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 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In China, the government chose a Uyghur athlete to perform the ceremonial lighting of the flame, which critics described as “shocking and hugely insensitive to use a Uyghur athlete this way, when there is an ongoing genocide,” meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Ex-Tory MP Sajjad Karim has come forward stating that in 2019 he first raised an allegation of Islamophobia against a serving minister and that more than two years later party leadership has still not followed through on investigating the event, and in France, Macron’s government introduced a new body to reshape Islam in France, which critics say is the government’s latest initiative in institutionalized discrimination against French Muslims that holds the whole community responsible for violent attacks of a few and serves as another barrier in their public lives. Our recommended read of the day is by Eric Kohn for Indie Wire on the Sundance documentary, Jihad Rehab, which Kohn argues has multiple issues including reinforcing the most negative connotations of the term “jihad,” positioning the subjects as ominous Muslim stereotypes, and labelling men as “terrorists” who haven’t been accused of actual crimes. This and more below:

United States

07 Feb 2022

Sundance’s Spotify Problem: The Debate Over ‘Jihad Rehab’ Is a Wakeup Call | Recommended Read

Even as the Sundance 2022 news cycle moves on, a sore spot remains with “Jihad Rehab.” Among the many problems with director Meg Smaker’s look at a Saudi Arabian institution designed to help former Guantanamo Bay prisoners reintegrate into society: There’s the title, which reinforces the most negative connotations of the term “jihad”; the positioning of the subjects as ominous Muslim stereotypes; and an ethically dubious approach to labeling men as “terrorists” who haven’t been accused of actual crimes. Even as the Sundance 2022 news cycle moves on, a sore spot remains with “Jihad Rehab.” Among the many problems with director Meg Smaker’s look at a Saudi Arabian institution designed to help former Guantanamo Bay prisoners reintegrate into society: There’s the title, which reinforces the most negative connotations of the term “jihad”; the positioning of the subjects as ominous Muslim stereotypes; and an ethically dubious approach to labeling men as “terrorists” who haven’t been accused of actual crimes. I’m not here to linger on the multitude of problems with “Jihad Rehab” or dig deeper into the behind-the-scenes of its production — more erudite voices did that all week — except to confirm for anyone wondering that, yep, it’s got issues. A white woman who embedded herself in Saudi Arabia, Smaker injects her own leading questions as if on a mission to box in her subjects. She attempts to get them to admit to crimes as they deny culpability. The movie turns on assumptions about Islamic misogyny and militant impulses. Even without the dopey “rap sheets” that detail unsubstantiated charges, “Jihad Rehab” maintains an air of Western superiority — as if the men were the stooges at the center of Chris Morris’ dark post-9/11 satire “Four Lions.” read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Wrongly accused of genital cutting, a Muslim mom won’t accept ‘case closed’

When a detective asked the women in separate interviews why they suspected FGM rather than a natural or medical condition for any perceived difference, they each invoked the mother’s background as a Turkish American Muslim, according to the sheriff’s report. That linking of Islam to FGM, a practice that spans faiths and continents, touched off an inquiry that made its way to the Homeland Security office for human rights violations and war crimes, home of an anti-FGM program called Operation Limelight USA. The call also upended the child’s family and is forcing a tough conversation on the island about the far-reaching harm of anti-Muslim stereotypes. Homeland Security agents looked into the claim along with local authorities and found no evidence of a crime, according to records reviewed by The Washington Post. The sheriff’s report chalked it all up to a misunderstanding “borne out of a sincere but misguided fear” as well as “false assumptions based on Internet research.” “Case closed,” a detective wrote in September. “The case is not closed for me,” said the girl’s mother, Ferah Uri. She and her husband, Richard Uri, said they can’t sleep because of intruding visions of strangers forcing their daughter’s legs apart. Ferah quit her job because they no longer trust babysitters. The couple worry that they’ve landed on some watch list and might face hassles at the airport. And they wonder how much their daughter, now 2, remembers of their distress last summer. Ferah has read the sheriff’s report so many times that she knows it by heart. The same phrases keep flashing through her mind: Homeland Security. War crimes. Crimes against humanity. Turkish descent. Muslim mother. The family said their ordeal reflects what they see as the ground-level consequences of Islamophobia, a form of bias that Muslim rights groups say is often overlooked because of the widespread post-9/11 vilification of Islam. Reluctant at first, the Uris ultimately decided to share their story, which they said reveals how a single incident can leave a trail of devastation. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

