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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26 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: The U.S. Department of Justice files a lawsuit against Virginia county for “imposing restrictive zoning requirements” blocking an Islamic nonprofit from building a cemetery. Writing for The Print, Hilal Ahmed explores the four legal arguments used by the BJP to defend its anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act. Our recommended read today is by Nabilah Maqbool titled “Defunding the Police Must Include Ending Surveillance Against Muslims.” This, and more, below:

United States

26 Jun 2020

Defunding the Police Must Include Ending the Surveillance of Muslims | Recommended Read

The movement has focused primarily on state and local governments, which spend over $100 billion on policing every year, but has also set in its sights on federal funding of law enforcement, most prominently a community policing program known as COPS. There are less direct ways the federal government helps perpetuate dangerous policing programs, among them controversial Countering Violent Extremism grant programs that unnecessarily expose immigrant, Black Muslim communities, including Minneapolis’s Somali community, to law enforcement scrutiny. To defund the police, CVE programs must also come to an end. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security allocated a combined $20 million in 2016 and 2020 toward so-called Countering Violent Extremism programs that operate on the false assumption that Muslims are uniquely predisposed to commit violence and merit specialized government interventions. Under CVE models, First Amendment-protected activities like vocalizing opposition to U.S. foreign policy or attending a mosque are deemed “risk factors” and “indicators” of future acts of violence and are categorized as behaviors that the state must monitor. Under the guise of stopping violence, CVE programs insidiously target Muslim communities for police interactions and surveillance by local and federal law enforcement. Posing as a “community-partnership,” CVE programs have paired vulnerable Black Muslim youth with police officers, while simultaneously training police officers to pathologize dissent and criminalize mental health issues. CVE programs have their roots in a long a history of FBI investigations of Muslim communities and Black liberation movements. According to declassified FBI records, the agency piloted a “Specialized Community Outreach Team” in 2008 to make contacts with the Somali community in Minneapolis. One goal of the program was “[t]o develop a baseline profile of Somali individuals that are vulnerable to being radicalized or participating in extremist activities in order to establish a more focused outreach effort.” This FBI outreach was a precursor to the CVE program established by the Obama administration. read the complete article

Recommended Read
26 Jun 2020

Feds sue Stafford County over law blocking Islamic cemetery

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against a Virginia county for “imposing restrictive zoning requirements” that blocked an Islamic nonprofit from building a cemetery. The suit, filed June 19, argues that Stafford County violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by imposing overly restrictive regulations on the religious practice of All Muslim Association of America Inc. The Virginia-based nonprofit runs the country’s largest Muslim cemetery, which also is the only one in the state. In May 2015, AMAA purchased 45 acres in Stafford County for a new cemetery. The county’s cemetery ordinances permitted the use at the time, and the land was already zoned appropriately. But the following year, as the group ran out of plots in its existing cemetery, the county amended an ordinance to limit cemeteries within 900 feet of private wells, reservoirs or streams that drain into reservoirs. All of the newly purchased land is within 900 feet of a lake and creek, and nearby homes use private wells. The ordinance, which had not been updated for well over a decade, requires nine times more distance from private wells than the 100 feet required by the Virginia Department of Health. read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz, Texas Prison Chaplain, Dies at 70

Throughout his four decades as the first Muslim chaplain in the Texas prison system, Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz somehow found a way to instill hope among inmates who were often without it. In 1995, Charlesetta Myers of Dallas was, in her words, “spiraling out of control.” After violating parole, she was sent back to prison for a third time. She picked up a copy of the Quran and decided to go to a Muslim service, where she met Mr. Shabazz. She soon converted to Islam and took the name Rashidah Muhammad. Mr. Shabazz “just had a way of encouraging people,” Ms. Muhammad said, crediting him with turning her life around. Twenty years after leaving prison, she is a small-business woman and an active figure in Dallas Muslim circles who travels to prisons each month as a volunteer teacher. Mr. Shabazz died on April 23 at a hospital in The Woodlands, near Houston. He was 70. His daughter, Rabiah Shabazz, said the cause was Covid-19. The disease, caused by the new coronavirus, has taken a particularly heavy toll on prison populations. As of June 25, Mr. Shabazz was among eight staff members and 72 offenders in the Texas prison system to succumb to the virus, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Mr. Shabazz, who lived in Huntsville, was one of more than 100 chaplains in the prison system, including five Muslims. He provided pastoral care, led prayer services and worked at about 25 prisons, often counseling staff members as well as inmates. He was credited with expanding the practice of Islam in Texas prisons and with cementing Muslim traditions like Friday prayers and the observance of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

