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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19 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, an arrest warrant is out for a Canadian man in the city of Edmonton who attacked two Muslim women in a parking lot outside of a shopping center, meanwhile in the United States two American politicians call for an international boycott of the winter olympics citing China’s ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims. Additionally in the U.S., right-wing media outlets such as Fox News have begun using the situation in Afghanistan as a jumping off point for anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Our recommended read of the day is by Maya Oppenheim on the growing trend of politicians in the west using violence against Afghan women and girls as a legitimization of racist ideology. This and more below:


18 Aug 2021

‘Lightning rod to increase hate’: Politicians weaponise violence against Afghan women and girls to ‘legitimise racism’

Politicians are weaponising violence against women and girls in Afghanistan to legitimise virulent racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, campaigners and politicians have claimed. Some European politicians have responded to the crisis by focussing on anti-migrant and anti-refugee rhetoric. Speaking in a televised speech after the Taliban seized Kabul, France’s president Emmanuel Macron warned France needs a strong plan to “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants” from Afghanistan. Austria’s interior minister Karl Nehammer said the country will consider removing failed Afghan asylum seekers to “deportation centres” in nearby countries and in Germany, Armin Laschet, the Christian Democratic Union’s candidate for chancellor, warned: “2015 should not repeat itself." Experts have warned some politician’s responses to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan are an attempt to appease the far right. Joe Mulhall, head of research at Hope not hate, the UK’s leading antifascism campaign group, told The Independent: “For some on the far right the tragic events in Afghanistan are being seen an opportunity to push anti-Muslim politics in the west. “Despite misogyny being fundamental to the worldview of the far right, there are now extremists out there who are pretending to care about women’s rights. Everyone must condemn the Taliban without reservation and also ignore those on the far right seeking to exploit this terrible situation to push racist tropes in Europe.” Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, a leading UK organisation, told The Independent liberating women is not of “genuine interest” to far right groups. “They selectively condemn the treatment of women and instrumentalise calls to protect and defend women’s human rights to reinforce racist white supremacist narratives and spread hate-filled rhetoric,” Ms Simon added. “Violence against women is fuelled by right-wing regressive policies and extremism around the world. We cannot let the horrific events in Afghanistan be commodified and manipulated into serving the hate-fuelled interests of the white supremacist far right movement.” read the complete article

18 Aug 2021

The Beijing Olympics show companies are hypocrites on human rights. Hold China accountable.

A few days before, in a formal hearing, members of Congress grilled some of the biggest corporate backers about why they support holding the next Winter Olympics in Beijing – the capital of the world’s worst human rights abuser, Communist China. Without fail, the companies refused to criticize China’s horrific actions, much less throw their weight behind moving or canceling the 2022 competition. The lack of moral courage is extraordinary. At least 13 of the 15 biggest sponsors of Tokyo 2020 are on track to sponsor Beijing 2022, from Coca-Cola to Airbnb to Visa. Many of the companies are American, and they generally claim to support human rights. Yet, when confronted with the reality of China’s oppression of 1.4 billion people and genocide against millions of mostly Muslim Uyghurs, they stay silent. Most disturbingly, a new report out this month shows that China’s murderous campaign against the Uyghurs is bigger than anyone knew. Beijing has built at least 347 de facto concentration camps capable of holding more than a million Uyghurs at any given moment. It’s already clear that China tortures the Uyghurs, brainwashes Uyghur children, rapes Uyghur women, and forces them to abort their babies. Now it’s clear that China can commit such crimes on a heart-wrenching scale. The sheer breadth of China’s tyranny should have led the International Olympic Committee to move the Winter Olympics from Beijing. Such strong action would have upheld human rights without hurting our athletes. But the IOC has failed to do the right thing. That’s why both of us have called for the U.S. to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics. One of us was the first member of Congress to urge the Biden administration to take this step. But it’s also critical that companies, especially those based in the U.S., boycott Beijing 2022 as well. read the complete article

18 Aug 2021

20 years after the first Taliban regime, will we again target people based on how they look?

