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 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, right-wing Hindu groups have been protesting for two months now against Muslims offering Friday prayers in public spaces in Gurugram, meanwhile in the United States and the United Kingdom, a class action complaint has been filed against Facebook as Rohingya Muslims argue the social media company aided in the process of genocide in Myanmar, and in the United States, new research finds that “widespread use of anti-Muslim rhetoric, combined with lack of political consequences, suggests that Americans, or at least those who identify as Republican, find anti-Muslim bias acceptable.” Our recommended read of the day is by James McAuley for the Nation on how the European political establishment’s criticism of “cancel culture” and “wokeism,” which really call attention to structural racism, is rooted in maintaining their positions in society and sidelining new voices. This and more below:


07 Dec 2021

Europe’s War on Woke | Recommended Read

The topic of our discussion was the only one that interested the French elite in January 2021: not the raging pandemic but “the Franco-American divide,” the Huntington-esque clash of two apparently great civilizations and their respective social models—one “universalist,” one “communitarian”—on the question of race and identity politics. To Finkielkraut, Bruckner, and the establishment they still represent, American writers like me seek to impose a “woke” agenda on an otherwise harmonious, egalitarian society. Americans who argue for social justice are guilty of “cultural imperialism,” of ideological projection—even of bad faith. This has become a refrain not merely in France but across Europe. To be sure, the terms of this social-media-fueled debate are unmistakably American; “woke” and “cancel culture” could emerge from no other context. But in the United States, these terms have a particular valence that mostly has to do with the push for racial equality and against systemic racism. In Europe, what is labeled “woke” is often whatever social movement a particular country’s establishment fears the most. This turns out to be an ideal way of discrediting those movements: To call them “woke” is to call them American, and to call them American is to say they don’t apply to Europe. Emmanuel Macron’s government had already launched a campaign against what it calls “Islamist separatism,” but Paty’s killing saw a conversation about understandable trauma degenerate into public hysteria. The government launched a full-scale culture war, fomenting its own American-style psychodrama while purporting to do the opposite. Soon its ministers began railing against “islamo-gauchisme” (Islamo-leftism) in universities, Muslim mothers in hijabs chaperoning school field trips, and halal meats in supermarkets. But most of all, they began railing against the ideas that, in their view, somehow augmented and abetted these divisions: American-inspired anti-racism and “wokeness.” So much of Europe’s anti-woke movement has focused on opposing and attempting to refute allegations of “institutional” or “structural” racism. Yet despite the 20th-century continental origins of structuralism (especially in France) as a mode of social analysis—not to mention the Francophone writers who have shaped the way American thinkers conceive of race—many European elites dismiss these critiques as unwelcome intrusions into the public discourse that project the preoccupations of a nation built on slavery (and thus understandably obsessed with race) onto societies that are vastly different. Europe, they insist, has a different history, one in which race—especially in the form of the simple binary opposition of Black and white—plays a less central role. There is, of course, some truth to this rejoinder: Different countries do indeed have different histories and different debates. But when Europeans accuse their American critics of projection, they do so not to point out the very real divergences in the US and European discussions and even conceptions of race and racism. Rather, the charge is typically meant to stifle the discussion altogether—even when that discussion is being led by European citizens describing their own lived experiences. read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

Rohingya sue Facebook for £150bn over Myanmar genocide

Facebook’s negligence facilitated the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar after the social media network’s algorithms amplified hate speech and the platform failed to take down inflammatory posts, according to legal action launched in the US and the UK. The platform faces compensation claims worth more than £150bn under the coordinated move on both sides of the Atlantic. A class action complaint lodged with the northern district court in San Francisco says Facebook was “willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in south-east Asia.” It adds: “In the end, there was so little for Facebook to gain from its continued presence in Burma, and the consequences for the Rohingya people could not have been more dire. Yet, in the face of this knowledge, and possessing the tools to stop it, it simply kept marching forward.” A letter submitted by lawyers to Facebook’s UK office on Monday says clients and their family members have been subjected to acts of “serious violence, murder and/or other grave human rights abuses” as part of a campaign of genocide conducted by the ruling regime and civilian extremists in Myanmar. It adds that the social media platform, which launched in Myanmar in 2011 and quickly became ubiquitous, aided the process. Lawyers in Britain expect to lodge a claim in the high court, representing Rohingya in the UK and refugees in camps in Bangladesh, in the new year. read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

Uyghur organizations applaud the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics

Uyghur rights organizations are applauding the U.S. government's decision not to send any diplomatic or official representatives to Beijing for next year's Winter Olympics. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the diplomatic boycott was prompted by the Chinese government's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," referring to the region in southwest China with a large population of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, such as Kazakhs. The Uyghur Human Rights Project, a U.S. advocacy organization promoting the rights of the Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang, hailed the U.S. diplomatic boycott. The organization emphasized that all governments should refuse to participate in the "spectacle of 21st-century genocide games." read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

House to vote on Uyghur bill amid diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

