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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03 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: According to a study led by researchers at Yale University, Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” may have contributed to a significant rise in emergency hospital admissions by Muslims in the state of Minnesota, as in India, a Haryana court grants bail to ‘the Jamia shooter’ who was arrested last month for anti-Muslim hate speech and threats of violence against Muslims, and in Scotland, a senior Muslim politician has lodged a discrimination complaint against a Scottish nursery. Our recommended read of the day is by Todd Fine and Asad Dandia on how the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York needs to be reformed. This and more below:

United States

01 Aug 2021

We Need to Reform the September 11 Museum

Approaching the 20th anniversary of the attacks, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center faces a reckoning. A new documentary film called The Outsider, authorized to follow the museum’s creation, illuminates how its leadership made top-down decisions that condensed and weaponized the memory of September 11 into a quasi-religion that can be relied on to indefinitely fuel a vengeful American nationalism. In this context, another long-standing concern has reemerged: the treatment of Arab-Americans, Muslims, and Islam. One of the former staff members quoted in the New York Times claims that the museum actively blocked programming that would consider the spread of Islamophobia after September 11. She also relates how her bosses rejected the inclusion of Christchurch, New Zealand in a new exhibit about other terrorist attacks. For the Muslim and Arab communities of the New York City area — the largest in the United States — these claims align with a long history of hostile behavior from the institution. With no destination for productive catharsis besides a sloppy and amateurish treatment of the religious motivations of al-Qaeda, many visitors may no longer have the presence of mind to evaluate these interpretative materials. Even if one could defend the appropriateness of the museum’s terminology of “Islamism,” “Islamic law,” and “Jihadism,” in the actual context of the experience, there is a real danger that visitors stop at the word Islam and assign collective responsibility. This clip from The Outsider confirms what Muslim and Arab advocacy groups, interfaith allies, and hundreds of scholars have been saying for years. The museum solicited minimal academic review of this section, which has no informed context of the modern history of the regions where the ideologies that influenced al-Qaeda developed. As much as we might wish to offer the benefit of the doubt given the minefields of controversy facing any cultural institution dedicated to September 11, a pattern of behavior indicates that the harm done results from intentional decisions of leadership, who have been antagonistic toward reasonable requests from Muslim and Arab communities. Note that this leadership still includes Debra Burlingame, a board member who served on the committee approving the museum’s exhibitions yet is one of the nation’s leading, and most vile, anti-Muslim activists. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
02 Aug 2021

Trump's 'Muslim ban' may have harmed health of Muslim Americans, study finds

Former US President Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" may have contributed to a significant rise in emergency hospital admissions by Muslims in the state of Minnesota, according to a study led by researchers at Yale University. According to the study, which was carried out in the year following the issuance of the ban and involved more than 250,000 people in the Minneapolis-St Paul area, there were 232 more visits to the emergency department by individuals from countries targeted by the order than researchers predicted. Also, prior to the Muslim ban, primary care visits and diagnoses of stress for individuals from Muslim-majority nations were on the rise. But in the year following, there were approximately 101 missed primary care appointments. "These findings may reflect elevated cumulative stress due to multiple restrictive policies and an increasingly hostile climate toward Muslim immigrants and refugees in the US," the study said. read the complete article

02 Aug 2021

Atlanta’s ‘Sealed Nectar’ fashion show celebrates the beauty of Black Muslim women

When people think of Muslim women, impeccable fashion sense isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But N’aimah Abdullah, show coordinator for the 35th annual Sealed Nectar Fashion Show last month, has been a part of changing that perception. Designer Melanie Austin says that while Islam is a religion for over a billion people around the world, African American women bring their own sense of style to clothing that while modest can still be fashionable. “We were often found imitating other people’s cultures, such as Pakistani, Arab, and Indian; so much to the extent that many African American Muslim women didn’t understand the importance or feel the need to support their own,’” opined Austin who created Shukuru Couture, and has previously been a participant in the show. Nefertari Hazziez, the designer behind Queens’ Creations, challenged the perception that modest clothing is always a form of oppression. Quite the contrary, she believes that the way she and her sisters in Islam dress can be just as empowering as other styles of clothing and can even help boost feelings of confidence. In her eyes, outlets like the Sealed Nectar Fashion Show allows Black Muslim women to finally be represented as fully empowered memebers of their community. “It’s almost gonna make me have tears, but (the show is) the foundation of my becoming a fashion designer,” Hazziez shared. “Muslims in America, we’ve always had the fashion flair but we just weren’t known for that. So I think that one of the differences is that we are being shown more and we’re being seen more.” read the complete article

