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 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, a newly released report for the city of London recommends a permanent memorial at the site of the June 2021 anti-Muslim killings, more education about the contributions of Muslims, and establishing an advisory council to keep politicians accountable, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, a new podcast series from the New York Times and Serial Productions is set to investigate the source of the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter and examine the affair’s impact on community cohesion and anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, and in France, a petition by French activists to stop a controversial law that would bar Muslim women from wearing the veil while playing sports has garnered thousands of signatures. Our recommended read of the day is by Alice Su for the Los Angeles Times on the start of the Beijing Olympics and how Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Chinese human rights advocates, are calling for governments to boycott the Games and athletes to speak out against the Communist Party. This and more below:


03 Feb 2022

As Beijing Olympics begin, exiled Uyghurs fight for families oppressed in China | Recommended Read

Five years after China began the campaign of mass incarceration, cultural erasure and coercive labor, most Uyghurs abroad remain cut off from their families. Many kept quiet through the first years of the camps, afraid that contacting their loved ones would draw fresh persecution. But Uyghur exiles have since grown bolder — staging protests and filing legal complaints — in calling attention to their people’s plight and taking a stand against repression. Now, as the world’s gaze turns to Beijing for the Winter Olympics, Uyghurs, along with Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Chinese human rights advocates, are calling for governments to boycott the Games and athletes to speak out against the Communist Party. More than 240 international nongovernmental organizations, many of them human rights groups, issued a statement last week urging governments, athletes and sponsors to not legitimize China’s abuses. Tohti hopes the groups succeed. He cannot bear that his boy, Abdulaziz, has lost the language of his people. He first learned of it in 2019 when he spotted Abdulaziz in an online video on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. The child was shouting patriotic answers in Mandarin to questions posed by a stranger: What was the name of his homeland? The People’s Republic of China! What was the homeland’s flag? Red flag with five stars! The boy appeared to be in a state-run institution, one of the many “orphanages” and boarding schools where thousands of children have been sent for Chinese education after their parents are detained. Tohti called it a “children’s camp” for “brainwashing.” The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group that has lived in what is now northwestern China for thousands of years. The region is rich in natural resources and crucial to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road economic initiative. Tensions have simmered in the territory for decades, at times exploding into violence, as the Chinese state encouraged Han Chinese settlers to migrate to Xinjiang. After Sept. 11 and the U.S.-declared “war on terror,” China portrayed Uyghurs as potential terrorists to justify the state’s increased surveillance and crackdowns. read the complete article


03 Feb 2022

Here's how London, Ont., hopes to fight Islamophobia months after killing of Afzaal family

Eight months after the attack on the Afzaal family and London, Ont., began a reckoning with Islamophobia, a newly released city report recommends a permanent memorial at the site of the killings, more education about the contributions of Muslims, and establishing an advisory council to keep politicians accountable. "The Muslim community remains hurt and frightened. They are angry, they are frustrated and they are desperate for all levels of government to stand by the commitments that were made following the terror attack," said Rumina Morris, director of London's anti-oppression and anti-racism division, and author of "A London For All: An Action Plan to Disrupt Islamophobia." "This [the attack] is not something that people have moved on from, in spite of the fact that it hasn't received as much attention in the last few months." London's Muslim community is diverse, but people want to see more action to help prevent future hate-filled incidents, Morris said. "There's a lot of frustration," she said. "People are not feeling safe and they want to know, 'How did we even get here, and what do we need to do differently?'" Women who wear the hijab or other Muslim coverings feel particularly vulnerable, Morris said, and young people want their voices to be heard. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Photographer draws attention to Islamophobia in Edmonton through photo series

For the past year, Edmonton’s Muslim community has been on edge. A series of racially motivated assaults, against mostly Black Muslim women, has left people feeling unsafe. “I think that’s really sad and alarming and scary,” Edmonton photographer Faisa Omer said of the instances of Islamophobia. Omer recently shot a portrait series with Black Muslim women and girls, who are lit by projected images of public areas in Edmonton where attacks have occurred, including the Southgate Centre shopping mall parking lot and transit stations. “Being a Black Muslim woman myself, it stirs up a lot of emotions,” Omer said of the photos. “Do I actually belong enough? Am I Canadian as everyone else. That’s kind of what’s being stirred up, even with the people being pictured.” There have been more than a dozen attacks against Muslim women in Edmonton since December 2020, according to a recent interview with the executive director of the Africa Centre. Most recently, a woman was attacked near a northeast Edmonton mosque on New Year’s Day. Omer said she hopes her portrait series amplifies the voices of Black Muslim women and lead to change. As to how people can help, Omer said in some of the attacks, bystanders could have done more. “If you see an attack happen… maybe record a video or stay behind and give your account to the police or make a witness statement. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Afzaal family memorial part of London plan to 'disrupt' Islamophobia

