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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29 Apr 2019

Today in Islamophobia: A shooting in a San Diego synagogue spotlights the insidious presence of white supremacy in the United States, while the Muslim community in the Bay Area is left reeling after a California man tried to ram pedestrians with his car he assumed were Muslim. Sri Lanka and Quebec both institute a burqa ban; in Spain, a new political party espouses anti-Muslim sentiment, while in France people exploit the Notre Dame burning to marginalize Muslims and other religious minorities. Today’s recommended read is by Murtaza Hussain and titled “Our Enemies Are the Same People: San Diego Synagogue Inspired by New Zealand Anti-Muslim Massacre.” This, and more, below:

United States

29 Apr 2019

Our Enemies Are the Same People: San Diego Synagogue Shooter Inspired by New Zealand Anti-Muslim Massacre | Recommended Read

Two weeks before a man walked into a Poway, California, synagogue and shot four people, killing one, an arsonist tried to burn down a nearby mosque. The same man likely committed both crimes. In a 4,000-word manifesto reportedly posted online by the synagogue shooter, a 19-year old San Diego man named John Earnest who was taken into custody on suspicion of committing the synagogue killing, claimed responsibility for the mosque arson in the nearby town of Escondido. He had done the arson in honor, he said, of the mass murderer who had recently killed 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand. “I scorched a mosque in Escondido with gasoline a week after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice and they never found shit on me,” he wrote in his manifesto. The connection between these two crimes screams at us to pay attention. In the past six months there have been three mass shootings at houses of worship in Western countries — two targeting Jews and one targeting Muslims. In each case the ideology has been the same. The shooters were driven not just by white supremacy, but by a bigoted conspiracy claiming whites are being demographically “replaced” by ethnic minorities. Earnest’s manifesto is a stomach-churning blend of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, with justifications for violence liberally mixed in. He leaves no ambiguity about who inspired him. “Tarrant was a catalyst for me personally,” he wrote, referring to the New Zealand mosque shooter who left behind a similar manifesto. “He showed me that it could be done.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
29 Apr 2019

Guantánamo Bay as Nursing Home: Military Envisions Hospice Care as Terrorism Suspects Age

More than 17 years after choosing the American military base in Cuba as “the least worst place” to incarcerate prisoners from the battlefield in Afghanistan, after years of impassioned debates over the rights of the detainees and whether the prison could close, the Pentagon is now planning for terrorism suspects still held in the facility to grow old and die at Guantánamo Bay. With the Obama administration’s effort to close the prison having been blocked by Congress and the Trump administration committed to keeping it open, and with military trials inching ahead at a glacial pace, commanders were told last year to draw up plans to keep the detention center going for another 25 years, through 2043. At that point, the oldest prisoner, if he lives that long, would be 96. Another of the 40 people still held here — the Palestinian known as Abu Zubaydah, who was confined to a box the size of a coffin while held at a secret C.I.A. site and waterboarded 83 times to break him — would be 72. Like him, a number of the detainees are already living with what their lawyers say are the physical and psychological aftereffects of torture, making their health especially precarious as they head toward old age. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Shooting at Poway Synagogue Underscores Link Between Internet Radicalization and Violence

White supremacists commonly blame Jewish people for what they call “white genocide,” a false and pervasive conspiracy theory suggesting white people are deliberately and systematically being replaced by other races. Earnest appeared to address this trope in his personal statement by claiming that Jews are responsible for a “meticulously planned genocide of the European race.” The men arrested for carrying out the terror attacks in Pittsburgh and Christchurch espoused that same conspiracy theory. Beyond fringe online platforms like 8chan, Gab and, the similar but more high-traffic forum, 4chan, the ideas behind the “white genocide” conspiracy theory are promoted by pundits with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, such as Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern. It’s also promoted by high-traffic white supremacist websites of the “alt-right” movement like “ The Daily Stormer,” “Goy Talk,” and “ The Right Stuff” podcast network. But the false claim isn’t limited to the fringe. Fox News’ commentator Tucker Carlson warned viewers during his program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” in October 2018 that a college professor from Georgetown was advocating for the “genocide” of white men. Carlson’s show, which frequently depicts immigration as a threat to Americans, reaches more than three million viewers per night, according to Nielsen ratings taken in March 2019. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

