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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15 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Top Pentagon policy nominee is alleged to have a long history of Islamophobic and offensive comments. An op-ed by Gouri Sharma explores how anti-Blackness is corroding South Asian communities. In England, MPs fear a rise in Islamophobia as mosques across the country reopen. Our recommended read today is by Sahar Aziz on the passing of a U.S domestic terror law, and how it could be used to quash dissent within the country. This, and more, below:

United States

15 Jun 2020

A domestic terror law could quash political dissent in the US | Recommended Read

Not once has Trump called for one of the nearly 1,000 right-wing extremist groups to be designated as a domestic terrorist organisation. His double standards were on full display in 2017, when he claimed Antifa shared some of the blame for the murder of Heather Heyer during the Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Meanwhile, Trump categorically smears Muslims as "terrorists". Since 2015, he accused Islam of being a violent ideology, suggested creating a "database of all Muslims in the US" and issued a Muslim Ban. He continues Bush and Obama's legacy of focusing on Muslims in domestic counterterrorism enforcement. Indeed, Muslims have been the boogeymen propped up by both the Democrats and the Republicans to funnel billions of dollars to the FBI, DHS and DOJ National Security Division. The money, in turn, funds tens of thousands of counterterrorism agents, intelligence officers and prosecutors conducting surveillance, investigations and sting operations in Muslim communities under a preventive model of counterterrorism policing. These activities had a chilling effect on Muslims' free speech and freedom of religion, and caused many of them to self-censor and refrain from political activism - precisely what the government wants. Trump now wants to expand this rights-infringing schema to his left-wing opposition. Notably, the grave damage to Muslims' civil rights and liberties occurs through enforcement of international terrorism laws because only foreign organisations can be designated as "terrorist". No law exists authorising the designation of a domestic group as a terrorist organisation. However, domestic terrorism is defined in 18 USC 2331(5) as "acts dangerous to human life that occur primarily in the United States, violate federal or state criminal laws, and are intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence government policy by intimidation or coercion". Should Congress pass a law authorising domestic groups to be designated as terrorist according to this definition, it would be the death knell of political groups disfavoured by whoever is president at a particular time. read the complete article

Recommended Read

Top Pentagon policy nominee has a history of Islamophobic and offensive comments

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, a frequent guest on Fox News and ardent defender of President Donald Trump, was nominated to become the under secretary of defense for policy. If confirmed by the Senate, Tata would become the third highest official in the Pentagon overseeing the Defense Department's policy shop, including its national security and defense strategy, nuclear deterrence and missile defense policy, and security cooperation plans and policies. The policy chief also closely advises the secretary of defense on national security and supports the Department of Defense's program and budget decisions. In several tweets from 2018, Tata said that Islam was the "most oppressive violent religion I know of" and claimed Obama was a "terrorist leader" who did more to harm the US "and help Islamic countries than any president in history." Following the publication of this story, Tata deleted several of his tweets, screenshots of which were captured by CNN's KFile. Tata, in one radio appearance, speculated the Iran deal was born out of Obama's "Islamic roots" in an attempt "to help Iranians and the greater Islamic state crush Israel." Tata also lashed out at prominent Democratic politicians and the media on Twitter, such as California Reps. Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi, who he said "have always been the same violent extremists." In another tweet, Tata called Waters a "vicious race baiting racist." He used a hashtag in a different tweet that insinuated CNN anchor Don Lemon was on "the liberal plantation." read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

After Floyd’s death, a reckoning for immigrant store owners

George Floyd was killed after employees at a convenience store owned by a Palestinian American Muslim — with a Muslim prayer space in its basement — called Minneapolis police over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill. The role that the store played in Floyd’s death May 25 and in all that followed has been a bitter pill to swallow for many Muslim and Arab communities. This moment has also reignited ongoing debates in Muslim communities over the ethical duties of immigrants who own businesses in black neighborhoods, from when and if they call the police to the role they can play in creating healthier food ecosystems. Cup Foods, which has served customers in a largely black neighborhood for three decades, will no longer involve the police in nonviolent incidents, Abumayyaleh said. “By simply following procedure we are putting our communities in danger,” he said in his social media post. Instead, he urged, “Work within your communities to find alternatives to policing, until the point that local and state officials decide to seriously hold police accountable once and for all.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

