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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08 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, a new video features local athletes and other people in sports sharing emotional stories about how racism affected them on and off the field, meanwhile in the United States, American Muslims share the impacts of being surveilled by the government, and noting that today the experience of social media is inseparable from the feeling of being watched — and the experience of being Muslim in New York City after 9/11, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, “covering for protection has become standard practice for many people,” with some arguing that this new trend can help destigmatize Islamic fashion. Our recommended read of the day is by Farid Hafez for Open Democracy on how many European governments are instituting policies aimed at tackling so-called political Islam, but in effect are criminalizing Muslims and Muslim civil society. This and more below:


08 Dec 2021

Europe has entered its own era of McCarthyism – against Islam | Recommended Read

However, countries supporting more hawkish policies regarding the surveillance of Muslims, such as Austria and France, did not give up. Instead they worked towards the inception of the “Vienna Forum on Countering Segregation and Extremism in the Context of Integration”, an annual conference established to intensify cooperation in the fight against “political Islam”, according to the Austrian Integration Minister Susanne Raab, of the conservative ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party), which was recently shaken by corruption allegations. The first iteration took place on 28 October, without much global media attention. What do countries such as Austria, France and Denmark mean, when they refer to the fight against so-called political Islam? One thing is sure: They do not mean militancy and violence. In the name of fighting what the French government calls “Islamist separatism”, French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has legitimised a crackdown on Muslim civil society organisations. In France, many mosques suspected of “separatism” were systematically raided, as they were seen as “breeding grounds of terrorism”. Aid and anti-racist organisations monitoring Islamophobia were also closed. And although the reasons for closing them were revoked, the outlawing was upheld by France’s top administrative court, the Council of State. Denmark has no better portfolio. Its parliament adopted a statement on 1 June signed by all major parties, including the governing Social Democratic Party, that targets academic freedom, as well as freedom of expression. The statement goes after what it calls “research that produces politics disguised as science”. Several reactions have underscored that academics working in the fields of race, gender, migration and post-colonial studies, are especially targeted by this document, as they have been publicly attacked in the past by Danish politicians and media outlets. Meanwhile, Austria, the host of the Vienna Forum for Democracy and Human Rights, is at the forefront of criminalising Muslims in the name of fighting so-called political Islam. Since breaking with its tolerant accommodation of Islam in the Austrian political system with the amendment of the Islam Act of 2015 that put the legally recognised Islamic Religious Society under heavy state control, it has implemented one legislation after another targeting its Muslim residents and citizens. These include the full-face veil ban in 2017, the 2018 ban on the hijab in elementary schools (later revoked by the Constitutional Court), as well as the closure of several mosques (also revoked by administrative courts). All of these measures were legitimised by the argument that they work against so-called political Islam. However, many measures were revoked because they were found to be unlawful or discriminatory against Muslims. read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

The Courtesy of Covering Up

Interestingly, this metamorphosis sparked by a pandemic was always the norm for those who live an Islamic lifestyle, sometimes referred to as the “modest lifestyle.” Muslims, who have a collective spending power of about $2 trillion, are taught to embrace modesty with elegance as a form of dignified living. Now that covering for protection has become standard practice for many people, I believe it highlights the benefits that Islamic fashion has always offered, while helping to destigmatize and eliminate it as an excuse to judge those of us who wear it. I also believe this overlap will push Islamic fashion to become a bigger global player in defining style for years to come. Muslims’ firm commitment to the modest lifestyle originates with the Quran verse in which Adam and Eve’s self-consciousness about being naked led them to cover. Islamic fashion serves a pragmatic purpose for Muslims, as it represents this “fitra,” or original state of purity. Yet Muslim attire has often come under attack. The Western world has called Muslim women weak and oppressed for covering their heads. Movements have been organized to ban the hijab, no matter the many occupations and dignified people who proudly cover their heads or faces without reproach: surgeons, nurses and bakers, who do so to protect people’s health; or even practitioners of other faiths like Jews, Catholics, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. Imagine forcing Mother Teresa to remove her head scarf. During the pandemic, the protective face mask became the world’s nod to the veil. Face coverings are now an ultimate gesture of courtesy toward the people around us. And after wearing masks for more than a year, some women today share the Muslim perspective of feeling safe behind a covering, especially from unwanted male attention. Yet in France, face veils are banned. And in April, the French Senate passed an amendment that would ban girls under 18 years of age from wearing the more common hijab. Even the burkini, a versatile piece of activewear unmatched in comfort, style and protection, is considered a threat, because it’s worn primarily by Muslim women. The country never faced a backlash against similar looking wetsuits for snorkeling or diving. When it imposed a 135 euro fine on anyone not wearing a face covering during the pandemic, I saw a clear double standard, given the 150 euro fine the country gives to those wearing a face veil. read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

