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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08 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: British Parliamentarian, Naz Shah, on Monday took up the issue of the sanctity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad on the floor of Parliament, while in Germany, the briefing of a new report conducted by the Council of Europe showcases escalating trends in online hate speech and a rise in threats towards European Muslims, and a mosque is vandalized in the Spanish city of Mercia, less than a month after the brutal killing of a Moroccan man in the region. Our recommended read of the day is by Aditya Chakrabortty on how the Labour party is letting Islamophobia go unchecked, and as a tactic, this will fail. This and more below:

United Kingdom

07 Jul 2021

Keir Starmer, your party has a whole new race problem

Last Friday, within hours of Kim Leadbeater scraping home in the West Yorkshire constituency, yet another of Labour’s reserve army of anonymously toxic officials boasted to the Times: “Basically built a new electoral coalition in six weeks. Lost the conservative Muslim vote over gay rights and Palestine, and won back a lot of 2019 Tory voters.” So this is apparently Labour’s new “red wall” playbook: prejudice from some white voters amounts to “legitimate concerns” to be pandered to; prejudice from some Asian Muslim voters is used to tar an entire community. Fans of Nigel Farage must be wooed back into the red corner, while supporters of his old mucker George Galloway are to be castigated for disloyalty. Once may be a gaffe; twice is becoming a habit. The comments to the Times reappeared in the Guardian and all over social media, except this time the party made no apology. To the best of my knowledge, it was only when I raised the remarks with Labour that it officially condemned them. Just a few years after Jeremy Corbyn so disastrously dealt with Jewish complaints about antisemitism, his successor is fast developing a new race problem. Even as Starmer bemoaned the campaign’s “toxic atmosphere”, his staffers were telling the press that Muslims were united in their bigotry. This is to ignore, say, last month’s open letter from local Muslim women berating “a loud minority” of men, who “have plagued our area as ‘community leaders’” Labour representatives blew these dogwhistles in a byelection where no fewer than three far-right parties were competing ­– with Jayda Fransen, only recently out of jail for hate crimes against Muslims, standing as an independent candidate. Labour claimed to be campaigning in the name of Jo Cox, Leadbeater’s sister, who was shot and stabbed to death in the same constituency during the Brexit referendum by a far-right terrorist intoning “Britain First”. Among the last things the MP had been working on was a report into violence against Muslims, yet five years later senior employees of her party were in the business of blaming Muslims. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
07 Jul 2021

British Parliamentarian calls for punishment for disrespecting Holy Prophet

British Parliamentarian, Naz Shah, on Monday takes up the issue of the sanctity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in her impassioned speech in the Parliament. Shah said that people’s disrespect of Holy Prophet Muhammad through cartoons causes emotional stress to the global Muslim community. In her speech, she posits the sensitivity of Britons to Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell to elaborate the emotional sensitivity and deep reverence of Muslims for the Holy Prophet. Adding that cartoons and caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad produced in the European countries hurt the Muslims all around the world. Member of Parliament from Labour Party talked about the punishments proscribed for vandalizing statues of figures and causing emotional harm. If approved, the law will introduce a 10-year jail term for anyone found guilty of vandalizing a statue. "Why will a person be given a much more significant penalty for attacking a stone or iron statue compared to if they were to damage a stone wall or an iron gate, especially because in their physical form they’re identical; neither are alive, can’t be injured or have their feelings hurt and are made of the same elements, yet for one there is much more significance? I simply ask, why,” said Naz Shah in her speech. Naz Shah implied that Muslims feel the same love for Holy Prophet Muhammad as Britons feel for their historic figures. She demanded similar protection and legislation for the protection of the sanctity and honor of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. read the complete article


07 Jul 2021

'Online anti-Muslim rhetoric as dangerous as attacks on streets'

