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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08 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In China, local authorities are planning to partially demolish a mosque in the province of Yunnan, which appears to be part of the government’s five-year plan to “Sinicize” Islam across the country, meanwhile in Canada, more than 1,000 people gathered in London on Tuesday evening for a vigil in tribute to three generations of the Afzaal family whose killings sparked a national reckoning over Islamophobia, and in the United States, mosque leaders and law enforcement officials “discussed the alarming series of arson and vandalism at Minnesota mosques and ways to protect worshippers from such attacks.” Our recommended read of the day is by Bianca Carrera for The New Arab on how Islamophobic speeches, often “normalizing the falsification of Spanish history,” are becoming increasingly popular in Spain.


'Negative, undesirable, dangerous': Why are Islamophobic speeches recurring in Spain's elections? | Recommended Read

“Take care of what is yours”. That is the provocative slogan having been used by the far-right Spanish party Vox to kickstart the election year, in which Spain has elected mayoralties and some regional governments during the first round of May 28, and in which it will elect the parliament and the government’s president on July 23. During the last general elections in 2019, the same political party started its campaign in the city of Covandonga — the alleged cradle of the ‘Reconquista’ — with the general theme of making their political project the vanguard of a new Reconquista: which would fight the dangers of what they call ‘the increasing Islamisation of Spain’. Since that electoral campaign, Islamophobic speeches have been recurrent in the Spanish political climate, each time worse. In 2021, during the event of regional elections in Catalonia, the right-wing group released a video showcasing images of mosques and of people learning Arabic alongside images of the 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona. Civil society organisations took the video to the prosecutor’s office for spreading hate speech, but the case was archived. This year too, during the first round of elections, the party decided to continue using the same strategy. As part of its political propaganda through the metro lines of Madrid, it fabricated a poster with a list of Arab names allegedly corresponding to the list of beneficiaries of state benefits, and asked Spanish people: “Where is your name?” For former members of the platform against Islamophobic phenomena in Catalonia (SAFI) Mustafa Aoulad Sellam, the emergence of these speeches is not surprising. “The logic of parties such as Vox is to identify a part of society and try to label and categorise it as negative, as undesirable, as dangerous," he explained. read the complete article


At Afzaal vigil, relatives speak of surviving boy, family's legacy

More than 1,000 people gathered in northwest London Tuesday evening for a vigil in tribute to three generations of the Afzaal family whose killings sparked a national reckoning over Islamophobia. As darkness fell, community members prayed at the intersection of Hyde Park and South Carriage roads, where Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their daughter Yumnah, 15, were killed after they were struck by a vehicle while out for an evening walk two years ago to the day. The family's son, nine at the time, was badly hurt but has since recovered. The vigil organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI) featured prayer, poetry and several speeches by youth organizers, elected officials, London Muslim leaders and friends and relatives of the Afzaal family. Esa Islam, Yumnah's cousin, spoke about persevering through loss and translating fear into action, strength and faith. He said he's found purpose and meaning in caring for his little cousin, the lone survivor of the crash. "These past years, I've spent much of my time trying to fill the massive gap left behind by his big sister Yumnah," Islam said. "While this may be an impossible task, all I can do is ensure that he has someone he can talk to and rely on. Someone that he knows is there for him, just like how I could count on Yumnah when I was younger." read the complete article

Vigil for Afzaal family hears Islamophobia promises made by province and feds still unfulfilled

Two years after four members of the Afzaal Family were killed in an apparently deliberate attack, words haven’t always translated into action. A thousand Londoners came together on Tuesday evening at a vigil at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road — where the attack happened. Amid the grief, there’s a growing desire for senior levels of government to follow through on commitments made to address Islamophobia in the wake of the tragedy. “In the face of this resilience, we continue to see aggressions against Muslims,” Nawaz Tahir, chair of Hikma Public Affairs Council told the gathered Londoners. Tahir reminded the audience that eradicating Islamophobia requires more than words. He called for action on past promises made by the provincial and federal governments. “Federally and provincially, many of the submissions that were made to the National Summit on Islamophobia have not been implemented,” Tahir said. “The Our London Family Act continues to sit on the back shelf somewhere at Queen’s Park.” read the complete article

