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 Apr 2019

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., a white nationalist coast guard officer who was caught stockpiling guns and compiling a hit list of prominent Democrats & journalists faces no terrorism-related offenses, while a Texas town is sued after refusing an Islamic faith group’s bid for a Muslim cemetery. In the U.K.,  a Muslim minister receives hate mail from a Tory activist at the same time the Liberal Democrats suspend a Manchester city council candidate for Islamophobic social media posts. Our recommended read for today by Hartosh Singh Bale highlights Indian PM Narendra Modi’s tactics to stoke fear among Hindus and alienate Muslims to win reelection. This, and more, below:


18 Apr 2019

Opinion | Modi’s Campaign of Fear and Prejudice | Recommended Read

Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, is leading the campaign for his governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. He remains the focus of much of the campaign for his party as well as for the opposition parties challenging his re-election bid. Mr. Modi is seeking votes by doing what he does best: raising and stoking fear among the Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the presence of a large Muslim minority in India. Mr. Modi has made the Pulwama attack the basis of his most recent recasting of the theme of a terrorism-Pakistan-Muslim threat. On April 9, at a campaign rally, Mr. Modi directed his attention toward young Indians voting for the first time: “Can your first vote be dedicated to the valiant soldiers who carried out the airstrike in Pakistan? Can your first vote be dedicated to the brave martyrs of Pulwama?” Mr. Modi proceeded to blame the Indian National Congress, the leading opposition party, for the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and claimed that the Congress party’s electoral manifesto speaks the same language as Pakistan. Since he first consolidated power and built his political capital on the back of religious violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 under his watch as chief minister, Mr. Modi has mastered the art of linking the threat of terrorism, Muslims and Pakistan. His strategy has worked in every election he has deployed it in. The Hindu nationalists frame the “threat” posed by the Muslim minority by associating them with Pakistan and by raising the specter of an increased Muslim population with illegal immigration of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, who are described as “infiltrators.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
18 Apr 2019

In India's Assam state, citizenship law may hurt BJP's prospects

The bill that would grant citizenship rights to undocumented non-Muslim immigrants, sparked protests in the country's northeast region that is home to a large immigrant population. Last year, nearly four million people were left out of the draft National Register of Citizens in Assam. But critics say that Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - which runs the government both at the centre as well as in Assam state - wants to amend the citizenship law to accommodate Hindu immigrants. The contentious bill, which is one of the main promises in the BJP's manifesto, seeks to provide citizenship throughnaturalisation to "persecuted" Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Buddhists fleeing Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Assam's indigenous population fear that the new bill will encourage more Hindu immigrants to come to India. Political observers believe the CAB may backfire on the BJP but a sizable section of Hindu immigrants will back the right-wing party. Bengali-origin Muslims, on the other hand, who form over one-third of the state's 32 million population, have been dubbed "infiltrators" by supporters of the bill and more recently "termites" by the BJP National President Amit Shah. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 Apr 2019

Ukip leader endorses 'factually incorrect' book on Islam

The book, Understand Islam in Under an Hour, is being sold by a close ally of the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson and was distributed at Ukip’s party conference in September. It describes Islam as an “expansionist, intolerant and totalitarian ideology” that “cannot co-exist peacefully in a multicultural, western, free or liberal society”. Two Muslim scholars said the 99-page book was littered with factual inaccuracies, “blatant lies” and multiple Qur’anic verses taken out of context. Batten is quoted on its cover: “Western societies cannot afford to ignore Islam, and if their non-Islam citizens, the ‘Infidels’, want to know what the future could hold for them then they need to read this book.” The endorsement is further evidence of the Ukip leader’s hardline stance on Islam, which he has called a “death cult”. His views on Islam have prompted the resignation of many senior party figures including the former leader Nigel Farage, while at the same time drawing support from fans of Robinson, whom Batten appointed as an adviser last year. read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

The Lib Dems Have Suspended A Manchester City Council Candidate Over Anti-Muslim Social Media Posts

