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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06 Feb 2020

Today in Islamophobia: An op-ed argues Bernie Sanders is the strongest Presidential candidate for Muslims, even as Trump’s expanded Muslim Ban disenfranchised refugee populations in the midwest. Our recommended read is on anti-Trump supporters using Islam in order to cite Trump’s abuses of power in islamophobic comparisons. This, and more below:

United States

06 Feb 2020

Comparing Trump to ISIS Bolsters Islamophobia and Obscures Colonial Violence | Recommended Read

In the reactions to President Trump’s recent Twitter threat to attack 52 sites “important to Iran & the Iranian culture” — which would have been a war crime — another manifestation of civilizational supremacism was put on display: the pervasive tendency to condemn Trump by analogizing him to Muslims. The anti-Trump resistance regularly reaches for its Islamic dictionary to label Trump’s abuses of power. The U.S. president has been denounced as an authoritarian “caliph,” an enabler of “Christian sharia” and accused of waging “jihads” on everything from immigration to clean energy to Barack Obama. Such formulations validate and naturalize Islamophobic interpretations that pervert the meanings of these terms by reducing them to slurs. These Islamized insults also exceptionalize Trump as an alien phenomenon, distancing him from the very society that produced him. Similarly, in the retorts to Trump’s anti-Iran architectural aggression, the insinuation was that he is such an aberration in “the West” that he can only be compared to the ultimate Islamist “other.” Muslims are upheld as the benchmark of barbarism, a trope long used to cast Muslim and other populations outside the bounds of international law read the complete article

Recommended Read
06 Feb 2020

Trump's vision of what makes America great: Hegemonic state violence

Trump’s speech was geared only towards his base: white Christian Republican Americans. It projected power, control, hegemony, brute force and imperialism - or in other words, his conception of what makes America “great”. Trump’s address began by focusing on the domestic front, including employment, the stock market, trade deals and education. But rather than simply speaking to all of his "accomplishments", Trump strategically tokenised audience members and shared their stories for a particular reason: to demonstrate that his administration harbours no animosity towards people of colour, and to tie their successes directly to him. On religious freedom, Trump unabashedly proclaimed that his administration was “defending religious liberty” by not tearing down crosses. The irony of this remark was not lost on Muslims, amid a ban on travel from countries based precisely on their adherence to Islam. Trump announced he was expanding the ban last Friday to target additional countries, including many that are Muslim majority and African like Nigeria. Like his post 9/11 predecessors, no State of the Union address would be complete without addressing “radical Islamic terrorism”. From there, Trump immediately transitioned into talking about the recent Israel-Palestine deal, largely considered dead on arrival. If the "war on terror" has taught us anything, it’s that few people’s lives, save for white Americans, are treated as inherently valuable and worth defending. read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

She Shunned Islam And Was Embraced By Trump World. Now, She’s Turned Against Them.

A former rising star in MAGA world recently renounced the orbit of operatives who support President Donald Trump, calling them a "cult" and saying they broke campaign finance laws by requesting and taking her campaign donations. Now, Rabia Kazan is talking to the FBI. Kazan’s time in the MAGA world saw her make connections with top figures and lesser-known operatives. But she now believes she was "used" for her money — and for her identity as a former Muslim to help smooth over Trump’s incendiary comments about Islam. In 2007, she published a book, Angels of Tehran, based on her interviews with more than 200 women about abuses against them under extreme forms of Islam. She moved to the US in 2010 as a student and has been here ever since. She continued speaking publicly about women in the Muslim world, in particular targeting Sharia law and extremist ideology, and converted to Christianity. In 2015, she began supporting Trump because of his condemnation of radical Islam, despite his blatantly racist fearmongering. For nearly four years, Kazan, 43, was a frequent speaker on the MAGA circuit, receiving awards from campaign surrogates and posing for photographs with a who’s who of the president’s inner circle: Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conway, and more — including Trump himself. read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

‘Radiolab’ Covers Guantánamo Bay Detainee in First Serialized Story

For its first serialized story, “The Other Latif,” the show will take listeners to the barbed-wire gates of the prison at Guantánamo Bay to explore legal and ethical quandaries about a detainee. It’s a place that has been described as “the legal equivalent of outer space,” the show’s host, Latif Nasser, said in an interview. Abdul Latif Nasser, who had been at the prison since 2002, was still being held, even though a government review board had recommended his release in July 2016. This was all, his lawyers said, because of “nothing more than bureaucratic delay.” Nasser explores who the prisoner is and why he’s being held, working with the executive producer Suzie Lechtenberg for the series’s six episodes. But without the ability to interview his subject, Nasser had to weigh the government’s narrative with the lawyers’ version of events. read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

Bernie Sanders Is the Strongest Presidential Candidate for Muslims at Home and Abroad

