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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25 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In New Zealand, families of victims of the Christchurch shooting confront gunman in court. The Centre for Media Monitoring releases a special report on how the British media reports terrorism. Our recommended read today is from Reuters on the third anniversary of the Rohingya genocide of 2017. This, and more, below:


25 Aug 2020

Remembering the Rohingya exodus | Recommended Read

Carrying bundles of belongings and often barefoot, they trekked for days over western Myanmar’s monsoon-drenched mountains, before fording the Naf River into Bangladesh. Many braved sea crossings in rickety, overloaded boats. It has been three years since the mass exodus of more than 730,000 Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine State following sweeping military retaliation to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts and an army base on Aug. 25, 2017. U.N. investigators later concluded the Myanmar military campaign was executed with “genocidal intent”. Myanmar denies that, saying the army was battling the insurgency. To mark the third anniversary of the beginning of the crisis, here are some graphic projects issued at the time. read the complete article

Recommended Read


25 Aug 2020

A Facebook Executive Who Shared An Anti-Muslim Post Has Apologized To Employees

A top Facebook executive in India has apologized to Muslims in the company for sharing a post on her Facebook page that called India’s Muslims a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter.” “Dear friends - The intent of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam,” Ankhi Das, Facebook’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia, wrote in an internal message to employees obtained by BuzzFeed News. “It was to reflect my deep belief in celebrating feminism and civic participation. I value all perspectives I have heard over the past days about how the post was received and as a result I have deleted the post. I genuinely regret any hurt it may have caused, including to my Muslim colleagues in the company.” The post she shared in late 2019 was written by a former Indian police officer in response to protests against a discriminatory citizenship law that fast-tracks Indian citizenship for South Asian immigrants belonging to most major religions except Islam. However, Das did not comment directly on a Wall Street Journal story earlier this month that reported that she had shielded T. Raja Singh, a member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and at least three other Hindu nationalists, from punishment for violating Facebook’s hate speech rules, telling staffers that doing so would be bad for Facebook’s business in India. In comments on Das’s post, some Muslim Facebook employees pushed back and called for Facebook to do better. “Thank you for acknowledging that the post was hurtful to the Muslim community. It is a first step in the right direction,” one person said. “As a company, we now need to do an honest reflection of hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims on our platform. In a market where public figures like T. Raja Singh engage in blatant hate speech, as well as incites [sic] violence, against the Muslim community, we need to do more to protect the vulnerable.” read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

The making of a Hindu India

The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple was set on that particular date to commemorate the altering of the country's constitution to justify a shift from indirect to direct colonialism in the disputed Muslim-majority region of Jammu and Kashmir exactly a year ago. The temple construction in Ayodhya, just like the constitutional amendment that revoked the Indian-administered Kashmir's limited autonomy, is a calculated move by the Modi government to consolidate the new majoritarian polity in India. Today, we are witnessing the final stages of the project to remake India into a Hindu nation, but little is being said about the fabulous falsehoods and cunning sleights of hand that this ambitious project was built upon. Scholars have attributed the invention of "Hinduism" as much to men from dominant castes who sought to reform and remake a colonised society as to colonial missionaries. These 19th-century reformers sought to go back to ancient texts such as the Vedas or the Upanishads to propose a de-ritualised, quasi-monotheistic creed for a modern India. Such a move mimicked the textualist methods of the Protestant Reformation, and the then fashionable European efforts to appropriate ancient Sanskrit spiritual texts to construct an "Aryan" race identity. The reformers were answering British criticisms of Indic polytheisms as "beastly" and "superstitious". They enthusiastically embraced the colonial view of Muslims being wholly separate from Hindus, ignoring the accommodations and intermixing over centuries that had produced shared ritual, intellectual, sartorial, culinary, and musical traditions between the two groups. Rhetorically, the Hindu rashtra is opposed to discrimination based on caste for political Hindus. Modi's own humble origins and his rise to power are presented as clinching evidence of a new egalitarian modernism. But, in practice, Hindutva is willing to accommodate the everyday oppressions that define Indian society. In effect, some are more equal than others. Conservatism is now couched increasingly in the modern semantics of class ("rich" and "poor") rather than in traditional caste terms. Those who do not identify as political Hindus - Muslims, Christians, leftists, anti-caste activists - are the new objects of discrimination and exclusion. In principle, if individuals from these groups embrace Hindutva, they, too, would be considered political Hindus. The lines are, in sum, permeable, and everything is negotiable in the new Hindu polity. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Bloomsbury India pulls Delhi riots book after anti-Muslim controversy

