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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11 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, a Muslim shop worker has won nearly £30,000 after she claimed her boss at a greengrocer threw rotten fruit at her and told her to wear “tighter clothes,” meanwhile in the United States, the government’s case against Guantanamo detainee Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, is “openly embracing evidence tainted by torture in violation of federal and international law, as well as U.S. policy,” and in India, the “discourse surrounding demographic invasion and the displacement of the ‘indigenous’ Hindu population by the ‘foreign’ Muslim minority in India is foundational to the rhetoric of the right-wing RSS.” Our recommended read of the day is by Steve Rukavina for CBC on a new survey that “shows most Quebec Muslims feel less accepted, less safe and less hopeful” as a result of Bill 21, with 78% of Muslim women stating “their feeling of being accepted as a full-fledged member of Quebec society had worsened over the last three years.” This and more below:


11 Aug 2022

New research shows Bill 21 having 'devastating' impact on religious minorities in Quebec | Recommended Read

New research shows that three years after Quebec's secularism law — commonly known as Bill 21 — was adopted, religious minorities in the province are feeling increasingly alienated and hopeless. "Religious minority communities are encountering — at levels that are disturbing — a reflection of disdain, hate, mistrust and aggression," Miriam Taylor, lead researcher and the director of publications and partnerships at the Association for Canadian Studies, told CBC in an interview. "We even saw threats and physical violence," Taylor said. Bill 21, which passed in 2019, bars public school teachers, police officers, judges and government lawyers, among other civil servants in positions of authority, from wearing religious symbols — such as hijabs, crucifixes or turbans — while at work. Taylor and her colleagues at the association worked with polling firm Leger to gather a unique portrait of attitudes toward Bill 21 in Quebec. The association surveyed members of certain religious minority communities including 632 Muslims, 165 Jews and 56 Sikhs. Although all three religious minority groups surveyed said they've experienced negative impacts due to Bill 21, the effects are being most acutely felt by Muslims and, in particular, Muslim women. "We saw severe social stigmatization of Muslim women, marginalization of Muslim women and very disturbing declines in their sense of well-being, their ability to fulfil their aspirations, sense of safety, but also hope for the future," Taylor said. Of the Muslim women surveyed, 78 per cent said their feeling of being accepted as a full-fledged member of Quebec society had worsened over the last three years. Fifty-three per cent said they'd heard prejudicial remarks about Muslims from family, friends or colleagues. read the complete article

United States

11 Aug 2022

Albuquerque police to charge suspect in killing of US Muslim men

The Albuquerque Police Department has arrested the suspected attacker in the killing of two Muslim men in New Mexico, identifying him as 51-year-old Muhammad Syed. Police had announced Syed’s arrest on Tuesday after the killings, which were denounced by President Joe Biden, sparked nationwide alarm amongst Muslim communities in the past week. Three Muslim men from the same mosque – aged between 25 and 41 – were fatally shot in the Albuquerque area during the past month. A fourth Muslim man was also killed last November in a case that police believe may be linked to the recent shootings. The New York Times cited a local Muslim leader as saying that authorities told him that the alleged killer targeted the victims “because he was angry over his daughter marrying a Shiite Muslim”. All four slain men were Shia Muslims. Police officials on Tuesday said they were still investigating the motives but did not rule out hate crime charges against the suspect. For its part, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed the arrest and condemned the “anti-Shia hatred that may have motivated the killings”. “Although we are waiting to learn more about these crimes, we are disturbed by early indications that the alleged killer may have been targeting particular members of the Shia community,” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. read the complete article

11 Aug 2022

Democratic Rep Ilhan Omar narrowly wins her primary in Minnesota

Progressive Representative Ilhan Omar won her primary in Minnesota, despite facing a tougher challenge than expected. Ms Omar, who first won her seat in 2018, earned 50.35 per cent of the vote on Tuesday evening in her race against former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels. Ms Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, represents Minnesota’s 5th District, which includes large parts of Minneapolis. Since assuming office, Ms Omar and progressive Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Cori Bush of Missouri and Jamaal Bowman of New York have formed a group known as “the Squad”. She’s also been the subject of intense scrutiny, as former president Donald Trump regularly targeted her for criticism. She also received death threats after far-right Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado made a joke implying she was a terrorist. read the complete article

