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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20 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Belgium, Muslims will appeal the country’s prohibition of halal animal slaughtering by taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), meanwhile in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says citizens, not just governments, must play a role in ensuring that fundamental rights are defended after a Muslim teacher in Quebec was removed from her teaching position for wearing a hijab in class, and in the United States, Hamtramck, Michigan become the first known city in the US with a government made up entirely of Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Azmat Khan for the New York Times on how a trove of Pentagon records on drone strikes show flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths (many of them children) — and scant accountability. This and more below:


20 Dec 2021


None of these deadly failures resulted in a finding of wrongdoing. These cases are drawn from a hidden Pentagon archive of the American air war in the Middle East since 2014. The trove of documents — the military’s own confidential assessments of more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties, obtained by The New York Times — lays bare how the air war has been marked by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and often imprecise targeting, and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children, a sharp contrast to the American government’s image of war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs. The documents show, too, that despite the Pentagon’s highly codified system for examining civilian casualties, pledges of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity. In only a handful of cases were the assessments made public. Not a single record provided includes a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action. Fewer than a dozen condolence payments were made, even though many survivors were left with disabilities requiring expensive medical care. Documented efforts to identify root causes or lessons learned are rare. What the hidden documents show is that civilians have become the regular collateral casualties of a way of war gone badly wrong. To understand how this happened, The Times did what military officials admit they have not done: analyzed the casualty assessments in aggregate to discern patterns of failed intelligence, decision-making and execution. It also visited more than 100 casualty sites and interviewed scores of surviving residents and current and former American officials. In the coming days, the second part of this series will trace those journeys through the war zones of Iraq and Syria. Taken together, the reporting offers the most sweeping, and also the most granular, portrait of how the air war was prosecuted and investigated — and of its civilian toll. There is no way to determine that full toll, but one thing is certain: It is far higher than the Pentagon has acknowledged. Repeatedly the documents point to the psychological phenomenon of “confirmation bias” — the tendency to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms a pre-existing belief. People streaming toward a fresh bombing site were assumed to be ISIS fighters, not civilian rescuers. Men on motorcycles moving “in formation,” displaying the “signature” of an imminent attack, were just men on motorcycles. Often, the danger to civilians is lost in the cultural gulf separating American soldiers and the local populace. “No civilian presence” was detected when, in fact, families were sleeping through the days of the Ramadan fast, sheltering inside against the midsummer swelter or gathering in a single house for protection when the fighting intensified. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Do more to resolve Rohingya crisis: UN envoy in Bangladesh

A special rapporteur of the United Nations says the international community should build a better partnership with Bangladesh and cut off the Myanmar military leadership in dealing with the Rohingya refugee crisis. “Bangladesh cannot and should not bear this responsibility alone,” Tom Andrews, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, told a news conference in Dhaka on Sunday. “The cause of this crisis and the ultimate resolution of this crisis is not here in Bangladesh, but in Myanmar.” The Rohingya are an ethnic group, more than 700,000 of whom fled persecution and violence in neighbouring Myanmar in August 2017. Since then, Bangladesh has been sheltering nearly a million refugees in crowded camps near its coast. Bangladeshi officials say the crowded nation of more than 160 million people is overburdened because of the refugee crisis. Andrews met with Rohingya refugees, officials of the international aid agencies and Bangladesh officials to review the refugee crisis in the country. “I will do everything in my capacity to push for a stronger, more coordinated international response to this crisis, including the imposition of pressure on the Myanmar military and for concrete measures to hold the military junta fully accountable for this crisis,” he said. He said the international community, if necessary, should block sources of revenue Myanmar’s military is receiving. A UN-sponsored investigation in 2018 recommended the prosecution of Myanmar’s top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the violence against the Rohingya. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

‘The world must boycott’: Australian Uyghur calls for more pressure on Beijing Games

