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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27 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, a cachet of documents made public by the advocacy group Hope not Hate shows that a secret organization within the House of Lords has been collaborating with far-right groups, meanwhile in Canada, representatives of Canadian Muslim communities are calling on the government to improve the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) in light of a statistical increase in anti-Muslim attacks and numerous reports of delays and inconsistencies, and in the US, a Muslim advocacy group is calling for action by state and local authorities after a Mosque is vandalized in the city of  Philadelphia. Our recommended read of the day is by Clive Stafford Smith for Al Jazeera on the release of Guantanamo Bay inmate Ahmed Rabbani, who was held without charge for 20 years, and how the US government fails to take accountability for the vast human rights violations at the military prison. This and more below:

United States

26 Feb 2023

Guantánamo: Sorry seems to be the hardest word | Recommended Read

It was very moving to watch the tracker that followed the United States air force C17 aircraft as it flew across the Atlantic and above the Straits of Gibraltar. I knew that seated on board was my Guantánamo client Ahmed Rabbani, going home to Karachi after 20 years of abuse in American custody. On September 10, 2002, Pakistani government officials collected a $5,000 bounty for handing Ahmed over to the US with a story that he was a notorious terrorist called Hassan Ghul. Since then, his path has been one of unfathomable suffering. Ahmed insisted from the start that he was not Ghul but a taxi driver from Karachi. Rather than run the risk it had wasted its money, the US took him to the Dark Prison in Afghanistan for 540 days of torture. Astoundingly, we later learned the US captured the real Ghul and brought him to the same prison – but then set him free while sending Ahmed to Guantánamo. The US initially insisted that Ahmed and the 778 other Guantánamo detainees were the “worst of the worst terrorists” in the world. To clear Ahmed for release, the US spy agencies had to agree that he posed no threat to the US or its coalition allies. Of the 32 who still remain in US custody, 16 have also been cleared, so the US has been wrong in at least 764 of 779 cases. This is an astonishing 98 percent error rate: What other human endeavor has got it so wrong? read the complete article

24 Feb 2023

Philly diversity exec, former FOX pundit, resigns amid claims she lied about her race

According to allegations in an open letter circulated on Feb. 10 by a “group of individuals who care deeply about AFSC”, Saraswati was living a lie. The meticulously footnoted letter accused her of “cultural vulturism,” alleging that Saraswati, formerly known as Rachel or Raquel Seidel, misrepresented herself as having Arab, Latinx and South Asian heritage. Saraswati had also served as a commentator about Muslim extremism for conservative news outlets including FOX News and Newsmax. She spoke about the difficulties Muslim women face in a documentary by media company Clarion Project, listed until 2020 as an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. After the social media and tabloid furor that followed, Saraswati will “separate” from AFSC, confirmed spokesperson Layne Mullett in an email to USA TODAY Network this week. “Raquel Saraswati, who is facing public allegations that she misrepresented her background and past associations, has informed us of her intention to separate from the organization,” Mullett wrote. The AFSC supported Saraswati in leaving the organization, Mullett wrote, calling the decision “difficult” and “deeply personal.” read the complete article

25 Feb 2023

Al-Farooq mosque opens new doors, celebrating growth, support of Nashville's Muslim community

Al-Farooq Islamic Center of Nashville opened new doors on Saturday, marking progress, not only for the mosque, but for the broader, Nashville Muslim community. “Serving is what really matters and that is what we hope to establish and nurture and allow to grow and not only to benefit ourselves, but to be a benefit for this wider community,” Salaad Nur, a leader with Al-Farooq, said at the ribbon cutting event Saturday. Mayor John Cooper, Metro Council members, Metro Nashville Public School board members and other Muslim community leaders attended the celebration. Al-Farooq is one of 12 mosques in Middle Tennessee. That community solidarity with Al-Farooq has come in good times and bad. Several speakers at Saturday’s event mentioned a 2010 incident when vandals spray painted Islamophobic messages on Al-Farooq’s building on 4th Avenue South. There was another incident later in 2013. The 2010 vandalism at Al-Farooq preceded a 2011 legislative effort commonly called the “anti-Sharia bill.” Critics said the proposed legislation was Islamophobic. Tennessee Muslims and allies organized to successfully stop the bill, which led to the formation of the American Muslim Advisory Council. read the complete article

25 Feb 2023

Family, Islamic group want action after teen's hijab was removed at Kentucky school

