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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09 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Pakistani authorities under growing pressure from China are rounding up and planning to deport Uyghur refugees, while in France, a French Muslim candidate for Montpellier city councilor continues her bid despite Macron’s withdrawal of support, and a Chinese wind energy company linked to state forced labor of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is found to have done considerable business with companies such as Apple. Our recommended read of the day is by Jasmin Zine on how negative views of the Muslim presence in Canada create a breeding ground for xenophobic racial violence. This and more below:


08 Jun 2021

Muslim family killed in terror attack in London, Ontario: Islamophobic violence surfaces once again in Canada

While Canadians may be shocked and blindsided by this mass murder, the ingredients for this tragedy have long been in the making. The warning signs of white nationalist violence have been glaring. Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253 per cent between 2012 and 2015. The 2017 terror attack in a mosque in Québec left six men dead after offering their evening prayers. Last year, a caretaker in a Toronto mosque was stabbed and killed and the person charged with his murder is alleged to have been influenced by neo-Nazi social media posts. But it’s not only far-right fringe groups that hold anti-Muslim views. Results from a 2016 Forum Poll revealed that 41 per cent of Canadian adults expressed some level of bias against identifiable racial groups, with Muslims having the highest negative rating at 28 per cent. Another survey published in 2016, by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, found that only 32 per cent of Ontarians had a “positive impression” of Islam. These negative views of the Muslim presence in Canada create a breeding ground for xenophobic racial violence. I research Canadian Islamophobia and its networks that produce hate and circulate destructive ideologies. There is a networked ecosystem of Islamophobic hate groups in Canada that promote conspiracy theories about Muslims threatening “Canadian values” and western civilization, plotting to impose “creeping shariah law” and political Islamism. Other problematic rhetoric includes the liberal washing of white nationalism that politically camouflages xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist ideologies under the guise of “protecting democracy,” “freedom” and the “rule of law” from what are regarded as illiberal, anti-modern and anti-democratic Muslims. Once again, it is not just extremist groups that promote Islamophobia. Canadian security policies have targeted Muslim communities for surveillance and scrutiny leading to targeted racial and religious profiling . Bill 21, the Québec law that bans civil servants from wearing religious symbols, follows decades of policies mandating the coerced unveiling of Muslim women who wear Islamic attire that effectively institutionalizes gendered Islamophobia. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
08 Jun 2021

Canada anti-Muslim attack: ‘It could have been any one of us’

“The sentiment that I’m hearing across the board, and I think everybody is feeling, [is] that it could have been any one of us,” Selma Tobah, a 31-year-old graduate student at Western University who has lived in London for more than 10 years, told Al Jazeera. “They were just out on an evening walk. I take evening walks all the time with my friends and family. I wear hijab – my mom, my sisters, my friends. So it literally could have been any one of us.” “There’s no question that we’re aching, we’re in pain. Our hearts are broken, our minds are numb,” Abd Alfatah Twakkal, a Muslim community faith leader in London, told Al Jazeera. “At the same time, there are concerns and feelings of fright, fear – because of the egregiousness of this horrific act and crime, which had the impact of instilling terror within our community members.” “It’s not enough just to say we reject Islamophobia, we reject xenophobia, we reject racism, discrimination… but it’s also even more critical that it doesn’t stop there,” he said. “Steps need to be taken for people to say that we don’t accept it. When they come across it, to reject it, to call it out, to say that this is not acceptable.” read the complete article

08 Jun 2021

Conservative, Bloc MPs opposed a motion to condemn Islamophobia in 2017. After the London hate crime, advocates say their condolences ring hollow