The posts, which date from July 2016 to earlier this month, had been sent from Facebook and Twitter accounts of Daniel Toth-Nagy, a council candidate in the Hulme ward in the upcoming local elections. Among the posts shared from Toth-Nagy's accountare an image of a young girl wearing an abaya and a hijab and holding an automatic weapon, accompanied by the words "if your religion values ancient religious laws, oppression, and violence over education, you are contributing to the destruction of humanity." A tweet from his Twitter account said, "There is no such thing as Islamophobia." In a statement, a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain told BuzzFeed News these kinds of posts have "no place within our political parties". "It is deeply disappointing to see a Liberal Democrat council candidate resort to such crass bigotry and denial about Islamophobia," the spokesperson said. read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

Tory activist sent Muslim minister emails praising Enoch Powell

The UK government’s only female Muslim minister has been bombarded with emails from a Conservative activist praising Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and questioning whether immigrants should be allowed to stand for parliament. Nusrat Ghani, the shipping minister, received correspondence from David Proudfoot, a constituent and party activist, which said the UK should be controlled by “our own people, not people from a different culture” and called for an end to “ghettoes like little Pakistans”. Ghani said the messages were “disgusting”. Downing Street and senior Conservative MPs were copied in on many of the emails, sent over the past three years and seen by the Guardian. Proudfoot’s party membership has been withdrawn, an official confirmed. read the complete article

United States

18 Apr 2019

Trump Is Not Attacking Ilhan Omar But All Muslims and Minorities

Omar’s point, of course, was not that 9/11 was a trivial incident, but that the broader Muslim community was targeted as a result. The outrage at her comment has borne out that point. The “rule” she violated is a failure to properly genuflect upon the awfulness of the 9/11 attacks in the course of referencing them, but this is hardly a universal convention. It’s easy to see how ginned up the outrage is if you replace the particulars of the case. Suppose a Jewish person was complaining about Jews as a whole being blamed for some particular human-rights violation carried out by Israelis. Would it really be necessary for them to pause the sentence and linger on the tragedy of the event? Would it be fair to associate them with the event itself if they failed to do so? Of course it wouldn’t. Indeed, if a Jew was attacked in such a manner, we would rightly see the attack as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism, of course, forms the backdrop for the present controversy, because Omar has made ugly comments questioning the loyalty of American supporters of their country’s alliance with Israel. If, like me, you objected to Omar’s use of a dual-loyalty smear against Jews, you should also object to dual-loyalty smears against Muslims. Instead, the barrage of attacks on Omar has confirmed the right’s complete indifference to this principle. Trump’s political message vis-à-vis the Jews has followed a paradoxical style on display by far-right parties in Europe. It combines a tight embrace of white Christian nationalists, including a sotto voce outreach to actual Nazis, with deep support for Israel and a war-of-civilizations attack on Muslims writ large. This brand of politics indulges in classic anti-Semitic tropes, such as Trump’s closing campaign ad darkly blaming various Jewish financiers for orchestrating various miseries experienced by the American heartland. But it also dabbles in intense philo-Semitism in cases where Jews are pitted against Muslims. It certainly is nota consistent rejection of bigotry in general or even anti-Semitism in particular. The right-wing fixation on Omar gives away the game in several respects. It shows that the right’s alleged concern about bigotry is utterly partisan and excludes Muslims altogether. Trump has made a hundred times as many bigoted remarks as Omar, and has a thousand times more power. His attacks on her are a tool in a campaign of vilification and dehumanization which has ranged from fabricating stories of Muslim-Americans celebrating the 9/11 attacks to constant, indiscriminate smears of an entire faith (“Islam hates us”). read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

How a controversial Muslim figure helped ignite the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

How did a video of Omar’s comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, part of a speech about how Muslims should not lose their civil liberties because of the actions of extremists, explode into such a massive controversy? Credit a controversial Australian imam, little known in the U.S. until now. That post from Tawhidi, a self-described reformist Shiite imam who goes by the handle @ImamOfPeace, helped catapult Omar’s comments into the right wing’s view and spurred yet another cycle of outrage over Omar. Many call him the “fake sheikh.” In 2016, he became the founding president of the Islamic Association of South Australia. Through the organization, which appears to have few followers or fans offline, he has positioned himself as a lone truthful voice combating Islamic extremism by championing national security, anti-radicalization, women’s rights, religious tolerance and support for Jews and Israel. Since 2016, when Tawhidi burst into Australia’s media spotlight, thanks to his unexpected stances on those issues, the Iranian-born cleric has managed to build a significant media profile for himself on TV news and among the alt-right and anti-Muslim blogosphere. He has received endorsements from activists like author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, author Sam Harrisand Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, all of whom normally have a more contentious relationship with Muslim communities. In the past, Tawhidi has accused Omar of promoting Shariah, being anti-Semitic and attending “terrorism classes.” read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