15 Jun 2020

London attacks show English football's racism problem must not be ignored

The people who threw punches at police and urinated by the memorial for PC Keith Palmer, who gave his life tackling a terrorist, may not have worn the cross of St George, but many were football fans. That much was obvious from their songs and snarls – the booze‑soaked chants of 10 German Bombers and Rule Britannia familiar to those who follow England away – and their willingness for a ruck. The fact that the “protest” was organised by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), a far-right organisation, was even more of a giveaway. And let us be frank. There is a link, however much they deny it, between the anti-immigrant and anti-Europe rhetoric of some politicians and newspapers, and what we saw at the weekend. If you repeatedly poke the embers of a smouldering fire do not be surprised if it occasionally bursts alight. In 2017, when the Football Lads Alliance had 10,000 marching in London, the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight warned that “a key feature of all racist and fascist street movements is that if left unchecked they can grow very fast – it is important to take the threat of the FLA seriously”. Since then the FLA has morphed into the DFLA, which – according to Chris Allen, an associate professor in hate studies at the University of Leicester – has “catalysed, emboldened and sharpened its focus” and has a “far more committed and extreme support base”. The group has always been anti-Muslim. In recent weeks, as the Black Lives Matter campaign has highlighted the systemic and structural issues in society, the DFLA has displayed more explicit racism. I worry because the looming economic crisis is bound to make the siren call of extremists more alluring to those struggling in towns and cities battered by austerity. I worry because there is an increasing sense of there being two Englands: one looking forward, the other back; one inclusive, the other destructive, both talking past each other, and social media amplifies their differences. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

Maybe now everyone must wear a face covering, Muslim women will stop being harassed

When the UK government announced that from 15 June it would be compulsory for the public to ‘cover up’ with a face mask on public transport or risk a fine I had to stifle my laughter. The statement was made on Boris Johnson’s authority, the same man who described niqab-wearing women as letterboxes and bank robbers, and is deeply hypocritical. Ironic even. I think that solicitor Nazir Afzal summed up the news very eloquently when he tweeted: ‘Facecoverings [sic] mandatory on public transport says Grant Shapps at #DowningStreetBriefing. We are all letterboxes now’. It was just two years ago that our prime minister made his ‘letterbox’ comments and offended the entire Muslim community. In fact, anti-racism organisation Tell MAMA recorded a surge in hate crimes towards Muslim women that very same week. I’m not here to gloat – I simply want to expose the hypocrisy and double standards of the prime minister and places in western Europe where the niqab ban is still enforced but face masks are mandatory. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

MPs fear rise in Islamophobia as mosques in England reopen

MPs are braced for a rise in Islamophobia as mosques start to reopen across England, after a rise in racism and conspiracy theories about Muslims and coronavirus. Afzal Khan, the vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for British Muslims, received dozens of racist emails during Ramadan and the festival of Eid, and has seen false stories about Muslims increasing the transmission of coronavirus on social media. “The journey of this is first the thoughts, then the words, then the action comes. We know in the past things have happened. Yasmin Qureshi, the shadow international development minister and one of the first female Muslim MPs, Tan Singh Dhesi MP and Wes Streeting MP, who are both vice-chairs of the APPG for British Muslims, also have concerns. Streeting is calling on police to consider increasing security at mosques in their operational plans as lockdown eases across the UK. read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

Protesters gather to oppose religious symbols ban, one year after Bill 21 became law

The most controversial section of the law, known as Bill 21, bans civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols such as a hijab or kippah. Sunday's event was organized by Justice Femme, a group that has been critical of the law, calling it discriminatory against Muslim women who wear a hijab. "It was very important to us … to show Premier Legault what these women are facing every day, and what this bill has opened the door for: all kinds of discrimination in our society," said Hanadi Saad, who helped organize the protest. Saad said several Muslim women have been refused work at public and private daycares after saying they would not remove their hijab, even though Bill 21 does not ban daycare workers from wearing religious symbols — and private institutions are not covered at all. Organizers say they felt it was important to speak out amid the ongoing international conversation about systemic racism. "Bill 21 is part of systemic discrimination," Issa said. "It prevents people who are from religious minorities from attaining certain positions and jobs." Issa says Bill 21 has created a two-tiered system. "Some people have access to full rights, others experience legalized discrimination," she said. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