'This is unacceptable:' After Biden reversed Trump's Muslim ban, advocates say little has changed

The move promised long-awaited relief and hope of reconnection to thousands denied the chance to be with loved ones under the Trump administration. But advocates, initially grateful and optimistic, now say little has changed, and most applicants have yet to be reunited with their families or even notified of their status. “We were trying our best to be patient, but this is unacceptable,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (AAAJ-ALC). “We’ve seen very little progress, and people have suffered in the meantime.” Last month, Kohli’s San Francisco-based organization was among more than 100 immigrant and refugee support groups from around the country that co-signed a letter pleading with Biden to follow through. The effort was led by the No Muslim Ban Ever Campaign and National Iranian American Council. “Where the rescission should have been a beacon of hope for those denied under the ban, many have instead given up on their dreams of coming to the United States,” Donna Farvard, the Iranian council’s national organizing director, said in a statement. “The Biden administration must take immediate action to right these wrongs.” Advocates cite examples such as Marziyeh Ehtesab, an Iranian woman who wished to join her lonely sister in the United States, or Mohammed Mushin Abulla, a Yemeni man who mortgaged land and sold off valuables to pay the costs of traveling to Malaysia for his application interviews. After much time and expense, both ultimately won visas through the U.S. diversity visa lottery program – but found them revoked under the ban instituted by former President Donald Trump because of their countries of origin. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

NYPD officer faces hate crime charges in reported anti-Muslim attack that left man unconscious

A New York City police officer is facing hate crime charges after being accused of using anti-Muslim slurs while punching a man until he was unconscious. Riggs Kwong, 50, who was off-duty during the incident, is charged with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a Monday statement. On Jan. 16, Kwong blocked a 32-year-old man from driving down a road, investigators said. The man then followed Kwong and drove in front of his car, according to the DA statement. As Kwong began videotaping himself using anti-Muslim slurs, the man got out of his vehicle to take a photo of Kwong's license plate, the DA's office said. Investigators said Kwong continued to use racial slurs, and the man slapped the hood of Kwong's vehicle. Kwong then got out of his vehicle and spat in the man's face, prosecutors said. The man spat back at Kwong before Kwong punched him several times, causing him to fall to the ground, according to the statement. After the man stood up, Kwong is accused of using anti-Muslim slurs while continuing to punch the man until he fell to the ground again and lost consciousness. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

‘Empty promises’: The US’s ‘Muslim ban’ still reverberates

Ahmad is among thousands of foreign nationals and US citizens, whose lives were upended by former President Donald Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban“, which barred entry into the country for citizens from several Muslim-majority nations. The ban had an immediate, dramatic impact. Around this date five years ago, when it first came into effect, Trump’s order stranded hundreds of travellers who were already en route to the US and caused chaos at airports as people had their previously issued visas cancelled, were detained and sent back home. Now, despite President Joe Biden’s decision to reverse the ban on his first day in office last year, Muslim Americans, rights advocates, and immigration experts say the policy continues to have a lingering effect on American citizens, as well as on people in far-away countries who remain separated from loved ones. “I am very angry, I feel this is unjust,” said Ahmad, who added that the visa application fee, as well as travel and medical test expenses, cost him a year’s salary. “On top of the injustice that we have here, there is another loss.” read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Tortured Guantánamo prisoner accused of September 11 links should be released – US panel

US authorities have recommended releasing an inmate with significant mental health issues from Guantánamo Bay and repatriating him to Saudi Arabia, according to a government document published Friday. Suspected of being al-Qaida’s intended 20th hijacker for the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured by interrogators at the US military base in Cuba where he has been detained for nearly two decades. The government dropped its case against him in 2008 due to the abuse he experienced at the prison. The detention of al-Qahtani is “no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States,” the periodic review board, a panel composed of several US national security agencies, said in a summary of its decision. In its final determination dated 4 February, the board said al-Qahtani was “eligible for transfer” and recommended that he be repatriated to Saudi Arabia where he could receive comprehensive mental health care and be enrolled in a rehabilitation centre for extremists. The body noted his “significantly compromised mental health condition and available family support”. read the complete article