According to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, most Muslim Americans lean toward the Democratic Party, but they’re also twice as likely as other Americans to lean toward neither political party. Significant shares of Muslim Democrats, like their Republican counterparts, are critical of the way both parties treat Muslims. While Muslims are under attack by the Trump administration and face deepening bigotry, discrimination, and racial profiling, the Democratic Party has taken Muslim voters for granted or not even considered them at all. But this is not true of one candidate in the Democratic presidential primary campaign: Bernie Sanders, who has consistently stood on the side of Muslims and immigrants. Bernie’s record and policies not only show respect and solidarity with Muslims in America — from his criticism of the “Orwellian” surveillance of Muslim citizens to his visiting of mosques for conversations with interfaith leaders — but also those abroad, as he has voted consistently against wars and economic sanctions in the Middle East, and spoken out against the “cultural genocide” of the Uighur Muslim minority in China who are suffering in mass concentration camps. A few days before the news broke of the Trump administration adding six more countries to the travel ban, Sanders tweeted that his “first executive orders will be to reverse every single thing President Trump has done to demonize and harm immigrants, including his racist and disgusting Muslim ban.” Bernie has long condemned Donald Trump’s bigotry and attacks on Muslims; opposed “war on terror” policies that have affected the safety, well-being, and civil rights of Muslims, people of color, and activists; and stood up to defend the two Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (who have in turn endorsed his campaign). read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

Nigerians Shocked By Trump's New Immigration Restrictions

A Migration Policy Institute study shows first- and second-generation Nigerians are typically more educated and more likely to hold professional jobs than the general U.S. population. According to a New York Times report, experts say there could be wide-ranging economic effects following the travel ban. Kudirat Koletowo immigrated to America 50 years ago. She's a proud Muslim and believes the new travel ban targets certain African countries for a reason. "We know that Trump don't like Muslims. And he should take that out of his mind. We contribute a lot to this country," Koletowo says. "Innocent people are caught in the middle of this." Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea — all part of the latest travel ban — have large Muslim populations. read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

Quietly, Trump just made his immigration bans even more inhumane

The discriminatory underpinnings of the Trump administration’s immigration policy are clearly evident in its two immigration bans. This month’s expanded travel ban, like the one before it, targets families from predominantly Muslim countries. It will separate families from Myanmar, Nigeria, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan, as well as denying diversity visas to people from Sudan and Tanzania. Minnesota is home to more than 10,000 primarily Karen and Karenni refugees from Myanmar. They came here after spending decades in refugee camps in Thailand. Now they are valued neighbors, friends and co-workers. The latest ban prevents them from reuniting with mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers still stranded in refugee camps. Minnesota is also home to more than 5,000 Nigerian immigrants and at least 2,000 Eritreans, also now separated from family members by the ban, along with 50,000 Somali Minnesotans already separated from family by the first Muslim ban. The effect of these bans on Minnesota families and communities has been, and will continue to be, profound as long as they remain in place. These bans prevent spouses from living in the same country and from starting families. They deprive children of the love of their grandparents. This policy takes away the normal family interaction that you and I take for granted every day. read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

As the election cycle begins, expect Trump to supersize his favorite tactic

US President Donald Trump's actions in the first weeks of 2020 sent a clear signal about what lies ahead this election year. From ordering the assassination of a top Iranian general, despite the US not being formally at war with Iran, to threatening to bomb the country's cultural sites protected under international law, the twitter-loving leader is sure to make 2020 just as unstable, chaotic, and dangerous as every previous year of his presidency. Just days after the threat to bomb protected sites in Iran, and with it publicly vowing to commit war crimes, President Trump again took to Twitter to communicate his thoughts and feelings. This time, he retweeted a photoshopped image of Democratic members of Congress dressed in a turban and headscarf. Not only does the image mock how many Muslims dress, but the White House's defense of Trump's action also re-deployed one of the most dangerous anti-Muslim tropes. Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham went on Fox News and stated: "I think the president is making clear that Democrats are parroting Iranian talking points and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill Americans." read the complete article


06 Feb 2020

The Nights counts the cost of Islamophobic tabloids, western values and the 'war on terror'

“There keeps being a new angle that needs to be tackled, and I think in this particular case it was this massive story in the UK of one of the ‘jihadi brides’ who wanted to come back home,” he says of the case of Shamima Begum. One of three Bethnal Green teenagers who travelled to Syria in 2015, Begum was later found in 2019 in a refugee camp, with a young son and a desire to return to the UK. The ensuing media storm underlined a troubling double standard for Naylor, as then-UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid sought to strip Begum’s British citizenship and prevent her repatriation. “The Home Secretary didn’t think it was appropriate, he thought she was a danger to British values,” Naylor says. “I thought to myself, ‘hang on, isn’t the Home Secretary himself compromising British values by not trying her in a British court according to British justice?’ I wondered if there was a contradiction there, which is what I wanted to explore in the play. “The west has been trying to impose western values on countries in the Middle East… if we believe that those values are worth fighting for, then why aren’t we applying them to ourselves? Why aren’t we trusting our own justice system?” “In the UK what [originally] happened was there were three schoolgirls from Bethnall Green who went out to Syria, and the public and press was very sympathetic, saying ‘they’ve been groomed by extremists, let them come home’. Three years later, the reaction has gone completely the other way – it’s amazing. People talk about fearing that the schoolgirls may have been radicalised out in Iraq – actually I think the British public has become radicalised at home.” “There’s a real danger with a lot of the way the press covers what’s been going out in the Middle east, treating all Muslims as fundamentalists or supporters of ISIS, and one of the things I’ve tried to do in my plays is show that the majority of the people who were fighting ISIS were Muslims themselves. The Kurdish Muslims pretty much defeated ISIS in Northern Syria – yes, there was support from western bombers etc, but the people on the ground were Muslims. That’s something we need to be on guard about when Islamophobic stories get printed.” read the complete article

