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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28 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, Muslim women relate to the experiences of former minister Nusrat Ghani who was allegedly fired from her position for faith, as many note they “have spent most of our lives learning to ‘code-switch’ and be versions of ourselves that enable others to feel ‘comfortable,'” meanwhile in the United States, the country marked the fifth year anniversary of the Muslim Ban, with American Muslim rights organizations renewing their calls for the Biden administration to “fulfill its promise to right the wrongs of the Trump administration by providing relief to those who applied for but either never received or were denied visas that they would have qualified for but for these bans,” and in Canada tomorrow, the country will mark the National Day of Action Against Islamophobia, which will also be five years since the deadly Quebec mosque shooting. Our recommended read of the day is by Reyhana Patel for the Toronto Star on a new report from Islamic Relief Canada, which finds that hate is present in all spheres of Muslims’ lives. This and more below:


28 Jan 2022

Five years after Quebec mosque shooting, everyday Islamophobia continues to have long-term impact on Muslims | Recommended Read

Every year on the anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting, I am reminded of my visits with the families of the six victims who continue to endure the consequences of deeply rooted hatred for Muslims. It’s important as we approach Jan. 29 — the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Islamophobia — their stories continue to be heard, and that, as a society, we work together to make this form of racism as unacceptable as any other. The need continues to be urgent, with last year’s violent attack in London, Ont. that killed four family members and left a 9-year-old survivor. That’s why our team here at Islamic Relief Canada has been talking to Muslims about their experiences with hatred and ignorance, and compiled them in our new report, “In Their Words: Untold Stories of Islamophobia in Canada.” Our research reveals that hate is present in all spheres of Muslims’ lives. We heard from women who had their head scarves ripped off at school or experienced Islamophobic comments in the workplace; a man who faced discrimination within sports; a woman whose non-Muslim in-laws openly insult her religion at family dinners; and from a Quebec shooting survivor who was targeted at the mosque. Often, when we talk about Islamophobia, we read and hear about the political implications. While that is important — you cannot combat Islamophobia without adequate legislation — the consequences of hate for ordinary people are often overlooked. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

Stories from Canadian Muslims reveal Islamophobia is systemic and normalized

In time for the fifth anniversary of the Quebec mosque shooting anniversary and the National Day of Action Against Islamophobia, Islamic Relief Canada is releasing a new report today that sheds light on how everyday Islamophobia affects Canadian Muslims. "We often hear about Islamophobia in the context of violent attacks, but what is less known are the everyday incidents and microaggressions Muslims experience regularly in all spheres of their lives. With our report, we wanted to share those stories, and capture the long-term effects of hate," says Reyhana Patel, head of communications and government relations at Islamic Relief Canada. The report features previously untold, compelling stories from Muslims across the country and from all walks of life. A few highlights include: A teacher in Quebec who was asked to remove her hijab in the workplace due to Bill 21 and almost lost her job for not complying. A man who temporarily stopped participating in organized sport in Alberta after he experienced racial slurs and discrimination. A hijab-wearing Ontario woman who was physically and verbally attacked on a university campus for being Muslim. A victim of the Quebec mosque shooting, Aymen Derbali, who was shot seven times and left paralyzed and unable to support his family. Some of the key findings from the report are that Islamophobia is not only systemic and normalized but also gendered, with Muslim women disproportionately being victims of Islamophobia. The report also reveals that short and long-term consequences for those who experience Islamophobia can include emotional and mental trauma, stress in personal and professional relationships, and even long-term physical injury. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

5 years after fatal mosque attack, Quebec City Muslims call for CAQ government to do more to end Islamophobia