2022 Olympians have a chance to protest the Chinese Uyghur genocide — just like brave athletes did during the Nazi games in 1936

It’s a shame that the president has decided to limit his response to Chinese human rights abuses to such a halfway measure. After all, the diplomatic ceremonies that take place at the Olympics are the least important parts of the event; it’s the athletic competition that matters. Permitting the American athletes to go to China will undercut the power of the Biden administration’s diplomatic gesture. Now the moral burden shifts to the athletes themselves — just as it did in 1936. When the Roosevelt administration declined to boycott that year’s Olympics in Nazi Germany, American Jewish organizations, the NAACP, and other groups appealed to U.S. athletes to refuse to go to Berlin, as a protest against the persecution of German Jews. Sadly, only a handful of athletes were prepared to forego the rewards of that year’s Olympics competition and speak out against oppression. Over the years, nearly all athletes continued to adhere to the notion that sports and politics shouldn’t mix. Recently, however, the consensus against mixing sports and politics has begun to crack. When controversy erupted over a new immigration law in Arizona in 2010, the Phoenix Suns basketball team donned uniforms with their team name written in Spanish as a gesture of solidarity with the state’s Latino community. In 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against racism in American society. Last year, the dam finally broke. When racial justice protests erupted across the country, professional sports leagues jumped in. Whatever one thinks of the merits of a particular issue or a particular type of protest, athletes who speak out are advancing an important principle: Social justice should not stop at the border. read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

Facebook sued for $150 billion over violence against Rohingya in Myanmar

Rohingya refugees are suing Facebook over its own admitted failure to stop the spread of hate speech that contributed to violence in Myanmar. This week, law firms in the United States and United Kingdom have launched a legal campaign against Meta, Facebook's (FB) parent company, over allegations that executives knew of anti-Rohingya posts, groups and accounts on the social network, and did little to curb them, they said in a statement. According to a website set up for the campaign, the UK legal claim will be on behalf of those who live anywhere outside the United States, while the American claim will represent those residing stateside. Altogether, the attorneys represent "Rohingya people around the world, including those living in refugee camps in Bangladesh," states the website. US law firm Edelson said on Twitter it had filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Meta in California. A copy of the complaint reviewed by CNN Business shows that plaintiffs are seeking more than $150 billion in compensatory damages, in addition to punitive damages to be determined in court. This week's legal claims accuse Facebook of using algorithms "that amplified hate speech against the Rohingya people on its platform," as well as failing "to take down specific posts inciting violence against or containing hate speech directed towards the Rohingya people," Mishcon de Reya wrote in a statement. Facebook also allegedly "failed to close specific accounts or delete specific groups or pages, which were being used to propagate hate speech and/or incite violence," the statement said. read the complete article

