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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05 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In North Carolina, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam speaks on the difficulty of being the first Muslim woman elected to office in the state, as in Europe, a new ruling by the European Court of Justice allows companies to ban Muslim employees from clothing deemed to be “overtly religious”, while in Canada, the region of Edmonton seeks to bolster laws protecting citizens from hate-based harassment and attacks after a wave of hate crimes targeting the Black Muslim community. Our recommended read of the day is by Mark Potok on John Tanton, an American ophthalmologist, environmentalist, eugenicist, and anti-immigration activist, who founded, funded, or otherwise nurtured more than a dozen nativist groups and is largely viewed as the leader of contemporary anti-immigration movement. This and more below:

United States

03 Aug 2021

Exposing The Tanton Network: The Bigoted Anti-Immigrant Movement

The contemporary anti-immigration movement in the United States is largely the product of decades of organizing, fundraising, and ideological work by one man — John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist who founded, funded, or otherwise nurtured more than a dozen nativist groups. The network of groups Tanton built up still dominates the politics of immigration in America, with one of those groups testifying to Congress at least 90 times, another at least 130 times, and a third playing a critical role in killing bipartisan immigration reform in 2007 and 2014. The network was also a key supporter of former President Donald Trump’s harshest and cruelest immigration policies. Under Trump, who was arguably the U.S. president with the most extreme nativist views in at least a century, the administration regularly relied on studies and other support from parts of the network to back its most draconian policies, including the so-called “Muslim ban,” the slashing of refugee programs, and opposition to protection from deportation of “Dreamers,” who were brought to America by their parents while still young children. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
04 Aug 2021

Paving the way: What it’s like being the first Muslim woman elected to office in N.C.

Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam made state history when she was elected to office, becoming the first Muslim woman to win a seat in North Carolina. As she was sworn-in, however, the excitement was subdued by 15 hateful voicemails she received that morning. But that's just the beginning of the story. On this episode of “Tying It Together With Tim Boyum,” Tim talks with Allam, whose tale is, in a way, about achieving the American dream. Her path to elected office, however, was anything but easy. The story includes racism and even a homicide. Despite that, she's paving a path for other young Muslim women to follow in her footsteps. read the complete article

04 Aug 2021

Women are becoming more involved in U.S. mosques

Women continue to be less involved than men in mosque life in the United States, but the pattern appears to be changing, according to a recent survey of American houses of worship. The share of mosques in which adult women account for more than a quarter of all attendees at the Friday Jumah prayer service grew between 2011 and 2020, according to the new study, conducted by Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies, as part of the 2020 Faith Communities Today (FACT) study. Women represented more than a quarter of attendees at just 14% of U.S. mosques in 2011, a share that rose to 21% of mosques by 2020. Though women make up a relatively small share of the attendees at Friday prayer services, the new FACT study found that most U.S. mosques (55%) have a dedicated women’s group, and roughly three-quarters (77%) have activities or programs specifically for women. On both of these measures, mosques’ efforts have grown since 2011. Women also have been gaining more representation on mosque boards. About nine-in-ten U.S. mosques (88%) allow women on their board of trustees (or a similar administrative body), and 61% say that women have served on the board at some point in the last five years. read the complete article

04 Aug 2021

Despite promises, Facebook is still not removing antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech

Facebook failed to remove 90% of reported antisemitic content over a two-month period, according to a new study from the research and advocacy nonprofit organization Center for Countering Digital Hate, whose findings spotlight the extent of Facebook's religious hate speech problem. A civil rights group filed suit in April against Facebook over enforcement of its stated policies on hateful content on its platform. Muslim Advocates alleges that Facebook has deceived users time and time again by promising to remove hateful content while refusing to actually enforce its own policies. The lawsuit cites a study from Elon University computer science professor Megan Squire, who conducted a social network analysis and found more than 1,800 anti-Muslim Facebook groups with over 700,000 members. "The level of vitriol in anti-Muslim groups is just so high, it's really just alarming," Squire said in a phone call. Advocates argue that Facebook's refusal to remove groups and police hateful content has dangerous real-world implications. Reported incidences of antisemitic and Islamophobic violence continue to increase both domestically and worldwide. "We don't believe that this is healthy for our society — that you can so easily violate public community standards on a platform like Facebook by fomenting hate against others, organizing rallies with calls to arms against people in order to threaten and intimidate them with your weapons and violence," Muslim Advocates staff attorney Sanaa Ansari told The American Independent Foundation. "And despite having these platform rules, this kind of organizing of threats and violent assault — that's dangerous, prohibited action — is still taking place on the platform." read the complete article