Anti-Muslim hate speech expressed on the internet is as dangerous as attacks on the streets, according to research conducted by the Council of Europe. The study by Daniel Holtgen, the director of communications and a special representative on anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes, was conducted among Muslim organizations in eight European countries and focused on online hate rhetoric. The countries included Germany, France and Britain. In a briefing in Berlin, Holtgen said the three countries were on a dangerous course and Muslims frequently faced online death threats. He explained that calls for violence against Muslims could not be considered under the scope of freedom of expression. While hate speech is usually posted anonymously, people openly sharing anti-Muslim posts using their names has been on the rise, Holtgen said, adding that some segments in societies find it acceptable to insult and use hate speech against Muslims. read the complete article

08 Jul 2021

UK must match rhetoric with action on China’s treatment of Uyghurs, say MPs

Britain must act to stop China’s atrocities against Uyghur Muslims by banning the import of Chinese cotton and solar panels from Xinjiang province, as well as by announcing that no government officials will attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing, a report by MPs says. The chair of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, said that without action the UK would be allowing China “to nest the dragon deeper and deeper into British life”. The committee’s report says the government’s often tough rhetoric over “the industrial-scale forced labour schemes in Xinjiang” is not matched by effective action. The MPs accuse ministers of setting lax requirements on companies to remove forced labour from their supply chains, failing to sanction the Chinese official most responsible for mass atrocities, and failing after six months to publish “an urgent review” of UK trade controls from Xinjiang. They also urge ministers to join the UK parliament in describing what is happening as genocide, saying the tactics of naming and shaming has been shown to be more effective than closed-door diplomacy. A special fast-track asylum system for Uyghurs is also proposed. The all-party report also calls for technology firms underpinning what is described as Xinjiang’s police state to be banned from the UK. read the complete article


07 Jul 2021

Former Canadian spy claims her Muslim faith led to suspicions from her own side

A former intelligence officer has accused Canada’s top spy agency of discrimination. Huda Mukbil says she was discriminated against while a member of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service because of her Muslim faith and said the treatment posed a national security threat to Canada. ”It’s the reason why individuals in the Muslim community don’t feel they can trust the organization to tackle far-right threats,” said Mukbil in a recent interview with CBC, Canada’s national broadcast service. Mukbil said that during her years serving in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, she was treated as a potential threat by colleagues. In 2005, three years after joining the force, she was interrogated by CSIS officials about why she wore hijab, about her frequency of prayer and about her views on the war in Afghanistan and other foreign policy topics. She complained about the incident to her supervisors but claims she got little response. Mukbil filed a discrimination lawsuit against the CSIS in 2017, which was joined by other intelligence officers who said they experienced other forms of discrimination. That lawsuit was settled out of court. In April, the CSIS asked that a similar lawsuit by a different Muslim employee be thrown out of court. But in an interview last year, the agency’s director admitted that systematic racism was an issue at CSIS. Some Muslims who work for intelligence services in the United States have also complained of microaggressions and other harassment from their colleagues. read the complete article

07 Jul 2021

Today's Episode: PODCASTS | THIS MATTERS A wave of terrifying racist attacks in Alberta sheds light on Canada’s Islamophobia problem

A wave of terrifying racist attacks in Alberta has the province on edge. The targets have been Muslim women, most of them Black and wearing a hijab. The Muslim community says Islamophobia and anti-Black racism have always been a problem in the province, and the pandemic might have made it worse. The Star’s Edmonton-based reporter Omar Mosleh joins “This Matters” to talk about what’s going on and whether it’s a snapshot of Canada’s larger Islamophobia problem. read the complete article


