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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14 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In China, police in the region of Xinjiang are still purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of American DNA equipment despite warnings from the U.S. Government of human rights abuses, as in Canada, thousands of people march in support of the slain Canadian Muslim family over the weekend in London Ontario, and Myanmar’s Junta labels the Rohingya as a “non-recognized” ethnicity, fueling doubts over the future of citizenship for the Rohingya population of the country. Our recommended read of the day is by H.A Hellyer on how the mainstream reach and acceptance of anti-Muslim bigotry has led to violence against Muslims on an alarming scale. This and more below:


13 Jun 2021

From Ontario to Bordeaux, Islamophobia and right-wing terrorism must be confronted head-on

Some security agencies have recognized the threat. But for all the expressions of concern, there are three crucial elements that are all too often left out when discussing the far right. The first is Islamophobia is at the heart of extremist right-wing ideology, but this is often underestimated. The second is that the ideology is spreading abroad. There were the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand. France is seeing a wave of arson attacks against mosques, amid a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric. The list, tragically, goes on. Finally — and perhaps most crucially — the rhetoric of the far right today thrives, indeed survives, because so much of it has been mainstreamed by politicians and influential figures in the public sphere. Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry have been spreading quickly for decades. It’s clear in the campaigns against the Muslim woman’s headscarf (hijab) or face covering (niqab) that are the centerpiece of so many right-wing forces across Europe; it’s clear in the hate-crime statistics in the U.K. collected by Hope Not Hate; it’s clear in the work by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Disturbingly, their discourse is not relegated to the fringes of society. As the SPLC makes clear, many anti-Muslim groups have “mainstream clout.” European politicians such as Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, describe Muslim refugees as “invaders”; personalities go on TV shows to demand that Muslim Americans who say Allah instead of God in certain contexts should be investigated. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump declared, “I think Islam hates us,” while promoting bans on mostly Muslim populations from entering the United States. It should be a note of caution for everyone that Trump himself was noted as an influence on the Christchurch terrorist in his own manifesto. I’ve been researching anti-Muslim bigotry for decades, and there is one inescapable conclusion: The mainstream reach and acceptance of bigotry has led to violence against Muslims on an alarming scale. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
11 Jun 2021

Riz Ahmed Is Fed Up With Lack of Muslim Representation in Hollywood

“The problem with Muslim misrepresentation is one that can’t be ignored anymore,” Ahmed said in the speech he posted. He teamed up with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to conduct a study, “Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies,” which examined 200 top films in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia from 2017 to 2019, and found that most featured nonexistent or demeaning portrayals of Muslim characters. The study discovered that across the 200 films, 181 of them had no Muslim characters whatsoever, meaning 90.5% lacked any Muslim representation. Of the 8,965 speaking characters identified in the 200 films, only 1.6% were Muslim. “If I’m the exception to the rule, what must the rule be about people like me?” Ahmed asked. “I’m here to briefly tell you that exceptions don’t change the rules. Exceptions, if anything, highlight the rule and in some ways allow us to be complacent about leaving that rule in place.” Ahmed also emphasized the importance of creating meaningful change in an industry where most portrayals of Muslims are either “nonexistent or entrenched in those stereotypical, toxic, two-dimensional portrayals.” He likened this period of misrepresentation of Muslim people in Hollywood to that of minstrelsy, referring to it as a “structural problem.” In the hopes of shifting the representation of Muslims onscreen, Ahmed has joined forces with the Pillars Fund, a Chicago–based advocacy group, and the Ford Foundation to create the Pillars Artist Fellowship, which will award $25,000 to Muslim storytellers. The advisory committee for the fellowship includes Ahmed and other Muslim actors like Academy Award–winner Mahershala Ali, Hasan Minhaj, Ramy Youssef, and We Are Lady Parts creator Nida Manzoor. “What rewrites rules isn’t exceptions," Ahmed said, “but it’s when the oppressed and the oppressors—whether they’re aware of being oppressors or aware of their complicity in the oppression or not—join hands, open their eyes, and make a solemn commitment to take some concrete steps.” read the complete article

11 Jun 2021

What Does Europe Have Against Halal?

