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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09 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the Ibrahim Jame Mosque in downtown Hamilton says that it has been the subject of a bomb threat on Friday “in relation to a congregational prayer,” meanwhile in India, journalist Rana Ayyub, who has called attention to the discriminatory policies of PM Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, is headed back to India to face trial for sham charges of money laundering, and in the U.S., an art history lecturer who showed a 14th-century painting depicting Prophet Muhammad was dismissed from their position at Hamline University, and has resulted in many academics criticizing the way the university handled the situation. Our recommended read of the day is by Elise Swain for The Intercept on how former Guantanamo detainees still face restrictive conditions even after their release, resulting in many of them feeling like they are still imprisoned. This and more below:


07 Jan 2023

“YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS” | Recommended Read

"I'm trying to be OK,” Sabri al-Qurashi texted me one afternoon after I asked how he was. Al-Qurashi has made it through a lot, but he’s increasingly depressed, tired, and has become desperate for his living conditions to change. By now, he has spent two decades feeling trapped with no end in sight. Al-Qurashi lived the nightmare of languishing in a cage as a detainee at the notorious U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He never expected he’d be living in another version of a cage after he was released in 2014. For nearly a decade, he has found himself stuck in Kazakhstan. Promises once made to him of starting a life and starting a family after Guantánamo have now been all but shattered. His life now feels like one of permanent purgatory as he holds no form of basic identification at the mercy of the Kazakh government. With no hope or patience left, al-Qurashi is now threatening a hunger strike. “Truly, my life now is just as bad as w­­hen I was in Guantanamo, and in many aspects even worse. At least there, I knew I was in prison and that I would get out one day,” al-Qurashi wrote in an account shared with The Intercept, which is set to be published by CAGE, a group that advocates for “war on terror” victims and detainees. “Now I’m living as if I’m dead and being told I am free when I am not.” “I have no official status, no ID card, no right to work or education, and no right to see my family,” al-Qurashi said. “I have been married for eight years, but my wife is not allowed to come and live with me.” read the complete article

08 Jan 2023

Rohingya refugees bet lives on boat crossings despite rising death toll

Hatemon Nesa recalled hugging her young daughter tightly as the cramped, broken-down boat they were sitting on drifted aimlessly. They had set off on 25 November from the squalid Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh, where they had lived since 2017, when a brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s military forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee over the border. The 27-year-old, like many other Rohingya refugees, was hoping for a better life in Malaysia. But about 10 days into the journey the boat’s engine stopped working and food and water supplies began to run out. Close to 400 people, mostly Rohingya, are believed to have died making perilous boat journeys from Myanmar and Bangladesh across the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal in 2022, according to the UNHCR, making it one of the deadliest years at sea in almost a decade for the Rohingya. An estimated 180 people are feared dead from one boat alone that went missing on 24 December. Despite this, activists say more people are intending to board boats in 2023, and that women and children are increasingly among those making the crossing. Desperation caused by the dire conditions in Bangladesh and Myanmar was driving people to take the risk, he added. Rohingya still in Myanmar, where a brutal conflict has taken place since the military seized power in a coup in 2021, are stuck in the middle of fighting between the junta and a rival group, the Arakan Army. The fighting means humanitarian aid, which persecuted Rohingya rely upon, has been reduced. read the complete article

09 Jan 2023

Second coming of once-banned conspiracy theorists after Twitter amnesty

A conspiracy theorist urging Americans to burn voting machines, an anti-Muslim activist posting a photo with a gun, a retired general who called for a coup -- Elon Musk's Twitter has reinstated thousands of once-banned accounts. Twitter has turned into what campaigners call a cesspool of misinformation, hate-filled conspiracies and racial slurs amid what appears to be reduced content moderation in recent weeks following mass layoffs and an exodus of key staff focused on user safety. "Restoring these accounts will make the platform a magnet for actors who want to spread misinformation," Jonathan Nagler, co-director of the New York University's Center for Social Media and Politics, told AFP. "And there will likely be less moderation of hate speech, making the platform less hospitable to many users." Those reinstated include far-right activists, anti-Muslim extremists as well as others peddling election conspiracies and Covid-19 misinformation, according to an analysis by the non-profit Media Matters of dozens of restored accounts with millions of combined followers. Many other reinstated influencers have actively returned to the platform, including flamboyant anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller and Mindy Robinson, a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy movement whose first tweet after being restored included a picture of herself with a gun. read the complete article

United States

08 Jan 2023

A Lecturer Showed a Painting of the Prophet Muhammad. She Lost Her Job.

