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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17 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: China invites Secretary Pompeo to visit Xinjiang, says there are no human rights abuses. An op-ed by CJ Werleman explores how Muslims and Arabs have to work twice as hard to climb half as high, and are de-platformed ten times as quick. Our recommended read today is by David Weigel on Biden, who is scheduled to address the nation’s largest Muslim American PAC on Monday. This, and more, below:

United States

24 Jul 2020

Biden to speak to the nation’s largest Muslim American PAC | Recommended Read

Joe Biden will address the nation’s largest Muslim American PAC on Monday, as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee continues to reach out to groups he didn’t court during the primary. Emgage Action, the political arm of a 14-year-old Muslim outreach organization, will host Biden at its Million Muslim Votes Summit, held online. The conference comes 11 months after just two then-Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former HUD secretary Julián Castro, attended the Islamic Society of North America’s convention. Emgage had criticized the two dozen Democrats, like Biden, who found somewhere else to be. “Muslim American communities are organizing like never before to maximize our voter turnout, and to ensure that our voices are represented,” Wa’el Alzayat, the chief executive of Emgage Action, said in a statement. “The Million Muslim Votes Summit is the culmination of this work, and it is with great honor that Vice President Joe Biden is partnering with Emgage Action to engage with Muslim American communities and help galvanize us towards the polls this upcoming November.” Biden would be the first Democratic nominee to address the group, which has active chapters in the swing states of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He was criticized for skipping last year’s Islamic conference, and Emgage would go on to endorse Sanders for president. It backed Biden only after Sanders ended his campaign three months ago, saying it could “envision our voices being represented through his presidency.” read the complete article

Recommended Read
17 Jul 2020

Muslim woman says gun range ordered her to remove hijab

A Missouri gun range violated the civil rights of a Muslim woman by not allowing her to shoot unless she removed a religious head covering, an advocacy group said Thursday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the U.S. Department of Justice in a letter for a civil rights probe into the denial of services by Frontier Justice during an incident earlier this year at one of their gun ranges located in the suburban Kansas City, Missouri, metropolitan area. Rania Barakat recounted during a Facebook Live news conference Thursday an incident that unfolded on Jan. 1 at the Frontier Justice gun range in Missouri when she went with her husband there to shoot. The couple waited in line for an hour that day, she said, and when they approached the cashier to pay she was told that she must remove her hijab in order to use the facilities. Barakat said she had shot at other gun ranges without having to remove her hijab. Frontier Justice employees cited the company’s dress code policy, which is posted on its website: “Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.” read the complete article

17 Jul 2020

In the US, silencing Muslim voices doesn’t count as ‘cancel culture’

Bari Weiss has dedicated much of her enormous platform to condemning and silencing Palestinian, Arab and Muslim voices, specifically those critical of Israel. During her college days, she campaigned to have a number of Arab-American professors terminated, including Joseph Massad, a professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University. More recently, she praised an article that called on Stanford University to cancel its invitation to a leftist Jewish American Eli Valley, who was to speak during Palestinian Awareness Week in 2019. The problem isn’t Weiss, however. The problem is that Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians have been made so invisible in the US media and mainstream political discourse that they don’t even invoke mention during a debate about “cancel culture,” even when so-called free speech martyrs like Weiss are proactively cancelling their voices. It takes a special kind of holier-than-thou self-righteousness to bemoan alleged assaults on “free speech” at the same time both major political parties are advocating and legislating laws that criminalise free speech vis-a-vis the way in which twenty-seven US states have now adopted laws that punish businesses, organisations or individuals that support or call for boycotts against Israel. Absent also from this “cancel culture” debate is that 201 anti-Sharia bills have been introduced in 43 states since 2010. These bills are rooted in no plausible counterterrorism logic but rather in bigotry meant to stifle the practice of Islam, a speech act in itself. Muslims have also endured veil bans, and other measures designed to suppress their individual freedoms. When anti-Islam advocates have falsely tied their faith to terrorism, Muslims have been denied the opportunity to respond-in-kind. read the complete article

17 Jul 2020

Through sci-fi and fantasy, Muslim women authors are building new worlds

In the past few years, Muslim women have quietly taken the speculative fiction publishing industry by storm, earning rave reviews with fantasy and science fiction narratives that upend both the genre’s historic lack of diversity and popular depictions of women and Islam. Last year alone, mainstream publishing houses released at least 13 fantasy and sci-fi books written by Muslim women in English, from Farah Naz Rishi’s debut “I Hope You Get This Message” to Karuna Riazi’s middle-grade novel “The Gauntlet.” At least another dozen, including sequels to Hafsah Faizal’s instant New York Times bestseller “We Hunt the Flame” and Somaiya Daud’s award-winning “Mirage,” are in the works. That’s a change from the past, when speculative fiction was dominated by stories that drew on Norse, Christian and Arthurian sagas and mythologies. Many of these titles have earned critical acclaim, with several making it to bestseller lists and earning national and international literary awards. At least two television adaptations have been announced. Fan fiction, fan art and fan Twitter accounts abound. “My sense is that the ability of Muslim voices to come through so strongly is part and parcel of the new intersectional movement that’s happening,” said Noor Hashem, a Boston University lecturer who has taught courses on Muslim science fiction. She's working on her own manuscript about faith in contemporary Muslim fiction. The uptick in Muslim speculative fiction publishing “corresponds to a general trend in speculative fiction publishing which is taking more seriously the contributions of people of color and minority communities, especially after critiques of the whiteness of the genre,” Hashem said. read the complete article


17 Jul 2020

‘Where is my family?': A question left unanswered for too many Uyghurs living abroad