Council of Canadian Muslims calls for resignations at Peel District School Board

In a statement on Friday, June 12, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) called for the immediate resignations of PDSB Chair Brad MacDonald and Director of Education Peter Joshua following the results of a report from lawyer and human rights advocate Arleen Huggins. On April 28, 2020, Huggins was appointed by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce to investigate the PDSB’s compliance with the Minister’s binding Directions, which were issued to tackle racism within the PDSB, particularly anti-Black racism. The report indicates that there’s still a high degree of dysfunction plaguing the PDSB and keeping it from fulfilling the directions. “Huggins, in her report, wrote that the school board and director's office is ‘lacking both the ability and capacity, and perhaps even more importantly, the will’ to address systemic racism and anti-black racism in PDSB,” said the NCCM. A few weeks prior, the NCCM had demanded further action regarding alleged Islamophobic remarks by Principal Julie DeMaeyer of Central Peel Secondary School in Brampton, which led the PDSB to agree to instate a Muslim student affairs coordinator and commit to mandating anti-Islamophobia training across the school board. read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

Modi's Inept Handling of the Pandemic Has Not Tarnished His Image

Elections in Bihar are scheduled to be held later this year in November while West Bengal goes to polls in April 2021. Bihar, along with UP, has a large number of workers termed ‘reverse migrants’. What, therefore, will the political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown be? Will the hardships faced by the ‘migrants’ diminish Modi’s image? Has the crisis given an opportunity to a moribund opposition to dent his popularity amongst the poor? Conversations with labourers who have returned to Bihar and UP indicate that Modi’s stature is intact, and he will consolidate his political power in these states. This is in line with a survey conducted by Ipsos, an international marketing agency. According to the survey, 87% of people in India approve of Modi’s handling of the crisis. This also reaffirms the notion that Modi remains BJP’s biggest electoral asset. There is also a deeply communal narrative, backed by ‘friendly’ news channels and social media, which has attracted the attention of many “migrants”. “It is the kat..[a derogatory term for Muslims] who are responsible for spreading the virus. I saw it on TV news. What can Modiji do?” said a 20-year-old. Muslims and Tablighi Jammat members were not only seen as super-spreaders of the pandemic but also as persons who had been actively conspiring to spread the virus. As is evident from previous plagues that have struck the world, one community – Jews during the Black Death and the gay community during the AIDS pandemic – is singled out as the scapegoat and bears the brunt of the ensuing stigma. This narrative is also compatible with the Hindutva’s agenda that claims Muslims to be anti-national. Saurabh, for example, was assisted by an NGO-led by Muslims activists to reach his home town, Gonda, in UP. Ironically, he said “Sir, it is the Muslims who have spread this disease. They invited people from all over the world to Nizamuddin knowing that there were restrictions”. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

More Muslims are killed in riots, then more of them get arrested, it’s not new: Mahmood Madani

The arrests in connection with the Delhi riots have been one-sided and made with the intention to target one community, according to Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH). But it’s nothing new, he said, alleging that the general trend has been that more Muslims are killed in a riot, and then more members of the community are later arrested. “It is natural that any type of violence will lead to arrests. But the nature of the arrests show that that they have been one-sided, and targeting only one community,” Madani said in an interview to ThePrint. “Whether it is riots that have taken place under the rule of BJP or Samajwadi Party or Congress, the one thing that’s common is that more Muslims get killed, more Muslims’ property is destroyed, and more Muslims are arrested,” he said. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

Being Muslim in a Small UP Village at the Moment it Learns of Its First COVID Positive Case