Sitting in the same prayer room of a Quebec City mosque where he was injured in a deadly shooting almost five years ago, Saïd Akjour says he remembers the horrific attack as if it happened yesterday. "I can still see Aboubaker Thabti," said Akjour, pointing to the spot where he last saw his fellow worshipper. "I can still see Azzedine Soufiane." One by one, he listed the names of all of the men killed at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017: Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry and Khaled Belkacemi. At a news conference Thursday at the newly renovated mosque, Akjour and other community members outlined details of the commemorative events scheduled for Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the attack. The co-founder of the Islamic centre, Boufeldja Benabdallah, said the commemorations are usually simple. However, this year, the community is calling for more government action to fight Islamophobia, including changing parts of Quebec's controversial secularism law, known as Bill 21, and toughening Canada's gun control laws. "We need to take action, and action is the fight against discrimination and systemic racism; it is the fight against guns that kill our children, our adults," Benabdallah said. Pointing to another targeted, deadly attack against a Muslim family in London, Ont., last year, Benabdallah said Thursday that the fight against Islamophobia is far from over nationwide. He said Premier François Legault's refusal to acknowledge its existence is hindering progress in Quebec. "In Quebec, our premier does not acknowledge systemic racism or Islamophobia," he said, noting it takes changes to government policy, like Bill 21, to combat Islamophobia. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

This man took seven bullets in the Quebec City mosque slayings. He went back as soon as he could — and five years on, his faith remains

Aymen Derbali was rapidly losing consciousness as he lay on the floor of the Quebec City mosque, blood gushing from six bullet wounds, when he raised his arm to say a prayer. “For me, those were the last seconds of my life, so I was trying to make shahada,” a declaration of faith that is central to Islamic doctrine, he explains. As screams of anguish echoed around him, his vision clouded by gun smoke, he lifted his index finger to declare the oneness of God, as Muslims are encouraged to do when they are anticipating death. That’s when he felt the seventh shot pierce his raised arm. But it would not be the last time he prayed in the mosque. Five years after a gunman walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and opened fire on worshippers, the pain in Derbali’s arm endures — the bullet struck him in the radial nerve, which provides motor and sensory function to parts of the arm, wrist and hand. It’s a daily reminder of the event that changed his life forever and etched a painful scar in one of the oldest cities in Canada. In the past two years, violent acts characterized as Islamophobic have not abated. In 2020, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, a volunteer caretaker at a mosque in Toronto, was stabbed to death while watching the doors of the building. Reports emerged that the perpetrator frequented neo-Nazi forums but Toronto police said they could not clearly identify the motive of the attack. Last year, a man rammed a pickup truck into a family of four Muslims in London, Ont. The perpetrator was charged with terrorism offences. Alberta has seen a spate of violent attacks against women wearing hijabs. Most recently, a man allegedly attacked a woman and her children outside of a mosque, spitting on her car window and uttering violent threats before returning with a shovel and continuing the aggression. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

Naqvi-Mohamed: Five years after mosque shooting, what's changed?

The discrimination, racism and Islamophobia I had experienced first-hand and witnessed intensifying morphed into an act of terrorism at the Quebec City mosque. As a result, six innocent men lost their lives, 19 children were orphaned and six women became widows — all at the hands of hate. Since then, I can honestly say the hopes, dreams and aspirations I had for my children to live in a society immune to hate and Islamophobia have evaporated. The reality is that little has changed in this province. Instead, we got government-sanctioned discrimination in the form of Bill 21, and Islamophobia and hate seem only to have intensified. In Quebec schools, little if anything is being done to so much as acknowledge the anniversary of this tragedy, much less commemorate its innocent victims, as far as I know. At the federal level, Trudeau’s government has designated Jan. 29 as the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec Mosque Attack and of Action Against Islamophobia. The sad reality is that we have a premier who continues to deny that Quebec has a problem with systemic racism or discrimination. When laws are enacted that strip minorities of their rights — and that seem intended to appease the sensitivities of the silent majority — we have a problem with the government. And when a horrific act of violence takes place on our soil, and its significance is not marked in an official and meaningful way, that is a problem, too. read the complete article

