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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21 Feb 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar accuses Meghan McCain of trafficking in anti-Muslim hate speech, as the expanded travel ban plunges immigrant communities into a panic. In Germany. the gunman who killed 9 in an act of mass terror cites U.S President Donald Trump in his manifesto. Our recommended read today is by Asad Dandia on Bloomberg’s surveillance of Muslims, and how the program used spies to infiltrate Muslim spaces to report on everyday citizens. This, and more below:

United States

21 Feb 2020

Bloomberg’s NYPD spied on me for being Muslim. He has never apologized | Recommended Read

At 19, I was targeted by that discriminatory surveillance — and today, I’m reminded of how little the leaders responsible for it have grappled with the consequences. In March 2012, a young man messaged me over Facebook, asking to get involved. He wanted to become a better Muslim and asked if there were “any events or anything” that he could attend with me, as a start. He was searching for faith and community, and my community welcomed him. In the fall of 2012, the young man confessed on Facebook that he was an informant for the NYPD. The person I’d come to consider a friend, who ate food cooked by my mother’s hands, admitted that it was all a front — and he said that there were others like him. This sent us reeling. Our sacred spaces had been violated. We didn’t know who to trust, or where we could turn for help. Did I have to vet all my friends and watch my back everywhere I went? Bloomberg’s surveillance of Muslims extended beyond New York into Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and elsewhere. The program was so secretive and intrusive that Cory Booker, then the mayor of Newark, was not informed of it. Thousands of informants infiltrated Muslim sacred spaces, restaurants, cafes, student associations, businesses and other social settings to spy on and entrap ordinary people. The clandestine nature of this surveillance did not make it harmless: It caused significant, documented harm to Muslim communities: it dampened organizing, reduced religious practice and caused people to self-censor their political speech. It engendered social mistrust and fear among Muslims, and also between our communities and law enforcement. read the complete article

Recommended Read
21 Feb 2020

Iranian-Americans are treated like the enemy within

"I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you,” US President Donald Trump said on Twitter in Farsi last month, presumably talking to the Iranian people. My reaction as an Iranian-American was one of sheer rage. This is a president who issued a ban targeting Iran and other Muslim countries, imposed devastating sanctions on the people of Iran, and threatened to bomb Iran’s cultural sites. His administration has detained and deported Iranian students with valid visas, and treated Iranian-Americans, including US citizens, as suspects. The recent expansion of Trump’s Muslim ban only serves to show that this president is fully committed to his Islamophobic agenda. Anything coming out of his mouth about support for the people of Iran should be ridiculed and dismissed. The "othering" of entire groups of people has only grown in mainstream media and politics. Trump became president on a platform charged with Islamophobia, demonisation of immigrants, antisemitism and racism. Only a week after his inauguration, he enacted the Muslim ban, as he had promised during his campaign. Since then, hate crimes targeting Muslims have surged. Despite Trump’s professed "love" for Iranians, his administration is rejecting Iranians’ applications for waivers under the Muslim ban more than nationals of any other banned country. It approved only 2.9 percent of applications by Iranians seeking to reunite with their spouses in the US between December 2017 and March of last year. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Ilhan Omar accuses Meghan McCain of trafficking in 'anti-Muslim smears and hate speech'

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) lashed out at “The View” co-host Meghan McCain on Thursday after McCain criticized supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and alleged that they are misogynistic, “abusive and inspired by [Sanders]” online. “The same people who chastise the progressive movement regularly traffic in anti-Muslim smears and hate speech against me and those I represent,” Omar tweeted Thursday, sharing two images of tweets from McCain. “It’s almost as if they don't genuinely care about online harassment,” Omar continued. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

The Faith Imperative of the no Ban Act

Ten years ago, Jews and Christians joined together to publicly declare their solidarity with American Muslims by launching the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign, a national interfaith campaign to end anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. A decade later, we are still standing strong together as the rights and dignity of our Muslim brothers and sisters continue to be threatened. In response to the administration’s expanded travel ban — which goes into effect Feb. 21 — the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act was brought to the House floor for a vote last week. We urge all people of faith and conscience to join us in calling for Congress to support the No Ban Act. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Calls grow for Bloomberg to apologise for surveillance of Muslims

