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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11 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: An international report finds that fewer than 2% of characters in Western films released from 2017 to 2019 were Muslim, highlighting a concerning trend in cinema, as Amnesty International releases a new report, which include more than 50 new accounts from Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities who claim to have been subjected to mass internment and torture in police stations and camps in the region. In India, Narendra Modi’s BJP government’s crackdown on the creative freedom of the Bollywood film industry has actors and producers scared, creating a devastating chilling effect on storytelling featuring Muslim voices. Our recommended read of the day is by The Bridge Initiative’s Mobashra Tazamal on the London Ontario attack and the history of Islamophobia in Canada. This and more below:


11 Jun 2021

Shocked this could happen in Canada? You haven't been paying attention

On Sunday, the deepest worries and fears of Muslims in the West were confirmed yet again, as a 20-year-old rammed his car into five members of a Canadian Muslim family in London, Ontario. Police have stated the attack, which killed four of the five individuals, was premeditated and that the attacker, Nathaniel Veltman targeted the family because of their faith. This explicit anti-Muslim attack should not be treated as a one-off, rather it should be viewed as part of and connected to the growing Islamophobic ecosystem sustained and supported by those in power. It is the logical outcome of decades of discriminatory and racist rhetoric from politicians and the media that dehumanise Muslims. It occurred because perpetrators of these deadly attacks feel supported and validated by those in power who promote anti-Muslim tropes and institute policies that subject Muslims to collective punishment. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
10 Jun 2021

Man accused of anti-Muslim attack in Canada appears in court

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was arrested on Sunday in a London, Ontario, mall parking lot, a short distance from the city’s oldest mosque. He was wearing what appeared to be an armored vest and a helmet at the time, police said. Veltman, who will next appear in court on Monday, faces four charges of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder. Police said Veltman was not known to have links to any hate groups but added that they were still investigating and terror charges were being considered. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

'Zoom bombing' during online Waterloo region vigil for London Muslim family under police investigation Social Sharing

Waterloo region police are investigating after what they're calling a "Zoom bombing" — hateful online comments made during an online vigil Tuesday evening for the Muslim family in a fatal attack in London, Ont., this week. About two hours in, police said, the vigil was interrupted by people making "racist and homophobic comments." The online event was held to honor the four family members killed and the nine-year-old boy who survived after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk Sunday. London police believe the truck driver planned the attack and targeted the family because of their Muslim faith. The hateful comments in the Waterloo vigil were aimed at Black and Muslim communities in particular, said Fauzia Mazhar, CMW's executive director, in a release. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

‘Walk the walk.’ Canada’s Muslims want action, not words against rising Islamophobia

Muslim Canadians have felt profound grief in the wake of the hateful attack in London that left four members of the Afzaal family dead, and one 9-year-old boy orphaned. There is also a sense of betrayal and anger that despite political promises and platitudes, Islamophobia continues to rise in Canada, unchecked. Toronto Star reporter Noor Javed joins “This Matters” to talk about her frustration and fears, sentiments shared by many Muslim women and families across Canada right now. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

As Canadians seek to confront anti-Muslim bias, Quebec's Bill 21 is under scrutiny once again

As in 2020, following a fatal stabbing at an Etobicoke mosque, and in 2017, when six Muslims were shot to death in Quebec City, many are now trying to identify the sources of Islamophobia in the country. This time, attention quickly turned to Quebec's Laicity Act, the law passed in 2019 that bans public teachers, police officers and government lawyers, among other civil servants, from wearing religious symbols at work. Though the law — commonly referred to as Bill 21 — doesn't mention any one religion, it particularly affects Muslim women who wear the hijab, and for whom public teaching had once been a popular career choice. At a news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked three times, by three different reporters, whether he would now speak out more forcefully against Bill 21. "I have long expressed my disagreement with Bill 21," Trudeau said in response to one of the questions. "But I have also indicated that it is for Quebecers to challenge and defend their rights in court, which they have been doing." Columnists from the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the Globe and Mail all argued that a serious approach to addressing Islamophobia required more strident criticism of Bill 21 from Trudeau and the other federal leaders. Advocates for Ontario's Muslim community also pointed to the Quebec law as being among a panoply of state-backed measures that stigmatize Muslims. read the complete article