07 Feb 2022

France is on a dangerous collision course with its Muslim population

French lawmakers last month voted to ban women and girls from wearing hijab while playing sports -- showing the world once again that when it comes to further politicizing, targeting and policing European Muslim women, our clothing choices and bodies, France is in a league of its own. The French Senate voted 160 to 143 in favor of the ban on wearing the hijab and other "conspicuous religious symbols" in sports competitions. The amendment was proposed by the right-wing Les Républicains, which argued the hijab could risk the safety of athletes wearing it while playing sports. In France, Muslim women using their agency, and exercising their human rights to wear what they choose to wear, is deemed a safety risk. France's attempt to apparently liberate and save Muslim women from ourselves and our headscarves is a racist and colonial project dressed up as upholding the country's secular values. The project heaps Islamophobic harm on Muslim women. Indeed, it is misogynistic and hateful to force women to remove hijab -- as much as it is misogynistic and hateful to force women to wear hijab. The proposed ban is opposed by Emmanuel Macron's government and French lawmakers expressed "regret" over the government's "lack of will" to put a stop to what they describe as the "development of Islamism in sport," CNN reported. It comes against the backdrop of a forthcoming presidential election in April, where France's domestic politics continue to lurch further to the right, and many Muslim residents and communities of color are being subjected to divisive and toxic political rhetoric on Islam, immigration and race. In just two years, France is also hosting the Olympics, meant to bring nations together in a united show of inclusivity on the world stage. A divisive and discriminatory hijab ban only shines a further spotlight on how ill at ease France is with building a modern multiculturalism state. The proposed law will now be revised by the National Assembly, which is expected to have the final word. All of which means that, for now, Muslim women playing sports in hijab have been given extra time to do so with the bill prevented from being passed in its current state. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Macron's government seeks to reshape Islam in France

The French government on Saturday introduced a new body to reshape Islam in France, part of President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to rid it of extremism. The Forum of Islam in France leadership will be made up of clergy and lay people to help guide the largest Muslim community in western Europe. All of its members will be hand-picked by the government and women will make up at least a quarter of them. Critics also see the efforts as a political ploy to lure right-wing voters to Macron’s centrist party ahead of France’s April 10 presidential election. Critics, including many Muslims who consider the religion a part of their French identity, say the government’s latest initiative is another step in institutionalized discrimination that holds the whole community responsible for violent attacks of a few and serves as another barrier in their public lives. It replaces the French Council of Muslim Faith, a group set up in 2003 by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister. The Council served as an interlocutor between the government and religious leaders. Macron’s project includes measures like training imams in France instead of bringing them in from Turkey, Morocco or Algeria — a plan many in the Muslim community approve of. It also breaks the centralized leadership of clerics. Muslims are divided over the project. Some believers visiting the Grand Mosque of Paris for Friday prayers cautiously welcomed the idea, while others worry it’s going too far in trying to control their faith, or say that the government has singled out Islamic institutions but would not dare suggest such changes to Christian ones. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

French far-right presidential candidates fight for limelight

France’s dueling far-right presidential candidates held back-to-back campaign rallies Saturday, trying to steal each other’s thunder and keep their nationalist, anti-immigration agenda front and center in the race for April’s presidential election. Marine Le Pen, who came in second in the 2017 presidential election, was holding her first major campaign event in the city of Reims in Champagne country. She presented her platform to thousands of supporters and tried to reinvigorate her base after some high-profile defections to the campaign of rival Eric Zemmour. Zemmour, a pundit and provocateur who has been repeatedly convicted of hate speech, held a rally in the northern city of Lille on the same day, apparently to try to draw attention away from Le Pen. Some protesters outside the rally skirmished with police. Both candidates are hoping to unseat President Emmanuel Macron in the election on April 10, which also has a presidential runoff between the top two contenders on April 24. Macron has a campaign team in place but has yet to officially declare his candidacy. A centrist, he has shifted to the right amid growing support for conservative and far-right policies, notably on security and immigration. “It’s up to the French people to decide who gets to live in France and who becomes a citizen,” Le Pen said, adding that immigrants “must submit to this country’s values” and not the other way around. Zemmour has no political experience but is widely known for his role as a TV commentator, which has allowed him to spread his extreme views. His program includes banning women from wearing Muslim headscarves in public and prohibiting construction of any “imposing” mosques or minarets. In Saturday’s address, Zemmour stuck to familiar themes: He promised to “put an end to asylum applications filed on our soil” and to wrest France from what he said was “Islamization.” read the complete article


