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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31 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, according to an inquiry conducted in Scotland, 75% of Muslims polled noted that Islamophobia was an “everyday” issue, prompting leaders in the country to call for Islamophobia awareness in every school, meanwhile in the US, the 71-year-old Illinois landlord accused of murdering his six-year-old Palestinian-American tenant and attempting to murder the boy’s mother has pleaded not guilty following his indictment by a grand jury, and in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party has adopted a staunchly pro-Israel policy in the wake of the October 7th attacks with party aligned social media demonizing Muslims, Palestinians, and threatening violence against supporters. Our recommended read of the day is by  for The Huffington Post on how many American Muslim voters are frustrated with Biden’s pro-Israel stance and failure to acknowledge the crisis in Gaza, saying they won’t support his reelection, with some going as far as saying they won’t vote for Democrats at all. This and more below:

United States

Muslim, Arab Voters At A Breaking Point With Biden: ‘They’ve Taken Us For Granted’ | Recommended Read

After Israeli forces began a bombing campaign in Gaza in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants, President Joe Biden was swift to send condolences for the Israeli lives lost. But as the death toll continued to rise in Gaza, Abdel Salam waited for any public mention of those Gazans killed, news about evacuating Americans trapped in the region, or a push for a cease-fire. Eventually, Abdel Salam had enough. If he didn’t see a prompt pivot in the White House’s messaging, he decided that not only would he not vote for Biden, but he’d encourage people in his community to do the same. “What’s happening is betrayal,” Abdel Salam told HuffPost. “Betrayal of what we assumed was a promise and commitment to listen to us, at the very least.” Abdel Salam is one of a growing number of Muslim and Arab voters who say they are frustrated with the Democratic Party, and are vowing not to cast their votes for Biden in 2024. Muslim and Arab organizers said they cannot in good faith encourage their communities to support Biden’s reelection, and some say they won’t vote for any down-ballot Democrats either. Muslim organizers and advocacy groups have signed petitions, written letters and taken to social media to announce their disapproval of the president’s Israel strategy. read the complete article

Pediatrician fatally stabbed outside her Texas apartment

Dr. Talat Jehan Khan was fatally stabbed multiple times by a man who seemed to come out of nowhere while she was sitting at a picnic table outside her Texas apartment Saturday, Conroe police said. Several witnesses rushed to help Khan, 52, a Pakistani American and practicing Muslim who worked at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Conroe, and they gave officers descriptions of the incident. Khan was pronounced dead on scene. Police were dispatched just after 12:30 p.m. local time and arrested Miles Fridrich, 24, on a charge of first-degree murder after a brief chase on foot. Police Sgt. David Dickinson said police have not yet found evidence to support that the motive was linked to race or ethnicity, but he said they are combing through Fridrich’s social media accounts and computers with search warrants. Police and Khan’s family said that to their knowledge, she did not know Fridrich. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, in Texas said it is in conversation with law enforcement about the murder. “We are unsure at this moment if this was a hate crime; however given the tragic circumstances, we are paying very close attention to the investigation,” CAIR’s statement read. read the complete article

Threats to U.S. senator amid spike in anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim activity

Federal officials say they are responding to a rise in threats against Arab, Jewish and Muslim communities as the war in Gaza intensifies, coordinating with thousands of police departments across the country to better understand the threats and deploy resources. On Oct. 14, an Illinois man fatally stabbed a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy and injured his mother in an apartment they were renting from him, authorities said. The Justice Department is investigating the killing as a hate crime. Over the weekend, a series of threats posted online targeted a Jewish student center at Cornell University and called for the killing of Jewish students. The FBI is investigating the incident. “We have definitely seen an uptick in threats across the country. It is focused on Jewish people and people from the Muslim community,” Robert J. Contee III, the FBI’s assistant director of partner engagement, said in an interview. “We have to be forward-leaning with communicating with our partners and making sure that things don’t slip through the cracks.” The United States typically experiences a rise in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims when there are escalations in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Brian Levin, the former director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, who continues to closely track hate-crime data. read the complete article