10 Jun 2021

Fewer Than 2% Of Movie Characters Are Muslim, Report Finds

The study, which examined 200 popular films from the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand released from 2017 to 2019, found only a handful of Muslim characters ― and those were most often in limited or stereotypical roles. The report, “Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies,” comes from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Academy Award-nominated actor Riz Ahmed, the Ford Foundation, and the Pillars Fund. The findings validate the invisibility of Muslims in the entertainment industry worldwide, which has had dire consequences on the perception of Muslims and the persistence of Islamophobia. Researchers have long argued that the portrayals of Muslims in television and film have fallen into racist tropes. Muslim men are often typecast as violent, while women are portrayed as oppressed. Especially after 9/11, directors often cast Muslims in roles related to war and terrorism, reducing their identities to politics and religion. Those portrayals are a backdrop to a rise in hate crimes against Muslims. In 2019, FBI statistics showed Muslims were the second-largest target of religious hate incidents after Jews. That same year, Muslims accounted for the majority of victims in religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.K. This week, a Canadian driver was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly hitting five members of a Muslim family with his car intentionally, killing four of them and orphaning a 9-year-old boy. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim hate continues unchecked on social media platforms. “It’s not difficult to make the connection between what you see in the mass media and what we see going on in society in terms of hate and Islamophobia,” said Stacy Smith, the founder of USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and lead author of the study. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

Riz Ahmed, Pillars Fund, USC Annenberg & Ford Foundation Unveil the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion (EXCLUSIVE)

The actor, musician and producer is taking his fight one step further, by launching a multi-layered initiative for Muslim representation in media, in partnership with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation and Pillars Fund. Powered by USC Annenberg’s new study on Muslim representation in media — which found that less than 10% of top grossing films from 2017-2019 had a Muslim character on screen, with less than 2% of those characters having speaking roles — the coalition has created the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion, as well as the Pillars Artist Fellowship, offering selected grantees an unrestricted award of $25,000. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

China is exploiting Western hypocrisy in the Middle East

Proudly extolling its commitment to human rights promotion, the Biden administration has openly accused Beijing of committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims have long been facing systematic persecution at the hands of Chinese authorities. Even relatively friendly Western nations such as New Zealand, which has been courting large-scale investments from China, lambasted Beijing’s “severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang”. Germany, a top trading partner of China, meanwhile, mobilized a strongly-worded resolution at the United Nations, which called on Beijing to grant international investigators “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang. In an unprecedented move, the US, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union have also imposed coordinated sanctions against top Chinese officials believed to be overseeing the persecution of Muslim minority groups in the country. This has gone hand in hand with a Western-led boycott of Chinese products allegedly utilizing textile materials from forced labour camps in Xinjiang. But the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East, during which 11 days of Israeli bombardment led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Gaza, has exposed the paucity of the West’s claims to moral ascendancy. And China has exploited the West’s brazen hypocrisy to deflect blame from its own abuses and, quite ironically, even position itself as a defender of the Palestinian people and an ally of the Muslim world. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: The Views of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Refugees in Bangladesh believe the situation could worsen even further under the current junta, creating new risks for the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and indefinitely delaying any prospect of a safe repatriation for those displaced. According to one camp resident: “The democratic government didn’t do well for us Rohingya. However, the current conditions will be even worse for us, and maybe for everyone in Myanmar.” According to another, “We Rohingya people don’t expect anything positive to come from the military coup. We know very well that the Myanmar Army is merciless and doesn’t feel afraid of committing injustice.” The greatest fear for many camp residents is that repatriation at a large scale will be impossible as long as Myanmar remains under the control of the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw. In recent comments, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing affirmed these concerns, reiterating once again that the Tatmadaw does not recognize the identity of the Rohingya people or their right to return home. As long as the junta remains in place, there is little possibility of forging solutions to the outstanding political, legal, and justice questions surrounding the Rohingya crisis. But there is another dimension of the coup in which an unanticipated, positive change has emerged: There has been a wave of social and political reconciliation between Rohingya and other Myanmar people. Though the situation remains formidable both for Rohingya in Myanmar and for those who seek to return from Bangladesh, certain social and political fault lines that have been present throughout Myanmar’s recent history seem to be shifting. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

Lawyers urge ICC to probe alleged crimes against Uyghurs

A group of lawyers presented a dossier of evidence Thursday to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court that they say establishes jurisdiction for the global tribunal to investigate allegations Chinese authorities are involved in grave crimes targeting Uyghurs a largely Muslim ethnic group. The move is the latest attempt by international human rights lawyers to get an investigation started at the Hague-based court into allegations of atrocities against Uyghurs by China, which is not a member of the court. read the complete article


10 Jun 2021

How China went from celebrating ethnic diversity to suppressing it

China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims – the largest of a religio-ethnic group since the second world war – is not the inevitable or predictable outcome of Chinese communist policies towards ethnic minorities. I’ve spent the past 20 years studying ethnicity in China and, when viewing the present situation in Xinjiang through the prism of history, one thing becomes clear: this is not what was “supposed” to happen. Here’s the irony: the Chinese communists don’t believe that “ethnic identity” truly exists – not in the long run. Rooted in Marxism-Leninism, the party maintains (at least, it did) that class is the only fundamental dimension of human identity. Other collective identities, such as nationality, religion and ethnicity are long-lasting but ultimately ephemeral fictions, constructed by those at the top of the economic pyramid to distract the poor from seeking comradeship with fellow proletarians. Why would the party invest in something it doesn’t think exists? To neutralize it. While other countries have used denialism as a tactic to combat perceived threats of internal ethnic diversity – insisting on the singularity and indivisibility of one’s nation by recognizing as few minorities as possible, or perhaps none at all – the Chinese communist game plan was the opposite: to recognize ethnic diversity into irrelevance. To shepherd it into extinction. read the complete article