07 Feb 2022

Sharjeel Imam: Indian activist languishes in jail for a speech

It has been two years since 62-year old Afshan Rahim met her activist son, who is in jail facing sedition and several other charges under the ‘anti-terror’ law for making speeches during the mass protests against a controversial citizenship law. “I am hopeful he will be out soon inshallah [God Willing],” says Rahim whose 34-year-old son Sharjeel Imam, a PhD scholar at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), has been languishing in jail since January 2020. Imam is believed to be the pioneer of the Shaheen Bagh protest, a 100-day-long peaceful sit-in in the capital organised in response to the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by the Indian Parliament in December 2019. The CAA fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries but excludes Muslims. The passage of the act, which the UN said was “fundamentally discriminatory”, triggered countrywide protests, particularly by the minority Muslim community. “He was made a scapegoat, just to suppress the anti-CAA movement, but they [government] gave a message to the entire community, that if you dare to speak, you will face the consequences,” says Muzamil, Imam’s younger brother who now looks after the family. Imam’s father had died in 2014 after battling cancer for several years. “People think that only Sharjeel is suffering. Definitely, he is in jail facing worse conditions but the condition of my mother is no different at home. She doesn’t let me go anywhere fearing she would lose me too,” Muzamil told Al Jazeera. “Sharjeel has cases registered in different states and I need to travel for legal procedures. I can’t be with my mother and brother at the same time. I don’t know what to do,” Muzamil says. Imam faces eight cases across five Indian states – Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Uttar Pradesh – on charges including sedition and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). UAPA is a stringent ‘anti-terrorism’ law that allows an accused to be designated as ‘terrorist’ and detained for months without bail. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

'India is not France,' say activists fighting to wear the hijab in schools

Hindu nationalist politics seeps into schools, endangering hijab-wearing Muslim women's education. A government-run high school in India seeks to set a precedent on whether Muslim girls can attend school with a hijab. Weeks of protests by six teenage students will come to a head when the high court in the southern Indian state of Karnataka will hear two petitions that argue that Muslim women should attend classes even if they are wearing the hijab. Videos on social media emerged of Muslim women having the school gates shut in their faces as they attempted to enter the school. Scenes of young female students crying and pleading with the school to allow them to enter the premises with months to go before exams that could decide their future went viral, sparking a heated debate. According to one observer, some students in the school linked with right-wing Hindu organisations came to school wearing saffron shawls, a symbol of Hindu nationalist groups, and protested against the girls wearing hijab - a demand that the school has now given into. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Another Indian college bars Muslim girls wearing hijab

Another hijab row broke out in the southern Indian state of Karnataka after Muslim students were not allowed to enter a government college for wearing a headscarf, Anadolu News Agency reports. This is the second college in the State banning the hijab. After the latest incident, people have taken to social media platforms to support the students. "Hijab is our Right" is trending on Twitter, showing support for young girls. On Thursday, some two dozen Muslim girls in Kundapura area of the Udupi district were stopped from attending classes, after some students belonging to right-wing groups wore saffron scarves – the colour favoured by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – and opposed Muslim girls wearing hijabs. "Let us all stand for the rights of our sisters. What is the reason for this discrimination? Why are they not allowed to enter colleges … just because they wear hijab," said Tousif Nandehalli, a Twitter user. A video has also gone viral where Muslim students were seen pleading for entry into classrooms after they were stopped by the college principal. They also said that denying entry just before exams will jeopardise their future. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 Feb 2022

Ex-Tory MEP on his Islamophobia claim: ‘It was a political exercise to use my religion to undermine me’

After Sajjad Karim first raised an allegation of Islamophobia against a serving minister he says he was told by Tory HQ that he would be contacted by the party inquiry to share his evidence. More than two years later, he is still waiting for a call. The former ConservativeMEP - who spent 15 years in Brussels representing north-west England - spoke out in September 2019 amid a series of Islamophobia claims piling up against the party. The 51-year-old recalled overhearing a conversation between two Conservative Parliamentarians with Islamophobic content directly about him. “I was able to hear these conversations directly with not just an Islamophobic base, but a very clear expression of very prejudiced views and positions which were clearly Islamophobic,” he told the BBC. Today, as he calls for the Conservative party to finally investigate his allegation, Karim has given The Independent his fullest account to date of the alleged 2013 incident. Though he is not publicly identifying the individuals - one of whom he says went on to become a minister and is presently serving in government - he has confirmed he will name names to an investigation. It comes in the wake of a separate claim last month by Tory MP Nusrat Ghani that her Muslim faith was given as a reason for her being sacked as a minister, prompting Boris Johnson to order a Cabinet Office inquiry. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