Erika López Prater, an adjunct professor at Hamline University, said she knew many Muslims have deeply held religious beliefs that prohibit depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. So last semester for a global art history class, she took many precautions before showing a 14th-century painting of Islam’s founder. In the syllabus, she warned that images of holy figures, including the Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha, would be shown in the course. She asked students to contact her with any concerns, and she said no one did. In class, she prepped students, telling them that in a few minutes, the painting would be displayed, in case anyone wanted to leave. Then Dr. López Prater showed the image — and lost her teaching gig. Officials at Hamline, a small, private university in St. Paul, Minn., with about 1,800 undergraduates, had tried to douse what they feared would become a runaway fire. Instead they ended up with what they had tried to avoid: a national controversy, which pitted advocates of academic liberty and free speech against Muslims who believe that showing the image of Prophet Muhammad is always sacrilegious. An Islamic art historian wrote an essay defending Dr. López Prater and started a petition demanding the university’s board investigate the matter. It had more than 2,800 signatures. Free speech groups and publications issued blistering critiques; PEN America called it “one of the most egregious violations of academic freedom in recent memory.” And Muslims themselves debated whether the action was Islamophobic. Todd H. Green, who has written books about Islamophobia, said the conflict at Hamline was “tragic” because administrators pitted natural allies — those concerned about stereotypes of Muslims and Islam — against one another. The administration, he said, “closed down conversation when they should have opened it up.” read the complete article

08 Jan 2023

An art treasure long cherished by Muslims is deemed offensive. But to whom?

It is a beautiful painting found in a 14th-century Persian manuscript, the “Compendium of Chronicles”, a history of Islam. It shows the Prophet Muhammad receiving his first Quranic revelations from the angel Gabriel. Christine Gruber, professor of Islamic art at Michigan University, describes it as “a masterpiece of Persian manuscript painting”. Last October, an instructor at Hamline University, Minnesota, displayed the painting during an online class on Islamic art. The instructor (who has not been named) had warned of what she was about to do in case anyone found the image offensive and did not wish to view it. No matter, a student complained to the university authorities. David Everett, Hamline’s associate vice-president of inclusive excellence, condemned the classroom exercise as “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic”. A letter written by Mark Berkson, chair of the department of religion, defending the instructor and providing historical and religious context for her actions, was published on the website of The Oracle, the university’s student newspaper, and then taken down because it “caused harm”. The instructor was “released” from further teaching duties. What is striking about the Hamline incident, though, is that the image at the heart of the row cannot even in the most elastic of definitions be described as Islamophobic. It is an artistic treasure that exalts Islam and has long been cherished by Muslims. Yet, to show it is now condemned as Islamophobic because… a student says so. Even to question that claim is to cause “harm”. As Berkson asked in another (unpublished) letter he sent to The Oracle, after his first had been removed: “Are you saying that disagreement with an argument is a form of ‘harm’?” That is precisely what the university is saying. read the complete article

06 Jan 2023


The 27-year-old legislator isn’t the only person sparking changes in American politics today. This month, scores of Muslim-American women are making history by starting out in political careers at state houses, general assemblies, school boards and in other elected positions across the country. Their experiences could reshape the local political landscape, for centuries dominated by white men, in the years to come. In Ohio, Maine and Illinois, voters elected the first Muslim women to state legislatures. In Illinois, Nabeela Syed, 23, defeated a Republican incumbent who was heavily tipped to hold his suburban Chicago district, while In Maine, voters elected two female Muslim candidates to the state house for the first time, with similar stories unfolding in Georgia, Minnesota and elsewhere. It’s an unprecedented event in American politics and is fuelled by several factors. According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research institution in Washington, voter participation among Muslim Americans rocketed from 60 per cent in 2016 to 81 per cent in last year’s midterms. Many believe the actions of the Trump administration, which in 2016 banned all immigration from numerous Muslim-majority countries, prompted Muslim Americans not just to get out and vote, but to stand for political office at local and state level. Now, those decisions are bearing real fruit. read the complete article