United States

08 Dec 2021


Then, a man he had never seen before in his close-knit community came up to him and asked him, “What do you think of Hamas?” Sadeia was stunned. He was just nine years old. The man was suspected of being an informant, although it was never confirmed. (Many never are.) And though it was Mosaab’s first encounter with surveillance, it wouldn’t be his last. It’s a common story among Muslims in New York — and in an age of oversharing, that experience has had a strange impact. Many, like Sadeia, have grown up cautious of saying too much online, wary of others like the man he met that day. A younger generation of Muslims has taken a more vocal approach, eager to break out of the fear of surveillance. But for both, the experience of social media is inseparable from the feeling of being watched — and the experience of being Muslim in New York City after 9/11. In 2014, the Demographics Unit was discontinued, but it still casts a long shadow over the city’s Muslim communities. Sadeia is now outreach director at Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, and remembers countless other incidents where he felt he was being surveilled. He has had random people ask him what his opinions on the caliphate are; what he thinks about Israel. Some of the people who asked him such questions were later confirmed by the mosques to be informants. In 2012, Asad Dandia, the community programs coordinator at the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York (CAIR-NY), found out he had been surveilled for seven months by a person he had befriended. The informant traveled with him and his friends to events, lectures, and would even assist them in delivering food to homeless people every night. So when Dandia found out that his friend was an informant all along, the betrayal was palpable. He remembers anxiety attacks and a constant paranoia. The next year, he joined a class action lawsuit against the NYPD over surveillance of Muslims, resulting in new protections against the practice. Ultimately, the experience made Dandia value his ties to the community even more. “We have to keep each other safe.” he said. “One of the intended effects of surveillance is to stifle your speech, to stifle your community activity, and essentially they want you to not be active. I always say do the reverse. Be as active and involved as possible, get in touch with organizations that can help you.” read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

FBI Investigates Fire at Albuquerque Mosque As Possible Hate Crime

The Islamic Center of New Mexico on Yale Blvd. SE has been targeted by what center leaders say is a hate crime. Surveillance video shows a woman setting multiple fires Monday morning near the prayer hall of ICNM. Mosque members believe the fires were started by a woman who came to the center last week expressing hostility. “The woman in the video has been to the mosque three times in the past two months,” said Tahir Guaba, public relations director for ICNM. “She tried to set fire to the carpet where the children play in an incident in early November,” he said. That incident was not reported to law enforcement at the time because of miscommunication among members. “At the time, our Imam tried speaking with her and she told him ‘Fuck all Muslims.'” This latest incident occurred on Nov. 29, when several cars driving by the mosque noticed a fire burning near the prayer hall and children’s playground. “Thankfully they stopped and helped put out the fire before there was much damage,” said Guaba. “After that incident, we looked at the cameras and realized it was the same woman who had returned.” read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

Lauren Boebert's bigotry toward Ilhan Omar is indicative of larger problems in America

Boebert said that she looked over at Omar and said to herself, “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” Boebert went on to call Omar part of the “jihad squad” — using existing anti-Muslim tropes to stir her base and create a dangerous environment for Omar and other American Muslims. Omar says that the elevator incident never happened. Omar has been outspoken against Boebert and the violence that she is perpetuating against herself and other Muslims. “I myself have reported hundreds of threats on my life often triggered by Republican attacks on my faith," Omar said during a press briefing on Nov. 30. Omar also discussed how religious freedom is a fundamental right embedded in the American Constitution, and linked Boebert’s recent comments to a longer history of anti-Muslim hatred in both Congress and American society at large. Many Republican leaders have been eerily silent about the issue. Omar called House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a “liar and a coward” for refusing to condemn Boebert’s hate speech. She also said she was “very confident” that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will take action against Boebert — which could result in removing the Colorado representative from committee meetings. She told CNN that McCarthy, “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 party. This is who they are. And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact that their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry.” read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

A Professional Basketball Player’s Hijab Journey

A Muslim athlete shares her story of expressing her true identity while on the court. Whenever an athlete steps onto a field, court, or fencing strip, they bring with them all that they are: their background, their lived experiences, and their religion. But for some athletes, their faith is a bit more visible than it is for others. As a college basketball player, Batouly Camara made three Final Four appearances with the University of Connecticut. She’s the daughter of immigrants, a children’s book author, and the founder of Women and Kids Empowerment (WAKE Academy). It’s a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls get access to sports and education. And if that’s not enough, she’s also one of the first Muslim women to play professional basketball wearing a hijab. read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