The story Nejmidin shared with Global Voices is that of countless Uyghur families. He was born in Kashgar, a predominantly Uyghur city in southern Xinjiang. His large family was prosperous and well-respected in the region. His grandfather, Raman Idris, was a businessman who specialized in chemical fertilizers and, and later, in property development. Nejmidin’s father, Mamutjan Raman, was also a wealthy businessman and owned an agricultural cooperative. Nejmidin family were observant Muslims who prayed five times a day and paid their yearly religious tax (zakat). His grandfather made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Such practices had to be done quietly however, to avoid the ire of the Chinese authorities. Nejmidin remembers that in his school days, he and his fellow students were made to hold hands and pledge not to engage in religious ceremonies or practices, such as fasting and attending Friday prayers. Nonetheless, Uyghur families such as Nejmidin’s had some freedom to practice their faith quietly. This changed suddenly and dramatically in late 2015. Nejmidin, who was already living abroad, received a tearful phone call from his mother, telling him his father had been accused of a “political crime” and sentenced to a year in prison in Aksu, a city in the south of Xinjiang. His younger brother, accused of a similar crime, had been sentenced to six months in prison in Kashgar. His mother begged Nejmidin never to call home again, for their safety, since having family abroad could result in intensified surveillance and interrogation. Such traumatic situations are widely shared within the Uyghur diaspora: despite experiencing deep angst about the fate of those left behind, exiles fear that any attempt to communicate with them could put them in danger. At the same time, Uyghurs living abroad face the hardship of making a living in foreign lands and struggling for their own status, and sometimes safety, given the pressure the Chinese government exerts on countries hosting Uyghur asylum seekers. This has been Nejmidin’s experience. Unable to contact his family directly, he received information from people who maintained discreet contact with the region. In 2018, he learned that his grandfather had been accused of religious extremism and was detained in June 2016, around the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. According to a source from Kashgar his grandfather was rushed to hospital, shortly after detention, where he passed away. The source claimed that his grandfather had been severely beaten before his death. He was seventy years old. read the complete article

17 Jul 2020

China Invites Pompeo to Visit Xinjiang, Says There Are No Rights Abuses

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has invited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit the western region of Xinjiang, following the latest round of U.S. sanctions on Chinese officials accused of involvement in the oppression of Muslim minority groups in the restive province. Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing Thursday that there were no human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang, where China is accused of a cultural genocide against minority ethnic communities. read the complete article

17 Jul 2020

What is happening to the Uighurs in China?

The Chinese Communist Party is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in internment camps. In the Uighurs' homeland in Xinjiang, the state operates a system of mass-surveillance and is accused of human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim minority including forced labour and compulsory birth control. China says the camps are not prisons but schools for ‘thought transformation’ and it continues to deny the abuse of human rights. David Aaronovitch asks leading experts what’s going on in Xinjiang and how is the rest of the world responding: Rian Thum, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, Dr Jo Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University, Josh Chin deputy China Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, and Charles Parton Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI. read the complete article


17 Jul 2020

Delhi Riots 2020: There Was a Conspiracy, But Not the One the Police Alleges

The aim of this five-part article was to examine the chronicle of an ‘anti-Hindu’ riot flowing from a conspiracy by ‘anti-CAA protestors’ (as Delhi Police alleges) – or ‘Left-Jihadi’ elements, as two ‘fact finding’ reports submitted to the MHA call it – and study the role of the Delhi Police on those fateful days of February 23 to 26, 2020. A thorough examination of the statements of the police, and valuable on-ground information provided by media outlets, throws up much evidence pointing to the questionable role that the Delhi Police played, or was compelled to play. In the end, the conclusion is inescapable that the partisan and distorted narrative being put forth by the police (and by the GIA and the CFJ ‘fact-finding’ reports) based on completely unsubstantiated allegations, has one purpose – to discredit anti-CAA protesters as anti-national provocateurs, who were responsible for perpetrating the riots. What is extraordinary is the manner in which the various Delhi Police statements and chargesheets hold the anti-CAA protestors guilty of engineering the riots by claiming that they had planned it, when the realities on the ground were entirely different. Yes, the anti-CAA protesters were wrong in blocking the road at Jaffrabad. However, it was still a peaceful protest – a matter that the Delhi Police could have easily handled and resolved. Instead, the police not only allowed ‘CAA supporters’ mobilised by BJP politicians to hold a counter-protest very close to the anti-CAA protest site but also chose to look the other way when the BJP’s Kapil Mishra delivered an incendiary speech, which instantly inflamed the passions of his supporters. read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Jul 2020

Has the UK government helped stereotype Muslim students?

While Tom and Ahmed are not their real names, the situation is real and is one of many we uncovered during our research into how Islam and Muslims are perceived among students across UK universities. Our report is the first nationwide assessment, based on a survey of 2,022 students across 132 universities, and interviews and focus groups conducted with 253 staff and students at six higher education institutions. We found that the UK government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, has reinforced negative stereotypes of Muslims and encouraged a culture of mutual suspicion and surveillance throughout universities. However, universities can take an active role in helping to build peaceful relations on campus, and beyond, by challenging prejudice and empowering Muslim and all marginal voices. As we discuss in our forthcoming book Islam on Campus, suspicion and negative stereotypes need to be replaced with shared, equal and just understandings of who we all are. Our research group found that students who agree with the government are more likely to express negative views about Islam and Muslims. For example, students who see radicalisation as a problem on campus are four times more likely to believe that Muslims have not made a valuable contribution to British life. Those who support Prevent are almost three times more likely to see Islam as intolerant towards non-Muslims than those who believe Prevent corrodes university life. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jul 2020 Edition


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