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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01 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Austria, the government publishes an “Islam Map,” which includes the names and addresses of over 600 mosques and Muslim associations, further stigmatizing and threatening the security of Austrian Muslims, as a far-right party with links to Greece’s own neo-nazi party is set to become the fourth-largest in Greek Cypriot, and Beijing has accused the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand of making “irresponsible” comments, after the pair expressed “grave concerns about the human rights situation” in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Georgetown’s Professor John L. Esposito and The Bridge Initiative’s Farid Hafez on how European governments are “ignoring the realities of anti-Muslim racism and targeting those who call attention to it”. This and more below:


31 May 2021

How Europe turned Islamophobia into a dangerous myth

Over the past two decades, the study of Islamophobia has increasingly emerged as an academic sub-field, documenting and challenging anti-Muslim racism, discrimination, hate speech and violence around the world. Information on the causes and impacts of Islamophobia have appeared in books, journals, conferences, media reports and major polls - and yet, a number of European governments are still trying to deny its existence. From this position against the study and awareness of Islamophobia, politicians in Austria, Germany and France have framed “political Islam”, “Islamist separatism” or “Islamism” as the greatest threat facing European society. This has allowed political leaders to justify drastic measures against an allegedly dangerous group of people. As a consequence, we have seen raids targeting Muslim civil society organizations and mosques in the name of protecting the state. Yet, such policies undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms of religion, conscience, speech and thought. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
31 May 2021

Publication of Austria's "Islam map" is hostile to Muslims and potentially counterproductive

Countering extremism and dangerous ideologies is one of the most important tasks of national security today. It is therefore only consistent to take action against the spread of dangerous narratives under the guise of freedom of religion. Unfortunately, the "Islam Map" of Austria overshoots the mark, serves existing resentments and therefore has a potentially counterproductive effect. Many Muslims perceive the form and timing of the publication as extremely discriminatory. They feel stigmatized and threatened in their security by the publication of addresses and other details. The “Islam Map” of Austria should therefore be withdrawn in its current form. read the complete article

22 May 2021

Neo-Nazi party doubles vote share in Greek Cypriot elections

Following a rise in xenophobic sentiment in the country, a far-right party with links to Greece’s own neo-nazi party is set to become the fourth-largest in the disputed island. In the Greek Cypriot administered island, the far-right, neo-nazi party National Popular Front (Elam) has doubled its vote share following Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Elem’s shock gains come on the back of an election dominated by government corruption and rising xenophobia over increasing levels of migrants coming to the island. The far-right party came fourth with more than 6.8 percent of the vote, replacing the Movement of Social Democrats (Edek) as the fourth largest party in the Greek Cypriot administered island for the first time in 45 years. Elam is known to have links with the now illegal neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece, which has seen its leadership placed behind bars. With its anti-migration platform and hardline nationalist policies, the far-right party has capitalized on increasing apathy towards the country’s established political parties. The Greek Cypriot administered island is the EU’s most eastern member. In recent years it has become the member state with the highest per-capita of first-time asylum seekers. read the complete article

01 Jun 2021

China accuses Morrison and Ardern of ‘gross interference’ on Xinjiang and South China Sea

Beijing has accused the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand of making “irresponsible” comments, after the pair condemned “destabilizing activities” in the South China Sea and raised grave concerns about human rights in Xinjiang. China’s foreign ministry says it “firmly opposes” the joint statement issued by Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern after talks in Queenstown, arguing the trans-Tasman allies had “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs” but would not shake Beijing’s resolve. Morrison and Ardern also took aim at China when they “expressed deep concern over developments that limit the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong” and voiced “grave concerns about the human rights situation” in Xinjiang, where they said United Nations observers should be granted meaningful and unfettered access. read the complete article

United States

31 May 2021

Philly cops are fighting back 2 years after racist Facebook posts got them fired

It was the largest act of mass discipline in Philadelphia police history: 15 cops forced off the job, and dozens more suspended or reprimanded, for making racist, sexist, or discriminatory Facebook posts — all catalogued by advocates in a public database. But in the two years since that scandal hit the city’s Police Department, some of the cops have been fighting back, challenging their penalties through arbitration or filing lawsuits. In recent months, the saga has taken several new turns. One of the officers who was fired, Christian Fenico, was reinstated with full back pay. An arbitrator ruled that his social media posts that had been flagged by the Plain View Project — which, among other things, called the mother of one person arrested a “scumbag” and said refugees should “starve to death” — did not prevent him from being a valuable officer. The firing of another officer, Daniel Farrelly, meanwhile, was upheld when the same arbitrator ruled that his online activity was overwhelmingly “dehumanizing” and “demeaning.” Farrelly’s 17 posts or comments belittled immigrants, mocked protesters, and used the word “animals” in reference to Black people. The arbitration process is also underway for at least five other officers, including one who was suspended for 30 days and recently reached a preliminary settlement agreement with the city. Separately, a federal judge in April dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by seven of the disciplined officers in which they accused the city of “reverse racism” and unfairly punishing them for holding right-wing views. A second federal suit from 11 others remains pending, with each of the plaintiffs seeking $2 million in damages. read the complete article