The Muslim and African Bans

In February 2020, the Trump Administration expanded the Muslim and African Ban with Presidential Proclamation 9983, nearly doubling the number of countries targeted for immigration restrictions and exclusions. The six countries added are Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania—all of which have either a Muslim majority or a significant Muslim population, four of which are African nations. When added to the list of already banned countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela—the expansion brings the total number of currently banned countries to 13, nearly half of which are located on the African continent. The Muslim and African Bans have always been discriminatory. The first Ban (before the end of 2017 there would be four iterations) delivered on Trump’s December 2015 campaign promise for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” It is important to note that in his speech, Trump cited a poll commissioned by the anti-Muslim organization Center for Security Policy. Bridge Initiative research has demonstrated that this poll was methodologically flawed resulting in inflammatory and dubious findings. In addition to Trump’s long history of negative comments about Islam and Muslims, including “Islam hates us,” the President also has a track record of animus against refugees and non-white immigrants. During his 2016 presidential campaign and into his presidency, Trump has repeatedly referred to Syrian refugees as “snakes” and as “Trojan horses.” Additionally, he has regularly referred to immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers from Latin America as “criminals,” “rapists,” “gang members,” and an “invasion.” In an Oval Office meeting on immigration in January 2018, Trump reportedly made pejorative and racist comments in which he described Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole” countries, and asked why the U.S. could not increase immigration from countries such as Norway. Seven months prior, Trump also reportedly singled out Haitians and Nigerians, derogatorily claiming that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” once they had come to the U.S. Nigeria was added to the Muslim and African Ban in February 2020, barring all visas for permanent immigration to the U.S. Moreover, such language linking Black immigrants to disease would foreshadow rhetoric that Trump would again employ in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

South Minneapolis Bakery Apologizes After Accusation Of Discrimination Over Hijab Mask

A south Minneapolis bakery is apologizing after a customer wearing a face-covering hijab posted a video showing a worker refusing to serve her for not wearing the proper face mask. Zahur Abdiaziz posted the video to her Facebook page on Monday, saying she was discriminated against at Marissa’s Bakery on Eat Street. “This lady refused to sell me bakery because I am not wearing the same mask as her!” she wrote. “This Type of Racism is called the Corona Type!” In the 30-second video, the worker appears to refuse to serve Abdiaziz, saying that the ownership does not accept hijab face covering as facemasks. The worker walks away as Abdiaziz says: “So you’re not going to sell me bread?” The bakery responded with a Facebook post Wednesday to what it called a “racial incident,” saying that it failed to provide face masks to all customers. In another post Thursday, the bakery apologized for what happened, telling Abdiaziz directly that she did not deserve how she was treated. read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

Muslim man terminated after asking for prayer breaks, complaint says

A Muslim man who says he was terminated from his job in Indianapolis last year after asking his employer to allow him to pray five times a day is accusing two companies of religious discrimination. E’Lon Brown, 37, says Automatic Distributors Corp. and StaffMax discriminated against him by denying his requests to take brief prayer breaks and attend congregational prayers known as “jumu’ah.” The companies then retaliated against Brown for requesting the accommodation by terminating his employment, according to a complaint filed Monday with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. He had been working for about a week. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 Jun 2020

