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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06 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In France, Eric Zemmour’s influence on the political landscape is drawing attention as critics point out how other candidates are mimicking Zemmour’s positions including promoting the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, families of girls trafficked to Daesh in Syria reveal how police attempted to criminalize them [the families], with one individual stating “We were never offered any support. I felt I had to prove I was anti-extremist to them; I felt I was always under suspicion,” and in the United States, congressional leaders are struggling to respond to anti-Muslim comments made by Rep. Lauren Boebert as Republican lawmakers largely remain silent. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian on the dwindling number of places to pray for Muslims in Gurgaon as Hindu vigilante groups target and disrupt dozens of Friday prayers. This and more below:


06 Dec 2021

New city, old schism: Hindu groups target Gurgaon’s Muslim prayer sites | Recommended Read

This week as a Hindu nationalist mob assembled in their usual saffron, roars of their signature slogans “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) and “hail the motherland” filled the air. Then a cry rang out: “The Muslims are here.” And the mob began to charge. For more than a decade, this car park has been one of hundreds of sites that the Muslims of Gurgaon have been using as a makeshift prayer ground on Fridays, their designated day of congregational prayer, for jumma namaz. Usually such prayers are held in mosques but Gurgaon, a city that rose in the 1990s from the brushland on the outskirts of Delhi to serve India’s new middle class, has a severe shortage, with around 13 to cater for a city of more than 1.5 million people. Attempts to build more mosques in the area, even on Muslim-owned land, have been met with resistance and hostility. Instead, the thousands of Muslim labourers who have flocked to this expanding metropolis for construction work on Gurgaon’s corporate skyscrapers and luxury high-rise apartments found another option. Unable to travel for miles to a mosque to offer namaz, they began praying on empty patches of land. They even sought permission from the administration and by 2018 the Muslim community had been granted permission for outdoor prayers in 108 places across the district. “People are forced to pray out in the open because we have no other choice,” said Altaf Ahmad, a co-founder of the Gurgaon Muslim council. But in 2018, rumblings of discontent began, as Hindu vigilante groups realised that Muslims were praying on public land. They began to hold protests, sometimes with more than 100 people, disrupting dozens of Friday prayers and fracturing the modern metropolis along an age-old schism. In response, the Gurgaon administration reduced the number of namaz sites from 108 to 37, to the dismay of the Muslim leaders who felt the administration was bowing to the demands of fanatics. “They told us it was temporary and just to cool the situation down,” said Ahmad. But this year, after a lull due to Covid, the objections came back with a vengeance. read the complete article

United States

06 Dec 2021

There need to be consequences for Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Islamophobic comments

Congressional leaders are struggling to respond to anti-Muslim comments made by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), an uncomfortable reminder of how accepted Islamophobia has become among Republican lawmakers, who’ve broadly been silent in the wake of these statements. Thus far, Republican leadership has been quiet on the matter, issuing no public condemnation of Boebert’s comments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday that Boebert had already apologized for her comments and reached out to Omar, even though the call they had didn’t have a resolution. “This party is for anyone and everyone who craves freedom and supports religious liberty,” McCarthy said of the GOP. House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have condemned Boebert’s Islamophobic remarks but have yet to put forth a formal resolution or penalty regarding her statements. Beyond a statement condemning Boebert, Democrats and Republicans have a couple of options for punishment, including a resolution denouncing these comments, a formal reprimand or censure, or the stripping of committee assignments. At this point, neither party has publicly announced further action they would take. Researchers have indeed found that Islamophobic rhetoric by politicians has real-world consequences and has been directly linked with hate speech targeted toward Muslim Americans. If Congress doesn’t impose more penalties regarding this incident, lawmakers could — whether they mean to or not — further normalize anti-Muslim rhetoric and sentiment, affecting not only Muslim lawmakers but millions of Muslim Americans as well. In their lack of response, Republicans, in particular, have shown that their party isn’t willing to denounce such Islamophobic statements. And this creates the appearance that the party is open to embracing the hateful rhetoric that former President Donald Trump and others have used. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Why Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Islamophobic Stunts Won’t Cost Her Politically

