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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02 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Europe, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice allows private employers to ban employees from wearing religious symbols, leading to some asking whether Europe is liberal enough to accept its female Muslim citizens – regardless of their attire – in public life. In the United States, President Joe Biden is nominating Rashad Hussain for the position of U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, making him the first Muslim American to hold the post, and finally around the globe members of the far-right are referencing a warped history of the Byzantine Empire, constructing it as preserving “white-European civilization.” Our recommended read of the day is by Hannan Mohamud on how the epidemic abuse on Black Muslim women in Canada is not getting any attention despite gender-based violence gaining national attention. This and more below:


30 Jul 2021

Hate Crimes Against Black Muslim Women Are Skyrocketing – Why Is No One Paying Attention?

Last December, a Black mother and daughter wearing hijab were attacked in their car outside an Edmonton shopping mall in a racially and religiously motivated hate crime. I was gutted to hear how the pair fled the vehicle, trying to protect each other while bystanders stood by and watched. I’m not sure what was worse: the fact that someone felt bold enough to express such violent hatred to two innocent women or that no one intervened. Like the victims, I am a Black Muslim woman, and soon after the attack, I tried to draft safety plans on how best to avoid this level of physical rage against my community. Since then, the violence has only escalated. In Alberta, over the last eight months, Muslim women have been targeted, assaulted, threatened, and harassed across the province — everywhere from the street in my old neighbourhood, where a woman in her 50s was hospitalized after an unknown man grabbed her by the neck and pushed her down onto the sidewalk, to my alma mater, the University of Alberta, where a transit employee intervened when a man was verbally harassing a student. As recently as July 23, a woman was nearly strangled to death by a stranger in front of her children while picking them up from daycare. And these are just the assaults that have been reported, there are more. Notably, the majority of these victims, at least 10 of the reported 14 attacks, have been Black, visibly Muslim women wearing the hijab. There are tragic stories like this across the country; Statistics Canada has reported a 92% increase in hate crimes targeting the Black population this past year. I believe it could be due to the media’s hyperfocus on Black experiences after the murder of George Floyd. With more people speaking out on anti-Black Islamophobia online and in real life, the rate of reporting is bound to increase. It could also simply be due to the impact of COVID-19 and subsequent economic insecurity, which racist and far-right groups choose to blame on marginalized and immigrant communities. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
01 Aug 2021

Winnipegger's history of Muslims in Manitoba aims to document an era almost forgotten

As Ismael Mukhtar started researching the history of Muslims in Manitoba for his new book, he was struck by what he calls a forgotten chapter of his community. That history stretches all the way back to the early 1900s — long before the fast-growing community hovered below 1,000 people in the 1970s and reached the roughly 20,000 strong it is today, said Mukhtar. The pre-1950s era, however, is not well known. "I found that there is a chapter of the history of this community that has not been documented and basically has been forgotten," he told CBC's Up to Speed host Marjorie Dowhos. And with few of the founders of that community still around to talk about their work, with some having died and others' memories fading, Mukhtar said he wanted to document that era before it was lost to time. That work became Manitoba Muslims: A History of Resilience and Growth, which traces the community's long history from the first Muslims who arrived in the province to its first mosque built here to all the other community institutions created over the years. The book also looks at some of the challenges the community has faced, from stereotypes to Islamophobic vandalism to issues Muslim women see in the workplace, Mukhtar said. read the complete article

United States

30 Jul 2021


It is no secret that Palestine is taboo in US academia. Harvard’s recent denial of tenure to renowned race scholar Cornel West is the most recent instance. For decades, Arab American faculty have faced tenure denial or termination; students have been reprimanded and some even criminally charged; and Middle East studies programmes are under constant threat of defunding. All based on the fallacious claim that teaching, research, and activism that brings to light Israel’s rampant violations of Palestinian human rights is axiomatically anti-Semitic. Big donors, alumni, and well-funded legal advocacy groups unabashedly command university administrators to cancel classes and programmes aimed to provide students with the experiences and voices of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Never mind that cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom. University leadership perversely proclaims the importance of civility and inclusion to justify silencing and exclusion. That is, exposing students to the systems and experiences of Palestinian oppression by Israel is allegedly so divisive that they should be stifled because otherwise Jewish students will feel unsafe and unwelcome on college campuses. These same administrators do not seem to care that Arab American, Muslim American, and Palestinian American students experience hostile environments on account of stereotypes that Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims are terrorists. As I explain in my book, The Racial Muslim, Orientalist and Islamophobic stereotypes are due in large part to how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is erroneously taught in schools and depicted in mainstream media as between violent, anti-Semitic Palestinians and a blameless, democratic Israeli state. Anti-Palestinian racism is thus the rule, not the exception, in American universities and the public square. Indeed, Dr West’s scathing resignation letter only confirms this reality when he states, “to witness a faculty enthusiastically support a candidate for tenure then timidly defer to a rejection based on the Harvard administration’s hostility to the Palestinian cause was disgusting.” read the complete article