What Almas Nizamidin knows of his wife’s arrest and disappearance is second-hand: the harried reports relayed by his relatives as it rapidly unfolded. The police came for Buzainafu Abudourexiti at her home in Ürümqi as she was travelling to a doctor’s appointment on 29 March 2017. Her family called, she cancelled her appointment and hurried home. There, the police shoved a bag over her head, forced her into a car and drove her away. Her husband, her family, and her friends have not seen her since. She remains incarcerated in Xinjiang Women’s Prison, sentenced to seven years’ jail on “disturbing social order” charges her family says are baseless. The purpose of the doctor’s visit that day was to confirm what she’d earlier discovered with a home test: she was pregnant with her first child. The fate of that unborn baby is unknown. But half a decade and half a world away, Nizamidin is certain his child was lost. “Even the photos I have, they are from five years ago,” he says quietly. “Sometimes, I feel really guilty. My parents, my love, they are forced into detention. They can’t even see the sunshine. I feel really guilty for them, that I can’t bring them here. “It hurts. Always. Even if you’re living in a free country, inside you’re not free. Something is catching you, you know? That’s why I speak out, for them, I have to.” Nizamidin was told his wife had been arrested on a political charge - its exact nature was a “state secret” - and she had no right to legal representation. Abudourexiti was held for three months without trial, before, at the end of June, she was brought before a court, and tried and convicted in a mass trial alongside dozens of other women, none of whom were allowed lawyers. Nizamidin believes his wife was arrested because of her Islamic studies in Egypt, and says her detention is part of a broader suppression of religious freedom in Xinjiang by the Chinese government. He has spoken out with the support of Amnesty International, and told his story to journalists. Last year, he gave evidence to a UK House of Commons inquiry into detention camps in Xinjiang. Nizamidin has urged the Australian government to do more to help reunite his family. Every year he visits Canberra, tirelessly walking the corridors of parliament house, beseeching political support from ministers and backbenchers alike. “I talk, and people listen, and they feel very sorry for me. But I don’t know why they can’t follow that with action.” Nizamidin says Australia should boycott entirely, send no athletes, refuse any participation which might give the games legitimacy. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Far-right lures recruits using COVID-19 conspiracy theories, alongside misogyny, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, says study

A new study has found that the far-right has extended their reach through messaging app Telegram and COVID-19 conspiracy theories. The London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue study has found that the far-right has been using COVID-19 conspiracy theories to recruit people into their extremist views. It found that 90% of the most viewed posts from far-right groups contained misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines or the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing them. Furthermore, much of the COVID-19 misinformation spread by far-right groups was underpinned by white supremacist ideologies, including extreme misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, the study found. "COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for radicalization," Ciaran O'Connor, an analyst at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue and leader of the study, writes. "It allows conspiracy theorists or extremists to create simple narratives, framing it as us versus them, good versus evil." read the complete article


20 Dec 2021

Reassignment of popular teacher for wearing a hijab in classroom stirs outrage over Quebec law

Fatemeh Anvari, a popular third-grade teacher, was removed from the classroom and reassigned to another role because she wears a hijab in violation of a provincial law. Bill 21 bars some public employees in positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols, such as turbans, kippahs and hijabs, at work. Anvari’s removal put a face and a name on the 2019 law — long a flash point for controversy in Quebec and beyond — and rekindled outrage over it, sparking protests in Quebec and denunciations from officials of all political stripes across Canada. The controversy has also renewed fraught questions about whether Canada’s constitution sufficiently protects minority rights and whether the federal government should take a harder line against a law that it has sometimes tiptoed around for fear of inflaming tensions with vote-rich Quebec. The law, “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” or Bill 21 as it’s commonly known, is the first of its kind in North America. It includes a grandfather clause that exempts employees who are already in their positions from the prohibition against wearing religious symbols, but they lose that exemption if they’re promoted or moved to another institution. It was one of the first laws passed under François Legault, Quebec’s nationalist premier, who argues that it doesn’t target any one religion and that public servants shouldn’t wear symbols that might promote their religion at work. He contends that it will help secularize a province in which the Catholic Church long exerted outsize sway. Critics assail the law as an assault on freedom of expression and religion and claim that it disproportionately affects Muslim women who are teachers. Some school board officials have argued that it’s “problematic” because it is occurring during a teacher shortage. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

London council asked to oppose Quebec's controversial secularism bill

Councillors Mariam Hamou and Josh Morgan, and Mayor Ed Holder, are asking London city council to oppose Quebec's controversial Bill 21, which bans public servants from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, hijabs and kippahs at work. The three were inspired by Brampton's opposition to the bill this week, and came together to draft a motion, which they'll bring to council on Dec. 21. Like Brampton, they are asking council to put up $100,000 for the legal challenge against the bill by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Canadian Civil Liberties Association and World Sikh Organization of Canada. "We see that the leadership isn't coming from the top," said Hamou. "So municipalities have taken on that leadership and they're saying, 'You know what? No province is allowed to tell anyone how to dress or how to express themselves.'" Hamou believes that the federal response to this bill, which was passed on June 16, 2019, has been "dismal." "When the Afzaal family was murdered by that terrorist attack, they came here and they said, 'We're going to pledge and we're going to do and we're going to help you, and we're going to do all this stuff,' but none of them stood up against Bill 21," she said. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Trudeau says it's not just governments who can fight Quebec secularism law

