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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21 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Linda Sarsour says Biden campaign’s ‘unprovoked’ attack hurts Democrats. In Staten Island, a man is accused of beating a Muslim teen while shouting racist, anti-immigrant slurs. Our recommended read today is by Miranda Bryant on Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.’s death at the hands of the police, and how the release of the bodycam video has renewed calls for justice. This, and more, below:

United States

21 Aug 2020

Footage of black Muslim man who died in police custody renews calls for justice | Recommended Read

The family of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr, an unarmed black Muslim man who died in police custody in 2017, has issued a renewed plea for justice as video footage was released showing him screaming “I can’t breathe” and calling “Please Allah” in the minutes before he died. The 43-year-old died after being held down by at least four Phoenix police officers – one of whom put their knee on his neck – for nearly eight minutes as he cried out in pain. His pleas for help, pained cries and request to “stop” are repeatedly met with abusive language including “dumba**” and “motherf*****” while heavily panting officers placed their weight on his neck, back, arms and legs. He says several times that he “can’t breathe”. When he cries “Please Allah”, an officer responds: “Allah? He’s not going to help you right now.” The incident started after Muhaymin, who was homeless at the time and suffered from mental illness, tried to bring his chihuahua, a service dog, into a public bathroom at a community centre in Maricopa county in Arizona and an employee called 911. Minutes later, he was dead. None of the officers have faced any disciplinary measures or been charged and they all still work for Phoenix police. The family is in the process of a civil lawsuit for which they expect to have a trial date in early spring. Their lawyer, David Chami, managing partner of litigation at Price Law Group, called for the investigation to be reopened. read the complete article

Recommended Read
21 Aug 2020

An Anti-Muslim Obama Conspiracy Put American Democracy on the Brink of Collapse

The most popular and widespread conspiracy that circulated by email in the year or two leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election was the one that falsely accused the country’s first black President of being a foreign-born Muslim, otherwise known as the “Birther” conspiracy. It landed in inboxes like this: “FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD Obama’s a Muslim”. The body of the email read: “Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy. She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth.” The conspiracy implied that Obama was not only an illegitimate President, but that he was also a secret Muslim, and therefore likely a terrorist, who was subverting the United States from within. The conspiracy was picked up and amplified by conservative media outlets and then latched onto by Donald Trump in March 2011, when he told Fox News that Obama “doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there is something on that birth certificate – maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim. I don’t know”. Several days later he told NBC that he had “people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding”. Questioning Obama’s legitimacy not only made Trump an overnight sensation on Fox News – with the network inviting him to call into its programmes on a daily basis to raise further doubts and questions about the 44th President of the United States – but also handed him a base from which to launch his political career. read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

Groups: Muslim Detainees at Miami Facility Are Served Pork

Immigrant rights advocates say that Muslim detainees at a Florida facility are being served meals that include pork in violation of their religious beliefs. The human rights groups Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigrant Justice, along with a law firm, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday demanding that the agencies immediately stop feeding pork to detainees at the Krome detention center in Miami. Since the pandemic began, the facility switched from cafeteria dining to sending plates directly to the detainees' units. The letter says the meals regularly include pork sausage and pork ribs and other pork-based ingredients. “The pandemic is no excuse to needlessly violate detainees’ religious rights,” the letter says. read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

Who is far-right Republican candidate Laura Loomer?

Ms Loomer, 27, has become a celebrity of sorts in extreme right-wing circles in recent years thanks to a string of sometimes bizarre public protests and stunts, including interrupting congressional hearings, storming the stage at a New York production of Julius Caesar, and publicly asking Chelsea Clinton to sign a book for a woman who has accused Bill Clinton of rape. Her principal causes are anti-Islamic campaigning – she has called herself a “proud Islamophobe” – and more recently a fight against the “silencing” of conservatives, a theme she has latched onto since she was banned from various major social media platforms for expressing hateful views. Among the earliest organisations to sanction Ms Loomer were Uber and Lyft, who shut her out in late 2017 when she tweeted an anti-Islamic rant in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in New York. Claiming that onlookers in hijabs probably enjoyed the attack, she then called for the creation of a “non-Islamic” ride-hailing service. ”Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” she tweeted. "I'm late to the NYPD press conference because I couldn't find a non-Muslim cab or Uber Lyft driver for over 30 min!" Twitter, meanwhile, permanently banned Ms Loomer in 2018 after she went on a rant about Minnesota democrat Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Specifically, Ms Loomer called Ms Omar “anti-Jewish” and wrote that she followed a “cancer” of a religion that oppressed homosexuals and forced her to wear the hijab. This was beyond the pale as far as Twitter was concerned – though Ms Loomer had previously used the platform to share many other anti-Islam screeds. At one point she celebrated the deaths of 2,000 migrants in the Mediterranean sea, tweeting “Good. Here’s to 2,000 more.” read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