Bloomsbury India has pulled a controversial book claiming to tell the untold story of February’s Delhi riots, after the publisher was accused of giving a platform to unsubstantiated allegations and strengthening an anti-Muslim agenda. The book, titled Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, claims that the riots were the result of a conspiracy by Muslim jihadists and so-called “urban naxals”, a derogatory term used to describe left-wing activists, who had a role to play in the riots. The claim contravenes reports by organisations such as Amnesty International and the Delhi Minorities Commission that Muslims bore the brunt of the violence. The decision to withdraw the book has prompted many in India to accuse Bloomsbury India of censorship and the book’s author, Monika Arora, denounced the publisher for allegedly falling prey to “leftist fascists”. Delhi Riots 2020 will now be published by the Indian publishing house Garuda Prakashan. The book began to draw controversy after it emerged that Kapil Mishra, a leader from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), would be the guest of honour at an online launch event this weekend. The BJP’s national general secretary, Bhupendra Yadav, was to be the host. Mishra is accused of instigating the riots that ripped violently through the north-east of Delhi in February and left more than 50 people dead, after he made a fiery public speech calling on his followers to clear away Muslim protestors. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Kashmir group calls India’s internet ban ‘digital apartheid’

A prominent rights group in Indian-administered Kashmir issued a report Tuesday calling India’s communications blackout following the scrapping of the disputed region’s semiautonomy last year “collective punishment” and urged the international community to question New Delhi over what it called “digital apartheid.” The Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society in its 125-page report described “harms, costs and consequences of the digital siege in Jammu-Kashmir from August 2019” when New Delhi stripped the region of its statehood and the semiautonomy that gave its natives special rights over land ownership and jobs. The move, which set off widespread anger, was accompanied by a security clampdown and communications blackout in the region that left hundreds of thousands jobless, impaired the already feeble healthcare system and paused the school and college education of millions. Although some of the communications restrictions have been removed and the internet on fixed lines has been restored, mobile internet speeds in most of the region remain painstakingly slow. Digital rights activists have consistently denounced the internet restrictions and some have called them “ far worse censorship than anywhere in the world.” read the complete article


25 Aug 2020

QAnon and racism are fueling more than U.S. politics. Germany should know.

Today, far-right populist movements have emerged around the world. While not identical to the Nazis, they similarly feed off hate, deep distrust of institutions and conspiracy theories. In the United States, QAnon conspiracy theorists are running for office and praised by the president. In Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party morphed from being a fringe mix of conservatives, conspiracy theorists, extremists and neo-Nazis to being the biggest opposition party in parliament. As I watched this unfold, I returned to the country of my birth to learn that history has a worrisome tendency to repeat itself. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Selective Terrorism By Refusing to Call White Supremacist Killers ‘Terrorists’, the Media Furthers its Aim of Demonising Muslims

