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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21 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Following a spate of anti-Muslim attacks, Muslim residents of Edmonton, Canada are experiencing waves of grief and fear, while representatives of CAIR argue that by building a Hilton hotel on the site of a mosque demolished by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, the Hilton Corporation is helping China accomplish its genocidal goal. In the United Kingdom, this weekend marked four years since the deadly Finsbury mosque attack, and chairman of the mosque writes such acts are the culmination of decades of institutional Islamophobic discourse and racialized policies that have filtered down from the top to our streets. In India, authorities have summoned Twitter’s top executive over a viral video of an elderly Muslim man being assaulted. Our recommended read of the day is by Ruby Mellen and France Keyser who spoke to nine French Muslim women about their views on the hijab, identity, and the current French political climate. This and more below:


21 Jun 2021

French Muslim women push back on the politics of the hijab

In 2010 the government passed legislation banning full face coverings, including the burqa and niqab, in public, citing concerns about safety and inequality. In 2004, France passed a law banning overt religious symbols — such as head coverings — in public schools. “It’s nothing new,” said Rim-Sarah Alouane, a French legal scholar and expert in religious freedom. “It’s interesting to see that more Muslims are being constantly accused of not assimilating, not taking part in society. It’s not true. The more they’re participating in society and democratic life, the more it becomes a problem.” While Zemmahi’s story captured national attention, Muslim women throughout France — teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, mothers — face challenges around their headscarves every day. Nine of them told The Washington Post their stories. Though many in France may see it as a symbol of submissiveness, for these women, the hijab is a symbol of strength and commitment to their culture and religion. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

French Muslims pay heavy price in COVID pandemic

While France is estimated to have the European Union’s largest Muslim population, it does not know how hard that group has been hit: French law forbids the gathering of data based on ethnic or religious affiliations. But evidence collated by Reuters – including statistical data that indirectly captures the impact and testimony from community leaders – indicates the COVID death rate among French Muslims is much higher than in the overall population. According to one study based on official data, excess deaths in 2020 among French residents born in mainly Muslim North Africa were twice as high as among people born in France. The reason, community leaders and researchers say, is that Muslims tend to have a lower-than-average socio-economic status. They are more likely to do jobs such as bus drivers or cashiers that bring them into closer contact with the public and to live in cramped multi-generational households. “They were … the first to pay a heavy price,” said M’Hammed Henniche, head of the union of Muslim associations in Seine-Saint-Denis, a region near Paris with a large immigrant population. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

How France mainstreamed the far right

While the growth in the presence and visibility of National Rally leader Marine Le Pen’s party across France’s political map has served to normalise a far-right discourse in the country for decades, the movement in France today is far bigger than Le Pen. It stretches to every corner of society and every recess of the French political map, where, desperate to recoup Le Pen’s gains, politicians of all stripes have courted her base - and in so doing, widened her party’s appeal by legitimising her “grievances”. Chief among them is Macron, whose interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, recently harangued Le Pen for being “almost a bit soft” on Islam, while backing some of the most regressive legislation in modern French history. Despite his centrist claims, Macron’s government has been instrumental in shifting the entire centre far to the right. And this isn’t only in politics. Today, a far-right pseudo-intellectual elite exploits fear for lucrative gains. On television, polemicist Eric Zemmour, convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred, drip-feeds his theories of white replacement and civilisational siege to mollified audiences on France’s most-watched channel, CNews, the French version of Fox News. He’s not alone: 36 percent of all political guests on CNews are from the far right, while studies show the movement is over-represented in French media more broadly. Much has been written about how the far right has led the right too far, but in a country that has long prided itself on its strong socialist traditions, the absence of a left wing politically capable of countering the far right is glaring. This is partly down to the “Trump-isation” of the French left, which sought to undercut the far right by playing on its terrain, but instead reinforced an ultra-conservatism across the board. The result: Almost half of French people now believe that “Islam is a threat to French identity." read the complete article


21 Jun 2021

Edmonton Muslim women reflect on the aftermath of multiple attacks on the community

When the Syrian refugee first arrived in Canada in 2017, she said she felt safe. But recent events have brought back familiar feelings of her time fleeing a war zone. "I think in some way it is a bit similar to the fear and unsafety that I felt as a refugee in the displacement journey," she told CBC's Edmonton AM on Friday. In June alone, a Muslim family was attacked and killed in London, Ont., a Black Muslim woman was attacked in Edmonton — following a series of attacks in the city on hijab-wearing, Black women since November 2020 — and an Edmonton mosque was vandalized with a swastika symbol spray-painted on its building. All these events have sent waves of grief and fear into Edmonton's Muslim community. "[I'm] shocked and outraged ... Really scary. Lots of anxiety, fear, when nothing like this was there a few years ago," said Nasim Kherani, president of the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. She said the COVID-19 pandemic had already made life difficult and stressful for a lot of people, and the attacks on Muslims have only made things worse. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

'How many deaths need to happen?': Canada has a troubling anti-Muslim hate problem