Illinois man pleads not guilty in killing of Palestinian-American boy

A man accused of murder, attempted murder and a hate crime in an attack on a Palestinian-American woman and her young son has pleaded not guilty following his indictment by a grand jury in Illinois in the United States. Joseph Czuba, 71, is charged in the fatal stabbing of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and the wounding of Hanaan Shahin on October 14. Authorities said the victims were targeted because of their Muslim faith and as a response to the Israel-Hamas war. Shahin told police that Czuba, her landlord in Plainfield in Will County, was upset over the war and attacked them after she had urged him to “pray for peace”. Czuba appeared in court Monday wearing a red jail uniform, socks and yellow rubber slippers. His attorney George Lenard entered the not guilty plea after the judge read the eight-count indictment. Czuba did not speak, looking down at the podium with his hands folded behind his back as he stood before the judge in the court in Joliet, 80km (50 miles) southwest of Chicago. Shahin, 32, is recovering from multiple stab wounds. Hundreds of people attended her son’s October 16 funeral, where he was remembered as an energetic boy who loved playing games. He had recently had a birthday. read the complete article

Antisemitic and Islamophobic acts up at college campuses due to the Israel-Hamas war

The war between Israel and Hamas has had a ripple effect around the world including here in the U.S. Authorities say antisemitic and Islamophobic acts are up significantly in the U.S., particularly at college campuses, due directly to the situation in the Middle East. NBC10’s Tim Furlong has more on the numbers and what Biden’s administration is doing about it. read the complete article

Muslim, Jewish organizations around Philadelphia observe increased hate incidents

As tensions rise in the Middle East, incidents of hate are rising here in the U.S. These incidents have been targeting people of both Muslim and Jewish faiths. One Jewish leader who spoke with Action News thinks the hate has been escalated by the Israel-Hamas war. A Muslim leader who spoke with Action News thinks perceptions of the war have dehumanized people of his faith. Both groups are now making strong statements against all hate. "I am wearing this Palestinian scarf. I don't normally wear it," said Ahmet Tekelioglu, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Philadelphia chapter. He says his office has gotten four times the number of calls regarding anti-Muslim incidents than it normally does during the past few weeks. "What we are seeing is this deep-seated, white supremacist, anti-Muslim racists are now becoming activated," said Tekelioglu. read the complete article

Threats against Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish people has spiked since the war began

As the war between Hamas and Israel continues, the diaspora is feeling the pain of discrimination. Advocacy groups here in the U.S. report a spike in threats of harassment and violence against Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish people since the war began. For many Muslims, memories of a post-9/11 America have resurfaced. Well, we wanted to talk about this with Moustafa Bayoumi. He's written a book called "How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? Being Young And Arab In America." When we spoke today, I asked what he remembers about those days and weeks following 9/11. MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI: What it really was like, that era, was walking around with your stomach in knots and afraid to be able to mourn the same way that everybody else was mourning, because you had no idea if you also had a target on your back. So it was this complicated stew of emotions. KELLY: And do you remember specifically what made you feel that? Was there an incident, something someone said or did? BAYOUMI: Well, you know, the data will indicate that the hate crimes went up about 1,700% in the six months following 9/11. And even without that data, if you were around Arab American communities, I mean, everybody had a story or knew of somebody that had a story. And some of it was extremely violent. People were actually volunteering to walk women with hijabs from their homes to the supermarket. So it was a very, very tense moment back then. KELLY: I want to ask about what role the media may be playing here, and I know that Illinois State Rep Abdelnasser Rashid has blamed the media in the wake of that for its representation of the conflict in the Middle East for inspiring hate crimes. Do you agree? Does he have a point? BAYOUMI: Well, I think over the long course of representations of Palestinians, of Arabs, of Muslims, we've often seen that they get portrayed as second-class citizens. And, you know, we're also missing a sense of, say, context. The media should also be asking questions of what happened prior to October 7. These conflicts didn't begin just, you know, a few weeks ago. So there's a way in which it's always reacting instead of asking questions in the media when it comes to Arabs and Muslims, and that puts us as a secondary position. There's a very well-known TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie, and she says that it's really dangerous when your story becomes the second story. And in a lot of ways, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, in the eyes of the media, we are always just the second story. We don't count as much. And not only is that a danger to how the media is run, but it actually is danger to us because it dehumanizes us. read the complete article

Incidents of Muslim hate-bias have more than tripled in Maryland since October 7th

Frederick, Maryland is an open and accepting community; it’s a place where interreligious faith groups have deep bonds. At least that’s how President Khalil Elshazly describes it. But for the president of the Islamic Society of Frederick, things have felt dramatically different since the October 7th Hamas militant attack on Israel. “It’s an uneasy feeling,” said Elshazly, who also serves as a substitute imam at the mosque. “It's like the same atmosphere after 9/11 all over again for Muslim community. It's not a good feeling.” A report released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found a surge in anti-Muslim hate bias incidents between October 7th and October 23rd. Broken down by state, Maryland saw more than triple the amount of incidents in that time span than in the whole month of September. Two weeks ago, a woman was reportedly harassed by two men waving Israeli flags on the stairs coming into the Frederick mosque. The congregants at Elshazly’s mosque are dealing with constant fears, he said. Some do have family in Gaza, for whom they wait anxiously for news. In Maryland, they now fear for themselves too. Elshazly said people have reported to him other experiences that have caused them fear, worry, and increased daily anxiety. read the complete article


