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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04 Feb 2020

Today in Islamophobia:  U.S. elections are underway in Iowa where a large population of Muslim communities are turning out to vote to pick the Democratic nominee, while Trump has expanded the Muslim Travel Ban to six new countries affecting more than 350 million people. Our recommended read today is on the growing far-right leaders in governments throughout Europe and the immersion of “national identity” debates. This and more, below


04 Feb 2020

Recommended Read: How the Far Right Became Europe’s New Normal

After the war, European electorates had grown comfortable choosing alternate governments of the center left and center right during the second half of the 20th century. Their leaders believed the Austrian experience to be an aberration and looked to make an example of the country. Members of the European Parliament declared en masse that the Freedom Party’s admission into a coalition government “legitimises the extreme right in Europe.” But in 2017, when Mr. Haider’s Freedom Party successor, Heinz-Christian Strache, scored a similar general election result and the party was once again invited into a ruling alliance, there was little attempt to ostracize the country. President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany moved quickly to welcome the new Austrian government, led by the 31-year-old conservative Sebastian Kurz, who sought success by adopting much of the Freedom Party’s anti-migrant stance. The youngest leader in the expanded European Union’s 28 nations, Mr. Kurz had called for Muslim-run kindergartens to be shut down and refugees relocated to outside Europe’s borders. The story of Austria in the 21st century is, in part, the story of the wider European project. Once, the far right was anathema. Now it is routine. Born outside the mainstream, its parties now operate as a powerful political force, pushing public debate and often government policy across the continent. How did this happen? read the complete article

Recommended Read

United States

04 Feb 2020

US elections: The Arab and Muslim vote may be decisive in Iowa

A sparsely populated state of just 3.1 million people, Iowa is home to some of the oldest Arab and Muslim communities in the country. Immigrants from modern-day Lebanon and Syria settled here in the late 1800s. In Cedar Rapids, a quiet city on a small river that feeds into the Mississippi, they constructed America's first Muslim house of worship - The Mother Mosque of America. On Monday, at the Iowa caucuses, which will set the tone for the Democratic presidential primaries approach, Arab and Muslim advocates say their communities may have a decisive role to play in choosing the party's nominee and potentially the nation's next president. "We want every Arab-American and Muslim-American across the state of Iowa to participate," said John Dabeet, a Palestinian-American organiser based in eastern Iowa. "We need to trust in the system here and be effective in the system," Abuissa said. He added that Arabs and Muslims have also been discouraged by bigoted attacks. While many activists told MEE that the state's population is "nice" and welcoming, one of Iowa's four congressional districts is represented by Steve King who has a history of making racist and Islamophobic statements. "That's my philosophy - to become proactive, get energised by those attacks," Abuissa said. "We want to influence the process." read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

For 1st time in Iowa history, mosques are serving as caucus sites

But this year participation of the Arab-Muslim community "has been huge ... it's been really amazing", he said. According to Ali, that's in large part due to the five mosques that are hosting caucuses on Monday evening - the first time Islamic centres will serve as sites for the party gatherings where Iowans openly discuss and choose their preferred Democratic candidate in the US 2020 presidential election. "It's historical," said state Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, the only Muslim state legislator in Iowa. The mosques are joining more than 80 other locations around the world to act as a "satellite sites", which were established this year to be more accessible and inclusive of all Iowans. "Our goal has remained steadfast throughout this process - to make these caucuses the most accessible in our party's history, and the satellite caucuses do just that," said Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) Chair Troy Price in a statement announcing the new satellite sites. For the Muslim community in Iowa, that means "having a safe place that is inclusive and is not going to give them any friction in the process", said Rummi Khan, co-chair of the Muslim Caucus of America. read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

Trump's Travel Ban is Islamophobia, Xenophobia policy, Civil rights group say

President Donald Trump’s expansion of the travel ban to six additional countries has nothing to do with security reasons as the administration claimed and is rather built on Islamophobia and xenophobia, leaders of several civil rights groups said. According to Grace Meng, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, the new travel restrictions are the latest move of the president's “xenophobic approach to communicate that immigrants are bringing problems” and that “keeping them out protects American interests.” The security justifications provided by the administration are “hogwash” and the timing of the announcement of the new restrictions — only a few days after the three-year anniversary of the original ban — proves it, according to Scott Simpson, public advocacy director at the nonprofit group Muslim Advocates. “There is no imminent security threat that waits for a commemorative anniversary to announce,” Simpson said. The ban is “the most overt policy expression” of the “bigotry” upon which Trump’s presidency is built. read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

