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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22 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Scotland, a new report on Islamophobia finds that 75% of Scottish Muslims experienced some form of Islamophobia on a regular basis, while in Canada, the Canadian government will host a National Summit on Islamophobia on July 22, bringing together Muslim community leaders and member of Parliament to discuss the growing anti-Muslim discrimination in the country, and in Great Britain, Muslim teachers at a school in Slough are forced to take personal leave to celebrate Eid al-Adha. Our recommended read of the day is by Alice Tidey on the 10th anniversary of the massacre in Oslo and Utoya carried out by far-right gunman Anders Breivik that left 77 dead, and the continued presence of the far-right ideology in Norway that motivated Breivik. This and more below:


21 Jul 2021

A decade on from Breivik's killing rampage, Norway still needs to address its far-right problem

Norway will on Thursday mark a decade since far-right terror attacks killed 77 people in the capital Oslo and the island of Utøya. Anders Breivik's bomb and shooting spree on July 22, 2011, was the country's worst peacetime slaughter and the fifth deadliest terrestrial terrorist attack in Europe. A decade on, survivors and experts say that little has been done to snuff out the far-right ideology behind the bloodshed. Breivik, 42, said he had wanted to draw attention to his "manifesto", which expressed a far-right, anti-Muslim ideology. He was sentenced to a maximum of 21 years in prison a year after the attacks — his sentence can be extended indefinitely by Norway's judiciary as long as he is considered a threat to society. But although he is now behind bars, Norway is still wrestling with the devastating impact of his acts and the far-right, anti-Islam ideology that inspired them. "Strangely, this horrible event does not seem to have changed attitudes towards the far right. The massacres of 22 of July was a horrible shock, and a call of awakening for many, of course, and security agencies are monitoring the far-right scene more closely than they used to do," Kjetil Ansgar Jakobsen, professor at the faculty of social sciences at Nord University, told Euronews. "However, the Islamophobic far right is as strong and articulated as it used to be, and the neo-Nazi scene, though small, has good public visibility," he said. Survivors, too, see that determination is waning. Miriam Einangshaug was 16 when the shooting started and she escaped physically unscathed by barricading herself inside one of the buildings on Utøya for more than an hour listening to the murder of her friends. "We have political parties in Norway where it's common to spread 'Eurabia' theory (a far-right Islamaphobic conspiracy theory)," she said. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


20 Jul 2021

If governments want to combat Islamophobia, they will need to take a hard look in the mirror

On July 22, the federal government will host a national summit on Islamophobia. All levels of government in Canada will be represented, as will Muslim-Canadian community organizations and leaders, so as to chart a path forward to combat racism and discrimination in Canada. This path will not be easy. If done in good faith and with integrity, this project will not only require our governments to work on fighting Islamophobia in the broader public, but will also require them to take a hard look in the mirror to face their complicity. The list of missteps is long, from racial profiling at our borders to disproportionate and highly disruptive surveillance of Canadian Muslim communities in the name of national security. These state practices have permeated our lives at many levels, and have been a drain on our collective psyche for far too long. Take, as an example, one seemingly mundane and routine government practice: tax audits of charitable organizations by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – a commonplace and needed part of how our government regulates the country’s charitable sector. We embarked on a study of this practice as it relates to Muslim-led Canadian charities when we heard an increasing chorus of fear and anxiety from them that something was amiss in the way such audits were unfolding. Those organizations had a simple question: Is this normal? What we found was a simple answer: No. Despite the obstacles we faced when it came to government transparency, we were able to glean valuable insights through a deep analysis of the audit files we had in our possession. By examining in close detail how auditors read and research, how they select evidence and how they interpret information, we found that these were no ordinary audits of charities – they were, in one way or another, informed by Canada’s whole-of-government policies on anti-terrorism financing and anti-radicalization. read the complete article

21 Jul 2021

Media Advisory - The Government of Canada to Host National Summit on Islamophobia

The Government of Canada will host a National Summit on Islamophobia convened by the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, will take part virtually in the National Summit on Islamophobia on July 22, where she will deliver opening remarks. Convened by Minister Chagger, the summit will bring together diverse Muslim community leaders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal ministers, members of Parliament, and officials from provincial and municipal governments. Live streaming of the Combating Islamophobia in Canada session will be available on the Canadian Heritage Facebook page. read the complete article