10 Jun 2021

China’s Uyghurs living in a ‘dystopian hellscape’, says Amnesty report

Amnesty International has collected new evidence of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China, which it says has become a “dystopian hellscape” for hundreds of thousands of Muslims subjected to mass internment and torture. The human rights organization has collected more than 50 new accounts from Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities who claim to have been subjected to mass internment and torture in police stations and camps in the region. Testimonies from former detainees included in a new report launched on Thursday allege the use of “tiger chairs” – steel chairs with leg irons and handcuffs that restrain the body in painful positions – on detainees during police interrogations. The report also claims that beatings, sleep deprivation and overcrowding are commonplace in police stations. Uyghur Muslims, often arrested for what appeared to be lawful conduct, also reported being hooded and shackled during interrogation and transfer. In the camps detainees had no privacy or autonomy and faced harsh punishments for trivial disobedience, claims the report. Amnesty says it learned of one case in which a detainee is believed to have died as a result of being restrained in a tiger chair, in front of his cellmates, for 72 hours. read the complete article

United States

10 Jun 2021

The Senate Has Just Confirmed The First Muslim American Federal Judge In U.S. History

A son of Pakistani immigrants has just been confirmed as the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history. Zahid Quraishi was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a Senate vote of 81-16 on Thursday. "It's a historic appointment as the first Muslim Article 3 judge in history. He just has this long, very enviable record of public service," Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, told NPR. Quraishi, a graduate of Rutgers Law School, was in an active law practice but gave that up to join the Army after the 9/11 attacks, Tobias said. He served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey — the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in the state. read the complete article


09 Jun 2021

The War on Bollywood

Bollywood has been central to the creation of India’s national myth. Its movies are full of dance and song, but their genius lies in the ability to weave serious issues—social justice, women’s rights, gay rights, interreligious marriage—into entertainment. Bollywood films are at once commercial and political. They epitomize the pluralism of India. And in today’s political climate, that makes them a target. In ways reminiscent of the old Hollywood blacklist, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using powerful tools to curtail the creative freedom of Bollywood—in particular the influence of Muslims, who have an outsize presence in the industry. The measures pushed by the Modi government include indiscriminate tax investigations, trumped-up accusations against actors and directors, intimidation and harassment in response to certain movies and TV shows, and the chilling rap of law enforcement at the door. Fearing worse to come, Bollywood has remained mostly silent in the face of the government’s catastrophic response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Everybody is just shit-scared and wanting to lie low,” a woman who is closely involved with the industry told me recently. “This is such a vindictive government.” The day before we spoke, tax authorities had raided the home and offices of one of the country’s finest directors, along with those of an actor he worked with. Both are outspoken government critics, and the raid was widely seen as politically motivated. There is a heartbreaking inevitability to the confrontation between Bollywood and Modi’s BJP. Modi does not view India as a composite culture, to which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians have all contributed, but rather as an essentially Hindu entity whose destiny lies in bringing about a Hindu cultural renaissance. read the complete article


11 Jun 2021

Austria's 'Islam Map' and the Fight against Muslim Civil Society

The center has an annual budget of half a million euros and is designed to designate Muslim associations with which public authorities can and cannot cooperate – i.e., those which are blacklisted from public funding and space. It is part of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Extremism and Deradicalization, an internationally increasingly challenged concept. The Documentation Center could perfectly serve the purpose of identifying this “political Islam.” But political Islam, for the Austrian government, was not militancy. Rather, it is imagined to pave the ground intellectually for militant action. Hence, political Islam is about thought. And one could add religious practice. Several legislations and political measures had been implemented in the past, linking the Hijab ban or the closure of mosques to the fight against political Islam. One was the ban of the hijab, another two were the closing of mosques. While all three measures have been repealed by the courts, the government still continues its fight against personal Muslim belief and organized Muslim communities. Currently, Austria’s political leadership sees Muslims as a walking danger that is criminalized with surveillance programs like this map, intimidated by raids, and problematized as a national security threat. This hawkish politics against the Muslim minority has to stop. Otherwise, the Muslim minority that makes around nine percent of the whole population, will be further estranged and the societal divide instigated by the government will create the ground for major conflicts. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Jun 2021 Edition


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