11 Aug 2022

How Trump changed Facebook

Early in the campaign, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump tested the limits of Facebook’s rules against hateful speech, at the same time that the company became a vehicle of political exploitation by foreign actors. Facebook’s first test: dealing with a 2015 Facebook post from Trump calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US. While some inside the company saw a strong argument that Trump’s comments violated Facebook’s rules against religious hate speech, the company decided to keep the post up. Until then, most Facebook employees had never before grappled with the possibility that their platform could be used to stoke such division by a political candidate for the highest position of office. “What do you do when the leading candidate for president posts an attack … on [one of the] the biggest religion[s] in the world?” former Facebook employee and Democratic lobbyist Crystal Patterson told us. And it wasn’t just national politicians Facebook had to worry about, but foreign adversaries, too. Despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initial post-election comments dismissing the “pretty crazy idea” that fake news on the platform could have influenced the elections, it soon became clear that propaganda from Russian Facebook accounts had reached millions of American voters — causing an unprecedented backlash and forcing the company to reckon with its culpability in influencing global politics. Over time, Zuckerberg would acknowledge Facebook’s role as what he called “the Fifth Estate” — an entity as powerful as the government and media in shaping the public agenda — while at the same time trying to minimize the company’s role dictating the acceptable terms of political speech. To offload the burden of political responsibility going forward, Facebook formed the Oversight Board in 2018, a Supreme Court-like body it set up to weigh in on controversial content decisions — including how to deal with Trump’s account. But the board is new, and we’re still learning how much power it has over Facebook. How much responsibility does Facebook still have to dictate the terms of its own platform? And can the board go far enough to change the social media platform’s underlying engine: its recommendation algorithms? We explore these questions about Facebook’s role in moderating political speech in our fourth episode of Land of the Giants, Vox Media Podcast Network’s award-winning narrative podcast series about the most influential tech companies of our time. This season, Recode and The Verge have teamed up over the course of seven episodes to tell the story of Facebook’s journey to becoming Meta, featuring interviews with current and former executives. read the complete article

11 Aug 2022

Fear turns to shock among Albuquerque Muslims as police say the shooter is a Muslim

The killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque had already shaken the city's small Muslim community, prompting businesses to close and residents to temporarily move away amid fears of a deadly spate of Islamophobic hate crimes. Then came Tuesday's news: The suspect, police say, is a 51-year-old man named Muhammad Syed, who is Muslim himself and whose motive may have been related to "interpersonal conflict." "You would expect that learning that a suspect is found and has been detained, it would feel like a breath of relief," said Leena Aggad, the 23-year-old vice president of the University of New Mexico's Muslim Student Association. Instead, she said, news of the arrest felt "like another chain was placed on my heart." Syed is well-known to the Muslim community in Albuquerque, multiple people told NPR. He regularly came to the same mosque that the victims had attended. "For months, this guy was praying next to other members of the community as if everything was normal," Aggad said. "It shocks you." Syed has been charged in two of the four deaths, and police say he is the primary suspect in the other two killings. He was arrested during a traffic stop more than 100 miles from Albuquerque, authorities said Tuesday. In a conversation with officers, Syed denied connection to the shootings. According to the criminal complaint, a gun recovered from his home matched bullet casings found at the crime scenes. Some reports have suggested the possibility that Syed, a Sunni Muslim, had targeted his victims over anger that his daughter had married a Shia Muslim. Authorities said Tuesday they are still working to determine the motive. ("Detectives discovered evidence that shows the offender knew the victims to some extent and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings," a police statement said.) read the complete article

11 Aug 2022

In U.S. v. Al-Nashiri the Government Is Rewarding Torture and Incentivizing Torturers

There has been no serious dispute for years that the Guantanamo military commissions have failed. At the heart of their failure, longtime chief defense counsel Gen. John Baker told the Senate Judiciary Committee last December, is the government’s “original sin, torture.” It “impacts and undermines every aspect of these prosecutions,” he explained. Baker specifically took aim at the government’s reliance on evidence obtained by torture: “The foundations of any guilty verdicts and capital sentences obtained in the current military commissions are thus being built on quicksand.” To its credit—at least with respect to several of the commission cases—the Biden administration has recognized that legitimate commission trials (and likely trials at all) are a mirage. Hoping to salvage a modicum of justice, the administration is smartly pursuing plea deals. But not in U.S. v. Al-Nashiri. There, prosecutors are recklessly forging ahead, openly embracing evidence tainted by torture in violation of federal and international law, as well as U.S. policy. Over the past 18 months alone, prosecutors have advanced baseless arguments to use against Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri both his own torture-obtained statements and those of a third-party witness. At times their lawyering is reminiscent of that which authorized the CIA to torture Nashiri in the first place. Prosecutors’ positions on these issues—taken on behalf of the U.S. government—tacitly approve torture itself. What is happening in Al-Nashiri has not gotten the attention it deserves. This post is a modest effort to shine light on the prosecutors’ actions, discuss their implications, and propose a durable solution. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 Aug 2022