21 Jul 2021

Benefits of Islamophobia Summit overshadowed by questions of timing, inclusivity

Given everything, the Islamophobia Summit happening in Quebec City is a long-overdue step towards positive change. The National Council of Canadian Muslims has put forth a list of 61 policy changes to improve race relations and safety. As per files from The Canadian Press, their recommendations target every level of government. However, some are skeptical of the summit’s true intentions. “My concern is that the summit doesn’t seem to be designed in such a way to genuinely engage the real problems in Canadian society, and also Canadian government practices and policies that have fostered bigotry against Muslims,” Adnan Husain, the director of Queen’s University’s School of Religion, said. Many of Husain’s doubts stem from notable omissions. The summit’s favouring of politicians and community leaders has sidelined many influential voices. “Those are not necessarily the most important people to consult exclusively in this context,” he said. “What I’ve noticed is quite a number of scholars and activists who are in grassroots organizations have not been invited. There’s been a lot of questions about how inclusive and how consultative this summit actually is.” Regardless of whether the summit is successful, many will be rightfully disappointed about how long it took for Muslim leaders to be heard on such a platform. read the complete article

United States

21 Jul 2021

'Global problem': US lawmakers call for envoy to fight Islamophobia

US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky are leading more than two dozen lawmakers in demanding the appointment of a State Department envoy to combat Islamophobia amid a "dramatic increase" in violence and discrimination against Muslims around the world. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, 25 Democrats said Washington should tackle the "genuinely global problem" of anti-Muslim bigotry by creating the office of a special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia. Signatories to the letter include Omar's fellow Muslim colleagues, Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson, as well as Sara Jacobs, Alan Lowenthal, James McGovern and Debbie Dingell, who represents a large Muslim community in Michigan. "In addition to state-sponsored policies of Islamophobia, we have seen a disturbing rise in incidents of Islamophobic violence committed by individuals connected to larger transnational white supremacist networks, including but by no means limited to the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019 and the recent murder of a Muslim Canadian family in London, Ontario," the Congress members said in their letter. read the complete article

21 Jul 2021

Film Independent Partners With Muslim Public Affairs Council On Writing Fellowship For American Muslim Writer

Film Independent is partnering with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in the creation of The MPAC Hollywood Bureau Writing Fellowship that’ll provide a $10,000 grant to a writer who identifies as an American Muslim. To qualify, the writer must be accepted into any of the upcoming 2022 programs: the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, Episodic Lab or Project Involve, the organization’s long-running signature diversity and mentorship program. “MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau is thrilled to partner with Film Independent on this paid fellowship for a talented Muslim screenwriter. For over ten years, Film Independent has championed the inclusion of Muslim creative voices, from advising our Hollywood Summit delegates to this partnership that is a key piece in institutionalizing our screenwriting labs,” Sue Obeidi, Director, MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau said in a statement. read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Jul 2021

Islamophobia report reveals Scotland not quite as tolerant as it would like to think

Scotland has always considered itself a society that is “open, inclusive and outward-looking” according to its first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. But the nation’s popular and persistent belief that it does not have a problem with racism has been contradicted by a study by Tackling Islamophobia, a cross-party group of the Scottish government. This starkly reveals that 75% of Muslims experienced Islamophobia as a regular or everyday issue. The report highlights that Muslim women are most likely to suffer from discrimination. The majority of respondents believe that Islamophobia is getting worse in Scotland, with Glasgow showing the highest levels. Mainstream print and broadcast media were seen to promote Islamophobia by the majority of the study’s respondents. Social media was also cited as an arena where Islamophobic attitudes are circulated in Scotland. However, Islamophobia in Scotland is most often experienced on the street in the form of verbal abuse. Muslims in Scotland have responded by changing their everyday habits in efforts to hide their Islamic identities. Some choose not to wear a headscarf or speak in a foreign language on public transport, for example. Scotland has largely escaped criticism in public debates on race and racism due to the commonly held attitude that there is no problem to discuss. Scottish political elites have helped to advance the narrative that Scotland is more collectivist in nature and places a higher value on social welfare, making it exceptional in this issue to other parts of the UK, including England. These arguments have been used to promote a civic brand of Scottish nationalism which has been successful in gaining support from minority ethnic groups, including among young adults. While it is good that Scotland has an inclusive notion of citizenship, we should be wary of making broad generalisations about Scottish exceptionalism. read the complete article