India takes strong pro-Israel stance under Modi in a departure from the past

For many, the immediacy of Modi’s comments and the UN resolution vote symbolises just how significantly the India-Israel relationship has shifted since he came to power in 2014, notably demonstrated by the public bonhomie between the two countries’ prime ministers. Nicolas Blarel, associate professor of international relations at Leiden University and author of The Evolution of India’s Israel Policy, said: “Modi’s position has been openly supportive of Israel but this is the first time that you had an immediate pro-Israel reaction without a balancing statement that immediately follows it up.” As Azad Essa, a journalist and author of Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India and Israel, said: “This messaging gave a clear signal to the whole rightwing internet cell in India.” In the aftermath, the Indian internet factcheckers AltNews and Boom began to observe a flood of disinformation targeting Palestine pushed out by Indian social media accounts, which included fake stories about atrocities committed by Palestinians and Hamas that were shared sometimes millions of times, and often using the conflict to push the same Islamophobic narrative that has been used regularly to demonise India’s Muslim population since the BJP came to power. BJP-associated Facebook groups also began to push the message that Hamas represented the same Muslim threat facing India in the troubled, majority-Muslim region of Kashmir and Palestinians were sweepingly branded as jihadis. Messages widely forwarded on WhatsApp urged Hindus to arm themselves and boycott Muslims, reading: “In the future, India could also face conspiracies and attacks like Israel. The possibility of Hindu women facing cruelty cannot be ruled out.” The same narrative also made its way on to some of India’s most inflammatory news channels, with Arnab Goswami, the rightwing firebrand presenter on India’s Republic TV, telling viewers: “The same radical jihadist Islamist terrorist thinking that Israel is a victim of, we are a victim of as well … Israel is fighting this war on behalf of all of us.” read the complete article


Israel-Hamas war: Canada must act to prevent hate crimes against Muslim and Jewish communities

In such a climate, potential hate crimes and the spillover effects of the ongoing conflict need to be addressed and governments need to take action to prevent grave consequences. Dehumanizing rhetoric is further inflaming the situation and risks leading to even more extreme violence. Already, we have witnessed tragic consequences of the violence unfold in different communities. A Chicago-area man was recently arrested and charged with murder and hate crimes after police alleged he stabbed a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy to death. Police in Toronto and Montreal have reported an increase in hate crime calls since the beginning of the conflict on Oct. 7. Recent statistics indicate that religiously motivated hate crimes are on the rise in Canada. There has been a 67 per cent increase in police-reported hate crimes from 2020 to 2021, with a specific rise in hate crimes against Muslim (71 per cent) and Jewish (47 per cent) Canadians. Canada has the fourth-largest Jewish community in the world, with a population of over 390,000, and a Muslim population of around two million people. In recent years, there have been violent attacks against Muslim Canadians such as the killing of the Afzaal family in London, Ont., the mosque attack that killed six Muslims during prayers in Québec, and violent attacks against hijab-wearing Muslim women in Alberta. A 2021 study from the United States explored whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict leads to acts of hatred towards Jews and Muslims. The study discovered that instances of conflict trigger hate crimes, displaying a retaliatory trend: occurrences of hate crimes against Jews escalate following Israeli assaults, whereas incidents of hate crimes against Muslims increase after Palestinian attacks. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Islamophobia awareness should be taught in every school - report

The devastating impact of Islamophobia should be taught in every school in Scotland, according to a new report. Educational institutions should also have safe spaces for Muslims and establish dress-code policies sensitive to their needs. The cross-party Holyrood group's recommendations follow a 2021 public inquiry which found a rise in racism. The Scottish government welcomed the report and said it would consider the findings carefully. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who launched the initial inquiry, said: "Many of our fellow Scottish citizens face racism and intolerance on a daily basis and are scared to leave their homes. "And right now, with the tragic escalation of violence in the Middle East, families in Scotland are living in fear of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia." The public inquiry, which was set up in 2018, found verbal and physical assaults had intensified, especially on public transport. It also said more participants in Glasgow experienced abuse. And it highlighted research that 75% of Muslims said Islamophobia was a regular or everyday issue in Scottish society. The Muslim Council of Britain described the inquiry report as a "landmark intervention". read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 Oct 2023 Edition


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