07 Jul 2021

Bangladesh is supposed to be a host to the Rohingya refugees, not their jailer

When Bangladesh started relocating Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to its remote island of Bhasan Char in December, I met Saiful, a 10-year-old boy with an amputated leg. Saiful’s mother hoped he would one day become a doctor and offered an upbeat quote from him: “Now I can walk freely and even play.” It seemed to be that the Rohingya were headed for freedom and betterment in their new life on the island. Just five months later, Saiful is dead. The authorities have not issued a death certificate for him. The cause of his death is unknown to his mother, save that his eyes turned yellow and his body became bloated. Bangladesh, which faced the fastest growing refugee crisis seen in this century, has lauded itself for taking in the refugees and containing covid-19 among their population. But in finding solutions without the consent of refugees, the government has put their lives and livelihoods at a massive risk on both on the island and the mainland. In 2017, the Myanmar military’s campaign forced 740,000 Rohingyas to flee, mainly to neighboring Bangladesh. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was widely lauded for allowing the refugees to cross the border. She was pictured consoling the refugees and famously reassured the world, “We have the ability to feed 160 million people of Bangladesh and we have enough food security to feed the 700,000 refugees.” Her party members gave her the title “mother of humanity.” At the same time, Bangladeshi lawmakers complained that the refugees posed a painful economic and security challenge to Bangladesh. For more than 40 years, the country had been grappling with successive waves of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. In 1978 and in the 1990s, there were repeated cases of violence against the refugees as well as food restrictions that resulted in starvation and death. Diplomatic efforts to send the Rohingyas back home were hindered by a Myanmar government insincere in its readiness to repatriate the refugees. read the complete article


08 Jul 2021


Yanghee Lee, a UN human rights envoy to Myanmar from 2014 to 2020, warned the world about the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya. The government responded by barring her from the country. She talks to Preeti Jha about the lessons that should have been learned from that crisis and what practical steps can be taken now. Yanghee Lee: It shouldn’t have gone wrong. There was a lot of hope towards the end of U Thein Sein’s* government. Things were looking up. I really did see some transformation to democracy. But she was never really ready, Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi*, to govern. We all expected that during the 15-plus years of house arrest she would have had a masterplan, a blueprint. When I first met her I emphasized that the first 100 days are very important for any government, where she had to rein in (take charge) as best as she can. And more so in a country like Myanmar, where they were coming out of a five-decades-plus military regime. I gave her (a dossier of) 200-plus old draconian laws that were passed during the British colonial period and during the military regime for her to rescind, amend. But she never tackled those things. I’d have thought they were the low-hanging fruit. These were some things that – short of amending the constitution – she could have done. But she waited too long. A lot could have been avoided. read the complete article


07 Jul 2021

Mosque vandalized in latest anti-Muslim attack in Spain's Murcia

A mosque was vandalized in Murcia late Wednesday, less than a month after the brutal killing of a Moroccan man in the southeastern Spanish region. The mosque in the Cabezo de Torres town, inaugurated in 2018, was spray-painted with the phrases "no to Islam," "stop the invasion" and "Spain's sovereignty cannot be negotiated."
 The vandals also left a pig's head with a knife in it outside of the mosque. This is the latest episode of a wave of xenophobic attacks in the southern region of Murcia, which is home to one of Spain's densest immigrant populations. read the complete article


06 Jul 2021

Indian auditors are asking NGOs about their Muslim beneficiaries

Hundreds of Indian NGOs are in the midst of unprecedented audits by the government, triggering fears that prime minister Narendra Modi’s government—well known for its antipathy towards the non-profit sector—will eventually use its audit findings in actions or reprisals against specific organizations. At least since January, government auditors have been paying visits to NGO offices, staying 10-14 days on each occasion to comb through financial records. In several cases, according to interviews with executives and accountants in the non-profit sector, the visiting auditors also asked pointed questions about Muslim employees and beneficiaries, and about the political allegiances of NGO staff. Roughly 22,000 NGOs are currently licensed to receive foreign donations. Later this year, most of these NGOs have to apply to renew their licenses under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), a clunky and often ambiguous piece of legislation. “Naturally there’s a huge amount of anxiety across the sector that, at the moment of renewal, these audits could be used in some kind of vendetta,” said Amitabh Behar, the CEO of Oxfam India. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jul 2021 Edition


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