Dems ask White House aide Miller to testify on immigration

A Democratic House committee chairman on Wednesday invited White House aide Stephen Miller to testify before his panel and “make your case” for President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies cracking down on both illegal and legal immigration. Should such a session occur, it would be bound to ignite fireworks over an issue that has repeatedly produced heated clashes between Trump and congressional Democrats. Trump has made an immigration crackdown a cornerstone of his appeal to conservative voters, while Democrats — led by liberal and Hispanic lawmakers — have been just as adamant in opposing his moves. Cummings said he wanted Miller to testify to his committee on May 1 and gave him until April 24 to respond. read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

The ‘NO BAN’ Act: A Needed Check on Presidential Decision-Making

Born from religious prejudice and ordered by presidential declaration, it continues to tear apart thousands of American families, muzzle creative expression, and damage U.S. businesses. Policies like this `Muslim Ban’ might be expected in authoritarian regimes where leaders rule unrestrained and can freely stoke religious conflict for political gain. But in a constitutional democracy, they represent a failure of our system of checks and balances. Last week, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced a bill, the NO BAN Act, that would restore some of these checks and balances by repealing the Muslim Ban and making changes to the law that the president used to order it. Over 100 Members of Congress have co-sponsored this proposal.The basic idea of the National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Non-immigrants (NO BAN) Act is to make sure that presidential orders to bar or restrict people from entering the United States are the product of proof rather than prejudice. The NO BAN Act also expands the INA provision that currently bars discrimination on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth, and place of residence in the issuance of permanent visas. It adds religion to the list of protected categories, and applies the nondiscrimination provision to most immigration benefits, including temporary visas. Most important, the NO BAN Act doesn’t give the president the final word on whether these requirements are met: Congress, judges, and the public are given the tools and information to double-check and push back. read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

Bomb threat called into CAIR-LA building in Anaheim

The caller uttered her threat: “I’m going to bomb the [expletive] building up." Leaders at the CAIR-LA, the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization in Southern California, called the Anaheim Police Department. Officers evacuated the building and swept it for threats. No bomb was found. Authorities have asked anyone with information about the threat to contact the Anaheim Police Department. An anonymous person called the Hilton Woodland Hills hotel on March 19, the site of the banquet March 23, threatening to bomb the hotel for allowing CAIR to host Omar, as first reported by celebrity news site The Blast. “What would you do if I told you your hotel was going to be bombed?” the caller is alleged to have said in a message. “That is exactly what’s going to happen if you allow the likes of Ilhan Omar into your hotel. She is a danger to American society and your hotel. You are not to allow her foot into there if you value your own safety. Do not allow her in there. Cancel the event.” read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

US Sues, Settles With Tiny Texas Town in Religious Discrimination Case Over Muslim Cemetery

On the same day the United States sued a tiny Texas town for religious discriminating against an Islamic faith group by denying its bid to build a cemetery, the government announced the town entered a settlement agreement to train its staff about federal law on religious land use. The April 16 lawsuit and settlement brings to close a nasty dispute that started way back in 2015, when people in Farmersville vehemently opposed the idea of the Islamic Association of Collin County’s plans to build a Muslim cemetery outside their town. Townsfolk made derogatory and discriminatory comments that the Islamic Association “was trying to build a terrorist training center,” that Islam was a violent religion, Muslims would impose Sharia law and residents would pour pig blood and dump pig heads on the land to desecrate it, according to the April 16 complaint in United States v. City of Farmersville, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman.The city has now resolved its controversy with the Islamic Association. In September 2018, the Islamic Association and Farmersville agreed the association would revise its cemetery plan to address the drainage and flooding concerns and the city would approve the plan. In December 2018, the city council approved the plan. As long as Farmersville makes changes, the United States has agreed to dismiss the complaint, according to the settlement agreement in the case. Farmersville must post a notice in city hall that says it complies with the religious land use statute, and alsoto provide training about the statute to anyone with responsibilities in zoning or land use regulations. read the complete article

