of Michigan, which has a sizable Arab, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim student population, some faculty say their Arab and Muslim students are fearful of a backlash. “Students wearing kaffiyehs (are) yelled at, surrounded in public spaces when they’re alone. Muslim women students who wear hijab (are) worried about walking alone in public spaces,” Karem Albrecht told me. “Some of these come from actual experiences these students are having, and some are (fears) coming from the discourses being had and the things they are hearing, like the young boy (6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume) who was killed (near Chicago). “It’s a real fear born of consequences,” she said. As I put out a call out for Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students at American colleges and universities to share their fears and reports of harassment, intimidation and targeted hate, the stories came pouring in. All these students (and more) who shared their stories with me did so under the promise of anonymity, fearing further harassment and hate and possible targeting. In the days after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, many universities and colleges issued statements denouncing the militant Palestinian group, reaching out to Jewish students and standing in support of Israel. Most often there was no mention of Palestinian or Muslim students. As Gaza became a humanitarian crisis, with more than 6,000 killed to date, more than 2,000 of them children, the lukewarm, or complete lack of, acknowledgment of Palestinian pain or what Muslim, Palestinian and Arab students are enduring created an atmosphere of fear, hurt, grief and anger. read the complete article

“I Am Done Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils. I Will Not Vote for Joe Biden in 2024.”

One of the ironies of the liberals’ dream of the post-racial United States in the run-up to that election was that Muslims were never meant to be part of it. The lie that Obama is Muslim was always code for “He’s Black.” But in 2008 liberals couldn’t say that they wouldn’t vote for someone who is Black. Post-racial anti-Blackness had to be more subtle. After seven years of the War on Terror, it was widely accepted that Muslims are subhuman and our lives disposable. So it was easy for people to simply say that they wouldn’t vote for someone who is Muslim. The HBO political satire Veep captures how insidious and widespread anti-Muslim rhetoric remains. Spoiler alert, but in the show’s penultimate episode, news broke that U.S. President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) had accidentally bombed a wedding in Pakistan and her popularity soared as a result. One of her advisers tells her, “It turns out Americans don’t give a flying fatwa if you drone a bunch of Muslims!” Another adds, “Your favorables have never been higher, ma’am.” Obama went on to further Bush’s wars, bomb more Muslim-majority countries than Bush, and kill countless more Muslims. The horrifying “double-tap” policy for the U.S. drone program was also employed under his watch as he expanded airstrikes in Muslim-majority countries. That approach is when after a drone is ordered to fire, they wait a period of time and fire again — often after first responders have arrived — seeking to kill not just their first target, but also those in the target’s vicinity. I voted for Obama again in 2012. I even went to Nevada and knocked on doors for him, yet again. Lesser of two evils, right? Wrong. I am done voting for the lesser of two evils. I will not vote for Joe Biden in 2024. The man who offered his “rock solid and unwavering” support to Israel’s genocide of two million Palestinians in Gaza will not get my vote. The man whose administration circulated memos prohibiting staffers around the world from calling for deescalation or restraint in the face of ethnic cleansing cannot remain president. The man who is spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to fund an Israeli war machine that considers Palestinians “human animals” and denies drinking water and food to a million Palestinian children belongs at The Hague, not the White House. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Starmer to meet Muslim MPs as he tries to ease backlash over Gaza position

Sir Keir Starmer is meeting Labour’s Muslim MPs as he continues efforts to allay a growing backlash over his position on Israel and Gaza. The Labour leader had been expected to be joined by his deputy, Angela Rayner, on Wednesday afternoon amid anger over his comments, which have sparked resignations from councillors. In an interview with LBC after Hamas’s atrocity, Sir Keir suggested that Israel has the “right” to cut off power and water from Gaza. More than 150 Muslim Labour councillors have urged Sir Keir and Ms Rayner to back an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. In a letter, the councillors from areas including Barking and Dagenham, Birmingham, Bradford, Blackburn, Bolton and Glasgow, said the leadership had to work to end the “humanitarian disaster”. “As Labour councillors elected to serve our constituents, the message we have been hearing repeatedly over the past two weeks is simple, people just want to end the bloodshed and the loss of innocent life,” they wrote. “No nation, no people or community should have to endure collective punishment and the same should be the case for the Palestinian people.” In a sign of unrest too from within the parliamentary party, frontbencher Yasmin Qureshi used Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday to call the situation in Gaza “collective punishment” and ask Rishi Sunak: “How many more innocent Palestinians must die before this Prime Minister calls for humanitarian ceasefire?” read the complete article

'Race hate' horror: Shocking moment thug hurls a slab of concrete into hijab-wearing woman's HEAD on Yorkshire street: Man, 57, is arrested by police probing suspected unprovoked racist assault

This is the shocking moment a man is captured hurling a paving slab at a woman wearing a hijab in a suspected racist attack. In the CCTV video, which appeared on social media, a woman can be seen standing on a street in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire on Tuesday, under an umbrella, unaware of the danger she is just about to be in. In the terrifying moment, a hooded man dressed in black comes charging towards her carrying a large paving slab held in both hands. The man then throws the slab at the woman's head, just as she moves out of the way and ducks in an attempt to avoid the piece of concrete. The woman in the hijab - a modest head covering worn by Muslim women - then runs from the attacker towards two stunned bystanders. West Yorkshire Police said a 57-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with the incident in Dewsbury on Tuesday. A spokesperson said: 'We can assure residents such incidents are treated extremely seriously.' read the complete article


António Guterres Should Act on China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs

It was the image China wanted from its October 2023 Belt and Road Forum: a smiling António Guterres shaking hands with Xi Jinping in front of the flags of the United Nations and the People’s Republic of China. For the Uyghur people, the sight of the secretary-general of the United Nations paying his respects to the perpetrator of the Uyghur genocide shows just how selective Guterres has been in confronting human rights atrocities. The secretary-general has taken no steps to ensure the U.N. holds China to account for crimes against humanity. On October 18, the same day Guterres called Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative an “historic opportunity,” a group of 51 countries at the United Nations had a different message for Beijing. A statement, read by the United Kingdom on behalf of the group, noted, “Members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang continue to suffer serious violations of their human rights by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China.” The statement listed a series of shocking human rights violations ranging from large-scale arbitrary detention to torture; sexual and gender-based violence to enforced disappearances; and family separations to forced labor. read the complete article


Hate crimes against Jews and Muslims on the rise since Hamas attack

The city’s top cop says there has been a troubling rise in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims since Hamas attacked Israel earlier this month. Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw says such occurrences are a “significant public safety concern,” so he plans to provide monthly reports on hate crime statistics at police service board meetings for “the foreseeable future.” Between Oct. 7 and Oct. 25, the chief said there have been 15 anti-Semitic incidents reported. Between Oct. 7 and Oct. 25, Demkiw said there have been five anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic occurrences. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Oct 2023 Edition


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