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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19 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the Biden administration has officially released Abdul Latif Nasser, a Moroccan man imprisoned at Guantanamo without charge since 2002, meanwhile in United Kingdom, a Muslim journalist writes that false narratives in the media about Muslims can be damaging. In China, an online propaganda campaign from the Chinese government blurred the truth about the Uighurs in Xinjiang distorting the sexual abusement, imprisonment, and torture with positive affirmations of Uighurs well-being. Our recommended read of the day is by Nadda Osman on the EU’s court ruling stating that employers can ban staff from wearing hijabs in the workplace, noting that many Muslim women have called the ruling an attack on their freedoms and an example of Islamophobia.


16 Jul 2021

EU hijab ruling: Muslim women condemn decision

Thousands of Muslim women have spoken out against a European Union (EU) court ruling issued on Thursday stating that employers can in principle ban staff from wearing hijabs in the workplace. A ban on religious symbols such as headscarves "may be justified by the employer's need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes", the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in a statement. The employer must nonetheless show it is not discriminating between different beliefs and religions in its policy, the court said. The decision means that businesses can fire Muslim women who wear the hijab if they work face-to-face with customers, or if the donning of a religious symbol causes conflicts. Online, many women said that the court ruling was an example of women’s choice of dress being further policed, and some expressed fears about how the decision would impact their personal and religious freedoms. The Muslim Association of Britain - an umbrella organization that represents and supports Muslims, schools, mosques to carry out community projects across the country - called the ruling an example of continuous discrimination. “Another example of Muslim women being told what they can and cannot wear. This time, the EU’s highest court decides to allow businesses to adopt Islamophobic hiring practices and it is sickening. Enough with this continuous discrimination and policing of Muslim women,” the organization said in a tweet. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
18 Jul 2021

Turkey says EU headscarf ruling ‘grants legitimacy to racism’

Turkey’s cabinet ministers have criticized a European Union court’s decision to allow employers to ban headscarves from their workplaces, saying it is “a blow to the rights of Muslim women” and that it would “grant legitimacy to racism”. The EU’s highest court, the European court of justice (ECJ), on Thursday ruled that private employers can ban workers from wearing religious symbols, including headscarves in their workplaces. In response Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, tweeted that the move would encourage Islamophobia. “The decision by the European court of justice on [headscarves] in the workplace is another blow to the rights of Muslim women,” he wrote. He said it would “play right into the hands of those warmongers against Islam in Europe” and asked: “Does the concept of religious freedom now exclude Muslims?” Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan’s communication’s director, described the decision as unbelievable and “an attempt to grant legitimacy to racism”. read the complete article

16 Jul 2021

What America Owes the Uyghurs

There is a word for what is happening in the Xinjiang region of China: genocide. Chinese authorities have rounded up millions of Uyghurs and other minorities as part of their campaign of persecution and cultural eradication. Former detainees and prisoners report that they have suffered torture, rape, forced labor, and involuntary abortion and sterilization in state-run facilities. At least 800,000 children have been separated from their families. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is on record declaring that the Chinese government’s actions amount to genocide. Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress have endorsed this horrifying conclusion, as did the Trump administration. As a party to the Genocide Convention, the United States now has a legal and moral obligation to try to end these mass atrocities. The Biden administration has already made some important progress. It mobilized its allies to impose joint targeted sanctions on perpetrators in March, then secured an unprecedented commitment from the G-7 to address Uyghur forced labor in global supply chains in June. Yet more must be done. The Biden administration is now positioned to escalate pressure on China. It should launch additional diplomatic efforts to rally support from U.S. allies and partners, enhance its humanitarian response, implement additional sanctions and visa restrictions, and spearhead efforts to ensure that products made with forced labor do not infect the U.S. and global markets. To coordinate these efforts, it should appoint a high-level envoy within the National Security Council or the State Department. read the complete article

17 Jul 2021

‘My body, my choice’: Why doesn’t it seem to apply to Muslim women wearing hijabs?

