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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25 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Austria, the government’s fight against “political Islam” is being used to criminalize and marginalize Muslim civil society, while in Canada, a Muslim actor pens a personal piece on how he’s reclaiming his identity in the film industry, and in China, a new report and dataset put together by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs and the Uyghur Human Rights Project highlights the transnational approach the Chinese government has taken to repress Uyghur Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Omar Suleiman on the moral discrepancy in the West of claiming to be opposed to anti-Muslim bigotry domestically while easing the way for anti-Muslim violence abroad. This and more below:


24 Jun 2021

Why is Islamophobia wrong at home and acceptable against Palestinians?

As I wrote when President Joe Biden won election in the fall, pleasant rhetoric doesn’t undo horrific policies and in fact may even perpetuate them. While Biden ended the Muslim travel ban, he certainly hasn’t stopped the bombs over Muslim heads in places like Yemen and Palestine. American weapons still obliterate Muslim children in different parts of the world, with no accountability. There is a moral discrepancy in claiming to be opposed to anti-Muslim bigotry domestically while easing the way for anti-Muslim violence abroad, or justifying it on religious grounds, as some American faith leaders do. This moral discrepancy is always most pronounced when it comes to the Palestinians, a fact that has become ever more apparent and tiresome to the Muslim community. If Islamophobia is wrong here, then it’s wrong there too. We can no longer accept that those who count themselves as our allies against anti-Muslim bigotry at home employ the same biased tropes, framing and tactics to dehumanize Palestinians, Muslim or otherwise, and deprive them of their basic human rights. Our dismantling of racism must be global. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
24 Jun 2021

U.S. Bans Imports of Some Chinese Solar Materials Tied to Forced Labor

The White House announced steps on Thursday to crack down on forced labor in the supply chain for solar panels in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, including a ban on imports from a silicon producer there. A significant portion of the world’s polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels, comes from Xinjiang, where the United States has accused China of committing genocide through its repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. In one of the newly announced actions, U.S. Customs and Border Protection banned imports of silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Company as well as goods made using those products. The agency “has information reasonably indicating that Hoshine uses forced labor to produce its silica-based products,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said at a news conference. The action was notable given the Biden administration’s push to expand the use of solar power in the United States to help achieve its climate goals. China dominates the global supply chain for solar power, producing a significant amount of the materials and parts needed for solar panels. Cutting off access to some imports could make it harder or more costly for the United States to expand solar use domestically. read the complete article


23 Jun 2021

I had to change my Arabic name to make it as an actor. Now, I'm reclaiming it

August 2006: What am I doing with my life? I've been at this for two years and risking my job at the same time. I want to act. I don't want my name to be an issue. I just want to walk into an audition room and act. I change my name. August 2014: My name is Gabe Grey. I am a successful, full-time actor, working regularly in film and TV. When I walk into an audition room, no one asks me where I am from. No one asks me how to pronounce my name. I am allowed to audition without explaining my existence first. In interviews, I'm asked why I changed my name. I'm very cavalier about the whole thing. "This is show business. I'm a product and I need to sell myself." I have zero regrets. Then, the work dwindles and eventually stops. I get close on big projects, but I don't book. My LA manager tells me to be clean-shaven for auditions because I look "terroristy" with facial hair. He tells me to not play things so leading, so dominant, so alpha. When I see breakdowns for romantic leads, I ask if I can audition for them, but he tells me those roles are "going white" and casting wants to see me for the supporting best friend instead. June, 2021: Earlier this month, a Muslim family was killed in London, Ontario, because of their faith. In May, defending the idea that Palestinians are deserving of equal human rights was equated with support for Hamas. Since 9/11, I have been subject to different rules, written and unwritten, in how I am allowed to go about my daily life. I have spent my life being told I am less than, not equal to, and different. "You're ugly. Look at your skin. What are you?" - a middle school classmate in Atlanta. "You're Muslim? But you're so ... normal." - a coworker. "I thought you might be Pakistani, but you're not like one of them." - a woman at a bar, after relentlessly asking me where I was originally from. "That's not a name, that's a noise." - a friend's mother, upon meeting me for the first time. My skin, my faith, my nationality, my name — a sin. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about going back to my real name for a while now. But I always stopped myself. I built a career around this name. 15 years is a long time. Everyone knows me this way. But today, I don't care anymore. It's not a big emotional moment. I am taking my name back. I'm walking back into my own home. My name is Fuad Ahmed. My name is Fuad Ahmed. It's pronounced Fu-'Ad. It is an Arabic name meaning "heart," or more specifically, "The place in your heart where God resides." My name is Fuad Ahmed. read the complete article

24 Jun 2021

Muslim woman knocked unconscious in alleged 'hate-motivated' attack in St. Albert; suspect at large