Watching Afghanistan’s swift collapse has been stunning, and witnessing the human suffering horrific. It’s hard to watch, though there’s privilege in that too, spectating from across the world, knowing that we are far from harm’s way. There’s a certain guilt in that, just as there has been for the past 20 years, as our country has waged war elsewhere, destroying other people’s homes, while we watched from here — or if we’re being honest, ignored from the safety of our homes. If this week’s events, however, remind us who the Taliban are, they also remind people like me what it was like 20 years ago when American troops first invaded Afghanistan and we began seeing its Taliban rulers on the news. As I watch otherworldly scenes over there I realize that that other world can instantly make me an other in my own. It’s striking that our public enemy No. 1 again looks very much like me: a bearded, brown-skinned, turban-wearing Sikh American. One thing I’ve learned in the past two decades is that people’s perceptions of me often depend on our current foreign policy focus: Growing up, I was “Iraqi”; after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I was “Osama”; and during the 2010s, I was ISIS. Those perceptions produced not just verbal slurs — they came with violence, including attacks on and murders of people I’ve known and loved. Now, as before, I am conscious that people’s ignorance of who Sikhs are, as well as our country’s underlying anti-Muslim bias, will translate into spikes of hate. It’s a matter of fact, as pragmatic as the texts I’ve received from friends and family advising one another to be cautious and vigilant. The anticipation of hate violence here does not compare to the immense suffering of Afghans who are losing their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones and so much more. Yet we should ask whether, 20 years after we went to Afghanistan, we have learned to tell an extremist from a person of faith going about their daily lives. Have we learned anything about our own bigotry and extremism, and the rights of religious minorities? It’s hypocritical for us to point fingers at Afghanistan without looking at our own home, too. read the complete article

18 Aug 2021

Opinion: Return of the Taliban threatens a resurgence of Islamophobia

Much ink has been spilled in the understandable desire to make sense of Afghanistan’s collapse. Much of that ink has been devoted to the Taliban, who are often characterized– by people who might think they are doing Islam and Muslims a favor – as radical, extreme, or fundamentalist Muslims. But for those of us who live and study the Islamic faith, this description isn’t just offensive. It’s wrong. If the second iteration of the Taliban isn’t qualitatively different from the first, that means we can expect a pariah state brutally ruling a traumatized population in the name of Islam. Of course, I know that what the Taliban do is not actually Islam – not even a harsh interpretation of Islam, as some contend. What they practice is often so fundamentally at odds with Islam as to be its doppelganger. But while I know that, what’s to say the average person will make the distinction? The return of the Taliban threatens a resurgence of Islamophobia in the West, including America. Although we cannot know how coming years will unfold, this is a reminder of the importance Western Muslim and American Muslim communities must place on education – empowering future generations of Muslims with future-facing, sophisticated understandings of their faith. While, of course, also combating misrepresentations and misconceptions. read the complete article

United States

18 Aug 2021

Seven More Books Worth Reading About 9/11 and Its Aftermath

The attacks devastated the lives of the victims’ families, and forever altered the course of U.S. society, history, and foreign policy. As this week’s events in Afghanistan show, the ripples of 9/11 remain with us. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary of 9/11, my colleague Anna Shortridge and I will be recommending sources for learning more about 9/11 and its consequences. We’ll be looking at movies, documentaries, podcasts, and online exhibits among other things. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age (2016). Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder and CEO of the media site Muslim Girl, was nine years-old and living in East Brunswick, New Jersey on September 11, 2001. Her memoir tells what it was like to grow up as a Muslim American child in a post-9/11 America rampant with anti-Muslim sentiment. The New York Times’s reviewer wrote that Al-Khatahtbeh offers “an account that should both enlighten and shame Americans who read it.” read the complete article

17 Aug 2021

The Right-Wing Media Returns to Anti-Muslim Hysteria: ‘You Can’t Bring Them Here!’

After spending a day attacking President Joe Biden for the chaotic scenes in Kabul of Afghans desperate to leave the country, conservative opinion leaders who were quick to condemn President Joe Biden for failing to evacuate Afghan allies are now insisting that those Afghan refugees cannot be brought to the United States. Fox News has returned to its bread & butter of anti-Muslim hysteria: “They’re all terrorists who want to kill us! You can’t bring them here!” Tucker Carlson on Monday told Fox News viewers that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would be used to bring “millions” of refugees to the U.S., which he described as an invasion. “If history is any guide, and it’s always a guide, we will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country in the coming months, probably in your neighborhood,” the star personality said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “And over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions.” “So first we invade, and then we are invaded. It is always the same.” No sense of human compassion or moral duty there. Only unadulterated white supremacist racist hatred. It’s a predictable angle from Carlson, who routinely offers racist takes on immigration and has repeatedly echoed key aspects of the white nationalist “great replacement” doctrine on his show. read the complete article