18 Apr 2019

White Nationalist Coast Guard Officer Isn’t Facing Terrorism Charges

A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of stockpiling guns and compiling a hit list of prominent Democrats and network TV journalists is seeking his release from federal custody since prosecutors haven’t charged him with any terrorism-related offenses. Christopher Hasson, 49, has remained in custody since his Feb. 15 arrest and subsequent indictment in Maryland on firearms and drug charges. Hasson’s attorney, Liz Oyer, wrote in a court filing Monday that prosecutors recently disclosed that they don’t expect to seek any additional charges. In a February court filing, prosecutors called Hasson a “domestic terrorist” and said he “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” They also said he is a self-described white nationalist who espoused extremist views for years and drafted an email in which he said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.” Hasson pleaded not guilty last month to charges of illegal possession of firearm silencers, possession of firearms by a drug addict and unlawful user, and possession of a controlled substance. He faces a maximum of 31 years in prison if convicted of all four counts in his indictment. read the complete article


18 Apr 2019

This woman asked Trudeau about Islamophobia. Then the online hate began

Rubab Qureshi stood in the House of Commons this month and asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau how Canada plans to combat the rise of white nationalism and Islamophobia. That is, beyond words of condemnation. By the time the 20-year-old hijab-wearing student landed home in Edmonton the next night, her phone was flooded with social-media notifications. Along with the hateful comments were the names of every Muslim delegate who had participated in the event. Daughters of the Vote brought together 338 women between the ages of 18 to 23 to sit in seats usually occupied by their respective MPs for a mock session of Parliament. “My very first thoughts were just intense fear,” Qureshi explained. “All I could think about was whether or not I had accidentally put my address out there somewhere. Or if they could find my phone number and email. I was just absolutely terrified for my safety.” The Edmonton Mill Woods delegate said other Muslim participants were afraid as well and unsure of where to go or how to react. All of them feared being “doxxed” — a vengeful practice in which a target’s personal information is released online with the expectation that they will be harassed. Despite acknowledging she was “scared for her life,” Qureshi tweeted out the screenshots that night, saying they were the “kind of racist rhetoric” she intended to address, rhetoric that “consistently incites hate speech” and “violence” toward racialized women. By the morning of April 5, her phone began to freeze up from the sheer volume of notifications. She said Islamophobia, such as a remark that Muslim women don’t deserve free speech in Canada, was rampant. read the complete article


18 Apr 2019

Video | Far-right leader's anti-Muslim stunt causes backlash

This far-right leader repeatedly threw the Quran in the air and stepped on it as part of an anti-Muslim stunt in Denmark. read the complete article


18 Apr 2019

Notre Dame Fire Conspiracies Are Fuelling Islamophobia – And Social Media Companies Are Enabling Them

As the tragic fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral showed, some see tragedy as an opportunity to further Islamophobic conspiracies.This tactic is neither new nor surprising. And, crucially, this weaponisation of grief is never about the tragedy itself, but how Muslims are viewed: as a cultural threat to the mythologised “Judeo-Christian” culture of Europe. Something, ironically, Muslims have always been shut out of because of what academics contend is a “radical form of otherness”. This othering of Muslims is born from racialisation, a byproduct of the violent imperial expansions of Christian Europe – a Europe, which also viewed Islam and its Prophet Muhammad, in a competing contradiction of reverence. That’s why falsehoods about Notre Dame spread on Twitter within one hour of the news breaking. This misuse of history has an important function: as it situates unconnected events in a grander narrative; of civilisational decline, of an impending clash of cultures, where the struggles of individuals have become larger than themselves. Fatalism and nihilism saturate this largely male driven rage. An example, of this historiography, was in the username of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) on Snapchat, which, before his banning was “trcensored1682”, invokes the Siege of Vienna. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Apr 2019 Edition


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