Muslim woman wins £30,000 after boss told her to wear tighter clothes

A Muslim shop worker has won nearly £30,000 after she claimed her boss at a posh greengrocer threw rotten fruit at her and told her to wear “tighter clothes”. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, started working for Engin Babur at Elisa Organic and Whole Foods in Shepherd's Bush, west London, in June last year. She also claims he brandished a knife in her face during a row over corn on the cob and mimicked her Cockney accent before telling her to “speak posh” to customers. The employee won her claim for sex harassment at the London Employment Tribunal and has now been awarded £27,715.56. In a witness statement, the woman said: “Whilst working at the shop, no day went by without Mr Babur shouting at me accusing me of something, slamming a door, banging a fist or throwing rotten fruit. He claimed I was trying to take over the shop and said I am the worker and should do as I am told. He said I was a worker, nothing else because I am nothing else, just a piece of s**t.” The woman also claimed Babur waved a knife in her face when she asked him a question about corn on the cob. She said: “He snatched it out my hand and threw it in the bin. He was working in the kitchen and had a large knife in his hand. “He pointed the knife at me and said: ‘Listen to me and listen carefully. I have had enough of your b******t. Don’t come in here asking for help, you should know better’.” She said he waved the knife in her face and told her: “I don’t like this scarf covering your body, take this off, take your cap off too. “Put some make-up on your face and wear some nice tight clothing.” As she left, she claimed he heard him use a racial slur about her and comment that she “should not mess with a Turk”. read the complete article

11 Aug 2022

Tory leadership race shatters hopes for a more tolerant Conservative Party

In 2009, there had only ever been four non-white Conservative MPs in Britain. Thirteen years later, the situation could not be more different: six of the 11 candidates who entered the Conservative leadership race were from ethnic minorities, while Rishi Sunak, a Briton of Indian heritage, is currently in the run-off to become the new party leader and prime minister. This is rightly seen by many as a sign of Britain’s progress in fighting racism, and also of the Conservative Party’s own approach to race. Party members are not just comfortable with the new situation; they are overwhelmingly inclined to celebrate it. There is every sign that ethnic diversity has been enthusiastically embraced by both the party and the Conservative establishment. It would be tempting, then, to hail the Conservatives for their tolerance. But tolerance, rightly practised, extends beyond support for ethnic diversity. British multiculturalism, traditionally understood, has entailed the recognition of diverse religious communities - and today, it is under threat. For British Muslims, the Conservative Party is a hostile force. Studies have documented widespread anti-Muslim bigotry among party members, while MP Nusrat Ghani made the troubling claim earlier this year that she was sacked from the government because her “Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself has produced a plethora of remarks demeaning and mocking Muslims. With his resignation, however, some believed that the Conservative Party would move in a more generous-spirited and tolerant direction. Their hopes have been shattered by the party’s decisive lurch to the far right, as Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Sunak vie for support from the membership. Last week, Sunak proposed to expand the definition of “extremism” - currently defined by the government as constituting “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values” - to include what he termed “extreme hatred of Britain”. If Sunak had his way, people who “vilify” the nation would risk being questioned under the Prevent “counter-extremism” programme and potentially put through a “de-radicalisation” process. Sunak’s vision poses such a dramatic threat to free expression that even former counterterrorism chief Sir Peter Fahy slammed it as “straying into thought crimes”. read the complete article


11 Aug 2022

Inside Hindutva’s Great Replacement Conspiracy

The recent killings of African Americans in Buffalo, New York, have once again renewed discussions of the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy which the 18-year-old gunman cited as his inspiration behind the attack. The hateful and racist theory that falsely propagates that White people are being actively replaced by non-White immigrants has been embraced by extremists and white supremacist groups in recent years and used as a justification for unleashing terror against Muslims, Black people, Jews, and immigrants. But, the influence of the demography-based theory, coined by French author Renaud Camus in his 2011 book La Grand Replacement, goes beyond white extremists. In India, where the world’s third-largest Muslim population resides, a version of this theory has been in practice by the right-wing Hindutva forces for more than a century, whipping up a communal frenzy in order to maintain the dominance of the Hindu majority. The discourse surrounding demographic invasion and the displacement of the ‘indigenous’ Hindu population by the ‘foreign’ Muslim minority in India is foundational to the rhetoric of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated parties who seek to establish a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). A Hindu Rashtra refers to a nation-state based on the dominant Hindu social, cultural and religious identity, under which all other minorities must assimilate. The early writings of the founding leaders of the RSS like M S Golwalkar presented Hindus as the original native inhabitants of India, and portrayed Muslims as tyrannical foreign conquerors and therefore outsiders. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political arm of the RSS, in power since 2014, has consistently used these threads to project Islam and Muslims as an internal enemy of the Hindus while pursuing a nationalist ideology and majoritarian politics. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Aug 2022 Edition


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