If you care about fairness, you want to fix these things. If you don’t, you make excuses. But making excuses about this just got harder, because the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), an offshoot of the Muslim Council of Britain, has just produced an exhaustive 200-page study, How the British Media Reports on Terrorism, that leaves journalists with few places to hide. It opens with the blunt statement that “since 9/11, terrorism has become synonymous with Muslims” and then lays out in depressing detail the evidence of how this lazy and cruel assumption persists in the media despite the rise of violent acts of white supremacism. The case of Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch killer, proves to be a kind of exception, partly because, just hours after the massacre on 15 March 2019, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the bull by the horns and announced: “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.” Those words – “can now only be described” – forced reporters and editors to acknowledge that, if the barbarities of violent Islamists are described as terrorism, then so should the mass killing of Muslims by white extremists. Newspapers such as the Sun and the Mail duly included the word “terror” in their coverage. But, on the evidence of the CfMM report, this was not a lesson successfully learned. Last February, a 43-year-old man went on a shooting spree in Hanau, near Frankfurt in Germany, killing nine people in two shisha bars and then his mother and himself. His name was Tobias Rathjen, a far-right extremist who published a manifesto on his website expressing hatred for Muslims – and most of his victims were Muslims. “Twelve hours after the first reports emerged of the mass shooting, the UK online national news media did not use the words ‘terror’, ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’ in any headlines or articles relating to the incident,” the CfMM report states. “This despite the… facts being known at the time.” It’s a familiar story. The same reluctance to associate the word ‘terrorism’ with violence by white extremists in Europe and North America can be seen in cases going back to Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber of 1995, but more recently with Anders Behring Brevik in Norway and Thomas Mair, the killer of the Labour MP Jo Cox. Other cases include Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park mosque murderer; Gregory Bowers, charged with killing 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue; and Alexandre Bisonette, who murdered six people at a mosque in Quebec. read the complete article


25 Aug 2020

The Spatial Cleansing of Xinjiang: Mazar Desecration in Context

Sometime between 10 and 17 March 2018, on a high sand dune 75 kilometres from the town of Niya, a beloved historical monument disappeared (Kuo 2019). For at least 450 years the site had drawn pilgrims from across the expanse of Altishahr, the southern half of what is now known variously as Eastern Turkistan or Xinjiang (Dūghlāt 1996 [1543], 190). Pilgrims came to be in the presence of Imam Je’firi Sadiq—a founding father and hero who had died there a thousand years earlier, while bringing Islam to their homeland . At his tomb they wept, prayed, and gained blessings from contact with the physical structure. The white-painted tomb had the shape of an ordinary grave marker, but on the scale of a giant, like a grave for someone six metres tall, resting on a platform fifteen metres square. Some pilgrims wrote graffiti in a wooden, box-like prayer house erected in the sand nearby, recording their shared presence with the saint in the very location where their society and their history were born. All around, flags and strips of cloth whipped loudly in the wind, thousands of offerings tied to various sacred structures, testifying to the crowds of fellow Uyghurs who had come over the years to venerate this point of historical origin and connection to the divine. In the early autumn, pilgrims came in especially large numbers, cooking communal meals in a gigantic pot and sleeping near the site. All of this disappeared in the middle of March 2018, leaving an empty dune.[i] In the ensuing two years, the Chinese state has destroyed and desecrated Uyghur historical and holy places at a scale unprecedented in the history of Eastern Turkistan (Altishahr, Xinjiang) as a Chinese-dominated region. Among the demolished places were mosques, and these have received the bulk of international media attention. But another kind of sacred site, less legible to outsiders, has arguably been a more significant crux of desecration. This is the mazar, a point on the landscape that holds particular numinous authenticity, a connection to and presence of the divine that surpasses the sacredness even of the mosque as a physical structure. read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 Aug 2020

CfMM Special Report: How The British Media Reports Terrorism

On 24 August 2020, the MCB’s Centre for Media Monitoring released a ground-breaking report entitled: “How The British Media Reports Terrorism”. This report has found that media coverage of terrorism has been consistently inconsistent, albeit with recent improvements following the Christchurch attack in which Brenton Tarrant killed 51 Muslim worshippers. There is significant disparity in the association of “terror” between so-called Muslim and non-Muslim perpetrators: over half of the terms “terrorist”, “terrorism” or “terror” were used with the terms “Islam” or “Muslim” – almost nine times more than when the perpetrator was identified with the terms “far-right”, “neo-Nazi” or “white supremacist”. As the sentencing of Tarrant begins on 24th August, this timely and groundbreaking report details CfMM’s own quantitative and qualitative analysis of 16 terrorist attacks between 2015 – 2020 in America, Britain and Europe, alongside a comprehensive section on the Christchurch attack. CfMM analysed over 230,000 articles published in 31 national online media outlets to show the inconsistencies in the coverage of terrorist attacks, depending on the background of the perpetrator. The report also includes feedback from editorial directors, managing editors, editors and security correspondents who attended a CfMM roundtable on “Reporting of Terrorism”. read the complete article