Darmanin’s remarks are but one version of a growing, broadly European complaint that halal food divides citizens, violates norms of animal welfare, and stealthily intrudes Islam into Western society. This complaint, and the measures that have begun to follow, shift depending on the post-colonial and anti-Islamic politics in each country. On this issue, politics is at once local, regional, and global. But why has access to religiously appropriate food assumed such political importance across Europe? No longer was this an issue between Christians and Jews, nor Muslims (now pulled into the controversy), nor among cultural groups; it was a tension between religious and secular outlooks. The same Christian groups that had once opposed ritual slaughter in the name of a Protestant Dutch nation now supported its allowance as a matter of religious liberty. On the other side of the controversy were the growing far-right parties, following Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders, and new social movements. Indeed, public outcry regarding halal food in the UK often targets labeling, or lack thereof. If France fears the socially divisive effects of publicizing halal, the UK fears failing to do so, worried that unlabeled halal products suggest that Muslims are stealthily infiltrating the UK by means of Muslim food. Animal rights groups and the far right echoed his complaint, emphasizing the inability of multiculturalism to promote assimilation. Beyond the legal issues, halal worries provide a politically useful focus for anti-Islam politicians. Precisely because of the fuzziness of most accusations—how is stocking those foods your regular customers want a form of Islamic separatism? How is it that allowing a small minority of butchers to practice halal slaughter implies the “Islamization” of Europe? —they can be used to bolster diverse forms of anti-Muslim movements, shaped specifically to the rhetorical expectations in each European country. read the complete article


11 Jun 2021

China Still Buys American DNA Equipment for Xinjiang Despite Blocks

The police in the Chinese region of Xinjiang are still buying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of American DNA equipment despite warnings from the U.S. government that the sale of such technologies could be used to enable human rights abuses in the region. The U.S. government has tried to prevent the sale of DNA sequencers, test kits and other products made by American firms to the police in Xinjiang for years, amid concerns raised by scientists and human rights groups that the authorities could use the tools to build systems to track people. In 2019, the Trump administration banned the sale of American goods to most law enforcement agencies in Xinjiang unless the companies received a license. And in 2020, Washington warned that companies selling biometric technology and other products to Xinjiang should be aware of the “reputational, economic and legal risks.” But Chinese government procurement documents and contracts reviewed by The New York Times show that goods made by two American companies — Thermo Fisher and Promega — have continued to flow to the region, where a million or more residents, mostly Muslim Uyghurs, have been incarcerated in internment camps. The sales are happening through Chinese firms that buy the products and resell them to the police in Xinjiang. read the complete article

11 Jun 2021

“LIKE WE WERE ENEMIES IN A WAR”: China’s Mass Internment, Torture and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang

From late 2019 to mid 2021, Amnesty International has been investigating these abuses. On 10 June Amnesty published a report based on new first-hand testimonies gathered from former detainees of the internment camps and other people who were present in Xinjiang after 2017, as well as from an analysis of satellite imagery and data. The report provides the most comprehensive account ever of life inside the internment camps. The evidence Amnesty International has gathered provides a factual basis for the conclusion that the Chinese government has committed at least the following crimes against humanity: imprisonment, torture, and persecution. read the complete article

12 Jun 2021

One Woman’s Journey Through Chinese Atrocities

In 2021 the United States and other countries have declared that China is committing genocide against ethnic Uyghurs — yet nothing much changes. That passivity discounts the horror of genocide, the ultimate crime. So that we don’t grow numb to what’s unfolding, let me introduce a Uyghur woman: “Nancy,” as she asks to be called, is now safe in the United States but terrified that speaking out will doom her parents. China’s repression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority in the far west region of Xinjiang, has received attention mostly for locking about one million people in modern concentration camps. A less noted element has been a systematic attempt to suppress births of Uyghurs. Nancy described one relative, a gynecologist, who was sent to a concentration camp for two years and then sentenced to six years in prison for removing IUDs from two women for health reasons. Another relative was sent to a concentration camp for two years because she was overseeing family planning work in a Uyghur village where a woman became pregnant without permission. Nancy heard that the pregnant woman’s husband was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but she’s not sure what happened to the mother or baby. It’s impossible to verify Nancy’s accounts, but they fit into what journalists, diplomats and human rights groups have uncovered about repression in Xinjiang. This is part of a systematic dehumanization of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Muslims are forced to betray their faith by eating pork or drinking alcohol, prayer is banned in public places, kids are sent to boarding schools to be indoctrinated, and when Uyghur men are jailed the government has sent Han Chinese men to live in their homes and share beds with their wives. read the complete article


13 Jun 2021

Christian terrorist who mowed down Muslim family ‘was laughing’ as he got out of blood covered truck