A Muslim woman was knocked unconscious on a St. Albert pathway Wednesday after she and her sister were attacked by a knife-wielding man uttering racial slurs, police say. Investigators are seeking the public’s help identifying the suspect, who remains at large. It is the latest attack in the Edmonton area which police believe was motivated by hatred toward Muslims. On Thursday, St. Albert RCMP revealed two sisters wearing hijabs were attacked Wednesday afternoon while walking on a pathway bordering Edmonton near Alderwood Park. At around 12:35 p.m., a stranger wearing a bandana over his face approached yelling racial slurs. The man grabbed one of the women by the hijab and pushed her to the ground, knocking her unconscious. The man then produced a knife, knocked the second woman to the ground and pressed the blade to her throat, threatening them and using racial slurs. read the complete article

25 Jun 2021

The problem with Canada’s delusions of inclusivity and multiculturalism

Despite a pervasive image of Canada and Canadians as inclusive, diverse and multicultural, there is an alternative Canadian reality that includes violence, hatred and discrimination against minority groups, including Muslims. Multiculturalism is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as is religious freedom and protection from discrimination based on religion and ethnicity. Thus, there are structural legal protections in place that help promote inclusion and diversity, which are currently at the core of Canadian domestic and foreign policy. ‘Currently’ because only a few years ago the federal government under then prime minister Stephen Harper went to court in an attempt to ban Zunera Ishaq from wearing her niqab during the ceremony to become a Canadian citizen (the government lost). The same Conservative government promised during the 2015 election to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” hotline. The question is why, despite the Charter and strong programs of multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity, does Islamophobia in Canada persist and even seem to be growing? The short answer is that the social imaginary, or the way people think about the collective ‘us’, has not been redefined in inclusive ways. In addition to legal and policy promises of inclusion, acknowledgement of diversity and recognition of multiculturalism, an inclusive conceptualization of ‘us’ in civil society is essential. In contrast, there is ample evidence that a significant number of Canadians hold a narrower view of who belongs to ‘us’. A 2017 poll into religious trends in the country revealed that Islam is viewed unfavorably by almost half of all Canadians (46%), and that less than 35% of respondents (32% in Quebec, 34% in the rest of Canada) view Islam favorably. read the complete article


24 Jun 2021

China’s Transnational Repression Leaves Uyghurs No Space to Run

Over the last quarter-century, as China’s “peaceful rise” carried the country to new economic and geopolitical heights, Beijing was engaged in an ever-expanding campaign of transnational repression. From neighboring Pakistan and the states of Central Asia, to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar, China has seen through the detention and, at times, deportation of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities fleeing Beijing’s grasp. A new report and dataset put together by researchers Bradley Jardine, Edward Lemon, and Natalie Hall under a joint initiative by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs and the Uyghur Human Rights Project is an effort to comprehensively analyze the patterns of China’s transnational repression. “Between 1997 and December 2016, China was involved in the detention or deportation back to China of over 851 Uyghurs across 23 countries,” the report, titled “No Space Left to Run: China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs,” states. From 1997 to March 2021, the researchers identified 28 countries around the world which have been “complicit in China’s harassment and intimidation of Uyghurs.” The dataset contains 1,151 cases of Uyghurs being detained in countries outside China and 395 cases of deportation, extradition, or rendition back to China. The researchers note that the dataset is just the “tip of the iceberg,” as it relies on publicly reported cases of repression. read the complete article

24 Jun 2021

Uyghurs in Xinjiang are being given long prison sentences. Their families say they have done nothing wrong

The US State department and human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of detaining up to two million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in extra-legal detention camps, which Beijing claims are "vocational training centers" designed to prevent separatism and religious extremism. Alongside that system of detention, experts say there is a separate program that involves the lengthy imprisonment of Uyghurs, like Taher, for alleged crimes including terrorism, separatism and inciting ethnic hatred. Chinese government figures show a steep rise in the number of people given lengthy prison sentences in Xinjiang from 2014, when Beijing's crackdown on the region's Muslim-majority Uyghurs ramped up.The records don't reveal the crimes committed, or profile the religion or ethnicity of those convicted. CNN cannot verify whether the policy is still in place as public data for imprisonments hasn't been released beyond 2018. Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and author of a report into Xinjiang satellite imagery, said evidence of increased prison infrastructure and Uyghur testimony from the region indicated that systemic persecution through the courts was likely still prevalent. In 2014, about 21,000 people were sentenced to jail terms in Xinjiang. Four years later, that number had surged to nearly 133,200. In total, more than a quarter of a million people were jailed between 2016 and 2018 alone, in a region with a population of about 25 million. As more people went to jail, their sentences got longer. According to Xinjiang's statistical yearbooks, 87% of all sentences in 2017 were for more than five years, up from 27% in 2016. Rights groups say that sharp rise in the length of prison terms suggests the Chinese government's crackdown in the region is becoming more extreme. read the complete article


24 Jun 2021

Why is Austria coming after the Muslim Brotherhood?

