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 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In China, President Xi Jinping has stated that Islam in the country must be “Chinese in orientation and religions in the country should adapt to the socialist society being pursued by the ruling CCP,” meanwhile, three renowned international law experts launched their report on serious human rights violations against Muslims in India since 2019, and in the United States, a Muslim American parent praises Ms Marvel, stating “Islam is deftly and realistically handled through the characters on display. The faith is neither glorified or demonized, and allowed to merely exist as a part of some lives and not others.” Our recommended read of the day is by Haroon Siddique for the Guardian on a new study that finds “poor outcomes for Muslims in the British labour market cannot be explained by sociocultural attitudes,” and instead points to “overwhelming evidence from field experiments that shows anti-Muslim discrimination towards Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim to be a significant barrier to them accessing work.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

18 Jul 2022

Muslims’ high unemployment rate ‘not due to cultural and religious practices’ | Recommended Read

The research, published in the peer-reviewed Ethnic and Racial Studies journal, confirmed the existence of a “Muslim penalty” in the employment market but rejected previous suggestions that it was due to cultural and religious practices. Both Muslim men and Muslim women were found to have significantly greater probability of unemployment than their respective white British Christian counterparts after adjustments were made for factors such as age, where they live, education and whether they have children. The author then adjusted for factors such as religiosity, gender attitudes, and civic participation but found that they had only a minor effect on the “Muslim penalty”. Samir Sweida-Metwally, doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol, who carried out the research, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “The findings offer evidence against the view that Muslims’ poor employment outcomes in Britain are due to their so-called ‘sociocultural attitudes’. “In challenging this narrative, which problematises Muslims and their faith, the study lends support to the overwhelming evidence from field experiments that shows anti-Muslim discrimination towards Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim to be a significant barrier to them accessing work.” Another significant finding was that country of origin or “perceived Muslimness” might be important. While white British Muslims did not display a significantly different risk of unemployment and inactivity from white British Christians, Arab men of no religion were among those with the highest likelihood of unemployment/inactivity. Sweida-Metwally wrote this “might suggest that perceived Muslimness is more important for predicting religious disadvantage among men than actual attachment to the faith”. The study found that when it came to men, those of black Caribbean ethnicity had the highest risk of unemployment. Among women, Muslims generally exhibited the greatest risk of unemployment, with Pakistani women displaying the highest risk of unemployment. Sweida-Metwally said: “Overall, the evidence indicates support for the thesis that there is both a religious (Muslim) and colour (Black) penalty at play in the British labour market. Confirming previous research, religion is a much better predictor of unemployment and inactivity for women, whereas for men both colour and religion are important.” read the complete article

18 Jul 2022

There are Tories of diverse origins and skin tones. What they need now is real difference

We are witnessing the most racially diverse leadership race for a major party in British political history. Candidates over the course of the contest to be the new Conservative leader have included Nadhim Zahawi, Suella Braverman, Rishi Sunak, Kemi Badenoch, Sajid Javid and Rehman Chishti. Sunak, the frontrunner by some estimates, could become the first person of colour to be prime minister. If a similar exercise were to take place in the Labour party today, it is highly unlikely that there would be anywhere close to that many ethnic minority MPs in the running, and certainly none with a realistic chance of winning. Does this look and sound like a good thing? Well, it depends. And it’s also worth asking: a good thing for whom? It’s certainly a good thing for the Conservatives, who can use the diversity of the leadership shortlist to score a point against the left. Already predictable arguments are being made that the shortlist proves that liberals just talk about equality but have no interest in achieving it, unlike the Conservative party. It’s also rather handy to have a feelgood story about the most diverse leadership election in history to distract from what has become a contest in deluded economic extremism on the one hand and nastiness about “workshy” and “woke” people on the other. And as we have seen, deploying senior politicians of colour, such as Priti Patel, to apply the hard-right Tory party agenda, on border policies for instance, is a neat way to absolve both the party and its voters from charges of racism. But there is a difference between finding a party that serves your interests, and using your position in that party to undermine the interests of others. This takes us back to the central question – who is diversity in the upper ranks of the Tory party good for? I am not sure it is good for me, if it means Nadhim Zahawi can apply even more restrictions on schools because teaching about Black Lives Matter means disseminating “partisan political views”. It is not good for me that Suella Braverman, who was eliminated from the contest on Thursday, wants to withdraw from the European court of human rights. It is not good for me that Sunak, who as chancellor slashed international aid, now says we should be “grateful” for austerity, and promises to tighten the fiscal screws during a cost of living crisis. Not to mention Priti Patel and her Rwanda asylum policy. There has to be a point to diversity, you see – that’s why so many people of colour bang on about it. In government, its purpose should be to expand and enhance perspectives so that policymaking is more compassionate, more observant of the plight of marginalised people who were never represented in the places that impact their lives the most. It doesn’t mean one privately educated millionaire being replaced by another of like mind carrying out the same policies. read the complete article