The Poway Shooting Didn’t Just Target Jews

Despite the fact that the shooting was a horrific act of anti-Semitism, it was not just the Jews who were attacked yesterday. It is not just anti-Semitism that is to blame. And until we understand this, until we can truly grapple with the reality of what happened in Poway and at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, we will continue to be hamstrung by our own limited view. Because the fact of the matter is, anti-Semitism is just one part of the worldview that resulted in these horrific acts. The other part resulted in the mass murders of African Americans and Muslims and immigrants. The simple reality is that Jews have been targeted far more than we realize. When Dylann Roof massacred nine worshippers at a black church, he was also targeting Jews. When Brenton Tarrant killed 50 Muslims worshipping in New Zealand, he was also targeting Jews. Indeed, when any white nationalist terrorist kills any person of any background, they are targeting Jews. And the Pittsburgh and Poway shooters were attacking every other minority group, too. How do we know this? Because the terrorists themselves say as much. White nationalism’s motivating myth is not only the supremacy of whites. It’s a paranoid fantasy in which the United States and all white-majority nations are being invaded by inferior non-whites, hence the phrase “white genocide.” In other words, white nationalism’s motivating myth is that Jews are behind a vast conspiracy to infect white countries with non-white and non-Christian peoples, to the point where great white civilizations fall. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Landmark conference: 'People don't see Black Muslims as trailblazers. We are here to change that'

Organisers of the conference, the Black Muslim Initiative (BMI), a collection of undergrad students at New York University (NYU), said the symposium titled "History, Legacies, and Experiences" was an attempt to reclaim the narrative about the role played by Black Muslims in the story of America. “There is a great lack of awareness of the role of Muslims of African descent in the origin and establishment of Islam in America," Imam Talib Abdur Rashid, from The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in New York, said in a keynote attended by academics, community leaders and students. "This lack of awareness is amongst all people in America, those who have been here for generations and those who just came here ... [and] one of the reasons there is this lack of knowledge of Muslim history in America is because it is rooted in African-American history. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear that America is a nation of immigrants. But it negates the history of the Native Americans and Americans of African descent. We too, aren’t immigrants. We didn’t pack a suitcase and come here. The idea of Islam in America is rooted in the history of African people.” read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Sunnyvale crash rattles Bay Area Muslim community

Santa Clara County prosecutors charged 34-year-old Isaiah Joel Peoples with eight counts of attempted murder. Sunnyvale Police Chief Phan Ngo said outside court Friday that investigators found evidence that showed Peoples “targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith.” The FBI confirmed Saturday it had opened a federal hate-crime investigation into the Tuesday crash. A defense attorney for Peoples said his actions were the result of post-traumatic stress and mental health problems, not hatred toward Muslims. Peoples served in the Army from 2004 to 2006 and was deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He was a civil affairs specialist who attained the rank of sergeant before he was honorably discharged. Peoples then joined the Army Reserve in 2008. The crash occurred after Peoples picked up food and was heading to Bible study, police said. Afterward, Peoples got out of his car and said, “Thank you, Jesus,” before police arrested him, witnesses said. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential race

Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the “great” Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Less than 24 hours later came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others. Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments. According to the most recent annual report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has long tracked extremist activity, 39 of the 50 extremist-related murders tallied by the group in 2018 were committed by white supremacists, up from 2017, when white supremacists were responsible for 18 of 34 such crimes. Trump has previously played down the threat posed by white nationalism. Trump also has a long history of anti-Muslim remarks, including saying in 2015 that he would “strongly consider” closing mosques in the United States, declining to rule out the creation of a national Muslim registry and saying during a 2016 CNN interview, “I think Islam hates us.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

