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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30 Dec 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, the Grand Mosque of Paris has filed a complaint against writer Michel Houellebecq over his anti-Muslim remarks, meanwhile across Europe, several far-right and anti-Muslim groups in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands burned copies of the Quran in public places in 2022, and in the United States, a new university study finds that “there is little evidence that people with antisemitic—and Islamophobic—views have grown in number,” rather there is evidence that the number is actually shrinking. Our recommended read of the day is by Miqdaad Versi for the Guardian about the UK government’s review of Prevent, the country’s counter-terrorism program, and how the review contains a list of several individuals and groups it blames for “spreading Islamist extremism in Britain,” which if released would be “a McCarthyite blacklist of Muslim organizations in Britain.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

30 Dec 2022

The McCarthyite blacklist of Muslim groups Gove wants published should never see the light of day | Recommended Read

The Prevent review, which has not yet been published, is controversially expected to encourage the government to divert its attention from the growing threat of the far right and instead focus on Islamist extremism. Yet, only in October, we saw a terror attack by a far-right Islamophobe on an immigration processing centre in Dover, at a time when far-right terror was on the rise. The latest development, reported in the Times, casts light on a supposed fault line in cabinet about the content of the review, which apparently names several individuals and groups it blames for “spreading Islamist extremism in Britain”. The Home Office is said to have redacted some of these names, but the communities secretary, Michael Gove, wants the report published in full. The review’s chair, William Shawcross, is reported to be “increasingly frustrated and annoyed” by the delay in publishing. But forget the Westminster hearsay for a moment, and recognise this list of names and organisations for what it will effectively be: a McCarthyite blacklist of Muslim organisations in Britain. This should scare us all. A few weeks after a far-right Islamophobe attacked a migrant centre, Gove and others genuinely seem to want the government to publish a report that names Muslim organisations they deem to be “spreading Islamic extremism in the UK”. Surely this poses a huge risk, especially since we also know that when the government’s teams try to determine what is “extreme”, they can get it completely wrong. read the complete article

30 Dec 2022

UK counter-terror Prevent scheme to downplay far-right threat and strengthen anti-Muslim scapegoating

A row is underway in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party over a soon-to-be-published review into the Prevent counter-terror scheme. It shines a light on the government’s plans to double down on the scapegoating of Muslims and speed the establishment of a state surveillance infrastructure under the cover of combatting Islamic extremism. This is combined with efforts to downplay the danger of the far-right. Originally commissioned in January 2019, the review has been subject to repeated delays. The latest is an argument between Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Communities SecretaryMichael Gove, who will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the scheme. Braverman is reportedly concerned that the report is so unguarded in its denunciation of “extremist” organisations, or organisations supporting “extremist narratives”, that the government will be hit with costly libel suits. She is insisting names are redacted. Gove wants the text released in full. This is a minor difference between two ardent reactionaries. Braverman—who does not hesitate to demonise migrants, asylum lawyers and refugee advocacy groups—intends to smooth the implementation of the review’s recommendations. Gove speaks for those who want as provocative a crusade as possible. read the complete article

30 Dec 2022

Prevent review: Delays highlight a process in shambles

Nearly four years have passed since the British government announced a review of the Prevent strategy. The review has turned into a shambles. The Home Office first appointed Lord Carlile QC (independent reviewer of terrorism legislation from 2001 until 2011) to carry out the task. This swiftly turned into a fiasco: In a humiliation for the government, he was forced to step down because he had already expressed strong support for the programme. The search began again for the job - and early last year came news that the post had been awarded to William Shawcross. Shawcross was a controversial choice for two reasons. A journalist and author by profession, with flattering biographies of newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch and the Queen Mother to his name, he possessed few obvious qualifications to carry out the job. More importantly, the choice of Shawcross was very troubling for many Muslims. Shawcross had already expressed views on Islam, telling an American audience 10 years ago: "Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations." The son of Hartley Shawcross, chief British prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after the Second World War, his 2012 book Justice and the Enemy defended the American use of interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that are widely regarded as torture, as well as the detention of suspected al-Qaeda militants at Guantanamo Bay. During his chairmanship of the Charity Commission from 2012 to 2018, the regulator faced complaints of institutional bias against Muslims, which the commission and Shawcross have denied. Such a background led to surprise that Shawcross should have been given the hugely sensitive job of independent reviewer of Prevent - and anger. More than 450 Islamic organisations, including 350 mosques and imams, boycotted the government's review of the anti-radicalisation programme as a result. But ministers stuck by him, and this past summer, Shawcross handed his review to the Home Office. Since then, the shambles has escalated. The Shawcross report, supposedly crucial for Britain's domestic security, has been the subject of what can best be described as a programme of reckless Whitehall leaks. read the complete article

30 Dec 2022

Review of Prevent counter-terror scheme may be ‘redundant’ four years after it began, campaigners say

