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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13 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the man accused of targeting and killing four members of a Muslim family is set to face trial on September 5 in the city of Windsor, meanwhile in the U.S., Rep. Mark Green is set to lead the House Committee on Homeland Security, a decision which civil rights groups say is alarming given Green’s history of anti-Muslim remarks, and in China, a delegation of pro-government clerics from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE praise China’s efforts to combat ‘terrorism’ despite ongoing persecution of the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority. Our recommended read of the day is by Sharon Zhang for Truthout on how House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vowed to keep his promise to bar Rep. Ilhan Omar from serving on committees, a move she and others are saying is blatantly Islamophobic. This and more below:

United States

12 Jan 2023

Omar Says McCarthy Is Barring Her From Committees Because of Islamophobia | Recommended Read

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) vowed on Wednesday to keep his promise to bar Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) from serving on committees in the Republican-controlled House — a move that she says can be chalked up to pure Islamophobia. Omar, who is Muslim, has been the target of Islamophobic hate from Republicans her entire time in Congress, and she says that this move is not an exception. “I do not actually think that he has a reason outside of me being Muslim and thinking I should not be,” Omar told HuffPost on Wednesday. “If you look at the comments from Republicans, it’s precisely for only that reason.” McCarthy gave no specific reason for Omar’s removal from committees in the interview, by Punchbowl News, suggesting that Omar is correct in her analysis that Republicans are targeting her solely for her religious beliefs. McCarthy has accused Omar of antisemitism over her comments denouncing Israeli apartheid, but Jewish groups say that it is McCarthy and GOP lawmakers who perpetuate antisemitism, not Omar. “As crude and as cynical as it is for the nativist factions in our government, targeting Muslims is reliably good politics,” Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel for Muslim Advocates, told HuffPost. “By stripping Rep. Omar of her committees, McCarthy kills two birds with one stone: He attempts to silence an effective, principled voice on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and he stokes the ugly culture of anti-Muslim hate for cheap political points.” read the complete article

12 Jan 2023

The role of Blackness in the Hamline Islamic art controversy

In early October, Erika López Prater, a professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, showed her online Islamic art history class an image of the Prophet Muhammad. A Muslim student in the class complained, citing Islamic tradition barring representations of the prophet. Other students joined in to express their view that this incident was part of a larger problem of Islamophobia on campus. The administration agreed, and eventually López Prater’s contract to teach during the spring semester was rescinded. Since her firing, other professors, including Islamic studies scholars, have rightly rallied around her, drafting petitions and op-eds calling her dismissal a case of censorship trammeling academic freedom. We’ve heard little in the media coverage of this fiasco, however, about the students who initiated the complaint — why they objected, who they are and what their lives are like at Hamline and in the Twin Cities. Most of all, we need to understand why a perceived attack on the body and dignity of the Prophet Muhammad may have felt like an attack on them. What has been written about the students has at times been unfortunate. The Chronicle of Higher Education, for instance, described Muslims who believe it is wrong to display images of Muhammad as ascribing to the “most extreme and conservative Muslim point of view.” Never mind that using the term “extreme” insinuates that these students are violent; the point is not to discuss the history of iconoclasm in Islam, but why these particular Muslims objected to the image when and where they did. read the complete article

12 Jan 2023

1st hijab-wearing American Olympian visits Villa Park Islamic school to inspire students

Olympic fencing bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad inspired students with her story during a visit at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park. "Being a student-athlete here, her whole journey and challenges, they were all very relatable and meeting her was an honor," IFS Student Mahin Syed said. Muhammad is known for being the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympic Games. "Seeing Ibtihaj Muhammad shows us that anything is possible with hard work and passion," IFS student Mohamed Abdelsalam said. The Olympian-turned author is promoting her latest children's book: "The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship." For Muhammad, representation matters. "When I was growing up, I didn't see a lot of picture books that had stories of brown characters, didn't have stories that had character that wear hijab," she said. She said it wasn't easy growing up as a fencer wearing a hijab. read the complete article

12 Jan 2023

Professor’s firing over Prophet Muhammad art offensive — but not because of ‘wokeism’ or ‘cancel culture’

