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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23 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Delhi police is accused of filing false charges over anti-Muslim pogroms last February. On social media, an academic sparks backlash for tweeting that the spread of COVID-19 in India is the ‘contribution of Islam.’ Our recommended read today is by Adam Tamburin on The Tennessean, where an advertising manager has been fired in the aftermath of the newspaper running a full page ad on claiming Islam would ‘detonate a nuclear bomb’ in Nashville. This, and more, below:

United States

23 Jun 2020

Manager fired, training planned, money donated to Muslim council after ad runs in Tennessean | Recommended Read

The Tennessean and its parent company Gannett announced on Monday that an advertising manager was fired after the news organization published an anti-Muslim advertisement. The full-page Sunday ad, purchased by an Arkansas-based organization centered on end-of-world preaching, used religious language to predict an impending nuclear attack in Nashville by “Islam.” An internal investigation revealed three Tennessean advertising staff members "had the opportunity to review the ad in its entirety" before it was published, according to Kathy Jack-Romero, the president of local sales for Gannett. "The sales and design teams did not fully read the context of the ad content in its entirety and subsequently approved it," Jack-Romero said. Money from the ad sale is being refunded to the Arkansas nonprofit Future for America. The group signaled its intention to buy billboard advertising and mail letters to thousands of Nashvillians this week. Separately, Gannett will donate the $14,000 value of the ad sale to the American Muslim Advisory Council, a Nashville-based advocacy group. The company is also giving the council $50,000 in advertising credit, which will be used for multiple Islamic organizations. Sabina Mohyuddin, executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, confirmed plans to accept the donation from The Tennessean. She said Tennessean executives had reached out to apologize. "A huge target was placed on our community," Mohyuddin said. Mohyuddin said those concerns build on a long history of criticism, pushback and vandalism targeting Muslims in Tennessee. read the complete article

Recommended Read
23 Jun 2020

See No Evil: Sotomayor highlights the Roberts Court’s blind eye to discrimination

Since Washington v. Davis and Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing in the late 1970s the Supreme Court has followed a jurisprudential deference to government actions alleged to be discriminatory which are facially neutral; plaintiffs must show discriminatory intent or purpose as well as disparate impact. But where does a litigant look to find such intent? However, the Roberts Court has been particularly unwilling to collect relevant evidence of discriminatory intent. As such, Justice Sotomayor is often the sole justice that will chastise a majority which “…fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the injustice…” as she did in her dissent in Schuette v. Coalition. Four cases are used to illustrate this point. Third, another 5-4 decision found Justice Sotomayor in dissent, Trump v. Hawai’i. In upholding the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban, the Court held that the president’s Proclamation was within the broad discretion granted under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§1182(f) and 1185(a). Regarding the President’s anti-Muslim statements, the majority wrote, “…the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility.” The majority ultimately afforded no analytical significance to those statements. Justice Sotomayor does the opposite, writing that the majority “leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns… Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.” read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Virginia’s Congressional Delegation Should Oppose Islamophobic Legislation Like HR 7183

Elected officials in our Congressional delegation and the General Assembly have spoken out against these Confederate symbols and monuments. At the same time, many of these electeds, including my representative, support Islamophobic legislation like H.R. 7183 which seeks to support the National NEVER FORGET Act designating the Freedom Flag, as the national symbol of commemoration for those who lost their lives on 9/11. While this effort may seek to memorialize the victims of the 9/11 attacks, the myopic approach by Virginia legislators to this symbolic gesture is disconcerting. This legislation was co-sponsored by Pete King (R-NY), a notoriously racist Congressman who is known for remarks against the Black and Asian communities, and regularly stoked Islamophobia with baseless and offensive remarks against American Muslims. That should have been the first red flag (no pun intended) for any legislator. Secondly, the “Freedom Flag” 9/11 curriculum used in some Virginia public schools is filled with Islamophobic and xenophobic narratives that dangerously distorts the actual historical narrative. The “Freedom Flag Foundation” curriculum promotes sweeping generalizations about terrorism and the scapegoating of an entire religious community. The curriculum supports the “de-Americanization” of the American Muslim community by defining and linking terrorism solely to Muslims – despite the fact that in America, the greatest public security threat is white domestic terrorism. The curriculum feeds into the stereotype that 9/11 only impacted select communities, when the victims of 9/11 actually included American Muslims, many of whom were frontline responders. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Reward offered in vandalism to Muslim woman's car

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for spray painting swastikas on all four sides of a Muslim woman's car in a Boston suburb earlier this month. The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in announcing the reward Monday said officers responding to the graffiti in Revere in the early morning hours of June 11, also found the words “white power” spray painted on the street. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

