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 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, five House Democratic caucus chairs, along with 36 other members of the Progressive Caucus, are calling for Rep. Lauren Boebert to be stripped of her committee assignments, citing her repeated “anti-Muslim” attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar, meanwhile in France, far-right pundit Eric Zemmour is running for president, and a NYT op-ed argues that he has “updated France’s oldest hatred for a new era,” and lastly Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo detainee who was tortured close to death by the CIA and who has been held without charge by the US for nearly 20 years, has petitioned a federal court for his release on grounds that America’s wars in Afghanistan and with al-Qaida are over. Our recommended read of the day is by Miqdaad Versi for the Guardian on a new report by the Centre for Media Monitoring, which analyzed print articles and TV clips that mentioned Muslims or Islam, and found that sixty per cent of the articles and almost half of all clips analyzed associated negative aspects and behaviour with Muslims or Islam, with terrorism or extremism being the most common theme. This and more below:

United Kingdom

03 Dec 2021

Islamophobia in the press must be tackled head-on. Silence is not an option | Recommended Read

Consider some of the most egregious cases cited in the report. There was the Times, Telegraph, MailOnline and Express libelling a Scout group leader, Ahammed Hussain, in 2019, using a laundry list of anti-Muslim tropes; these included “allegations about using the Scout group to promote extremism, segregation of children, extensive links to antisemitic groups, and inviting banned preachers to the Mosque”. Or take the Mail on Sunday, which called council worker Waj Iqbal “a fixer” for paedophile taxi drivers in Rochdale. As he put it, his whole world crumbled, he lost his job, his “marriage ended and [he] couldn’t see [his] kids”. The impact of this kind of reporting cannot be overstated. While nothing can repair the harm caused, in both cases, the publishers had to pay very substantial libel damages and print apologies. Some might say those are only the worst cases, not indicative of the media as a whole. Yet the report dispels this myth by showing how widespread the issue is, based on excruciatingly detailed analysis of more than 48,000 print articles and 5,500 TV clips that mentioned Muslims or Islam. Sixty per cent of the articles and almost half of all clips analysed associated negative aspects and behaviour with Muslims or Islam, with terrorism or extremism being the most common theme. Little wonder Islamophobia is so common in society. When we see the scale of the problem and understand its source, silence should not be an option. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

‘I’ve never experienced such abject racism’: what it’s really like to work in TV as a person of colour

At this critical juncture for media diversity, the Guardian spoke to five Black and Asian Britons in the industry about their experiences: the discrimination they have faced and whether they have hope for the future. The actor: Acting is a hard profession that discriminates against everyone across the board. I remember as a young actor, attending a training workshop where they talked about your casting bracket; how the industry sees you basically. They went round, putting the young blond women in “ingenue’’, or a working-class person into “street”. They got to me, the only person of colour in the room, and mine was simply “Asian”. Bodyguard, for example, tried to argue that having a Muslim woman terrorist was serving female empowerment. What a reach! Poor representation has real-world consequences, for real Muslims – including people in my family. For them the hijab is not a costume. read the complete article

United States

03 Dec 2021

More than 40 House Democrats call for Boebert to be stripped of committee assignments over anti-Muslim attacks

Five House Democratic caucus chairs, along with 36 other members of the Progressive Caucus, are calling for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to be stripped of her committee assignments, citing her repeated “anti-Muslim” attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). “There must be consequences for vicious workplace harassment and abuse that creates an environment so unsafe for colleagues and staff that it invites death threats against them,” the Democratic chairs wrote in a letter, alluding to threats Omar has received after the attacks by Boebert. “Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has absolutely failed in leading his caucus to condemn hatred and bigotry, much less to maintain any basic standards of decency within the halls of Congress,” the five Democratic leaders wrote. “He is unwilling or unable to control his own members from inciting violence against other Members of Congress or encouraging bigotry and hatred. If he cannot lead his own caucus, he certainly will never be able to lead the House of Representatives.” In a separate letter, the Progressive Caucus also called for Boebert to lose her committee assignments. That letter, led by Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.) and Jayapal and co-signed by 34 other caucus members, including Chu, said Boebert’s actions make their work environment dangerous. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

Republicans accused of Islamophobia: Politics Weekly Extra

Rep Lauren Boebert was recently filmed saying she experienced a ‘Jihad squad’ moment with the Muslim Rep Ilhan Omar. The party leadership hasn’t rebuked her, and some colleagues are defending her words. This week Jonathan Freedland speaks to Dr Abdul El-Sayed about Islamophobia in American politics. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

