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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07 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In France, last week’s fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk has shed light on the wider issue of systemic racism in French society, meanwhile, in Brazil, a study done at the University of Sao Paulo found that more than half of all surveyed Brazilian Muslims experienced some form of Islamophobia, and lastly, in the United States, a United Nations independent investigator was allowed to visit Guantanamo Bay prison and assess the conditions of the facility, of which have been deemed “incompatible with international law”. Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye on how the British media has given ample reporting space to recent developments regarding the shutting down of Nigel Farage’s bank account, but have failed to bring attention to the widespread discrimination experienced by British Muslims by the financial sector. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Nigel Farage row: When Muslims have their bank accounts closed, nobody cares | Recommended Read

Every major British media outlet has reported the revelation from British populist politician Nigel Farage that his bank accounts are to be closed without notice or explanation. The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent. Mail, Express, Evening Standard, Spectator and others have awarded Farage ample space. He's compared modern Britain to communist China - and claimed that without a bank account: "I won’t be able to exist or function". I have written up many of these stories in Middle East Eye. Not one of them has been followed up in the British media, or taken up as a cause by politicians. No prizes for guessing why not. The individuals concerned, though mainly British citizens, were Muslims. I can’t help comparing the alacrity with which the government has gone into battle on behalf of Farage to its total indifference to the fate of British Muslims and others over many years. This shows two things: first and foremost, the structural Islamophobia which has long poisoned British media and politics. When Muslims have their bank accounts closed, nobody cares. When the same thing allegedly happens to Nigel Farage it’s close to a national scandal. But there’s a deeper point. Ever since Tony Blair joined George Bush’s so-called “war on terror”, British Muslims have been the testing ground for sinister authoritarianism. As I demonstrated in my book, The Fate of Abraham, politically engaged Muslims were the first to suffer from cancel culture, having been systematically excluded from British life for many years. Nobody protested. read the complete article

Britain's far right is booming on Elon Musk's Twitter

Some people are pretty pleased with Twitter right now. After then US president Donald Trump caused a furore by retweeting its anti-Muslim content, one of the UK's most notorious far-right groups Britain First was banned from the social media platform in 2017. Facebook followed suit months later. Losing this huge reach crushed Britain First's public visibility, membership and fundraising. But that all changed when Elon Musk took over Twitter last October. Calling himself a “free speech absolutist”, the tech billionaire granted an amnesty to hundreds of accounts that had been kicked off the platform. Within hours, those belonging to Britain First leader Paul Golding, along with former deputy Jayda Fransen and the party itself, reappeared. “Elon Musk… has made sure [Britain First's] content is much more prominent on the platform," head researcher Callum Hood at the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) told Euronews. “That’s a real helping hand to accounts like Golding’s.” He explained that Britain First’s “extremely sharp” follower growth means an ever-increasing number of people are being exposed to his content that “foments hatred”. Golding’s account also now carries a blue tick, formerly a badge of authenticity, giving his tweets “more credibility”, continued Hood – even though the only barrier to entry has become a “willingness to hand Elon Musk money”. read the complete article

United States

Connecticut legislator attacked after Muslim service says police downplayed assault

A Connecticut lawmaker who was attacked last month while leaving a Muslim prayer service accused police in Hartford of downplaying the assault and called Thursday for a federal investigation of the department’s handling of violent crimes, especially against women. Rep. Maryam Khan, the first Muslim member of the Connecticut House, wore a sling on her right arm at a news conference and was surrounded by friends, family and fellow state legislators as she gave a harrowing account of her ordeal. She called the attack much more violent and shocking than how it was described in a police report. Khan said she was later diagnosed with a concussion and is now awaiting an MRI after losing feeling in her right arm and shoulder. She recalled having to convince emergency responders at the scene that she was physically injured and emotionally traumatized. “All I keep thinking in these last few days is what happens to women in the city of Hartford that call the police when they are assaulted, when they experience what I experienced, when they experience sexual assault, when they experience physical assault,” she said in the appearance at the Legislative Office Building. read the complete article

Guantanamo Detainees Tell First Independent Visitor About Scars From Torture and Hopes To Leave

At the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the aging men known by their serial numbers arrived at the meeting shackled. Every single one told the visitor — for many the first independent person they had talked to in 20 years — “You came too late.” But they still talked, about the scant contacts with their families, their many health problems, the psychological and physical scars of the torture and abuse they experienced, and their hopes of leaving and reuniting with loved ones. For the first time since the facility in Cuba opened in 2002, a U.S. president had allowed a United Nations independent investigator, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, to visit. She said in an interview with The Associated Press that it’s true she came too late, because a total of 780 Muslim men were detained there following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, and today there are just 30 remaining. The United Nations had tried for many years to send an independent investigator, but was turned down by the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. In last week’s interview with the AP, Ni Aolain talked about what she saw on a personal level. She said all U.S. personnel are required to address detainees by their internment serial number, not their name, which she called “dehumanizing.” Ni Aolain said she is especially concerned about three detainees who have not been charged and “live in a complete legal limbo,” which is “completely inconsistent with international law.” Of the others, 16 have been cleared to leave but haven’t found a country willing to take them and 11 still have cases pending before U.S. military commissions. read the complete article