Linda Sarsour says Biden campaign's 'unprovoked' attack hurts Democrats

There is a realistic chance that November's presidential election may be decided by who wins Michigan. In 2016, President Donald Trump won the Midwestern state by a mere 10,000 votes. Michigan also happens to be home to large Arab and Muslim communities - a constituency in the hundreds of thousands that could sway the election one way or another. On Thursday, prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour told supporters that Joe Biden's campaign decision to disavow her earlier this week may affect the Democratic Party's chances of winning the state in November. Sarsour said she knows how to organise and excite Muslim and Arab voters that the former vice president will need in Michigan and other states. In remarks broadcast on social media, the activist said that by denouncing her for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, the Biden campaign antagonised Arab, Muslim and progressive voters who share her views in advocating for Palestinian human rights. read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

Staten Island Man Accused Of Beating Muslim Teen With Bat While Shouting Anti-Immigrant Slurs

A Staten Island man was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a Muslim teenager with a baseball bat, while calling the victim a racial epithet and telling him to "go back to your country." Tarek Elsayed, an 18-year-old Egyptian-American, said he was driving near his home on Dartmouth Loop on Thursday night when the attacker approached his car, slashed the tires, and called him a "sand n---er." As Elsayed got out to assess the damage, the man allegedly struck him in the head with a baseball bat. A crowd soon gathered, as the man continued to berate Elsayed, threatening to kill him and his friends, and vowing that he would have "my people to take care of you," according to attorneys representing the victim. A spokesperson for the NYPD said that Emilio Lopez, 41, was taken into custody on Dartmouth Loop for striking a man with a baseball bat, causing swelling and bleeding to his head and arms. Lopez was charged with felony assault, criminal weapons possession, and harassment. read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

The hidden racism of the Muslim marriage market

In an attempt to escape the quarantine daze, I started watching Netflix's new reality series, Indian Matchmaking, about the often-misunderstood world of arranged marriage. At first, I really enjoyed watching 20- and 30-somethings search for love and marriage in this traditional manner. By the end of the eight-episode series, however, I felt nauseous. Unlike some of my white friends who watched on carefree, I was disturbed by the obvious displays of classism, ethnocentrism, and colourism in the show. Throughout the show, I could not help but notice how these "isms" guided the matchmaker as she tried to find "suitable" potential spouses for her clients. In addition to searching for those with distinguished careers, and a slim body type, she was always on the hunt for "fair" spouses. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth as the show closed with a bubbly Indian-American woman casually saying she is looking for a husband who is not "too dark". The Netflix series glossed over this uglier side of matchmaking, but as a Black American Muslim woman who has previously been rejected by potential suitors based solely on race and ethnicity, I cannot look past it. For the last four years or so, I have been knee-deep in the Muslim dating world, dealing with all those aforementioned "isms". (And when I say dating, I mean dating-to-marry, because as an observant Muslim, I only pursue romantic relationships with one goal in mind: marriage). I encounter the same annoyances found within Western dating culture (Muslim women too get ghosted, mosted, and harassed), but due to cultural baggage that is often conflated with Islamic tradition, I am more likely to come head-to-head with sexism, ageism, and racism. The last one of which I suffer from the most. read the complete article


21 Aug 2020

Toronto Muslims want mosque attacks investigated as hate related

The mosque in downtown Toronto that Hassam Munir, 25, visits regularly has been attacked by vandals numerous times in the past three months, most recently on Sunday, when its windows were found smashed again. Although arrests have been made over the repeated attacks at the Masjid Toronto, which is part of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), Munir says he is still deeply concerned. "It seems to be that someone is trying to intimidate the Muslim community. This is unacceptable," Munir told Al Jazeera. "I am worried, not only for those that work and pray here but also for what these kind of attacks tell us about the ignorance and hate that exists in our society. "No Canadian should feel unsafe in their place of worship," said Munir. This week, the Masjid Toronto found its window broken for the third time in three weeks, making the incident - along with vandalism to another MAC mosque also located downtown - the sixth time local mosques have been attacked in three months. read the complete article

New Zealand

21 Aug 2020

New Zealand Court Set to Sentence Killer in Christchurch Mosque Massacre

A New Zealand court will begin hearings on Monday on the sentencing of a suspected white supremacist accused of killing 51 Muslim worshippers in a massacre that shocked the world and prompted a global campaign to stamp out online hate. Brenton Tarrant, an Australian national, attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in the South Island city of Christchurch on March 15 last year with semi-automatic guns, broadcasting the shooting live on Facebook. Tarrant pleaded guilty to all charges in March, which include 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act. High Court judge Cameron Mander will hear statements from 66 survivors of the attack early in the week and Tarrant is likely to be present in the courtroom. Tarrant will be allowed to speak to the court before sentencing. read the complete article


21 Aug 2020

Exclusive: Facebook employees internally question policy after India content controversy - sources, memos

