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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27 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the online commodities platform PayPal has joined with the non-profit ADL (Anti-Defamation League) to uncover and disrupt capital flow connected to hate groups online, as an ‘anti-separatism’ bill in France has French Muslims worried that their rights and liberties will be even further placed in jeopardy as a result, and in China, families of Uyghur activist who voice concern over the imprisonment and abuse of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang China are being targeted by the Chinese government in an effort to silence reproach. Our recommended read of the day is by Sindre Bangstad on the dark legacy of  Norway’s 2011 Utøya massacre and what the rise of Norwegian nationalism means for ethnic minorities in the country. This and more below:


26 Jul 2021

Norway ten years after the Utøya massacre

On July 22, 2011, a white Norwegian right-wing extremist set off a bomb that killed eight people at Government Headquarters in Oslo. Then, he proceeded to the small island of Utøya, some 60km from the capital, where he massacred 69 people, most of them teenagers attending the annual summer camp of the social-democratic Labour Party Youth (AUF), in a shooting spree that lasted well over an hour. A decade after the events of July 22, 2011, the question of a true reckoning with what happened on that day remains unsettled. Norwegian society has to confront the reality that led to the terror attack so this tragedy never repeats. The post-July 22 political rhetoric was dominated by a unifying message that those were attacks on all “Norwegians” and on “Norwegian democracy”, but this claim was not entirely true. Those were politically motivated attacks on a particular group of Norwegians – namely Norwegian social democrats, and more specifically the Norwegian Labour Party, which was then in power, and its youth organisation, the AUF. The conspiratorial “Eurabia” writings of Norwegian far-right blogger Peder Are Nøstvold Jensen (aka Fjordman) and his ideological predecessor, Swiss-Israeli doyenne of the “counter-jihadist” ideology Gisele Littmann (aka Bat Ye’or) had convinced the perpetrator that Norway and Europe as a whole could only be “saved” from civilisational decline if they were ethnically cleansed of Muslims by means of violence and terror. He came to believe that Norway’s small population of Muslims were actually an “Islamic fifth column” hellbent on turning Norway into an Islamic state. And that political elites in power, from the EU bureaucrats in Brussels to Norwegian social democrats, had secretly been working hand-in-hand with Muslim countries in order to achieve this very objective. The perpetrator’s ultimate goal had been to unleash a continent-wide civil war in Europe which would lead to the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. In this, he looked up to the Bosnian Serb war criminals who committed genocide against the Bosniak Muslim population. While no war broke out, his terrorism certainly inspired others. The idea of a direct attack on the Muslim community, which he had abandoned fearing it would generate public sympathy for Norwegian Muslims, would resonate with an Australian terrorist who shot 51 people attending prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019. Another white Norwegian right-wing extremist also tried to attack a mosque in Bærum outside of Oslo in August 2019, but was stopped by worshippers. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United States

26 Jul 2021

PayPal to research transactions that fund hate groups, extremists

PayPal Holdings Inc is partnering with non-profit organisation the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to investigate how extremist and hate movements in the United States take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities. The initiative will be led through ADL’s Center on Extremism, and will focus on uncovering and disrupting the financial flows supporting white supremacist and anti-government organizations. It will also look at networks spreading and profiting from antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian bigotry. The information collected through the initiatives will be shared with other firms in the financial industry, law enforcement and policymakers, PayPal said. read the complete article

26 Jul 2021

‘Muslim-free’ gun range closes in Oklahoma. ‘Looks like hate does not pay’

A shooting range and once self-proclaimed “Muslim-free” zone is up for sale in Oklahoma, following a years-long legal battle brought by a Muslim resident. The business in Oktaha, about 17 miles southwest of Muskogee, has been downsizing since the lawsuit against it came to an end. Muslim community leaders and others aren’t shedding any tears over the latest news. “Well, well, well. What do we have here? Looks like hate does not pay after all,” Adam Soltani, director of the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Oklahoma chapter, said on Facebook. “The same gun range we took to court in a federal lawsuit for banning Muslims by declaring itself a ‘Muslim-Free Establishment’ is no more,” Soltani said. Save Yourself Gun Club — formerly Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range — made headlines in 2015 over a sign posted at the business that read: “This privately owned business is a Muslim free establishment!!! We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone!!! Thank you!” read the complete article


27 Jul 2021

Grayzone's Genocide Denial: Meet the U.S. Authoritarian Left's New Neo-fascist Allies

Three "academic institutes" have released a new report denying China's genocide of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. Its "findings" reject all charges of atrocities being perpetrated by China, smears Uyghur activists – and have been loudly welcomed by America's conspiracy theory-riven authoritarian left. The report, entitled, Xinjiang: Understanding Complexity, Building Peace, is a strange and esoteric document that states from the get go that it aims to undermine the "West's charges" of genocide and detention camps, to counter the "simplistic" and "sensationalist" accusations against China, otherwise known as "China-bashing," that legitimize "sectarian and "violent" groups, and to foreground testimonies from experts who have visited the region. The report ends with a call for Uyghur activists and others who, only pages earlier, were accused of supporting jihadism, to "come and see" with their own eyes "how good life is in Xinjiang nowadays." The organization that led this this effort is the Centro Studi Eurasia e Mediterraneo (CeSE-M), or Italian Eurasian Mediterranean Research Center. The banal-sounding think tank was born out of the network of Claudio Mutti, who's been described as a "Nazi-Maoist," combining neo-fascism with ideas taken from the extreme left. Despite the distinctly unsavory and fascist-friendly source of the Xinjiang report, and despite all the evidence, including two mammoth reports by a Pulitzer-winning BuzzFeed team and Associated Press released just last week, Aaron Maté of the Grayzone blog has already trumpeted this report as definitive proof that the genocide accusation is a "fashionable" lie. The report's authors seem blithely unconcerned that their whole motivation is to justify China's very own version of the war on terror, but not before they accuse the West of a "double standard" on anti-terrorism. In other words, the report freely admits that China’s operations in Xinjiang are comparable to America’s infamous war on terror – but it goes one step further, celebrating China’s efforts "to blur the distinction between terrorism and legitimate political dissidence." read the complete article