Kevin McCarthy delivers an incomplete message to his GOP members

The conflict started in earnest when Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado directed anti-Muslim rhetoric at a Democratic colleague, at which point Mace denounced the Coloradan's bigoted smear, and Greene denounced Mace for having criticized Boebert. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to lower the volume, meeting with Greene and Mace on Tuesday, and telling them to stop going after one another. After the appeal from the would-be House Speaker, the congresswomen largely ignored McCarthy's plea. Yesterday, the House GOP leader tried again, taking a similar message to the entire conference. As a mathematical matter, I'm not sure McCarthy's numbers are quite right. The House Republican conference currently has 213 members, and if GOP leaders are under the impression that all but two or three are "doing the right thing," it may be time for a larger conversation about what those words mean. Remember, the impetus for this latest intra-party dispute was Boebert and her reliance on anti-Muslim rhetoric directed at one of her congressional colleagues. With this in mind, McCarthy's message yesterday was incomplete. It makes sense that the House Republican leader told his members to stop feuding with one another, but what rank-and-file GOP members also need to hear is a reminder to stop smearing religious minority groups they don't like. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

‘Enemy combatant’ held at Guantánamo petitions for release because war is over

Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo detainee who was tortured close to death by the CIA and who has been held without charge by the US for nearly 20 years, has petitioned a federal court for his release on grounds that America’s wars in Afghanistan and with al-Qaida are over. In a filing with the US district court in Washington DC, Zubaydah’s lawyers argue that recent White House declarations that the armed conflict in Afghanistan is over – combined with the complete destruction of the original al-Qaida group that carried out 9/11 – have removed any remaining legal justification for keeping him captive. The motion calls for his immediate release, describing Zubaydah’s treatment over the past two decades as a “parade of horribles”. At the heart of the new habeas corpus push for the detainee’s freedom is Zubaydah’s status as a so-called “enemy combatant”. Under the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress days after 9/11, the then president, George W Bush, was given the power to pursue those behind the terrorist attacks as part of the war on terror. But as the new filing points out, Zubaydah has never been charged with involvement in 9/11 and he was not even a member of al-Qaida, as the US government has conceded. Rather, he was accused of offenses that took place in Afghanistan as part of a war that has now officially been concluded. read the complete article


03 Dec 2021

Congress needs to act on Xi Jinping’s genocide now

This week, a private U.K.-based investigative panel released what it says are classified Chinese government documents that appear to show how Chinese President Xi Jinping personally laid the groundwork for the systematic forced assimilation of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. It’s the most damning proof to date of the ongoing Uyghur genocide. So why can’t Congress pass a simple bill to stop the products connected to that genocide from ending up in U.S. homes and businesses? The documents, which likely come from the same tranche of leaked Chinese Communist Party communications revealed by the New York Times over two years ago, add to the already abundant evidence that the Chinese government’s mass internment, mass forced labor, forced population control, family destruction and cultural erasure of the Uyghurs fit the United Nation’s definition of genocide as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.” Yet the Democrat-led Congress can’t seem to get the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which passed the Senate unanimously in July, to President Biden’s desk. Pointing to procedural issues and promises of future action, Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate can’t seem to agree on a strategy to pass the bill through both chambers, despite publicly claiming they support it. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

Uyghur Human Rights Bill to Proceed in House, Democrat Says

A senior Democrat said the U.S. House is poised to take up legislation related to human rights in China next week, potentially including a bill that would target goods produced in the Xinjiang region where the government is allegedly holding Uyghur Muslims in forced labor camps. “I believe very strongly that we will move forward on it,” House Rules Chair Jim McGovern said after leaving a meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. “Next week is an important week for human rights -- International Human Rights Day,” he added, “and we think it’s important to move some China legislation, hopefully much of it focused on human rights and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, we want to see that get over the finish line in some form.” McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, is the chief sponsor of the Uyghur bill and he said it could move as part of a package of legislation. A similar bill in the Senate sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley has already passed the Senate, but action in the House had been stalled. Rubio has been threatening to hold up a must-pass defense policy bill unless it got included on that legislation as a way to force the House to act. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

Rohingya Repatriation: Japan to encourage Myanmar to take concrete measures

Japan has assured Bangladesh that it will encourage Myanmar to take "concrete measures" to resolve the present situation for early start of the repatriation process of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State. Japan has also assured Bangladesh of extending support to assist Bangladesh's efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi conveyed the message to his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen in a recent letter, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and Bhasan Char island. The Japanese Foreign Minister said his country will continue to work to create an environment conductive to the "safe, voluntary and dignified" repatriation of the Rohingyas. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

Xinjiang: Twitter closes thousands of China state-linked accounts spreading propaganda