United Kingdom

28 Jan 2022

Islamophobia isn’t just a Tory problem – it runs right through British society

As the Tories’ most senior Muslim female politician, Sayeeda Warsi, puts it, to be accused of Islamophobia is “career enhancing”, but to be a victim of Islamophobia is “career destroying”. Compare and contrast their experience with Zac Goldsmith’s: after a failed London mayoral campaign against Sadiq Khan that was accused of being riddled with Islamophobia, Goldsmith was elevated to the House of Lords and made a minister. Or what of Nadine Dorries, who has retweeted far-right criminal Tommy Robinson, and responded to a video from Khan about tackling Islamophobic hate speech with: “How about, ‘it’s time to act on sex abusing grooming gangs’ instead?” Islamophobia reaches down into the grassroots of the party. A YouGov poll uncovered that six out of 10 Tory members believe Islam “is generally a threat to western civilisation”, that 45% believe the racist lie about “no go areas” for non-Muslims, and nearly half don’t want a Muslim prime minister. However politically convenient it may be to pretend this is a Tory-specific problem, the Labour party cannot claim to be innocent. Twenty-nine per cent of its Muslim members report suffering Islamophobia in the party, over a third have witnessed it, and 44% didn’t believe the party took it seriously. More widely, anti-Muslim racism is endemic in British society, with a new study finding that middle-class social groups are significantly more likely to admit to bigoted views about Islamic beliefs than their working-class counterparts. No wonder there are no adverse political consequences for Islamophobia: anti-Muslim bigotry is condoned and perpetuated across the spectrum of the British press. While one study found that 78% of the Mail on Sunday’s stories featuring Muslims were negative, the Times, our supposed paper of record, confers Islamophobia with respectability with headlines such as “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”. A correction to this dishonest story eventually came, but the damage was done. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani case: How Islamophobia in Britain crosses party lines

In Britain, Islamophobia is very much a cross-party issue. Muslims are officially the second “least liked” people in the UK, according to a University of Birmingham study out this week. Articles and broadcasts are regularly churned out to satisfy the prejudices of consumers and to find new converts. This has led to other disturbing findings, particularly in politics: 60 percent of Conservative Party members believe Islam is a threat to western civilisation, and even more are convinced by conspiracy theories about Britain being governed by Sharia law. Politically, Islamophobia is either a problem to be tackled or one to be exploited. Sadly for many Muslims, political parties have more often than not chosen the latter option - knowing full well that it pays dividends at the ballot box. There is an extensive list of examples showing how the Conservative Party has a serious problem with Muslims. Just a few weeks ago, the Tories in Sevenoaks appointed a chair who previously shared a message on social media saying Muslims had a “nasty culture”. The party has also quietly reinstated councillors who compared Arabs to “sand peasants” and Asians to dogs. At the parliamentary level, MPs have invited a Hindutva extremist who praised the Rohingya genocide to parliament, retweeted far-right activist Tommy Robinson, and shared an image depicting the Muslim mayor of London as a pig. And after a barely disguised Islamophobic campaign for the top seat in the capital, the losing candidate was given a peerage and now sits as a Lord and serves in the cabinet. There have been little-to-no consequences for the Tories on this issue, and they have arguably benefited by pandering to the prejudices of staunch supporters, while encouraging others to buy into these false representations of Muslims. It is not just the Conservatives who have this problem. Opposition parties have also indicated that they are ready to sit on their hands or exploit the negative feelings towards Muslims in Britain. Journalist Faima Bakar, in an extensive piece on Islamophobia, wrote that the “current political backdrop is particularly disastrous for Muslims and other minorities”. Researchers quoted in the same article said that an “orchestrated Islamophobia excludes Muslims from public life”. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

Muslim women can relate to Nusrat Ghani’s Islamophobia claims, it will only put them off UK politics further

