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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30 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his promise of reinstating his Muslim travel ban if re-elected to office, meanwhile in the UK, someone threw a gasoline can over a Mosque’s walls in central Oxford on October 28th in what authorities are calling a “hate crime”, and in Canada, Western University has fired their Muslim chaplain after he made comments on social media about the Israel-Hamas war that the school’s president calls “divisive” prompting the chaplain to consider legal action. Our recommended read of the day is by Sadaf Jaffer and Freshta Taeb for The Hill on how many Arab and American Muslims feel that the Biden administration’s lack of response to the violence in Gaza “indicates that the President does not equally value Muslim lives, or those of Arabs who find themselves lumped in with Muslims.” This and more below:


Biden is showing complete disregard for Arab and Muslim lives | Recommended Read

We’ve been horrified by the images emerging from Gaza of children buried and killed under rubble, houses of worship bombed (including Saint Porphyrius Church), and family members crying out for their lost loved ones. It damages our faith in our country’s leadership that President Joe Biden has not only given a green light to these tragedies but is seeking to escalate the war with an additional $14 billion in weapons for Israel — while making no efforts or calls for de-escalation or ceasefire. The Biden administration’s response to this tragic violence indicates that the president does not equally value Muslim lives, or those of Arabs who find themselves lumped in with Muslims. What did the 2,600 dead Palestinian children do to have their futures violently snatched from them? Does our government simply label them as terrorists and disposable? Why doesn’t President Biden care enough for them to stop the horror when the power is fully in his hands? It is difficult to put into words the sorrow and pain we and our communities feel seeing the scale of suffering compared to the Biden administration’s indifference. We can only draw one heartbreaking conclusion: The Biden administration doesn’t see Muslims for our full humanity. This is not new to us. In the years after 9/11, the Bush administration dragged the United States into two large-scale wars in predominantly Muslim countries on shaky pretenses, without regard for the horrific loss of civilian life and destruction that would ensue. Half a million civilians have been killed in those wars, with many millions more injured and whose lives are changed forever. That suffering hardly seems to register in the U.S. but will be felt for generations. And we all know why no one cares — because Muslim lives have had little value to our policymakers. Many American Muslims supported the Democratic Party over the last two decades because we hoped a Democratic president would see the humanity of people like us, but we’ve been sorely disappointed with President Biden’s continued apathy. read the complete article

Second investigation to open into role of British spies in torture of Guantánamo detainee

The UK’s intelligence agencies are facing a fresh judicial investigation into allegations that British spies were complicit in the CIA’s post-9/11 secret torture and rendition programme. The investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) has said it will open a second investigation into allegations that the intelligence services were involved in the mistreatment of a prisoner detained by the US. In a ruling released on Friday, the secretive court said it would examine a complaint filed on behalf of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian citizen held at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Nashiri, who is alleged by the US to have plotted al-Qaida’s bombing of an American naval ship in Yemen, was captured by the CIA in 2002 and transferred to Guantánamo in 2006. He has been held in indefinite detention ever since. Lawyers for Nashiri have argued that there is an “irresistible inference” that the UK’s intelligence agencies, including MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, participated in intelligence sharing relating to al-Nashiri and “were complicit in his torture and ill-treatment”. read the complete article


Western University fires Muslim chaplain over 'divisive' social media post

Western University has parted ways with a Muslim chaplain after he made online comments about the Israel-Hams war that the school's president calls "divisive". Anwer's post was in response to comments by former Canadian Senator Linda Frum that criticized a Toronto rally supporting Palestinians. Anwer's post was in response to comments by former Canadian Senator Linda Frum that criticized a Toronto rally supporting Palestinians. "In 2015 PM Harper tried to make it a crime to glorify and promote terrorism. Trudeau blocked his efforts and here we are. There exists no law in Canada to prevent this orgy of celebration for the beheading of babies and the rape and execution of little girls. Time for a new PM," said Frum. "Stop spreading lies of beheading babies or rape of little girls. It's been debunked," Anwer replied. "No one is celebrating the murder of Israeli babies. Palestinians are mourning the death of their babies. It's incredible how Israel sympathizers simultaneously are the oppressor and the victim." Anwer published a statement on X addressing the situation on Friday afternoon. "Universities are places where people should be able to ask questions about active war crimes, regardless of who commits them," he wrote on the social media platform. "Academic freedom is the foundation of university life, and vigorous debate and trenchant analysis is a cornerstone of this freedom and of a robust democracy." In the post, Anwer also says he is considering all legal options available to him. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Central Oxford Mosque issues statement on Islamophobic attack