“The same individuals who were either outspoken about (the non-binding Motion 103 in 2017) or didn’t vote in favour of it are now conveying their thoughts and prayers, but it comes to a point where we’re beyond thoughts and prayers,” Irfan Chaudhry, director of the Office of Human Rights, Diversity, and Equity at MacEwan University in Edmonton told the Star. “Politicians at various levels — federal, provincial, even municipal in some respects — have a role to play, whether its enacting policy, bringing together motions, or galvanizing support to promote positive change in this regard... When there’s an opportunity to act, to provide support for a motion, but you decide to debate it from an ideological position, that waters down any sort of condolences you may share.” Motion 103, introduced by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, passed with support from the NDP and Greens, though it was opposed by the Bloc Québécois and 86 members of the Conservative Party, including current leader Erin O’Toole. Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, O’Toole labelled the attack in London an act of terror, adding “police services have warned of a dramatic increase in hate crime, violent extremism, Islamophobia and other signs of intolerance from one part of our country to another.” Avnish Nanda, a public law litigator based in Edmonton who teaches constitutional law at the University of Alberta faculty of law, believes the MPs who voted against M-103 should be asked to square their recent show of solidarity with their decision to oppose the condemnation of Islamophobia. “There has been no reckoning, no apology, no real critical engagement with how these MPs fed into the Islamophobic narratives over the past few years due to their stance on M-103,” Nanda said. “Now, they are expressing solidarity with the community after Sunday’s attack, but when they’ve been needed in the past to do minimal work to ensure the Muslim community is supported and protected against hate, they haven’t shown up.” read the complete article

08 Jun 2021

Canadians must stand up to Islamophobia after fatal attack on Muslim family, says advocate

An imam in London, Ont., says his community is filled with grief, but also anger after a violent attack left four members of a Muslim family dead on Sunday. "This is not the first time that we've experienced this as a community," said Aarij Anwer, imam at London Muslim Mosque. He pointed to the attack on a Quebec City mosque that left six dead in 2017, and a stabbing that claimed one life at a Toronto mosque last September. "We've seen this happen so many times. [It's] almost becoming a yearly occurrence, and that is really, really traumatic for the community," he told The Current's Matt Galloway. "It's bubbling under the surface and ... every now and then, it rears its ugly head in a really devastating, violent way." While the attack prompted an outpouring of grief, Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCMM), said Islamophobia is still a huge problem in Canada. NCCM has tracked hundreds of instances of Islamophobia in recent years, as well as dozens of violent incidents, with the help of an interactive tool on their website. Figures from Statistics Canada show a 14-per-cent increase in police-reported hate crimes against Muslims between 2015 and 2019, accounting for 10 per cent of incidents against all groups. Farooq noted that a Quebec newspaper today didn't feature the story on its front page, arguing that the issue "needs to be something that Canadians are talking about." "We need to see Canadians stand up. We need to see there be action on this," he said. read the complete article

09 Jun 2021

'We cannot fight Islamophobia by ourselves': Calgarians gather to honour Ontario family killed in hate attack

The vigil in Calgary honored the family with a moment of silence, prayer and speeches from community advocates and interfaith leaders. Many mask-clad attendees carried signs calling for changes, some of which read “United Against Anti-Muslim Hate” and “It’s Time to End Racism — Will You Take Action?” “We cannot fight Islamophobia by ourselves anymore, we need the rest of Canada to step up,” said local activist Saima Jamal, co-founder of the Calgary Immigrant Support Society. She hopes the vigil brings awareness to the need for systemic change to protect Muslim lives. She is calling for change at all levels of government to support Canada’s Muslim communities. “We are going through a collective trauma. All of us are hurting coast to coast. If we don’t come together and support each other, we can’t get over this trauma,” said Jamal. “It is time the government makes legislation that gives law enforcement some teeth to fight hate crime, to fight Islamophobia . . . We cannot think that things will just change or that this is just a phase.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Jun 2021