Last summer, staff at a Toronto mosque picked up pieces of glass after their windows were shattered for the second time in days. A few months later, a 58-year-old man was stabbed and killed outside a nearby, but different, mosque. A month after, a third mosque receives threats that its congregation will be the target of a mass shooting. This is the treatment Islamic places of worship in Toronto face. A similar, sometimes worse, picture can be painted in cities across Canada, a country that prides itself and deeply benefits from its multiculturalism and diversity. These incidents, amid others, were the precursors to a vehicle attack in London, Ont. that killed four members of a Muslim family, and left one child fighting for his life — an attack police say was an act of hate. Rania Lawendy, the national director of the Muslim Association of Canada, the organization behind a Toronto mosque that was vandalised six times over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the London attack, while horrifying, did not come as a complete surprise. She said anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia did not grow overnight in Canada, rather neglect and purposeful escalation of the issue by leaders has made it become a deeply embedded part of the country’s cultural and political fabric. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

Londoners to gather for Hijabs for Harmony and action against Islamophobia at Victoria Park

Londoners supporting women within the Muslim faith are being called to gather for Hijabs in Harmony Friday evening at Victoria Park. The event, organized by London lawyer Barb Legate, was created in response to the June 6 truck attack which killed four members of a Muslim family while out for an evening walk. London Police have since said that the attack was hate-motivated. Legate said she wanted to show solidarity to women who are visibly Muslim, and often the targets of Islamaphobia. "It's our way of saying we're with you, you are our sisters, and we abhor the treatment that you were given because of this," Legate said. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

A child psychiatrist who knew those killed in the London terror attack offers advice on helping kids deal with trauma

Trauma resulting from racism and anti-Muslim prejudice can be unique. Research from 2018 on the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim children in London, Ont., found that rising anti-Muslim prejudice and demonized narratives about Muslims in the media led to repeated traumatic exposures, resulting in fears of being Muslim in the community. Despite the pervasive nature of anti-Muslim prejudice in some communities, health-care systems struggle with meeting the needs of Muslim families. The result of our communities silence in the wake of violence driven by prejudice and hate can be re-traumatizing as well. Sadly, we have seen this type of crime before, yet it is never easy to have a conversation about these topics with kids and teens. For me personally, it was an entirely different experience to have to explain to my own children that other kids they once played with were targeted for being visibly different. As we processed our own grief and trauma in diverse ways, I found myself fielding calls and questions from friends and community members about how we can move forward and heal. I drew from my experience and knowledge of evidence and trauma-informed approaches to provide practical, relevant suggestions to help parents and children cope with trauma. read the complete article


21 Jun 2021

The fight for Muslim representation in Hollywood — and the danger of falling behind

"Isn't it tragically a case of just math that you end up with the massacre of three generations of one family," Ahmed asked in a followup video shared on Twitter. He was referring to the recent attack in London, Ont., of a family who investigators say were targeted due to their Muslim faith. "This is the result of dehumanizing and demonizing portrayals of Muslims.... The Islamophobia industry is one that measures its cost in blood." The report itself had a similar finding. The authors wrote that "the violence against Muslims — online and offline — demonstrates dangerous biases in the population and real threats to individuals in this community." "While the causes of such violence are complex, one arena that may exacerbate biased views of the Muslim community is the mass media. In the absence of direct contact, entertainment may provide individuals with information about different groups." And in an interview with CBC News, one of the study's authors, Al-Baab Khan, also shared concern over how stereotypes and "terror tropes" associated with Muslim people in media can influence their treatment. As an example, she pointed to the fact that nearly 75 per cent of Muslim characters in the study were shown wearing religious-affiliated clothing. "It's decisions like this that really may perpetuate seeing Muslims as being other, or seeing Muslims as not being part of Western cultures," she said. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

Islamophobia: Four years after Finsbury Park attack, Canada deaths show threat undiminished

The politicians and media may have moved on, but our community has not. Makram Ali, who was mowed down in the attack, is still dead. His children are still without a father, and those who knew him and prayed beside him still live in fear that an attack like this could take place again and that their names will be the ones written in obituaries. Our mosque has received endless calls from Muslim women in the area worried about being the victims of hate crimes and we have had to put on workshops and therapy sessions to help with the trauma people are experiencing. Our lives as a community were changed forever on 19 June 2017, and we are still feeling the effect of that attack today. It is why I was pained and horrified to see such a similar attack take place in Canada earlier this month where four members of the same family in London, Ontario, were killed because they were Muslim. Reading about this incident gave me flashbacks to what took place outside our mosque and the unimaginable terror and horror unleashed that day. Though these attacks took place hundreds of miles apart, the source of this hatred is the same: Islamophobia. Islamophobia is the dark smog we have allowed to descend on our societies. What was once exclusively the rhetoric of the far right on the fringes of society has now infiltrated the mainstream and has become the acceptable face of racism. The Islamophobic attacks that took place in Finsbury Park, Ontario, and Christchurch, to name a few, did not arise in a vacuum. They are the culmination of decades of institutional Islamophobic discourse and racialised policies that have filtered down from the top to our streets. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

Complicit: Hilton must cancel plans to build hotel on site of bulldozed Uighur mosque in China

