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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15 Apr 2021

Today in Islamophobia: A Gynecologist exiled from China says that she performed 80 daily sterilizations on Uyghurs in China, as Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh continue to face fires and vandalizations, and in France, French Muslim women provide their testimony on the Hijab Ban and its impact. Our recommended read for the day is by Dean Obeidallah on Tucker Carlson’s promotion of the white nationalist, great replacement theory, which has inspired a number of violent attacks. This and more below:

United States

14 Apr 2021

Tucker Carlson's latest white supremacist tirade might be his most dangerous yet

Tucker Carlson’s warning on Thursday to his primarily white audience that the Democratic Party is “trying to replace the current electorate” with “voters from the Third World” is the essence of the dangerous white nationalist replacement theory. Essentially it tells white people that people of color are an inherent threat to their very existence. On Tuesday, Charlie Kirk — a frequent Fox News guest and head of the conservative Turning Point USA, a pro-MAGA youth group — declared on his own show that Carlson’s view that white voters would be “replaced” by people of color was “factual" and "true.” Replacement theory explains why at the 2017 white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, angry white men chanted, “You will not replace us!” Carlson is simply parroting their sentiment, but he’s doing it in a suit and tie while on national TV. The TV host doubled down on this view Monday when he told his audience that “demographic replacement” is “the central idea of the modern Democratic Party,” adding that its goal is “to make you irrelevant.” Replacement theory has been further cited as the motivating factor for various acts of terrorism and hate in recent years by angry white men: most notably, the horrific deadly rampage in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 where over 20 people were killed; the 2018 attack on Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; and the 2019 attack on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
14 Apr 2021

House Judiciary Democrats advance bill to bar future 'Muslim ban'

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced a bill that would bar the White House from blocking immigrants from entering the U.S. based on their religion. The bill is a direct response to former President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, an executive order signed during his first week in office in 2017, which limited visas for those from 13 countries, many with majority-Muslim populations. President Biden rescinded the ban on his first day in office, but the bill seeks to bar future presidents from taking similar action. Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the bill would prevent executive overreach and accused Trump of using “flimsy national security concerns as a pretext for imposing a sweeping ban based on religious elements.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced last week that lawmakers would take up the No Ban Act the week of April 19, along with a series of bills “relating to justice and civil rights.” read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

‘We Are Treated as Animals’ – French Muslim Women on the Proposed Hijab Ban

“Being a Muslim woman in France is being judged every day, everywhere. When we go to grocery shops, people stare at us and feel bothered by our presence. Our children can’t talk about their faith for fear of being called terrorists,” Nadia, who is only able to reveal her first name for fear of further harassment, says. “We feel very unsafe, it’s becoming suffocating. We are not treated as true French citizens who work here, pay taxes and take care of the sick, but as animals that don’t have any rights.” France is home to the largest Muslim community in the Western world, with just over 4 million people, amounting to an estimated 8 percent of the nation’s total population. A third of France’s winning 2018 World Cup team were Muslim. It is disconcerting, then, that 44.6 per cent of French people perceive Islam as a threat to national identity. The staunchly secular nation has long been at war with itself over its Muslims citizens, especially veiled women, who face increasingly blatant instances of Islamophobia. On the 30th of March, the French senate voted in favor of a “separatism bill”, legislation which – if passed by France’s National Assembly – would ban girls under 18 from wearing the hijab in public. The controversial amendment triggered the viral hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab and has drawn condemnation from critics accusing the bid of targeting France’s Muslim minority. Amnesty International has called for the “many problematic provisions” of the bill to be scrapped or amended. This is the newest development in France’s decades-long feud over the headscarf. It is impossible to untangle the prominence of modern Islamophobia from France’s imperial legacy. French occupation of Muslim-majority countries in Africa and the Middle East involved limiting the use of Arabic to the private sphere, and in Algeria, ceremonially forcing women to take off their veils and burning them in a so-called demonstration of liberation from the patriarchy. A colonial poster from the 1960s depicts a smiling, unveiled woman among her veiled peers, with a caption aimed to tempt and ridicule: “Aren’t you beautiful? Remove your veils!” read the complete article

