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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30 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian Serbs have reacted furiously to a ban on genocide denial imposed by the international official overseeing Bosnia’s 1995 peace deal, while in the United States a letter from a bipartisan U.S. congressional commission calls on Hilton Worldwide to cut links with a hotel project to be constructed on the site of a destroyed mosque in the occupied Uyghur homeland. In Canada, the London man charged in the deadly hit-and-run that killed four members of a Muslim family made a brief court appearance Thursday. Our recommended reading of the day is on Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the first hijabi to play division one college basketball, who is promoting diversity and inclusion for Muslim women and girls in sport through Dribbling Down Barriers– a basketball training program meant to develop female athletes on and off the court. This and more below:

United States

28 Jul 2021

Dribbling Down Barriers: Muslim girls shoot hoops

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, founder of Dribbling Down Barriers, created a program to promote diversity and inclusion in a place she knows well – a basketball court. The training program is meant to develop athletes both on and off court. Abdul-Qaader believes basketball has the power of bringing people from all walks of life together. The camp is for girls grades 4th-12th. She was denied in 2014 from playing professionally in Europe due the International Basketball Federation rule prohibiting head gear larger than five inches. Four years later, FIBA overturned the hijab ban. Now, Abdul-Qaadir uses her voice to advocate for Muslim women and girls in sports. “I had to stand and be strong for these young girls,” Abdul-Qaader said. “Especially the Muslim girls who are going to come after me and play any type of sport.” read the complete article

29 Jul 2021

A man was charged with hate crimes for attacks on Muslims in New York City

Naved Durrni, 30, faces charges of assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon in the recent physical and verbal attacks on Muslims in Queens, New York, according to a news release from the district attorney's office. The alleged hate crimes happened over the course of about five weeks, the New York City Police Department said. Durrni is accused of following Muslims in Queens, yelling anti-Muslim statements at them, hitting them and then fleeing. "As alleged, the defendant attacked and intimidated individuals because of their beliefs. That type of hate will not be tolerated in Queens County, where our diversity is our greatest strength," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in the news release. read the complete article


29 Jul 2021

Lawmakers form bipartisan Uyghur Caucus to highlight abuses

Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) on Thursday announced the creation of the Congressional Uyghur Caucus, which they say will raise awareness of the Chinese Community Party’s (CCP) "systemic human rights violations against the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." Smith called the mass internment of the Muslim Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities "egregious crimes" and "atrocious human rights violations." Rushan Abbas, executive director for the Campaign for Uyghurs, praised the creation of the caucus. “I am incredibly grateful for this development in the United States Congress, a true signal that the Uyghur cause is entering the mainstream," Abbas said. "When we approached Congressman Suozzi with the idea of establishing the Uyghur caucus in the US Congress, we knew we were speaking to a champion for Uyghur human rights, and we are so thankful to him for spearheading this important initiative alongside the renowned Congressman Chris Smith." read the complete article

29 Jul 2021

Fed up with the U.S., Ukraine cuts deals with China and shuts up about the Uyghurs

Frustrated with the U.S., Ukraine is cutting deals with a rival superpower, inviting China to build infrastructure while holding back criticism of Beijing's human rights record. Ukraine last month touted agreements with China to build airports, roads and railways in the Eastern European country and expressed gratitude for deliveries of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines. Just days before the cooperation deals were clinched, Kyiv chose to stay silent about China's alleged human rights abuses. At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ukraine withdrew its signature from a joint statement calling on China to allow independent observers into the country's Xinjiang region to investigate reports of persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The foreign ministry has yet to offer a rationale for the move, and it did not respond to a request for comment. read the complete article

29 Jul 2021

Morocco: Uighur activist at risk of being deported to China

A Uighur activist is at risk of being deported from Morocco to China after local authorities detained him in Casablanca airport following a terrorism warrant for his arrest issued by Beijing through Interpol. Yidiresi Aishan, a 33-year-old computer programmer residing in Turkey, was detained on Tuesday by Morrocan police. Activists fear he could be sent to a so-called re-education camp if taken to China. Morocco's national security directorate confirmed that a Chinese citizen was arrested on 20 July upon landing at Mohammed V International airport in Casablanca on a flight from Istanbul. The Moroccan security directorate also confirmed it had informed China - which is seeking Aishan's extradition - and Interpol under the red notice, and that it was waiting for his case to be referred to local prosecutors. Aishan, a father of three, has been based in Turkey since 2012. He fled China after authorities discovered he had sent reports of human rights abuses to Radio Free Asia, his friend, activist Abduweli Ayup, told Middle East Eye. Between 2016 and 2018, Aishan was arrested three times by Turkey and held for several months in a Turkish detention centre. Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that supports Uighurs and other Chinese dissidents, said Aishan feared he would be deported to China from Turkey. In a statement posted on its website, Safeguard Defenders said Aishan was interrogated for half an hour at Istanbul airport before leaving for Casablanca. Turkish police told him that if he left, he would "not be able to come back". Upon landing in Morocco, Aishan was detained and transferred to Tiflet detention centre, from where he called his wife on 24 July, four days after his arrest. read the complete article

29 Jul 2021

U.S. congressmen call on Hilton to cut link to Xinjiang project

A bipartisan U.S. congressional commission has called on Hilton Worldwide not to allow its name to be associated with a hotel project on the site of a mosque bulldozed by authorities in China’s Xinjiang region, where Washington says minority Muslims have been victims of genocide. In a letter on Thursday to Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Jim McGovern raised concerns about reports that a Hampton by Hilton hotel was being constructed on the site of the mosque destroyed in 2018 in Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture. “The site is emblematic of the Chinese government’s campaign of widespread destruction of Uyghur religious and cultural sites in the XUAR and official efforts to eradicate Uyghurs’ religious and cultural practices,” the letter said, referring to minority Uyghur Muslims and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The letter, a copy of which was made available to Reuters, was co-signed by the senior Congressional-Executive Commission on China Republicans, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Jim Smith. read the complete article

