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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14 Jan 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Uyghurs in Turkey fear China might be leveraging its Covid-19 vaccine to have them deported to Xinjiang. Richard Sharp’s donations to Quilliam raise questions about his BBC chairmanship. Our recommended read today is by Ellen Knight on the Capitol riots, and why the far right is “obsessed with medieval history.” This, and more, below:

United States

14 Jan 2021

The Capitol Riot and the Crusades: Why the Far Right Is Obsessed With Medieval History | Recommended Read

Common symbols used by the far right include the “Deus vult” flag and the “Crusader Cross,” often associated with the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order from the Middle Ages. Their use picked up “after 9/11 and especially after the war in Iraq began,” Pitcavage said. At a press conference five days after the attack on the Twin Towers, President George W. Bush stated that “evil-doers would be punished” and that “this crusade, this war on terrorism will take a while” — irrevocably linking an act of 21st-century terrorism to a 200-year-long “holy war” between Western Europeans and the Muslim Seljuk Empire beginning in the 11th century. This so-called “indelicate gaffe” was met with criticism at the time, yet was followed by years of Islamophobia from the Bush administration — a sentiment that was enthusiastically embraced by far-right extremists and the conservative base. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
14 Jan 2021

MAGA-land’s Favorite Newspaper: How The Epoch Times became a pro-Trump propaganda machine in an age of plague and insurrection ​​​​​

The Epoch Times is unreservedly pro–Donald Trump, and coverage of the newspaper tends to portray it as either a recent entrant into the Trumpist media stable or a case study of Facebook-enabled misinformation. To an extent, it is both. Following Joe Biden’s election as president, the newspaper reconstituted itself into a vehicle for esoteric voter-fraud allegations. In Georgia, heading into the two January special elections for the U.S. Senate, people affiliated with the newspaper materialized to stick copies under car windshields. Balmakov himself now has his own YouTube channel, Facts Matter, devoted to the notion that the election is not over; in less than two months, the channel has amassed more than 400,000 subscribers. read the complete article

14 Jan 2021

Muslim Congressman singled out by man arrested during US Capitol riot

A man who parked a truck with explosives near the US Capitol during last week's riot also had a "concerning" handwritten message targeting Muslim-American Congressman Andre Carson, local media reported. Lonnie Coffman, 70, was arrested on 6 January on 17 different charges after police found guns and a collection of explosive devices in his truck, including 11 Molotov cocktails - some of which contained a napalm-like substance. read the complete article

14 Jan 2021

Guard accused of anti-Muslim bias is placed on leave

A Connecticut prison guard accused of anti-Muslim bias has been placed on administrative leave. In a letter written Wednesday to the chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, acting Commissioner Angel Quiros said Officer Anthony Marlak will remain on leave “pending the outcome of this high level investigation." The move came after CAIR earlier this week called for the firing of Marlak, citing posts on Facebook that included a meme depicting five apparently Muslim men hanging from nooses with the caption “Islamic wind chimes.” Marlak did not return phone calls and text messages seeking comment. He has told Correction officials that the meme was posted in 2018 and targeted members of ISIS, not Muslims in general. read the complete article

14 Jan 2021

Domestic terrorism bill does not target MAGA rallies

Social media posts say Democrats are trying to pass legislation to classify Make America Great Again rallies as “domestic terrorist activities.” This is false; the “Domestic Terrorism Act,” an effort led jointly by Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Brad Schneider, does not mention MAGA rallies and would not redefine the meaning of “domestic terrorism” under US law. read the complete article


14 Jan 2021

Uyghurs in Turkey fear China is leveraging its Covid-19 vaccine to have them deported to Xinjiang

Activists are worried that China is using access to its coronavirus vaccine as a means to pressure Turkey into deporting Uyghur exiles back to the autonomous region of Xinjiang, where they face repression, possible forced labor and detention without trial. Beijing recently ratified an extradition treaty with Turkey. Human rights groups say that the document could have devastating consequences for members of the country’s 50,000-strong Uyghur community. While the treaty has not yet been signed off by the Turkish government, critics worry it could lead to the forced return of Uyghurs to China. “If adopted by Turkey, the extradition treaty is likely to become another instrument of persecution for China, aiding the Chinese government in its coordinated efforts to forcibly return Uyghurs living abroad,” the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress said in a statement made in late December. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Jan 2021

Richard Sharp's donations to Quilliam raise questions about his BBC chairmanship

Former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp has enjoyed good press since he emerged as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s choice as the next chairman of the BBC. The Guardian said a former colleague described him as “incredibly charming to those he needed to woo”, and noted that he was known as “a brilliant negotiator”. The Times said that insiders described him as “highly competent and sure-footed”. read the complete article

14 Jan 2021

Maajid Nawaz: From radical Islamist to 'funded' by the radical right

As a self-proclaimed former “Islamist radical,” Maajid Nawaz built a career off his conversion away from extremism towards moderation. The pendulum, however, probably swung a bit too far. For years Nawaz, a British citizen of Pakistani heritage has extolled rich tales of his turn away from extremism to become a voice that advised the former British Prime Minister David Cameron on counter-extremism. The wider Muslim community in the UK, however, has largely viewed Nawaz’s evolution with a degree of skepticism. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jan 2021 Edition


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