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.

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19 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Spain, allegations of voter fraud and intentionally misleading claims about false mail ballots are spreading on social media in the days leading up to the general election, all of which are being amplified by the far-right Vox party to sway public opinion, meanwhile in Canada, Winnipeg’s Muslim community is looking for answers after one of its members, an 18-year-old woman, was stabbed on the job last month while working at the Olive Garden restaurant, and lastly, in the United States it looks like the prison at Guantanamo Bay is set to remain open as this year’s National Defense Authorization Act would extend the restrictions on closing or modifying the facility. Our recommended read of the day is by Leila Latif for The Guardian on a new documentary on the findings and scope of a decades long investigation into systemic racism and Islamophobia within the cricket community in the UKThis and more below:

United Kingdom

Is Cricket Racist? review – the answer can only be one thing: ‘very’ | Recommended Read

Unless viewers watch Channel 4’s Is Cricket Racist? with their eyes closed (broadcast as it is a few weeks after the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket’s report found “widespread and deep-rooted” racism), there is no denying that racism exists in the sport. So much so, that the answer to the question in the documentary’s title can only be: “Very.” This programme sees the actor and presenter Adil Ray investigate a troubled time for cricket after the Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq spoke publicly about the racism he endured at the county cricket club. Ray covers the fallout, his personal experiences as a fan and the historic institutional biases in the sport. But even in light of the recent report and media coverage, the documentary is genuinely shocking. Rafiq’s brief appearance in the documentary, where he testifies before the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee in 2022, also leads to its most shocking twist. Thirteen months after first making the allegations in front of the committee, Rafiq says: “All that’s changed really is my family have been driven out of the country.” Incredibly, Lord Patel, who was hired to help Yorkshire recover from the scandal, faced so much abuse that it contributed to him leaving the UK, too. The openness with which racism seems to operate in contemporary cricket makes for fascinating, albeit deeply depressing, viewing. Imran Khan talks about how racism and Islamophobia “was very obvious, it wasn’t hidden” and came from fellow players, not just fans. This was ingrained in the explicit policies of his era that only players born in Yorkshire could play, creating all-white teams he calls “cricket apartheid”. read the complete article


Cage director links French travel ban to criticism of 'Islamophobic policies'

The director of a British advocacy group has accused the French government of banning him from entering the country because it cannot handle "strong, intelligent and public critique" of its policies towards French Muslims. Last week, Muhammad Rabbani, the managing director of London-based Cage, was barred from entering France and detained for 24 hours after French authorities said he threatened "public order". The French interior ministry handed Rabbani a banning order which accused him of spreading conspiracy theories about "Islamophobic persecution" in France. "I was a detainee, and they put me in a cell and locked me up for a few hours before processing me in a French detention centre where they held asylum seekers and others awaiting deportation," said Rabbani. "Then someone from the national security division of the French interior ministry came to question me after a police officer gave me the letter banning him from the country." When asked if he was surprised by the banning order and arrest, Rabbani said: "I have been doing this work for nearly two decades and can't say I was worried - it's like an occupational hazard - but not something you expect to happen in a Western liberal democracy and proof of the authoritarian style of governing when they encounter strong, intelligent public critique." Following his return to the UK, Rabbani said he was subsequently stopped by British police for 90 minutes and questioned under Schedule 7 of the UK Terrorism Act - controversial powers allowing border police to detain and question anyone passing through an airport or port to determine if they are involved in terrorism. read the complete article

France ban on UK organisation exposes state Islamophobia

France has banned the UK-based campaign group CAGE for giving evidence about the republic's persecution of Muslims. The authorities in Paris blocked the managing director of CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani, from entering the country. A highly critical presentation delivered by Rabbani last year at the summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in which he exposed the French government's Islamophobia and its Systematic Obstruction Policy, is said to be the reason for the ban. CAGE described this as "totally absurd" and an example of "authoritarian overreach" by the French, a view that has become widespread amongst analysts and commentators. In recent years the French government has faced sharp criticism over its crackdown on its Muslim citizens. Western critics have expressed similar sentiments in arguing that the French model of secularism is not only repressive, but has also become unsuited to modern French society. The campaign group has long been monitoring state policies in France that have a direct impact on Muslims and their freedom to practise their faith. It has submitted substantial complaints and evidence as part of international coalitions to the EU and UN Human Rights Council about France's persecution of Muslims. The group's 2022 report on France was the first of its kind to argue that state-sponsored persecution of Muslims is taking place. read the complete article