14 Apr 2021


Laïcité—or secularism—is based on a 1905 law separating church and state in France. The absence of religion from public life was something all of the (white) French people I met were proud of, something that distinguished them from other parts of the world. What was never said out loud was that they meant the absence of religions that aren’t Catholicism. That’s why our first holiday of the school year was for La Toussaint or All Saints Day. That’s why every day I watched a Muslim girl stop outside of the school to take her hijab off before entering, while other white French girls trotted past with their scarves wrapped around their heads because it was raining. That’s why I noticed the crucifix necklaces that never had to come off. That’s why three of my students came to me crying when a teacher got to Islam in their history class. After going over the history of Judaism and Christianity, this teacher told the class that Islam was different because it was an inherently violent religion. He then told the Muslim students in the class that he would fail them if they refused to look at a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). That was in 2017. Since then, French hostility toward Muslims has only grown. Remember when President Macron said Islam was in crisis and he was going to reform it? To defend secularism (his words, not mine), France unveiled a new set of proposed laws to further limit Muslim’s freedom of expression. This “Separatism Bill” is being framed as an attempt to promote women’s autonomy, but why are Catholic teenagers allowed to decide for themselves how they can dress, but Muslim teenagers can’t? If the bill passes, any girl under the age of 18 will not be allowed to wear a hijab in public, not just at school; university students will not be permitted to wear a hijab on campus; parents who wear hijab will be barred from accompanying their children on school trips, and public pools would be able to ban burkinis. Even when masks were mandated to combat COVID-19, French officials said they would still fine Muslim women who wore the niqab or burqa—both of which cover the nose and mouth. France wants us to see this new bill as an extension of laïcité, a protection of their sacred secularism. And it is—because laïcité is and always has been weaponized against and used as a French tool of control over Muslims, as France has been doing for centuries through imperialism and colonialism. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

Turkey condemns Dutch lawmaker’s anti-Islam tweet

Turkish officials reacted angrily to far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders after he made disparaging remarks about Islam at the start of Ramadan. On Monday, Wilders, chairman of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, shared a short video clip on Twitter attacking Islam and the Muslim holy month. Turkey’s ruling AK Party spokesman Omer Celik on Wednesday accused Wilders of having “a racist and fascist mind”. “Enemies of Islam also hate migrants, poor people, needy people and foreigners,” he said on Twitter. Ali Erbas, the head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, condemned Wilders’ remarks as “unacceptable”. Wilders is one of Europe’s most prominent far-right politicians and has been a key figure in shaping the immigration debate in the Netherlands over the past decade, although he has never been in government. Wilders – whose political career has been based largely on his strident anti-Islam rhetoric – has frequently shocked the Dutch political establishment and offended Muslims. read the complete article

14 Apr 2021

Commons to vote on declaration of genocide in Xinjiang province

The House of Commons is to be given a chance to vote to declare that a genocide is under way in Xinjiang province in China, in a move likely to damage Sino-British relations. The organizers hope that at least two-thirds of MPs will vote on 22 April to back the all-party motion in a declaration of intent against China for its treatment of the Uyghur Muslims. Relations are already at a low ebb after China sanctioned 10 individuals and entities in the UK in response to the Foreign Office imposing sanctions on four Chinese officials implicated in setting up detention camps in Xinjiang. Ministers are likely to be asked to abstain in the vote on the basis that the government believes it is for the international courts alone to declare a genocide. The Foreign Office also supports the UN high commissioner on human rights being allowed by China to go to Xinjiang to conduct an unfettered inquiry. read the complete article