06 Jan 2023


If you ever had any doubt that the United States’ political system is designed to preserve the power of White Christians (and particularly White Christian men), the makeup of the 118th Congress should put that doubt to rest. Despite the 118th Congress being touted in the press as the most diverse ever—which, to be clear, it is—White Americans (about 60% of the population) are significantly overrepresented at about three-quarters of the new Congress. Women’s representation is at a record 149 representatives and senators. But as Laurel Elder points out at The Conversation, at the current rate of increase it will take 118 more years for women’s representation in Congress to reach parity with men’s, and, she notes, “Currently, the U.S. ranks 73rd in the world when it comes to female representation in government.” It should go without saying that the vast majority of Congressional diversity is on the Democratic side of the aisle, as the Republican Party cannot substantially diversify and continue to exist in its current form. That fundamental divide—the same that’s rendered American politics dysfunctional for a long time now—is one of the factors preventing Congress from looking more like America, as the GOP is beholden to White supremacy, patriarchy, and Christian nationalism, even if its leadership is currently divided over how explicitly and aggressively to identify the party with this bigoted agenda. read the complete article


08 Jan 2023

Facing Islamophobia, Calgary's Muslim women share their experiences of discrimination

At 19-years-old, Duaa-Azeem Choudhary is already no stranger to hate. Born in Quebec to Pakistani immigrant parents who didn't speak French, Choudhary and her family tried to escape the racism they faced in that province by moving to Calgary. But in her new home, Choudhary became a target of Islamophobic-driven harassment while riding the bus one day. She remembers being the only person on the bus wearing a hijab when a group of men began to stare at her. "There was a group of white guys that I noticed that kept looking back and I got dirty looks," Choudhary said. She ignored the men hoping that the situation wouldn't escalate, but after they got off the bus, they stopped directly in front of her window. "One of them spat directly [at] my face. And I don't know, that was like a moment of shock for me because I had never experienced anything like that before and I felt singled out." In recent times, incidents similar to Choudary's and that at Prince's Island Park have become common. Several women of the Islamic faith have been victims of both verbal and physical assaults in Calgary because of their appearance. After the Prince's Island Park incident, Khan said that some people within the community were questioning themselves and wondering if they should allow their daughters to wear hijab. "Should they lose their identity … those were the confusions, those were the things that were going on in the community unheard," she said. "Those were the things that should be given voice, those experiences." All of this has made Choudhary begin to wonder if the harassment she and others face are due to misconceptions of Islam. read the complete article

08 Jan 2023

Hamilton mosque safe after bomb threat, police say

Police in Hamilton are investigating a bomb threat was made against a local mosque. The Ibrahim Jame Mosque in downtown Hamilton says on its website that it has been the subject of a bomb threat on Friday "in relation to a congregational prayer." Hamilton police told Global News the threat was received through Crime Stoppers, with someone alleging there was a bomb in the building. "Police immediately responded. After a full investigation, it was determined that there was no threat to the mosque or its congregants," officers said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Jan 2023

One of Britain’s youngest imams speaks out against Islamophobia

One of Britain’s youngest imams has spoken out to raise awareness for Islamophobia in the media and in society. Adeel Shah, 27, said that although the UK is generally an accepting, multicultural society, there is an unconscious bias prevalent in the media. He told Indy100: “For me as a Muslim, it’s enough for me to read the headline to know what a story is going to be about.” He said that there is a double standard in that there is a tendency to be quick to label a crime perpetrated by a “so-called Muslim” as “terrorism”. But if it’s perpetrated by someone of another belief there is more of a focus on the individual’s mental health, citing the Plymouth shooting as a tragic recent example. “I say so-called Muslim because nothing in Islam accepts, motivates, or even allows terror or terrorism,” he said. “The word Islam means peace. You can’t have peace with terrorism. “The precedent that the media sets is that when you think about terror or terrorism - automatically, intrinsically, subconsciously - people think about Muslims. read the complete article