About two weeks ago, members of the House censured Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican who tweeted an animated video that portrayed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat and progressive star. The video, to every Democrat’s mind and to GOP Trump critics Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, crossed a line. Privately, Republicans on the Hill have long considered Gosar a fringe figure whose casual closeness with known white nationalists is embarrassing for the party. Nevertheless, ahead of the censure vote, most Republicans linked arms and defended Gosar, whom they argued with varying enthusiasm and sincerity that he had removed the post and apologized for something done by his staff without his knowledge. It was only the seventh such censure in the last 100 years and just the second since 1983. And there doesn’t seem to be an eighth in the offing, despite a similar scandal involving Rep. Lauren Boebert that has unfolded this week. Omar has long been one of the right-wing’s favorite subjects for stereotyped criticism and flat-out smears. One of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress on the same night and the first to wear a hijab on the House floor, Omar a member of the progressive voting bloq in the House known conversationally as The Squad. Her friends like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez occasionally draw the ire of fellow Democrats for some lively language that pushes the party further to the left than they’d like, but Democrats are quick to defend their own. As Omar told TIME for a 2019 profile: “The right wing, Trump, the Republicans, white supremacists [launch] attacks on immigrants, refugees, Black people, women, Muslims.” In her, she said, “They have all of that in one box.” Now, before you think Boebert will pay a price for engaging in such blatant Islamophobia, it’s important to do a gut check with Republicans’ views of Muslims. In 2002, 32% of Republicans agreed with the thesis that Islam encouraged violence. Twenty years later, according to Pew, that number hit 72% among the GOP. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

House Republicans express concern over party infighting, but not the Islamophobic rhetoric that set it off

House Republicans have decried the public feuding this week among a small group of GOP lawmakers as detrimental to the party’s ability to win back the House in the 2022 midterm elections because it distracts from their attacks on Democrats’ agenda. But little has been said publicly by party leaders or rank-and-file members about whether they find the source of this feuding problematic: Islamophobic attacks by some Republicans against a Democratic congresswoman who is Muslim. The party’s focus on the political ramifications of the infighting rather than the substance of the disagreement has led civil rights groups and Democrats to charge that Republicans are embracing, or at least enabling, bigotry. “The GOP has made it very clear that they are not condemning this bigotry, this violent rhetoric, and in fact they are allowing this to become the political foundation to raise more money and to get more clout — and if there is any remaining traditional moral leadership within the GOP, I’m asking where it is,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). House Republican leaders have yet to publicly denounce the Islamophobic language employed by Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to attack Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), including statements that the Muslim lawmaker supports terrorists and is “bloodthirsty,” while likening her to a suicide bomber. Instead, they have focused their remarks on the need for Republicans not to fight with each other publicly after Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said earlier this week that Boebert and Greene were employing “racist tropes,” which led to a Twitter feud with Greene. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Kevin McCarthy defends Rep. Lauren Boebert after anti-Muslim remark, downplays House infighting

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., attempted to downplay the tumultuous week in the Republican conference on Friday, acknowledging only that some of his hard-right members distract from the GOP midterm message in their feuds with Democrats and each other but not condemning the anti-Muslim rhetoric from his member that set off the most recent controversies. "It's things we would not want to deal with," he said of the controversies over the last few weeks surrounding comments and social media posts from Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona. "It's [distracting from] things the American people want to focus on: stopping inflation, gas prices and others," he said. "Anything that deviates from that causes problems." read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene aren’t fringe. They’re leading indicators.