Why the UK government should not be allowed to define Islamophobia

Given that the APPG definition of Islamophobia is gradually being adopted by city councils, such as Manchester, and by political parties, including Labour - and that there have been calls for its adoption by government - I accepted the invitation by MEE to restate my arguments on the definition of Islamophobia for a wider audience. I did so with both conviction and trepidation, having spent my adult life devoted to Islamic culture, while also having spent the past three years campaigning against the IHRA definition. The IHRA definition was adopted by the UK government on 12 December 2016. Its adoption was followed by a series of crackdowns on Palestinian activism, particularly focused on trying to mitigate the effects of Israeli Apartheid Week. Events critical of Israel were cancelled. Students and university staff were censored for their writings and statements about Israel. Jo Johnson, in his capacity as minister of state for universities, began pressuring universities to adopt the IHRA definition. My experience with the IHRA definition has made me alert to the dangers of group-specific governmental definitions, and have taught me to fear what any state may do to the communities it claims to protect. I therefore set out here some of my reservations about the proposed Islamophobia definition, which arise from many years of observing the persecution of Muslim minorities and witnessing the unforetold negative impact of the IHRA definition in the UK. Among the biggest problems with the current Islamophobia definition is that it ignores the role of the state in fostering Islamophobia. Many well-intentioned advocacy efforts to protect Muslims from Islamophobia fail to acknowledge the government’s role in propagating this prejudice. Even had the domestic "war on terror" not already compromised the UK’s relationship with its Muslim citizens, a governmental definition of Islamophobia could never reach a democratically legitimate consensus among the group targeted for protection. From the viewpoint of CAGE, governmental efforts to define Islamophobia are best treated with scepticism as long as the more basic structural phobias introduced by the war on terror remain unaddressed. “If the definition of Islamophobia cannot hold those in power to account for their role in manufacturing Islamophobia, then it is inadequate,” said Asim Qureshi, research director of CAGE. The power of hate speech derives from state-sanctioned discrimination and legally codified racism, which ethnic and sexual minorities have endured throughout history. Far from existing in opposition to it, anti-Muslim hate speech derives its power from governmental surveillance of Muslims. read the complete article


26 Jun 2020

Jews, Muslims and Christians Are All Persecuted in Europe. It Must Stop Now. | Opinion

Last year, four in ten European Jews reported that they considered emigrating from their home country because they are concerned for their safety. The same survey indicated that nearly half of those interviewed had been a victim of at least one anti-Semitic incident in the past twelve months. The incidents are not isolated. As noted in our 2020 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, anti-Semitism is on an alarming rise in Europe in virtually every country with a sizable Jewish population. Pew Research reported that Europe saw one of the largest increases in government restrictions on religious activities from 2007 to 2017, much of which also reflects an increase in violent attacks and discrimination directed at Muslims across the continent. For example, France banned full facial coverings in 2011 and Moldova banned public Muslim worship in 2012. Then there is European foreign policy, especially as it relates to China. As China continues to escalate its anti-Muslim and anti-Christian domestic policies, it is granted a license by certain European leaders—best illustrated by the truly absurd and cowardly words of the EU's senior official for foreign affairs, Joseph Borrell, "I don't think that China is playing a role that can threaten the world peace." read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly

When reading A History of Islam In 21 Women, you experience a crash course of different Islamic eras through historical Muslim female figures. It's the perfect example of what's missing in our curriculums, our history books and most importantly, how we've come to view Muslim women today. Author Hossein Kamaly makes it clear in his introduction that "the number twenty-one [of the book title] hints at the contemporary relevance of the material in our time - the twenty-first century… However, doing history by numbers has both benefits and limitations." Meaning, there haven't been just twenty-one Muslim women who have shaped the course of Islam. Instead, when reading through the different eras of Islamic history, we are confronted with the knowledge that our history has only been half told - that it's women who have shaped the fate of Islam. Whether it's deciding to follow the Prophet Muhammad's biological lineage through Shia Islam or Muhammad's last wife, Aisha, into what is known today as Sunni Islam. Or if we're moving away from the Prophet Muhammad's time, the impact of Terken Katun's prosperity as the Empress of the Khwarazmian Empire or Nana Asma'u, the princess, poet and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate in West Africa. A History of Islam In 21 Women is not just a rose-tinted view of history from centuries ago, a time of Muslim warriors, princesses, designers, leaders and wives whose powers influenced countries, not just their husband's requests; this title is also brought into the 21st century with notable modern women. These include Noor Inayat Khan, a British spy and the first female wireless operator to be sent into occupied France during World War Two, as well as the recently passed Dame Zaha Hadid, a prestigious architect and the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. read the complete article

26 Jun 2020

Social media helps reveal people's racist views–so why don't tech firms do more to stop hate speech?