While Mark Spencer, the whip who spoke to Ghani, has denied her claims and an investigation into the incident is ongoing, the idea that Ghani was expected to leave behind her Muslim identity as a pre-requisite to her job is something many Muslim women will relate to. Consciously or not Muslims – and people of colour in general – have spent most of our lives learning to “code-switch” and be versions of ourselves that enable others to feel “comfortable”. Some Muslim women won’t wear a hijab in the workplace in case it is considered “too-Muslim” or because they know it will negatively impact their career prospects. Others will change the way they speak or even the conversations they will take part in, laughing at questions and comments that make them feel uncomfortable so they won’t look like the bad guy for saying, “hey, that’s offensive”. It took me until adulthood to realise why I resent being told I’m “well spoken” or “well-read”. It is because so many people’s kindness is laced with the perception that visibly Muslim women are usually mute with little intelligence. The measurement of “fitting in” is always how similar you are to the Western ideal and different to the stereotype that is held about you. In reality though – as Ghani has reportedly found out – is that as a Muslim woman you are never truly part of the group. It doesn’t matter that Ghani is a Tory ex-minister, her experience speaks to many Muslim women in the UK and should not be acceptable. read the complete article

United States

28 Jan 2022

5 Years Later, Families Trump's Muslim Ban Separated Are Begging Biden For Help

Even five years later, families like Almuganahi’s are still dealing with the aftermath of that policy. While President Joe Biden rescinded the final version of the ban on his first day in office last year, many families have not yet been reunited — including Almuganahi’s. Last week, more than 100 organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration urging it to do more to relieve ongoing family separations, delays and a backlog that has likely deterred many people from even applying for U.S. visas. “[I]t is crucial that this administration fulfill its promise to right the wrongs of the Trump administration by providing relief to those who applied for but either never received or were denied visas that they would have qualified for but for these bans,” wrote the groups in an effort led by the No Muslim Ban Ever Campaign and the National Iranian American Council. The letter also detailed 13 policy changes the groups would like to see the Biden administration make to rectify the impact of the ban, including expediting all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications for individuals subjected to the ban and ending extreme vetting policies for people from those impacted nations. They also asked the administration to grant entry to people who won a visa through the diversity lottery program but were not able to use it because of the ban; the program awards up to 50,000 diversity visas a year to people from countries that have low numbers of immigrants to the U.S. “We need swift and tangible action to correct the harm inflicted on our communities by Trump’s Muslim and African ban,” Linda Sarsour, the executive director of MPower Change, a Muslim advocacy group, said in a statement last week. “The time to reunite families and restore due process to those impacted is now and if the White House fails to do this, the rescindment becomes nothing more than a broken promise.” read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

OKC Mayor candidate Carol Hefner addresses her criticism of Islam during debate

Oklahoma City mayoral candidate Carol Hefner, in Tuesday's mayoral debate, made remarks about Islam that sparked an outcry from the local Muslim community. Hefner, 60, has a history of making racist and Islamophobic social media posts. Near the end of the debate — in response to a question about posts where she called Islam an "evil culture" and compared President Barack Obama to Hitler — Hefner described her Lebanese family's oppression from those practicing Islam before ending on a note of contempt for the religion. "It is a very negative culture, and it does things that are oppressive, and I don't agree with that," Hefner said. "It's just like slavery, I don't agree with it. It's insipid, it should be eradicated from our culture, from our world. Unfortunately, it's been here since the beginning of time, I don't know how I personally am going to get rid of it, but I would like to have those conversations." read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

For NJ Muslims, new spying scandal comes as no surprise after years of surveillance

Ten years after revelations of an extensive NYPD spying operation in their communities, Muslim Americans have once again found themselves the target of secret surveillance. The news in recent weeks has centered on the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a nonprofit research group that critics say has an anti-Muslim bias. Last month, a Muslim civil rights organization accused the group of bankrolling a years-long effort using staff and paid informants to monitor Muslim leaders, including a leading New Jersey imam. The most prominent fallout came in Ohio, where the head of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was fired, after allegedly serving as an IPT mole for more than a decade. CAIR subsequently released a statement showing other reported targets, including Imam Mohammad Qatanani of the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, one of the Garden State's largest mosques. New York attorney and Palestinian rights activist Lamis Deek and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also came under scrutiny, along with other Muslim leaders, according to statements from a whistleblower and an informant. For Muslims, the news was a chilling reminder of aggressive law enforcement surveillance they faced after the Sept. 11 attacks. But it also underscored what many already knew: that anti-Muslim groups were watching them, too — tracking, documenting and trying to find dirt on the community. read the complete article


