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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07 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Muslim leaders call on Denver law enforcement to open a hate crime investigation into the death of a Muslim family of five. Salman Rushdie asks Twitter to remove Islamophobic comments falsely attributed to him. Our recommended read today is by Siddharta Deb titled “Modi’s acolytes have reminded India’s Muslims just what he thinks of them.” This, and more, below:


07 Aug 2020

Modi's acolytes have reminded India's Muslims just what he thinks of them | Recommended Read

Since then, through events like “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump”, Modi appears to have made America his second home and Donald Trump a buddy, a coming together of civilisations ancient and modern as well as a merger of two failed states with among the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in the world. The coronavirus might have been expected to put a halt to Modi’s American fantasies, it being as difficult to leave the United States now as it is to enter India. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Modi’s Hindu right supporters in the United States – fronted by a group called the American Indian Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – who decided to lease giant screens in Times Square on Wednesday 5 August to display images of the Hindu god Ram and a temple to Ram being inaugurated that day in India by Modi. There was a demo and a counter-demo and, while the plan to project an image of the proposed temple on the high-profile Nasdaq screen in Times Square did not materialise, one digital board showing the temple aired over the Hershey’s store for a limited part of the day. As their celebration of the temple appeared on a giant screen, the “Indian community” distributed sweets in Times Square. The temple construction is taking place in the provincial north Indian city of Ayodhya. This demolition was the high point of a long campaign by the Hindu right, so successful in creating an imagined grievance that it turned the BJP from a political oddity to the totalitarian behemoth it is today. Even before the mosque was demolished, Hindus in India and abroad were asked to donate bricks to build a Ram temple, based on the claim that the mosque stood on the alleged birthplace of Ram. Bricks, some made of gold, arrived from Britain and the United States as well as from thousands of villages and towns in India in response to this campaign. Yet rather than birth, violent death was the true shrine of this campaign. Around 2,000 people died in the spiral of violence set off by the demolition of the mosque; soon the vilification of Muslims had become an everyday affair in India. Even the Gujarat pogroms in 2002 were set off by an incident involving the death of Hindu pilgrims returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya after a celebration of the demolition of the mosque. read the complete article

Recommended Read

United Kingdom

07 Aug 2020

Muslims Are Being Treated Like a Virus

There are “sections of our community that are just not taking the pandemic seriously,” according to Craig Whittaker, Conservative MP for Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, since 2010. When pressed by his LBC interviewer to confirm whether by “sections of our community” he was referring to Muslims, Whittaker unabashedly affirmed, “of course”. But Whittaker is not the first – and undoubtedly nor will he be the last – to spread such vile, unsubstantiated prevarications. He was preceded by far-right agitator Tommy Robinson, who promoted the existence of a secret Birmingham mosque that was allegedly flouting Government orders and welcoming congregations of worshippers at the height of lockdown. Whittaker’s views are only one step removed from the odious memes on social media that draw on the imagery of “Muz-rats,” Muslim rodents invading, swarming, and overwhelming the pure, white nation, by spreading COVID-19. And astonishingly – though in hindsight, less so – Whittaker wasn’t contradicted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson when asked to comment on his MP’s views. With these remarks, both Whittaker and Johnson collapse the thin distinction between the rabid Islamophobia of the far-right and the compliant populism of the centre-right. They are now virtually indistinguishable. Whittaker’s utterances similarly reveal how those in power are attempting to pin COVID culpability on powerless groups, primarily Muslims. Their ‘logic’ goes like this: if local restrictions are being applied to areas with high Muslim populations like Luton, Leicester, Oldham and Bradford, then Muslims must surely be at least partly to blame for these outbreaks. In other words, Muslims are seen as a threat to ___ where the object is left blank, to be filled in accordance with the political exigencies of the moment. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

In the latest sign of Covid-19-related racism, Muslims are being blamed for England's coronavirus outbreaks