The Islamic history behind the George Floyd protests

When the George Floyd protests broke out this year, the agony and pain were immediately familiar from decades and centuries of heat, threat and insecurity in the lives and neighborhoods of millions of Americans. Islam has a deep backstory in this drama. The first New World revolt against slavery was led by West African Muslims in the Dominican Republic in 1522. The prolific 19th-century scholar Omar bin Said in the Carolinas and the pre-Abolitionist hero Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim in Natchez, Mississippi, were the forefathers of the Black Pride we see today. You can view highlights of these heroes on the beautiful, intriguing website of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Historians suppose that around 20% of the slaves brought to American shores in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries were Muslims — human beings ripped from their roots in West and Central Africa and shipped to slave markets as chattel. Malcolm: who changed his last name three times in 39 years, from Little to X to Shabazz, the one who had the nerve to declare in 1964 that accepting Islam had "solved my personal problem,” and who indicated that the faith might hold some good medicine for America’s racism, too. As the George Floyd protests catch fire around the world, Malcolm X’s life story resonates globally. So do his core beliefs. By his own testament, what healed the traumatized Malcolm’s deeply wounded spirit was an ethic that stripped the authority out of racism as a social force. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Must Islam and the West Fight? Religion and Politics Class Tackles Sensitive Topics

The twin taboos in Longman’s Religion and Politics class certainly coaxed heated language to upend a genteel dinner party during a recent Zoomed session. Longman, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of political science, lectured about the Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, an influential article and 1996 book by the late Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington, who posited an irreconcilable cultural battle between supposedly rational Western democracies on one hand, and Islam, with its inherent “violent propensity,” on the other. Lillian Ilsley-Greene (CAS’20) succinctly sums up her peers’ reaction: “God, this is like bonkers racist.” Huntington published his book 20 years before the election of a president who imposed a controversial travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations. Ilsley-Greene found it “terrifying,” she says, that Huntington’s thesis echoes today from advocates who don’t realize the effects of their words on the non-Western world. Steven Rubin (CAS’22) scoffs at Huntington’s division of the world into eight major civilizations as simplistic, lumping together what Rubin called a ginormous sprawl of Muslim nations with disparate cultures. “How many times will Westerners take a map of the world and try to draw lines all over it?” he asks. A major class theme “is this realization that religion can be a good force as well as a bad force,” he says. “One of the problems with social scientific dismissal of religion…is we ignore the abolitionist movement, we ignore the Civil Rights Movement, where religion was deeply involved in progressive causes. And we focus on the anti-abortion movement and anti-gay rights.” read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Prof. sparks backlash for tweeting spread of COVID-19 in India is 'contribution of Islam'

Amid global protests for racial justice and ongoing discriminatory effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Penn professor's controversial tweets about current events have recently surfaced — calling into question how the University should grapple with its own instances of discrimination against marginalized communities. When a large number of COVID-19 cases arose in India due to a single mass religious congregation in mid-March, which was sponsored by Islamic movement group Tablighi Jamaat, Electrical and Systems Engineering professor Saswati Sarkar took to Twitter to condemn the actions of the thousands of Muslims who partook in the gathering. Sarkar, who currently has 45,000 followers on Twitter, has since received severe backlash from members of the Penn community. Despite contradictory interpretations, however, Sarkar maintains that her comments are not Islamophobic, and said she was surprised by the backlash. "This super spread of Corona in India should legitimately be considered a contribution of Islam," Sarkar tweeted on April 1, in response to India Today Senior Editor Shiv Aroor’s tweet stating the number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, India that reportedly belonged to those who had attended the religious event. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Muslim Woman Was Forced to Remove Hijab for Booking Photo After Arrest, Advocacy Group Says

An 18-year-old Muslim woman was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photograph after she was arrested in Miami this month during a protest, an advocacy group said on Monday. The woman, Alaa Massri of Miami Beach, was among the demonstrators who were protesting at the site of two statues of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León near Bayside Market on June 10, according to the Miami Police Department. Ms. Massri was processed at a Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation center. There, according to Hassan Shibly, the chief executive director of CAIR Florida, a civil liberties and advocacy organization, corrections officers took off her hijab. “She was wrongfully and unconstitutionally photographed without her hijab, and it was made accessible to countless media outlets,” he said. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Trump tweets videos of black men attacking white people, asks ‘Where are the protesters?’

Above a retweeted video of a black man repeatedly punching a white department store employee, Trump wrote, “Looks what’s going on here. Where are the protesters?” He also retweeted another account that asked “Where are the protests for this?” with a clip of a black man pushing a white woman into the side of a subway car. “So terrible!” Trump added above that video. False claims about the prevalence of violent black-on-white crime have been a hallmark of white supremacist websites, the Southern Poverty Law Center found in a 2018 study. Those sites radicalized Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston in 2015 while falsely claiming in a manifesto that huge numbers of “black on White murders got ignored.” read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Five books to read on the history of Black Muslims

