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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17 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Ex-cop accuses U.K police of racism over airport stops. Writing for Foreign Policy, Arun Budhathoki explores how India’s Islamophobia is seeping into neighboring  Nepal. Our recommended read today is by Mohamad Elmasry titled “How elite U.S newspapers ignore Muslim victims of terrorism.” This, and more, below:

United States

17 Jun 2020

How elite US newspapers ignore Muslim victims of terrorism | Recommended Read

We like to think that our recently published research will fill important gaps in the literature and answer many questions for media scholars and laypersons alike. Our major finding is that some of the largest US newspapers are more likely to humanise and pay prominent attention to non-Muslim victims of terrorism than to Muslim victims. Our study systematically examined coverage of five prominent Muslim-perpetrated terrorist attacks. Three were carried out in Muslim-majority societies in Ankara and Maiduguri, Nigeria, while the other two were carried out in major cities in the non-Muslim majority West, in Paris and Brussels. All took place within a six-month span late in 2015 or early in 2016. The three attacks perpetrated in non-Western, Muslim-majority societies produced far fewer articles in elite US newspapers, despite having produced a greater number of casualties. Articles covering non-Muslim terrorism victims in Paris and Brussels generated about nine times as much coverage as articles covering Muslim terrorism victims in Ankara and Maiduguri. Specifically, the attacks in Ankara and Maiduguri, with 222 casualties, produced only 72 articles in total over five days of US newspaper coverage. The two attacks in Paris and Brussels, with 165 casualties, generated 641 articles over five days of coverage. Articles covering non-Muslim victims were also larger (on average), generated more photographs, and were more likely to make the newspapers’ front pages. What’s more, US newspapers talked differently about the attacks and Muslim/non-Muslim victims. Attacks against non-Muslim societies were framed almost exclusively as acts of terrorism, while attacks against Muslim-majority societies were framed largely as “internal conflicts.” Perhaps most importantly, results showed that non-Muslim victims of terrorism were more likely to be humanised and personalised than Muslim victims. read the complete article

Recommended Read
17 Jun 2020

Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef On Why Islam Is the Key to Acting

Ramy Youssef: We’ve talked before about the spiritual struggles you had early on in your career over doing certain things you didn’t think you should do onscreen. How’d you come to terms with that? Mahershala Ali: If you look at Judaism, Islam, maybe some versions of Buddhism, the Sikhs — any time anyone is hard-core practicing those faiths correctly, it feels like anything outside the faith is haram. But as you move further along, as you embrace the faith, get more comfortable in it and understand how you identify as a Muslim, you’re always examining your relationship to anything secular, anything outside of your actual faith. If you grow up Muslim, you probably have more of a natural barometer for what “slacking off” means for you — that middle ground where you’re okay not following something to the tee. Embracing the tenets of Islam that say you will be held accountable for all your actions, that you will be credited for all your positive actions, and you will essentially be called out on all the things you knowingly did wrong and all that, you begin to examine your work — entertainment, storytelling — and anything outside of your faith. And you have to strive to bring that into alignment with not just your religion, but with how your religion informs the way you see the world and what is okay and what is not okay, so that you can have peace. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

I wouldn’t exist without Black activism

The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the US. The Immigration Act of 1924 continued this xenophobia by completely banning Arabs, Indians and Asians. Although the US repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, they simply replaced it with a quota system that limited Chinese immigration to only 105 people a year (which is 0.004% of the number of Chinese people who immigrated to the US in 2018). My parents would not have been one of those few incredibly wealthy Chinese people who could’ve afforded to move to America. These racist immigration policies were eventually reversed with the efforts of Black activists. The civil rights movement paved the way for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in immigrant visas. This law, albeit problematic in other ways (like legally establishing the Public Charge distinction), overrode previous xenophobic policies preventing certain races from immigrating to the US. In other words, Black activism was crucial for people like my parents to immigrate to America and build their families. Black activists pushed for equal protections for people under the law; the result of their efforts gave my parents an entrance into American academia, workforce and society. Police brutality and mass incarceration have been racialized from the start. Modern American policing tactics evolved from runaway slave patrols. Black people are incarcerated at 5.1 times the rate of White people. Nixon’s presidential campaign invented the War on Drugs in order to lock up Black people. These facts barely cover the surface of how widespread and deeply-rooted the issue is, and they don’t cover other structural problems like the increasingly-widened racial wealth gap in America. This racism has always been endemic to America, but it is becoming more explicit again on the Presidential stage. We should be angry. The current American president represents monolithic American structures of power that disenfranchise immigrants and people of color. He fully recycles violent racist language supporting police brutality and police shootings. He wholesale-endorses the same xenophobic and Orientalist frameworks that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act with his Muslim ban and his virulent anti-Asian/American rhetoric. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