More than 400 Hill staffers demand House leaders act after Boebert's anti-Muslim remarks

More than 400 congressional staff members are calling on House leaders to “categorically reject the incendiary rhetoric” in the workplace following the recent anti-Muslim remarks by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., about Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. “As passionate public servants, we each have chosen to pursue a career in public service to work towards a better future for our country,” the aides wrote in an open letter to the chamber's leadership. “However, the recent remarks by Rep. Boebert have heightened the climate of Islamophobia on the Hill, creating a feeling of anxiety and fear for many Muslim staff, our families, and communities, and leaving many of us to look to our congressional leaders for support.” The letter, a copy of which NBC News obtained Tuesday, was signed by more than 50 Muslim aides. It is being released Wednesday. read the complete article

08 Dec 2021

Rep. Pressley to introduce resolution to condemn Rep. Boebert

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) plans to introduce a resolution Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments for repeatedly making anti-Muslim remarks aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), hoping the action forces House Democratic leadership to punish the lawmaker before the end of the year. Pressley’s resolution, first obtained by The Washington Post, comes amid mounting pressure by House Democrats for Boebert to be reprimanded for her Islamophobic attacks that surfaced via video of the Colorado Republican suggesting at an event in her district over Thanksgiving break that Omar was a suicide bomber. “For a Member of Congress to repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous. It has no place in our society and it diminishes the honor of the institution we serve in,” Pressley said in a statement. Nearly a dozen House liberals, including Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Judy Chu (Calif.), Jesús “Chuy” García (Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), have co-sponsored the resolution. read the complete article


08 Dec 2021

India: Are 'anti-Muslim' attacks becoming the norm?

Indian Muslim comedian Munawar Faruqui hinted at quitting the comedy scene last week after dozens of his shows were canceled over vandalism threats from hardline Hindu groups. "Hate has won, the artist has lost," Faruqui said in a post on social media. Faruqui spent a month in jail after he was arrested on January 1, just as one of his shows ended. He is accused of "insulting" Hindu religious sentiments in jokes that he had allegedly prepared, although they did not feature in his set that evening. The stand-up comedian has since been a constant target of Hindu vigilante groups. In another incident of religious hatred, the right-wing Bajrang Dal group attacked the set of the web series "Aashram" in Bhopal state in October. The group claimed that the title of the series was an "assault on Hinduism." Attackers allegedly smeared the filmmaker, Prakash Jha, with ink and assaulted another crew member. In August, a video of a 45-year-old Muslim rickshaw driver being beaten by a hardline Hindu mob in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh went viral on social media. The mobsters recited Jai Shri Ram, a Hindu chant, as they cornered the man while his young daughter clinged to him, pleading for her father's safety. Ghazala Wahab, author of Born A Muslim: Some Truths About Islam in India, warns that incidents of "low-intensity communal violence" has become rampant in India. "It is becoming more endemic. It has become like an overhang on the everyday life of all citizens but the brunt is borne by Muslims," she told DW. "I also know of people who are not Muslims but are worried. This kind of pervasive fear is something that is unprecedented," she added. read the complete article


08 Dec 2021

Manitoba athletes talk frankly about racism in sport in new video aimed at combatting discrimination

Najma Osman has been called the N-word twice while playing sports. She's also had her hijab pulled off in public, but the 19-year-old felt it came off the same as other racist encounters she's had on the pitch and the basketball court. Osman, who is attending Brandon University, is one of several local athletes and other people in sports sharing emotional stories about how racism affected them on and off the field in a new video released Tuesday aimed at tackling the issue. "It comes from everyone. You can even have your teammates be racist to you. You can have your own coach be racist to you. You can have other coaches be racist to you, the referee, parents … "They don't want you to be better than them," Osman told CBC News. Initially, she did not want to participate in the making of the video, but Osman received encouragement from a coach. "I learned that just talking about your experience might help motivate other people who have the same abilities as you but don't have the resources or the confidence to do what you do," she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Dec 2021 Edition


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