In late May, the Austrian government published the addresses of more than 620 mosques and Muslim associations in Austria. According to the integration ministry, its purpose was “to fight political ideologies, not religion”. This was the latest in a series of moves the Austrian government has made to fight “political Islam”, which it has identified as one of the main threats the country faces. In the process, the Austrian authorities have started targeting the real and imagined Muslim Brotherhood. The government’s anti-Muslim policies, and particularly the drive against “political Islam” and the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Austria are troubling as they can have devastating consequences for the Muslim civil society and human rights groups currently challenging Islamophobia in Europe. If the Austrian secret service continues targeting mainstream Muslim organizations, such as the legally recognized Muslim Religious Community in Austria, as advocates of “political Islam”, this will inevitably lead to a growing divide between the Austrian state and the Muslim population. If activist and scholarly work on Islamophobia continues to be perceived as threatening or somehow conspiratorial – as Vidino has suggested it should be – this would marginalize further Muslim and anti-racist activists and academics. read the complete article

United States

24 Jun 2021

Police Looking for Man Wanted for Series of Anti-Muslim Assaults

The suspect allegedly approached a Muslim couple and punched a 31-year-old man in the back, and then proceeded to pull a hijab off the woman who was with him. The suspect then punched the woman in the arm while hurling a number of anti-Muslim statements at her. Both victims were in pain but refused medical attention, according to police. The suspect struck again an hour later by Inwood Street and Liberty Avenue, about a mile away from the previous incident. This time he approached an older couple, while making a number of anti-Muslim statements. The suspect punched a 56-year-old woman—who was with a 64-year-old man—multiple times in the face after taunting her with racist statements, according to police. She sustained a fractured nose and lacerations to the head and face, and was transported to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition. Police released surveillance footage of the suspect. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Jun 2021

Racist and dehumanising graffiti targeting Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians found in west London

An upstanding member of the public, out walking in west London, discovered racist and anti-Muslim graffiti in two locations that dehumanized and disparaged Arabs, Palestinians, and the Prophet Muhammad. Speaking to Tell MAMA and wishing to maintain their anonymity, the individual described passing through a quiet street on June 22 where, upon a steel girder, written in permanent marker they found the racist and deeply upsetting statements “F*** Arabs” and “F*** the Prophet Mohammed”. Having walked further, they soon discovered other graffiti that included “F*** Palestine”. Tell MAMA has since reported the incident to the Metropolitan police and flagged the racist graffiti with the local council. read the complete article


24 Jun 2021

Facebook Tried to Ban Myanmar’s Military. But Its Own Algorithm Kept Promoting Pages Supporting Them, Report Says

Facebook promoted pages that shared pro-military propaganda in Myanmar, even after it banned accounts linked to the military from the platform due to human rights abuses and the risk of violence, according to a report by the human rights group Global Witness. Myanmar’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, overthrew the country’s civilian government in February, claiming that elections in November 2020 had been rigged. Later that month, Facebook said it had decided to ban the Tatmadaw from its platform, citing the military’s history of human rights abuses, record of spreading misinformation and the increased risk of violence after the coup. In April, Facebook introduced new Myanmar-specific rules against praising or supporting the military for arrests or acts of violence against civilians. It also banned praise of protesters who attack the military or security forces. But according to Global Witness, Facebook’s own recommendation algorithms have been inviting users to like pages that share pro-military propaganda that violates the platform’s rules. The report highlights the extent to which Facebook is still struggling to police its own platform in Myanmar, where in 2018 the social media company admitted it could have done more to prevent incitement of violence in the run-up to a military campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority the previous year. U.N. investigators said the campaign, which involved mass murder, rape and arson, was carried out with “genocidal intent.” More than 1.3 million people fled the violence across the border to Bangladesh, where many remain in refugee camps. read the complete article


24 Jun 2021

Inside the Islamophobic Clubhouse Rooms Modi’s Men Visit

For young Indians who believe in Hindutva or Hindu nationalism - an ideology championed by the political party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi - his government is simply not doing enough. But these Indians have found a place to vent their frustrations directly to members of Modi’s ruling party, often with Islamophopic tropes and slurs: Clubhouse. VICE World News spent a week on the platform tuning into two dozen Indian right-wing rooms and witnessed how the new social media darling, which is difficult to moderate because of its audio nature, is increasingly weaponized with hate speech against minorities, often with members from Modi’s ruling party in attendance. Last week, VICE World News attended a Clubhouse room with 900 participants where there were calls for violence against minorities. Rajyavardhan Rathore, a parliamentarian from Rajasthan and a member of Modi’s ruling party, also attended. In the room, a speaker named Aparna Mishra tried to rile the crowd with statistics of India’s shrinking Hindi population. "When 70 percent of us will die, then only those 30 percent will live with happiness. Even now if you don't want to act, then live like this till the time comes when Hindus will be removed from India.” The conversation continued for fifteen minutes, and then a speaker asked what were their options since, “we are told Hinduism restricts us from violence.” Nupur Sharma, the editor of Op-India, an ultra-right online website, then proposed a Sanskrit verse as a solution. She said, “Violence is not for violence’s sake, but to protect dharma, for that Hindus need to pick up arms.” She later added, “Aggression has been from the Islamic community, not Hindus. Coexistence is dependent on if the aggressor is willing to let go of the aggression.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jun 2021 Edition


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