29 Apr 2019

The Tories Have an Islamophobia Problem

Anti-Muslim sentiment is rife in the UK’s Conservative Party, from disparaging comments on social media platforms to political campaigns. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the party’s leadership has failed to take the necessary steps in addressing its institutional Islamophobia. Senior officials have even gone so far as to claim Islamophobia doesn’t exist, signaling the acceptance of anti-Muslim rhetoric amongst its ranks. This is exceptionally dangerous given that the party leads the United Kingdom in a time of soaring anti-Muslim hate crimes. A recent 2019 report by the anti-racist organization, Hope Note Hate, concluded that the Conservatives are “‘signaling Islamophobia is acceptable’ in the party by ignoring anti-Muslim sentiment among their ranks.” The culture of denial runs to the top and the party’s senior leadership has shown a lack of urgency in addressing the pervasiveness of the issue. The party hasn’t simply turned a blind eye; it has accepted Islamophobia as a norm, signaling to wider society that anti-Muslim bigotry is defensible, and thus threatening the rights and lives of millions of Muslims in the United Kingdom. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Islamophobia: Tory chairman won't reveal complaint numbers

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis says the party's approach to Islamophobia is "transparent" but would not say how many complaints it has received. He told the BBC he would not go into "specific numbers" but that the complaints against party members had been "very very small" in total. Mr Lewis said the party was transparent about "our processes and how we deal with these things." Ex-chair Baroness Warsi says the party is "institutionally Islamophobic". read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Opinion | I have a message for Theresa May this Ramadan

The Tories track record on Islamophobic policies which are presented in the form of securitisation projects, aren't even the sole reason that this year in particular, any "reaching out" to Muslims via speeches or annual Eid-el-Fitr celebrations by Number 10, will be offensive. Among other things, May is expecting to host the return of US President Donald Trump before the end of the fasting period. The man who has relentlessly and unapologetically waged war on Muslims throughout his short but turbulent political career, literally banning them from the US, will have the red carpet rolled out for him by our leaders, who via social media platforms are likely to express to the community wishes of prosperity during our most sacred month. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

'Extremist' Google algorithms concern ex-police chief

Ex-Met Police assistant commissioner Sir Mark Rowley says it is a disgrace a jailed radical preacher ranks top for search term "British Muslim spokesman". He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the internet search company's algorithms "pushed readers to extremist material" to maximise ad revenue. Google denies the claim, saying it aims to steer users to third-party sites. The top-ranked search referred to by Sir Mark takes users to the Wikipedia entry for Anjem Choudary, who was released from prison last year, halfway through a five-year jail term for encouraging support for the so-called Islamic State group. He told Today: "I think I mentioned on your programme a few months ago, if you Google 'British Muslim spokesman' you get Anjem Choudary. That's a disgrace." Sir Mark said: "These algorithms are designed to push us towards contentious material because that feeds their bottom line of advertising revenues, by pushing readers to extremist material." This is something Google denies, pointing out that it actually wants to get people off the platform and on to a third-party site as quickly as possible. read the complete article


29 Apr 2019

Twitter suspends EU election campaign accounts for two candidates who were previously banned

Twitter suspended the campaign accounts belonging to far-right anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson, who announced his candidacy for the European Parliament on Friday, and Carl Benjamin, a far-right British YouTuber who is running for Parliament. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s New Company Is Operating In Iraq

A Hong Kong–based security and logistics company founded by Erik Prince is working in the south of Iraq, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. Backed by Chinese money, Prince started the Hong Kong–listed Frontier Services Group (FSG) as a logistics company in 2014. Since then it’s expanded from operating Africa-based projects to offering logistics and security services for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a global infrastructure strategy adopted by the Chinese government. FSG has additional offices in mainland China; Southeast Asia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A subsidiary of the company based in Dubai — Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC — registered as a foreign company with Iraq’s Ministry of Trade, a document from February 2018 shows. The office is based in Basra, an oil-rich region in the south of the country, a source said. In March, Prince told Al Jazeera that FSG did trucking and transportation in southern Africa, along with grocery delivery and medevac operations. He also addedthat it would be “supporting, hopefully, oil operations in countries like Iraq or Pakistan or the hydro dams.” read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Ignore The Poway Synagogue Shooter’s Manifesto: Pay Attention To 8chan’s /pol/ Board

