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 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Scotland, the wife of the Minister of Health is going ahead with legal action against a nursery over claims that the nursery only accepted applications for white/Scottish sounding names and not Muslim/minority ethnic names. Meanwhile, American journalist Geoffrey Cain released a new book detailing China’s police state in Xinjiang where “every person is documented down to their genetic makeup, the sound of their voice, and whether they enter their homes through the front door or the back,” and a new report finds extremist content has flourished on TikTok. Our recommended read of the day is by George Monbiot on how any “fair reckoning of what went wrong in Afghanistan should include the disastrous performance of the media.” This and more below:


25 Aug 2021

Who’s to blame for the Afghanistan chaos? Remember the war’s cheerleaders

Everyone is to blame for the catastrophe in Afghanistan, except the people who started it. Yes, Joe Biden screwed up by rushing out so chaotically. Yes, Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab failed to make adequate and timely provisions for the evacuation of vulnerable people. But there is a frantic determination in the media to ensure that none of the blame is attached to those who began this open-ended war without realistic aims or an exit plan, then waged it with little concern for the lives and rights of the Afghan people: the then US president, George W Bush, the British prime minister Tony Blair and their entourages. Any fair reckoning of what went wrong in Afghanistan, Iraq and the other nations swept up in the “war on terror” should include the disastrous performance of the media. Cheerleading for the war in Afghanistan was almost universal, and dissent was treated as intolerable. Everyone I know in the US and the UK who was attacked in the media for opposing the war received death threats. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress who voted against granting the Bush government an open licence to use military force, needed round-the-clock bodyguards. Amid this McCarthyite fervour, peace campaigners such as Women in Black were listed as “potential terrorists” by the FBI. The then US secretary of state, Colin Powell, sought to persuade the emir of Qatar to censor Al Jazeera, one of the few outlets that consistently challenged the rush to war. After he failed, the US bombed Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
24 Aug 2021

Extremist content is flourishing on TikTok: Report

In one video, British far-right leader Tommy Robinson talks directly to camera. In another, a user of the popular Minecraft video game builds a replica of the Auschwitz concentration camp. A third shows graphic images of an ISIS militant about to behead two Japanese men. Combined, these extremist videos — of which more than 1,000 were found in June alone — garnered millions of views on TikTok, the Chinese-owned social network. Four out of five of these videos were not removed before they were flagged to the company by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism, which on Tuesday published a report on the rise of extremism on TikTok. "TikTok offers a platform for this explicit content to reach new audiences and potentially reach younger audiences, which was quite worrying," said Ciaran O'Connor, a researcher for the nonprofit, which monitors the rise of white supremacist, anti-Semitic and other extremist material. Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube similarly have struggled to stop a tidal wave of violent and harmful material from spreading online despite increased efforts to remove everything from videos from the Proud Boys, an American white supremacist group, to propaganda from the Taliban. The companies have employed tens of thousands of contractors to manually monitor fringe groups and have turned to machine learning tools to automatically flag the most heinous material. read the complete article

24 Aug 2021

THE ISLAMOPHOBIC ‘Terror’ Narrative Still Distorts the Truth about Afghanistan

In the twenty years of drone attacks and bombing and the widespread suffering which the Afghan population has had to endure, Western media has continued to view Afghanistan through the same Islamophobic lens it sold during the invasion 20 years ago – ‘the War on Terror’. It is noticeable how quickly the Islamic credentials of the Taliban’s Emirate have been accepted. Just a week ago, and for the past twenty years, the country has been an Islamic Republic. Why then is the Taliban’s Islam more authentic to the Islam by which Afghanistan’s people lived by and were governed by previously? For the media, Islam is equated with Burkas, Kalashnikovs and chopped limbs – images that give picture desks and broadcasters the evidence to demonstrate just why the West invades these countries and why they need us to stay. Shouts of Allah hu-Akbar are mistranslated as “death to America.” It leaves room for performative journalism, with CNN reporter Clarissa Ward engaging in what some may see as a cosplay on women’s subjugation by reporting from Kabul wearing more traditional Afghan clothing, despite no edicts on dress having been issued and this being the norm for Afghan women anchors. The media is not wrong to analyse the Taliban, nor to question the group’s real aims, but questions should be asked of any regime or government that strips women of their human rights be it in Afghanistan or France. And explaining the conflict as one of liberal progress versus backwards Islam allows not only the war on terror narrative to be maintained but the complexities of tribal affiliation, customs, corruption and networks to be ignored. Islamophobia is a default fallback position for Western media, and the Taliban will continue to provide adequate cover for it. read the complete article

United States

25 Aug 2021

Stefanik under fire for holding event with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Scott Presler

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is coming under fire for agreeing to hold a rally on Wednesday featuring Scott Presler, who has expressed anti-Muslim views and espoused conspiracy theories casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, along with Rise PAC and the Saratoga County Republican Party, is hosting a rally and voter registration drive at 5:30 p.m. at Gavin Park in Wilton. The featured speaker is GOP activist Scott Presler. Presler organized multiple protests leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. In a tweet, he called it “the largest civil rights protest in American history.” He also served as a strategist for an organization, Act for America, that the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have called the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the country. Presler has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory in his social media accounts, according to Media Matters. read the complete article

24 Aug 2021

Minneapolis mosque bomber now identifies as a woman

Emily Claire Hari's attorney says she was influenced by misinformation and conspiracies published by right-wing blogs like Breitbart, World Net Daily and Jihad Watch, and amplified by unnamed elected officials, according to court documents. "This degrading, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic rhetoric and misinformation has spread throughout the United States over the past several years through social media and the internet," attorney Shannon Elkins wrote. The militia leader who's facing life in prison for master­minding the bombing of a Minnesota mosque now identifies as a woman, according to court documents. Emily Claire Hari — previously known as Michael Hari — is asking a judge to legally acknowledge her transgender identity. Hari, 50, says a combination of gender dysphoria and right-wing misinformation fueled her "inner conflict" during the time that she was convicted of bombing Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. read the complete article