Coronavirus conspiracy theorists have spread baseless rumors online -- frequently targeting minorities -- since the beginning of the pandemic. In England the latest wave of vitriol criticizes Muslims, blaming them for spreading Covid-19. Muslims were caught off guard last week, when the UK government suddenly announced local lockdowns in a slew of areas in northern England where cases have spiked. The announcement came just hours before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest festivals in Islam. The affected areas included Greater Manchester, Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford and Leicester -- all places with a significant Islamic population according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The restrictions -- published late last Thursday evening -- banned people in the named areas from mixing with other households. "The timing ... it focused people's minds [on Muslims]," Rabnawaz Akbar, a Labour Party councilor in Manchester, told CNN. The government "have done it on the eve of Eid," leading people to think "it must be the Muslim community's fault," Akbar said. "You see how people would have come to the assumption. [The government] have done it without thinking but of course, they're highlighting a particular demographic. And people are angry and now that anger is focused on a particular community." read the complete article

United States

07 Aug 2020

Arson Suspected in Denver Fire That Killed 5 From Senegal

The president of Senegal on Thursday mourned the deaths of five members of a family of immigrants from his country who were killed one day earlier in a house fire in Denver that the authorities said appeared to have been set intentionally. Mr. Sall wrote that it was a serious matter and that he was closely monitoring the situation, while a prominent Muslim-American advocacy group called on investigators to examine whether the family had been targeted because of its religion. Three adults and two children died when the fire swept through their two-story home in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood in northeast Denver at about 2:55 a.m. on Wednesday, the authorities said. A homicide investigation is underway, according to police and fire officials, who said that early indications pointed to foul play. Three other people who were inside the house were able to escape the fire by jumping from the second floor, according to a Denver Fire Department spokesman, who said at the news conference that the survivors did not appear to have been seriously injured. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

A Conversation With Hashmi, Virginia’s First Muslim American State Senator

In 2018, a record number of Muslim Americans ran for office, many motivated by growing anti-muslim sentiments reinvigorated by the election of President Donald Trump. Senator Ghazala Hashmi, a former community college educator, joined the wave of outsider candidates in 2019, winning her race in Virginia’s District 10. Hashmi became Virginia’s first Muslim American state senator and helped flip Virginia’s Senate back to the Democratic Party. Senator Hashmi was born in India and moved to America as a child. She has focused her campaign around education reform, gun control, and accessible healthcare. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, The Globe Post spoke with Hashmi about her historic win, President Donald Trump, the future of healthcare, and international relations. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Barred from wearing hijabs, former youth detention center workers sue Delaware

Three Muslim women who formerly worked at a juvenile detention center in New Castle County filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the state of Delaware Thursday because officials barred them from wearing hijabs on the job. Madinah Brown, Shakeya Thomas and Tia Mays all had similar experiences of religious and gender discrimination in their jobs with the state’s Department of Services of Children, Youth and their Families, according to the filing in the U.S. District Court for Delaware. All three women claim they wore their Islamic headscarves when they were interviewed and during orientation and training for their jobs as youth rehabilitation counselors. The lawsuit alleges supervisors did not inform them that employees could not wear hijabs into the detention center near Wilmington. The women said it was only after they started working — for several days in Brown’s case — that they were informed the facility prohibited employees from wearing “hoodies, hats or headgear,” the lawsuit says. Attorney Gadeir Abbas called the women’s experiences “illegal and terrible” during a virtual announcement of the lawsuit Thursday on the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ YouTube and Facebook pages. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Muslim leaders call for hate crime investigation into deadly Denver house fire

Muslim leaders are calling on Denver law enforcement to open a hate crime investigation into the death of a Muslim family of five, including two young children, in a house fire that authorities suspect may have been intentionally set. Denver police have opened a homicide investigation into the early Wednesday morning fire that killed Djibril Diol and his wife and toddler daughter, as well as Diol's sister and her child. “Because people did die in this fire, and we have indications through some evidence that it was arson, it will be investigated as a joint investigation with the fire department as a homicide,” Denver Police Division Chief Joe Montoya said. Police also indicated that the timing of the 911 call was later than would be expected for such a “heavily-involved fire,” which destroyed the house and severely damaged neighboring homes. “Law enforcement authorities must take this suspected murder and arson seriously,” Scott Simpson, Muslim Advocates’ public advocacy director, said in a statement. “We call on law enforcement to immediately investigate whether the deadly fire in Green Valley Ranch was motivated by hate. The family of those lost and the Muslim community in Denver deserve justice and peace of mind.” read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Trump chooses for ambassador to Germany a racist Fox commentator who is pro-Putin and anti-Merkel