Coalition of Muslim Women releases 2nd annual Snapshot of Hate report

A total of 97 incidents of hate or discrimination from across Waterloo region were reviewed as a part of the second annual Snapshot of Hate report by the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW). All the incidents of hate analyzed in the report were collected from January to December 2022. Of the people who reported incidents to CMW, 26 identified as South Asian, 17 said they are Middle Eastern and 11 people identified as Black. A majority of the people who disclosed their religion identified as Muslim. There were also reports of hate from people who identified as Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh or non-religious. Only 10 of the 97 incidents were reported to police and four were directly reported to a local school board. The research team found that all the reported incidents of hate could fit in one of four categories: hate crimes, hate incidents (limited to non-criminal incidents), discrimination and hate speech (includes verbal, online or printed hate). read the complete article


Facebook owner has moral obligation to compensate Rohingya

The Rohingya crisis, characterized by widespread violence, displacement and human rights abuses, has been one of the most severe humanitarian emergencies of our time. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through social media platforms, it is crucial to hold technology companies accountable for their role in amplifying hate speech and misinformation and facilitating violence against vulnerable communities. In this context, Meta, the owner of Facebook, should take responsibility and provide compensation to the Rohingya people for the harm caused by the misuse of its platform. Meta’s platform was instrumental in the spread of hate speech and incitement to violence against the Rohingya population in Myanmar. During the peak of the crisis in 2017, Facebook was used as a tool to disseminate anti-Rohingya propaganda, fueling hatred and enabling the coordination of attacks against Rohingya communities. The company’s algorithms and recommendation systems exacerbated the problem by amplifying divisive and inflammatory content, contributing to the escalation of violence and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people. The consequences of this misuse of technology have been devastating. The UN has referred to the Rohingya crisis as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, with reports of mass killings, sexual violence and the destruction of entire villages. More than 700,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, where they live in overcrowded refugee camps, deprived of their basic rights and dignity. Many Rohingya continue to suffer from trauma and struggle to rebuild their lives. read the complete article


China's campaign to 'Sinicize' Islam curbs religious freedom

A clash between police and residents last week over local authorities' attempt to partially demolish a mosque in China's southwestern province of Yunnan triggered international concern about the impact of the Chinese government's five-year plan to "Sinicize" Islam across the country. Dozens of police with riot shields and truncheons were seen pushing back a group of angered local residents who threw objects at them outside the Najiaying mosque in the town of Nagu. Related videos were soon removed from Chinese social media platforms, and the local government issued a notice on May 28, ordering people involved in the clash to "immediately stop all illegal and criminal acts." The Najiaying mosque is not the first Islamic religious site that has faced the threat of partial demolition of its structure. Over the last few years, mosques in Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, and even Beijing, have seen their domes and minarets demolished by local authorities and replaced with Chinese-style roofs. These efforts are part of the Chinese government's plan to "Sinicize" Islam, which aims at removing "foreign influence" from the religion while ensuring that it aligns with traditional Chinese values outlined by the Chinese government. "In many of his speeches, there are indications that President Xi Jinping views foreign religious ideologies or traditions as threatening, and Islam is one that he is very concerned about," said David Stroup, a lecturer of Chinese politics at the University of Manchester. read the complete article

United States

After recent mosque attacks, religious and city leaders discuss options

At Masjid Al Rahma in Minneapolis Tuesday night, Mohamed Ibrahim with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota had a clear message. “When people come to places of worship, especially mosques, they come to find tranquility, peace of mind, cleanse their hearts and minds from daily problems outside, but in the last two years that was not the case,” he said. Mosque leaders and law enforcement officials at Tuesday’s forum, hosted by Sahan Journal and MPR News, discussed the alarming series of arson and vandalism at Minnesota mosques and ways to protect worshippers from such attacks. The Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center in St. Paul was set on fire May 17, making it the fifth attack on a Minnesota mosque in 2023. Luger pledged his office’s continued solidarity with faith leaders and victims of hate-inspired violence. And he announced that resources under a Department of Justice program to combat hate crimes will soon be available to congregations and groups in Minnesota. Last fall, the department unveiled an initiative called “United Against Hate.” It seeks to build stronger connections between community groups and federal and local law enforcement agencies. Luger told the group what kind of resources are available through the program. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jun 2023 Edition


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