26 Jul 2021

Global far right and the rise of Islamophobia

From Canada to Hungary, the world is witnessing a rise in Islamophobia. In the capitals of Europe, right-wing politicians incite their anti-immigrant hatred by harping on an ill-founded fear of a Muslim invasion of Europe. Data from surveys confirm the worrying trend of Islamophobia in the West. According to a UN report, in surveys conducted between 2018 and 2019, an average of 37 percent of Europeans held negative views of Muslims. In 2019, 62 percent of Muslims within the U.S. and 68 percent of Muslim women experienced some form of religious discrimination according to a survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. What are the reasons of this global wave of hate crimes and terror attacks against Muslims? How did Islamophobia reach such epidemic proportions? The problem of Islamophobia needs to be analyzed from three vantage points. One is the historical context with its roots in Orientalist theory which perceives Muslims as the other. Edward Said's magnum opus Orientalism explored the negative stereotyping of Arab and Muslim starting from the Crusades to the colonization of Muslim lands. The post-Cold War manifestation of this ideology was in Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilization. Huntington asserted that in the post-Cold War world, cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict and Islam and West would constitute a major share of this clash of civilizations. In the past decade, rising Islamophobia in Europe has been embedded in larger context of immigration and the rise of far right political parties. Today immigration is a deeply divisive issue highly politicized by the nationalist far right parties who openly incite xenophobia and fear of the immigrants; their vitriol mostly reserved for Muslims escaping their war-torn lands to get to the European borders. Some political parties in Western countries have similar views on immigrants, Muslims and Islam. The right-wing intelligentsia and political elite fuel the xenophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric to exploit discontent and gain social and political clout. read the complete article


25 Jul 2021

Muslims in France worried over controversial anti-separatism bill

The controversial anti-separatism bill in France limits the existence and rights of Muslims, a French Muslim human rights activist said on Sunday"The anti-separatism bill completely limits the right to organization and the existence of Muslims as people who have Islamic faith and are aware of their citizenship rights," Yasser Louati told Anadolu Agency. Emphasizing that the Paris administration is trying to criminalize Muslims who organize outside of groups it supports, Louati said this law could be applied to other minorities in the future. Stressing that the myth that "France is a country of human rights" died years ago, Louati said: "There is state racism and Islamophobia in France. If this was not true, laws would not be enacted in this way against a community that makes up 9% to 11% of the country's population. Yes, this law specifically targets Muslims, because the discussions were always about them." The French National Assembly passed the "anti-separatism" bill on Friday despite strong criticism from both rightist and leftist lawmakers. The government says the legislation was done to bolster France's secular system, but critics say it limits religious freedom and marginalizes Muslims. read the complete article


26 Jul 2021

Suspicion and prejudice: Anti-Muslim prejudice on the German labour market

The job application process is particularly problematic for women who have Turkish names or who wear a headscarf. According to a study by the Institute of Labour Economics (IZA) in Bonn, these women have to submit on average around four times as many applications as non-Muslim women to be called for an interview – even if they have the same level of qualifications. Some even face open hostility: in December 2019, a regional labour court awarded compensation to a single mother who had applied for a trainee position with a tax consultancy after breaking off her university studies. Her application photo showed her wearing a headscarf. The tax consultant rejected the application. His reason: "I assume that your application was not serious and that you intend to use it to support your benefits claim." He continued: "Should you wish to submit a serious application in future, dispense with your 'headgear'." Such hostility is presumably rare, but many employers seem to regard religious affiliation as a key factor when selecting potential colleagues – subconsciously at least. "Many employers primarily associate Islam with uncertainty and potential conflict within the workforce," says Yasemin El-Menouar, a scholar of Islamic studies and head of the Religion Monitor project at the Bertelsmann Foundation. This prevents them from hiring Muslim employees, she adds. This will not be news to many Muslim employees: an EU-wide survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights says 27 per cent report regular discrimination in the workplace. read the complete article


27 Jul 2021

‘They Have My Sister’: As Uyghurs Speak Out, China Targets Their Families

As Beijing has intensified its repression in Xinjiang in recent years, more Uyghurs living overseas have felt compelled to speak out about mass internment camps and other abuses against their families back home. Their testimonies have added to a growing body of evidence of China’s crackdown, which some have called a genocide, prompting foreign governments to impose sanctions. Now the Chinese authorities are pushing back against overseas Uyghurs by targeting their relatives. The Communist Party has long treated the relatives of dissidents as guilty by association and used them to pressure and punish outspoken family members. With the courts under the control of the authorities, there is little recourse to challenge such prosecutions. With the Uyghurs, the authorities seem to be applying this tactic with unusual, and increasing severity, placing some Uyghur activists’ relatives in prison for decades, or longer. The sister of Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur American activist, was sentenced in December to 20 years in prison for terrorism. The sister, Gulshan Abbas, and her aunt had been detained in 2018, days after Rushan Abbas spoke at an event in Washington denouncing the crackdown and widespread detention in Xinjiang. “As retaliation against me because I made that public speech, as a tool to silence me, they abducted my sister,” Ms. Abbas said. “They have my sister as a hostage right now.” At Beijing’s request, some countries have also sent more than 300 Uyghurs back to China since 2010. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Jul 2021 Edition


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