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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12 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: UK Labour MP Naz Shah called attention to the hypocrisy shown by the Conservatives towards Britain’s diverse set of ideas and communities, meanwhile in India, six individuals, including a member of the ruling BJP party, have been arrested in Delhi after being captured on video shouting anti-Muslim slurs, and in Canada, the town of Edmonton is gearing up to debut a new ‘public place law’ which would be aimed at providing extra protections for Canadian religious or ethnic minorities. Our recommended read of the day is by Shirin Sinnar on how racial and religious minorities in the United States have suffered from judicial deference to post-9/11 claims of national security. This and more below:


United States

11 Aug 2021

Courts Have Been Hiding Behind National Security for Too Long

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s infamous travel ban excluding citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries. For two years, Donald Trump had demonstrated profound religious animus against Muslims, promising to impose a “complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration and praising stories of shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. Despite the striking evidence of religious bias, the Court sustained the ban because the government offered a facially neutral explanation for the policy. The Court emphasized that its “inquiry into matters of entry and national security is highly constrained” and that the executive’s factual judgments on national security matters deserved deference. Although Trump’s overt hostility toward Muslims made the travel ban notorious, Trump v. Hawaii fits within a larger pattern of courts deferring to executive branch claims of national security — claims that reached a fever pitch in the years after 9/11. During the George W. Bush administration, legal commentators celebrated the Supreme Court’s initial willingness to curb executive power in Guantánamo detainee cases from Hamdi v. Rumsfeld to Boumediene v. Bush. But the Supreme Court’s overall response to the 20-year “war on terror” reflects judicial abdication more than intervention. The result, in many cases, has been that victims of human rights violations receive no acknowledgment of harm, while security agencies remain unconstrained by legal precedent or the fear of judicial rebuke. The core justifications for “national security deference” are unsound. Moreover, both the implications and origins of these ideas are racially fraught: the effects of national security deference fall largely on perceived racial and religious outsiders, while racial considerations shaped the very formation of the doctrines and help sustain them today. With the Supreme Court ideologically committed to national security deference, reform will require congressional action and broader public pressure. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
11 Aug 2021

Biden’s highest-ranking Muslim nominee mired in GOP blockade

Accusations of Islamophobia and anti-Israel bias are bogging down the confirmation of an under-the-radar Biden administration nominee who'd be the highest-ranking Muslim in its ranks if he's confirmed. The White House tapped Dilawar Syed for the No. 2 post at the Small Business Administration in March, but the Senate Small Business Committee has been unable to advance Syed’s nomination as Republicans criticize what they say is the veteran businessman’s association with an “anti-Israel” Muslim American group. Religious organizers are denouncing the email — which cites Emgage's support for criticisms of the Israeli government by Muslim American Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — and other attacks on Syed as xenophobic and Islamophobic. The row has brought hardball partisan tactics to a lower-profile panel normally centered on economic concerns and the wheels of federal bureaucracy — not brawls over foreign policy viewpoints. “It's clear that what's being used against Mr. Syed is insinuation that is trying to exploit anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim animus. And we shouldn't allow that to stand,” said Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a progressive Jewish group. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 Aug 2021

Right-Wing Media’s Manufactured Fears Over ‘Blasphemy’ are Another Arm of the Culture War’s White Jingoist Agenda

In a statement in the House of Commons by Labour MP Naz Shah on the implications of measures contained in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – which proposes increasing the maximum penalty for criminal damage to memorials to 10 years in prison – she spoke of what she termed the “emotional harm” that could be caused by attacks against images of national identity, upon which these new measures are predicated. Shah noted the contradiction that currently exists in discussions over British values and identity: if the Government can impose draconian legal measures on the basis of the “strength of British feeling when it comes to our history, our culture and identity“, why is it so difficult for it to understand the strength of feeling that religious groups and communities feel when their beliefs come under attack? Of course, no one is suggesting the return of blasphemy laws – an ancient relic in the legal system dispensed with far too recently. Such manufactured fears exist only in the fever-dreams of writers for more incendiary publications. The Spectator magazine described the “fears” of a “restoration of blasphemy laws”; while Spiked Online‘s deputy editor Tom Slater accused Naz Shah of “laying the intellectual foundations for blasphemy laws in Parliament” – a charge far more likely to lie at the door of such publications, with their consistent bemoaning of the decline of the West, attacks on anti-racism, and cheerleading of clampdowns on protest. Shah was not “wondering out loud if people should be punished for disrespecting gods, messiahs, gurus and prophets”, as Slater simplistically interpreted it. Nor was she sporting “intolerance” in highlighting the disconnect between the way in which the effigies of national historical figures are beatified by the current Government. Rather, Shah articulated the hypocrisy shown by the Conservatives towards Britain’s diverse set of ideas and communities. Within the context of huge concern amongst Muslim groups over Islamophobic hate speech and attacks, such measures show that the Government only recognises “emotional harm” when it is done to their own. In doing so, it is creating a ‘hierarchy of sentiments’, in which the concerns of minority groups who face daily threats of violence on the basis of their beliefs are relegated below the perceived importance of a restrictive and often hostile British identity. read the complete article