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says citizens, not just governments, must play a role in ensuring that fundamental rights are defended after a Muslim teacher in Quebec was removed from her teaching position for wearing a hijab in class. In a wide-ranging year-end interview with Rosemary Barton, CBC's chief political correspondent, Trudeau defended his government's response to Quebec's secularism law, known as Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols on the job by public servants in positions of authority. "I disagree, and I always disagree, with Bill 21," Trudeau said in an interview airing today on Rosemary Barton Live. "I have also stated that I am not taking off the table intervening, at a future date, in a legal challenge." Pressed by Barton about why his government has limited its opposition to words rather than taking that action against the law, Trudeau said defending rights is not just the job of governments. "The challenge we have on this one is making sure that people understand that fundamental rights need to be defended," he said. "Governments can and should defend them and have a role in it, but our fellow citizens can also be standing up for each other." Trudeau went to to say "that's what we're seeing in Chelsea, where the community, where the families, where the kids, where everyone is saying, 'Hey this is wrong, that a young Muslim teacher loses her job just because she's Muslim.'" read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

How Canadian Muslims are creating a new narrative after 9/11

For many Muslims in the west, 9/11 was a massive rupture, tearing apart the way they saw themselves and how their communities saw them. But for many others, the events of 20 years ago weren't necessarily definitive. For them, especially younger Muslims, the shockwaves in the aftermath of 9/11 are merely life as they've known it — there's simply no radically different past to compare it to. Two decades after 9/11, some of that rupture is finally healing. Despite the scarring caused by the war on terror, new narratives are being written. Jasmin Zine is a professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University. In her forthcoming book, Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation, she examines the impact of post-9/11 domestic security policies in western nations on Muslim youth. Zine points out that whereas older generations experienced 9/11 as a catastrophic break from the norm, for the so-called 9/11 generation life as a suspicious minority is the norm. "The 9/11 generation didn't really know much of a world before that time. And so this was the new normal that they were being socialized into. Many of us knew the kinds of changes that were being ushered in that affected our lives in multiple ways," she told IDEAS. Zine points out that some of these changes were keenly felt by non-Muslims as well — how people travel, extra security, racial profiling. But the newly charged, highly securitized environment was brought to bear most heavily on Muslim citizens. Zine says it's important to note that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim animus didn't start with 9/11 — there's a long history of treating Muslims in western nations as suspicious interlopers — but September 11, 2001 was a catalytic force in creating a new kind of normal. One that the younger generation doesn't always see as a rupture. "When you ask them, how did 9/11 affect you, they'll respond with, well, no, it didn't really affect me." But, says Zine, when young people are pushed and asked what kinds of activities Muslim student groups are doing at university, for example, they'll mention all the things they don't do for fear of appearing suspicious. read the complete article

United States

20 Dec 2021

Police say 'no evidence of hate crime' in alleged assault of Muslim student in Fairfax Co.

The City of Fairfax Police Department determined that no hate crime was committed in an altercation involving a female Muslim student. According to police, the investigation revealed there were no racial comments made by either student. The female student confirmed her hijab became partially undone during the altercation, exposing her hair. Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, disagreed with this assessment and released the following statement: “We strongly disagree with the decision by the City of Fairfax Police Department. Many witnesses have attested that the victim’s hijab was forcibly removed during the altercation. Witnesses also corroborated the victim’s statement that students in the classroom engaged in racist and Islamophobic drawings, and that the perpetrator made racist comments prior to the attack. This was shared multiple times with law enforcement. The targeting of the victim because of her hijab is enough to be considered a hate crime; comments are not needed to elevate this incident to the level of a hate crime. We are confident that as the investigation continues and witnesses continue to be interviewed the evidence will show that this violent act was motivated by hate. We look forward to continued dialogue with the Fairfax County School Board and the City of Fairfax School Board to address Islamophobia in Fairfax High School and all County schools.” read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Rep. Omar: GOP’s lack of anti-Muslim condemnation is ‘quite embarrassing and telling’