The findings of a review into the Prevent counter-terror scheme may be “redundant” by the time it is published, four years after being announced, campaigners have said. Theresa May’s government announced an independent probe into the programme, which has been criticised for both ineffectiveness and over-reach, in January 2019. The move followed years of accusations that Prevent was stigmatising Muslims and stifling free speech in schools and universities, but leaked excerpts of a report by reviewer William Shawcross call for an intensified focus on Islamist extremism. The Independent understands that it was sent to the Home Office in April but publication was initially delayed over legal concerns, because of potential libel action by groups named in the report. The Home Office then decided to publish its official response to the review at the same time as Mr Shawcross’ report, and Suella Braverman is understood to have wanted changes to a draft of that document, which is still being finalised. read the complete article


30 Dec 2022

‘More smear campaign than journalism’: Insiders expose calculated western media coverage of Qatar World Cup

While on the ground, fans from around the world came together to embrace a melting pot of cultures at the Middle East’s first ever FIFA World Cup, western media reports that emerged throughout the tournament attempted to show a more tainted depiction of the event. Qatar had maintained that it would use its role as the first Arab and Muslim nation to host the World Cup as a portal through which the rest of the world would learn about the Middle East and Islam. While the tournament showcased the true spirit of sports as well as values of the Middle East and Islam, however, it also unveiled mass western-led racism, Islamophobia and a clear double standards approach to dealing with human rights. In the months leading up to the tournament, officials from Qatar and beyond pointed to what they described as racist and Islamophobic roots for such criticism. While such claims were dismissed by critics of Qatar, it soon became clear that there was more to western ‘concerns on human rights’. In the United Kingdom, major national television channels opted to shun the World Cup opening ceremony which served as an introduction to the Arab world. The BBC and ITV were at the centre of criticism from their viewers for snubbing the global event at the time. read the complete article

30 Dec 2022

The UnRedacted: Canceled ‘Islamophobic’ Movie Nominated for Bafta Award

In a dramatic turnaround, the infamous movie “The UnRedacted” formerly titled “Jihad Rehab” is on the list for a Bafta award. The movie was criticized this summer after it was deemed “Islamaphobic” following its Sundance film premiere, with critics questioning the ethics of the documentary-style production. Among the reasons that ultimately led to the movie being canceled was the issue of consent and ethics behind the men featured in the film. Major movie makers questioned if participants had fully consented to being filmed. The film has been rejected by major film festivals in both the UK and the US, and some have even reported rejecting showing the film before watching it based on the bad press it had received. Sundance issued an apology, writing: “It is clear that the showing of this film hurt members of our community — in particular, individuals from Muslim and MENASA communities — and for that, we are deeply sorry." read the complete article

30 Dec 2022

Why do far-right groups burn the Quran?

Several far-right and anti-Muslim groups in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands burned copies of the Quran in public places in 2022. But why do these far-right groups do this and what do they gain from it? read the complete article

United States

30 Dec 2022

The antisemitic and Islamophobic fringe is alarmingly emboldened—but it’s shrinking

As abhorrent and dangerous as such views are, there is reason to believe that they are not spreading, even as their holders have grown louder, undeterred, and more dangerous. This expectation is backed by survey data that we have tracked over several years. Trump may have elevated the voice of a white supremacist and antisemite, as he has done in the past, but there is little evidence that people with antisemitic—and Islamophobic—views have grown in number, and we have some evidence the number is actually shrinking. Our University of Maryland Critical Issues poll provides some striking findings. For several years, we have thus fielded a question about the percent of the public who would oppose voting for presidential candidates of different religious identities, assuming one agrees with their positions on issues. In the latest 2022 iteration of this poll, we found that Jewish presidential candidates were the least opposed of all candidates, followed closely by Catholic and Mainline Protestant Christians. At 7%, opposition to a Jewish presidential candidate is the lowest; it compares to 9% for a Catholic candidate, 10% for a mainline Protestant, 26% for a Muslim, and 34% for an atheist. It is also notable that low opposition to a Jewish presidential candidate transcends partisan lines with the smallest gap in opposition among Republicans and Democrats (difference of 2%), compared to other candidates. read the complete article


30 Dec 2022

French Mosque files complaint against author for anti-Muslim remarks

The Grand Mosque of Paris has filed a complaint against French writer Michel Houellebecq over his anti-Muslim remarks. The decision was taken after a "long conversation" between Houellebecq and another writer, Michel Onfray, was published in magazine Front Populaire in November, according to the mosque's Thursday's statement. In the article, Houellebecq said that people in France were "arming themselves" and could attack Muslim establishments. "People are arming themselves. They are procuring rifles and taking shooting courses … I think acts of resistance will occur when entire territories fall under Islamic control." "Attacks and shootings will be perpetrated in mosques, coffeeshops mostly visited by the Muslims, well, Bataclan in reverse," he said. For officials of the Grand Mosque of Paris, these "lapidary remarks" were "unacceptable and unbelievably brutal." "They do not seek to elucidate any public debate but arouse discriminatory rhetoric and acts," it added. The statement noted that while criticising religion was permitted in democratic society, the comments in the article were "calling to reject and exclude the Muslim component in its entirety." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Dec 2022 Edition


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