In the past week or so, some of the most notorious hard-right Republican members in the House have been under fire for anti-Muslim bigotry. So they and their media allies have now hatched a creative new defense for it: Don’t tell us to apologize for our anti-Muslim slurs. After all, we speak for the great mass of voters who make up the GOP base! You don’t say. Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) are often derided as fringe figures, based on their dabblings in QAnon conspiracy-theorizing and Greene’s previous trutherism about everything from Sept. 11 to mass shootings. But it may prove more accurate to regard them as a vanguard of sorts, as leading indicators of the future direction of a certain kind of right-wing politics that will continue gaining adherents and intensity. That’s the message that emerges from this important new Post piece on the intra-GOP war that Boebert and Greene have touched off. The Terrible Two have lobbed days of bigoted attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), prompting Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) to issue a lonely denunciation of them. A flame war ensued, and GOP leaders are struggling to broker peace. The key point here, as the Post piece notes, is that Republican leaders have called on both sides to stand down, but they “have yet to publicly denounce” Boebert’s and Greene’s “Islamophobic language.” “Most rank-and-file Republicans have avoided criticizing Boebert and Greene," the piece reports. The problem here is that Boebert and Greene are imperiling GOP chances of taking the House, not their anti-Muslim slurs. I don’t know how many GOP voters Greene and Boebert speak for. The fact that GOP leaders won’t condemn their anti-Muslim bigotry suggests the answer is probably a lot. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Rep. Omar 'very confident' Pelosi will take action against Boebert this week after anti-Muslim remarks

Rep. Ilhan Omar said Sunday she is "very confident" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take "decisive action" against Rep. Lauren Boebert over the Colorado Republican's anti-Muslim remarks. "I've had a conversation with the Speaker and I'm very confident that she will take decisive action next week," she told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "As you know, when I first got to Congress, I was worried that, you know, I wasn't going to be allowed to be sworn in because there was a ban on the hijab. She promised me that she'd take care of it. She fulfilled that promise. She made another promise to me that she will take care of this, and I believe her." She said Boebert should be punished for her racist anti-Muslim rhetoric directed at Omar. read the complete article

United Kingdom

06 Dec 2021

School apologises after video showed Muslim students praying outside in the cold

A school in Oldham has issued a “sincere apology” after footage showing Muslim students praying outside in the cold weather provoked outrage within the community. The video showed male pupils at Oldham Academy North conducting their Jummah (Friday) prayers outside of the school because a teacher had “kicked them out of the classroom”, it has been claimed. Footage shows around eight boys kneeling with their heads bowed on the pavement, while a member of the school’s staff wearing a hi-visibility jacket appears to watch over them. After completing their prayers they stand up and pick up their belongings. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Police treated us like criminals, say families of girls trafficked to Islamic State in Syria

Details of how police attempted to criminalise British families whose children were trafficked to Islamic State (IS) in Syria are revealed in a series of testimonies that show how grieving relatives were initially treated as suspects and then abandoned by the authorities. One described being “treated like a criminal” and later realising that police were only interested in acquiring intelligence on IS instead of trying to help find their loved one. Another told how their home had been raided after they approached police for help to track down a missing relative. Their experiences were revealed in a parliamentary session last week that was closed to the media at the request of the families, due to concern they would be misrepresented and harassed. However, four of the families that gave evidence have agreed to share their experiences with the Observer anonymously to shed light on their treatment by the authorities and how their daughters have been left stranded in Syrian refugee camps. One woman revealed how she had cooperated with police when her sister went missing only to learn officers had had no intention of tracking her down. “We thought the police were there to help us. Over time, we could see the police and the authorities weren’t talking to us to help us, but only to get information. Once they had their information, they washed their hands of us.” She added: “We were never offered any support. I felt I had to prove I was anti-extremist to them; I felt I was always under suspicion.” A member of another family said: “I was interrogated as if I was a suspect, and once they had decided I wasn’t, they didn’t really want anything to do with me. It became really difficult to get in touch with them.” Their testimonies follow a report from legal charity Reprieve that found two-thirds of British women detained in north-east Syria were coerced or trafficked to the region, often lured there after being groomed on dating sites, before being sexually exploited. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