19 Aug 2021

America’s Uncertain Role in the World After 9/11

Others have turned their lenses inward, exposing the wounds the War on Terror has inflicted on U.S. democracy and the rule of law through policies like the normalization of torture, the use of drone strikes, the mass surveillance of communications data and the vast expansion of presidential power. Spencer Ackerman’s “Reign of Terror” falls into this last category, forging a new, bright-orange link in a causal chain that connects 9/11 to today. Many of the problems we Americans now face, Ackerman argues, can be traced back to the events of that day. Ackerman — a national security reporter and contributing editor at The Daily Beast — sees rising nativism and the presidency of Donald Trump as unintended products of America’s badly bungled response to radical Islamist terrorism. The book’s thesis is that the many disparate War on Terror policies rolled out over the last 20 years have shared a fundamental, noxious element: All were premised on a view of nonwhites as frightening others, alien “marauders, even … conquerors, from hostile foreign civilizations.” Ackerman spends much of the book describing how those policies played out, highlighting how the many mistakes along the way helped produce the Age of Trump (and all sorts of other kinds of damage). Ackerman argues that so many years of “socially acceptable depictions of Muslims” — and of nonwhites in general — “as a threat to America and Europe” produced a substantial number of white Americans “who believed Islam threatened Western civilization,” and that all immigrants, and even nonwhite Americans, were the enemy. Such feelings drove voters into the arms of the openly xenophobic Trump. read the complete article


18 Aug 2021

Arrest warrant out after suspect in attack on Muslim women no show in Edmonton court

A judge has issued an arrest warrant for a man who failed to appear in court Wednesday on charges related to an attack on two Muslim women in an Edmonton parking lot. Richard Bradley Stevens was charged with two counts of assault and one of mischief after a Somali mother and daughter wearing hijabs were chased and accosted in 2020. The women told police they were sitting in a car in the Southgate Mall parking lot in December when a man came up to the passenger side and began yelling at them. They said the man shattered a car window, then knocked one of them to the ground and started assaulting her. The second woman tried to help but was also shoved to the ground. The women said the man was swearing at them and telling them to go back to their country before witnesses intervened and stopped the assault. read the complete article

18 Aug 2021

Hamilton man charged with promoting hate of the Muslim community through social media: police

Hamilton police say they have charged a local man in connection with the promotion of Islamaphobia via social media posts. Investigators allege the 26-year-old intentionally targeted members of the Muslim community following June’s targeted vehicle attack in London, Ont. The posts in question were made in reference to the London attack, according to Det. Fabiano Mendes of the hate crime unit. “The charge of willful promotion of hatred requires prior consent from the attorney general to be laid,” Mendes said in statement. read the complete article

17 Aug 2021

The word ‘racism’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the Conservative party’s campaign platform

The words “racism” and “antisemitism” do not appear anywhere in the party’s 160-page policy platform, which largely focuses on the fallout and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor are there any references to Black Canadians. And in the aftermath of the deadly June attack targeting a Muslim family in London, Ont. — which saw Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole calling for “urgent action” to support Canadian Muslims — the term “Islamophobia” is missing, too. The omissions are somewhat at odds with the opening notes of the platform, in which O’Toole writes that it is “time for Conservatives to take inequality seriously, because that’s becoming more of a problem in our country,” and says that Canada is a society where “everyone can fulfil his or her potential.” It also doesn’t address last year’s nationwide call for racial justice, sparked by a reckoning over police brutality targeting Black and Indigenous people. Instead, the document tackles discrimination and bridge-building through the lens of international human rights and foreign policy, rather than grappling with its existence in Canada. read the complete article


19 Aug 2021

The Experiment Podcast: A Uyghur Teen’s Life After Escaping Genocide

Here in the United States, 19-year-old Aséna Tahir Izgil feels as though she’s a “grandma.” Aséna is Uyghur, an ethnic minority being targeted by the Chinese government in what other nations have called a genocide. The pain she witnessed before escaping in 2017 has aged her beyond her years, she says, making it hard to relate to American teenagers. For years, the Chinese government has been persecuting her people, but few have escaped to bear witness. This week on The Experiment: Aséna shares her family’s story of fleeing to the U.S. to escape genocide, adjusting to newfound freedom, and trying to deal with the grief and guilt of being a refugee. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Aug 2021 Edition


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