28 Jan 2022

Top EU official: Religious slaughter bans paint Jews, Muslims as ‘medieval’

Belgian bans on the ritual slaughter of animals practiced by Jews and Muslims risk painting these minorities as "medieval" communities with no respect for animal life, the EU's top official tasked with fighting anti-Semitism across Europe said. Since 2019, citing concerns about animal welfare, the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia have outlawed the killing of animals without pre-stunning, practiced by religious Jews and Muslims to ensure they can eat ritually pure kosher or halal meat. "The discussion itself puts the Jews and also the Muslims in this case into a corner of ‘you do harm to animals, or you are medieval," said Katharina von Schnurbein, during an interview with POLITICO on Wednesday, at the European Jewish Community Center in Brussels. The bans were challenged by religious groups but upheld by the Court of Justice of the EU in late 2020, in a surprising decision that said EU countries could restrict no-stun slaughter to promote animal welfare, without infringing religious rights, even though EU law explicitly provides an exemption for religious slaughter. Bans are permissible provided countries do not contravene the EU’s charter of fundamental human rights, the court ruled. "In some countries, we have seen also that this was only the start, and then the discussion about circumcision was next," von Schnurbein said. Religious groups fear the ruling will pave the way for more bans across Europe, but it is "difficult to say" if other EU countries will follow suit, she said. EU countries like Sweden, Slovenia, Denmark and Austria had already placed restrictions on religious slaughter before Belgium's move. read the complete article

28 Jan 2022

Elie Wiesel's Son Calls on U.N. to Condemn China Over Uyghur Oppression

During a speech in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Elisha Wiesel, the son of Holocaust survivor and humanitarian Elie Wiesel, urged the United Nations (U.N.) to step up for Muslim Uyghurs in China. In his remarks during the virtual presentation Thursday, Wiesel said it was "time for us to act." Wiesel compared the oppression of ethnic Uyghurs in China's Xianjiang region to atrocities that had occurred during the Holocaust. He stated that his outspoken view on authoritarian regimes was an effort to "honor and continue the Jewish life of my ancestors, and to speak up against the antisemitism that nearly extinguished us." "How must it have felt to learn after the war of Breckinridge Long, the U.S. assistant secretary of state in charge of visa disbursement, who pushed [then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt] to keep American shores closed to Jewish refugees, to learn that the Allies knew about Auschwitz and chose not to bomb the rail lines or even broadcast a radio warning to Europe's Jews that they should not, under any circumstance, get on the trains," Wiesel said. "As the world turns a blind eye to the forced separation and cultural eradication of Uyghur families, it makes it easier for other oppressors, [such as] Myanmar, ISIS and the Taliban to oppress Rohingya, Yazidis and women." Wiesel also noted that the Chinese government has carried out "mass detention, forced labor and forced sterilization," despite the fact that China is a member of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council. read the complete article


28 Jan 2022

China’s plans for Xinjiang, and what it means for the region’s persecuted Uyghurs – podcast

When the Beijing Winter Olympics open on February 4, diplomats from a number of countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Australia, will not be there to watch. Their diplomatic boycott hinges on concerns about human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In this episode of The Conversation Weekly, we talk to three experts about China’s long-term vision for Xinjiang, and what its strategy there means for the region’s persecuted Uyghurs. It’s difficult for researchers to get a full picture of what’s happening today in the region. Darren Byler, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Simon Fraser University in Canada, who has lived in Xinjiang and last visited in 2018, says he gets his information from news passed to members of the Uyghur diaspora by family and friends. Byler says it appears fewer Uyghurs are now being detained by the authorities in internment camps than they were a few years go. However, he says there’s widespread family separation and “hundreds of thousands of people are still missing”. Those outside the camps live under a repressive surveillance system in “sort of an open air prison”, he says. Several camps have been closed or abandoned, others turned into pre-trial detention centres, while others have been turned into factories. “It does appear as though the state was maybe acting more re-actively to international pressure and wanting to close them more quickly than they were at least intending at the outset,” says Byler. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Jan 2022 Edition


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