Ilhan Omar Isn't Done Fighting

As a Black Muslim woman, and one in the public eye, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is a frequent target of xenophobia, racism, and sexism ― sometimes all at once. She’s eager to do what she can to combat bigotry, and has turned her focus to police brutality since George Floyd, a Black man, died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis last month. Omar wants to see her state lead the way for systemic change, while she pushes to do the same through Congress. Last week, she introduced four bills that would address police accountability by establishing a new federal agency aimed to investigate police misconduct, limiting the president’s ability to deploy troops against American citizens, and providing economic relief to those impacted in the wake of Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. As the first Somali-American elected to Congress and one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, Omar knows firsthand the impact policies have on marginalized communities. In her new memoir, “This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman,” published on May 26, Omar chronicles her life so far, including her time in Mogadishu, fleeing to a refugee camp, coming to the U.S. and, now, fighting for justice in Congress. HuffPost spoke with Omar from Minnesota about her journey finding and fighting for a better America. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

Ohio Woman Disqualified In Cross Country For Wearing Hijab Asks For Religious Expression Legislation

Noor Abukaram was 16 when she became fearful of the consequences of her hijab at her cross country meets. After running a personal best in a hijab designed by Nike meant to be used during sports, Sylvania resident Abukaram found out she had been disqualified because of what was considered a uniform violation. Abukaram appeared Wednesday in front of the committee to support a bill to allow student religious expression in extracurricular activities. The committee met twice on Senate Bill 288, just as they did another student religious expression bill, passed by the Ohio Senate on Wednesday. Under the bill, schools, school districts, interscholastic conferences and their regulators can't make rules barring "religious apparel" when participating in athletics and extracurricular activities. This includes any rules, like those in place when Abukaram competed, that require advanced approval or written waivers for apparel. The bill was unanimously passed through the committee, and will now move on for a full Senate vote. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

"The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion," Shaheen told Al Jazeera. Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider - misunderstood and stereotyped. "I don't want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college," the now-26-year-old said. As a member of the Vanderbilt Interfaith Council, and later its president, Shaheen said weekly discussions and events on campus allowed him to connect with students of different faiths who were interested in expanding their world view while dispelling some of those misguided assumptions about Islam and Muslims. Islamophobia is on the rise in the US, according to the annual Islamophobia index by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding's (ISPU), a think-tank based in Washington, DC. Amid the heightened religious discrimination, Muslim students, like Shaheen, are using their four-year college experience to try to bridge divisions and encourage openness towards different faiths, opinions and backgrounds. read the complete article


17 Jun 2020

Reclaiming Rumi: How Islam was erased from the Persian poet's work

Founded by researchers and translators Sharghzadeh and Zirrar, the Rumi Was Muslim platform seeks to rectify inaccurately translated and wrongfully attributed work relating to the 13th-century Persian poet Mowlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. In recent years, Rumi has become a household name in the West, and work attributed to his name has received unparalleled recognition in popular culture. Rumi was even named the best-selling poet in the US in 2014. Work attributed to the 13th-century Muslim scholar and poet is frequently quoted in the media by celebrities and public figures, such as Ivanka Trump. Even Drake is thought to be a big fan, while Beyonce named one of her daughters after him. The issue with the mainstream circulation of the quotes attributed to Rumi is that they are often inaccurately translated from Persian and interpreted in a way which removes any trace of Rumi's Islamic faith, as well as any cultural references to the Muslim world. Sharghzadeh, a Detroit-based graduate of The University of Michigan and co-founder of Rumi Was Muslim told The New Arab that "many of Rumi's most famous works have been translated from Western scholars to remove any mention of Islam, and often embedded with orientalist tropes." read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