Some days ago, a piece of news spread like wildfire in my small village, located in eastern Uttar Pradesh – one person had tested positive for COVID-19! The villagers, particularly Muslims, were anxious to know the religious identity of the affected individual. Once it was revealed that the person infected with COVID-19 was Prakash (name changed to protect his identity), who had returned from Mumbai, they heaved a sigh of relief. This once at least, they had escaped the fate of being called super spreaders of the coronavirus. It’s a term that has come to haunt them ever since the Tablighi Jamaat event, held in Delhi in March, was branded an act of ‘corona jihad’ by voices within the ruling party at the Centre, with the mainstream media playing its part in making them go ‘viral’. Importantly, the intensity of fear and unease is more among the religious minorities precisely on account of the relentless propaganda mounted by the BJP, which has seen in the pandemic a political opportunity for furthering divisiveness in society. The day Prakash was diagnosed COVID-19 positive, it was the only topic of dinner-time conversation at home. As I told my mother about it, she had just one response, “Achcha hua wo Muslim nahi tha (‘it was a good thing that he was not Muslim’). “Why do you say that?” I asked. She replied, “Arre kuch nahi, kuch din pehle news pe dikha raha tha Muslaman ke wajah se corona phail raha hai na (‘Nothing, it’s just that a few days back the news channels were showing that Muslims are responsible for the spread of coronavirus’).” read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

Her hopes for America ended in death, and it took Black Lives Matter to get her buried

Jamila Nabunjo’s few friends headed for the cemetery to find the right spot to bury the 33-year-old woman, delicately placing head and feet in accordance with Muslim tradition. Her family and friends watched and cried from thousands of miles away in her native Uganda, via Zoom. However extraordinary the moment in this sprawling border city across Texas was, Nabunjo’s story may have been forgotten had it not been for Black Lives Matter. “Without the current context and awareness about Black Lives Matter, Nabunjo’s body would not have been released,” said Edith Tapia, 34, a policy analyst and researcher with Hope Border Institute, who almost single-handedly waged an uphill, nine-month battle to reclaim her body. “We had to basically call them (Mexican authorities) out on their prejudice, racism, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant history. Only then were they willing to cooperate.” Nabunjo, an immigrant from Uganda, was on a waiting list to enter the U.S. to ask for asylum when she was admitted to a local hospital after complaining of stomach pains. According to an autopsy, she died Sept. 29 from sepsis, pneumonia and tuberculosis. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

Anti-Blackness corrodes South Asian communities

Prejudice towards black people persists both in South Asian countries and their diasporas abroad. It stems from both colonialism and caste-based hierarchies. Growing up in New York, South Asians helped characterise writer and journalist Shamira Ibrahim’s upbringing. With Black culture intrinsically linked with the fabric of the city, other communities often adopted it as their own. Despite this, there was still refusal by some South Asian Muslims to accept Black Muslims as “real Muslims”. As Ibrahim, 34, told TRT World: “It could be that they are seen as converts, or that they don’t have a real understanding of the Quran because they may not have memorised as much of it as others, or because they follow Nation of Islam instead of Sunni or Shia schools of thought. These are associations to Islam and Black radical Islam that tend to be linked in a very racist and inherent way within South Asian communities.” Gabriel Dattatreyan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths University in London. He told TRT World: “What we see is hashtag solidarity, for example, a young person who's grown up in an upper caste community showing solidarity by using the #BlackLivesMatter. I worry, though, that there's not really a good understanding of the historical context, and that they haven’t interrogated their position in all of this.” Anti-Black racism, caste-based discrimination and colourism manifest themselves today through every day violence and discrimination. read the complete article

15 Jun 2020

The state is trying to co-opt black and Muslim women's struggle - don't be fooled

Recent revelations that the British government has been covertly diffusing its counterterrorism propaganda through the empowerment of women of colour on social media is yet another reminder of where interests lie when it comes to the state. Stoosh, an online space with both a Facebook page and Instagram account, was created in March 2017 by the communications company Breakthrough Media. While it presented itself as a social justice-minded platform for women of colour, it was contracted by a unit within the Home Office known as the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT). Depoliticised, interfaith-esque chat on inter-religious marriages, check! Vacant references to inspiring, “good Muslim” role models such as Malala Yousafzai, who confront barbaric Islamic terrorism, check! Examples of Western Muslim women taking on brown and Muslim patriarchy across their homelands, from Iran to Afghanistan, check! Calling out explicitly Muslim slut-shaming, check! The list goes on. The entire set-up is a slick attempt at shaping the so-called ideal British Muslim identity. The diversity of those involved, the co-option of language - including use of the patois word “stoosh” (meaning superior) - and the use of famous figures from political and cultural platforms could fool anyone into thinking this was a space set up by and for young women of colour. it is impotent in opposing oppression, because it fails to engage the violent history out of which it emerges - and it silences the necessary rage needed to fight racism, gendered Islamophobia and misogyny. The depoliticised nature of Stoosh is symptomatic of all areas of work delivered by our government in the name of helping the most marginalised. More unnerving than the whitewashing of the state’s own role in the oppression of Muslim women and women of colour, and even the co-option of their struggles, is the Home Office using this group to control expressions of resistance. It reinforces the old racist trope and colonial strategy of women of colour being merely vessels for the policing of their community, the imposition of state-sanctioned narratives, and the disorganisation of liberation struggles. read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

