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 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, a Tory council candidate who posted about removing immigrants and suggested Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussein would not receive Islamophobic abuse if she ‘integrated more’ and didn’t ‘wear a headdress,’ remains on the ballot paper, meanwhile in France, a criminal investigation has been opened against a far-right website that published data about leading French Muslim figures, and in India, a lecturer writes about the impact of the hijab ban, noting that many of her colleagues have either resigned or have been terminated for refusing exam duties without hijab. Our recommended read of the day is by Laura E. Alexander, Jane Hong, Karen Hooge Michalka, and Luis A. Romero for The Conversation on how race and religion have always played a role in who gets refuge in the US. This and more below:

United States

29 Apr 2022

How race and religion have always played a role in who gets refuge in the US | Recommended Read

At the border, Ukrainians, alongside thousands of other asylum seekers, must navigate two policies meant to keep people out. The first is the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” a U.S. government action initiated by the Trump administration in December 2018 and known informally as “Remain in Mexico.” The second is Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directive crafted in 2020, ostensibly to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The directive expels all irregular immigrants (those without permanent residency or a visa in hand) and asylum seekers who try to enter the U.S. by land. On March 11, 2022, however, the Biden administration provided guidance allowing Customs and Border Protection officers to exempt Ukrainians from Title 42 on a case-by-case basis, which has allowed many families to enter. However, this exception has not been granted to other asylum seekers, no matter what danger they are in. It is possible that the administration may lift Title 42 at the end of May 2022, but that plan has encountered fierce debates. The different treatment of Ukrainian versus Central American, African, Haitian and other asylum seekers has prompted criticism that the administration is enforcing immigration policies in racist ways, favoring white, European, mostly Christian refugees over other groups. This issue is not new. As scholars of religion, race, immigration, and racial and religious politics in the United States, we study both historical and current immigration policy. We argue that U.S. refugee and asylum policy has long been racially and religiously discriminatory in practice. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

Can Liberty University Be Saved?

In truth, of course, Liberty is not just of the world but an engine of its power and ambition. The campus—seven thousand idyllic acres in Lynchburg, Virginia—is the cradle of a white evangelical dynasty that has shaped a half century of American politics. In December of his sophomore year, at a semiweekly student assembly known as Convocation, Wahl witnessed one of Falwell’s most infamous speeches. A week earlier, a Pakistani-American couple had killed fourteen people in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Falwell announced that he had a concealed-carry permit and urged students to acquire one, too. “I’ve always thought that, if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said. The students cheered. Wahl felt sick. The pundits he’d grown up listening to said things like this, but, by now, something had shifted in him. “That’s when I realized—you’re not talking about Muslims like Christians talk about Muslims,” Wahl said. “You don’t love them. You’re talking about hurting them.” He thought of two Muslim friends he’d made that summer and wondered whether they assumed he felt the same way. The following month, Falwell endorsed Trump, bestowing an evangelical imprimatur on a campaign that was still being widely dismissed as a publicity stunt. For years, Christian conservatives had been disappointed by the candidates they helped to elect. Falwell cast Trump, still regarded by many believers as an unreconstructed sinner, as a pragmatic businessman who would honor his promises to evangelicals. Calling themselves Liberty United Against Trump, Wahl and a few friends published a statement, lambasting Trump as “a man who constantly and proudly speaks evil” and Falwell for defending Trump, “as if sexual assault is a shoulder-shrugging issue rather than an atrocity which plagues college campuses, including our own.” The statement collected more than two thousand signatures. Falwell said that his critics were “young and still learning.” But, Wahl said, university administrators quietly pressured the organizers for a master list of students who signed the statement. Racism is, in a real sense, Liberty’s original sin. The university has its roots in the Lynchburg Christian Academy—later renamed Liberty Christian Academy—which opened in 1967, as the movement to compel the integration of public schools was consuming the South. Hundreds of segregation academies opened, to cater to white families. The Lynchburg News reported that Falwell’s K-12 school “would admit whites only”; the school was entirely white for its first two years. (The Falwell family today denies that the school was ever a segregation academy.) Falwell, Sr., criticized interracial marriage and preached that integrated schools and neighborhoods subverted God’s will. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

There Are Dozens of Facebook Groups Intentionally Spreading Islamophobia. Meta Refuses to Act.