30 Jul 2021

Biden Taps Gold Star Dad Khizr Khan For Religious Freedom Commission

President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American war hero who captured national attention during the 2016 election, to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Khan is up for the role five years after he gave an impassioned speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention slamming Donald Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and sharing the story of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. Khan and his wife, Ghazala Khan, are known as a gold star family, a title bestowed upon those who have lost relatives in war. The Commission on International Religious Freedom was established in 1998 and is tasked with monitoring religious freedom violations around the world and with making policy recommendations to the president’s administration. read the complete article

30 Jul 2021

Health Care Utilization Before and After the “Muslim Ban” Executive Order Among People Born in Muslim-Majority Countries and Living in the US

The health effects of restrictive immigration and refugee policies targeting individuals from Muslim-majority countries are largely unknown. The study looked at whether the 2017 “Muslim ban” executive order was associated with changes in health care utilization by people born in Muslim-majority countries living in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota? The study found that the cohort study of 252 594 patients found that after the executive order was issued, there was an increase in missed primary care appointments and increased emergency department visits among people from Muslim-majority countries living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. This means that changes in health care utilization among people from Muslim-majority countries after the Muslim ban may reflect changes in population health influenced by federal immigration policy. read the complete article

30 Jul 2021

White House announces new religious affairs leaders, first Muslim religious freedom ambassador

The White House announced Friday (July 30) a slate of nominations and appointments for top religious affairs roles, including the first Muslim American nominated to be the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. President Biden will select Rashad Hussain as his nominee for that post, filling a State Department slot vacant since former Kansas governor and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback left at the close of the Trump administration. Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council. He previously served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, as well as U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and U.S. special envoy for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, among other roles. read the complete article


01 Aug 2021

Rohingya mosque in Dallas fosters community, strength among refugees who fled Myanmar

Imam Mufti Mohammad Ismail says he learned what oppression was at a young age as a Rohingya living in Myanmar, but he didn’t know what freedom meant until he found safety in the U.S. Freedom means leading a mosque that is the heart of a community of about 300 Rohingya families in northeast Dallas. Now, free of the fear of the anti-Muslim terror the Rohingya face in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, Ismail and others are building a future in the Dallas area. Shaukat Salleh is part of Rohingya Muslim Relief, an organization that was created by members of Ismail’s mosque and raises money to send to Rohingya villages in Myanmar. Salleh said being able to practice his religion free from harassment is still unfamiliar. “In Myanmar, if there are more than 10 of us, the military will come and break it up,” he said. More than a million Rohingya people have fled Myanmar since the early 1990s, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Myanmar military started burning Rohingya villages in 2017, leading to thousands being killed and wounded, according to a U.N. report. In addition to hardships experienced by many refugee groups, the Rohingya face cultural barriers that stem from their treatment in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and access to education and other services, Salleh said. He said he knows Rohingya who are still in Myanmar who have been forced into internment camps and aren’t allowed to travel freely. Now a U.S. citizen, Salleh said he embraces values that promote equal treatment of all people. “This is the first time I could go to an election, my first time. I was very happy. I cried in my heart,” he said. The Rohingya have found acceptance from the broader community of Myanmar people in the Dallas area. read the complete article