A Brown Sahib’s Lament: Ed Husain Among the Minarets

Ed Husain’s latest screed on British Islam is a mashup between a Thomas Friedman in-depth ethnography via Uber, V. S. Naipaul’s gothic horror of all things Islamic, and a “brown sahib” reworking of post-Brexit English nationalism. In lieu of a review that it doesn’t warrant, I offer this brief visceral reaction instead. This new book is so shoddy and insubstantial that it could have done with basic fact-checking by some friendly mandarins or SPADs at the Home Office, or the hacks for hire at RICU, something that neither the author nor the publishers have bothered to do. His travelogue is a testament to the art of non-dialogue, of journeying to confirm stereotypes and prejudices already held in the mind. Mr. Husain has over the years perfected his role of the brown man carrying the white man’s burden to save Islam from itself for his curious blend of populist nationalism, which is only capacious enough for the deracinated Muslim. At no point does the reader believe that Mr. Husain is open to changing his mind on anything when it comes to British Muslim communities, who have already been found guilty as charged. He never goes beyond taking at face value the wisdom of taxi drivers or the platitudes of imams so long as it confirms his prejudices — anything even resembling research is completely absent. He swallows whole one canard after another, for example, that certain pirs and imams run Bradford, which is a dangerous inflation of their actual influence in these febrile times. For someone who aspires to anti-sectarianism, he can only see most British Muslims as cardboard cut-out sectarians. In sharp contrast, Mr. Husain is all ears for the sorts of lazy Islamophobia that drove Brexit from the rather undifferentiated white non-Muslims he encounters. read the complete article

08 Jun 2021

UK police are making Muslim mental health a terrorism flag

The perception and representation of Muslims as a “suspect community” when it comes to national security and counterterrorism in the United Kingdom is well-established. But a more recent turn within these operations towards mental health is creating new, dangerous practices. Last month, Medact released a report in which it exposed a mental health project run by UK counterterrorism police called “Vulnerability Support Hubs”. Despite the name, these hubs are not about care. Instead, they enable police to surveil, manage perceived risk, and access confidential health information more easily. The hubs were established in 2016 because police noticed that approximately half of the people reported to its counter-extremism program, Prevent, appeared to have a mental health condition. Racialized groups, especially Muslims, are also referred at a grossly disproportionate rate. As a pre-crime program, referrals to Prevent are made on the basis of suspicion and speculation alone. Yet police refuse to see these statistics for what they almost certainly reflect: widespread Islamophobia which associates Muslims with terrorism, combined with a longstanding stigma that portrays people with mental health problems as dangerous. Instead, police interpreted these statistics as supporting evidence of a presumed – but never robustly evidenced – link between poor mental health and terrorism. Not just anyone with poor mental health is suspect, however. Muslims with mental health problems, in particular, fall under the scrutiny of this program. This means that these so-called “Vulnerability Support Hubs” – which operated in near-total secrecy for five years – may be harming people with genuine mental health conditions, and criminalizing, or rendering suspect, poor mental health among Muslims. read the complete article


08 Jun 2021

Apple Did Business With A Wind Energy Company That Has Close Ties To Xinjiang

Apple and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have done business with a Chinese wind energy giant linked to controversial government and labor programs in Xinjiang, where the US and other countries say China is carrying out a genocide of Muslim minorities. Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, China’s largest wind turbine maker, on at least one occasion entered talks to receive “labor exports” from the Hotan prefecture in Xinjiang to a facility hundreds of miles away, new research from the Tech Transparency Project has found. Hotan officials traveled to a Goldwind plant to “coordinate” the labor exports, as part of an effort to strengthen the “organizational and disciplinary education” of workers, according to an archived local government media report uncovered by the Tech Transparency Project. “Labor transfer” programs are closely associated with forced work for Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. "Forced labor has now become an integral part of the government’s efforts to 'reeducate' Muslim minorities," the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington wrote in 2019, as part of its extensive research on the issue. Goldwind, one of the world’s largest wind turbine makers, has strong ties to the ruling Communist Party typical of many successful Chinese companies. But its connections to Xinjiang are unusual. The company’s CEO has made explicit statements in support of a government program that has placed Communist Party cadres in the homes of Muslim families in Xinjiang. In December, Goldwind signed a deal with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary group that the US placed sanctions on last year for its connection to human rights abuses in the region. read the complete article

