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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26 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the Netherlands, The Ummah Project has filed an 82-page complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, accusing the Dutch parliamentary committee on unwanted foreign influence (Pocob) of waging a “witch-hunt” against the Muslim community, meanwhile in the United States, just one day after a fire was started in a bathroom of a mosque in Minneapolis, another fire was set on third floor of another mosque where about 50 day care children and 50 worshipers were inside, and in India, the ruling BJP government has promised to broaden its “citizenship verification program nationwide even though the process in Assam has been put on hold after a federal audit found it flawed and full of errors.” Our recommended read of the day is by Middle East Eye staff on the recent termination of Tucker Carlson by Fox News, which Bridge Associate Director, Mobashra Tazamal, notes wasn’t due to the “content of his show, given Carlson has spent years promoting dangerous and bigoted views without any pushback from Fox executives.” This and more below:

United States

26 Apr 2023

While Carlson is out at Fox, the network's Islamophobia problem persists | Recommended Read

Tucker Carlson, America’s most-watched cable news host, has been sacked from Fox News – but not for the reasons that many Muslim advocacy groups and organisations working on racial justice wanted him fired for. Fox and Carlson have been accused of amplifying dangerous stereotypes, trafficking bigoted narratives, and manufacturing a particularly fearful image of Islam. "Unless you see a significant change in how Fox talks about racial minorities and religious minorities, it is very difficult to give them credit for letting Tucker Carlson go," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair). Much like the settlement reached between Fox and Dominion, the firing doesn’t mean accountability for those who have felt targeted by Fox News and Carlson’s show. “My guess is that he wasn't let go due to the content of his show, given he's spent years promoting dangerous and bigoted views without any pushback from Fox executives,” Mobashra Tazamal, from Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, told Middle East Eye. Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys” in 2006 and argued that politicians should be more explicit about calling out “lunatic Muslims who are behaving like animals”. “Fox is in the business of feeding fear and anxiety to the American public, and it has done this by constructing an enemy, often individuals from marginalised communities,” said Tazamal. “While Carlson may be leaving, it surely doesn't mean that Fox will be re-examining the content it puts out, given there are still many other personalities on the network that promote harmful material to American audiences.” read the complete article

26 Apr 2023

Second Minneapolis mosque set afire in two days, public's help sought finding suspect

One day after someone started a fire in a bathroom of a south Minneapolis mosque, another fire was set on the third floor of a different mosque less than a mile away. Dozens of Muslim community leaders and imams condemned the alleged attacks at a Tuesday news conference at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque, the site of the second mosque fire. Several raised concerns that the alleged anti-Muslim attack Monday could have been more tragic, given that about 50 day care children and 50 worshipers were inside. "When these attacks happen, it's to our children, and that's what makes it even more disturbing and personal for me," said Nimco Ahmed, president of the Somali American Coalition Action Fund, as she held her 3-year-old daughter. "It's very sad because this state that we call home is so precious to us." About 6:30 p.m. Monday, security guard Bahikoro Kouyate said he noticed smoke and fire coming from a third floor hallway at the Mercy Islamic Center, which contains the mosque in the 2600 block of Bloomington Avenue. The building was evacuated, including the day care in the basement. He said it was fortunate a fire station was directly across the street. "Thank God the fire (department) was here," Kouyate said. read the complete article

26 Apr 2023

Crimes in Paterson's Muslim community open discussion about mental health stigma

Two troubling incidents in Paterson — an imam stabbed during a prayer service and the smearing of feces on the letters “Allah” in a school sign — have sparked conversations about mental health care in the Muslim community. In both recent cases, the suspects were from Muslim backgrounds and had exhibited alarming behavior. Serif Zorba, of Paterson, has been charged with attempted murder in the stabbing attack. Mohamed Bekheet, of Clifton, was charged with bias intimidation and criminal mischief for allegedly defacing the Dr. Hani Awadallah sign. In the aftermath of the crimes, there was speculation about why — whether the men had vendettas, were Islamophobic or had mental health issues. Whatever the reason, Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said it was a critical reminder of the need for greater awareness around mental health issues. “It is a reality we cannot ignore,” he said. “Although it’s something culturally we have shied away from, it’s necessary we have these conversations. We see this in Paterson. If we care for the souls who walk our streets, we should provide resources to them, the same way we provide food or shelter.” read the complete article

26 Apr 2023

The Role of Culture in Torture and its Absence in Guantanamo’s Medical Care System

