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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10 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Italian Muslims cope with shortage of burial space during the pandemic. UN chief Antonio Guterres calls for an end to the “plague of racism.” Our recommended read today is on Omar Bin Said, the enslaved Black Muslim scholar who wrote about the conditions of the American South, and the struggle to overcome the psychological impacts of slavery. This, and more, below:

United States

10 Jun 2020

‘Impossible Documents’ — How An Enslaved Muslim Scholar Illuminates Southern Identity | Recommended Read

In the 1700s, approximately 5% of the pre-colonial United States was Muslim. Most of them were enslaved, and one of the foundational figures of early American Islam lived in North Carolina. Omar ibn Said has confounded scholars and translators for more than a century. An educated scholar from an aristocratic family, Said was enslaved and brought to the port of Charleston in 1807 from his homelands in the Futa Toro region of modern-day Senegal. His autobiography is written in Arabic with a Southern accent and includes references to West African locations and Sufi literature. In it, Said attacked his enslavers and the conditions of the American South while also illuminating his struggle to overcome the psychological imprisonment of slavery. He wrote because he needed to. Host Frank Stasio talks with 21st century translators of Said, Professors Mbaye Bashir Lo and Carl Ernst. The two scholars dispute earlier commentary that cast Said’s writing as unintelligible. Contextualizing Said within the linguistic and cultural landscape in which he was raised, they find evidence of Sufism and Islamic syncretism. Their translation and commentary assert the ways Said underscores Islam and the African diaspora’s foundational role in the making of Southern culture and society. read the complete article

Recommended Read
10 Jun 2020

Texas School Board Member Defends His Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic Facebook Posts, Refuses to Resign

Doyle Woodall, who sits on the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) Board of Trustees, shared a picture of a noose that urged people to "make America great again" by making "evil people fear punishment." He also proposed spilling "a few gallons of bacon grease" on areas where U.S. Muslims have gathered to pray, along with sharing an anti-abortion meme that used the phrase "Jews aren't actually people" to compare Jews killed during the holocaust to aborted fetuses, according to The Houston Chronicle. Woodall is refusing to resign from the school board, a position he has held for over 11 years. A petition calling for Woodall's removal from the board was a few hundred signatures short of its goal of 5,000 as of Tuesday night. Regardless of the petition and public outcry over the posts, there may be little legal recourse to remove Woodall unless he commits a felony or is voted off, according to ECISD Attorney Mike Atkins. Javier Ruiz, president of the Ector County chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, said that Woodall's "history of racist and intolerant Facebook posts" meant that he must resign in a statement released on Monday. He highlighted the post featuring the image of a noose as particularly offensive, calling it "a symbol that people of color loathe, and so should every fair-minded American." Other posts shared by Woodall include a series of evidence-free conspiracy theories, such as the debunked claim that former President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim and a more recent conspiracy purporting that Bill Gates created the coronavirus in order to sell a vaccine at some later date. read the complete article

10 Jun 2020

U.S. Foreign Aid Agency Defends Political Appointees Who Wrote Anti-LGBT, Anti-Islam Posts

The top official at the U.S. foreign aid agency defended three political appointees whose past social media posts and writings include attacks on LGBT people and Muslims, saying they were “committed to enacting the policies of President Donald J. Trump.” ProPublica reported on Friday that Merritt Corrigan had recently taken up a prominent position at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Corrigan has a history of online posts denouncing liberal democracy and feminism, and she has said the United States is in the clutches of a “homo-empire” pushing a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.” In addition, ProPublica reported that Bethany Kozma, previously an anti-transgender activist who wrote in 2016 that transgender girls are boys “claiming gender confusion,” had taken a new position as USAID’s deputy chief of staff. And The Washington Post reported last month that Mark Kevin Lloyd, a Tea Party activist with a history of making and sharing anti-Islamic comments on his personal social media profiles, would be the agency’s new religious freedom adviser. In a statement issued late on Monday, Barsa condemned what he called “unwarranted and malicious attacks” on the three officials, while also making clear they had been chosen by the White House. read the complete article

10 Jun 2020

Court orders dismissal of Trump Muslim travel ban challenges

A federal appeals court on Monday tossed out three lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries, a victory for the Trump administration in its yearslong defense of the ban. A three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a federal judge in Maryland made a mistake when he refused to dismiss the lawsuits after the Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2018 in a separate legal challenge filed in Hawaii. The ban, put in place just a week after Trump took office in January 2017, sparked an international outcry from Muslim advocates and others who said it was rooted in religious bias. “We conclude that the district court misunderstood the import of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hawaii and the legal principles it applied,” Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote in the unanimous decision. Justin Cox, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, the lead plaintiff in the case, said the groups who sued are considering their legal options, which could include asking the panel to reconsider its ruling, appealing to the full 4th Circuit court of 15 judges or asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. read the complete article