"The Concept of Race Is Taboo"

Shooman: People in the U.S. aren't only protesting police violence. It's about much more than that. Black people are disproportionately affected by poverty. They have worse health care and less access to education. These are structural problems, which we also have in Germany. Here, too, certain population groups have a higher risk of becoming impoverished or dropping out of school. DER SPIEGEL: What does structural racism in Germany look like, in concrete terms? Shooman: One example is racial profiling by police, meaning certain people are subject to more frequent controls without probable cause due to phenotypic characteristics, such as skin color. Studies also show that teachers systematically grade children worse if their names do not sound German. This isn't necessarily because they assume pupils with, for example, Turkish names are less intelligent. It's based on the automatic assumption that they come from an educationally disadvantaged milieu. It's a confluence of multiple discrimination characteristics, like ethnic origin and class. Shooman: It is a common misunderstanding, especially in Germany, that it can only be racism if it was intentional. However, racism should not only be seen as a problem of individuals with vile intentions. Attention must also be paid to structures and institutional routines in which people may be disadvantaged without deliberate malice. read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

'Her views are something we would never endorse': Sonia Kruger is DROPPED from a popular podcast - following her controversial comments on Muslim immigration

Sonia Kruger has been dropped from Mamamia's beauty podcast, You Beauty. As reported by The Daily Telegraph on Friday, administrators announced on Facebook that they have removed her episode this week on sensitive skin. The lifestyle website informed followers that the decision was based on Kruger's past comments relating to Muslim immigration, that some found to be 'deeply hurtful'. In February last year, a tribunal found Kruger, 54, vilified Muslims when she called for Australia to close its borders to followers of Islam because she 'didn't feel safe'. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal delivered their decision almost three years after Kruger's explosive comments were made on the Today Show in July 2016. The tribunal found Kruger's 'vilifying remarks' had the ability to 'encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population'. Kruger shocked former colleagues David Campbell and Lisa Wilkinson when she discussed a column written by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt following a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day. 'I mean, personally, I think Andrew Bolt has a point here, that there is a correlation between the number of people who are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks,' she said. 'Now I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics. 'Personally I would like to see it (immigration) stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day.' read the complete article


15 Jun 2020

Why Hungary Loves Soros-baiting, Nationalist Hatemonger Orban So Much

Based on a Spring 2016 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, one of the most respectable U.S. public opinion research organizations, Hungarians fare very poorly in comparison with other Europeans in their attitudes toward Muslims, Roma and Jews. - 72 percent of Hungarians, compared to 43 percent of all Europeans, hold negative views of Muslims. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been nurtured by the massive anti-migrant campaign pursued by the Orban government. The Roma population of about 800,000 people, constitutes approximately 8 percent of Hungary’s population. They are the largest minority in the country and clearly suffer from multiple discriminations in nearly every walk of life. Explanations abound as to the origins of Hungarian nationalism, chauvinism, and xenophobia. History certainly plays a significant role in shaping Hungarian attitudes. However, the Hungarian language is also one of the principal roots of Magyar nationalism and self-declared exceptionalism. Hungarian is part of the Finno-Ugric language tree and shares some grammatical structures with Finnish and Estonian. A Finn or an Estonian, however, cannot understand Hungarian, and vice versa. This means that Hungary constitutes a distinct linguistic island in the heart of Europe with significant cultural and political implications. Since no other country in the world speaks its language, apprehension of otherness is structurally embedded in each individual’s worldview and informs society as a whole, setting Hungarians apart from their European neighbors. Given the Orban government’s tight control of the media, the majority of the population has to rely exclusively on official news and propaganda provided by pro-regime media outlets without the ability to verify its accuracy or to access alternative information disseminated in other languages. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Jun 2020 Edition


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