29 Jul 2021

Europe’s Hijab Test

A recent ruling by the European Union’s highest court raises the question of whether there is a place for visibly Muslim women in public life. Rather than asking whether Islam is liberal enough to belong in Europe, the more relevant question today appears to be whether Europe is liberal enough to accept Muslim women. I have spent the last several months interviewing Muslim women, many of them citizens and residents of European countries, about their portrayal in the media and perception of belonging in their countries. While many reported similar experiences of ostracism or harassment, the European women, particularly those who choose to wear the hijab (head covering), told me time and again: “I feel like I don’t exist.” Whereas most European girls can dream of pursuing the career of their choice, Muslim girls in Europe face a demoralizing caveat: “but you cannot wear the hijab.” In a post-#MeToo world where young women are increasingly taught to be empowered, Europe’s Muslim women are being held back by legislation and told that their very appearance is problematic. Khadija went on to tell me that the experience of removing her hijab for a job when she was 19 left her feeling denigrated and ashamed. “It made me feel like I am nothing,” she said. “I am not the same as everyone else. I am a little bit lower.” She went on to ask, rhetorically, “What gives you the right to do that?” read the complete article

01 Aug 2021

Why white supremacists and QAnon enthusiasts are obsessed – but very wrong – about the Byzantine Empire

Displays of Crusader shields and tattoos derived from Norse and Celtic symbols are of little surprise to medieval historians like me who have long documented the appropriation of the Middle Ages by today’s far right. But amid all the expected Viking imagery and nods to the Crusaders has been another dormant “medievalism” that has yet to be fully acknowledged in reporting on both the far right and conspiracy theorist movements: the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium has recently served as an inspiration to various factions of the far right. In September 2017, Jason Kessler, an American neo-Nazi who helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, inaugurated a new supremacist group called “The New Byzantium” project. Described by Kessler as “a premier organization for pro-white advocacy in the 21st century,” The New Byzantium is based on the white supremacist leader’s misrepresentation of history. His premise is that when Rome fell, the Byzantine Empire went on to preserve a white-European civilization. This isn’t true. In reality the empire was made up of diverse peoples who walked the streets of its capital, coming from as far away as Nubia, Ethiopia, Syria and North Africa. Contemporaneous sources noted – at times with disdain – the racial and ethnic diversity of both Constantinople and the empire’s emperors. But Kessler’s “New Byzantium” is intended to preserve white dominance after what he calls “the inevitable collapse of the American Empire.” For many on the far right, talk of Byzantium is cloaked in Islamophobia – both online and in tragic real-life events. A white supremacist who killed more than 50 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 railed against the Turks and the conquest of Constantinople in a 74-page manifesto. “We are coming for Constantinople, and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully Christian owned once more,” the shooter wrote. Throughout QAnon message boards, the reconquest of Hagia Sophia is emblematic of the destruction of Islam and the restoration of a mythic white Byzantium. One post stated: “When we free Constantinople and the Hagia Sophia, maybe we can talk.” read the complete article

01 Aug 2021

As China targets Uyghurs worldwide, democracies must prevent Interpol abuse

On July 19, Uyghur activist Yidiresi Aishan was detained in Morocco at the request of the Chinese government. As Aishan sits in Tiflet Detention Centre, he knows that if he is sent back to his homeland in Xinjiang, he almost certainly will be detained for “re-education” in the Chinese Communist Party’s vast network of concentration camps or sent to prison. Aishan was arrested based on a Red Notice issued by Interpol, an organization that brings together police forces from 194 countries. In 1998, Interpol published only 737 Red Notices, but in 2019 it published 13,377 such notices. Although the constitution of Interpol forbids countries from using it to pursue political opponents, autocrats nevertheless have taken advantage and used Interpol to clamp down on dissent. China has been active in using Interpol against its opponents — in particular, Uyghurs. The Chinese government issued a Red Notice against the head of the Uyghur World Congress Dolkun Issa in 1999, leading to his detention in South Korea, India, Turkey and Italy. This appears to be part of a broader campaign to target China’s Muslim minorities globally. A recent report by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs and the Uyghur Human Rights Project documented 1,546 cases of Uyghurs being detained or deported from 28 countries since 1997. This leaves Uyghurs especially vulnerable to being targeted abroad. If the international community does not act, autocrats will continue to use Interpol as a tool to consolidate their power and stifle dissent around the world, including for those who have sought safe haven in democracies. read the complete article