As I noted after the Christchurch shooting, this shooter’s manifesto is filled with “shitposting” — internet in-jokes meant to distract authorities and the media and make 8chan’s /pol/ board seem less threatening, and less worthy of serious concern. The fact that this is the second /pol/-related shooting in a house of worship in slightly more than a month should be enough to explain that this is false. This article is not a dissection of the shooter’s manifesto. It is a dissection of the online community that moulded and spawned him. 8chan is a large website, which includes a number of different discussion groups about everything from anime to left-wing politics. /pol/ is one particularly active board on the website, and it is best described as a gathering place for extremely online neo-Nazis. The overarching goal of /pol/, held by most of its members, is to radicalize their fellow anons to “real-life effortposting,” i.e. acts of violence in the physical world. This goal is well embodied by a post I found in a discussion of the Poway Synagogue shooting. This tactic can work, and today’s shooting is proof. The Poway Synagogue shooter directly cited the Christchurch shooter as his inspiration, saying he decided to carry out his attack roughly two weeks after that shooting. On /pol/, many anons refer to the Christchurch shooter, Brenton Tarrant, as “Saint Tarrant,” complete with medieval-inspired iconography. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

29 Apr 2019

Burqa ban: Sri Lanka bars Muslim women from wearing face veils after Easter bombing attacks

Muslim women have been banned from wearing face veils under an emergency law passed by Sri Lanka's president, days after more than 250 people were killed in series of bombings in the country's capital Colombo. Maithripala Sirisena's office said any garment or item which obstructs the identification of a persons face would be barred. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

VIDEO | Sri Lanka: Muslims fearful for their future

Some Muslims in Sri Lanka say that since the Easter Sunday attacks they are fearing for the future, despite calls from religious leaders for unity. Since the bombings, one community of Muslim refugees and asylum seekers have been forced out of their homes. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

American Student Misidentified as Sri Lanka Suspect Faces Backlash

The student, Amara Majeed, who attends Brown University in Rhode Island, posted on Facebook on Thursday that her photo was included in an alert issued by Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department. The public notice urged people to report any details about the potential suspects to authorities. It featured Ms. Majeed’s photo alongside the name Fathima Qadiya, who officials say is wanted in connection with the attacks. Ms. Majeed, a prominent United States-based Muslim activist, is the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants. Her activism has been lauded by media organizations around the world. Ms. Majeed has been an outspoken advocate for the American Muslim community, and in 2014 wrote a book titled “The Foreigners,” to quash stereotypes about Islam. While still in high school, she launched the Hijab Project, which encouraged women to wear a hijab for a day and write about their experiences to combat discrimination. In 2016, she wrote an open letter to Donald Trump Jr. after he compared refugees to Skittles. read the complete article


29 Apr 2019

Quebec ban on religious symbols would fall heavily on hijab-wearing teachers

The prohibition, introduced by Quebec’s new center-right government and expected to take effect in June, would apply to a range of public employees and religious practices. Police officers, prosecutors and teachers hold positions of authority in their communities, provincial Premier François Legault says, and shouldn’t be wearing symbols that might promote their faith while they serve the public. But the reality is that not many police officers or prosecutors here wear Jewish skullcaps or turbans. The ban would likely fall most heavily on the province’s hijab-wearing teachers — of which there are believed to be hundreds. Which means that the latest battle in Quebec’s long-running culture wars is being fought in front of children. Polls show that nearly 2 in 3 Quebecers support the prohibition. But it has drawn strong criticism, within the province and beyond. Maha Kassef, who teaches first-graders in Montreal, said she would sooner lose her job than compromise her values in front of the children. “I’m not going to be the one to pass along this message to students,” said Kassef, 35. “I’m still a teacher who has to teach my kids that you can be anything.” New teachers would be affected most by the bill. A grandfather clause would allow current public employees to continue to wear headscarves — but they could not be promoted while continuing to wear them. Chahira Battou is set to graduate this spring from teachers college. “The thing is that if I submit to the law, and I remove my scarf when I go to teach, that is when I become a submissive woman,” said Battou, 29. read the complete article

29 Apr 2019

Canada’s new far right: A trove of private chat room messages reveals an extremist subculture