The Christian terrorist who mowed down a Muslim family was laughing as he got out of his blood covered truck, according to a witness. Four members of a Canadian immigrant family were left dead and one hospitalized after Nathaniel Veltman, 20, allegedly crashed his vehicle into them deliberately as they took a walk. A taxi driver was taking a coffee break when the suspect pulled up in his black truck and told him to call the police as he had just killed someone, Yellow Taxi London president Hassan Savehilaghi told The Free Press on the driver’s behalf. The pickup driver was wearing what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest, a military-style helmet and clothing that possibly had swastikas on it, Mr Savehilaghi said the traumatized driver had told him. The driver, who was even asked by the suspect to film his arrest, said that the front end of the truck had been “damaged with blood” and he immediately called the police. The witness said that police units in London, Ontario, quickly arrived at the scene and removed the suspect from the truck. “When they got him out of the vehicle, he was laughing,” added Mr Savehilaghi, who said that the driver has not returned to work after the incident. read the complete article

12 Jun 2021

Thousands march in support of Muslim family killed in Canada

Thousands of people have marched in support of a Canadian Muslim family run over and killed by a man driving a pick-up truck last Sunday in an attack the police described as a hate crime. The four victims, spanning three generations, were killed when Nathaniel Veltman, 20, ran into them while they were out for an evening walk near their home. A fifth family member, a nine-year-old boy, survived. People in London, Ontario marched about seven kilometres (4.4 miles) on Friday from the spot where the family was struck down to a nearby mosque, the site close to where Veltman was arrested by police. Some carried placards with messages reading “Hate has no home here”, “Love over hate”. “The best part was not just the numbers … but the diversity of the people coming from every single community in London, coming together for this cause,” said 19-year old college student Abdullah al-Jarad at the march. read the complete article

11 Jun 2021

Canadian Lawmakers Pass Motion for Emergency Islamophobia Summit in Wake of Deadly Hate Crime

In the wake of a deadly hate crime that killed four Muslim family members and critically injured a fifth, Canadian lawmakers passed a motion demanding the government convene for an emergency summit on Islamophobia by the end of January. Members of Parliament unanimously passed a motion from the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the House of Commons on Friday, less than a week after a driver mounted a sidewalk and plowed into a family on a walk in London, Ontario. London-Fanshawe MP Lindsay Mathyseen, who brought forward the non-binding motion, argued that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the liberal government needed to do more to address prejudice against Muslims in the country. read the complete article

13 Jun 2021

Edmonton police investigating attack on a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab

Edmonton Police are investigating a report that a Somali Canadian woman who was wearing a hijab was attacked Friday night, the latest in a series of attacks on Black and racialised Muslim women in recent months. Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society (SCCS), said the Edmonton woman who is in her 50s, was grabbed by her neck and pushed down to the sidewalk by an unknown person while she was out for a walk near Edmonton's Northmount neighborhood at about 9 p.m. "She was just walking on this street in the evening just to get a little bit of fresh air," Ibrahim said Sunday. "And all of a sudden, someone just grabbed her by the neck and she was thrown on the ground." He says her face was bloodied, some of her teeth are loose and she spent Friday night in hospital. At least six hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialised Muslim women have happened in Edmonton in recent months. read the complete article

12 Jun 2021

Provincial police investigating anti-Muslim video posted to TikTok

The video shows what appears to be a Muslim family walking on the road and the voice of a man can be heard laughing and referencing the suspect’s actions in the London attack, saying “Holy (expletive)! Where is Nathaniel Veltman when you need him? Oh, there’s a truck, buddy, you missed them, back up!” The video was made by someone in Harriston, Ont., a small community 70 km northwest of Guelph in the Town of Minto. Dr. Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a professor of Sociology and Criminology at Sheridan College, says she wasn’t surprised by the video, noting she’s been subjected to these types of videos and comments her entire life. “I think white supremacist, hate, ideologies, violence that’s promoted online, that lives, breathes and grows online has been overlooked and we haven’t given it our serious attention,” she said. “The hate that happens online is very much directly related to the hate that we see in person, that people deal with every single day. Unless we start to clamp down on people who make videos like this and people who share ideologies like this, we’re going to continue seeing young men radicalized with this type of extremist ideology where they feel like they’re justified in the killing of innocent people.” read the complete article