A mural and a flower bed are part of a memorial plaza planned to honour three generations of the Afzaal family, killed in northwest London last year in what police allege was a targeted attack because of their Muslim faith. A community garden is also in the works to pay tribute to the family of avid gardeners. The memorial is just one element of a wide-ranging plan to address Islamophobia in London in the wake of the fatal hit-and-run June 6, 2021, at Hyde Park and South Carriage roads. “Longstanding, in our community at that intersection, there will be an image that’s created by (Muslim) youth in honour of their friend lost and the family members that were taken,” said Rumina Morris, director of city hall’s anti-racism and anti-oppression division. City council will be asked to spend $150,000 from a reserve fund to create the memorial plaza to honour the family: Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and Salman Afzaal’s mother Talat Afzaal, 74. The family’s nine-year-old son was the lone survivor. A 20-year-old London man is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one account of attempted murder. The plan to tackle Islamophobia goes beyond the mural and garden, stretching from policy demands to widespread education and awareness campaigns for children and non-Muslims across the city. City hall released a 160-page report Wednesday detailing dozens of recommendations, and the road to reach them, including sessions with community organizations and Muslim Londoners across a variety of backgrounds and sects. “Islamophobia is very much permeated within our structures and within our systems. If we don’t tackle it there, it’s very hard to come at it on the ground,” Morris said. “People were not feeling safe as we started this process.” read the complete article

United States

03 Feb 2022

NYPD officer charged with hate crime in alleged anti-Muslim attack, prosecutor says

A New York City police officer has been charged with a hate crime after he allegedly assaulted a motorist "until he lost consciousness" while using anti-Muslim slurs in an off-duty incident, authorities said. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Monday that Riggs Kwong, 50, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment. The charges are related to a violent traffic altercation alleged to have taken place on the morning of Jan. 16 in Brooklyn's Kensington neighborhood. The incident is alleged to have started after Kwong blocked the vehicle of the victim, a 32-year-old man who was driving a Toyota Rav 4, the DA's office said in a statement. The victim allegedly followed Kwong’s vehicle, a Honda Accord, to an intersection before driving in front of it and cutting off the officer. Kwong is alleged to have videotaped himself telling the victim: “I’m trying to make a left here on the service road and this terrorist is terrorizing me, you’re upset because I didn’t let you make a U-turn, Mr. Mohammed … Al Qaeda, Terrorist, ISIS …” The racial slurs continued as the victim exited his vehicle to take a photo of the officer's license plate, the DA's office said. The victim returned to his car, but got out again and slapped the hood of Kwong's vehicle, prompting the officer to exit his car, according to the prosecutor. The situation escalated, with Kwong allegedly spitting in the man’s face and the victim spitting back, the DA's office said. The officer allegedly punched the man while continuing to use anti-Muslim language, according to officials. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Why Guantanamo Bay prison still hasn’t closed

In 2002, the US opened a prison at its naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The 9/11 attacks had occurred just months before, and the US was capturing hundreds of men in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It wanted a place to hold and question them. So the Bush administration opened Guantánamo and claimed that it existed outside of US and international law. The detainees didn’t have to be charged with a crime to be imprisoned, and the US could hold them as long as they liked. By 2003, there were nearly 700 men imprisoned in Guantánamo, but there was backlash from around the world. When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he pledged to close Guantánamo. But politics quickly got in the way. He was able to decrease the prison’s population but faced legal challenges. Ultimately, no president has been able to close Guantánamo because once something is created outside the law, it's almost impossible to bring it back inside the law. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Biden’s Guantanamo Politics are not Obama’s