A petrol can was reportedly thrown over one of Central Oxford Mosque’s walls on 28th October in what has been classified as a “hate crime” by police. Central Oxford Mosque issued a statement about the attack, which was reposted by Shaista Aziz, ex-councillor for Oxford Labour, on Twitter. It describes the incident as an “Islamophobic and terrorist attack”, where a “lone terrorist” threw a red petrol can over the mosque’s gates with the words “IDF RULE” and “IDF” written on it, referring to the Israel Defence Forces. The mosque thanked Thames Valley Police for their immediate response. They also urged community members to “remain vigilant”, and said that the attack was likely to have been provoked by the display of Palestinian flags around the mosque which show the community’s “unwavering support” for the people of Palestine. The statement expressed that this “attempt to scare [the community] will not work”, and that the mosque will “continue to exercise [its] democratic right and show solidarity with the innocent Palestinians being massacred indiscriminately and illegally”. read the complete article

‘Palestine crisis was end of the tether’: why Luton’s Muslim voters are leaving Labour

“I was a Labour party member for 31 years. The Palestine crisis was the end of the tether for me. I cannot tolerate Keir’s policies any more,” said Waheed Akbar, the former mayor of Luton. Akbar said many people locally had said he made the right decision to leave Labour. “This party is no longer working for the Muslim community especially. They will not be voting for the Labour party,” he said, blaming Keir Starmer’s handling of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “People perceive that he is backing the Israeli government blindly,” he said. He is not alone in this opinion in this Bedfordshire town that has the fourth highest Muslim population in England. Its two MPs, Sarah Owen and Rachel Hopkins, both sit in the Labour shadow cabinet. Locally, they are facing calls to resign from those positions over Starmer’s handling of the issue. Nor are they the only Labour MPs under pressure. All 20 of the parliamentary constituencies with the highest proportion of Muslim voters are held by Labour. Several Labour MPs told the Guardian they had received more emails and other messages about this than any other issue in the past. One shadow minister said they had received more correspondence about Gaza “than anything ever before” and their constituents were deeply concerned about the war. “This is by far the biggest postbag we’ve had for any single issue. We’ve received about five times more correspondence on this than the next one down,” the MP said. They said that although they had a large Muslim population in their constituency, support for a ceasefire was coming from across communities. On Friday, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Scottish Labour party leader Anas Sarwar, Labour’s two most senior Muslim figures, broke ranks with the Labour leadership and called for a ceasefire. At least 29 Labour councillors have resigned from the party over its handling of the Gaza crisis. Nine were in Oxford, which led to Labour losing control of the council. One community figure, who did not want to be named, said the language used against Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are Muslim, resonated. He said: “The talk of barbarians, savages, animals, we also hear this in headlines about Muslims all the time. It resonates because we recognise it, we’ve heard it used about ourselves.” read the complete article

United States

FBI investigates hate crime at American University

Police and the FBI are investigating a death threat slipped under the office door of a Palestinian employee at American University. News4’s Jackie Bensen reports. read the complete article

White House scrambles to repair relations with Arab, Muslim Americans

One ripple effect of the Israel-Gaza war is the warp-speed unraveling of relations between President Biden and some of his most loyal voters: Muslims and Arab Americans. This week at the White House encapsulated the strains, beginning with a listening session for frustrated administration personnel from those communities and ending with a controversial meeting between the president and five Muslim figures picked by the White House who had faced enormous pressure from activists to decline in protest. One organizer said community concerns could be boiled down to a critical question: “Are we dealing with warmongers or are we dealing with peacemakers? Who are we dealing with?” For many Muslims and Arab Americans, the answer came Wednesday when Biden cast doubt on the number of Palestinian casualties because the figures come from health officials who report to Hamas, which controls the territory. Historically, such figures have been accurate, according to Middle East researchers. Biden’s remarks, which the administration later reiterated in formal statements, were interpreted by many as calling Palestinians liars, or as equating Gaza’s beleaguered medical professionals with Hamas. Incensed U.S. Arab and Muslim advocacy groups this week called Biden’s remarks about the death count dangerous, and some prominent voices from those communities chimed in on social media, saying that the president had lost them and that they were considering sitting out the 2024 election. read the complete article

With no fanfare or acknowledgment, Biden hosts White House meeting with Muslim leaders

President Joe Biden quietly hosted a meeting Thursday for a handful of Muslim leaders, according to four sources familiar with the White House gathering, as he faces pressure from the Arab American community over what they contend is his comparative disregard for the Palestinian civilian deaths and domestic threats arising from the war between Israel and Hamas. The White House neither announced the afternoon meeting in advance nor even confirmed that it happened — a vivid contrast to the approach taken when Biden met with Jewish leaders four days after the war began. At that event, Biden gave televised remarks in which he reaffirmed his “unshakeable” bond with Israel and people of the Jewish faith. One person who attended the session on Thursday said they would have preferred if the White House acknowledged the meeting and publicized the president's remarks. For all the secrecy the White House attached to the meeting, some of the participants appeared happy to discuss it. A second attendee, Rami Nashashibi of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, held a news conference in Chicago on Friday to lay out what took place. Biden spent about an hour talking privately to the Muslim leaders. He invited them to voice concerns and asked their opinions on policy and messaging matters, a person familiar with his comments said. Gathered in the West Wing, the guests asked Biden to call for a cease-fire in the war, the person who was in the room said. Some also objected that Biden didn’t seem to show enough sympathy for civilians dying in the conflict, nor the plight of Muslim Americans facing discrimination at home, the person added. read the complete article