Facebook (FB.O) and its top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, are facing questions internally from employees over how political content is regulated in its biggest market, according to sources with direct knowledge and internal posts seen by Reuters. In the United States and around the world, Facebook employees are raising questions about whether adequate procedures and content regulation practices were being followed by the India team, sources familiar with discussions told Reuters. An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees on one internal platform, and seen by Reuters, demands company leaders acknowledge and denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” and ensure more policy consistency. The letter also demanded that Facebook’s “policy team in India (and elsewhere) includes diverse representation.” read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

As other doors close, some Rohingya cling to hope of resettlement

On the third anniversary of a mass exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh, prospects look bleak for about 1 million members of the Muslim minority from Myanmar living in bamboo and plastic shelters in refugee camps. Two attempts to get a repatriation process going, in 2018 and 2019, failed as the refugees refused to go back to Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and considered outsiders, fearing violence. Some take the dangerous option of travelling with people-smugglers by boat to Southeast Asia. Scores of people have been killed in recent years as their over-crowded rickety boats have capsized or run out of water and food. But even that perilous route is getting more difficult now as countries like Malaysia shut their borders, threatening to push boats back out to sea, to protect jobs and resources amid novel coronavirus lockdowns. Some Rohingya are clinging to the hope of a third option - resettlement in a rich country. “I just pray and hope that one day my family will be settled in a Western country,” said Mohammed Nur, who lives in a refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district neighbouring Myanmar. read the complete article


21 Aug 2020

Myanmar’s election, the Rohingya crisis and the road to democracy

Five years after they voted in their first free and fair elections for quarter of a century, the people of Myanmar will go to the polls this November. A country with a troubled and violent history, Myanmar gained independence from the British in 1948. In its formative years, the country suffered widespread internal conflict and military coups in 1962 and 1988 put Myanmar on a dictatorial path from which it has never departed. Today violence and conflict still blight Myanmar, which in recent years has seen the widely condemned ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya people. After almost 50 years under a military dictatorship, Myanmar began its transition towards a democratic government in November 2010. In the same year, the military junta also freed pro-democracy leader and Nobel peace prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Given that Myanmar seemed to be heading towards a democratic regime, Western leaders were supportive and in 2012, Barack Obama became the first American president ever to visit Myanmar. During his speech at the University of Yangon, Obama reiterated the importance of continued efforts for democratic reforms. Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to prominence, calls to help the Rohingya people gained momentum and in August 2016 she announced the creation of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the UN. But in what the UN described as the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, a million Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in August 2017. The following year the UN called the military offensive in Rakhine against the Rohingya a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Since then this mass exclusion of people based on race and religion has been a serious problem, both in terms of human impact and in terms of democratic processes and accountability. As the continued ethnic and religious persecution of the Rohingya accelerated violently, the international community lost confidence in Aung San Suu Kyi when she appeared unable or unwilling to take strong stands on their shocking treatment. read the complete article

21 Aug 2020

TIMELINE-Three years on, a look at the Rohingya crisis

This month marks the third anniversary of the fleeing of more than 730,000 Rohingya from Myanmar's Rakhine State to Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in response to an attack by Muslim militants on Myanmar security posts. Here is a timeline of events in the crisis. read the complete article


21 Aug 2020

For Facebook, weakening India’s democracy is just the cost of business

On Aug. 14, the Wall Street Journal published a damning story about Facebook’s complicity in aiding and abetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hate-filled nationalism in India, sparking a much-needed debate on an issue familiar to many activists in the country who have closely documented how misinformation, threats, bigotry and harassment thrive on the platform. The exhaustive report examines the role of Ankhi Das, Facebook’s public-policy executive in India, and the social media giant’s refusal to take down the page of T. Raja Singh, a member of Modi’s BJP party who has asked for Rohingya Muslim immigrants to be shot, labeled Muslims as traitors and threatened to destroy mosques. The story cites employees at Facebook quoting Das as saying “that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country.” The report also brings to light Das’s own anti-Muslim prejudice. She once shared a Facebook post that referred to India’s Muslims as traditionally a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter.” As damning as these revelations are for Facebook, for many users none of this comes as a surprise. Modi’s campaign leading up to his 2014 victory brazenly relied on fake news and propaganda attacking India’s 200 million Muslims. For years now, verified Facebook pages of BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra have routinely published hate speeches against Muslims and dissenting voices. The hate then translates into deadly violence, such as the anti-Muslim attacks in Delhi that left many people dead in February in some of the worst communal violence India’s capital had seen in decades. It’s clear that Facebook has no intention of holding hate-mongers accountable and that the safety of users is not a priority. In July 2014, within two months of Modi rising to power, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, along with Das, met with Modi. Dressed in saffron, the color of the Hindu nationalist party, Sandberg presented Modi with her book, “Lean In,” and in a TV interview called Modi a champion for women’s rights — all while his party leaders used her platform to abuse and silence women. The next year, when Modi visited Silicon Valley, Mark Zuckerberg hosted a town hall meeting but left out any questions about the misinformation and hate spread by Modi’s party and followers on his platform, or the routine Internet clampdowns on Internet access in Kashmir, a brazen attack on free speech. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Aug 2020 Edition


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