We cannot stay silent as Islamophobia becomes accepted in society

I stated in my speech that “in 2011, the former chair of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi, said; Islamophobia had "passed the dinner-table test". A decade later, in 2021, I am saying Islamophobia has now passed the "mainstream media test." Just this week, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Centre for Media Monitoring (CFMM) published a report analysing over 48,000 online articles and 5,500 broadcast clips, between October 2018 and September 2019. They found that almost 60 per cent of the articles and 47 per cent of the television clips associated Muslims and/or Islam with negative aspects of behaviour. I mentioned within the debate how prominent figures can use Islamophobic language and tropes without an apology or any remorse and still have prominent roles within the media. Sadly, it seems that Islamophobia has become palatable, and it is for this reason that I believe Islamophobia has passed the "mainstream media test". Sadly, it seems that Islamophobia has become palatable, and it is for this reason that I believe Islamophobia has passed the "mainstream media test". I am, therefore, not surprised that sections of our society seem unshaken by the everyday Islamophobia on their television screens, in their broadsheets and in tabloid newspapers. When it comes to attacks against Muslims, in 2020/21 45 per cent of religious hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, were against Muslims. We are seeing an upsurge in attacks on the British Muslim community, but too often we are made to feel like we are playing the victim card. Since becoming an MP in 2015, a man has been sentenced for sending me a death threats, I have sued Leave EU for a libellous “grooming gang” slur, I have been called a p***, c***, b****, evil, nasty, a cancer that is ruining this country, a terrorist supporter, a “paedo” lover and have been told to “go back to Pakistan”. I continue to deal with Islamophobia every time I post on social media. Unfortunately, I have learnt to live with the hate, as those who see it often also remain silent and have learned to ignore it. read the complete article


06 Dec 2021

Germany’s First Genocide Looked a Lot Like China’s

Between 1904 and 1908, imperial Germany all but destroyed the Herero and Nama people in their South West African colony. It was not Europe’s worst action in Africa: The Belgians were devastating what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo to South West Africa’s north, torturing, murdering, and starving up to 10 million people. But the killing of 34,000 to 111,000 people in South West Africa would prove prologue to a raft of similar atrocities in World War I and even worse horrors in World War II. Now, as then, a preeminent rising power is unashamedly and directly enacting a genocide in its imperial periphery. Starting in 2014, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has forcibly imprisoned, enslaved, and even sterilized hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. How the first genocide happened can inform our understanding of the second—and of the colonial dynamics that increasingly shape China’s actions on its imperial periphery. Extermination is not yet on the agenda in Xinjiang, but the scale of events has still been catastrophic. Chen, with Xi’s encouragement, ordered his subordinates to “round up everyone who should be rounded up” and expanded concentration camps and prisons to cope with the influx of any vaguely suspicious Uyghurs: Any behavior not predicted by the CCP’s non-public statistical models is labeled “enemy movements” and may result in imprisonment. China’s police system sets regular quotas for arrests and imprisonment, which are sharply raised during crackdown: Thus, many Uyghurs are locked up for no reason but to hit the target. Entire extended families are routinely broken up and sent to violent, squalid jails because a single member proved mildly inconvenient. In the meantime, even the Uyghurs lucky enough to avoid imprisonment are typically forbidden from speaking their language or practicing their religion: Indeed, Uyghurs are routinely forced to prove their abandonment of Islam by consuming pork, alcohol, and tobacco (all of which are forbidden in Islam) and denouncing key Islamic tenets. Uyghur poets, intellectuals, and writers are priority targets. The Chinese party state, while apparently uninterested in physical extermination, is busily experimenting with the destruction of Uyghur culture and annihilation of the Uyghur people by more subtle means. Uyghurs are routinely sterilized, often without consent, or are forced to have abortions. The objective appears to be to bring and keep Uyghur fertility permanently below that of the Han Chinese, ensuring Han domination of Xinjiang in perpetuity. To speed things up further, the children of detained Uyghurs are usually given to orphanages and foster families for forcible assimilation into Han culture. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

Who ordered the Uyghur genocide? Look no further than China’s leader.