United Kingdom

10 Jun 2020

UK counter-terror programme targeted BAME women using Instagram influencers

More evidence is emerging of the British government developing motivational online media platforms targeted at young women as part of a covert counter-terrorism campaign. Security officials have acknowledged that a Facebook page and Instagram account entitled Stoosh were created as part of the UK’s controversial Prevent counter-radicalisation programme. The admission comes nine months after the same officials confirmed that a similar online platform entitled This Is Woke had been created as part of the programme. Stoosh draws its name from a Jamaican patois term meaning superior, while This Is Woke draws upon the expression “stay woke”, a call - originally African-American - to remain aware of social and racial justice issues. Stoosh Facebook's page was created on 20 March 2017, according to Facebook transparency information. Neither the Facebook nor Instagram pages have been updated since 6 March 2018. Stoosh describes itself on Facebook as a page that "aims to promote a safe online environment for young women to tell their stories, taking ownership of their own narrative". Both Stoosh and This is Woke described themselves on Facebook as having been produced by a “media/news company”. In fact, they were created by a London-based communications company called Breakthrough Media, which was under contract to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a unit within the UK government’s Home Office. read the complete article

10 Jun 2020

London's Muslim mayor seeks removal of slavery-linked statues amid BLM protests

London's Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan proposed the removal of statues and street names in the English capital linked to slavery, as anti-racism protests targeted a slave owner's statue. Statues and street names in London with links to slavery "should be taken down", the city's mayor said, according to the BBC. On Tuesday, Khan said in a tweet that a new commission was unveiled to review and "improve the diversity" of London's public landmarks. The mayor's move comes after Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol dismounted and toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in a video which went viral. According to the BBC, the newly formed commission will review London's murals, street art, street names, statues and other memorials and make recommendations on which legacies should be kept. read the complete article


10 Jun 2020

Harvard-educated lawyers join Uyghur alumna calling for her brother's release

More than 80 Harvard-trained lawyers petitioned the US and Chinese governments for the release of Ekpar Asat, a Uyghur entrepreneur who disappeared upon returning to China from a State Department program in the US. His sister Rayhan Asat attended Harvard. Their two letters, both dated Tuesday, come as President Donald Trump is said to be expected to sign legislation aimed at holding Chinese officials accountable for crimes committed against Uyghurs and other minority ethnic communities in Xinjiang. Rayhan Asat, Ekpar's sister and main advocate in the US, told CNN she hoped, "as (the) leader of the free world," Trump would speak out about her brother's alleged enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention at the hands of the Chinese government. In 2016, Ekpar Asat participated in the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). During the program, he traveled around the US, even visiting CNN's headquarters in Atlanta. It had been "a moment of triumph" for him to be selected to participate in the prestigious professional exchange program, his sister Rayhan Asat told CNN. That triumph didn't last. The last time Rayhan saw Ekpar was during a quick visit to New York, where they shared a bite of pizza and Ekpar told her he'd be back for her Harvard Law graduation with their parents. Then, in early May, her parents told her they could no longer attend. Rayhan said she tried to get in touch with her brother and heard nothing back. "He just kind of vanished," she said. read the complete article

10 Jun 2020

Trump to sign bill pressuring China over Muslim Uighur crackdown

US President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppressing Uighur Muslims, a source familiar with the matter has revealed, without offering a timeframe for the signing. The bill, which passed the US House of Representatives and Senate with bipartisan support last month, calls for sanctions against those responsible for the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China's Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps. read the complete article

10 Jun 2020

UN chief calls for an end to 'plague of racism'

Acknowledging that racism also exists in the UN, its chief Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the “plague' of racial discrimination as he expressed shock at the “murderous act of police brutality” that killed African-American George Floyd and sparked global protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN Secretary-General made the comments at a town hall meeting held last week. His statement was released on Tuesday along with a letter on racism Guterres wrote to the UN staff. “Now, if racism is something that exists everywhere, racism also exists within the United Nations… We have very robust policies in relation to discrimination, harassment, abuse of authority… But we have not paid enough attention within the organisation to the specific question of racist bias and racist discrimination,” Guterres said during the meeting. Guterres said there is a need to have an honest conversation on racism within the United Nations, where there have been inclusion dialogues but those have been generic in nature and not specific. The UN chief said he has called for a plan of action for a one-year-debate on racism within the UN that is open, free-flowing and without any restriction. read the complete article


10 Jun 2020

Italy's Muslims cope with burial space shortage in pandemic

Italy's Muslim community, like others, suffered many deaths as the coronavirus pandemic hit the Mediterranean country hard. Compounding the pain for the religious minority has been the grim reality of a lack of space to bury their dead. Imams and Muslim community leaders are calling for more Islamic cemeteries, or additional space in the country's existing graveyards, as the faithful increasingly want to be buried in Italy, their home. "We have experienced the pain (of the pandemic), but it has sometimes been deepened when some families could not find a place to bury their dead because there were no Muslim sections in the town cemeteries," Abdullah Tchina, imam of the Milan Sesto mosque, told AFP news agency. The Union of Islamic Communities of Italy lists just 76 Islamic cemeteries in the country, which counts nearly 8,000 municipalities. The oldest was built in 1856, in the northeastern city of Trieste, while Rome's date back only to 1974. Under Italian law, cemeteries "may provide for special and separate sections" for non-Catholics, but they are not required to do so. Boubakeur acknowledged the government's cooperation, but urged more "political will" to create additional Muslim burial spaces. "After this pandemic, 150 municipalities responded positively to our requests" to provide a Muslim section in their cemeteries, Boubakeur said - a fraction of the nearly 8,000 municipalities. Going forward, the need for Muslim burial plots will only increase as immigrants and their offspring prefer to be interred in Italy. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Jun 2020 Edition


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