30 May 2021


AS HIS PLANE touched down on the tarmac at Karachi International Airport in August 2020, Ashraf Maniar finally felt himself relax. After a harrowing 24 hours of travel, beginning from the United States, connecting in Turkey, and on to his final destination in Pakistan, he felt like he was on the threshold of resuming a normal life. For years, Maniar, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen born and raised in California, had been living a life gripped by fear and paranoia. A friendship he had cultivated years earlier with a young woman in the United Kingdom, who was later accused of extremism, had brought him to the attention of security officials in the U.S., resulting in years of harassment, though never any charges against him. Worst of all, during the years Maniar had been living under government suspicion, he had been unable to continue his normal lifestyle of frequent travel. After several failed attempts to board flights, where he sometimes found himself met by FBI agents at the airport who prevented him from boarding, his lawyers had undertaken a lengthy administrative process with the Department of Homeland Security and determined that he had been placed on the government’s secretive no-fly list. They launched a legal effort to clear his name and get him removed, which took several more years of fighting against an opaque system set up by Homeland Security to clandestinely blacklist suspected terrorists. In the years after 9/11, the U.S. government developed an expansive watchlisting system for tracking individuals suspected of being national security threats. By 2013, a list known as the Terrorist Screening Database — TSDB, more commonly known as the terrorist watchlist — had grown to hundreds of thousands of names. These were people, some American citizens, whom the government had blacklisted without due process for having possible ties to terrorist groups. Information from the terrorist watchlist was used to construct other lists used to subject people to added scrutiny at borders, airports, or even during routine encounters with U.S. law enforcement. Among these smaller lists was the no-fly list that bars individuals from traveling by air, as well as another database called the selectee list, which flags individuals for intensified scrutiny at airports and border crossings. In 2014, a major investigation based on leaked documents was published by The Intercept shedding light on how the terrorist watchlist was constructed. A 166-page document titled “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” exposed a covert program that blacklisted large numbers of people based on unchallengeable secret criteria. The watchlisting guidance revealed the levels of “derogatory information” that could lead to someone winding up on the list, exposing an opaque system with few checks and balances that was ripe for abuse. It was easy to get yourself on the list and suffer its consequences, but very difficult to know how to clear your name if you were actually innocent. read the complete article

28 May 2021

Twenty years after 9/11, its memorialization remains contested

Public comments in the media on the Ground Zero observance reinforced this sense of disagreement over the meaning of 9/11. Those inclined to be reverent recalled how 9/11 had brought Americans together in a burst of patriotic fervor. Many said they felt 9/11 represented “hope” for America because it brought out the bravery of first responders. Others expressed gratification that Americans now came together to “honor their heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion to freedom’s cause.” Contrarians demurred. Johanna Clearfield, a woman who lived in Brooklyn and attended the alternative commemoration in Manhattan, was not willing to limit the memory of the terrorist attacks to a single day. She lamented the fact that the ceremony at Ground Zero precluded grieving the loss of “thousands of victims of the global war on terror.” A resident of New Mexico insisted that Bush should be prosecuted for war crimes. And Joseph DeLappe of Reno proclaimed that since 9/11, America had gone down a “dark rabbit hole of war, fear, torture, and nationalism.” How people respond to traumatic events and the pain of others, of course, is always unpredictable. But such responses have consequences. Traditions such as reading the names of the dead or celebrating heroic first responders allow Americans to show patriotism and their ability to care — traits essential to claiming a virtuous political identity. Yet, a failure to come to terms with the violence committed in our name can obscure violent streaks in our national character and limit public scrutiny of U.S. brutality, possibly facilitating the repetitions of such actions in the future. The Ground Zero event in 2011 reinforced the honorable view of American life; the alternative gathering asked us to consider our transgressions. Yet, just as it would be unreasonable to stipulate that a remembrance of Pearl Harbor should leave out the larger context of World War II, a commemoration of 9/11 without a reference to the global conflict that followed makes no sense and indicates a reluctance to dwell on the ripple effects of the terrorist assault and the carnage it brought to innocents in various parts of the world. read the complete article


31 May 2021

Who The Uyghurs Are And Why China Is Targeting Them

The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority in China, living in Xinjiang province at a crossroads of culture and empire. Today it's estimated that more than 1 million Uyghur people have been detained in camps, camps where they have been subjected to torture, forced labor, religious restrictions, even forced sterilization. Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, the hosts of NPR's history podcast Throughline, bring us the story of why the Uyghur people have become the target of what many are calling a genocide. We start with 9/11. ABDELFATAH: Nine-eleven - the day we here in the United States know all too well. But what's easy to forget is that the event didn't just impact the U.S. or Afghanistan or the Middle East. In China, 9/11 triggered a major shift in the Chinese Communist Party's view of the Uyghur people. SEAN ROBERTS: Almost immediately after September 11, the Chinese government produced a lot of documents suggesting that it faced a serious terrorist threat from Uyghurs. These documents were somewhat fanciful and unbelievable. They tried to link about 40 diaspora groups from Europe, U.S. and Turkey to a network of terrorists funded by al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. For about a year, the U.S. and other countries mostly ignore these claims. In fact, the U.S. even pushes back on them, saying, you know, the Uyghur issue is not a counterterrorism issue. It's an issue about minority rights and human rights. But suddenly, in the summer of 2002, the U.S. recognizes one group from this litany of diaspora organizations in the Chinese government documents as being a terrorist organization linked with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. ARABLOUEI: The Uyghurs were not only othered. They found themselves on the receiving end of China's war on terror. read the complete article


01 Jun 2021

Rohingya protest against living conditions on Bangladesh island

Several thousand Rohingya refugees have staged “unruly” protests against living conditions on a cyclone-prone island off Bangladesh where they were moved from vast camps on the mainland, police said. Since December, Bangladesh has shifted 18,000 out of a planned 100,000 refugees to the low-lying silt island of Bhashan Char from the Cox’s Bazar region, where around 850,000 people live in squalid and cramped conditions. Monday’s protest involved up to 4,000 people, police said and coincided with an inspection visit by officials from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). One Rohingya man confirmed to AFP that bricks were thrown and that police prevented them from entering a building where the UNHCR officials were present. An international rights activist said police used batons to disperse the protesters. Quoting Rohingya sources, he said several protesters were injured. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Jun 2021 Edition


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