While the Black Lives Matter movement is only six years old, the fight for Black liberation in North America is over 500 years old, and Black Muslims have often been at the centre of it. From writers and scholars, to activists and community organisers, artists and musicians, Black Muslims have played an integral role in fighting for Black people, even while they were in bondage. Of the plethora of relevant books available on the subject, five texts stand out for their accessibility and ability to help contextualize the relationship between the current uprisings and Islam and Muslims in the United States and beyond. read the complete article


23 Jun 2020

Mangaluru: Muslim Men Attacked for Transporting Buffalo & Meat

A 57-year-old man, Abdul Rashid, was attacked by a group of men and his vehicle was vandalised when he was transporting buffalo meat from a slaughterhouse in Kudroli in Mangaluru to the Kankanady market in the city early morning on Sunday, 21 June. Charges of criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint, rioting among others have been made against 5 youths for the attack on Rashid, who has been transporting meat in his auto for the last decade. A week ago on 14 June, 34-year-old Mohammed Hanif, a cattle and poultry trader was attacked while taking 4 buffaloes for slaughter to Kudroli, as he has for many years. While Hanif claims that he was attacked by 10-15 men, the FIR has been registered against 6 unknown persons on ‘diluted’ charges, he said. The accused, believed to be from the Bajrang Dal, have been released on station bail. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Safoora Zargar: Bail for pregnant India student blamed for Delhi riots

An Indian court has granted bail to Safoora Zargar, whose imprisonment on charges of instigating riots had triggered global outrage. She was more than three months pregnant when she was arrested in April. Police called her a "key conspirator" in anti-Muslim riots that swept Delhi in February, in which 53 people died. Ms Zargar's family denied the allegations, saying that she had only been a part of protests against a controversial citizenship law. However, Ms Zargar was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) - a draconian law that makes it nearly impossible for the accused to get bail. Her incarceration in the overcrowded Tihar jail had caused a lot of concern, especially at a time when India was under a strict lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic. read the complete article

23 Jun 2020

Delhi police accused of filing false charges over February riots

Delhi police have been accused of filing false and politically motivated charges against pro-democracy activists to blame them for the Delhi riots – while not arresting any ruling party figures and police officers for their role in the violence. More than 80 charge sheets have been filed naming those allegedly responsible for inciting the riots, which broke out in February in some of the worst religious violence in India for decades. Among those charged are one of India’s most prominent human rights activists; two members of a feminist student collective; a councillor from the progressive political party; three student activists from the Muslim-majority university Jamia Milia Islamia, one of whom is five months pregnant; and a Sikh man who set up a community kitchen for Muslim female activists. Several have been detained under draconian terrorism laws and denied bail. Violence over the three days was carried out by both Hindus and Muslims but it was Muslims who were disproportionately affected. Hindu mobs, armed with guns, metal rods and gas canisters, set fire to Muslim homes, shops and mosques and Muslims were beaten and killed in the street. Thousands of Muslim families lost their homes and more than 40 of the 53 who died in the riots were Muslim. read the complete article


23 Jun 2020

More children getting 'killed, maimed' in Myanmar conflict

The escalation in fighting between Myanmar's military and ethnic Rakhine rebels in recent months has triggered a surge in violence against children and left some villagers facing starvation. The humanitarian group, Save the Children, said in a report on Tuesday that the conflict in the far west of Myanmar has left children increasingly exposed. "The widespread use of mines and improvised explosive devices poses a specific threat to children," Duncan Harvey, Save the Children's top official in Myanmar, said in a statement. "The numbers paint a stark picture," Harvey said, pointing to the report, which verified dozens of incidents of children being killed or maimed. Between January and March this year in the central part of Rakhine State alone, 18 children were killed and 71 children were physically injured or maimed, according to the report. In comparison, there were three recorded cases of children being killed and 12 others injured between October-December 2019. read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 Jun 2020

The Reading terror attack will sadly bolster anti-immigrant sentiment

The suspect, in Saturday’s attack, Khairi Saadallah, has been arrested under the Terrorism Act. He is believed to have originally come from Libya and first came to the attention of MI5 in 2019. Nigel Farage shot off a furious tweet asking why he had not been deported after serving a prison sentence. Anti-immigrant, anti-asylum and anti-Muslim outbreaks will follow this outrage. I, being Muslim and an immigrant, am braced for the blitz. By Sunday evening, vicious emails were accusing me of shielding Muslim terrorists, being perfidious and “ungrateful”. I don’t believe that migrants are now and therefore will be forever valued by the majority of Britons. Bad faith didn’t suddenly vaporise; bad history was not abruptly dumped. Note that Theresa May’s hostile environment policy was responsible for the inhumane treatment of old Windrush passengers who came over with high hopes. Several were deported or unlawfully accused of being illegals. Two years on, 95 per cent of them are still waiting for redress. Incidentally, it is Windrush Day today. Over the years leading up to Brexit, immigrants and people of colour were blamed for the rage and desolation of white working-class people, shamed on the media, in public spaces, online. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Jun 2020 Edition


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