The European Court of Justice ruled that EU businesses can legally prevent employees from wearing religious symbols, by claiming a policy of an ‘image of neutrality’. If they refuse to remove their hijab, the employee can be sacked. Sadly, news like this doesn’t even shock me anymore. I’m exhausted. Exhausted of having to explain why I have the right to autonomy over my own body. Many European countries such as Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark have outlawed the burka and niqab. France seeks to expand its restrictions on religious symbols through the Separatism Bill. In eight of Germany’s states teachers are banned from wearing headscarves. Whatever we wear, it is already criminalised by domestic law. Ironically, the court of justice has ruled in favour of interfering with Muslim women’s human rights to dignity, freedom of expression and religion, and right to work. Muslim women are criticised for not participating in society enough and yet laws like this, which alienate us, are created. Our right to participate in society and in the workforce shouldn’t be conditional. The only instance in which the hijab may ‘cause conflict in the workplace’ is if there are people there consumed by prejudices deriving from Islamophobic narratives, which associate the hijab with extremism or ‘otherness’. Essentially, the court is saying we have to hinder Muslim women’s human rights to save some people from being offended. Although I’m not shocked, I still feel deflated, betrayed and frustrated. read the complete article

16 Jul 2021

‘The Hypocrisy is Overwhelming’: Former NBA Player Royce White Slams Industry for ‘Deafening Silence’ on Uyghur Genocide

When former NBA player Royce White held up a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Free the Uyghurs’ during a recent courtside television interview, a Big 3 basketball league commentator asked “what does it mean?”. “Two million ethnic minorities in East Turkestan, China, are in concentration camps,” White responded. “It’s something we gotta talk about, you know, I’m always going to talk about the real thing.” The clip of the exchange went viral on social media, mostly because Royce had stepped onto terrain most NBA players, coaches and managers dare not – out of fear of attracting the NBA’s wrath; in the same way that the organisation and some of its elite players came down hard on the former general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, after he tweeted support for pro-democracy protestors in China. Morey not only deleted his tweet, but the NBA also issued a statement in Mandarin saying: “We recognize the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable… the tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA.” Why? Because China represents a significant portion of the NBA’s wealth and plans for future growth – with more than 700 million Chinese citizens now regular watchers of NBA games, according to CNBC. read the complete article

16 Jul 2021

THE ISLAMOPHOBIA PANDEMIC: The Rise of Muslim Detention Camps in Asia

Lithuania recently became the latest country to describe China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority as “genocide”. Joining the UK, the Baltic state is calling for a UN-led investigation into Beijing’s network of concentration camps which have detained an estimated one to three million Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslims. While this latest move is commendable, the international community in its entirety has been far too slow to condemn China’s actions in Xinjiang, the occupied homeland of the Uyghur. As a result, millions of Uyghurs are currently being subjected to horrific levels of repression. At the same time, some states seem to have been carefully observing Beijing’s targeted campaign, and are now applying similar measures to their own citizens. The growing pattern of state-sanctioned Islamophobia – in this case in the form of camps – is a disturbing development that requires urgent international attention. Emboldened by a sense of international impunity, a number of repressive regimes are subjecting their Muslim populations to imprisonment and subjugation. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 Jul 2021

Jason Mohammad: ‘I was spat at for being Muslim. That’s just how it was’

Jason Mohammad, the main presenter of BBC’s Final Score and occasional host of Match of the Day 2, wants to delve into religion, race and identity, weighty topics that have been fundamental to his life since childhood but that he only now feels completely comfortable addressing. Why that is strikes at the heart of the story Mohammad has to tell. The son of a Pakistani father and a Welsh mother, he grew up a practising Muslim in Ely, officially Cardiff’s most deprived suburb. It was the 1980s and life was tough, providing challenges Mohammad not only had to overcome to achieve his dream of becoming a journalist but which led him to suppress his faith. Where there should have been unwavering pride there was fear, reluctance and, ultimately, deep emotional scars. “People think Islamophobia is a new thing but I was being abused for being a Muslim when I was seven years old,” he says. “I was called a ‘Muzzie’ and the P-word and remember walking home from school one day and a kid spitting at me for no reason. That’s just what it was like back then for someone like me – the only Muslim kid in my school, one of very few Mohammads on my side of Cardiff, in a hard place where there were lots of racists around. The first time I saw a union flag it had ‘NF’ in the middle of it and was hanging out of a window near where I lived. “And while I didn’t suffer racism every day I was constantly made aware I was different, and when you’re aware you’re different you feel it [racist abuse] could happen at any moment. That type of thing sticks with you and can damage you in adulthood. That was definitely the case for me, hence me feeling unable and unwilling to talk about my faith for many years.” A turning point came in 2009 when Mohammad made a pilgrimage to Mecca as part of a documentary series for the Welsh-language TV channel S4C. It was literally a case of following in his father’s footsteps – he had visited Islam’s holiest city four years earlier – and for Mohammad the experience was as profound as he had hoped. He describes the trip as a “spiritual awakening”, providing him with the confidence and desire to be open about who he is and what he believes, something reinforced after the documentary was aired. read the complete article