‘Bankrupt’ anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson faces court questioning over finances

One of the UK’s most prominent far-right, anti-Islam activists will be quizzed by courts after failing to pay legal bills for a libel case he lost against a Syrian refugee. Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was sued by Jamal Hijazi for defaming him online. In response to footage widely circulated online of Hijazi being bullied, Yaxley-Lennon, 39, released a video claiming the 16-year-old boy had attacked “young English girls.” He failed to prove those claims were true, and was ordered to pay £100,000 ($135,604.50) in compensation to Hijazi and legal costs understood to amount to around £500,000. At a later hearing in March 2021, however, Yaxley-Lennon claimed he was bankrupt and thus unable to make those payments. But now, the English Defence League founder has been called in front of a judge to answer questions about his finances. Hijazi’s barrister argued that Yaxley-Lennon, who did not attend the hearing, could be cross-examined about his finances over the debt, despite the ongoing bankruptcy process. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Gove acted on ‘bogus’ allegations of Islamist plot to take over Birmingham schools

Michael Gove ignored repeated warnings that the “Trojan horse” allegations of an extremist takeover of schools in Birmingham was “bogus” and pressed ahead with divisive interventions, according to evidence revealed in a New York Times podcast. A briefing by Birmingham city council in February 2014 for Gove, then education secretary, said it had found “a serious credibility gap” regarding the anonymous letter, saying it contained “serious factual inaccuracies and, in a number of areas, contradictions” in allegations of an Islamist plot to subvert state schools in the city. The evidence collected by Hamza Syed and Brian Reed, two journalists working on the podcast, reignites the controversy surrounding the alleged plot, which triggered a series of raids, takeovers and turmoil in schools in central Birmingham with high proportions of Muslim pupils. But despite investigations by the government, Ofsted and Birmingham council – including one by Peter Clarke, a former national head of counter-terrorism, commissioned by Gove – the origins of the letter have never been discovered, and little or no evidence of a concerted plot or radicalisation of pupils was ever established. The eight-part podcast, The Trojan Horse Affair, said Gove was also told that Birmingham city council’s independent auditors had investigated allegations against schools named in the Trojan horse letter. According to the briefing given to Gove, the audit “had come to a clear view there was no basis” for the allegations. read the complete article


07 Feb 2022

UN Ambassador: China Had Uyghur Athlete Be Olympic Torchbearer To Distract From Genocide

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Sunday that China choosing an Uyghur athlete to light the Olympic flame was an attempt to distract viewers from the country’s genocide of the predominantly Muslim ethnic group. Speaking to host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Uyghur skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang being the final torchbearer at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony Friday night was “an effort by the Chinese to distract us from the real issue here at hand: that Uyghurs are being tortured, and Uyghurs are the victims of human rights violations by the Chinese.” Yilamujiang, a 20-year-old cross-country skier, held the torch with Zhao Jiwen, a skier from China’s dominant Han majority. Uyghurs are culturally, linguistically and religiously distinct from Han Chinese, and are native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. China’s hosting of the Winter Games has made many exiled Uyghurs feel that their voices aren’t being heard when they speak out about atrocities the country’s government has committed against the Turkic minority group. Human rights groups have called the Beijing Olympics the “Genocide Games,” while the U.S. and other Western democracies have cited human rights abuses in staging a diplomatic boycott of the event. The Chinese government has targeted the Xinjiang region’s Uyghurs with a network of detention camps as part of a years-long campaign of forced assimilation – one which critics and formerly detained Uyghurs recalled involving harsh living conditions, family separation, mass surveillance and coercive birth control policies. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Court case aims to force Canada to acknowledge Uyghur genocide and act against China

By not doing more to stop China’s genocide of the Uyghurs, Canada is ignoring its obligations as laid out in a United Nations convention, a newly filed Federal Court application alleges. The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project filed the application in Montreal this week; spokesperson Mehmet Tohti says it aims to have a judge declare that a genocide is happening in China and also issue “any order or remedy” in response. “They have an obligation to act,” Tohti said of the government, “by staying silent, they are silently contributing to the Chinese government’s attempt to normalize the genocide.” Allegations China is committing genocide against Uyghur people, particularly in its northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have been bolstered by credible evidence in recent years. Some estimates say as many as two million people have been detained over time in internment camps where forced labour, torture and sexual abuse are common. Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, also known as the Genocide Convention. The convention came into force in 1951 and lays out definitions for what constitutes genocide. It also calls for prevention and punishment for offenders. read the complete article