15 Apr 2021

Ramadan 2021: A time for Muslims to unite against Islamophobia

As we enter the holy month of Ramadan, during which millions of Muslims around the world practice fasting, the racist conspiracy theory that this will bring a spike in infections also follows us. The same Islamophobic narrative adopted by far-right groups and public figures last year has returned again, while their outrage over the lockdowns “stealing Christmas” seems to have vanished from the collective memory. This has certainly been the rhetoric in the Netherlands. Despite Covid-19 infections remaining high, the country has been the last in the region to start vaccinating people. One would think that getting a handle on this would be a key priority for all political leaders. Instead, a few weeks after a national election driven by hate and division, the public discourse remains focused on Muslims as the problem. Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb responded to the extension of a national curfew, in place from 10pm to 4:30am, with concerns that it was coinciding with Ramadan. He stated that Muslims would want to visit their families during this time, suggesting that they would not respect the restrictions because they break their fast after sunset. It is striking that politicians would portray iftar meals as super-spreader events, when members of the far right have been gathering in massive groups in recent months for demonstrations and electoral rallies. Similarly, when churches in right-wing bastions were filled to the rafters in the lead-up to Easter, the usual suspects were nowhere to be found. The irony that these comments came from a figure celebrated for being the first big-city Muslim mayor in the country didn’t go unnoticed. But it seems the country is so racist that even when a Muslim reinforces a right-wing narrative, he is attacked for simply mentioning the M-word. Aboutaleb found himself on the receiving end of much far-right backlash for daring to suggest that the Dutch government should even factor in Muslims when making political decisions. The flames of hatred have been lit, and there is a dangerous appetite for Islamophobia across Europe. The list just keeps growing, from Switzerland’s burqa ban, to France’s war against Muslims through so-called anti-separatism laws, to an alarming level of anti-Muslim attacks in Germany and a curtailing of civil liberties in Austria to supposedly combat extremism. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

Gynecologist Exiled From China Says 80 Sterilizations Per Day Forced on Uyghurs

"On some days there were about 80 surgeries to carry out forced sterilizations," Gülgine, 47, said in an interview with The Sankei Shimbun, according to Japan Forward. Gülgine was a gynecologist in China's autonomous Xinjiang region, which is largely popular by the Uyghur Muslim minority. The doctor, who left China for Istanbul in 2011, admitted her own role in the sterilization procedures at a hospital in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. "A lot of women were put on the back of a truck and sent to the hospital," Gülgine said. "The [sterilization] procedure took about five minutes each, but the women were crying because they did not know what was happening to them." In the interview, which took place in Turkey, Gülgine showed intrauterine devices (IUDs) and said "these devices were inserted into women's wombs" as a method of forced infertility. The doctor-in-exile said she believes that China started the sterilization campaign in order to maintain the Uyghur population an official minority. read the complete article

14 Apr 2021

China controls the IOC and Olympic sponsors the way it governs its citizens: Through fear

It used to be that China policed or coerced only its own citizens, induced them into self-censorship and paralysis with this sense of latent but chilling threat. But lately the fat, vague menace somehow has frozen the entire Western world. Everyone engaged with Beijing seems afraid to move a muscle — stifled, unfree, hunch-shouldered and inert — for fear that the snake might move. The IOC and its corporate partners are silent and immobilized to the point of abetting slavery, torture and rape in the Uyghur camps of Xinjiang. They’re facilitating a dangerously aggressive encroachment of the anaconda to our own doorsteps. It’s time to break that grip. Beijing’s leaders want to police you, whether you know it or not. President Xi Jinping is on a concerted campaign to transnationalize his autocracy, to undermine the United Nations human rights code and enforce a worldwide gag order over his murderous forced-labor club-whacking despotism, which he very much would like to take into Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. You want to scare the hell out of yourself? Read his 2017 remarks about how China should use Western fractures to go about “reforming and developing the global governance system.” That’s what he’s into — and to whom Olympic sponsors and dozens of other American companies are funneling billions. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