08 Jun 2021

Beijing Plans a Slow Genocide in Xinjiang

Some legal experts have questioned whether Beijing’s atrocities against the Uyghurs meet the high threshold for a genocide determination. To date, evidence that Beijing’s campaign of preventing births is intended to destroy the Uyghur people at least substantially “in part” has remained somewhat inconclusive. Even though an intent to commit genocide can be inferred from a pattern of conduct, this is more complicated in the absence of mass murder. What is the Chinese government’s long-term intent behind sterilizing large numbers of Uyghur women? The answers to these important questions can be found in the words of Chinese officials themselves. In an upcoming peer-reviewed publication in Central Asian Survey (available in preprint here), Adrian Zenz, a co-author of this piece, presents comprehensive and compelling new evidence based on published statements and reports from Chinese academics and officials. Their core message is straightforward: The Uyghur population as such is a threat that endangers China’s national security. Its size, concentration, and rapid growth constitute national security risks that must be mitigated if the region’s “terrorism” problem is to be solved. Beijing has begun suppressing Uyghur birth rates to “optimize” ethnic population ratios for counterterrorism purposes. In southern Xinjiang alone, where Uyghurs are concentrated, this would reduce population growth by preventing between 2.6 and 4.5 million births by 2040, likely shrinking the number of Uyghurs as a whole. Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the Institute of Frontier History and Geography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University, has argued the region’s terrorism problem is a direct result of high Uyghur population concentrations in southern Xinjiang. Due to a recent exodus of Han, “the imbalance of the ethnic minority and Han population composition in southern Xinjiang has reached an unbelievably serious degree.” Liao argues southern Xinjiang must “change the population structure and layout [to] end the dominance of the Uyghur ethnic group.” read the complete article

07 Jun 2021

China's Uyghur Reeducation Needles Pregnant Bellies Under Fingernails

Speaking to The Associated Press before the tribunal began, a witness named Bumeryem Rozi said she underwent a forced abortion while she was more than six months pregnant, a practice that another witness told the AP was common when mothers gave birth to more children than they were officially permitted to have. Omir Bekali spoke on the opening day of the tribunal. Bekali, who grew up attending Uyghur schools, said he was taken into custody while visiting family on a trip to China from his home in Kazakhstan. He testified that he was subjected to torturous interrogation techniques, locked in a small cell for a full month, heavily surveilled and required to take "unknown medicines," according to his prepared statement. "They made me sit on the 'tiger' chair," Bekali wrote of his early interrogation, which he said lasted four days and continued overnight. "They hung me from the ceiling. They chained me to the wall and beat me with plastic, wooden, electric batons and metal wire whip. They pierced needles under my nails." read the complete article

United States

09 Jun 2021

Biden quietly moves to start closing Guantánamo ahead of 20th anniversary of 9/11

After initial plans for a more aggressive push to close the facility — including rebuffed attempts to recruit a special envoy to oversee the strategy — the White House changed course, sources said. The administration has opted to wait before it reaches out to Congress, which has thwarted previous efforts to close the camp, because of fears that political outcry might interfere with the rest of Biden's agenda. "They don't want it to become a dominant issue that blows up," a former senior administration official involved in the discussions said of Biden officials. "They don't want it to become a lightning rod. They want it to be methodical, orderly." The administration hopes to transfer a handful of the remaining terrorism suspects to foreign countries, the people familiar with the discussions said, and then persuade Congress to permit the transfer of the rest — including 9/11 suspects — to detention on the U.S. mainland. Biden hopes to close the facility by the end of his first term, the people familiar with the discussions said. But even though just 40 people are left at Gitmo, the Biden administration faces many of the same obstacles that doomed President Barack Obama's much more public effort to close it a dozen years ago. read the complete article

08 Jun 2021

There Have Been Huge Gaps in FBI Hate Crime Data for Years. A New Law Aims to Fix That