India’s Islamophobia Creeps Into Nepal

In Nepal, Muslims, who make up about 4 percent of the population, have lived peacefully alongside the majority Hindu population for centuries, arriving as immigrants from elsewhere but establishing strong communities. Nepalis pride themselves on a history of religious tolerance, even in a region where faith has often had bloody consequences. But India’s right-wingers are trying hard to change that. India’s Hindu nationalist fundamentalists and its Islamophobic media are taking advantage of the coronavirus to push hatred to Nepal through popular Indian news channels and social media. The rise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and his link to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organization and its Hindu nationalist ideology, has strengthened the New Delhi establishment to the remaking of Nepal as a Hindu country again. In 2006, Nepal became a secular country after it ousted the old constitutional monarchy, when a more secular Indian government helped push former Maoist rebels to a peace deal and into mainstream politics. But it has been easy for Indian Islamophobia to spread to Nepal, thanks to the number of Hindi speakers there and the wide range of Indian TV available. All this, mixed with yellow journalism in Nepal, has caused nasty rumors to spread fast. On April 16, a few rupee bills were found scattered in Janakpur, southern Nepal. One man picked up a note and offhandedly told a shopkeeper that the bills might be tainted with the coronavirus. A claim that two Muslim women had scattered the bills after spitting on them spread within no time, based on a CCTV video that showed the bills dropping out of their pockets. Islamophobic posts making claims such as that the women spat on the bills deliberately to spread the coronavirus went viral. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

Traffickers want payments for Rohingya stranded at sea for months

People traffickers holding hundreds of Rohingya refugees at sea are demanding payments from their families to release them from boats off the shores of Southeast Asia, relatives and rights groups say. Musha, whose two sisters are also at sea after leaving camps in Bangladesh in February, said brokers acting for the traffickers asked the family to pay 12,000 ringgit ($2,800) via a mobile banking service for their transfer to Malaysia. He said the family paid the sum but did not know the fate of the two teenaged girls. For years, Rohingya have boarded boats between November and April, when the seas are calm, to get to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. But coronavirus lockdowns have left boats stranded at sea. Dozens of people died on board a boat that had to return to Bangladesh in April after running out of food and water, survivors told Reuters. Authorities in Malaysia detained 269 Rohingya who came ashore from a damaged boat last week. Human Rights Watch said about 70 percent of them were too weak to walk. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

Will Facebook Finally Choose to Protect Rohingya Muslims From Further Genocide?

There are so many legitimate reasons to hate Facebook. It not only encourages polarisation and radicalisation, the company has also engineered the platform to “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness”, which helps rake in billions of dollars in profit from nefarious political entrepreneurs, grifters and manipulators who peddle hate and sow division. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg remains hostile to implementing any measure that remedies what has become a torrential stream of dangerous misinformation and disinformation on the site he created – even when it is proven that these falsehoods are contributing to a spike in white domestic terrorism in the Global North and genocide in the Global South. Well, ‘if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain’ reads the Turkish proverb and reportedly the guiding principle for lawyers acting on behalf of the African nation The Gambia, which has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Colombia that calls on Facebook to release “all documents and communications produced, drafted, posted or published on the Facebook page” by Myanmar military officials and security forces, so that it can evaluate what role these individuals played in the mass murder and rape of the country’s Muslim minority – the Rohingya. In 2018, the United Nations described Facebook as a vehicle for inciting “acrimony, dissension and conflict” and blamed it for driving the Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar, saying that it has “turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended”. “Facebook has been bad for Myanmar,” a Rakhine village leader told The New York Times. “Young people are using their smartphones a lot. They don’t see with their eyes; they just see with their phones.” There is nothing contentious to the claim that nefarious actors are weaponising the social media platform against certain religious, racial and ethnic minorities. Not only has study after study affirmed that, but Facebook has also acknowledged that its platform is being used to “foment division and incite offline violence” in Myanmar and elsewhere and agreed that it “can and should do more” to stop it. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