The Facebook group “Fight Against Liberalism, Socialism & Islam” has almost 5,000 members. It’s a private group, so whatever is posted there is only visible to its members. The group, run by a South African lawyer named Mark Taitz, claims that “moderate Islam does not exist and too many people fail to understand this,” and encourages Facebook users to “join our group to learn about Islam and the atrocities it is committing in ‘God’s name.’” If that wasn’t explicit enough, the group’s banner image, which portrays Islam as a gun pointed at the head of a white woman representing “western civilization,” leaves anyone joining in little doubt about the anti-Muslim nature of the group. Taitz’s is just one of dozens of Facebook groups based in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. whose explicit goal is to spread anti-Muslim hate speech, according to a new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The group’s researchers found 23 Facebook pages or groups that were “mainly or wholly dedicated to anti-Muslim hatred based on their names, descriptions, and content.” These groups had a combined following of over 320,000 people. Despite being reported to Facebook—via the platform’s own reporting systems—none of these groups has been removed. But the groups are just one aspect of a much wider problem of platforms failing to tackle Islamophobia, which exists not only on Facebook but on all major social media platforms. The CCDH researchers found that Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube failed to act on 89 percent of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them. Across all platforms, the researchers identified and reported 530 posts that contained “disturbing, bigoted, and dehumanizing content that target Muslim people through racist caricatures, conspiracies, and false claims.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

29 Apr 2022

EXCLUSIVE: Tory council candidate posted about the removal of all immigrants, made Islamophobic comments and said Diane Abbott deserved to be bullied

A Tory council candidate posted about removing immigrants, suggested Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussein would not receive Islamophobic abuse if she ‘integrated more’ and didn’t ‘wear a headdress’, and advocated for bullying Diane Abbott MP, research by Hope not Hate has revealed. Stephen Antony Savva, who is standing as a Conservative Party candidate in Brimsdown, Enfield, for the upcoming council elections on May 5th responded to one twitter post about immigration with the words: “How about the removal of ALL immigrants? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Just think of all the homes that would suddenly become available? All those school places? No-more have to wait an ion to be seen by a doctor…”. The Tory candidate was previously exposed in June 2018 by the now-defunct website Red Roar as having called for Islam to be banned; while the articles are no longer available online some elements can be seen via cached versions on Google search. The Conservative Party’s supposed zero tolerance approach to Islamophobia clearly isn’t working if a candidate who once called for Islam to be banned is now once again on the ballot paper. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

Publisher pulls children's book Biff, Chip and Kipper over 'Islamophobic' content

An installment of the widely popular children’s book series Biff, Chip and Kipper will no longer be for sale following accusations of racist depictions of Muslims, The Guardian has reported. The story, titled The Blue Eye, drew widespread criticism for portraying the Middle East as a "scary place", and will no longer be printed by the book’s publisher Oxford University Press (OUP). The publisher said they will also destroy any remaining copies. In the story, the characters Wilf and Biff are magically transported to a foreign land after acquiring a set of marbles, and find themselves in what appears to be a marketplace in the Middle East. In the illustration, one character points out that "the people don’t seem very friendly" and that the characters "should stay together". The people in question are depicted wearing stereotypical clothing, with women wearing the niqab face covering, and men sporting turbans and long beards. The story follows a princess named Aisha, who is continuously being chased by men- who are described as dangerous- for a magic stone which she seeks to retrieve. Wilf and Biff also describe the town as "scary" and say that the marketplace contained "strange things" in other scenes. Social media users labelled the choice of words as "inappropriate" and "disturbing", assuch depictions can embed Islamophobia and misconceptions of other cultures in children reading the book. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