18 Jul 2022

Trauma, power and hope – an interview with Rizwaan Sabir

In 2008, Rizwaan Sabir was arrested at the University of Nottingham for suspected terrorism and, eventually, released without charge. His book The Suspect: Counterterrorism, Islam, and the Security State, details the traumatising legacy of surveillance, coercion and violence at the hands of the British state. It is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the ongoing criminalisation of Muslims and the oppressive power structures that supposedly act to ‘keep us safe’. Rizwaan Sabir: There was definitely a rupture, that’s a good word. I finally understood that the world is not divided between good and bad, black and white. So when I talk about that sense of liberation, there was an immediate understanding that showed me that as a Muslim of colour, you can do and say all the right things and act as an exemplary Muslim citizen but you will still be treated as a suspect because of your Muslimness. Prior to the arrest, I always operated on the assumption that the state and the police, though they did abuse and commit injustice, were generally trying to prevent harm and crime, or that they weren’t as bad as we often thought. But when they subjected me to arrest and detention, I understood first-hand how deep the racism went. So it led to a mental rewiring that led me to doubt my entire ideological worldview that I had been socialised into. It made me realise that in the war on terror, the line between the good and bad guys wasn’t clear at all. It was here that, despite being in a prison cell, that sense of liberation emerged. read the complete article

18 Jul 2022

'I Was Hated After 9/11, This Is How I Changed People's Minds'

Islamophobia has been around since long before I was born, but I experienced it for the first time at the age of 14. In the days following 9/11 my classmates told me and my friends, "You lot look like Osama Bin Laden" and, "Go back to where you came from." Even though our school was in Manchester, England, there was anger about what had happened in America. Some students believed all Muslims were responsible. Then one afternoon, during an otherwise uneventful day at school, my classmates and I were pelted with glass and rocks. There were eight of us, of Pakistani, Turkish, African and Arab origin. One friend had to be taken to the medical room due to his eye being cut. Another left school and went home because he was so angry and upset. It was a sad moment to feel as though you weren't wanted in school just because of your beliefs and an attack that had nothing to do with your faith. My wife Melissa has experienced a different type of Islamophobia since she converted to Islam at the age of 13. People stare at her for an uncomfortable amount of time and she has been told that she is a traitor to British society for wearing a headscarf. More than a third of people in the UK believe Islam is a threat to the British way of life, according to a report by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate. In the U.S., Islam is one of the least well-regarded religions in America, according to a 2019 Pew Research Centre study. And I can understand why. Often, all you see of Islam in the media is negativity and a lack of clarity on Islamic teachings. If bomb goes off and the perpetrator is non-white, Islam is often stuck to the top line in a matter of minutes. Yet the teachings of Islam have nothing to do with violence and terror. After repeatedly seeing such portrayals on my TV screen, in newspapers and online, I felt it was time to show the truth about my faith. So I took to social media and created "The Young Imam," for which I won the Community Person of the Year Award at BAFTA in March 2022. read the complete article