When the ‘left’ lectures Muslims on the ‘right’ on LGBTQ curriculums

Are North American Muslims politically on the right or left? Conservative or liberal? Democrats or Republicans? Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently visited the Muslim community in Calgary, where parents asked his help in making sure Muslim beliefs were respected in schools, particularly about sexuality. In recent months, Muslims in Canada and the United States have protested the mandatory inclusion of newly developed LGBTQ content in school curriculums as well as the general representation of same-sex attraction in school events and academic teachings. The school system, Muslims argue, should be impartial and not force children to learn subject matter against their parents’ consent. Yet Trudeau’s response to the parents in Calgary, captured on video, was to blame social media propaganda from “the American right wing” for spreading “untruths” about school curriculums that concern Christian and Muslim parents alike. Muslims in Canada and the United States include some of the most educated families in their respective nations. We are engaged in society, politically aware and involved in the fabric of both countries. We understand from our own experience what is happening in our schools and don’t need to be prompted by far right rhetoric in order to express our own worldviews. When politicians blame the other side for Muslims’ genuinely held religious convictions, they imply that Muslims are being brainwashed — apparently, we can’t think for ourselves. This alienates us from all politicians and their Muslim constituents. Trudeau should know better than to tell Muslims that their resistance to the sexual ethics and identity politics in their children’s schools stems from modern-day political parties, rather than timeless principles extracted from the Quran. read the complete article


Winnipeg’s Muslim community calls for investigation into Olive Garden stabbing of hijabi woman

Winnipeg’s Muslim community is looking for answers after one of its members, an 18-year-old woman, was stabbed on the job last month while working at the Olive Garden restaurant on Regent Avenue. Muslim leaders spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning to call for a “fulsome investigation” into the attack and whether it was targeted due to the Black, hijab-wearing victim’s identity. The stabbing led to the arrest of a 27-year-old man with a lengthy rap sheet, including multiple arson charges, as well as convictions for mischief, theft and failing to comply with probation orders. He was charged with aggravated assault, possessing a weapon and failing to comply with a probation order. Aasiyah Khan, COO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, read a statement from the victim, who has asked to stay anonymous. In it, she challenged the police assertion that the stabbing appeared to be random and unprovoked, and said police went public with the charges without first speaking to the victim, who was then in hospital recovering. The victim, in her statement, said she was the only person of colour in the restaurant at the time of the attack, and felt the accused was staring at her for a long period of time prior to the incident. “I think the community has a number of concerns regarding the ways the investigation was completed,” Khan said. read the complete article

United States

Guantanamo Prison Set to Remain Open as Congress Debates New Year of Funding

The U.S. Senate is set to begin debate on the annual massive military spending bill this week. As in years past, the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, will include language prohibiting the use of funds to close Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military prison established in 2002 during the War on Terror. The Senate version of the NDAA currently being debated not only extends the restrictions on closing or modifying the facility; it bans the transfer of detainees to Afghanistan, Libya, the United States, Somalia, Syria, or Yemen. It also directs the Department of Defense to begin planning for the medical needs of the aging population at Guantanamo. “These provisions would interfere with the President’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of GTMO detainees and to make important foreign policy and national security determinations regarding whether and under what circumstances to transfer detainees to the custody or effective control of foreign countries,” a spokesperson said. In February 2021, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it was “certainly our goal and our intention” to close the facility by the end of U.S. President Joe Biden’s term. To date, the Biden administration has released 10 detainees. read the complete article


Voting fraud claims spread ahead of Spanish election

Days before Spain holds a pivotal election, misleading claims about mail ballots and election fraud are spreading on social media and casting doubts about the results even before the votes have been counted. The allegations, amplified by supporters of the center-right Popular Party and the far-right Vox Party, bear striking similarities to the baseless claims spread by then-President Donald Trump ahead of his 2020 U.S. election defeat, and offer a reminder that the distrust of elections that has marred U.S. politics has taken root in Europe, too. Sunday’s general election could tilt Spain in favor of the populist right, as the Popular Party looks to take power away from the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party and its far-left coalition partner, Unidas Podemos (”United We Can”). Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the early election after his left-leaning coalition lost big in this year’s local and regional elections that were also marked by online misinformation about voting, as well as a surge in hateful content about Muslims and immigrants. Social media researchers at the nonprofit Reset identified numerous examples of election-related misinformation spreading on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. While the specific kinds of content varies by platform — anti-Muslim hate is particularly prevalant on Twitter, for instance — election denialism was found wherever the researchers looked. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Jul 2023 Edition


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