On January 11th, the Guantanamo prison marked its 20th year. Although the population has slowly decreased over time, there’s a lot about Guantanamo that hasn’t changed. It still fuels hatred and bigotry, and flouts the rule of law. Torture’s legacy continues to loom large—from the speed with which victims’ health is deteriorating, to its impact on the military commissions which, save for the rare exception, can’t seem to produce anything but paralysis and injustice. And on the global stage, Guantanamo remains a target for charges of U.S. hypocrisy from the likes of China and Russia. One aspect of Guantanamo, however, clearly has changed: the politics surrounding it, which are much more conducive to closure now than they once were. Recent polling shows that two thirds of Americans either support closing Guantanamo, or don’t much care. Only 17% strongly oppose, even when the plan includes prosecuting men in U.S. courts. Here, Biden has yet another advantage over Obama: he hasn’t yet, doesn’t need to, and shouldn’t, focus on bringing men to the United States for trial (and certainly not for continued indefinite detention). The 27 men who have never been charged with a crime, and the two who have already pled guilty, can be resettled or repatriated. The ICRC’s extraordinary public rebuke of the administration for failing to transfer men out more quickly underscores the urgency. Current law doesn’t prevent foreign transfers, and in the unlikely event that some Members of Congress wanted to legislate new obstacles to such transfers, assuming Biden is committed to closure they would need a super-majority to do so, which they don’t have. read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 Feb 2022

The 'Trojan Horse affair' explained

In 2013, a letter was sent anonymously to local officials in Birmingham purporting to expose a conspiracy by Islamists to take over schools in the English city. The letter purported to be evidence of a "Trojan Horse" plot to introduce conservative Islamic rules and indoctrinate students in anti-western, fundamentalist ideologies at a number of schools in predominantly Muslim areas of Birmingham. The exposure of the letter sparked a firestorm in the British media and political circles, which led to dismissals, investigations, accusations of Islamophobia, changes to counter-terrorism policy, and scare stories about the threat to secular education in the UK. There was just one problem: the letter was almost certainly a fake. Neither the author of the letter nor the person who passed it on anonymously to Birmingham city officials has ever been identified. Now a mammoth podcast series from the New York Times and Serial Productions is set to investigate the source of the letter and examine its impact on community cohesion and Islamophobic sentiment in the UK. The Trojan Horse Affair, hosted by Brian Reed and Hamza Syed, and set to be launched on Thursday, promises to shed new light on the saga and determine, according to a press release issued ahead of the series, whether "an entire country has been duped". With brand new details on the affair due to be revealed, Middle East Eye takes a look back at the details behind one of the biggest controversies affecting British Muslim communities in recent years. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Muslim councillor speaks out about Islamophobia

Nusrat Ghani’s allegations of being subjected to anti-Muslim racism is very relatable for many Muslims, especially Muslim women who have experienced similar racism in their place of work. Islamophobia is a pernicious form of racism that is firmly established across our political system, in society, in sports and across significant sections of the media. And yet, there are plenty of people who deny Islamophobia is a form of racism including those in government and in power and across the political spectrum. When British Muslims talk about the discrimination we face based in our workplaces, in our places of learning, when we are looking for jobs or trying to get on with our lives, we are frequently told that Muslims are not a race and therefore Islamophobia is not racism. Of course, Muslims are not a race, but we Muslims are racialised as a homogenised threatening group and treated as a race. Muslims are pathologised as a race. When Islamophobia is raised as an issue by Muslims, we are always told this is an attempt to shut down criticism of Muslims or Islam and the issue of free speech is always raised. Again, Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism, it needs to be acknowledged and tackled as this just as all racism needs to be tackled across society. Anyone who wants to criticise Muslims or Islam should of course be free to do so and should do so without being Islamophobic and racist – its perfectly possible to hold both these positions at the same time. I’m a British Muslim woman in political and public life. I am a journalist and a national anti-racism, women’s rights and equalities campaigner. I’m also an Oxford City Councillor and Cabinet member for Inclusive Communities. Whenever I speak publicly or in the media about the issues I work on and am professionally qualified to speak on, I face a barrage of racist, Islamophobic and misognistic abuse. I often face all three at the same time. I am frequently subjected to racist trolls and other more serious racist abuse that I’ve had to report to the police and that means I’ve had to take steps to review my personal safety as I go about my day-to-day life and work. read the complete article