David Cameron Endorses Report Tied to Man he Called ‘Muslim No Go Zone’ “Idiot” and ‘Neo Nazi’ Party

A new report claiming that critics of counter-terrorism policy are “enabling terrorism” is closely connected to a ‘white genocide’ believer who worked for a far-right conspiracy theorist whom former Prime Minister David Cameron called an “idiot” for describing Birmingham as a ‘Muslim no go zone’. The report by the Policy Exchange think tank is also linked to a coalition of European far-right parties, including the Sweden Democrats – a party with “neo-Nazi tendencies”, according to the current Israeli Ambassador to the UK. Its publication reveals how far-right ideologues are successfully attempting to use influential centre-right think tanks to mainstream their worldviews through the language of national security and counter-extremism. Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism: The Activist Campaign to Demonise Prevent carries a foreword by David Cameron – who was last year embroiled in the Greensill political lobbying scandal – claiming that criticisms of the UK’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy are “from a small but vocal range of fringe groups, many of whom have extremist links themselves”. But two of the report’s co-authors have derived much of their thinking from an advocate of the racist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory; and one co-author is openly allied with an antisemitic political party with Nazi roots, which is currently being boycotted by Israel. read the complete article


29 Apr 2022

Far-right France website probed after 'leak' of Muslim personal data

A criminal investigation has been opened against a far-right website that published data about leading French Muslim figures, prosecutors in France confirmed on Wednesday. The far-right website, Fdesouche, allegedly leaked a file containing personal information about several notable Muslim figures including imams, journalists, and activists, who they labeled as "Islamo-leftists", Anadolu Agency's French reported. The complaint was made by journalist Taha Bouhafs and his lawyer Arie Alimi on behalf of over 100 victims when the data was leaked last September. The list included several members of the left-wing political party "France Insoumise", headed by third-place presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, as well as journalist Feiza Ben Mohamed. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

Macron's victory is paved with oppression

It is little surprise that Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected president of the French Republic. He secured 58.54% of votes, compared to Marine Le Pen’s 41.46%. Whilst he may be feeling victorious, both the voter turnout and the political ramifications of his presidential campaign should force him to seriously re-think this. Instead of raising major alarms over where the country was heading, the National Rally - the renamed and rebranded National Front - once a marginal party, transformed into a massive political force capable of claiming the presidency twice in the last 5 years. Much of the blame should be placed at Macron’s feet. How far they have come and the levels of respectability that the National Rally has garnered was all too visible during the presidential debate between Macron and Le Pen. Not once did the sitting president critique the political views that Marine Le Pen espouses. The words ‘far right’ ‘racism’ or ‘fascism’ were never uttered by him. In some ways this was Le Pen’s victory, despite the outcome of the second round. While pursuing his unpopular and steady attacks on workers’ protections, he made sure that national debate remained focused on Muslims. He adopted France’s old scheme of portraying the minority group as a domestic threat and excelled in ‘islamodiversion’. Under his watch, islamophobia was being fed to millions daily. Shockingly, he remains the only president to have given a full interview to a far-right magazine in which he of course addressed concerns with Muslims, immigration and national identity. It is also under his watch that the minister of education setup the “Council of the elders of Laïcité” composed of historic Islamophobic figures who can officially weaponise so-called secularism against Muslims. Racism is now part of the national conversation and will hardly be dismissed as an evil. It is now a structuring ideology of the French political landscape. read the complete article