Adam: Ottawa Muslims should think twice about criticizing Pride at schools

Muslims are a targeted minority that has faced — and continues to face — discrimination, hate and violence because of their faith. A bigoted fringe minority believes they don’t belong in this society. That’s why Muslim women wearing the head covering known as the hijab have been harassed, attacked in public and left fearing for their lives. Places of worship have been vandalized and people killed. In 2017, six people were killed in a Quebec City mosque by a man driven by anti-Muslim hate. Two years ago, four members of a London, Ont. family were mowed down by a male driver filled with similar hate. It is the same kind of intolerance that the LGBTQ+ community faces. Attacks against its members are on the rise because some in our society believe these people also don’t belong. What they are facing is not unlike the hate directed at Muslims. Last week, a professor and two students at a University of Waterloo gender studies class were stabbed in what police say was a “hate-motivated” attack. Despite their differences, the fact remains that Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community share a common aspiration: the fundamental right to live their lives as they choose without fear of harm. It is something to remember as this controversy rumbles on. Muslims are making headlines as some of them protest against Pride activities in schools, but their fight really should be with the Ontario government. It is Education Minister Stephen Lecce who ordered schools to celebrate Pride, which is considered a human rights issue. The school lessons in question were created by the government. read the complete article

Fitriya Mohamed: Pioneering change in basketball and shaping the narrative of Muslim women in sports

Growing up, Fitriya Mohamed loved sports, especially basketball. But after playing the game in school, she struggled to find tournaments and leagues where she could fit in as a Muslim girl around her Toronto home. Frustrated by the lack of diversity and space, she decided to start a basketball league for Muslim women and alies, with the hope of pushing the rates of participation. “Representation is truly so important,” the founder and executive director of Muslim Women’s Basketball League said in an interview with from her home in Toronto, as she prepares for the second edition of the event starting in August 2023. "I realised that with more visibility we have in spaces, more young Muslim girls are coming to play basketball." Mohamed’s idea has become a huge success, as it’s making her favourite sport more inclusive and forging a path for a new generation of women and girls in Toronto and beyond, to shoot hoops. “When I was playing basketball, I didn't have the proper sport hijab. It was difficult to find the proper athletic attire that fit within my needs,” recalled Mohamed, who was named the Female Athlete of the Year, the first Muslim woman to win it, for her high school. “Muslim women have been left out from so many conversations and from so many opportunities because of people's lack understanding of what Islam actually permits Muslim women to do,” the 26-year-old said. read the complete article


Ten jailed in India’s Jharkhand for 2019 lynching of Muslim man

A court in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has sentenced 10 men to a decade in prison for lynching a Muslim man over theft allegations. In 2019, villagers in the Seraikela Kharsawan district tied Tabrez Ansari to a pole, tortured him for nearly 12 hours and recorded it in a 10-minute video that went viral and triggered widespread outrage. The video showed the 24-year-old pleading with the crowd to spare his life and being forced to chant, “Jai Shri Ram,” or “Hail Lord Ram,” a religious slogan now widely used by far-right Hindu nationalists. Ansari was taken into custody after the beating and moved to a local hospital where he died of his injuries four days later. Hate crimes against minorities, particularly Muslims, have risen in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. The government denies there has been an increase. Dozens of Muslims have been lynched or targeted by far-right Hindu mobs, in many cases over suspicion of killing cattle, which is banned in most Indian states because Hindus consider cattle sacred animals. read the complete article


French teen shooting: ‘Systemic racism, Islamophobia, license to kill all at play’

Last week’s fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel M. has shed light on the wider issue of systemic racism in French society, which is deeply rooted in the country’s colonial past and continues to permeate its institutions, researchers say. Police and other law enforcers have systematically targeted people of color in France, particularly those of African and Middle Eastern descent, according to Emmanuel Achiri, a policy and advocacy adviser at the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), and Rayan Freschi, a researcher for the UK-based advocacy group CAGE. Citing ENAR data on police brutality in France, Achiri said a staggering 90% of all people “killed as a result of confrontations with police over the last decade have been persons of Black and Arab descent.” Moreover, people hailing from Northern Africa or Sub-Saharan Africa are 20 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police or likely to be victims of police violence, he told Anadolu. For Achiri, who focuses specifically on policing and migration, Nahel’s killing was “not a coincidence” as it ties in with the larger trend of police brutality against specific communities. “It’s not just an issue of systemic racism within the police. It’s an issue of systemic racism within French society,” said Achiri, stressing the need for authorities to recognize the racial component in the death of Nahel, a teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent. read the complete article


Qur’an burning in Sweden underscores importance of combating Islamophobia from Europe to Latin America

As the number of Muslims in Latin America increases and Islamic communities gain visibility, more and more cases of Islamophobia are being reported in the region. Community leaders, most of them women, are striving to tackle the issue. With a Muslim population estimated at between 800,000 and 1.5 million, Brazil is the only nation in Latin America where a comprehensive study on Islamophobia has been conducted. The issue has been in the spotlight after a copy of the holy Qur’an was burned on June 28 outside Stockholm’s central mosque in an offensive act tolerated by the authorities in Sweden. Although South America has not witnessed such a crude display of intolerance, Islamophobia is believed to exist just under the surface in many countries. Led by anthropologist Francirosy Barbosa, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo and herself a Muslim convert, the research involved a survey of 653 Muslims that showed most of them having already suffered some kind of Islamophobia. “Women were the majority of the respondents, something that already demonstrates that they’re the ones who suffer the most,” Barbosa told Arab News. About 54 percent of the men who took part in the study — both those born to Islam and converts — said they have faced some sort of embarrassment due to their religion. Most cases happened on the street, in the workplace or at school. The proportions are higher among women, with 66 percent of those born to Islam reporting that they have been offended or attacked due to their faith, and 83 percent of converts reporting the same. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Jul 2023 Edition


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