The House is expected to vote this week on legislation to prohibit certain imports from China's Xinjiang region, where the country's government is accused of holding Uyghur Muslims in forced labor camps, and sanction officials involved in human rights abuses. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the legislation would come up for a vote this week in a Monday statement following the Biden administration's announcement that the U.S. will not send any government officials to Beijing next year for the Olympic Games. "As one united international community, we have the opportunity and responsibility to hold Beijing to account and to stand up for human dignity and freedom in the region and around the world," Pelosi said. The legislation, titled the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, would prohibit imports of goods produced in China's Xinjiang region unless Customs and Border Protection determines they were not produced with forced labor. The measure would also authorize sanctions on entities and individuals facilitating the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. read the complete article

United States

07 Dec 2021

On Paper I Am White, But in Life I Am Not

For as long as I can remember, I have been forced to check the white box because people of Middle Eastern/North African origin are considered part of the white race. I have always felt comfortable identifying with many different groups. I am Syrian, Lebanese, American, Middle Eastern, and Muslim. While admittedly I appear white, I have never felt white. Growing up in a post-9/11 era, I was always aware that I was different. I was called a terrorist in middle school, watched my mother experience Islamophobia for wearing the hijab, and always worried about family members being stopped for “random security checks” in airports. U.S. intervention in our countries othered us and painted us as the enemy all the while we worried about the impact of war on our families abroad. My experience is in no way rare and there is no doubt that my pale complexion allows me to experience less hardships than Arabs who have darker skin tones or wear the hijab. However, they too are classified as white. Labeling us as white actively erases our experiences as Arab Americans. From 2015 to 2018, the yearly number of anti-Arab hate crimes more than doubled from 37 to 82. Despite the discrimination we faced and continue to face, we are not entitled access to remedies for our mistreatment because we are not recognized as our own group under federal law. We are white by law, but do not enjoy the social privileges of whiteness. read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

Ilhan Omar: Kevin McCarthy Is a ‘Coward and a Liar’ for Not Condemning Boebert’s Islamophobic Comments

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a “liar and a coward” for his refusal to condemn remarks by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) where she suggested that Omar, a Muslim who wears a hijab, was a terrorist who might detonate an explosive device in the Capitol. But, Omar said, she is “confident” that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take “decisive action” against Boebert. Omar called Boebert’s comments “shocking” and “unacceptable” during an interview with Jake Tapper on Sunday, adding, “It’s very unbecoming of a congresswoman to use that kind of derogatory, dangerous, inciting language against a colleague.” When asked about Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s refusal to condemn Boebert’s remarks and his claims that Boebert has apologized (even though she doubled-down , Omar said, “McCarthy is a liar and a coward.” Omar continued, “He doesn’t have the ability to condemn the kind of bigoted Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric that are being trafficked by a member of his conference.” read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

Richmond mosque holds open house to 'clear-up misinformation about Islam'

The Islamic Center of Richmond in Glen Allen held an open house Saturday to "clear-up misinformation about Islam," according to faith leaders. The center partnered with GainPeace, a non-profit group that educates people about the Islamic faith, in an effort to curb Islamophobia and to allow the community to "get acquainted with Muslim neighbors while at the same time deepening their understanding of the Islamic faith." Faith leaders also lead conversations and group discussions to help combat biases and teach the community more about the religion. “We want to make sure we connect with our neighbors, build bridges and work with this wonderful community so we can establish better societies,” GainPeace Director Sabeel Ahmed said. “And we have seen in the past, that unfortunately, when people don't know each other, there's always fear of the unknown.” read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

Rep. Boebert labels Rep. Omar a jihadist. Why don’t GOP leaders condemn the slur?

These comments are just the latest salvo of such rhetoric from Republican politicians, a shift from the era when Republican President George W. Bush repeatedly called on Americans to oppose terrorism while supporting Islam and Muslims more generally. As candidate and as president, Donald Trump often attacked Muslims and Islam, including calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. But anti-Muslim bias is widespread throughout the GOP ranks. Indeed, a report commissioned by the organization Muslim Advocates found that more than 80 political candidates across 33 states in the 2018 midterm election had utilized anti-Muslim rhetoric. All but two of the candidates were Republican. The widespread use of anti-Muslim rhetoric, combined with lack of political consequences, suggests that Americans, or at least those who identify as Republican, find anti-Muslim bias acceptable. In other words, Americans have not developed social norms of equality that constrain anti-Muslim rhetoric and behavior. My research supports this conclusion. read the complete article