‘Super-spreader’: Over 1,000 COVID positive at India’s Kumbh Mela

More than 1,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the site of a major Hindu festival in India in two days, officials said, as huge crowds of mostly maskless devotees descend on the Ganges River in the northern Uttarakhand state. The latest figures came as Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of neighboring Uttar Pradesh state, tweeted on Wednesday that he had also tested positive for COVID-19. A second wave of coronavirus infections is sweeping across India, with the country on Wednesday hitting a new high of 184,372 new cases. With a total of almost 13.9 million COVID-19 infections, India now has the second-highest number of cases in the world. The country’s daily death toll passed 1,000 on Wednesday for the first time since mid-October. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, however, has refused to call off the festival that is scheduled to last the whole month, possibly fearing a backlash from religious leaders in the Hindu-majority country. Critics of the Indian government have also compared the government’s response to the festival to the response last year when Indian Muslims faced rising Islamophobia following accusations that an initial surge in infections was tied to a three-day meeting of an Islamic missionary group, the Tablighi Jamaat, in New Delhi. Some leaders from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and India’s freewheeling TV channels, which have long favored the government’s Hindu-nationalist policies, labelled Muslims as “jihadis” and “super spreaders” in March 2020 when the seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases in the country was not even 200 per day. The blame triggered a wave of violence, business boycotts and hate speech towards Muslims. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

Rohingya Refugee Camps Are Being Set On Fire

Several small fires have engulfed dozens of make-shift homes in Rohingya refugee camps in India and Bangladesh in the last two weeks and it is unclear who is causing them. These incidents follow a large fire that broke out on March 22 in Bangladesh at Cox’s Bazar. The fire ravaged through 10,000 make-shift homes, killing at least 15 people and displacing 45,000. Investigations into the cause of that fire are still underway. The UN allocated $14 million dollars to help rehabilitate the refugees left homeless by the fire in the world’s largest refugee camp. Since then, there have been regular incidents of small fires in Cox’s Bazar; the last one was reported on April 12. “The frequent fires have left the refugee community traumatized and unsure about the future,” said Zia Naing, a 27-year-old Rohingya refugee who’s been living in a Cox’s Bazar camp since 2017. “Our lives are hanging between the Myanmar military and the fires in refugee camps. It’s a terrifying situation to be in.” he added. Naing and his 11 family members lost their makeshift home in the March 22 fire. “Multiple smaller fires have been reported across camps in Kutupalong and Nayapara in the past weeks. This is a very worrying trend. Refugees have managed to put out the fires quickly with only a limited number of families affected. Investigations by camp authorities are underway.” said Mostafa Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, a Public Information Officer from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told VICE World News. Kutupalong and Nayapara are the largest camps in Cox’s Bazar. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

Death threats against Chinese Canadian who spoke out on Uyghur genocide claims must be investigated, say B.C. community leaders

The organization, Concern Group of Chinese Canadians on CCP Human Rights Violation, had sent two letters to Horgan over Bill Yee’s appointment to the Chinese-Canadian Community Advisory Committee and demanding his removal. Two days after the second letter, one of the 13 signatories received a cryptic message. “A death threat text message was received,” explained group spokesperson Thekla Lit in a video news conference Wednesday morning. The text read, “Wanna kill u. I am going to kill u …” The organization penned the letter demanding Yee’s resignation after he called credible claims of genocide in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region “lies” during a Chinese-language radio interview with a Toronto Station. Yee also accused Canadian politicians of ulterior motives for speaking out about the situation in Xinjiang. After the uproar Yee’s comments sparked, he chose not to seek another term on the committee, according to B.C. Minister of State for Trade George Chow. Now, Lit’s organization is demanding the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and the Attorney General ensure the threat is investigated fully. read the complete article


14 Apr 2021

New archaeology finding shows how Muslim cuisine endured in secret despite policing by the Spanish Catholic regime