02 Aug 2021

Oklahoma GOP leader compares vaccine mandates to the Holocaust: ‘Take away the star and add a vaccine passport’

On Friday, John Bennett, the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, made a striking comparison on the group’s Facebook page: Private companies requiring employees to get the coronavirus vaccine, he said, are just as bad as the Nazis forcing Jews to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothes. The post triggered swift condemnations from top state Republicans and Jewish organizations in Oklahoma. But on Sunday, Bennett doubled down on his comments in a nearly seven-minute video he shared to the party’s Facebook page. The Nazis “gave [Jews] a star to put on, and they couldn’t go to the grocery store, they couldn’t go out in public, they couldn’t do anything without having that star on their shirt,” Bennett said. “Take away the star and add a vaccine passport.” Bennett, a Marine Corps veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was elected chairman of the Oklahoma GOP in April. The former state lawmaker has a history of making hateful comments, specifically about Muslims, according to the Oklahoman. In a town hall meeting in 2014, Bennett said Islam “is a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” In 2017, he drafted an 18-question survey for Muslims in Oklahoma to fill out before he agreed to meet with them in his legislative office. One of the questions asked was “Do you beat your wife?” A senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City told the Oklahoman that Bennett threatened to demolish all the mosques in town. read the complete article


02 Aug 2021

We all have a role to play in rooting out Islamophobia

Unfortunately, we are witnessing the emergence of a traumatized generation of Canadian children due to Islamophobia, exacerbated by the targeted killings of Muslims in Quebec City, Etobicoke and London. This alarming state of affairs was described in depth by lawyer Nusaiba Al-Azem at the National Summit on Islamophobia recently, which brought together government officials and members of the Muslim community for a spirited dialogue on ways to confront the scourge of anti-Muslim sentiment. The summit wasn’t merely a gabfest, but provided a platform for community groups and experts to submit concrete policy recommendations, such as a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes, a special envoy for Islamophobia, and amendments to municipal bylaws and the federal Criminal Code to better deal with hate crimes. Rarely discussed at the summit was the role of the political class in fostering anti-Muslim sentiment. Erica Ifill, writing in The Hill Times, lays out the evidence of “a direct line from the political and policy responses following 9/11 to the murder of the Afzaal-Salman family.” Muslims were vilified as a result of the “barbaric practices” snitch line and the banning of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. Less than two months after the mass shooting of Muslims at a Quebec City mosque, Conservative and Bloc MPs voted against a non-binding motion condemning Islamophobia. With a federal election on the horizon, here are a few recommendations to party leaders whose words and actions carry great responsibility: Disqualify any candidate who has expressed xenophobia or has been affiliated with extremist groups; reject dog whistles to rile up your base; and finally, sign a memorandum of understanding among all party leaders to speak in unison against Bill 21 as an affront to fundamental human rights. Stop jockeying for Quebec votes on the backs of religious minorities. read the complete article