British Muslims held for two months in India claim religious persecution

Eight British Muslims detained in India for more than two months face criminal charges after getting caught up in a court case in which thousands of foreign Muslims are accused of violating the coronavirus lockdown. The men allege they are victims of religious persecution by the Indian government, which is led by the rightwing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), known for its anti-Muslim agenda. According to a petition filed to Delhi high court on 20 May, their treatment is “tantamount to illegal detention”. More than 2,500 foreign Muslims, from 35 different countries, are being charged in the case. Last week, the Indian government agreed to release and deport detained foreign Muslims but only if they accepted guilt for visa violations and “wilfully” disobeying lockdown orders. “We haven’t done anything wrong. We don’t deserve to be treated like this,” said Shamsul, 39, an optometrist from Lancashire who had travelled to Delhi in March to attend an Islamic gathering. Speaking by phone from the Delhi centre where he is being held, Shamsul added: “When you are locked away like an animal inside a room and you get treated like a piece of dirt, it mentally just breaks you completely.” The UK Foreign Office has been accused by the men and their families of abandoning its own citizens to prejudice at the hands of the Indian government and of “caring more about diplomatic relations than the appalling human rights violations”. read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Jun 2020

‘Muslim women have the courage to break open the world’

In 1980’s England, my mother broke the rules of Muslim womanhood. She made a decision alone, took her child alone, and made a bet that education would liberate us. She was right. Three decades later, I am a professor of medicine at Stanford University in California, a journalist, poet and author. My mother’s young courage broke open the world. But along the way, through estrangement from her community; by relinquishing her only child to her family; by placing me with her sister who prayed at least five times a day, cooked at least three meals a day, went to work and raised four kids alone; my mother challenged my understanding of Muslim womanhood. Who is a Muslim woman? Does she go to anti-police brutality protests or does she stay at home? Does she fight to go to university or does her family prioritize her education? Does she raise someone else’s kids or does she have the agency to choose a childless life? Does she renounce all binaries, living multiple truths, exploring different ways to be Muslim and a woman? Muslim women are often confined to singular adjectives, as if our messy lives fit neatly into narrow categories: saint or sinner, modest or slutty, docile or anarchist. But Muslim women are multifaceted, multi-hyphenated, complicated. We are disabled comedians, queer screenwriters, military strategists, Olympic athletes, reality TV stars. We are Formula One race car drivers, astronauts, midwives and bakers. read the complete article

17 Jun 2020

'He looks like Bin Laden': Ex-cop accuses UK police of racism over airport stops

British police “deliberately” targeted Black and Asian airport passengers for questioning based on their race and perceived religion using powerful stop-and-search powers, a former counter-terrorism police officer has told Middle East Eye. Kevin Maxwell, a former detective inspector at SO15, the special operations unit within the Metropolitan Police responsible for counterterrorism across Britain, said that casual Islamophobia had taken root in the unit to the extent that it may have influenced how passengers were screened. Maxwell further said that a colleague had once claimed to have stopped a man because “he looks like Osama bin Laden". Speaking shortly after the release of a memoir of his 11 years in the police, Maxwell told MEE: “We know racial discrimination is a real thing in the police. “We know it happens. So why wouldn’t it happen in every department of the police, including counterterrorism?” Maxwell, who left the force in 2012, said that his unit had been incentivised to make stops that were often discriminatory and that in order to meet targets they regularly cooked up the numbers of those stopped using personal information gleaned from passenger landing cards. read the complete article


17 Jun 2020

Students, teachers, parents feel the sting of Islamophobia in Peel schools. They share their stories

Three months after an education ministry review raised concerns of Islamophobia in Peel schools and some two weeks after the board placed a school principal on leave for alleged “xenophobic and racist” comments, students, teachers and parents have come forward to share their experiences. Their words paint an image of Islamophobia practised with impunity. Of the seven people who came forward, only two students agreed to be named. The others sought anonymity for fear of reprisals including, for the adults, losing their jobs. Peel Region is a fascinating petri-dish of cultures, a place where as Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s former human rights commissioner and now a judge once said, “human rights and hyperdiversity connect.” The board’s census data shows approximately 83 per cent of its secondary school students are racialized from more than 160 ethnic cultural backgrounds. Issues bubbling up in this region are a foretaste of what’s to come for the rest of the country; an opportunity to correct more varied forms of systemic discrimination including anti-Muslim sentiment from other minority communities and anti-Blackness among all communities including non-Black Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jun 2020 Edition


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