07 Dec 2021

'The Forever Prisoner' explores how the US compromised its values after Sept. 11

If a goal of the Sept. 11 terrorists was to undermine American values, "The Forever Prisoner" makes the case on that score, at least, the bad guys won. Focusing on the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a former associate of Osama bin Laden held in detention since 2002, director Alex Gibney's HBO documentary argues the US response marked "our retreat from the ideals we claim to be fighting for." Gibney (who again narrates the film) manages to interview several key players in the counter-terrorism fight, meticulously documenting the extent to which the government compromised established guardrails in the name of safety and security. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, says the stunning nature of the Sept. 11 attacks "made us stupid." The prevailing belief, the film notes, was that all bets were off in dealing with the perpetrators, who by virtue of their actions "had opted out of the human race." Gibney contends the terrorists had thus effectively provoked the US government "to abandon the principles of democracy that we claim to live by." The nature of how those principles were bent fell directly on Zubaydah, the first detainee subjected to what were bureaucratically known as Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. "Forever Prisoners" presents detailed descriptions of waterboarding sessions and includes an interview with CIA contractor James Mitchell regarding such practices. Two decades later, Zubaydah remains incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, prompting Gibney -- whose recent HBO documentaries include "The Crime of the Century" and "Agents of Chaos" -- to ask, "How can we imprison a man, without charge, for the rest of his life?" read the complete article


07 Dec 2021

India: Hindu groups continue to disrupt Muslim prayers in Gurgaon

For more than two months now, right-wing Hindu groups have been protesting against Muslims offering Friday prayers in public spaces in Gurugram – less than an hour outside the Indian capital New Delhi – causing outrage and anxiety among the minority. Last Friday, the demonstrators parked nearly a dozen trucks at one of the prayer sites in Sector 37 of Gurugram, which is better known by its older name Gurgaon, in the northern state of Haryana, which is governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As a group of Muslims arrived for the weekly congregational prayers, a crowd of Hindu men began shouting religious slogans, including Hail Lord Ram, heckling the worshippers, and saying the prayers would not be allowed – all in the presence of heavy police security. Gurugram, home to 1.1 million people, according to the 2011 census, is a financial and technology hub where numerous multinational companies have their offices. Less than 5 percent of its residents are Muslim. Faced with a shortage of mosques, Gurugram’s Muslims had been offering their Friday prayers in parks and on empty lots for years with due approval from the authorities. About 100 such sites were earmarked for the purpose. But persistent protests by Hindu groups have disrupted the prayers in recent months, prompting city officials to withdraw permission from most of the sites. In a video that went viral last Friday, a Hindu vigilante named Dinesh Bharti was seen heckling a Muslim imam, identified as Shehzad Khan, saying in Hindi: “Namaz nahi hogi yahan (There won’t be any prayers here).” He was dragged away by the police and reportedly arrested later for instigation and disturbance of public peace. Indian media reports said Bharti had been arrested on similar charges earlier as well. Since mid-September, right-wing Hindu groups under the banner of Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (Joint Hindu Struggle Committee) have been disrupting Friday prayers across Gurugram, once by spreading cow dung over a site and at times by holding Hindu prayers instead. read the complete article


07 Dec 2021

Far-right French presidential hopeful promises 'reconquest' at rally

French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour promised on Sunday a "reconquest" against decades of decline at his first political rally, as scuffles with anti-racism protesters broke out on its fringes. "If I win this election, it won't be another rotation of power but a reconquest of the greatest country in the world," Zemmour said in a nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech. He said he was calling his party "Reconquest", a name that evokes the historic period known as the Reconquista, when Christian forces drove Muslim rulers from the Iberian peninsula. With echoes of Donald Trump's first campaign for U.S. president, Zemmour promised to slash immigration and taxes to cheers from flag-waving supporters that organisers put at 15,000. A Reuters count put their number at around 10,000. Zemmour supporters threw punches and chairs at several protesters wearing anti-racism T-shirts trying to stand on chairs as Zemmour gave his first speech since declaring his candidacy. Five-protestors were injured, their association said afterwards. Separately, as Zemmour moved through the crowd towards the stage to give his speech, a man lunged and grabbed him briefly by the neck before being tackled by security and later put in custody by police. read the complete article


07 Dec 2021

It's been 6 months since members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont., were killed. What's changed?

Six months ago, members of the Afzaal family of London, Ont., were out for a walk when a truck jumped the curve and ran over them in a deadly attack that devastated the Muslim community. how much has changed since June 6? "There's this underlying sense that all the things that were said on that day were just words and didn't really mean much beyond words," said Imam Aarij Anwer, the London Muslim Mosque's director of religious affairs. Anwer said he's encouraged politicians are now willing to name Islamophobia as a Canadian problem, but he's disappointed there's been so little action to tackle it, despite July's national summit. Siham Elkassem, whose research focuses on the trauma faced by racialized children and youth, spoke about why words don't always translate into action. "This sense of amnesia sets in after communities experience abhorrent forms of racism and oppression," said the London clinical social worker, who's also a PhD candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland. "We quickly forget." Elkassem wants governments to spend more money to help those victimized by racism who worry for their personal safety. Nawaz Tahir, a London lawyer and chair of the Muslim Advocacy group Hikma Public Affairs Council, wants the justice system revamped. "Hate crimes and violence against women are two of the most underreported crimes in society," he said. "Our justice system is really ill equipped to handle both kinds of crimes, and so we really need to make changes. "In that perspective, we have a long way to go." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Dec 2021 Edition


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