New Zealand

30 Jul 2021

Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens talks about his peace train gift to Christchurch

After the Christchurch mosque attacks, Yusuf Islam strolled through the city’s Botanic Gardens contemplating the unimaginable horror and grief of weeping mourners laying flowers at its gate. The performer, better known as Cat Stevens, had dropped everything and travelled across the world to perform his classic hit Peace Train at the memorial service held just days after the attacks in March 2019. As petals fell at his feet in the scenic southern gardens, the 73-year-old British singer/songwriter was struck by an idea to build a real peace train and bring smiles to future generations. “I wanted to make a symbolic gesture in appreciation for the way New Zealand had supported the Muslim community, they had suffered such a day of unimaginable horror,” said Yusuf, who converted to Islam in 1977. “Then I thought about my song Peace Train, and said to myself ‘stop dreaming! Let's get some wheels on the ground’.” Following his poignant performance at the memorial service, the singer returned home to Dubai and assembled a team to co-ordinate a charitable initiative, called Peace Train. It took two years to design plans for the “little model Holy Roller”. A symbol of peace-building efforts, the little ride-on train is battery-powered and plays songs as passengers travel the “tracks of peace”. The idea is to put a smile on young faces and the next generation, so they can dream of a better world and good things to come. read the complete article


29 Jul 2021

At least six Rohingya refugees killed as floods hit camps in Bangladesh

At least six Rohingya refugees were killed by landslides or drowned in flooding after rain inundated refugee camps in Bangladesh over recent days, deepening the despair among those living there. Three children were killed, including two when their shelter collapsed, a Save the Children spokesperson said. “They had to flee their shelters with nothing, they just took what they were wearing because the water was flooding so quickly,” said Yasmin Ara, founder of the Rohingya Women Development Forum. “They need some financial support, food and clothes, because they have nothing to wear and also they are not getting medical support.” The flooding has affected large parts of the Kutupalong refugee camp, which has existed since the early 1990s but was expanded on uneven, landslide-prone terrain in 2017, when it became the world’s largest refugee camp for the 700,000 Rohingya escaping military massacres in Myanmar, called “genocidal” by the UN. read the complete article


29 Jul 2021

Accused in alleged anti-Muslim hit-and-run killings returns to court

The London man charged in the deadly hit-and-run that killed four members of a Muslim family made a brief court appearance Thursday. Nathaniel Veltman 20, was in the Ontario Court of Justice video court for a routine update. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and his mother Talat Afzaal, 74, died after they were struck by a pickup truck at the corner of Hyde Park and South Carriage roads in northwest London on the evening of June 6. Their nine-year-old son, Fayez, was badly hurt but is recovering, family friends say. London police said the case was being investigated as an attack against Muslims. Veltman, who has hired Toronto defence lawyer Christopher Hicks, said little more than his name and birthdate during Thursday’s court appearance. He wore the jail-issued orange T-shirt and pants and a surgical face mask as required for pandemic protocols. read the complete article


29 Jul 2021

Edinburgh University student under fire over 'Islamophobic' statements

The dispute began when Shazia Amjed responded to a Facebook Marketplace post in Bogdan Nita’s name on June 24 hoping to buy a basket for a craft project. After inquiring about the price, the 34-year-old from Colinton was told the basket was only available to people from certain religious and ethnic backgrounds. "It's only for Jews, Brit or Europeans," a comment from the account read. Mr Nita has been a member of Edinburgh University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures since 2018. The account in the Comparative Literature PhD student’s name said the basket was kosher and it was “forbidden” to sell to someone who “promotes the flag of a terrorist organisation”. “He was referring to the Palestinian flag that I had on my Facebook profile,” said Ms Amjed. “I think he saw it and assumed I was Muslim.” Shocked by the abrupt message, the project manager told Mr Nita that she was British and threatened to expose Mr Nita’s comments on social media. Mr Nita appears to have responded to this by writing: “Sure, as if a paper proves the values. You’re a Muslim refugee and nothing else, f*****g rat.” Left shaken by the exchange, Ms Amjed reported the conversation to Facebook and Edinburgh University’s complaints team. Edinburgh University confirmed that it was investigating the complaint but did not provide any further information about the situation. read the complete article

Bosnia & Herzegovina

29 Jul 2021

Bosnian Serbs defy top UN official Inzko over genocide denial

Bosnian Serbs have reacted furiously to a ban on genocide denial imposed by the international official overseeing Bosnia's 1995 peace deal. UN-appointed High Representative Valentin Inzko said the ban was needed to stop glorification of war criminals. "I had to do something - I followed my conscience. If you're in a country where war criminals are glorified, this cannot be a good future," he said. Bosnian Serb politicians are boycotting Bosnia's multi-ethnic national bodies. Last month the genocide conviction of Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic was confirmed in The Hague, yet some ethnic-Serb leaders were still acclaiming him as a hero. So Mr Inzko, an Austrian diplomat, said he had to act. Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the country's joint presidency, says he will not accept the amendments to the criminal code. He has launched a petition claiming that the Srebrenica massacre was not an act of genocide - yet such denials may now be punished with a maximum prison sentence of five years. That massacre was the worst atrocity of the war - forces led by Mladic killed about 8,000 captive Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Jul 2021 Edition


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