Trump pledges to reimpose Muslim 'travel ban' at Jewish gathering

"We will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country," Trump told the audience attending the annual summit of the Republican Jewish Coalition. "You remember the travel ban? On day one I will restore our travel ban." At the start of his presidency in 2017, Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on the entry of travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and, initially, Iraq and Sudan. The order was quickly challenged in court as discriminatory against a religious group, but the bans, along with Trump's hard-line anti-immigration agenda, were popular with his base. The former US leader was among several Republican hopefuls lining up at the gathering of influential Jewish donors to pledge unwavering support for Israel in its war against Hamas. Trump told the event, held in Las Vegas, in the southwestern state of Nevada, that he would "defend our friend and ally in the State of Israel like nobody has ever." read the complete article

In Michigan, Muslim and Arab American Voters Reconsider Support for Biden

“How can I tell somebody who’s watching these atrocities on live TV, today, to vote for President Biden?” he said. “The pulse of the community is overwhelmingly not supportive of Biden now. They feel betrayed.” That anger at the Biden administration’s response to the conflict in the Mideast is widely shared by Arab Americans in Michigan, especially in Wayne County, which includes the cities of Hamtramck and Dearborn, where Muslims have a large population and have been elected to top leadership roles. Mr. Biden has made repeated gestures of support to Muslims and Arab Americans: In an Oval Office address on Oct. 20, he denounced Islamophobia and the death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old who was fatally stabbed in Illinois in what authorities have called a hate crime. Mr. Biden said he was “heartbroken” by the loss of Palestinian life in the war: “We can’t ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity,” he said. But many Arab Americans were outraged by Mr. Biden’s visit to Israel, his embrace of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his pledge that “we will continue to have Israel’s back.” Nada Al-Hanooti, a Palestinian American organizer based in Dearborn, said that as of 2020, there were approximately 200,000 registered Muslim voters in Michigan, making the community a significant voting bloc in a battleground state of 8.2 million registered voters. Ms. Al-Hanooti said Muslims turned out in large numbers for Mr. Biden mainly because they were motivated to help defeat President Trump. “But the truth is that we are experiencing the same Islamophobic rhetoric right now coming from the Biden administration,” she said, adding that Muslims in Michigan “don’t feel safe, they don’t feel heard and they don’t feel seen.” read the complete article

A Dispatch From the Muslim Girl Scouts of Astoria

In her short 17 years on earth, Amira Ismail had never been called a baby killer. That’s what happened one Friday this month, Amira said, on New York City’s Q58 bus, which runs through central Queens. “This lady looked at me, and she was like: ‘You’re disgusting. You’re a baby killer. You’re an antisemite,’” Amira told me. When she talked about this incident, her signature spunk faded. “I just kept saying, ‘That’s not true,’” she said. “I was just on my way to school. I was just wearing my hijab.” Amira was born in Queens in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. She remembers participating as a child in demonstrations at City Hall as part of a successful movement to make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha school holidays in New York City. But since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, in which an estimated 1,400 Israelis were killed and some 200 others were kidnapped, Amira, who is Palestinian American, said she has experienced for the first time the full fury of Islamophobia and racism that her older relatives and friends have told stories about all her life. Throughout the city, in fact, there has been an increase in both anti-Muslim and antisemitic attacks. In heavily Muslim parts of Queens, she said, police officers are suddenly everywhere, asking for identification and stopping and frisking Muslim men. (New York City has stepped up its police presence around both Muslim and Jewish neighborhoods and sites within the five boroughs.) Most painful though, she said, is the sense that she and her peers are getting that Palestinian lives do not matter, as they watch the United States staunchly back Israel as it heads into war. read the complete article

Muslim woman says she was target of angry tirade in Bethesda

A Muslim woman says she was the target of another woman’s hateful tirade in Bethesda, Maryland, Thursday afternoon. The victim, who was wearing a hijab, said she was in her car at a stop light at Rockledge Drive and Democracy Boulevard when she heard a slur and saw a woman flashing her the middle finger. The victim said the encounter escalated when she began recording it on her phone. The other woman stood in front of the car — banging on the hood — then walked to the passenger side and pounded on the window with her hand several times. “It took me a few seconds to process what had just happened, and then I decided to honk my horn at her, and she turned back around and started yelling at me, ‘Do you want to get out of your car? Do you want to come here? Do you want to get out of your car?’” the victim said. She said it lasted for about a minute or two and was witnessed by other drivers stopped at the traffic light. read the complete article