A Hardin County girl was suspended last fall following an incident after another student attempted to remove her hijab – a punishment her mother and the Council on American-Islamic Relations say was harsher than what was given to the boy they say initiated the confrontation. Kenneisha Turner Wright, said her 14-year-old daughter was suspended for three days after the Oct. 25 incident while the other student involved was back in class at Vine Grove's James T. Alton Middle School the next day. The discrepancy in punishments was unfair, Wright contends, and the incident has remained on her daughter's permanent record, forcing her to miss school events she'd looked forward to including an end-of-the-year field trip. The Islamic relations group, which called the case a "possible hate crime," said in a release that Wright was able to privately view a video of the incident, though it did not include audio — which she believes exists, because she said school personnel told her what was said. The organization said it has pushed the school district to re-evaluate disciplinary actions against the student and expunge her record. read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 Feb 2023

Secret House of Lords circle ‘shown to have worked with far right’

A secretive organisation accused of collaborating with far-right activists has been operating out of the House of Lords for more than a decade, a cache of leaked documents suggests. The organisation, called the New Issues Group (NIG), includes the former Ukip leader Malcolm Pearson and the Tory former deputy speaker of the House of Lords Baroness Cox. The cache of documents, acquired by anti-fascist group Hope not Hate, even suggests that a figure who would become one of the UK’s most notorious anti-Muslim activists drafted questions to be asked in the House of Lords by group members. Confirming the group’s existence, Cox denied that the NIG was anti-Muslim, saying it could “certainly not” be described in such a way. Minutes of a November 2013 meeting indicate that Anne Marie Waters – who in 2016 set up the UK branch of the anti-Islam group Pegida with Tommy Robinson – “was asked if she would help draft a question for Caroline Cox to ask in the Lords”. Cox did not comment when asked about the apparent involvement of Waters. Founded in 2012, the group met as recently as January this year. Its existence emerged after Pearson sent an email to 235 people but – instead of bcc-ing them – accidentally sent it so that everyone could see the entire list. Among an array of Conservative party MPs, aristocrats, bishops, businessmen and journalists were high-profile far-right figures including Geert Wilders from the Netherlands, Tommy Robinson and US anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who was banned from entering the UK in 2013. Pearson’s email stated: “Islam is a vast subject. But if we try to discuss it in public, we are accused of Islamophobia. Our MPs are too frightened of the growing Muslim vote to discuss it. Several of my fellow peers jeer when I raise it in the Lords.” read the complete article

26 Feb 2023

A review of the Prevent review: Shawcross's guide to 'good Islam'

In 2012, William Shawcross, then director of the Henry Jackson Society, gave a speech in the US in which he said: "Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. "I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations." These comments reflect the spirit of Shawcross’s allegedly independent review of the controversial Prevent Strategy, published earlier this month. Shawcross, best known for his advocating of extrajudicial detention camps such as Guantanamo Bay and torture techniques like waterboarding, spends most of the 190-page report reminding the reader why the War on Terror exists in the first place: Muslims present an exceptional threat. Britain must provide an exceptional response. The Shawcross report relies heavily on case studies to argue that Islamists should take precedence and the threat posed by the Far Right is exaggerated. The report is sprinkled with examples of Muslims who committed acts of violence - not all within the UK - as an indication of the nature of the threat. It is devoid of any context of the demographics of Muslims in the UK, and the little relation they have to any form of violence. This framing is key. If the much-belated release of the William Shawcross review of the UK counter-terrorism Prevent strategy tells us anything, it is that we can do away with the myth that there is a "good Muslim". Permeated across the pages of the review is a deep mistrust of Muslims, regurgitating right-wing tropes that emphasise Islamic ideology as a root cause of terrorism. read the complete article

26 Feb 2023


Shamima Begum is a name that’s been embedded into British history for all the wrong reasons. In recent years the conversation about her case has shifted from Britain being hell-bent on keeping her out of the country to more calls for an investigation into how she was groomed for terrorism in the first place. But there’s more to her story. There are millions of South Asian Muslim women who’ve been left isolated and vilified because of the UK’s treatment of Begum’s case. This piece sets out to amplify the voices of South Asian Muslim women in the UK and at the same time showcase the unsettling reality of the discrimination they have to face. It should go without saying but I, and all the women I spoke with, strongly condemn the actions of Shamima Begum. However, we will not turn a blind eye to how the UK handled her case. Speaking with various South Asian Muslim women on this topic I realized that they are demonized, isolated, and let down. It’s clear to the South Asian Muslim community that race played a major factor in the way Shamima Begum’s case was treated. In comparison to how the UK treats White women in similar situations, the UK definitely has its bias. read the complete article