30 Jul 2021

China Stands Firm Against EU Bid to Meet Jailed Uyghur Scholar

China blamed European demands to meet jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti for preventing diplomatic visits to Xinjiang, suggesting little chance of a breakthrough in a stalemate at the center of tensions between the two sides. Xu Guixiang, a spokesman for the Xinjiang government, told reporters Friday there hasn’t been “any new substantive progress” on negotiations to allow European diplomats to visit the region. Xu blamed the dispute on “unreasonable requests” from Brussels, such as demands to meet jailed Uyghurs including Tohti, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 on allegations of separatism. The diplomatic tours would help European leaders show they’re taking seriously allegations of human rights abuses against the Muslim minority in Xinjiang, a leading global supplier of cotton, solar panels and other goods. Brussels is under pressure from lawmakers, domestic constituencies and the Biden administration to take a stronger line against policies the U.S. says amount to “genocide.” In May, Europe suspended ratification of an investment pact with China, after the two sides exchanged tit-for-tat sanctions over Xinjiang. The European Parliament subsequently passed a resolution urging a boycott of the Winter Olympics next year in Beijing due to the issue. read the complete article

30 Jul 2021

Refoulement Continues As Lawyers For The Uyghurs Submit Further Evidence To The ICC

In June 2021, lawyers for the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM), have submitted further evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking for an investigation to be opened against senior Chinese leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed against the Uyghur and other communities. This comes after on December 14, 2020, the OTP to the ICC confirmed that it could not take further the case of the Uyghurs. In its report, OTP stated that there was no basis to proceed at this time. The new information submitted to the ICC includes evidence suggesting that “Uyghurs have been targeted, rounded up, deported and disappeared from Tajikistan back into Xinjiang by Chinese operatives.” As the lawyers argue, this evidence is to show that Chinese authorities “have directly intervened” in Tajikistan. Reportedly, the gathered evidence is further to show that the last 10-15 years have seen the number of Uyghurs in Tajikistan reducing from an estimated 3,000 to approximately 100. The largest decrease was to occur between 2016 and 2018. While the evidence submitted to the ICC concerns the situations in Tajikistan and Cambodia, news of similar treatment of the Uyghurs elsewhere continue to emerge. Indeed, end of July 2021, media outlets reported that Moroccan authorities have arrested Idris Hasan, a Uyghur activist in exile, because of a Chinese terrorism warrant distributed by Interpol. Reportedly, he is to be forcibly returned to China where he will likely face arbitrary detention and torture. This risk of mistreatment is supported by in-depth research of several organizations warning about the dire treatment of the Uyghurs in China. According to them, Uyghurs are subjected to killings, mass incarceration in camps, torture and abuse, rape and sexual violence, separation of children from their parents, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, forced labor and much more. The Chinese government denies these atrocities. read the complete article


01 Aug 2021

The IOC Should Stop Lying to Itself About the Beijing Olympics

There is no way to sugarcoat this: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic athletes will be de facto accomplices in police brutality if they take part in the Beijing Olympics. The holding of the 2022 Beijing Olympics not only condones an ongoing genocide—it invites further repression for some of China’s most oppressed populations. Terrorist alarms from China should be regarded with a suspicious eye, since the CCP categorizes minor infractions by Tibetans and Uyghurs as serious crimes. For instance, Beijing justified extra security measures for the 2008 Olympics as protection against attacks by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a supposed Uyghur terrorist organization whose existence has been largely debunked. Security measures targeted Uyghurs’ access to mosques and nonreligious Uyghur establishments as well. Tibetans also reported arbitrary detainment and deportation. Some journalists and supposedly sanctioned protesters were arbitrarily detained and abused to maintain order and ratchet up intimidation. read the complete article


30 Jul 2021

Food fears for displaced and locked down in Myanmar’s Rakhine

Concerns are growing over the welfare of thousands of displaced people in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State who are in lockdown after the discovery of COVID-19 in the camps and unable to get enough food to eat. The Sin Bawkaing camp for internally displaced people (IDP), which is home to nearly 4,000 people, is the latest to be affected by the country’s accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. Six months after the military seized power from Myanmar’s elected government in a coup triggering a political and economic crisis, the country is now facing a deadly new wave of COVID-19. The state had already been the location of bloody interethnic violence in 2012 when more than 130,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya were forced into camps within the state, and denied citizenship and rights such as education, freedom of movement, and healthcare under government policies. In 2017, the military launched a brutal crackdown that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh – and is now the subject of international charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Aug 2021 Edition


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