212 House Republicans voted against a bill to condemn Islamophobia in a revealing and embarrassing vote this week. Islamophobia is “one of those bigoted things that are still allowed to be debated and disregarded,” says Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has been a target of dangerous racist rants by her colleagues. The anti-Muslim rhetoric and lack of condemnation on Capitol Hill is “really something for the American people to see and hear.” read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Michigan city gets ready to inaugurate all-Muslim government

In the 99 years since its incorporation, every mayor of Hamtramck has been Polish American. That ends January 2, in Hamtramck's centenary year, when Amer Ghalib will be inaugurated, along with an entirely Muslim city council. Hamtramck will become the first known city in the US with a government made up entirely of Muslims, according to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which says it has no record of any other such administration. Hamtramck's heyday had apparently passed. The city was decaying. Many factories had closed. Many second and third-generation Polish Americans had moved to the Detroit suburbs and beyond in the past two decades. Immigrants, largely from Yemen and Bangladesh, took their place and Hamtramck, locals say, is now majority Muslim. "We are Muslims," Ghalib said, sitting in the council chamber at city hall where he will soon preside. "We are proud of our beliefs and values. But we are not going to try and impose them on others." Jaczkowski added: "We're gonna take an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution of the United States includes the separation of church and state." read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

It is time to hold the FBI accountable for its crimes

On November 18, a New York judge threw out the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, 55 years after the two men were convicted of the February 1965 assassination of Malcolm X. A two-year investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office revealed that both the New York Police Department and the FBI failed to disclose exculpatory information about the men, which likely would have led to their acquittal. The men’s exoneration was not a surprise. Historians, journalists, and legal scholars have known for decades that the two men were innocent, while the men themselves have long maintained their innocence. The surprise was that the NYPD and FBI had kept silent about their exculpatory information, apparently content to see two innocent men framed and incarcerated for decades for a crime they did not commit. Black and other marginalised communities have also learned over the decades not to trust the FBI, given the agency’s well-documented history of targeting and animus against them. The hidden exculpatory evidence was presumably gathered covertly as part of the notorious FBI counterintelligence programme from the 1950s to the 1970s known as COINTELPRO. It sought to “neutralise” Black power leaders through illegal tactics such as surveillance, infiltration, and disruption. For those familiar with these abuses and this era more broadly, the FBI’s questionable role in this case was unsurprising. The lack of transparency about Malcolm X’s murder becomes even more troubling when we consider the FBI’s conduct in the war on terror. After the 9/11 attacks, the FBI was tasked with preventing the next attack supposedly being organised by vast networks of terrorists in the US. The FBI used the broad powers of the national security apparatus to surveil Muslims and other marginalised communities, and soon discovered that there were virtually no terrorist networks in the US. All of the surveillance that went on for some two decades failed to uncover a single terrorist plot. Yet instead of declaring that terrorism was not coming from the American-Muslim community, the FBI set out to manufacture terrorists from innocent Muslims to prove their false premise of a looming threat. Hundreds of Muslims were preemptively prosecuted, charged for engaging in constitutionally-protected activities like speech or charity. Others were entrapped by offers of money, or suffered from mental illness and were manipulated into to participating in FBI terrorism schemes. The FBI placed innocent Muslims on the no-fly list, in order to force them to become informants against their own communities. It is now reported that the FBI’s secret informants committed more than 22,000 crimes during the last decade which cost taxpayers $42m on average per year. read the complete article

United Kingdom

20 Dec 2021

Islam and the Liberal State: National Identity and the Future of Muslim Britain

Stephen Jones, author of Islam and the Liberal State: National Identity and the Future of Muslim Britain is concerned with three subjects; Islam, national identity and the liberal state – territory well-traversed by numerous academics and commentators considering the topic of whether Muslims and their faith can be accommodated in liberal democracies. This is not only a theoretical question, the frequently negative response in the real world negatively impacts their daily lives. Over the last twenty years, anti-Muslim narratives have become normalised in sections of the media, political elite and have helped fuel Islamophobic sentiment across Europe and the United States. Muslims in Britain, like their counterparts elsewhere, are imagined as a singular, suspect community who often stand accused of being unable to sufficiently integrate and show loyalty to the state. In public and policy discourse, they are reduced to a series of stereotypes that conflate migration, 'Otherness' and dangerous perceptions which appear to be vindicated by a steady stream of negative news stories, bestselling books and even some academic studies. What makes Islam and the Liberal State: National Identity and the Future of Muslim Britain worth reading is the rich empirical evidence presented by the author, which was gained through his decade long engagement with Muslim communities. This book offers well-informed insights, balanced assessments of controversial issues and is able to demonstrate how British Muslim communities over the last twenty years have undergone major socio-religious transformations enabled by societal change and political participation. Jones challenges the popular view that liberal and Islamic traditions are incompatible and quite boldly argues that, if done effectively, the political incorporation of Muslim minorities might facilitate democratic renewal. read the complete article