For many, the conquest of Granada is symbolized by the Alhambra. This hilltop fortress, once the palatial residence of the Islamic Nasrid rulers, became a royal court under the new Catholic regime. Today it is the most visited historical monument in Spain and the best-preserved example of medieval Islamic architecture in the world. Now, archaeology provides us with new opportunities to glimpse the conquest’s impact on local Andalusi communities, far beyond the Alhambra’s walls. Discarded waste from food preparation and consumption in archaeological deposits – mostly animal bone fragments as well as plant remains and ceramic tableware – provide an invaluable record of the culinary practices of past households. Animal bones, in particular, can sometimes be connected with specific diets adhered to by different religious communities. The majority of bones in the well in Cartuja derived from sheep, with a small number from cattle. The older age of the animals, mostly castrated males, and the presence of meat-rich parts indicates they were cuts prepared by professional butchers and procured from a market, rather than reared locally by the household. So the combination of large bowls, sheep bones paired and the absence of pig (pork would have been avoided by Muslims) points to a Morisco household. The Catholic regime disapproved of these communal dining practices, which were associated with Andalusi Muslim identity, and eventually banned them. The consumption of pork became the most famous expression of policing dining habits by the Holy Office, more popularly known as the Inquisition. Echoes of this dining revolution can be seen today in the role of pork in Spanish cuisine, including in globally exported cured meats such as chorizo and jamón. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Apr 2021

Rethinking Muslim Representation – 20 years after 9/11

Media commentators go through well-worn motions, wondering what it is about Islam and Muslims which makes it so unable to handle critique or ridicule? Politicians take to admonishing Muslim activists – laying out to them what the acceptable and unacceptable ways to behave are – always with the underlying implication that Muslims should be grateful for the relative political freedoms that they enjoy in the UK, as compared with the countries of their heritage. And Muslim representatives take their positions, issuing statements and demonstrating their ‘reasonableness’ – this can take the form of declarations of loyalty, of adherence to ‘British values’, a denouncement of protestors as ‘anti-prophetic’ in their manner and their demands, and a distancing from them, a call to understand the incident as ‘unfortunate’ or ‘badly judged’ and to respond through compassion, dialogue, forbearance and outreach. If we consider the legacies of Britain’s colonial relationship with the countries to which its Muslims traced their heritage, then it becomes clear that this was about much more than simply a minority religion being acknowledged publicly by the state. This is not to mention the momentous feat of simply getting such a range of ethnicities, cultural, political and theological tendencies from across the UK onto one shared platform. Perhaps the organic path of this journey of representation politics was disrupted by the huge impact of 9/11, and the subsequent mushrooming of a security state obsessed with containing a Muslim ‘ideological’ threat to liberal freedoms. Because of securitization, the very notion of Muslim representation became inseparable from the task of allaying liberal fears of an ideological or cultural threat emanating from Muslim communities, and the performance of overt affirmations of loyalty to the nation. Thus, it soon became that any form of public pronouncement by Muslim organizations, in particular, ones expressing political dissent, had to be prefaced by a disavowal of violence or extremism. Such was the intensity and pressure of the moment, that Muslim representatives felt they were left with little choice but to channel their attention and resources into putting out constantly recurring fires – or else to risk losing their hard-won ‘respectability’. This variously took the form of presenting accessible theological arguments against the use of violence, demystifying Muslim communities or institutions; dispelling misrepresentations that were circulating about religious teachings; endeavors to ‘humanize’ Muslims through coordinated demonstrations of active citizenship; and celebrations of ‘ordinariness’. The common strand between all such activities being that there was a redoubling of focus on the same primary audience – the political and media establishments. It seems fair to say that the centrality of this focus has endured, and has left a lasting and perhaps indelible mark on the psyche and aspiration of British Muslim representation politics. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

14 Apr 2021

Sri Lanka bans Muslim groups before Easter attacks anniversary

Sri Lanka has banned 11 Muslim organizations, including the ISIL (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda, a week before the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings which killed 279 people. Anyone linked to the groups – the other nine of which are local religious and social organizations – faces up to 20 years in jail, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a gazette notification. The move, made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, was “in furtherance of the efforts of the government of Sri Lanka made in good faith for the purpose of ensuring the continuance of peace within the country”, Rajapaksa said. The inquiry, whose report was released earlier this year, also recommended that Buddhist organizations accused of instigating intercommunal unrest before and after the bombings be banned, but none was named in Wednesday’s decree. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Apr 2021 Edition


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