07 Feb 2022

Kashmir journalist arrested amid widening crackdown

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested a prominent journalist under stringent “anti-terror” law and sedition, accusing him of “glorifying terrorism” and “spreading fake news”, in an intensifying crackdown on press freedom in the Himalayan region. Fahad Shah, 33, editor of a local news portal, The Kashmir Walla, was arrested on Friday from the southern district of Pulwama – a month after Sajad Dar, a Kashmir Walla contributor, was arrested for social media posts. A number of Kashmiri journalists have been arrested, questioned and investigated for doing their work since India’s Hindu nationalist government scrapped the region’s special status in 2019. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based media watchdog, in a statement called the arrest “utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely”, while the International Press Institute (IPI) also spoke against the “continuous crackdown” on the press in Kashmir. “Authorities must immediately release Shah, and all other journalists behind bars, and cease detaining and harassing journalists for simply doing their jobs,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator. The police in a statement carried out by local media said Shah was among Facebook users and news portals that uploaded “anti-national” content with “criminal intention to create fear among the public”. read the complete article


07 Feb 2022

Misconceptions and realities about the state of Islamophobia in Canada

Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy defines Islamophobia in terms of racism, stereotypes, fear and acts of hostility towards followers of Islam. While this broad definition can sometimes be helpful, Islamophobia in this country operates in much more complex ways. For example, the strategy mentions that “Islamophobia can lead to viewing and treating Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level.” This definition fails to address the steps needed to overcome the discrimination that has become systemically embedded through our public institutions and workplaces — and let’s not forget the negative portrayals of Muslim in media. Islamophobia can be visible in these despicable acts, but is it rooted in our systems. In July of last year, I attended the National Summit on Islamophobia, hosted by the federal government. Through discussions here and elsewhere, it appears to me these conversations on the national stage largely position Islamophobia as a challenge of interpersonal and overt discrimination, rather than one that is deeply embedded in our institutions. Yet as countless researchers highlight, Islamophobia also shows up in less overt ways. Most often, this is in the context of employment and the workplace. As a researcher focused on workplace culture, I have had the opportunity to speak with many Muslim women who share countless stories of workplace Islamophobia. Recently, I spoke with a hijab-wearing woman, who recounted the many occasions of systemic discrimination directed at her in the workplace. As one of a handful of Muslim women in her industry, she alleged she was prevented from opportunities for learning and networking — barriers non-Muslim staff did not face. She also described being stereotyped and excluded from decision-making processes at the organization. Most alarmingly, she alleged the organization she worked for would attempt to silence workers whenever they raised concerns over inequitable treatment. While these stories are about the workplace, Muslim’s experiences with Islamophobia are not limited their jobs. Freedom of self-expression, freedom of clothing and freedom of faith are privileges of the dominant group; these freedoms are not afforded to the Muslim community. read the complete article


07 Feb 2022

China bags Winter Games gold and a rap for ‘cynical ploy’ of Uyghur torchbearer

China’s early success in these Games was overshadowed by the reaction to its decision to choose cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, from the western Xinjiang region, where more than a million Uyghurs are in re-education camps, to perform the ceremonial act of lighting the flame. The criticism was led by the World Uyghur Congress, which said it was “shocking and insensitive” and that China was deliberately sending a blunt message to a people it represses. “China is politicising the Olympics, which we warned the IOC [International Olympic Committee] would happen,” its spokesperson, Zumretay Arkin, said. “But they didn’t want to listen to us. It is shocking and hugely insensitive to use a Uyghur athlete this way, when there is an ongoing genocide.” The IOC has not commented on the repression of the Uyghurs, saying that it must stay politically neutral. But Arkin insisted that position is a sham. “At the opening ceremony, the whole IOC narrative about sports and politics not mixing was shown up,” she added. “China’s government was sending a message: we control you, and we get to do whatever we want without being held accountable, and everyone is complicit in it.” Her comments were reinforced by Bennett Freeman, a member of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region’s steering committee, who called China’s decision “a brazen, cynical ploy that the world should see through”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Feb 2022 Edition


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