24 Aug 2021

Civil Rights Advocates, Community Leaders Applaud NJ DOE Commissioner’s Decision Upholding School Ethics Commission Penalty for Piscataway BOE Member Over Islamophobic Flyer Circulated by Local Democrats

Dr. Atif Nazir, a well-respected Piscataway leader and former School Board member, today applauded the decision by the Acting Commissioner of the NJ Department of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan Ed.D., affirming the School Ethics Commission’s (SEC) recommendation in a case he filed with the support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of NJ (CAIR-NJ) and Central Jersey Progressive Democrats (CJPD) against Piscataway Board of Education member Nitang Patel. In June 2019, Patel was one of three signatories on a flyer that was paid for by state Senator Bob Smith and distributed by Paulette Crabiel Wahler (wife of Piscataway Mayor Wahler) and her running mate Dennis Espinosa, who were then candidates for County Committee Member running with the support of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization (MCDO). The flyer was translated into Gujarati and distributed to Indian-American households of Hindu faith. The flyer failed to include required disclaimers and trafficked in dog-whistle politics to exploit a foreign conflict and divide ethnic groups in Piscataway, NJ. Although he was not running for office, the flyer named Dr. Atif Nazir, an outspoken and admired Muslim former BOE member, and called the opposing slate “a radical group under the leadership of Atif Nazir that wants to take over our township government. We cannot let that happen.” Other signatories on the flyer were Zoning Board member Kalpesh Patel and Council President Kapil Shah, who exhorted members of the Indian-American community to support the MCDO candidates to prevent their local government from being taken over by a “radical group” at the helm of a Muslim leader. read the complete article


25 Aug 2021

Minister's wife goes ahead with legal action over nursery 'discrimination'

Humza Yousaf and his wife Nadia El-Nakla said Little Scholars in Broughty Ferry said it had no availability after applying for two-year-old Amal. They said applications submitted by friends and family for "white Scottish-sounding names" were accepted. The nursery denies the claim, saying it welcomes children from all backgrounds. Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla previously reported the nursery to the Care Inspectorate but also instructed a solicitor to initiate legal proceedings unless Little Scholars apologised and made a donation to an anti-racism charity within two weeks. That deadline has now passed with the nursery continuing to deny the allegation - and Ms El-Nakla is proceeding with the action at Dundee Sheriff Court. "We received a response from those acting for the nursery on Monday August 23 2021. "This response refutes that there has been any discriminatory behaviour, but fails to provide a reasoned explanation as to why there were repeated refusals to accommodate children with Muslim/minority ethnic names, whilst at the same time children with white/Scottish names were offered nursery places. "This is all despite the fact that other bodies including the Care Inspectorate and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have expressed an interest in this case. "Under the circumstances, Nadia El-Nakla has no option but to proceed with court action against the nursery." read the complete article


24 Aug 2021

Geoffrey Cain on Xinjiang’s ‘Perfect Police State’

In “The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey Into China’s Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future” (Public Affairs, 2021), American journalist Geoffrey Cain examines the reality of daily life in China’s Xinjiang region. Based on dozens of interviews with Uyghur exiles, the book illuminates how the Chinese government has pioneered a series of law enforcement and surveillance techniques, including data-enabled “preventive policing,” which have funneled hundreds of thousands into “re-education camps” and brought the region close to the reality depicted in George Orwell’s “1984.” As your book reveals, the ethnic minorities of Xinjiang refer to the region’s regime of pervasive surveillance as “the situation.” What does “the situation” mean in practical terms for the average Uyghur or Kazakh? How and where does this system intersect with people’s everyday routines? When Uyghurs and Kazakhs say “the situation,” they’re using a euphemism and codeword for all the surveillance that envelopes their daily lives. You can live your entire life in Xinjiang under the watch of the state. Of course, other regimes have attempted this before. But what makes life in Xinjiang so foreboding is that the police have seized on new advances in artificial intelligence, deep neural networks, facial and voice recognition, and biometric data collection to establish the all-seeing eye. Every person in Xinjiang is documented down to their genetic makeup, the sound of their voice, and whether they enter their homes through the front door or the back. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Aug 2021

‘I Was Told to Sound ‘More Asian,’ But Asia is a Continent’: Daring U.K. Survey Sheds Light on Racism in Casting

A ground-breaking survey about diversity and the auditioning process for British actors, believed to be the largest of its kind in the U.K., has revealed that 79% of respondents feel roles continue to stereotype their ethnicities, and 64% have experienced racist stereotyping in an audition. Meanwhile, more than half (55%) of respondents have experienced racist behavior in the workplace, while a majority have spoken out about the lack of support in hair and make-up departments and the inability to speak up against racism in the workplace. The U.K. auditioning process for actors of color was described as “one of the most pernicious sites of institutional racism in the industry,” where decisions about casting are made before anyone even enters the room. What begins as stereotypes that inform the writing process are sent to agents, which “embed the stereotype in the casting process,” writers Rogers. Then, at the audition, directors and casting directors can ask performers to play a stereotype and not a person, which further dehumanizes characters of color in scripted drama and perpetuates stereotypes. Respondents detailed everything from code words used in conjunction with stereotypes (“I have been asked on more than one occasion, ‘Could you do the Black thing?’ or ‘Can you make it more street or urban?’ or ‘Could you Black it up a bit more?’); to requests by a casting panel for an actor of color to speak in an exaggerated or stereotypical accent (“I was told to sound ‘more Asian.’ Asia is a continent.”). read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Aug 2021 Edition


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