They come from all walks of life: tradesmen, soldiers, a student teacher, a financial analyst, an aspiring lawyer, among others. And they are in every province, in communities large and small. They gather on the internet to strategize and seek pathways into mainstream politics. They are anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, sexist and racist. They are young and radicalized. They are the new far right in Canada. The Globe and Mail has obtained a trove of 150,000 messages posted between February, 2017, and early 2018 that reveal the private communications of a loosely aligned node of Canadian right-wing extremists. The record of their continuing conversations reveals a movement, energized by the rise of white ethnonationalism in the United States, that aims to upend a decades-old multicultural consensus in this country. The discussions reviewed by The Globe and Mail originally took place on a text-and-voice application called Discord, an app meant for gamers that is also popular with the far right. While the news media traditionally avoid publishing such offensive and inflammatory material, in order to prevent giving extremists a platform, The Globe has chosen, for the sake of transparency and accuracy, to reproduce a limited number of examples of the ideas expressed in the online discussions. The selection omits the most gratuitous slurs and images, but the result is a disturbing portrait of a virulent subculture that speaks in a graphic, hate-fuelled vernacular. read the complete article


29 Apr 2019

Spain’s Vox Party Hates Muslims—Except the Ones Who Fund It

Spain’s far-right party Vox launched its 2019 election campaign this month in the tiny town of Covadonga. Situated in a lush valley in the northern region of Asturias, with fewer than 100 inhabitants, Covadonga is sometimes referred to as the “cradle of Spain.” According to the historical narrative of Spanish conservatives, Covadonga was the site of the first victory by Christian Hispania against Spain’s then-Muslim rulers, and the start of the Reconquista, the 780-year process of reclaiming Iberian lands for Christendom. “Europe is what it is thanks to Spain—thanks to our contribution, ever since the Middle Ages, of stopping the spread and the expanse of Islam,” Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, Vox’s vice secretary of international relations and a candidate in the April 28 elections, told Foreign Policy over the phone on his way to Covadonga. At the campaign launch, Vox leader Santiago Abascal added: “History matters, and we shouldn’t be afraid of that,” to cries of “¡Viva España!” While Spain’s right-wing has previously been relatively light on anti-Islam rhetoric, preferring to rail against secessionists in Catalonia and elsewhere, Vox has no such compunction. One of the party’s earliest controversies was a wildly Islamophobic video conjuring a future in which Muslims had imposed sharia in southern Spain, turning the Cathedral of Córdoba back into a mosque and forcing women to cover up. Recently, Vox’s No. 2, Javier Ortega Smith, was investigated by Spanish prosecutors for hate speech after he spoke of an “Islamist invasion” that was the “enemy of Europe.” read the complete article


29 Apr 2019

The World Mourned When Notre Dame Burned. But Some Saw It As An Opportunity To Make France Catholic Again.

Rokhaya Diallo, who has written books on racism and multiculturalism, considers the cathedral to be her birthplace — she was born in the hospital next door. “When you are a minority, I feel like you’re always asked to say that ‘I love France and I thank France for whatever happened to come to me.’ It’s something that is requested,” Diallo told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t take part in it because I didn’t want to be like the ‘model minority.’ ... I didn’t like the idea that you need to prove more than anyone else that you’re connected to France.”Diallo’s worries proved well-founded, as the fire has added new fuel to long-running culture wars over French identity. The large donations for the government's reconstruction fund immediately pledged by France’s richest families made headlines around the world and inflamed the months-long Yellow Vest movementover economic inequality. But there was less international attention paid to the fact that some on the right also immediately proclaimed the fire as a reminder of France’s “Christian heritage,” a notion that has been used to marginalize the country’s Muslim minority and oppose LGBT rights. Before the flames were out, far-right outlets were claiming that many Muslims celebrated the cathedral burning, and one mosque in Brittany was defaced following the fire. But divisive rhetoric quickly crossed into the mainstream. In France’s major right-leaning newspaper, Le Figaro, the anti-immigrant writer Éric Zemmour declared an individual’s personal reaction to the fire as a kind of loyalty test, writing, "Those who did not cry for the spire as it was burning were not French." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Apr 2019 Edition


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