06 Feb 2020

Donald Trump’s latest travel bans are cruel and senseless – and an opportunity for Justin Trudeau

What Mr. Trump and his supporters may not realize (or, more likely, care about) are the economic and moral consequences of this decision. Banning immigration from Nigeria, one of Africa’s fastest-growing and most dynamic economies, would essentially close America off to a demographic that has proven to be some of its most educated and, with it, direct access to what Newsweek named a growing global “economic superpower” – ironically, on the same day the bans were announced. The graver implication is that this policy will bring ruin to the lives of the more than 12,000 potential immigrants expected to apply next year and the thousands more relatives and loved ones. The fact that families who are awaiting to permanently reunite with their aging parents or their distant partners on American soil will know that this is impossible, at least for now, is heart-wrenching. To make matters worse, Eritrea and Myanmar (where the Rohingya population is under threat of genocide) are experiencing outsize refugee crises, demonstrating yet again the cruelty of this measure. Canada will likely witness a large increase of immigration applications from the countries affected by Mr. Trump’s ban. As a country, we will be all the better for such waves, particularly since the infusion of new Canadians can help us offset the challenges that come with our increasingly aging population. And so Mr. Trudeau can counter Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and policies by announcing measures to directly increase immigration to Canada from those countries. If nothing else, it could serve as a last-minute rallying point to bolster his government’s campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, especially as he embarks on an outreach tour of Africa this month. read the complete article


06 Feb 2020

Uyghurs and the China Coronavirus

The Chinese government has confirmed at least 32 cases of coronavirus in the Uyghur region, but the actual number is likely much higher due to the communication blackout that is central to China’s mass detention and surveillance campaign in East Turkestan. Reports of overcrowding, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse, organ harvesting and other grave human rights abuses in the camps suggest the region could become a breeding ground for the coronavirus. But China does not seem to be allocating adequate resources to screen, diagnose, and treat potential victims in East Turkestan and has instead focused nearly all resources to combat the virus in Wuhan. Left ignored, the region could face mass outbreaks and much higher mortality rates than reported anywhere else. read the complete article


06 Feb 2020

'Feed them bullets not biryani': BJP uses Delhi elections to stoke religious hatred

Standing before a political rally in Delhi, Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand Hindu nationalist chief minister of Uttar Pradesh known for preaching hate and violence against India’s Muslims, did not mince his words. The thousands of women who have been gathered for two months in the Delhi suburb of Shaheen Bagh in protest against India’s new citizenship law were “terrorists”, he said. “The protests happening at various places in Delhi are not because of the Citizenship Amendment Act,” said Adityanath, to roars from the orange-clad crowd gathered before him on Sunday. “They are happening because these people want to prevent India from becoming a global power.” Terrorists, he added, should be fed with “bullets not biryani”. Even for the BJP, which has an openly Hindu nationalist agenda, the campaign has been one of their most brazenly anti-Muslim yet, as exemplified by the decision to bring Adityanath – one of the BJP’s most militant voices – out on the campaign trail. read the complete article


06 Feb 2020

Stop ignoring us: Rohingya refugees demand role in running camps

With simple smartphones the activists have been able to build some kind of Rohingya voice, speaking to the world through WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. But their efforts have often been frustrated, mostly for a more fundamental reason than the technological barrier in place since August: they believe the aid community sent to help them is not listening. “The Rohingya community are not weak, but the situation makes us weak,” says Mohammad Arfaat, an activist who was part of a Rohingya team that made a short film about how violence had forced them from Myanmar in 2017. He has been calling for more help for Rohingya to launch their own initiatives, for everything from education to arts, but complains there has been no support. “The Rohingya youth are very talented … but nobody sits, nobody talks with them, so their voices have stopped,” says Arfaat. These concerns have risen since August, when Bangladesh responded to a failed attempt to repatriate the Rohingya – for which not a single refugee volunteered – by imposing tighter restrictions on their movement and communication. Arfaat says that, despite the crackdown, UN agencies and international aid groups have not been present. “No one comes to research what’s happening. [They] have protection officers, but what are they protecting? Whenever there’s violence, they’re not here,” he says. “You see them on social media, talking to the public, but they don’t come to talk to us.” A 2019 study by the Peace Research Institute Oslo said that, despite the barriers imposed on the humanitarian community by the government’s education ban, more could have been done to map out the work carried out by Rohingya themselves. “The humanitarian sector often falls short on centring community voices in this way, which I think is due in part to policy restrictions, limited resources and a lack of flexibility,” says the report’s co-author Jessica Olney. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Feb 2020 Edition


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