Late last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council made public a communication by seven U.N. experts criticizing the U.S. government on the state of medical care for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The communication, filed on January 11 (the 21st anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay), highlighted the case of Abd Al-Hadi Al-Iraqi (Nashwan al-Tamir), a detainee in his 60s, who is suffering from a degenerative spinal disease, has undergone six back and neck surgeries at Guantanamo since 2017, and whose health continues to deteriorate. The experts found “systematic shortcomings in medical expertise, equipment, treatment and accommodations at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and naval station.” The communication also served as a reminder of the government’s responsibility to provide “adequate redress and reparation for any human rights abuse and other international law violations committed in the delivery of detainee healthcare.” Disclosure of the experts’ communication came on the heels of an article in Just Security by Mort Halperin and Steve Xenakis (the latter is a retired brigadier general and psychiatrist) explaining the legal and moral imperative of providing torture rehabilitation – and adequate medical care more generally – to the men still detained at Guantanamo. This article highlights an aspect of the problem that arose at a recent military commission hearing: the closely tied roles of trauma and culture, and the astonishing hypocrisy with which Guantanamo’s medical care system approaches them. In short, culturally competent medical care, including to the extent possible care provided by independent medical experts of the detainees’ nationalities, is needed at Guantanamo now. read the complete article


26 Apr 2023

'A chilling effect': Muslim charities fall prey to Canada’s double standards

In March 2017, ISNA Islamic Services of Canada, a Muslim charity that operated in Ontario, was sent a notice that its charitable status was being revoked and that in 30 days it would be shut down without any other recourse. The Notice of Intention to Revoke (NITR) was the result of a years-long audit, in which the CRA said the organisation failed to meet the necessary requirements to be constituted for charitable purposes, including failing to devote resources to charitable activities and maintain adequate books and records. The CRA also accused the organisation of possibly funding a Pakistani militant group. By May of that year, it ceased to be a charity operating in Canada. But while the news coverage at the time largely focused on alleged terror links, experts in the charity sector say charities like this one have been a part of a decades-long clampdown on Muslim charitable organisations, in which they were unfairly targeted due to Islamophobic bias and then given an unequal appeals process. Middle East Eye looked through the audits of dozens of charities over the last decade, and while most were given ample time and space to object to being shut down, none of the Muslim charities seen by MEE were given the same opportunities to object to and delay the revocation of their charitable status. The Canadian government’s conduct highlights the discrepancy between how some charities are treated during and after being audited and how the Canadian government treats Muslim charities, researchers, and practitioners in the charity sector have told Middle East Eye. read the complete article

26 Apr 2023

Ontario needs a provincewide anti-hate strategy

The recent suspected hate-motivated attacks against two mosques in Markham are a potent reminder of the surge in hate. Analysis released last month by Statistics Canada shows a 72 per cent surge in police-reported hate crimes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers are concerning. The connection to systemic discrimination is undeniable. A 2021 survey of self- and witness-reported incidents indicated a steep increase in assault, online hate, and racism against Asian Canadians, with a majority of attacks targeting women. A recent British Columbia Human Rights Commission report on hate also shows that the pandemic has intensified and exposed ongoing prejudice, discrimination, and hate targeted at Muslim, Jewish, Indigenous, Black, Asian, LGBTQS2, and other communities across Canada. The people and communities behind the numbers are real. Many routinely experience incidents of hate in everyday life — in the streets, parks, restaurants, stores, schools, and health-care settings, on transit, online, and even in our homes. These are places where we should all feel safe. Some even lose their lives, as we saw with the alleged hate-motivated murder of four family members of a London Muslim family nearly two years ago. Hatred is rooted in many things, not just creed-based discrimination. It also takes the form of anti-Asian, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Hate starts with stereotypes, negative attitudes, and prejudice toward individuals and groups because of their identity. Unfortunately, it does not stop there. Prejudice can turn into acts of bias, discrimination, harassment, incitement of hatred, and even violence. read the complete article


26 Apr 2023

Is the Modi Government Selectively Rewriting Indian Muslim History?