18 Jul 2022

Opinion: BJP's Targeting Of Ex Vice President Hamid Ansari

The world's largest democracy now considers the lowest, crudest, and most bizarre and uncivilized charges against political opponents as par for the course. The latest example of this is the charge by the BJP that former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari, 'invited' Pakistan journalist Nusrat Mirza to India, and was on a stage with him during a conference on Terrorism in 2010. Nusrat Mirza has alleged that he passed on information to ISI. From this to conclude that Hamid Ansari was working with the ISI, as the BJP is insinuating, is nothing short of absurd. Ansari has issued a categorical statement that "I have never invited or met him". He has further clarified that the list of invitees for the "Conference on Terrorism" that he inaugurated on December 11, 2010, would have been vetted by the Ministry of External Affairs. The government and people of Pakistan would be having a merry laugh that the BJP is prepared to believe what is obviously a deliberately mischievous statement by one of their journalists over the explicit denial of the former Vice President of India. Hamid Ansari, I have no hesitation in saying, is one of the most distinguished citizens of India. To allege that a person of such a long record in service to the nation and of such demonstrable integrity is in some way working for the Pakistani intelligence agency is not only laughable but an outrage. But a more worrying concern is that he is being targeted for having the wrong name. Is a Muslim now, irrespective of the high Constitutional office he has held, and his manifest patriotism, still suspect, merely because he or she is a Muslim? read the complete article

18 Jul 2022

Muslims Have Become A Persecuted Minority In India, Experts Warn

End of June 2022, a Panel of Independent International Experts (the Panel), consisting of three renowned international law experts, including Sonja Biserko, Marzuki Darusman and Stephen Rapp, launched their report on serious human rights violations against Muslims in India since 2019. The Panel found that there is credible evidence to suggest that a wide range of international human rights of Muslim communities have been violated by the authorities in India. According to the evidence reviewed, federal and state-level authorities “adopted a wide range of laws, policies and conduct that target Muslims directly or affect them disproportionately.” In relation to violations perpetrated by non-state actors, the State failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the acts, effectively investigate and prosecute them. The Panel further found that some of the violations may amount to crimes against humanity, war crimes and incitement to commit genocide. The Panel found credible evidence to suggest that several human rights are being perpetrated against Muslims throughout India, and especially in Assam, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, including “arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, gender-based violence and discrimination, incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, discrimination in laws and policies, including to nationality and representation, violations of freedom of religion or belief, violation of freedom of expression, association, assembly, violations of right to fair trial, and violation of economic, social and cultural rights.” Lastly, the Panel identified that a number of public speeches made by prominent political or religious leaders in Delhi, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh between December 2019 and April 2022, calling on their audience to kill Muslims or rape Muslim women and girls, may amount to direct and public incitement to commit genocide. read the complete article


18 Jul 2022

Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation: President Xi Jinping

President Xi Jinping has asked officials to step up efforts to uphold the principle that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation and religions in the country should adapt to the socialist society being pursued by the ruling Communist Party of China. Xi visited the volatile Xinjiang region, where the Chinese security forces for the last several years have made efforts to control protests by Uygur Muslims over settlements from Han Chinese from outside the province. During his four-day tour of the region which started on July 12, Xi met with officials. He stressed fostering a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, promoting exchanges, interactions and integration among different ethnic groups, the official media reported. Xi underlined the need to improve the governance capacity of religious affairs and realise the healthy development of religions. Enhanced efforts should be made to uphold the principle that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation, and to adapt religions to socialist society, he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency. The normal religious needs of believers should be ensured and they should be united closely around the party and the government, Xi added. read the complete article