The news that a private liberal arts university in the United States fired a professor for showing a painting of the Prophet Muhammad, calling it Islamophobic, should worry us all. Not because “wokeism” has gone too far or because “cancel culture” has run amok, but because it overrides diversity among Muslims as well as threatens academic freedom and, therefore, democratic ideals. And because the chill is also happening in Canada. There was nothing woke about Hamline University in Minnesota terminating the contract of Erika López Prater, an adjunct professor — meaning not tenured and working for low or no pay — who in October showed two medieval Islamic artworks in her global art history class. In one, the Prophet’s face is veiled. The other openly depicts Muhammad receiving the revelation of the Quran from the angel Gabriel. To be woke is to be awakened to societal injustices, not to further entrench them. Nor was cancel culture at play at the university but rather the politics of appeasement, in this case by an institution that, like many, cloaks its reputational risk-management strategy in the language of inclusiveness. If Islamophobia is hate and discrimination springing from prejudice against Islam or Muslims, how does showing an item that is a treasured part of Islamic history perpetuate that hate? Many but not all Muslims believe visual representations of the prophet are forbidden, even though the Quran does not explicitly forbid it. “If Islamophobia is characterized by anything that violates Islamic theology, then we have a problem, because that doesn’t respect academic freedom,” says Anver Emon, a professor at the University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair on Islamic Law and History. “What is now being conveyed as Islamophobia is deference to certain forms of orthodoxy over others.”If Islamophobia is hate and discrimination springing from prejudice against Islam or Muslims, how does showing an item that is a treasured part of Islamic history perpetuate that hate? “What is now being conveyed as Islamophobia is deference to certain forms of orthodoxy over others.” read the complete article

12 Jan 2023

New House Homeland Security Committee Chair Has History Of Anti-Muslim Comments

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) is set to lead the House Committee on Homeland Security, which Muslim civil rights groups say is alarming because he has a history of making Islamophobic remarks. Green — a physician, Iraq War veteran and former GOP state senator — once said he didn’t want students in Tennessee to learn about Islam and that Iraqis smelled like “curry mixed with sweat.” He has also made anti-LGBTQ remarks, including claiming that being transgender was a disease. “If you hold stereotypes about communities, how can you effectively move on issues that are really nuanced and require a greater understanding of the issues?” said Sabina Mohyuddin, the executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, a Tennessee-based civic engagement organization. During a 2016 tea party meeting, Green told an audience that he didn’t want public school students in Tennessee to learn about the Islamic faith. When an audience member read a passage from a textbook that correctly stated that Muslims believe in all the prophets in the Old and New Testament, Green replied, “When you start teaching the pillars of Islam ... we will not tolerate that in this state.” If students did have to learn about Islam, Green added, they should only learn “the history of the Ottoman Empire” and “the assault of Islam out into the Levant and North Africa and into Constantinople.” read the complete article


11 Jan 2023

China: Uyghurs condemn Islamic scholars' 'propaganda' trip to Xinjiang

Thirty Muslim scholars from 14 Muslim-majority countries, including pro-government clerics from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE, visited Xinjiang province as part of a delegation organized by the World Muslim Communities Council (WMCC). Founded in the United Arab Emirates, the WMCC said its aim is to support Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries and to protect them "intellectually, spiritually, and from racial discrimination or ethnic cleansing". In a press statement by the WMCC, Nuaimi, who has championed normalization between Israel and the Arab world, repeated China's claims that its crackdown on Uyghurs is part of its policy to combat terrorism in the Xinjiang province. But Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, hit back at Nuaimi's claims and said China often used the pretext of combatting terrorism to justify criminalizing "everyday and legal forms of religious behavior, such as wearing a beard or hijab and possessing a Quran. "It is outrageous that the WMCC has participated in this propaganda visit and is now echoing the Chinese government's narrative," Isa told Middle East Eye. "This was a wasted opportunity to ask real questions about the actual conditions of Uyghurs and openly condemn the current genocide, and show that as ''representatives' of the global Muslim community, they genuinely care about the Uyghur Muslims." read the complete article


12 Jan 2023

Muslim students concerned as India scraps education grant

On December 8, in response to a question raised in parliament, Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said that MANF "overlaps with various other fellowship schemes for higher education being implemented by the government and minority students are already covered under such schemes." The MANF was provided by the Indian government to six religious minorities — Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Parsi and Sikh. It was introduced in 2009, following the recommendation of Sachar Committee, which was set up by the former ruling United Progressive Alliance government to study the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India. According to the committee's findings in 2009, only 7% of the total population above 20 years of age were graduates or held diplomas, and among the Muslim population, the proportion was less than 4%. The report said that policies of "affirmative action need to be fine-tuned to take into account the deficits faced by poor and non-poor Muslims in higher education." While the fellowship is availed by students of all minority communities, a large chunk of the beneficiaries are Muslim students. According to data provided by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Muslim students made up more than 70% of the awardees in 2018-2019. read the complete article


11 Jan 2023

High-profile trial for London, Ont. man accused of killing Muslim family moved to Windsor

The highly anticipated Superior Court trial of a man accused of running down and killing four members of a London Muslim family will be held in Windsor. A change of venue was ordered by Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance during pre-trial motions last summer to move the jury trial of Nathaniel Veltman, 22, out of London. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. The trial is slated to start Sept. 5 and is scheduled for 12 weeks. Venue changes are often ordered to ensure fair trial interests for an accused. Pre-trial motions continue in the case with the next court appearance slated for Jan. 23. Veltman was charged after Salman Afzaal, 46, his mother Talat Afzaal, 74, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their daughter Yumnah, 15, were killed at the corner of Hyde Park and South Carriage roads in northwest London while on an evening stroll when they were struck by a pickup truck on June 6, 2021. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jan 2023 Edition


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