03 Feb 2022

Uyghur activist urges Olympians to put pressure on China with podium gesture

Kabir Qurban remembers being proud of his new home as he and his parents attended the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. But Qurban, who immigrated to Canada with his Uyghur parents in 2007, says nobody should be happy about China hosting the Games, which are set to begin in Beijing on Feb. 4. He says more than 30 of his Uyghur family members are living under government oppression in China's Xinjiang region. "To allow China to hold such an event, it brings the quality of the Olympic Games down," he said, citing China's record of human rights violations in Muslim-majority Xinjiang, as well as in Tibet and Hong Kong. Qurban, now a high school teacher in Surrey, B.C., knows it's unrealistic to hope the Beijing Games will be called off at this late stage. So, instead, he is working with activists worldwide on a campaign challenging Olympians to make a silent statement that will raise awareness of China's atrocities. The Score4Rights campaign is asking athletes who medal to make a crescent-shaped hand gesture symbolizing hope while they're on the podium, to show their solidarity with those subject to China's state oppression. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Is China Committing Genocide Against the Uyghurs?

In early December, the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities” in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Though American athletes will still compete in the Games, no U.S. government officials will attend the global gathering. Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada also plan to join the diplomatic boycott. As some critics have pointed out, the gesture is largely symbolic, calling attention to the issue without taking punitive action against the Games’ host. China’s repression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group based in Xinjiang, has prompted widespread condemnation by the international community in recent years. The Trump and Biden administrations both placed economic sanctions on China for its treatment of the Uyghurs. Congress has been busy, too, passing legislation that bars imports from Xinjiang unless they’re proven to have been made without forced labor. The Asian superpower, for its part, denies any wrongdoing. The story of what the Uyghurs have experienced in Xinjiang, from detainment to mass surveillance to forced sterilization, has trickled out slowly due to the stringent control China exerts over its media. But over the past ten years, as documents have been leaked to the press and more Uyghur activists have escaped the country, a bleak picture has emerged, leading some observers—including the U.S.—to classify China’s ongoing human rights abuses as genocide. Here’s what you need to know about the Uyghurs ahead of the Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday, February 4. read the complete article


03 Feb 2022

Women in France seek to end 'humiliation' against the hijab in sports

French attempts to ban women from wearing the hijab in sports is met with outcry and thousands campaigning to stop the decision from becoming law. A petition by French activists to stop a controversial law that would bar Muslim women from wearing the veil while playing sports has garnered thousands of signatures. "I am passionate about football," said the 22-year-old Foune, a native living in the suburbs of Paris in a petition she started. "I have been fighting for more than a year to allow all women, including those who wear the veil, to practice their favourite sport in official competitions," she added, fearing that the current legislation will institutionalise anti-Muslim discrimination. Widely circulated on social media, the petition went on to add that thousands of women in France who have made the "intimate choice to wear the veil" felt "excluded." "Being excluded from a football field was personally one of the greatest humiliations of my life," said Fortune, who is campaigning using the hashtag "Les Hijabeuses", which was launched by social justice group called the Citizen Alliance. Many Muslim women face hurdles in working and school environments where they could be forced to take off their hijab due to anti-Muslim legislation in the country. "This is the case for thousands of women today in France, who juggle between abandonment, loss of self-confidence, fear, and apprehension," says the petition. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Activists oppose plan to ban hijab in French sports competitions

Campaign groups launched a petition on Saturday opposing a proposal by French lawmakers to ban women from wearing the hijab in sports competitions. The petition was launched by Les Hijabeuses, a campaign group of French female athletes who wear the Muslim head covering. "I am passionate about football and I have been fighting for more than a year to allow all women, including those who wear the veil, to practice their favorite sport in official competitions," a statement from 22-year-old Hijabeuses member Founé read. "This amendment, if passed by the National Assembly, would mean that thousands of women living in France who wear the veil will once again be excluded, sidelined, marginalised and stigmatised," it continued. The petition was widely shared on social media along with the French-language hashtag #LaissezNousJouer (#letusplay) and had gathered more than 52,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. read the complete article


03 Feb 2022

India: Rohingya widow refugees face poverty, hostile attitudes

Rohingya women who fled to India to escape persecution in Myanmar are living in wretched conditions in the country's slums. Widows, in particular, are struggling to make ends meet. read the complete article

03 Feb 2022

Muslim women targeted by app built for harassment

Five people have been arrested for involvement in the Bulli Bai app which is designed to harass Muslim women over social media. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Feb 2022 Edition


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