17 Jul 2021

Muslim visibility matters – but misrepresenting us does more harm than good

Muslim visibility was incredibly limited when I was growing up, it still is. Often when Muslims are represented on TV we are associated with terror attacks and violence. Although the narrative is changing, we are far from where we ought to be. After 9/11 everything changed, Muslims from around the world felt heaviness and pain. There was a constant barrage of headlines that labelled Muslims in a certain damaging light, which increased anti-Muslim hate crimes and Islamophobia. I ran in an endless loop, hiding from my immigrant family’s roots and pretending I was British by name and blood. But what does it really mean to be British? This country was built on diversity, culture and immigration, but I didn’t understand the beauty in difference. I didn’t want those differences to shape, mould and negatively stereotype us from the rest. As I grew older, I came to realise the strength that many Muslims around the world have. I understood that despite the hurdles I would constantly face, the fact that I would undoubtedly need to work 10 times as hard as my peers to get to where I deserve to be, being visibly Muslim was an advantage – my identity was my power. Muslim characters on TV and film don’t need to be saved or seen as oppressed. We do not need a “white saviour” to help us figure out if we should wear the Hijab, or to save us from our religion. We’ve chosen to follow our own paths, as everyone on this earth has the right to do. British Pakistani and Emmy award-winning actor Riz Ahmed – in partnership with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation and Pillars Fund – has set up a campaign named The Muslim Visibility Challenge to tackle the misrepresentation of Muslims in the media. read the complete article

19 Jul 2021

Tommy Robinson and Huddersfield Syrian schoolboy set to find out result of bitter libel dispute

A former pupil of Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield will find out today if he has won a libel trial against Tommy Robinson. The English Defence League founder – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – is being sued by Jamal Hijazi, who was recorded being bullied in the playground in October 2018. Shortly after the video went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos, which were viewed by nearly one million people, that Jamal was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”. The 38-year-old also claimed Jamal “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school, allegations the teenager denies. At a four-day trial in April, Jamal’s lawyers said that Robinson’s comments had “a devastating effect” on Jamal and his family who had come to the UK as refugees from Homs, Syria. Catrin Evans QC described Robinson as “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an anti-Muslim agenda who used social media to spread his extremist views. Ms Evans said Robinson’s comments led to Jamal “facing death threats and extremist agitation” and that if the teenager wins the claim he should receive damages between £150,000 and £190,000. read the complete article

United States

19 Jul 2021

Biden Administration Transfers Its First Detainee From Guantánamo Bay

The transfer of the man, Abdul Latif Nasser, 56, was the first sign of a renewed effort under President Biden to winnow the population of prisoners by sending them to other countries that promise to ensure the men remain under security measures. Mr. Nasser was never charged with a crime. The remaining 28 prisoners who have not been charged during the nearly two decades they have been in custody are held as Mr. Nasser had been — as indefinite law-of-war detainees in the armed conflict against Al Qaeda. Of those, 10 have been recommended for transfer with security arrangements by a federal parole-like panel. The Biden White House, while supporting the goal of closing the prison, has adopted a low-key approach in that effort. Mr. Obama made it a signature policy, ordering that the prison be closed during his first year in office — and failed in the face of intense opposition from Congress. Mr. Biden and his aides have sought to avoid igniting the same kind of backlash by working quietly to begin reducing the prison population again. “We are trying to find a way to act on each individual case,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said at a human rights discussion in Paris on June 25. “In certain cases you need to find a country that is ready to welcome the person in question.” read the complete article

16 Jul 2021

Trump's Muslim travel ban tore lives apart. Here's how to stop a repeat

Besides destroying lives, the travel ban was counterproductive in several other ways. First, it did nothing to make us safer. Citizens of the targeted countries were already subject to a stringent vetting process when applying for a visa. That’s why, for instance, no Iranian visitor has ever perpetrated a terrorist attack in the U.S. Furthermore, a high percentage of those from the targeted countries come here to work as medical practitioners and caregivers, especially for rural Americans, who tend to be underserved. Perhaps most importantly, the travel ban was anti-American at its core in that it discriminated against people based on their nationality rather than their actions. When President Joe Biden revoked the travel ban on his first day in office, it was cause for celebration. And this past April, the House of Representatives passed the NO BAN Act, which would prevent future presidents from ordering a blanket ban on millions of people based simply on national origin. The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act awaits Senate approval, and Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have the opportunity to protect thousands of their constituents from future abuse. Sadly, they have yet to give the bill the support it needs to get a hearing. Through co-sponsoring the NO BAN Act, our senators can ensure that such painful experiences remain safely in the past, their memories the lone vestige of a dark chapter in our nation's history. read the complete article


18 Jul 2021

Uyghur American: I was born in a Chinese reeducation camp. I will always fight China's lies.