As part of its campaign of genocide against its Uighur population, the Chinese government is actively working to wipe out any trace of Uighur culture and history, especially the community's Islamic identity. By building a Hilton hotel on the site of a mosque demolished by bulldozers in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang Province, the Hilton Corporation is helping China accomplish its genocidal goal. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

Pakistan PM mum about China's crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly refused to acknowledge China's repression of Uyghur Muslims during an interview with "Axios on HBO," deflecting to other global human rights issues and citing China's denial of the crackdown in Xinjiang. As one of the most prominent leaders in the Muslim world, Khan has otherwise been leading a public campaign against Islamophobia in the West — especially in Europe. His demurral hints at China's sway over his country. Khan is silent for a simple reason: cash-strapped Pakistan has become increasingly financially dependent on China, for billions in loans and investment. These loans come at a price: the developing countries receiving them better not say anything publicly to incur China’s wrath. Khan delivered a powerful speech against Islamophobia at the United Nations and published an open letter urging other Muslim leaders to join his fight. But Khan has been totally silent about China's detention of more than 1 million Muslim minorities just across his border. read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Jun 2021

Labour Muslims urge Keir Starmer to take ‘urgent action’ over party official’s ‘vile Islamophobia’

Keir Starmer has been urged to take “urgent action” after a senior Labour official claimed antisemitism amongst Muslims was responsible for the party’s bad polling. The anonymous party strategist was quoted by the Mail on Sunday newspaper claiming that Labour was “haemorrhaging” Muslims voters because of “what Keir has been doing on antisemitism”. The claim, suggesting Muslims were opposed to fighting anti-Jewish racism and were abandoning Labour because of this, comes ahead of a by-election in Batley and Spen, where the opposition appears on course to lose yet another seat. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

‘He’s never spoken up about Muslims’: Keir Starmer leaves Batley voters disaffected

Canvassing outside Jamia Masjid in Heckmondwike on Friday, the Labour candidate in the Batley and Spen byelection, Kim Leadbeater, received a hostile reception from voters who are unhappy with the party’s stance on foreign policy issues such as Palestine and Kashmir, amid a perception that the party takes some forms of racism more seriously than others. The accusation “you’ve taken our votes for granted” was repeatedly levelled at Leadbeater and Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary and Wigan MP, who joined her on the campaign trail. “I’ve voted Labour my whole life but I won’t be blindly giving them my vote any more. And that’s not just about Palestine. It’s everything locally. They’ve been in power here for 25 years but only now they’re under threat do they care about Asians,” he added. While many voters were glad that antisemitism was tackled seriously by the party, they felt allegations of Islamophobia were not given the same priority. read the complete article


21 Jun 2021

Attack on Muslim man: India police charge journalists for tweets

Several press bodies have condemned police in the northern Uttar Pradesh state for filing cases against journalists and a news portal for their tweets and reports on the attack of an elderly Muslim man earlier this month. In separate statements, the press bodies demanded an immediate withdrawal of first information reports (FIRs) against three journalists – Rana Ayyub, Saba Naqvi and Zubair Ahmed – and The Wire news website. Police on Thursday also summoned Twitter’s top India official to answer allegations that it did not stop a video of the attack from going viral, charging the social media company with spreading “hate and enmity”. read the complete article

21 Jun 2021

Indian police summon Twitter’s top executive in case over viral video of elderly Muslim man’s beating

Police in India have summoned Twitter’s top executive over a viral video of an elderly Muslim man being assaulted, as the micro-blogging site remains locked in a dispute with the government over new internet regulations. In the latest escalation, Uttar Pradesh state police on Thursday sent a written notice to Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari to appear before officials to record his statement within seven days. Twitter faces allegations of failing to stop the spread of a viral video on its platform of a Muslim man’s beating in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, that the local police say spread “hate and enmity” between Hindu and Muslim communities. read the complete article

United States

21 Jun 2021

N.Y. Judge Resigns for Alleged Anti-LGBTQ, Muslim Facebook Posts

A local New York judge being investigated for allegedly posting offensive comments aimed at Muslims and gays on Facebook resigned before having to testify about the posts. “Public confidence in the integrity of the courts requires judges to avoid even the appearance of bias,” said Robert Tembeckjian, administrator for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, in a June 16 statement. “Social media posts that exhibit anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, pro-police or other biases are abhorrent and inimical to the role of a judge,” Tembeckjian said in calling Kenneth Knutsen’s departure “warranted.” Knusten’s Facebook posts allegedly conveyed anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim bias, and contained partisan political comment as well as pro-law enforcement and anti-criminal defendants views, the commission’s news release said. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

21 Jun 2021

Sri Lanka investigates troops over ‘humiliation’ of Muslims

Sri Lanka’s military has launched an investigation after social media posts showed soldiers forcing minority Muslims to kneel on the streets as a punishment for flouting lockdown rules. Armed soldiers ordered Muslim civilians to hold their hands in the air while kneeling on a road in the town of Eravur, about 300km (190 miles) east of the capital Colombo, AFP news agency reported on Sunday. Residents said they considered the order degrading and humiliating, while officials acknowledged that troops had no power to mete out such punishments. The victims were on their way to two restaurants to buy food. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jun 2021 Edition


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