Sanders wins endorsement from Muslim group, Iowa's only Muslim state legislator

The national board of the Muslim Caucus in America, founded in 2017 to develop a national infrastructure for American Muslim political organizing, announced its endorsement in a statement on Jan. 31. The endorsement listed candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren as its second choice. “For decades, Senator Sanders has been consistent in fighting for progressive policies and has demonstrated in word and in action the need to care for all Americans regardless of race, creed, or class,” the organization explained in its endorsement. “His passion has ignited a whole generation committed to disrupting corruption, inequality, and all forms of racial injustice.” The endorsement pointed to Sanders’ long history as a civil rights and labor rights activist, his commitment to ending “endless wars” and his statements in favor of vulnerable Muslim communities around the world including Palestinians, Kashmiris, Bosnians and Uighurs. The Vermont senator also received an endorsement from Muslim Caucus advisory committee member Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, a Des Moines native who has served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2007 and founded the African-American Islamic Association. read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

Two Utah inmates say prison is preventing their weekly Islamic prayers

Christopher Tolton and Davey Joe Williams have filed a federal lawsuit to be able to freely exercise their religion and participate in jumah, an obligatory Friday noon prayer. Tolton, 44, and Williams, 42, are faithful, devout practitioners of Islam, of which prayer is one of the pillars and the most important of all Islamic duties, according to the lawsuit. Tolton and Williams used the prison grievance process to request regular jumah but have been refused, the lawsuit says. The suit claims the prison is violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The lawsuit seeks an injunction ordering the prison to permit to the two men to congregate for the purpose of prayer and religious study. read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

Who’s Welcome (or Not) in U.S. Under Trump’s Travel Ban

Who’s banned from entering the U.S.? Citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen are generally barred from entering the U.S., whether they are seeking visas to visit temporarily or to immigrate. (Exceptions are made for students from Iran, Libya and Yemen.) The north African nation of Chad was the sixth nation on the original list but subsequently was dropped. The initial ban also restricted immigration, though not visits, by residents of Somalia. In January 2020, the Trump administration imposed similar immigration-specific restrictions to citizens of Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar. How many people are affected? More than 150 million people live in the countries targeted by the initial 2017 ban. As for how many have actually tried and been turned away, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs reported that almost 80,000 visa applications were considered under the terms of Trump’s travel ban in the roughly two years ending Dec. 31, 2019. About 52% of those applications, or more than 42,000, were declared ineligible as a result of the ban. The other applicants received their hoped-for visas under exceptions or waivers to the ban. read the complete article

04 Feb 2020

Trump Is Expanding His Racist Travel Ban, This Time Targeting Africans

The expansion is expected to affect more than 350 million people. Democrats say they will challenge the new ban and are expected to introduce the NO BAN Act in Congress soon. The latest travel ban takes effect February 22. We speak to Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. OMAR JADWAT: So, essentially what’s happened is they’ve taken the Muslim ban, they’ve doubled down on that Muslim ban by extending it further. Right? Remember, this was supposed to be a temporary measure. Even when he promised the Muslim ban, it was supposed to be until they figured out what the hell was going on. Well, they still haven’t figured it out three years later, right? So, we have that original Muslim ban continuing, and we’ve essentially added on top of it a ban on Africans. A quarter of the people who live on the African continent are now — live in countries that are now subject to the expanded ban. OMAR JADWAT: Who are the biggest group affected by the expansion of the ban, he said, would never “go back to their huts” if we allowed them to come to the United States, right? And so we just see him going from one prejudice to another, from one racist version of this ban to an expanded racist version of this ban. And that’s where we are today. read the complete article


04 Feb 2020

India’s Modi Calls Protests Against New Law a ‘Distraction’

The Aam Aadmi Party, that rules Delhi and the opposition Congress party are “playing games with Indian democracy,” Modi said in a campaign rally in Delhi. The protests in the city were a “distraction from real conspiracies,” he added. The city goes to polls on Feb. 8. Modi did not address those attacks or the rhetoric by members of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party directed against those protesting the law. The anger has been mostly aimed at the city’s Shaheen Bagh neighborhood where hundreds of Muslim women have been protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act for some seven weeks now. The women have been joined by hundreds of students and rights activists of all faiths. Modi, who was criticized in December for his speeches defending the religion-based law in which he had exhorted people to identify protesters by their clothes, on Monday steered clear of any direct defense of the law. Apart from criticizing the protesters he focused on tax announcements in the budget and investments planned for Delhi. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Feb 2020 Edition


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