12 Jun 2021

How Dissent Dies

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had proposed a bill that would alter the country’s citizenship law, effectively barring Muslim refugees in neighboring countries from seeking asylum in India. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) sparked outrage among critics, civil libertarians, and minority-rights activists, who worried that Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would use the potential law to erode the status of India’s 200 million Muslims as well. Before long, women in Muslim-majority northeast Delhi began staging street protests and sit-ins, demonstrations that over the following weeks would balloon to include tens of thousands nationwide. Before long, she was delivering speeches to the assembled crowd. “Our fight, my Hindu brothers and sisters, is not with you,” she said in a February 26 address, a microphone in one hand and a smartphone in the other. “Our fight is with the government—against its ideology, which manufactures Hindu-Muslim riots to win votes.” She made the speech against the backdrop of Delhi’s worst sectarian riots in decades. On February 23, after a series of hate speeches by BJP leaders, including one by a minister in the Modi government, Anurag Thakur, calling on BJP supporters to “shoot the traitors,” riots broke out in Delhi. Over the course of four days, 53 people were killed, more than 200 were injured, and numerous houses, shops, schools, and factories were looted and burned. Fatima and her family stayed at home until the violence ebbed. Quiet descended on Delhi. The anti-CAA movement was effectively over. The fallout, however, was still to come. On the morning of April 9, 2020, Aqil got a call from a police constable. His sister had been arrested. Fatima and 20 others were detained through April, and in September she and 14 others were formally accused of orchestrating the February riots to destabilize the Modi government. Yet the 17,000-page charge sheet was a farce, built on a series of unsigned “confessions,” some of which matched others verbatim. None of the confessions was made in the presence of a magistrate, so they were inadmissible in court. The only thing that linked the group, many of whom had never met one another, was their participation in the anti-CAA protests. That was more than a year ago, and Fatima remains in prison, yet to face trial. Since the police filed the charge sheets, various courts have castigated them for making “irresponsible” allegations, “total non-application of mind,” and “vindictiveness.” read the complete article

12 Jun 2021

In India, the Latest Israel-Hamas War Became a Battle on Social Media

“#IndiaStandsWithIsrael and #IndiaStandsWithPalestine were the top two hashtags used in over 300,000 tweets we analyzed as part of Israel and Palestine conversations on social media across the world,” the nonprofit stated in its report. It added that an “anti-Muslim influence network in India hijacked recent conversations around Israel and Palestine.” In 2018, Haaretz reported on organized pro-Israel campaigns run by Hindu nationalist groups associated with and including members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Their reported aim is to build a narrative based around an imagined similarity between India and Israel, which they see as a kind of model for the “Hindu nation” they seek to establish. They have also been accused of using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to spread Islamophobia online. The BJP’s IT cell (its social media division) has become the government’s unofficial mouthpiece over the past decade. Many of its top social media influencers have been accused of essentially being internet trolls who use abusive and often misogynistic language to attack their political opponents on Twitter. A significant number of them are seemingly legitimized by Modi, who follows them on Twitter, and they have been accused of running disinformation campaigns. The IT cell was credited with helping bring Modi to power. Rumors and misinformation spread through these online networks, but especially on WhatsApp, led to the mobilization of cow-protection groups, resulting in mob attacks over allegations of consumption or possession of beef. These attacks are also documented and widely circulated on Indian social media. Amid India’s internet wars, the country’s liberal activists, students, academics and artists were on the front line in support of Palestine – like their counterparts elsewhere in the world. But in India, the anger at Israel is also specifically directed at Modi, his right-wing government and Hindu nationalists. read the complete article

13 Jun 2021

India: Fire rips through Rohingya camp, leaving hundreds homeless

A massive fire has destroyed a Rohingya refugee camp in the Indian capital, New Delhi, leaving hundreds of people homeless. The blaze broke out at about 11:30pm on Saturday and quickly spread through the camp, reducing 55 ramshackle shelters to ashes in the Madanpur Khadar area in the capital city’s south. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported in the fire – the second time the camp has been reduced to ashes since 2018. The fire comes amid an Indian government crackdown on Rohingya refugees living in the country. In March, police in Jammu city and New Delhi jailed more than 200 refugees, saying they were living in the country “illegally”. India’s Hindu nationalist government has said it will deport the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids a country from returning refugees to a country where they would face torture. Rights groups have warned against deporting the Rohingya to Myanmar, which also experienced a military coup in February. For now, their deportation has been blocked by the Indian Supreme Court. But 300 refugees are still imprisoned. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 Jun 2021

Ed Husain’s book on UK Muslims slammed over ‘unverified source’ suggesting 'killings are normal' for refugees

Husain's "Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain" has been criticized as "error-strewn" over alleged factual inaccuracies beginning on its first page, as well as for suggesting, among things, that British Muslims "self-deport or be deported" or "modernize, integrate... and contribute to Western society". In one section of the book, Husain recounts meeting a man named Mahfuz Alimain, who is described as a senior official at Manchester Council. Alimain allegedly told Husain that Muslim refugees in the UK had grown "accustomed" to violence. "Syrians and Libyans, Yemenis and Palestinians who come to British mosques have seen bombs and destruction daily. Killings are normal for them," Alimain is quoted in the book as saying. On Wednesday, however, Manchester City Council said it had no knowledge of an individual named Mahfuz Alimain working for them. In another section of the book, Husain claims that Darwen Council threatens "eviction" for residents who fly the British flag. In a Twitter thread, British Islamic Studies lecturer Dr Usaama al-Azami said he had reached out to the council to clarify the matter, with the council leader responding that the claims were "laughable". read the complete article