21 Jul 2021

Muslim teachers forced to take unpaid leave so they can celebrate Eid

Muslim teachers at a special needs school are fighting for paid leave for religious holidays which aren’t Christmas. Staff at Arbour Vale School in Slough were once again forced to dip into their own pocket to celebrate Eid al-Adha this week. The celebration is the second of two official holidays in Islam – but employees are only given a single day of paid leave a year to attend non-Christian religious festivals. Teachers at the school, run by the Orchard Hill College Academy Trust, are now bound by a strict new policy around appearing in the media. One staff member spoke to on condition of anonymity. They said this has been brought in to ‘stop them in their tracks’. ‘If anybody puts anything on social media then it’s either a disciplinary or they’re sacked,’ they added. ‘I feel very strongly about this and I’m going to speak up. It’s not about the pay, it’s about the principle. But they don’t want to understand and they don’t want to know.’ Anthony Bardos, GMB union branch secretary for Slough, said the policy was an attempt to silence staff from speaking about their situation. Jagdeesh Singh, an employment and discrimination law specialist at Cameron Clarke Lawyers, believes there is strong legal and moral justification to make two days’ paid leave a blanket right. He said there’s a ‘sound basis’ for building a case of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, which was introduced to promote a fair and equal society and ‘protect people from discrimination in the workplace’. If the teachers brought their grievance to court, Mr Singh said it could be an ‘unprecedented test case’ for working practices. read the complete article

22 Jul 2021

Mohamed Sbihi to make history as Team GB’s first Muslim Olympic flagbearer

The gold medal-winning rower Mohamed Sbihi will make history on Friday after being announced as the first Muslim to carry the British flag at an Olympic opening ceremony. He will be joined by another gold medallist, the sailor Hannah Mills, a campaigner for clean oceans and the eradication of single use plastic in sport. Sbihi, who was the first practising Muslim to row for Britain before going on to win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in the men’s four, added: “I’ve won a medal, been to the closing ceremony but now to actually turn up at an opening ceremony and be at the head of the team alongside Hannah will be a lifetime memory that I will never forget.” read the complete article


22 Jul 2021

Room for 10,000: Inside China’s largest detention center

The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history. This is one of an estimated 240 cells in just one section of Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng, seen by Associated Press journalists granted extraordinary access during a state-led tour to China’s far west Xinjiang region. The detention center is the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres — making it twice as large as Vatican City. A sign at the front identified it as a “kanshousuo,” a pre-trial detention facility. Chinese officials declined to say how many inmates were there, saying the number varied. But the AP estimated the center could hold roughly 10,000 people and many more if crowded, based on satellite imagery and the cells and benches seen during the tour. While the BBC and Reuters have in the past reported from the outside, the AP was the first Western media organization allowed in. read the complete article


21 Jul 2021

Kodak Deletes Post by Photographer Who Called Xinjiang an ‘Orwellian Dystopia’

The American company Eastman Kodak has deleted an Instagram post featuring images of Xinjiang, a western Chinese region where the government is accused of grave human rights violations, after an online backlash from Beijing’s supporters. The post was promoting the work of the French photographer Patrick Wack, who made several trips to Xinjiang in recent years and has collected his images into a book. The project received a lift last week when Kodak shared 10 of his images — all shot on Kodak film — with its 839,000 Instagram followers. In the Kodak post and on his own Instagram account, Mr. Wack described his images as a visual narrative of Xinjiang’s “abrupt descent into an Orwellian dystopia” over the past five years. That did not sit well with Chinese social media users, who often object vociferously to Western criticism of Chinese government policies. In addition to deleting the post, Kodak apologized for “any misunderstanding or offense” that it might have caused. Kodak is not the first international company to apologize for perceived transgressions over Xinjiang, where Western politicians and rights groups say that Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups have been subjected to forced labor and genocide by the Chinese government. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Jul 2021 Edition


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