New Zealand

25 Aug 2020

Mosque sentencing: Victims tell gunman he is 'gutless' and a 'coward'

Mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant has been branded "gutless" and a "coward" by survivors and grieving family members in court today. On the second day of the gunman's sentencing in Christchurch, more victims stood to reveal the ongoing grief, pain and devastation of his attacks. As Junaid Ismail was gunned down at Al Noor – his twin brother was in the carpark about to enter for Friday prayers. Zahid Ismail spoke about the horror he encountered when he arrived that day, his relief and not being shot and his grief. Junaid was fatally shot in the chest by Tarrant as he opened fire on the main prayer room. "My twin brother's life was taken away for reasons only known to you," he said. "While my pregnant wife and I was parking the shooting was coming into reality and we are relieved the gunfire did not come towards us. "There was no remorse on that day." He said his brother's children "yearned" for him and missed him terribly. "My brother is now not able to see his children grow… we as a family will ensure his legacy is carried on and his children become confident and proud Kiwis who will live in the same place their daddy did," he said. Zahid Ismail is now financially supporting his brother's widow and children. read the complete article


25 Aug 2020

Dear Christchurch, Breivik's trial showed us extremist ideas struggle in the light

Terror wouldn’t work if no one wrote about it. Terrorists crave our attention, our anger and our tears. Norway and New Zealand have both been struck by attacks from violent extremists inspired by ideas from the same root – white supremacy and Islamophobia – but the two countries have chosen different paths in how to deal with it. Norway chose openness and full exposure, while the case around the Christchurch shooter seems dimly lit. When the prime minister spoke to the nation after the attacks, he called for “more democracy, more openness, more humanity. But never naivety”, to show the terrorist he couldn’t change us or break us. And openness we got. His face was everywhere, his name was everywhere, my editor told me to dig up everything I could find “on that man”. We approached his family, his classmates, neighbours, we studied his manifesto, the different groups he linked to, the leaked psychiatric reports, all with a slight guilt that we were more interested in him than in the victims. The trial should crown his propaganda phase, according to his manifesto. Writing it was phase one. Committing the terror act was phase two, before the third and final phase: “Your trial will offer you a stage to the world” he wrote. The dilemma was clear: our beloved openness contributed to spreading his message. The judge, prosecutors and lawyers struggled to find the right balance. After strong reactions from the bereaved, the press started to think twice before putting the terrorist on the cover. Yet as soon as the trial started, pictures of Breivik in an elegant suit and silk tie performing a Nazi salute were everywhere. Did Norway, with our tremendous hunger for openness, tolerance and humanity, inspire more terrorists? Was it wrong to give him a stage and let him speak during the trial? read the complete article

United States

25 Aug 2020

Fact check: Joe Biden quote on teaching Islam in schools needs more context

Posts on social media make the claim that U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden wants “Islam to be taught in our schools”, suggesting this would be at the expense of teaching Christianity. This claim is misleading and misrepresents Biden’s remarks. One example of the claim, shared over 154,000 times since July 23 is visible here . Other examples are visible here and here . Speaking virtually before the Million Muslims Vote Summit, Biden said, “I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith.” He added: “I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths. It’s one of the great confessional faiths.” Biden specified that, from a theological standpoint, “what we don’t realize is that we all come from the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs.” ( here ) During his remarks, Biden did not imply substituting the teachings of one religion over another but encouraged learning broadly about the “confessional faiths”, or faiths usually associated with a formal statement of doctrinal belief, including different denominations of Christianity and Judaism. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

How has religion played a role in Donald Trump’s presidency?