11 Jun 2021

Islamophobia inquiries only work if people take them seriously

There is something rather eerie about seeing a review into Islamophobia in the UK's ruling Conservative party, followed by an example of complicity by the British prime minister. But that is what happened when Boris Johnson hosted Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, in London last month. It makes a postmortem of the actual report even more ironic to carry out; but Islamophobia, and the toleration of it at the highest levels of the British establishment, remains one of the greatest tests for the soul of the Conservative party. The sad reality may be, however, that the party does not care about failing that test. Mr Karim described the inquiry as “nothing but an attempt to whitewash deep-rooted issues out of sight". It is not surprising that he would see it that way; the inquiry failed to hold the Conservative party to account for systemic problems of discrimination, and instead narrowly defined the issues. As a result, the inquiry could distance the Conservatives from the specific accusations on one hand, and sidestep any in-depth examination pertaining to Islamophobia on the other. And as the inquiry’s mandate was set up by the party itself, it was able to define the parameters of its own investigation – which protected it from the most damning conclusions – that the party’s issues on Islamophobia permeate throughout. read the complete article

United States

13 Jun 2021

Newsmax's anti-Muslim freakout sums up Trump's America

The latest GOP "jihad" on free speech was triggered at a high school graduation ceremony on Thursday, when the student body president at Justice High school in Fairfax County, Virginia recited the pledge of allegiance and replaced “God” with the word “Allah” — as in one nation “under Allah.” Among those on the far right who took offense at the substitution was a panel of commentators on conservative media outlet Newsmax, whose members extensively decried the student's choice of words on air. Of course, the word Allah is simply the word for God in Arabic. Allah is not the name of the “Muslim” God, as the far right wants you to think, but the same God worshiped by all three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Indeed, the word "Allah" is used for "God" by both Christian and Muslim Arabs alike. But facts don’t matter when it comes to the right wing’s culture war — all that matters is outrage so that people watching can forget for a moment that former president Donald Trump got crushed in the 2020 election. Hence, the Newsmax freakout. One Newsmax panelist, Melanie Collette, said that uttering “Allah” in the Pledge of Allegiance was “an absolute disgrace." Republican strategist Amanda Makki slammed the use of "Allah" because, as she put it, “We're a Judeo-Christian nation.” This event simply exemplifies yet again the instincts of some in the GOP to silence anything they don’t want people to say — even by threat of criminal prosecution. This is the same mindset driving the current slew of GOP-championed laws banning teachers — at the possible risk of losing their jobs — from teaching students about critical race theory and systemic racism. read the complete article


12 Jun 2021

Myanmar Junta Raises Doubt Over Citizenship for Rohingya

Myanmar’s junta said the Rohingya isn’t one of its recognized ethnic races, fueling doubt if the persecuted minority group will have access to citizenship anytime soon. The shadow National Unity Government is speaking up for the Rohingya for political gain, Zaw Min Tun, lead spokesman for the State Administration Council, said at a press conference on Saturday. He said Rohingya is “just an imaginary name” for the group of people who described themselves as such, and repeatedly referred to them as “Bengalis.” Under the previous government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now detained, Myanmar defended the military against accusations of perpetrating genocide on the mostly-Muslim Rohingya from 2017, forcing more than 700,000 people to flee across the border to Bangladesh. read the complete article

New Zealand

14 Jun 2021

Christchurch attacks: producer resigns from film They Are Us as criticism grows

The premise of the film, They Are Us, has also been criticized by its proposed subject, New Zealand prime minister Ardern, who is slated to be played by Rose Byrne. Ardern said on Sunday it felt “very soon and very raw” for New Zealand, and that she was not an appropriate focus for a film about the 2019 mosque attacks. “There are plenty of stories from March 15 that could be told, but I don’t consider mine to be one of them,” she said. Ardern has reiterated that she has no involvement with the film. It immediately came under fire for centering on the leadership of a white woman against the backdrop of the mass murder of 51 Muslims by a white supremacist. Many Muslim New Zealanders criticized the move as “exploitative”, “insensitive”, and “obscene”. A petition to shut down the film’s production has gained about 60,000 signatures over the past three days. On Monday, New Zealand producer Philippa Campbell announced that she was resigning from the proposed production. “I’ve listened to the concerns raised over recent days and I have heard the strength of people’s views. I now agree that the events of March 15, 2019 are too raw for film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress,” she said in a statement released to media. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jun 2021 Edition


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