For many Indian Muslims, the Gujarat riots are among some of their darkest memories. However, this year, millions of Indian history textbooks will erase the plight endured by Muslims at the hands of Hindu nationalists in 2002. India’s state-run National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has prescribed new changes to history textbooks, removing chapters that write about the Gujarat riots. The removed sections also include the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi by Nathuram Godse of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist volunteer paramilitary organization. Paragraphs on the ban on the RSS after the assassination of Gandhi have also been removed from textbooks. The RSS shares ideological links with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The changes will apply to thousands of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools following the NCERT syllabus. With tens of millions of students, more than 24,000 schools are affiliated with India’s CBSE and use NCERT textbooks. In addition, around 240 CBSE-affiliated schools operate in 26 countries across the world. Among the deleted sections is an entire chapter on Mughal rulers, whom Hindu nationalists have often addressed as Muslim oppressors. Mughals and other Muslim dynasties ruled many parts of India for hundreds of years and have made significant contributions to the country’s rich culture. read the complete article

26 Apr 2023

In a growing India, some struggle to prove they are Indians

There are nearly 2 million people like him — over 5% of Assam's population — staring at a future where they could be stripped of their citizenship if they are unable to prove they are Indian. Questions over who is an Indian have long lingered over Assam, which many believe is overrun with immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. At a time when India is about to overtake China as the most populous country, these concerns are expected to heighten as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to use illegal immigration and fears of demographic shift for electoral gains in a nation where nationalist sentiments run deep. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has promised to roll out a similar citizenship verification program nationwide even though the process in Assam has been put on hold after a federal audit found it flawed and full of errors. Nonetheless, hundreds of suspected immigrants with voting rights in Assam have been arrested and sent to detention centers the government calls “transit camps.” Fearing arrest, thousands have fled to other Indian states. Some have died of suicide. The registry was last updated in 2019 and excluded both Hindus and Muslims, but most critics view it as an attempt to deport millions of minority Muslims. They say the process would become even more exclusionary if Modi’s party resurrects a controversial citizenship bill that grants citizenship to persecuted believers who entered India illegally from neighboring countries, including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, but not Muslims. The nationwide citizenship bill was introduced in 2019, but led to widespread protests across India for singling out Muslims, forcing the government to put it on the backburner. read the complete article


26 Apr 2023

Netherlands: Muslims file UN complaint against parliament, citing discrimination

A coalition of Muslim groups in the Netherlands has filed a complaint with the United Nations against a Dutch parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the influence of foreign funding on mosques and Islamic associations. The Ummah Project, a group based in the Netherlands that is spearheading the effort, filed an 82-page complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee on Monday, accusing the Dutch parliamentary committee on unwanted foreign influence (Pocob) of waging a "witch-hunt" against the Muslim community. The Muslim leaders who are part of the complaint include Hamid Tahiri, Jacob Van Der Blom, and Nasr El Dalmanhoury, who held leadership positions in various mosques and Muslim associations across the country. The men were called before Pocob in 2020 after the Dutch parliament began investigating the influence of money from a list of "unfree countries" - including Kuwait; Morocco; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Turkey; and the United Arab Emirates. Pocob focused only on Muslim organisations in Holland and refused to broaden its scope to include the possibility of influence from other foreign countries. The three men, summoned by the committee as witnesses, risked possible imprisonment if they failed to testify. Clips from the committee hearing showed Muslim witnesses enduring an intense line of questioning from parliamentarians. At one point, a witness who challenged the inquiry's line of questioning had their microphone switched off. Samira Sabir, a Dutch barrister who filed the case on behalf of the Ummah Project, said the three men had been forced to defend themselves as suspects against highly incriminating allegations despite committing no crime. Sabir added that the witness testimonies were carried on a live stream that was picked up by several TV channels. Since then, the men and their places of worship have faced negative backlash, the Ummah Project said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 Apr 2023

UK’s forced marriage unit underfunded and too Muslim-focused, report to say

UK ministers’ efforts to stop forced marriages are failing because the unit set up to tackle them is undervalued, under-resourced and overly focused on Muslim families, according to a report from Michael Gove’s levelling up department. The 165-page report by Colin Bloom, the government’s faith adviser, will highlight a range of areas in which ministers are ineffective because they are too wary of tackling problems that arise within religious communities. It is expected to be the most sweeping review of the government’s relationship with religion in more than a generation Bloom said these included forced marriage – including instances where gay people are forced to marry as a type of conversion practice – substandard religious schools and religious nationalism. Bloom said: “We need root-and-branch reform of how forced and coercive marriage is tackled by the government, because that mainly happens within the context of faith-based communities. At the moment this remains in the ‘too difficult to do’ box.” He added: “The forced marriage unit is not working well. It is under-resourced and poorly led, which is the fault of politicians rather than the civil servants who work for it. Also, the unit has an Islamic bent to it, but this is not just a Muslim problem – this happens in Orthodox Jewish and other religious communities too.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Apr 2023 Edition


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