On May 20, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. Beyond including provisions intended to combat the recent increase in bias-motivated violence against Asian Americans, the law also provides money to help states and local law enforcement agencies collect better, more comprehensive data on hate crimes. As ProPublica reported in its series Documenting Hate, the lack of reliable information for quantifying and tracking hate crimes has left authorities without a complete understanding of the scope of such incidents or the tools needed to address them. The FBI compiles national data on hate crimes, but it relies on local law enforcement to supply the underlying information. Reports of hate crimes can slip through the cracks at multiple stages in the process: Victims may not report to the police, the police may not classify reports correctly, and, in some cases, the state may simply fail to transmit the data to the FBI. In many jurisdictions, police aren’t trained to understand what makes for a bias-motivated attack. There are wide disparities from agency to agency not only in what’s reported but in how. Nadia Aziz, the deputy director of the Arab American Institute, pointed to the deaths of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, which were prosecuted as hate crimes but were not included in the country’s official count. “They were both high-profile hate crimes. They were both charged as hate crimes,” Aziz said. Their killers “were convicted on hate crimes charges. But they weren’t reported” to the FBI as hate crimes. The law Biden recently signed — which includes a section named after Jabara and Heyer — supplies grants to help state and local law enforcement agencies switch to a new reporting system that allows for the type of granular data collection needed to understand hate crimes. It also provides money to create state hotlines where people could report bias incidents if they preferred not to go to local police. The act also provides additional grants for local law enforcement agencies to train officers about hate crimes or to establish new policies, units or reporting systems related to them. read the complete article


08 Jun 2021

French candidate in headscarf fights on despite anti-Muslim trends

Zemmahi was running to be a local councilor backed by President Emmanuel Macron's ruling party until last month when it withdrew its support. Her transgression: wearing her headscarf in a campaign poster. The 26-year-old and the three other candidates who had been on the same ticket are now running as independents in the southern city of Montpellier under the slogan "Different but united for you." The affair erupted after the far-right seized upon the image as proof Macron was weak on protecting France's secular values, and propelled Zemmahi into a national row over identity. "We're not giving up," Zemmahi said, still wearing her headscarf as she distributed campaign fliers in La Mosson, a low-income Montpellier district that is home to generations of Muslim immigrants from France's former north African colonies. In her first interview since she became embroiled in the national debate over the role of Islam in France, Zemmahi said she wanted to focus on promoting equal opportunities and fighting discrimination. "This is my neighborhood, I was born here. The headscarf wasn't an issue for the four of us." However, across much of France, it is. Laicite and identity will be central to the campaign battle ahead of the 2022 presidential vote. Opinion polls show far-right leader Marine Le Pen will be Macron's biggest challenger. Mahfoud Benali, who heads Zemmahi's ticket, said France was changing. "I'm in favor of elected officials who reflect society," he said. read the complete article


08 Jun 2021

COVID Relief Donations Are Supporting a Project to “Hinduize” India

According to the organization’s press releases, Sewa’s “Help India Defeat COVID-19” media campaign has raised millions of dollars from more than 100,000 donors since late April, with this money going toward purchasing and sending oxygen concentrators, oximeters, and other essential equipment to India, which is grappling with a dire shortage of these technologies. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey earmarked $2.5 million for Sewa as part of a $15 million donation for Indian COVID relief. Internal communications provided to me by a source showed that Microsoft and Google encouraged their employees to donate to Sewa and offered matching funds, in Microsoft’s case through the donation-management platform Benevity. What’s left out here is what this “larger movement” actually consists of, and who is actually benefiting from its mission. Sewa International is a direct subsidiary of the India-based nongovernmental organization Seva Bharati. While ostensibly charities, for decades, both Seva Bharati and Sewa International have reportedly worked to spread Hindu nationalist ideology throughout the country and beyond. A 2002 investigation by the U.K.’s Channel 4 tracked money raised from British donors by Sewa International for earthquake relief and found that they went toward Hindu nationalist organizations and projects in India, without proper disclosure of how the funds were being used. These findings were bolstered in a 2004 report by the U.K.-based, South Asia–focused human rights group Awaaz, which detailed how internationally raised relief funds went to groups that directly incited communal violence in 2002 during the Gujarat riots, which saw months of attacks on Muslims by Hindu extremists. (Incidentally, current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time.) Much of the funding from Sewa International’s British chapter sponsored such activities led by India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, known most commonly as the RSS. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Jun 2021 Edition


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