"The police only went in when the mosque, when the imam asked us to go in," Bloomberg told her at the opening of his 2020 presidential campaign offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in December. "Period. End of story," he can be heard saying on a video recording of the encounter. But a multipart, award-winning 2011 investigation by The Associated Press news agency found the NYPD mapped mosques and Islamic centres, eavesdropped on conversations, surveilled entire neighbourhoods and put informants, known as "mosque crawlers" or "rakers", in Islamic places of worship and gathering centres to monitor sermons in the decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The former mayor has not, however, apologised for the surveillance of Muslims, despite repeated calls over recent years from rights groups and those within the community to do so. "The American Muslim community, a target of the stop and frisk programme - many of our members being African American and of colour - find his apology about the programme lacking," said Robert McCaw, the Government Affairs Department director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "In that same vein, he has yet to fully account for his role in the NYPD spying on our community and for that he should apologise," McCaw told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Sanders wins endorsement of top Muslim group

Emgage PAC, which calls itself the biggest Muslim political action committee in the country, says it is backing Sanders because of his “inclusive” presidential campaign, and it hopes that its endorsement spurs Muslims to the polls. “More than any other presidential candidate, Senator Sanders has built a historically inclusive and forward-thinking movement: one that represents America as a set of ideas grounded in the belief that all humans are equal and worthy of a dignified life,” Wa'el Alzayat, Emgage PAC’s CEO, said in a statement. “It is an honor to receive this endorsement from Emgage Action,” Sanders said in a statement. “While Donald Trump has demonized our Muslim communities, our movement is working to bring Muslims and people of all backgrounds into the political system. Together we will create an economy, justice system and immigration system that are rooted in human rights for all.” read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

New US visa rules set off 'panic wave' in immigrant communities

Then a dramatic turn in US immigration policy halted their plans. The interview was postponed, and it is not clear when, or whether, it will be rescheduled. "It's terrible," Kyaw said. "There's nothing we can really do except pray. They've been waiting 12 years. If they have to wait another 12 years, they will." His is just one of many stories of confusion, sorrow and outrage spreading across some immigrant communities after the announcement of a Trump administration policy that is expected to all but shut down family-based immigration from Myanmar, also known as Burma, as well as Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan and Eritrea. The policy also restricts visas from Sudan and Tanzania. "There's a panic wave going through the community," said Grace Mobosi-Enwensi, president of the Minnesota Institute for Nigerian Development, a nonprofit group. read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Feb 2020

Britain First leader Paul Golding charged with terror offence

Paul Golding was stopped at Heathrow Airport in October on his way back from a trip to the Russian Parliament in Moscow by officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command. He refused to give the pin codes for a number of his electronic devices. He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday. Mr Golding, 38, is charged with refusing to comply with a duty under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Man arrested after London mosque stabbing

The mosque’s muazzin, who calls others to prayer, was stabbed in the neck in front of hundreds of horrified onlookers at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, in what one witness described as “30 seconds of mayhem”. Online footage showed the alleged perpetrator, a 29-year-old man, being pinned to the ground by police. While one witness claimed that he was a regular at the mosque, another said that he had never seen him before. The Metropolitan police, who arrested the alleged attacker on suspicion of attempted murder, said they were not treating the incident as terror-related. Abi Watik, 59, said: “We were shocked. We didn’t know what was happening.” He said the victim had been stabbed once in the right shoulder moments after prayers had started, and he believed the suspect had waited for that moment. “It had just started and he was waiting for them to start. He was praying behind him and then he stabbed him. He [the suspect] was silent the whole time.” read the complete article


21 Feb 2020

Australian ambassador meets with Myanmar military chief accused of Rohingya genocide

The commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s defence forces – recommended by the UN for investigation and prosecution for war crimes and genocide – has met with Australia’s ambassador and says he wants to train more of his officers in Australia. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is the supreme commander of Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, which has been accused of genocide in its systematic persecution of the ethnic and religious minority Rohingya. Australia’s ambassador, Andrea Faulkner, met Min Aung Hlaing on 29 January at the Bayintnaung Villa in the capital, Naypyidaw. The pair exchanged gifts and posed for photos. Human Rights Watch has said Australia’s decision to take the meeting risked giving legitimacy and credibility to a military accused of mass atrocities. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Citizens of nowhere: Trump ban raises fear for US Rohingya

Fears are growing in America's 8,000-strong community of Rohingya -- a Muslim ethnic group described as one of the world's most oppressed -- that they might be among the last to benefit from American largesse. President Donald Trump's inclusion of Myanmar beginning Friday on a list of countries with harsh US entry restrictions has laid bare the frailty of the community's prospects for peace. The president's infamous "travel ban" places tight visa controls on 13 countries, including the newly added Myanmar, Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, as well as former Soviet state Kyrgyzstan. Effectively putting a halt to entries from those nations, it is not supposed to bar refugees fleeing persecution, the State Department told AFP. But Azeem Ibrahim, director of the displacement and migration program at the Center for Global Policy, believes the message from the White House is clear. "Somebody in this administration probably realized that this is among the largest refugee population in the world," said the author of "The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar's Hidden Genocide." "So if you want to stop refugees you're going to include one of the largest populations." read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

'This would be a top news story if the shooter was Muslim'

At least nine people were killed in two attacks targeting customers at shisha bars, many of whom had migrant backgrounds. The suspect, identified as Tobias R, a 43-year-old white male, was found dead at his apartment along with his mother, according to officials. Germany's federal prosecutor said the suspected perpetrator's 24-page manifesto and video messages pointed to "deeply racist views". Despite strong reactions from world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, some social media users pointed out that the response to the story was somewhat muted - suggesting it would have gained more traction had the attacker been a Muslim. Others questioned why some news outlets had chosen to simply refer to the assailant as a "deranged gunman" and not a "terrorist" - or refused to describe the incident as a case of "Islamophobia". United States President Donald Trump, who is quick to condemn attacks by people of Muslim background, was yet to comment on the incident at the time of publication. read the complete article


21 Feb 2020

German Gunman Who Killed 9 Claimed Trump Took His Ideas

The attacker was identified by German media as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen. He was quickly linked to a 24-page screed in which he explained his belief that there is a need for Germany to rid itself of nonwhites, according to Insider. He also identified himself as an “incel” – a short term for “involuntarily celibate,” or someone who is involuntarily not sexually active. Rathjen’s manifesto also mentions Trump, accusing the president of stealing his ideas. “A billionaire in the USA is implementing my policy recommendation (even some slogans I developed like ‘America First, Buy American and Hire American’),” he wrote. Much of the shooter’s manifesto portrays him as possessing a questionable mental state, as it reportedly devolves into incoherent ramblings at times. It includes a number of racist remarks, including the false claim that people from countries in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East are fundamentally inferior to whites and should be “completely destroyed.” He also described Islam as “destructive.” Most of his victims were Turkish and Kurdish immigrants who had moved to Germany. read the complete article

21 Feb 2020

Hanau attack gunman railed against ethnic minorities online

The gunman who killed nine people in the town of Hanau out of apparent hatred of minorities and turned his weapon on his own mother and then himself has been identified in German media as Tobias Rathjen, aged 43. There is currently no indication that Rathjen was acting as part of a wider organised network. The interior ministry of Hesse state said on Thursday that the gunman had not been on the radar of police or intelligence agencies for holding rightwing extremist views. On what seems to have been his personal website, taken offline in the hours since the attack, Rathjen had uploaded a 24-page text in which he tells his life story, claiming that his thoughts and actions have been controlled by mind-readers working for an unnamed “intelligence agency”. While the statement does not explicitly announce his intention to carry out an act of terror, there are lengthy passages in which Rathjen rails against ethnic minorities in Germany and announces that people of certain African, Asian and Middle Eastern origins have to be “completely annihilated” within the country. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Feb 2020 Edition


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