Evidence has grown over the past few years that China has carried out a genocide against Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim peoples of Xinjiang region in the country’s far northwest. Eyewitnesses, satellite photos and government records have contributed to a grotesque picture of a people’s identity being eradicated. We now know that China built an archipelago of concentration camps, tried to repress the Uyghur birthrate and dispatched workers into forced labor. But who should be held to account? China’s top leadership gave the orders, according to a new analysis from Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, who has led the way in exposing the genocide. He points to comments and actions of China’s leader Xi Jinping and, secondly, his handpicked Xinjiang regional party boss, Chen Quanguo. In 2014, when the measures were first being contemplated, Mr. Xi declared, “Those who should be seized should be seized, and those who should be sentenced should be sentenced.” Mr. Chen later followed with “round up everyone who should be rounded up.” The Uyghur genocide raises urgent questions about who must bear responsibility for potential crimes against humanity. The Xinjiang Papers show Mr. Xi and his cohorts ordered the destruction of language, culture, traditions, hopes and dreams of an entire people. read the complete article


06 Dec 2021

White House is not lobbying against Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Biden administration is not lobbying against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act due to be taken up by the US House of Representatives, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday. The bill, which would ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, is set to be considered as soon as next week, the bill's sponsor, congressman Jim McGovern, told reporters on Thursday. Psaki was responding to a Washington Post report that suggested the Biden administration was telling lawmakers to slow down movement on the bill as the White House pursues a more targeted approach to the issue that includes getting support from other countries. read the complete article

06 Dec 2021

U.S. expected to announce diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing

The Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing this week, a senior administration official said late Sunday. A diplomatic boycott would mean that no U.S. government officials would attend the games but that U.S. athletes would still be allowed to compete. A full boycott was not expected. CNN first reported the news of the expected announcement. read the complete article


06 Dec 2021

Fighting French Fascism Means More Than “Anyone but Éric Zemmour”

We should begin by noting that, according to polls at least, this period has seen an increase in the potential voter base for the far right. It has risen from about 30 percent before the summer (combining the voting intentions for Marine Le Pen and “national-conservative” Nicolas Dupont-Aignan) to 36–37 percent according to more recent polls (i.e., also including Zemmour) — a score to which we should also add potential support for Florian Philippot and François Asselineau. It is thus hardly impossible — depending on how the balance of power shifts — that by April’s first-round contest, the various forces of the far right could together rally 40 percent support. We should take this electoral shift, and the wider political situation in France, very seriously. It is possible that Le Pen is currently benefiting from the ideological effects of this offensive (in which Macron’s administration has played a crucial role) and by the hypermediatization of Zemmour over the last three months. But it can also be assumed that she is benefiting from a perceived softening of her image by her far-right rival’s harsh talk of “national suicide.” This shift is illustrated by a poll conducted by Odoxa in mid-November — and the comparison between this data and a similar survey conducted in 2014. Zemmour is today much more widely seen as “far right” (+24 points), “racist” (+23 points), “dangerous” (+23 points), “misogynistic” (+15 points), and “aggressive” (+9 points), while Le Pen is less perceived as “aggressive” and “racist” than seven years ago. Another important factor is how far Zemmour’s media and polling breakthrough has accelerated the classic bourgeois right’s turn toward more extreme positions. The primaries for Les Républicains have played out almost entirely on the Zemmourian terrain of a “threatened,” “submerged” France on the verge of “annihilation” because of excessive immigration, endemic criminality, etc. It is not simply or mainly that one of the candidates — Éric Ciotti — sought to mimic Zemmour’s positions in every way, including by taking up the racist conspiracy theory of the “great replacement.” It is that all the candidates were harmonized to a Zemmourist playbook, including even Michel Barnier, who may initially have seemed the most centrist. In this sense, Stathis Kouvelakis was certainly right to assert that Zemmour has already won through the dissemination of his ideas across much of the political field (even if his candidacy itself turns out a failure). And it is not that the pro-Macron right is going to belie this argument — having, in its four years in power, drawn deeply from the obsessions, language, and proposals of the far right. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Dec 2021 Edition


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