06 Jan 2023

‘Give us the stage and trust us’: how a British-Somali play became a sell-out smash hit

Last October, Sabrina Ali’s play Dugsi Dayz debuted at east London’s Rich Mix on a two-night run – and sold out in less than 24 hours. A riff on the classic John Hughes film The Breakfast Club, the play sees four female students at dugsi detention on a Saturday, for reasons unknown. Dugsi, the Somali word for Islamic school, is considered to be a rite of passage for most Somalis. In the UK, dugsi is usually held once a week in a community hall, mosque or classroom. It is typical to start attending as young as age six, and continue until you’re 17, learning about Islamic history, and reading and reciting the Qur’an. And yet her parents’ hesitation, she says, “made sense to me because they didn’t see much Muslim representation on TV”. Studying commercial law at Oxford Brookes University, Ali attended auditions for film and TV roles. She was in for a rude awakening. “I would do the Riz Ahmed test [a set of criteria for measuring how Muslims are portrayed on screen, inspired by the actor’s 2017 House of Commons speech] in my head and realise that everything about the characters was based on stereotypes,” she says. “People need to understand that writing Muslim characters is something that needs to be dealt with sensitively. Until we’re being accurately and regularly portrayed on the screen we can’t afford to be written by people who aren’t willing to interrogate their own preconceived ideas about Muslims or Somalis.” Today, Muslims make up only 1% of the characters on TV and Muslim women are not presented with any nuance. Their identities are often tethered to hijabs, or more accurately, only affirmed by the removal of their hijabs, and the white male saviours liberating them. “The hijab is not the centre of our lives; why can’t we just exist?” Ali says. “If you aren’t going to write about us correctly, leave us alone!” read the complete article


09 Jan 2023

'Felt Naked Without My Hijab': Report on 1 Year of Karnataka's Hijab Ban

Almost a year after hijab was prohibited in educational institutions in Karnataka, a People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) report on the impact of the ban has revealed disturbing details of educational institutions and the police collectively preventing hijab-wearing students from attending classes. What does the report say? The report released on Monday, 9 January, revealed Muslim students were prevented from pursuing education even before the High Court of Karnataka passed its judgment prohibiting hijab in schools and colleges on 15 March 2022. The academic year 2022-23 has so far seen Muslim women dropping out of college and classrooms getting polarised on the basis of religion. The report also found: Muslim students were prevented from writing examination. Many Muslim students lost an entire year of education. While some dropped out, others had to enroll for repeating the academic year. Muslim students underwent emotional and mental turmoil as college managements failed to address their concerns. This meant that Muslims students were denied their right to education. read the complete article

06 Jan 2023

Journalist and critic of Indian government faces sham charges designed to silence her

Indian journalist and Washington Post contributor Rana Ayyub is one of the main critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government. She recently won the highest award for press freedom from the National Press Club but is now headed back to India to face trial for sham charges of money laundering. Ayyub joined Amna Nawaz to discuss the government's latest attempt to silence her. Rana Ayyub: I have been critical of the government. I have written cover stories on the Modi government and his rule since 2014, the fact that he has not taken a single press conference. In the last eight years, I have been calling out his Hindu nationalism, the attack on the 220 million Muslim minorities. In the world press freedom index rating, India has gone from 142 to 150th position. And, Amna, I'm not the only one. I'm still — like, I consider myself a privileged one, because I'm able to speak to you and point out the illegalities in my case. Amna Nawaz: This is not just about what the government and government officials have lodged against you. There's been an online campaign as well. You have faced threats there. Tell me about that. How bad is that? Rana Ayyub: Well, Amna, sometimes, I feel like deleting my Twitter account. I have actually started self-censoring myself, because the moment I tweet even a word, the kind of replies that I get are nauseating. My image has been mocked on a porn video and circulated all over the country. My phone number has been circulated on social media. My address has been put out there. Burned copies of my book have been sent to my residence. So, there is — I mean, whether it's online, whether it's offline, I feel like it's relentless. And only target is to basically silence us into submission and silence us from speaking the truth. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Jan 2023 Edition


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