And so we come to the choice of Macgregor, a retired Army colonel, as U.S. ambassador to Germany. If confirmed, he would succeed Richard Grenell, a right-wing Twitter troll and Trump propagandist who most recently served as acting director of national intelligence. As I noted when he was appointed in February to briefly run the U.S. intelligence community, Grenell had a reputation for dishonesty and abusive behavior online. He alienated his hosts in Berlin by loudly lecturing them, and by seeking to promote right-wing populists in Europe. Grenell did nothing to improve Trump’s toxic relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the president reportedly bullies and abuses. In fact, Grenell is widely seen as the architect of Trump’s recent decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany without consulting Berlin. He is reminiscent of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who recently endorsed the QAnon cult, and retired Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata, who has just been appointed as acting deputy undersecretary of defense after failing to win Senate confirmation thanks to his racist rants. CNN’s Kfile team has compiled a lengthy list of Macgregor’s horrifying views — many of them expressed on Fox “News.” He says that immigration from Mexico is our greatest national security threat and that Democrats are trying to “create demographic change that will make them the permanent power inside the borders of the United States.” He advocates that we declare martial law along the border and “shoot people” if necessary. Macgregor has also been an outspoken critic of Merkel’s government. He claims that Germany “seems more concerned about providing free services to millions of unwanted Muslim invaders, to be blunt, than it does about its own armed forces in the defense of its country.” He even thinks that Germany has gone too far in making penance for Nazi crimes: “There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone for the sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany.” read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Anti-Muslim Activist Laura Loomer Is About to Get a Little Closer to Congress

Anti-Muslim activist and fringe Trumpworld personality Laura Loomer is poised to move one step closer to the halls of Congress in two weeks—unless a little-known engineering professor can stop her. Loomer is notorious, among other things, for chaining herself to Twitter’s front door, for being permanently booted from Uber Eats after calling for an Uber without Muslim drivers, and for calling Islam a “cancer on society.” She’s tried to restyle herself this cycle as a less obviously hateful Republican candidate for her congressional bid in Florida’s 21st District, a seat now held by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), trading social media stunts for mundane fundraisers. Loomer isn’t the only Trump internet personality to make a long-shot House bid this year. But unlike most of her compatriots who went on to primary defeat, Loomer has raised a ton of money ahead of her Aug. 18 primary, pulling in more than $1.1 million as of a Thursday FEC filing. Loomer also hired Karen Giorno, a well-connected Trump ally and former Florida campaign chief, for her campaign. Plenty of Republican donors, it seems, want Loomer to bring “Loomering”—the trademark tactic where she yells at Democrats on camera—to Congress. But Loomer has also benefited from a weak primary field. read the complete article


07 Aug 2020

MPs urge Home Office to grant refugee status to all Uighurs arriving in UK

A cross-party group of MPs and peers, including a former chair of the Conservative party, have written to the home secretary demanding that Uighur people fleeing China and seeking asylum in the UK are automatically granted refugee status. Abuse and mistreatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in north-west China has been extensively documented but strenuously denied by Beijing, which claims its policies are to counter terrorism. The UK government assesses all asylum claims on merits. Uighurs are currently required to prove they are at risk of serious harm in their native country. A letter to Priti Patel, penned by the Liberal Democrats and signed by 44 MPs and peers from the Conservative party, Labour, the Scottish National party and the Green party, calls for the government to “specifically commit to automatically granting refugee status to all Uighur people fleeing religious persecution from the Chinese state”. Rahima Mahmut, the head of the World Uyghur Congress’ UK office, said: “Growing evidence coming out of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) indicates that a genocide could be taking place against the Uighur people. The UK must be at the forefront of efforts to help Uighurs fleeing religious persecution and should automatically grant all Uighur asylum seekers refugee status given the risks that they face.” read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Facebook rejects request to release Myanmar officials’ data for genocide case