How reports of hate crimes in the US were already at record highs, in 4 charts

US-based advocacy groups are reporting a spike in hate incidents against Jewish and Muslim individuals amid the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. Jews, Palestinians and Muslims in the US told CNN they’re experiencing a growing fear about bigotry and hatred in the wake of the Hamas attack. But the recent uptick from the war is part of a years-long rise in hate crimes in the US, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI data released in October shows hate crimes in the US are the highest since collection began in 1991. FBI records show a rise in anti-Muslim incidents starting in 2015, with more bias-driven assaults against Muslims in 2016 than in 2001. CAIR has not yet released the number of incidents it has recorded in the past weeks, but Research Director Corey Saylor said the organization has been flooded with reports. “We haven’t had time to do tallies, but we are responding to incidents around the clock,” Saylor said. “The last time we saw something like this was in December 2015, with Trump’s Muslim ban [proposal].” CAIR’s record of anti-Muslim bias incidents trends differently than the FBI’s hate crime data, showing a consistent increase in reports until 2022, when reports dropped by 23%. In its annual report on the data, CAIR attributed the change to decreased volatility in domestic politics and increased federal targeting of white supremacist groups in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. read the complete article

Harvard Students Doxxed for Israel-Palestine Letter Fear for On-Campus Safety

For those on the doxxing truck, the public exposure seems to be an effort to silence the voices of students on campus who support Palestine. “I definitely have not felt safe…. on multiple levels,” Molly says of the last two weeks on campus. “I think, more than ever, I've been reminded again and again of what being Muslim means in the world, with what's going on in Gaza and Palestine; what it means in this country, with some of the Islamophobic attacks that have happened over the past couple of days; but also, what it means to be a marginalized person on this campus.” The first faces to appear on the truck, according to Molly and Amy,* another heavily doxxed undergrad who requested that her name be withheld for safety, were mostly Black and brown students, some of whom Molly and Amy say are undocumented. The billboard truck, sponsored by conservative watchdog group Accuracy in Media, showed up on Harvard’s campus on October 11, flashing photos of students in the groups that had signed the letter. Their names and faces were posted online, websites started appearing under their names, and personal details were divulged. As a result, students say they are facing harassment, their families have been targeted, and some feel deeply unsafe walking alone on campus. “My mother has been reached out to numerous times because of this," Molly says. “The high school where my brother goes is listed online publicly, which obviously puts him in danger too. This has, I think, very much gone far beyond backlash.” The truck arrived on campus as threats against Arab, Muslim, and Jewish people across the country rose in the wake of the Hamas attack; and division among Harvard students made many people feel unsafe on campus, even without the added stress of backlash from outside groups. Now some students are saying the administration hasn’t adequately supported them and has contributed to them feeling unsafe on campus. read the complete article


Hate crimes and hate speech are on the rise in India. Meet the trackers

On a hot humid day in early June, Hindu activist Sambhaji Salunkhe delivered a charged speech in the city of Kolhapur, rehashing far-right conspiracy theories about Muslim men who allegedly court Hindu women so they will marry and convert to Islam. His audience was already incensed about an Instagram post, uploaded the day before by a couple of local Muslim teenagers, praising the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, a 17th-century ruler regarded as an oppressor by far-right Hindus and a hero by many Muslims. When Salunkhe told the throng to assemble the following morning to protest, the crowd roared its approval. At 8 a.m. the following day, about 5,000 Hindus converged at the designated spot in Kolhapur. The gathering quickly transformed into a mob that vandalized and ransacked Muslim-owned shops, vehicles and homes. Much of the mainstream media here described the incident simply as “clashes” between the two communities, but one news organization had a detailed account of the Hindu-on-Muslim violence: “The right-wing outfits, claiming that the Hindu sentiments had been hurt, called for a shutdown of the district... The demonstrators became aggressive and a mob entered Muslim-dominated localities, resorting to stone-pelting, destroying shop facades and overturning handcarts.” The report came from Hindutva Watch (HW), a Washington-based project that monitors hate speech and hate crimes against India’s religious minorities, including Muslims, who account for 14% of the country’s 1.4 billion population. From its launch in 2021, Hindutva Watch has been a thorn in the side of Hindu nationalists who have been provoking anti-Muslim sentiment for years. Founder Raqib Naik and his 13-member team — all self exiles based in Europe and America — have archived more than 1,200 videos on the HW website, notching up millions of views. “I wanted to create a single space where all the hate crimes against minorities are cataloged and archived,” Naik, 28, said. “Anyone interested in the rise of Hindu nationalism in India should be able to find it under one roof.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Oct 2023 Edition


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