04 Aug 2021

Judge Orders Laura Loomer and Her Company to Pay More Than $120,000 in Attorneys’ Fees Over Lawsuit Against Muslim Rights Group

A federal magistrate judge in Florida ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and her company Illoominate Media to pay a Muslim civil rights advocacy group more nearly $125,000 in attorney’s fees and costs stemming from a lawsuit claiming the group colluded with Twitter to have her banned from the social media platform. After she was permanently suspended from Twitter in 2018 due to years of anti-Muslim posts, Loomer sued the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), claiming the group violated her First Amendment rights by conspiring with the platform to silence her views. Loomer also alleged the group’s conduct constituted tortious interference with business relationships due to a “reasonable expectation of economic gain in the form of revenue that they would obtain from Ms. Loomer’s use of Twitter." CAIR filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs following the appellate court’s ruling which the court granted in most parts, with exceptions for the cost of traveling from Washington, D.C. to Florida because CAIR did not show it lacked counsel in the area and the cost of expert witnesses. In total, the court held that Loomer owed $123,761.65 to CAIR and its Florida chapter over the litigation, plus $661.72 in costs. read the complete article

04 Aug 2021

Brown County Supervisor Is a Far-Right Conspiracist

Jim Murphy has spread conspiracy theories, Islamophobia, and other extreme rhetoric online during his time in local government. Now, the spotlight on his rhetoric might be his undoing. Jim Murphy officially represents portions of Green Bay-area villages Allouez and Bellevue as a nonpartisan Brown County Board supervisor. But online, his behavior is anything but nonpartisan, as he spends his time spreading extreme right-wing misinformation and conspiracies. During his time on the Brown County board, Murphy voted against forming a racial equity subcommittee, voted against a referendum question aimed to create a nonpartisan redistricting procedure, and joined 11 of his fellow supervisors in voting for a post-2020 election review of state election methods after Republicans raised false allegations of election fraud. In March, Brown County dismissed an ethics complaint filed by village of Suamico resident Jane Benson regarding Murphy’s extremist rhetoric. Benson filed a 19-page sworn affidavit detailing over 20 social media screenshots from Murphy’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages—which list Murphy as a leader of the Wisconsin chapter of an armed Christian Tea Party affiliate called “the Black Robe Regiment,” as well as the Green Bay Tea Party chapter. Murphy also has a history of spreading Islamophobic messages and conspiracies through MyMilitia, an online message board with extremist far-right ties. read the complete article

03 Aug 2021

The Religious Activism Behind U.S. Refugee Policy

For decades after the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States was a haven for those fleeing persecution and violence. Until 2018, it welcomed more refugees than any other country. Religious groups are and have been central in this process. Today, as Religion News Service reports, “six of the nine agencies contracted by the U.S. government to resettle refugees are faith-based.” These organizations and their supporters have a substantial interest in the direction of U.S. refugee policy and considerable political and moral power they can wield with lawmakers. Yet their religious affinities, coupled with the political orientation of their memberships, sometimes dictate which refugees they view as most worthy of their advocacy. This dynamic is not new, as history shows, but it can lead to preferential treatment for some groups over others, undermining the U.S. image as a beacon of hope for the world’s persecuted peoples. Religious groups had emerged as strong opponents of the Trump-era reduction in refugee admissions, including some connected with the politically conservative and predominantly white evangelical churches that had otherwise aligned themselves strongly with the then-president. Refugee policy represented a rare breach in their support for Trump. Liberal groups also mobilized in response to Trump’s ban on refugees from several Muslim-majority countries, decrying the policy as Islamophobic as well as counterproductive to the administration’s purported national security aims. Even though advocacy on behalf of refugees exists across the political spectrum, the way that activist organizations and lawmakers discuss refugees reveals that broader debates about immigration cannot be easily separated from the country’s contentious political and cultural divides. Religious organizations, many of which have positioned themselves as stalwart champions of refugees because of their faith’s doctrines as well as their commitment to supporting persecuted co-religionists, are not immune from these political dynamics. read the complete article