11 Aug 2021

'I was abused for wearing my hijab': School teacher explains what it's like being a white British Muslim in London

One white Muslim primary school teacher from Kingston found herself being the target of ignorant abuse when she visited her family home. Sarah Ward, 41, was taking a walk in the town she grew up in wearing her hijab, when two drivers drove past on separate occasions, beeping their car horn and telling her to “go back home” Sarah said: “I was walking down the road with my son who is 11, and I've grown up in Cornwall. “In two instances on this walk, in the town where my mum lives, one car beeped and told us to go home and then another car beeped and told us to go back home." The primary school teacher believed it was sheer ignorance on display when the driver yelled at her. The 41-year-old said: “I would say in my lifetime 9/11 is the date that I can pinpoint when things changed, and how I was perceived as Muslim and how other people are perceived as Muslims”. The Londoner found herself being viewed as a threat on the District line, she claims, and says one time a passenger decided to leave the carriage after staring at her bag. read the complete article


10 Aug 2021

Six arrests after ‘anti-Muslim protest’ in centre of Delhi sparks outrage in India

Six people, including a member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been arrested by Delhi Police after videos circulating on social media showed a group of people shouting violent anti-Muslim slogans in the middle of Delhi. Ashwini Upadhyay, a lawyer accredited to the Supreme Court and former spokesperson of Narendra Modi’s BJP, was arrested on Tuesday after he was reported to be one of the organisers of the gathering. The protest march was originally called to speak out against “Colonial-era laws”, organisers told Indian media, with hundreds of people gathering at Jantar Mantar, a historic protest site in the heart of Delhi. But videos on social media appeared to show that at least some participants in the protest joined in various offensive slogans including some calling for violence against Indian Muslims. In one of the clips widely circulated online, a group can be heard chanting slogans in Hindi that translate as: “If you want to live in India, you must say Jai Shri Ram (Hail Lord Ram - a Hindu deity).” read the complete article


11 Aug 2021

Independence Is the Only Way Forward for East Turkistan

At present, the conversation on East Turkistan, which China calls Xinjiang, is framed in terms of human rights violations instead of being addressed as an international conflict. China falsely claims East Turkistan has been part of China “since ancient times.” But despite almost 2,000 years of contact, China never really established hegemony over the region until the late 19th century. Various dynasties briefly occupied parts of the region, brought parts of it into tributary relations, and manipulated local politics, but it was never successfully integrated into the Chinese empire. As with the names of many modern nations, “East Turkistan” itself is a relatively recent coinage—but one that resonates with its people. Historically, beginning in the fifth century, much of Central Asia, including East Turkistan, was referred to as “Turkistan.” With the Russian occupation of “West Turkistan” in the early 19th century, the term “East Turkistan” was coined to distinguish the two. Systematic discrimination, political marginalization, and Chinese colonization gave birth to an anti-colonial national movement, with Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples declaring independence in 1933 as the East Turkistan Republic. This short-lived state was overthrown in 1934 by a combination of Hui and Chinese forces under the Republic of China and Soviet-backed Chinese warlord Sheng Shicai. read the complete article


11 Aug 2021

Harassment rooted in race, religion and gender to become illegal under Edmonton bylaw

Edmonton is prepared to get tough on harassment based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity, with an updated public places bylaw that makes harassment an offence. Council's community and public services committee agreed Wednesday to send the proposed amendments for a final vote at the next council meeting, which takes place Monday. Coun. Scott McKeen had suggested the changes in April, following a string of incidents in Edmonton where Muslim women were targets of public threats and assaults. read the complete article


11 Aug 2021

Twitter, Google to ban content denying Srebrenica genocide: RFE

Twitter and Google intend to remove content that denies the genocide in Srebrenica from their platforms, according to a report by Radio Free Europe (RFE). RFE reported on Wednesday that Twitter and YouTube, responding to a request by the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada (IRGC), said the companies have a clearly established policy that “sanctions all hate speech”. The systematic murder of more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in Srebrenica by Serb forces in July 1995 was ruled as an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice. But denial of the genocide in Srebrenica, along with trivialisation and revisionism of historical facts has become mainstream and widespread in Serbian and Bosnian Serb societies, which has also been reflected online. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Aug 2021 Edition


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