20 Dec 2021

Lifesaving paramedic told 'I don't want to be touched by a filthy Muslim'

A lifesaving paramedic has opened up about the abuse she has faced on the front lines - just because she is a Muslim. Mahdiyah Bandali, from Kings Norton, has revealed some of the shocking abuse hurled in her direction including being told by a patient 'I don't want to be touched by a filthy muslim.' The 22-year-old posted a viral tweet earlier this year about being called a f****ing p*ki multiple times on her last ambulance shift. The social media post led to an outpouring of support. But the medic says more needs to be done to tackle the issue of Islamophobia in our society - including among some colleagues. read the complete article


20 Dec 2021

In a France Fearful of Immigrants, Another Candidate Tacks Hard Right

As president, the candidate said, she would “eradicate zones of non-France,” or neighborhoods with high crime, where “the little old lady is told to stay home” because there is a drug deal underway outside her apartment. She would send in the army to help in the “Republican reconquest” of these areas where, she promised, offenders would be punished more severely under the law. “We have to eradicate them,” she said during a prime-time debate, referring to the areas, “and that’s what I would do as president of the republic.” It was not Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, who was speaking, but Valérie Pécresse, the center-right candidate in April’s presidential election. Ms. Pécresse recently won the nomination of the Republicans — the successor to parties once led by Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac — by tacking hard right. She adopted the far right’s vocabulary, with its racial and colonial undertones, while proposing harsher penalties in high-crime zones for the same offenses as elsewhere, a policy that experts said would violate France’s bedrock principle of equality before the law. But with the primary behind her, Ms. Pécresse — an otherwise moderate conservative who has often been compared to President Emmanuel Macron — now faces the difficult task of enlarging her support base. Pulled right by her own party and the far right, she must also speak to moderates and traditional conservatives less interested in the themes of immigration and national identity that have dominated the political campaign. The rise of Ms. Pécresse, 54, comes at an unsettled time in French politics. Until this past summer, most experts had expected a rematch of 2017, pitting Mr. Macron against Ms. Le Pen in the second round of France’s two-round voting system. But the emergence and rapid rise of Éric Zemmour, a far-right author, television pundit and now presidential candidate, has turned things upside down. By severely weakening Ms. Le Pen, Mr. Zemmour’s candidacy has created a path for Ms. Pécresse to move past the first round and face Mr. Macron. Like others on the right and far right — who have railed against a supposed invasion of France by immigrants, even as arrivals have grown less in France than in the rest of Europe or in other rich nations worldwide in the past decade — Ms. Pécresse has taken a tough stance on immigration. Describing it as “out of control,” she said there was a link between immigration and the rise of Islamism, terrorism and crime. She has proposed putting quotas on immigrants by country of origin and category, and cutting social benefits for them. read the complete article


20 Dec 2021

Belgian Muslims to take halal ban to European Court of Human Rights

Muslims living in Belgium will appeal the country's prohibition of halal animal slaughtering by taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). "The Belgian Muslim Executive and the Coordination Council of Islamic Institutions of Belgium will challenge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg the ban imposed by the Flemish and Walloon government on the ritual slaughter," the two organizations wrote in a press statement. The move comes after the Belgian Constitutional Court approved the ban on ritual slaughtering in October. In 2019, new legislation on the protection and welfare of animals entered into force in the country's Wallonia and Flanders regions. The law banned slaughter by traditional Muslim and Jewish rites by requiring butchers to stun the animals before cutting them. Muslim and Jewish organizations challenged the bill, arguing that the ban on ritual slaughtering is against freedom of religion, but the top Belgian court dismissed their appeal. The Muslim community has decided to take the case to the ECtHR in Strasbourg. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Dec 2021 Edition


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