02 Aug 2021

Jamia Shooter Gets Bail in Hate Speech Case

A Haryana court has granted bail to the Jamia shooter who was arrested last month for his anti-Muslim hate speeches at several mahapanchayats in the state. He had made violent, communally charged comments including asking people to kill Muslims or abduct Muslim women. Though the accused is now 19, The Wire is withholding his name as he was a minor when he shot at a crowd of anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters outside Jamia Milia Islamia in 2019. In mid-July, judicial magistrate Mohammed Sageer had rejected the accused’s bail plea and issued a strongly-worded order in the case. Giving hate speeches has become a ‘fashion’ and those encouraging sectarian violence are doing more damage to the country than the COVID-19 pandemic, he had said. The accused challenged this order by moving the sessions judge, and the additional district and sessions judge has now granted him bail, Bar and Bench reported. Kaushik Raj and Alishan Jafri, in a piece for The Wire, had reported that the Jamia shooter’s social media posts contain a host of hate speeches that he has made at public events. Since he was let off on bail after shooting at CAA protestors last year, he has given at least three communal speeches which incite violence against Muslims. There also posts which suggest that the shooter and his ‘group’ may have shot and/or injured several people as part of vigilante violence under the garb of ‘cow protection’. read the complete article


02 Aug 2021

Scottish health secretary claims nursery discriminated against daughter

One of Scotland’s most senior Muslim politicians has lodged a complaint against a nursery over suspicions it discriminated against his two-year-old daughter. Humza Yousaf, the Scottish health secretary, alleges a preschool nursery in Broughty Ferry near Dundee refused to offer places to three children with Muslim names, including his daughter Amal, yet found space for children with western-sounding names. Yousaf and his wife, Nadia El-Nakla, have complained to the Care Inspectorate, the sector’s regulator in Scotland, asking it to investigate whether the nursery, Little Scholars, had discriminated on the basis of either ethnicity or religion. El-Nakla, who works for the Scottish National party MSP Shona Robison in Dundee, said she became suspicious after receiving an abrupt response to an inquiry about a place for Amal last year. She made a second application this year, and after being refused, asked a white friend to apply. That friend was offered a place for her daughter within 24 hours. “I just felt in my gut that there was something not right about it,” she told the Record. She then applied using a fictitious white Scottish-sounding name, and a second from a relative called Sara Ahmed. The white-sounding applicant was offered several days a week for their child, a registration form and a tour of the nursery; the application from the Muslim-sounding relative was rejected. After being contacted by Yousaf, a reporter for the Record newspaper repeated the exercise, Yousaf said. “She created two profiles with kids same age, their requirements the same. ‘Aqsa Akhtar’ application was rejected while ‘Susan Blake’ was offered a choice of 4 afternoons,” he said on Twitter. The Record reported that the nursery offered the fictitious white family an application form, availability on numerous days and a tour of the nursery. It turned down a request for places from the fictitious Muslim-sounding family. read the complete article


02 Aug 2021

How Myanmar’s Coup Puts Democracy on the Back Burner Again

The coup was another blow for Southeast Asia’s poorest country after accusations of genocide perpetrated against the Muslim Rohingya minority that tarnished Suu Kyi’s image abroad and clobbered foreign investment. Prolonged turmoil could provoke yet another humanitarian crisis in a region already struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic. The junta began a transition to civilian rule with a new constitution in 2008 that reserved 25% of parliamentary seats for the military -- enough to block any amendments to it. Still, Suu Kyi’s party took part in by-elections in 2012 after the government agreed to the release of political prisoners, the freedom to assemble and an opening to foreign investors. Her party then swept to victory in the first full elections in 2015, defeating the ruling party by a margin of nearly 10-to-1. The constitution bars Suu Kyi from serving as president because her children are U.K. citizens. Thus, in 2016 she became state counselor, a newly created role akin to prime minister, as well as foreign minister. They military turned on her even though she defended them in 2019 at the International Court of Justice against the genocide allegations -- increasing her popularity at home at the expense of her international reputation. How did the first term go? Her administration liberalized banking, insurance and education and curbed inflation. But about a third of the population lives in poverty and businesses remain mired in red tape. The military continued to control the defense, home affairs and border affairs ministries. Its forces have been accused by United Nations investigators of practicing “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes against humanity” with “genocidal intent” in driving more than 700,000 Rohingya people over the border to Bangladesh since 2017. (Among Myanmar’s Buddhist majority, prejudice against the Rohingya — Muslims castigated as illegal immigrants and stripped of citizenship — remains fierce and widespread.) read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Aug 2021 Edition


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