29 Apr 2022

Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian

In June of last year, Hungary’s far-right government passed a law cracking down on LGBTQ rights, including a provision prohibiting instruction on LGBTQ topics in sex education classes. About nine months later, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill banning “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” up through third grade. According to some knowledgeable observers on the right, these two bills were closely connected. “About the Don’t Say Gay law, it was in fact modeled in part on what Hungary did last summer,” Rod Dreher, a senior editor at the American Conservative magazine, said during a panel interview in Budapest. “I was told this by a conservative reporter who ... said he talked to the press secretary of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and she said, ‘Oh yeah, we were watching the Hungarians, so yay Hungary.’” Orbán’s political model has frequently employed a demagogic two-step: Stand up a feared or marginalized group as an enemy then use the supposed need to combat this group’s influence to justify punitive policies that also happen to expand his regime’s power. Targets have included Muslim immigrants, Jewish financier George Soros, and most recently LGBTQ Hungarians. Hungary’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” law — which the government labeled an anti-pedophilia bill — expanded both government control over curricula and its powers to regulate programming on Hungary’s airwaves. read the complete article

29 Apr 2022

UK MPs warn Indian Muslims under attack after Modi-Johnson meeting

UK MPs have raised concerns about the treatment of India's Muslims and other minorities following a visit to New Delhi by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet his counterpart Narendra Modi. Johnson spent two days with the Indian leaders in order to improve trade ties between the two states. Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been repeatedly accused of supporting violence and intimidation against India’s Muslims, who make up around 15 percent of the population. Fellow Labour MP Zarah Sultana criticised Johnson's decision to visit a "JCB fact just one day… after its bulldozers were used to illegally destroy and demolish Muslim homes in Delhi". India has razed the homes and businesses of Muslims accused of involvement in Hindu-Muslim clashes earlier this month. "Following widespread anti-Muslim violence in India which is widely seen as being whipped up by Modi and the BJP... Did the Prime Minister challenge Modi on the BJP’s role on anti-Muslim violence in India, or did the PM once again disregard human rights abuses?" she asked. read the complete article


29 Apr 2022

I’m a Lecturer at a Karnataka PUC & Was Asked To Remove My Hijab for Exam Duties

Ever since the hijab controversy erupted in Karnataka, we have been under constant stress. The Karnataka High Court's verdict, which bans pre-university students from wearing hijab at schools and colleges where uniforms are prescribed, is being misused at all levels. Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh said that teachers on the exam duty would not be allowed to wear hijab inside the exam hall, saying it is morally incorrect for the teachers to wear hijab. Though he said that teachers can opt out of exam duties if they want to wear the hijab, his orders are affecting us badly. I am a lecturer at a government Pre-University College (PUC) and have been assigned examination duties. Despite my written denial, I am forced to go for exam duties and have to remove my hijab. Many of my colleagues have either resigned or have been terminated for refusing exam duties without hijab. I and my colleagues are not denying to do the work. This is our profession and we have to do everything – be it teaching, exam duties, or evaluations. All of these are our duties, and we want to do them. We have done so much work in the past and we want to continue doing that but because of the hijab row, we have been pushed back. Some women wear it, some don't. It is their choice. A hijab-wearing woman finds her freedom in her hijab. Everyone has a choice of whatever they want to wear. Women should not be suppressed like this whether they are Hindu, Muslim, or from any other community. read the complete article


29 Apr 2022

Worshipper nearly struck by vehicle outside Surrey, B.C. mosque, police say

Police are investigating following reports that a Ramadan worshipper was nearly struck by a car outside a mosque in Surrey, B.C., an incident that has left the B.C. Muslim Association (BCMA) "deeply concerned." Mounties say worshippers were exiting after evening prayers at the Surrey Jamea Masjid on Wednesday night when a vehicle sped up to them just before 11 p.m. A person inside the car then threw water at three pedestrians. The vehicle then veered off the road and one pedestrian was "almost struck," according to Mounties. "While the suspect's motives are not yet known, this is a very disturbing incident directed at our Muslim community," the RCMP said in a statement. "We will be working to determine motive and want to reassure the community that the incident will be fully investigated." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Apr 2022 Edition


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