25 Feb 2023

Kerala: Right wing Christian group spreads anti-Muslim hate among school students, Muslim group files complaint

The Student Islamic Organization (SIO) has filed a complaint against right wing Christian group in Kerala, Christian Association and Alliance for Social Action (CASA), for spreading hatred against the Muslim community among school students in the name of “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad” in Pulpally, Wayanad district. The complaint was filed by SIO Wayanad district president Muneeb NA Pulpally. Love jihad and narcotic jihad are the terms coined by right wing Hindu and Christian groups, to spread anti-Muslim sentiments in the society. The organizers used their Facebook page to share the program information. According to the caption, an awareness session was held in Pulpally on Sunday, organized by the Casa Wayanad District Committee, to educate people about Love Jihad and Narcotic Jihad. The Wayanad district officials Jyotish PT and AB Joy conducted the session. read the complete article


24 Feb 2023

With Islamophobia on the rise, Muslim communities are calling for safety. Canada already has one program, it just has to fix it

In the summer of 2021, members of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City travelled to London, Ont. with broken hearts. Thousands gathered in remembrance after four members of a Muslim family were cut down in an Islamophobic attack. Just four years before that, six worshippers were gunned down in a Quebec City mosque. As they journeyed to London for the public funeral, members of that community felt like they were both reliving and healing from a familiar trauma. One of them took to the podium that day to recite the Holy Quran. At that moment, hope seemed possible — hope for action to be taken against anti-Muslim hate at the highest levels. Canada has had seven people die on mosque premises between 2017 and 2022, including the 2020 murder of a beloved caretaker at Toronto’s International Muslim Organization (IMO) mosque. Between these three tragedies, 11 Muslims have died in Islamophobic killings. We are representatives of Canadian Muslim communities, including London and Quebec City, who are asking for better protection for the vulnerable. Our leaders must start listening. After the 2021 London attack, the National Action Summit on Islamophobia produced dozens of recommendations on how to combat anti-Muslim hate. One item we’ve emphasized is the need to improve a federal program that gives victimized communities funds to beef up facility safety. This is the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP). It is a great and important entity in need of some structural reforms. The program as it stands now, is oversaturated by applicants resulting in a ton of delays. read the complete article

24 Feb 2023

Furor over Amira Elghawaby’s appointment a theatre of white fragility

Canada, it is often said, is a country of two soliloquies. But there is another divide shaped by race and religion that results in its own monologues. One of these is the one where whiteness transcends traditional left-wing and right-wing perspectives and combines these political positions into a commentary on what anti-Muslim racism should be about, and who should lead an effort to tackle it. We saw this monologue dominate in early February in a theatre over the federal government’s appointment of a Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby. People were affronted about an op-ed she had written (with a white, Jewish man, Bernie Farber) that showed that 88 per cent of Quebecers who dislike Islam support Bill 21. Suddenly the conversation was not about why the new position was created, or why anti-Muslim hatred is rising in Canada, or what to do about it. Like ships that pass in the night, Elghawaby’s appointment was deluged by how Quebecers, left-leaning and right-leaning, the majority of whom are white (87 per cent), felt about being called anti-Muslim. This monologue is called “white fragility,” discovered by Robin DiAngelo, a white educator at the University of Washington. DiAngelo learned in 20 years of diversity training that white people often react with anger and disbelief when racism is discussed. She concluded that whites equate racists with bad people. They do not think of themselves as bad, so they conclude they cannot be racist. The mere hint suggesting they did something racist leads to anger and denial. read the complete article

25 Feb 2023

End Parliamentary privilege to stop spread of hate, MPs Muslim group suggests

Parliamentarians’ freedom of speech should be monitored to prevent anti-Muslim sentiment, the Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council said in a Senate submission. The group claimed MPs and senators have used their protection from libel suits to “spread hate.” “Parliamentary immunity should not be abused to spread hate,” the Council wrote in a submission to the Senate human rights committee. The panel is conducting hearings on Islamophobia. “Under parliamentary immunity individuals associated with spreading misinformation and anti-Muslim discourse have attacked Muslim charities and organizations as well as Muslim activists by making unsubstantiated allegations of connections to terrorism and extremism,” it said. “These remarks in turn have been relied upon by government, whether the Canada Revenue Agency or the Canada Border Services Agency, as evidence for actions against organizations or individuals.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Feb 2023 Edition


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