04 Aug 2021

Edmonton looks at harassment bylaw targeting hate, fines start at $250

City councillors will be looking at adding harassment based on race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, among other identifiers, to punishable behaviours in the Public Places bylaw. Violators would face a $250 fine for the first incident, but that amount would double for repeat offences. The community and public services committee will go over the proposal next Wednesday, and the bylaw will come before city council for three readings Aug. 16 if the committee recommends it. The possible change comes amid a wave of apparently hate-motivated harassment and attacks in Edmonton and the surrounding area. At least eight people, all Black and or Muslim, have been attacked since December 2020. Edmonton doesn’t have any bylaws that deal with harassment. As it stands, the anti-bullying section of the Public Places bylaw bans targeting minors but city administration says that age requirement should be removed. read the complete article

04 Aug 2021

Quebec’s Bill 21: Is there room for more than one view of religion in Canada?

The Supreme Court will, in essence, be asked to choose between two opposing views of the place of religion in society. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, is that freedom without limits? Does the state have the right to set limits on religious practices where they collide with other values held dear by society ─ the interdiction of polygamy being an example? The answer is not always obvious. Taking an example nearer to Bill 21, does asking a female Muslim school teacher to remove her hijab in school violate her charter right to religious freedom? To my knowledge, no major political figure or opinion-maker outside Quebec has come to the defence of Bill 21. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has unambiguously declared it to be an attack on religious freedom. The bill continues to be denounced as discriminatory, even racist, and proof yet again of French Quebec’s ingrained xenophobia. This is not to say that the divide is purely linguistic, but support for Quebec’s secularism law has come almost exclusively from francophone circles. Before I proceed, let me make one thing clear. I think Bill 21 is a mistake, unnecessary, petty and needlessly confrontational. Quebec is already a profoundly secular society. Going into battle with the rest of Canada over a bill that, in reality, affects only a fairly small number of individuals (which does not make it a lesser moral issue) is a wasteful use of political capital and goodwill. But the bill is about Quebec politics. One does not a need a degree in political science to understand that it is a savvy political manoeuvre by Premier François Legault, allowing him to consolidate his nationalist credentials and pull yet another rug from under the Parti Québécois. Whichever way the court rules, Legault wins. If the court expresses its displeasure with both the bill and the use of the notwithstanding clause, Legault will predictably respond: “I told you so. English Canada doesn’t understand Quebec. We were right to invoke the notwithstanding clause.” If the court rules that Bill 21 is in fact compatible with the charter, well then, it’s total absolution. Legault wins again. Quebec’s history has, in short, shaped a distinct perspective on religion: a more detached, less indulgent view than is the North American norm. If I may be forgiven a bad pun: religion in Quebec is less sacred. If Quebec were to print its own currency, the motto “In God We Trust” that is inscribed on every U.S. greenback would be unthinkable. read the complete article


04 Aug 2021

EU companies can now ban Hijabs. Religious neutrality or Islamophobia?

In July 2021, the European Court of Justice ruled that companies in the EU may ban Muslim employees from wearing a Hijab (a headscarf that does not cover the face) at work in the interest of upholding a “neutral image” towards customers or to prevent social disputes. As a Hijab wearer myself, I find it hard to imagine instances where wearing a headscarf could create conflict, which wasn’t manifestations of hatred or discrimination already. The only case I can think of is when there is a misfortunate encounter with a bigoted individual, and even then, the conflict would be the fault of the bigot and not the Hijab wearer themselves. However, because customers are the ones spending their money in businesses, companies might use the ban to protect their feelings (as absurd as they may be) not realising in doing so, employee wellbeing (which is more important) is neglected. Staff treated in this way are therefore likely to become demotivated and quit, leading to the same outcome – collapsing business. It’s important to realise that this issue affects us all – Muslim, female or otherwise. It’s not just the Hijab they are banning, but also “any other visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs”. In my opinion, this is a slippery slope that could lead to banning freedom of expression entirely. It’s clear to me that low priority is given to the rights of Muslim women. Instead of putting in rules to protect us and condemn the behaviours of bigots, European governments would rather further punish and marginalise Muslim women, while once again policing women’s bodies and our choice of clothing. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Aug 2021 Edition


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