My mother gave birth to me while in captivity in China. On that day, in that prison called a reeducation camp, I don’t imagine that she could have envisioned the life I would eventually lead. She could not have known I would obtain a law degree at American University, serve as vice chair for the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom, or receive the inaugural Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty. But while she may not have seen my future, I do know she had a dream for my life. She dreamt I would live in freedom and that her children’s children would grow up without the heavy burden of traumatic life experiences like torture, silencing or imprisonment. I have the same dream for my fellow Uyghurs. But China is determined to destroy us. Last month, the Chinese government engaged in an online propaganda campaign featuring several Uyghur men and women, including the relatives and grandchildren of innocent men and women currently in exile, broadcasting that all is well for all Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which the Uyghur people call East Turkistan. The opposite is true. As many as 3 million Uyghurs have been sent to industrial-scale concentration camps; many of them have been tortured while imprisoned Uyghur women have been sexually abused and sterilized. The Chinese Communist government has deployed every technology it has to enforce its harsh measures of control, including intrusive surveillance networks reminiscent of dystopian movies that, until now, only existed in our darkest imaginings. Across the Uyghur region, the government has created programs to forcibly gather DNA samples and employ iris scans that feed into biometric data used to monitor the population. read the complete article


18 Jul 2021

Charges laid in Cambridge-area mosque attack

Charges have been laid in a break and enter and vandalism at a Cambridge mosque. At press time, Waterloo Regional Police have yet to formally make an announcement in the July 14 incident. But according to a statement released on Sunday by the Muslim community group Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, a suspect has been arrested and charges have been laid in connection with an incident that involved “damages exceeding tens of thousands of dollars, including stolen property,” at Baitul Kareem mosque. “We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from Canadians across the country,” Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, National President Lal Khan Malik. Said in a statement. “Our mosques will always remain open to all members of the community as a symbol of peace.” In an initial statement detailing the incident, Waterloo police suggest there may have been more than one person involved. read the complete article

New Zealand

17 Jul 2021

Teacher makes 200 job applications, but still can't get permanent work: 'Is it because I'm Muslim?'

Primary school teacher Mazlinah binte Haji Mohamad Noor never thought she would struggle to find work when she moved to Wellington in 2017 - especially when New Zealand is facing a teacher shortage. But after applying for more than 200 roles, Mazlinah, 55, has had little interest from employers and managed to only get five interviews and no offer of a permanent job. Believing something isn't right, her husband David Blocksidge, 68, got her to ask schools for the reasons for not being shortlisted - and concluded the responses show "a toxic mix of institutional bias, Islamophobia and unconscious bias". Mazlinah, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, said at one school the interviewer rolled her eyes when she walked in and before she could even say a word. "I tried to stay calm and professional, but I was feeling 'what's the point'. I am already being judged by my name and what I wear, and I'm not going to make it again," she said. "I began keeping records of emails and her applications and rejections when I started to see a pattern emerging. You can't statistically apply for that many jobs, and not even get interviews," Blocksidge said. "Clearly there is widespread bias and Islamophobia, but it's virtually impossible to prove and I liken it to a hole: by definition you can't see it but it's there all the same. We feel it, and people like Maz feel it more than others." read the complete article

Indian-administered Kashmir

16 Jul 2021

Officials now say no ban on animal sacrifice in Kashmir

Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Friday said there is no ban on the sacrifice of animals during the upcoming Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, a day after the government asked law enforcers to stop the sacrifice of cows, calves, camels and other animals. G.L. Sharma, a senior government official, said the earlier communication was “misconstrued,” and the government had been seeking proper transportation of animals and the prevention of cruelty during the Muslim festival. Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, by offering special prayers and slaughtering livestock, usually a goat, sheep, a cow or a camel, to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith. The meat of the sacrificed animals is shared among family and friends and poor people who cannot afford to sacrifice animals. It caused an uproar in the already restive region with an association of groups of Muslim scholars calling it “arbitrary” and “unacceptable.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Jul 2021 Edition


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