Arguably the biggest religion story of Trump’s presidency is how he got there in the first place: by winning 80-81% of white evangelicals who turned out on Election Day 2016. His ability to curry favor with white evangelicals baffled pundits and political analysts, many of whom expressed confusion that so-called “values voters” would back a candidate who stumbled over Bible verses, frequently used crude language and was caught bragging about sexual assault. This despite vehement opposition from some evangelical leaders such as Russell Moore, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Within a week of his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” that barred refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries from entry into the U.S. His administration would insist that it was not narrowly targeted at Muslims, but the move was widely seen as Trump making good on his 2015 promise to institute a “Muslim ban,” calling for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." The ban sparked widespread outcry, with opponents filing lawsuits and flocking to airports to voice fierce disapproval. Among the throngs were religious protesters holding signs emblazoned with Scripture, with dozens of denominations, religious organizations and individual faith leaders decrying the move as discriminatory and a violation of religious freedom. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Joe Biden owes Linda Sarsour a public apology

If Joe Biden wants to contrast his own, supposedly more decent and compassionate personality with that of President Trump, he owes a public apology to Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour for slandering her during the convention. Last week, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist and former co-chair of the Women’s March, spoke briefly to the DNC during one of the conference’s virtual assemblies. The appearance was controversial due in part to Sarsour’s vocal support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, something Republican activists immediately jumped on. In response, Biden’s team issued a strong condemnation of Sarsour as someone who has “no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever,” and reiterating that Biden “obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS.” Most controversially, the spokesperson intimated that Sarsour was anti-Semitic, when it insisted that “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS.” Following this harsh public disavowal, and the outcry that it sparked among Sarsour’s allies on the left, reports emerged this week that Biden aides privately reached out to Muslim and Arab Democratic Party activists, expressing regret for denouncing Sarsour publicly in such harsh and unforgiving terms; Sarsour herself was not present at this private meeting. A private apology to a group of Muslim activists that did not even include Sarsour, following a loud and widely-cited public denunciation, is simply not good enough. Joe Biden owes Linda Sarsour a personal and public apology, and the Muslim American and Palestinian-American communities have every right to demand one. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Muslim ICE detainees forced to choose between expired meals or eating pork, advocate groups say

Muslim detainees at a federal immigration facility in Florida have been repeatedly served pork or pork-based products, which goes against their religious beliefs, according to legal and civil rights advocates. The groups allege that Muslim detainees at the Krome detention facility in Miami have been forced to accept pork because the "religiously compliant or halal meals that ICE has served have been persistently rotten and expired." Expired halal meals have been an issue for over two years, but the situation for the detainees at the facility was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigration Justice. In one instance, the chaplain at Krome's dismissed requests from the Muslim detainees for help, saying, "It is what it is," Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, told CNN. There are approximately several dozen Muslim detainees at Krome who believe that it is religiously impermissible to consume pork, the groups said in a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement leadership and federal oversight agencies. read the complete article

25 Aug 2020

Here's a List of All the Horrible Sh*t Laura Loomer Has Said and Done

The anti-Muslim extremist with a penchant for throwing the white power "OK" hand sign has been a persistent purveyor of conspiracy theories and anti-immigrant rhetoric, and now she's made national headlines and baffled even GOP members by winning the Republican primary for Florida's 21st Congressional District, which includes Palm Beach County. When it was reported in July 2017 that 2,000 migrants had died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe, Loomer rejoiced. "Good," she tweeted. "Here's to 2,000 more." Later that year, in November, Loomer went on a daylong tweetstorm, complaining that rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft employ too many Muslim people and saying there should be a Muslim-free alternative 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 at the time, prompting both apps to bar her from their services. Banned from most social media, Loomer has turned to platforms like Parler and Telegram to spread her message. In May 2019, she said on her Telegram channel that "Nobody cares about Christchurch." "[F]or now, I'm Not going to let 51 dead people make it so that anyone who criticizes Islam online is jailed for a hate crime….I DON'T CARE ABOUT CHRISTCHURCH," she wrote next to clapping emojis. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Aug 2020 Edition


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