Twitter has finally permanently removed right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins from its platform for violating its "hateful conduct" policy. Many would ask why it took so long for Twitter to ban someone with such a long record of offensive comments.Yet for every right-winger like Hopkins, there are many more people on social media who don't command such a large following and might be seen in some respects as ordinary people, but who are in fact equally as dangerous. They may not share the motivation of the far right, but they still express and incite racial and religious hatred, often through social creativity and online manipulation. A few years ago, I conducted research on online Islamophobia following the 2013 Woolwich terror attack, identifying eight types of offender on Twitter who could be classed as racist. Most were not members of a far-right group. They included builders, plumbers, teachers and even local councilors. But many used the cover of social media to spread their own conspiracy theories and an "us and them" narrative. You also don't need to be this obviously racist to enact or encourage prejudiced behavior online. My research showed some people simply join in with conversations targeting vulnerable figures. Others post messages that don't say anything specifically racist but that they know will inflame racial tensions. For example, I encountered a post asking: "What is your typical British breakfast?". Out of context it seems harmless yet it led to a spiral of hateful comments about Muslims: "For every sausage eaten or rasher of bacon we should chop of a Muslims head [sic]." "Muslims are not human." "One day we will get you scum out." "Muslim men are pigs … I am all for annihilation of all Muslims." In this way, social media acts as an amplifing echo chamber for such hateful rhetoric and racist views. It makes the way some people imagine the world seem more real. And it reinforces how they see the internet as a place where it's acceptable to post comments with racially motivated language, often with the caveat that they are not racist but simply hate an ideology. read the complete article


26 Jun 2020

Black Lives Matter, racism against Indigenous Canadians backdrop for N.L. diversity summit

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, and instances of racism against Indigenous people in Canada, the Association for New Canadians held its 12th Diversity Summit, virtually, thanks to the COIVD-19 pandemic. Organizer Meaghan Philpott said the summit, originally scheduled for March, aims to promote anti-racism efforts and multiculturalism. Panelist Jude Benoit, the co-founder of the 2-Spirit Indigenous Activist Collective, said there is deeply ingrained racism in the province. "We're all racist," said Benoit. "You can't just work really, really hard and then one day you're no longer a racist. I think it's an ongoing learning thing." Sobia Shaikh, co-founder of the Anti-Racism Coalition of NL and Addressing Islamophobia, said anti-racism efforts have to start with recognizing Canada's history of genocide and erasing Indigenous people. "We can't undo racism but we can work against it," said Shaikh. She said racism stems from colonialism, when some people were treated as less human. "These ideas about race are faulty. They're scientifically faulty, they're not true," she said. read the complete article


26 Jun 2020

A legal breakdown of the BJP’s four controversial arguments in defence of CAA

The CAA excludes Muslims in two ways. It highlights the persecution of non-Muslims in neighbouring Muslim countries and, at the same time, does not include Muslims in the list of preferred migrants. This exclusion is seen as a violation of Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 25 (Freedom of religion). The JPC also raised this question. The Legislative Department, however, made two broad arguments in defence of the constitutional validity of the CAA. First, it said the law was justified on the basis of a legal doctrine called reasonable classification. According to this doctrine, if there is a special law that is applicable only to a certain sections/groups, the court is entitled to ‘enquire whether the classification is founded on a reasonable basis…or is arbitrary’ (Emphasis added). The reasonableness of classification, in this sense, can only be questioned if a law violates the rights of other persons/communities, which are outside the scope of its legal ambit. The classification of migrants into persecuted minorities and others, by this logic, is called reasonable because it does not affect the rights of Muslim citizens in India. Second, the Legislative Department said the CAA was also justified on the basis of freedom of religion (Art 25). It argued that this law aims to protect the religious rights of persecuted minorities seeking Indian citizenship. At the same time, it does not have any impact on the right to worship and religion of other Indian citizens, including Muslims. This line of reasoning actually finds a clear political overtone in the speeches of BJP leaders. This legal defence of the CAA as a special law becomes unconvincing when it is read in relation to NCR and NPR. As already explained, NCR and NPR are inseparable constituents of the established legal framework of Indian citizenship. The classification of usual residents into citizens and doubtful persons gets a radically different interpretation after the enactment of the CAA. It is important to remember that unlike the NPR 2010 exercise, NPR 2020 aims to collect additional data such as Aadhaar card number and parents’ birthplace. It is mandatory for the usual residents to provide this information. The government has not yet evolved any mechanism to deal with such cases. The CAA offers a clear cut answer to these ambiguities. It is easier for a doubtful Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian person/resident to apply for Indian citizenship even if he/she does not have sufficient documents. He/she may justify his/her application by citing the term religious persecution. However, a doubtful Muslim would eventually be treated as a foreigner as he/she is excluded from the list. Although Prime Minister Modi categorically denied any relationship between CAA and the NRC-NPR, Home Minister Amit Shah explained the CAA-NRC-NPR chronology in his various speeches and interviews. He said: first we will pass the Citizenship Amendment bill and ensure that all the refugees from the neighbouring nations get the Indian citizenship. After that, NRC will be made and we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jun 2020 Edition


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