Twitter has shut down thousands of state-linked accounts in China that seek to counter evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, as part of what experts called an “embarrassingly” produced propaganda operation. The operations used photos and images, shell and potentially automated accounts, and fake Uyghur profiles, to disseminate state propaganda and fake testimonials about their happy lives in the region, seeking to dispel evidence of a years-long campaign of oppression, with mass internments, re-education programs, and allegations of forced labour and sterilisation. The networks were found to share themes and content, but often used repurposed accounts dedicated to pornography or Korean soap operas with little engagement except when they were amplified by Chinese diplomats and officials. Twitter is banned inside China but officials frequently operate accounts overseas. According to analysts at thinktank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the content from the 2,160 accounts that Twitter closed down was often “embarrassingly” produced but provided a level of “implausible deniability” which muddied the waters around the issue. More than 30,000 tweets from each network were identified, frequently responding to other tweets labelling evidence of abuses as “lies” under the hashtag #StopXinjiangRumours or sharing videos they claimed were “the truth” of Xinjiang, or targeting foreign politicians while claiming to be a Uyghur person. read the complete article


03 Dec 2021

France’s Old Bigotry Finds a New Face

France is the home of “Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité” and the birthplace of the Rights of Man. But running simultaneously through the country’s political traditions is a much darker strain of racism and antisemitism. It looks as if a new, more virulent chapter in that history of French bigotry may now be opening — with a seemingly unlikely champion. Éric Zemmour, a far-right polemicist who officially declared on Tuesday that he is running in next April’s presidential election, is the loudest and most extreme voice of French racism today. The great irony is that Mr. Zemmour, twice convicted of inciting racial hatred and discrimination, is a Jew — a member of the very community once targeted by the racists whose traditions he inherits and invokes. He has updated France’s oldest hatred for a new era. The roots of the current French far right can be understood only in the context of its prehistory. Religious antisemitism was long a staple of reactionary thought in France. With the advent of mass immigration from France’s former colonies, antisemitism was largely replaced by anti-Black and, especially, anti-Arab racism. Since the 1970s, the political voice of this racism has been the far-right National Front party, now rebranded as the National Rally as part of an attempt to enter the mainstream. This party has twice reached the second round of the presidential elections, in 2002 and 2017. Mr. Zemmour is now outflanking it from the right. It doesn’t take much to see the roots of Mr. Zemmour’s ideology: his insistence that France is engaged in a religious war with Islam and a race war with its Black and Arab population; that entire neighborhoods of its major cities have been “colonized” by Muslims; that Islam is a religion of terror; that French Muslims must be made to choose between Islam and France (which he considers mutually exclusive). All of it is an updating of the Jew-hatred of a century and a quarter ago. In the same way that the antisemites of the past accused the omnipotent, maleficent Jews of being guilty of crimes of all kinds, even of causing the flooding of the Seine, for Mr. Zemmour there is no crime for which Muslims are not guilty. read the complete article

03 Dec 2021

France’s Eric Zemmour is running a campaign à la Donald Trump — in theory

During his first TV interview as an official French presidential candidate on Tuesday, Zemmour — a former journalist running an insurgent campaign heavy on culture wars and anti-immigrant rhetoric — appeared slight, tense and defensive. There was no fanfare, no alpha-male bravura. And at the end of the prime-time TV slot, he grumbled crossly that he didn’t like the journalist’s questions. More broadly, Zemmour’s presidential campaign launch this week has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. First, there was a finger-flipping episode in Marseille. Then there was the campaign launch video the media could not run because Zemmour’s team didn’t get the TV rights approved. Lastly, there were the allegations that his 28-year-old de facto campaign director was pregnant with his child — Zemmour is married and has campaigned on traditional family values. As Zemmour has spun from one moment to the next, the French Twittersphere has been alight with debate over whether he is doing some of this on purpose. Is there a method to his madness? The answer, however, might not be important. As long as people are paying attention, does it matter? And with Zemmour — as with Trump — people are paying attention, even if it’s just to gawk. But what is apparent is that Zemmour is saturating the media landscape with a trashy campaign launch at a time when his rivals in the conservative Les Républicains party are choosing their presidential candidate. Currently, Zemmour is polling at 13 percent compared to 19 percent for his fellow far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and 24 percent for incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, according to POLITICO’s poll of polls. In his quest for power, Zemmour has one role model: Trump. One friend and conservative ally said Zemmour responds to advice about how to do politics with a simple answer: He is running “a Trumpian campaign.” read the complete article


03 Dec 2021

Digital platform streamlines Islamophobia lessons for Ontario teachers

The Muslim Association of Canada officially launched Thursday, which was funded in part by a $225,000 grant from the Ministry of Education, announced in June after five members of the Afzaal family were killed by a motorist in London, Ont. in what police say was a hate-motivated attack. The courses cover high-level topics like defining Islamophobia, implicit bias and how Islamophobia exists in structures and in the media. There are sections on hate crimes, the history of the issue and overlaps with anti-Black racism. And the first of the three courses gives an introduction to Islam explaining customs and values, like dietary restrictions, holidays and the history of the religion. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Dec 2021 Edition


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