Facebook has objected to a request from Gambia, which has accused Myanmar at the World Court of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, to release posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police. The social media giant urged the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday to reject the demand, which it said would violate a U.S. law that bars electronic communication services from disclosing users’ communications. Facebook said the request, made in June, for the release of “all documents and communications” by key military officials and police forces was “extraordinarily broad” and would constitute “special and unbounded access” to accounts. Gambia Attorney General Dawda Jallow told Reuters he was being briefed on the issue but could not yet comment. The case before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice in The Hague accuses Myanmar of violating the 1948 U.N. Convention on Genocide. Myanmar authorities say they were battling an insurgency and deny carrying out systematic atrocities. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

New research shows religious discrimination is on the rise around the world, including in Australia

A major international study challenges this idea. Bar-Ilan University's Jonathan Fox has undertaken a painstaking analysis of the incidence of religious discrimination around the world. His analysis is based on the most detailed and comprehensive data set on the topic ever compiled. Fox writes that while many assume the liberal democracies of the West are the strongest bastions of religious freedom in the world, the evidence simply does not support this claim. For a start, he points out Western democracies such as France, Germany and Switzerland engage in more government-based religious discrimination than many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He also singles out Australia as a clear example of the recent rise of "socially-based" discrimination against religious minorities in Western democracies, especially against Jews and Muslims. Fox bases his conclusions on a data set recording the treatment of 771 religious minorities in 183 countries between 1990 and 2014. The data set distinguishes 35 types of government-based religious discrimination. These include restrictions on the construction of religious buildings, controls on religious literature and prohibitions on chaplaincy services in prisons. While it appears that Muslim-majority states on average engage in the highest levels of government-based religious discrimination, there is also a wide diversity. There is a cluster of Muslim-majority states in West Africa that are among the most tolerant in the world. Among Christian-majority states, the data suggests it is important to distinguish between Christian Orthodox-majority states and the others. Orthodox-majority states are the second most likely type of state to engage in government-based religious discrimination. Catholic and Protestant-majority states are much less likely to do so. Fox speculates one cause of this may be developments in particular strands of Protestant and Catholic thought that are strongly supportive of religious freedom. Ideology plays a strong role in causing government-based religious discrimination. However, it is not just religious ideology. Secular ideologies are very capable of causing religious discrimination, too. This largely explains why Western democracies are not the paragons of virtue we readily assume them to be. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Salman Rushdie asks Twitter to remove Islamophobic comments falsely attributed to him

Salman Rushdie has spoken out after an Islamophobic quote that had been falsely attributed to him circulated on Twitter. On Thursday (6 August), the British-Indian writer reshared the post, which featured a picture of Rushdie alongside a quote claiming to have come from him. Rushdie’s falsely attributed quote said that the goal of Islam was to “destroy the whole nation by terrorism, bomb blasts, population explosion, riots and jihad”. In response, Rushdie, 73, wrote: “This is a fake tweet, which seems to be circulating. “I have never said anything of this sort. @Twitter @jack please note and take this down.” In the past, Rushdie has spoken out against “fake news”, accusing the White House of using digital misinformation as a weapon and claiming that “the entire force of the state is aimed against the fourth estate”. The Midnight’s Children author described the White House as the place “from where all untruth flows”. read the complete article

07 Aug 2020

Supporters, Opponents of Hindu Temple Meet in Times Square

A Midtown Manhattan celebration of a Hindu temple being built on disputed ground in India brought polarized groups into Times Square, where supporters of the landmark project were flanked by protesters calling it an offense to Muslims. Videos posted online show Hindu celebrators dressed in yellow and orange, waiving flags, dancing, singing and chanting Wednesday evening. Protesters organized under the name the Coalition to Stop Genocide in India held signs on the edges of the celebration reading, “BJP is Islamophobia,” referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party. Modi participated in the groundbreaking for the Hindu temple, which will be built where the Babri Masjid mosque stood, on Wednesday in the northeastern Indian city of Ayodhya. The mosque was destroyed by Hindu hard-liners in 1992, sparking communal violence that left some 2,000 people dead. A coalition of advocacy organizations — including Muslim, human rights, anti-fascist and secular groups — asked advertisers not to show the images of the planned temple and called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to intervene. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Aug 2020 Edition


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