18 Jul 2022

Uyghur Poems From a Chinese Prison

For many Uyghurs, poetry is less a niche literary exercise than a vital part of everyday life. Uyghur culture has become a target of the Chinese government’s crackdown in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, a persecution of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities that the United States has said amounts to genocide. The authorities have destroyed Uyghur holy sites, censored Uyghur books, and suppressed the Uyghur language in schools. At least 312 Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim intellectuals, including writers, artists, and poets, have been detained, according to a 2021 report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, though the actual number is thought to be far higher. One of those imprisoned is Gulnisa Imin, a Uyghur-literature teacher and an acclaimed poet who was among the roughly 1 million Uyghurs sent to China’s sprawling network of so-called reeducation camps in 2018. A year later, she was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, reportedly on the grounds that her poetry promoted “separatism.” Imin’s work is not overtly political, in fact, but her poems bear their own kind of witness to the Uyghur experience since China’s mass-internment program began. For Imin and Jalalidin to choose poetry as their way of communicating with the outside world came as no surprise to Freeman, who told me that Uyghurs have long relied on poetry as a source of solidarity and strength in hard times. Poems—which can be composed, recited, and memorized even without pen or paper—have become a favored literary form during this historic ordeal for the Uyghur people. “Poetry for many Uyghurs is not just a form of resistance; it’s a form of self-expression in an environment where self-expression is nearly impossible in many contexts,” he said. “Poets in Uyghur society are, to a very significant extent, the voices of their people.” read the complete article

United States

18 Jul 2022

Watching my son watch ‘Ms. Marvel’ feels like a game-changing event

Conceived and crafted by Muslim and Pakistani creatives, the show pushes back against Hollywood’s dehumanizing and racist handling of brown individuals and their communities. And in the details of Kamala Khan and her world, my son not only finds a necessary reflection of himself but also timely reassurance that he can be the superhero of his own narrative in America. On the surface, “Ms. Marvel” is the story of a geeky teenager and Marvel comic fangirl who stumbles upon her own cosmic superpowers. But for parents like me, it is much more: simultaneously a superhero and human tale that melds American adolescence with the sometimes uncomfortable, first-generational experience of Pakistani culture and Islam. Though my son is still young, I already see him responding to the parts of his own life that he recognizes in the episodes of “Ms. Marvel.” On the screen, he watches the Marvel universe coexist in the same space with the Urdu language, Eid celebrations and Pakistani songs like “Peechay Hut” and “Pasoori.” He excitedly emoted at the mention of “abu” (Urdu word for father), sang along and danced to songs, and perked up when he heard the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) during scenes. Because of this, Islam is deftly and realistically handled through the characters on display. The faith is neither glorified or demonized, and allowed to merely exist as a part of some lives and not others. Kamala’s friend, Nakia, wears a hijab as a source for personal purpose, while others do not. Her brother, Aamir, is pious and bearded, while others are not. Similarly, other cultural and religious issues that often go addressed or get cursory mention are also prominently showcased in the storyline. Female empowerment in Islam is explored through Nakia’s impassioned campaign and eventual election to the local mosque board. On a different front, the surveillance of mosques post-9/11 is recast through the prism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when federal agents from the Department of Damage Control barge into Islamic center to investigate an “enhanced individual.” And finally, the painful 1947 partition between India and Pakistan and its traumatic legacy is presented across episodes to illuminate Kamala’s backstory and origins of the bangle that unlocks her powers. read the complete article


18 Jul 2022

Alberta's human rights commission chief under fire for Islamophobic book review

Community groups are condemning the appointment of the new chief of the Alberta Human Rights Commission and Tribunals, following the resurfacing of a 2009 academic book in which he made Islamophobic comments. Calgary lawyer Collin May began his new five-year role as chief this week after serving on the commission since 2019. "It was very shocking and hurtful and just troubling to see some of the statements Collin May expressed," said Said Omar, Alberta advocacy officer for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Collin May's review of Israeli-British historian Efraim Karsh's Islamic Imperialism: A History came to light again earlier this month in an article published by The Progress Report, an Alberta news outlet. May's commentary highlighted Karsh's Islamophobic assertion that the religion is inherently militaristic in nature, under the guise of analysis. "[Karsh] defies the multicultural illusion regarding pacific Islam and goes to the heart of the matter. Islam is not a peaceful religion misused by radicals. Rather, it is one of the most militaristic religions known to man, and it is precisely this militaristic heritage that informs the actions of radicals throughout the Muslim world," May wrote in his 2009 review. May's review is problematic because it's based on stereotypes of Islam that most — if not all — Muslims do not hold, and it is based on an understanding of Islam that is incorrect, Omar said. The council approached May and members of the Alberta government, and work is ongoing to rectify the situation with community members, he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Jul 2022 Edition


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