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 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, Muslim worshippers at a mosque in a suburb of Toronto tackled and subdued a man who allegedly “discharged bear spray towards people in the mosque while brandishing a hatchet,″ meanwhile the United Nations adopted a resolution marking March 15th as the international day to combat Islamophobia, and in India, the High Court stated that wearing the hijab is not an essential practice in Islam and that freedom of religion under Article 25 of the constitution is subjected to reasonable restrictions, with many Muslim women stating that the judgment will further alienate Muslims in India. Our recommended read of the day is by Doug Sanders for The Globe and Mail on how the Christchurch gunman was “influenced by those [right-wing] organizations, because they were among the few places in the world then publishing and publicizing the collection of ideas that would be at the core of his manifesto,” with one such organization being the Canadian fringe-media outlet, Rebel Media. This and more below:


21 Mar 2022

The Christchurch massacre may have had a Canadian connection – but there’s a reason you may not know about it | Recommended Read

Three years ago this week, a young man drove to a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers and, strolling through them while firing an arsenal of military-style weapons at worshippers, killed 51 women and men. In the midst of the massacre, he posted an online manifesto that described the murders as acts of racially motivated terrorism intended to stop immigration, using phrases and ideas borrowed from a small circle of extreme-right and white-supremacist publications. The young man – who we are not naming, in following New Zealand convention – had learned these ideas over a period of months. And one of the apparent sources of those ideas was a Canadian fringe-media outlet – something you may not know, as a result of that outlet’s determined efforts to use the courts to prevent you from reading about it in this newspaper and elsewhere. Between January of 2017 – around the time he first “had a terrorist attack in mind” – and August of that year, when he moved from his native Australia to New Zealand to begin actively planning the attack, the future murderer spent months reading far-right literature and communicating with people and organizations that had inspired him. One of those organizations was Rebel Media, the Canadian right-wing publisher known for online video sites such as Rebel News. On Sept. 15, 2017, the future terrorist made a donation of $106.68 from his personal bank account to Rebel News Network Ltd. of Canada, using PayPal. Around the same time, he made donations to organizations such as the neo-Nazi publisher Daily Stormer and the white-supremacist organization Generation Identity. It is reasonable to conclude that he felt influenced by those organizations, because they were among the few places in the world then publishing and publicizing the collection of ideas that would be at the core of his manifesto. Canadians may not be aware of this connection between the Christchurch massacre and their country’s fringe media – and that’s because Ezra Levant, the publisher of Rebel Media, went to great lengths to ensure that it stayed out of the press. Around the time that the New Zealand parliamentary report became public, Mr. Levant launched a series of libel suits against journalists who had mentioned his organization’s possible influence on terrorists and violent individuals and groups. That included a suit against the author of this column for having mentioned the terrorist’s donation to Rebel Media on Twitter, after it appeared in the New Zealand report. None of these lawsuits have been successful. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

The UN’s Int'l Day to Combat Islamophobia is a step in the right direction

Exactly three years after the murder of 51 people in two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch, the United Nations adopted a resolution to make March 15 the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. This marks the highest political recognition so far of the problem Muslims have faced for years. Several NGOs have declared national days against anti-Muslim racism, such as July 1 in Germany or the European Day Against Islamophobia on September 21. But never has a state, much less a supranational institution, ever institutionalised a day to symbolise the importance of tackling anti-Muslim sentiment. The UN General Assembly, representing 193 member states, approved the resolution by consensus. It was introduced by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which represents more than 50 mainly Muslim majority countries, recalling a 1981 resolution calling for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.” Contention came mainly from three sides: France, India, and the representative of the European Union, which is of little surprise. Recently, a report by an NGO has claimed that the French government’s anti-Muslim sentiment reaches the threshold of “persecution” under international law, and the anti-Muslim policies of President Emmanuel Macron's government have been heavily criticised. India has a long record of anti-Muslim policies, especially under the right-wing BJP government, and experts are warning of an impending genocide. But there are also movements in the right direction. The Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has recently adopted a revised recommendation on preventing and combating “anti-Muslim racism and discrimination.” Importantly, this recommendation does not only find a precise word to name the problem beyond usual titles used by European institutions such as hate, crime and discrimination. It very deliberately challenges the structural dimension of the problem. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

Karnataka hijab verdict is grave injustice: US religious freedom watchdog

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has taken note of the ban on hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka and the recent state High Court verdict on the issue. The USCIRF is a bipartisan federal government agency that monitors the right to freedom overseas and issues policy recommendations to the US government and Congress. On Thursday, USCIRF tweeted a comment on the hijab issue by Anurima Bhargava, one of its commissioners. Bhargava said the Karnataka High Court ruling “upholding the hijab ban in schools is a violation of religious freedom. The ruling is a grave injustice and indignity to women and girls seeking an education in accordance with their faith.” The USCIRF also shared a news report from The Washington Post on the Karnataka High Court decision. In recent years, USCIRF has been critical of the record of religious freedom in India. The USCIRF country profile for India notes “Religious freedom conditions in India are taking a drastic turn downward, with national and various state governments tolerating widespread harassment and violence against religious minorities.” USCIRF alleges the Citizenship (Amendment) Act “potentially exposes millions of Muslims to detention, deportation and statelessness when the government completes its planned nationwide National Register of Citizens”. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

France, EU and India opposed creation of UN day to combat Islamophobia

France, the European Union and India objected to the creation earlier this week of a United Nations-recognised international day to combat Islamophobia. Members of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution proposed by Pakistan to mark the annual day on 15 March, the anniversary of the 2019 attack on two mosques in New Zealand which left 51 people dead. The resolution was supported by 55 Muslim-majority countries of the Riyadh-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Syria, Algeria, Morocco and many other countries in the Gulf and North Africa. Welcoming the resolution on Wednesday, OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha said it would “consolidate global awareness of the threat of hatred and fanaticism against Muslims”. But it was also co-sponsored by a number of other states including Russia, currently waging an illegal war in Ukraine, and China, drawing condemnation by Uighur activists. Representatives from France and India, which have also faced accusations of Islamophobia by their own Muslim communities, both spoke against the resolution, though neither opposed its adoption by consensus. Describing the resolution as “unsatisfying” and problematic, Nicolas de Riviere, the French permanent representative to the UN, told the General Assembly that France supported the protection of all religions and beliefs but questioned the singling out of a specific religion. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

UK considering ban on NHS procurement of Chinese goods made in Xinjiang

Ministers are looking “sympathetically” at plans to stop the government buying health goods made in China’s Xinjiang province when the health and social care bill returns to the Commons later this month. The move would be a first sign that the government is willing to toughen its approach to authoritarian regimes in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. In an interview at the weekend, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said the west still needed to apply pressure on the Chinese government not to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A backbench amendment already passed in the Lords and sponsored by the former Conservative chief whip, Lord Blencathra, is gaining support across the political spectrum in the Conservative party, including some One Nation MPs, as well as traditional Tory opponents of the Chinese regime. It would ban NHS procurement from regions where the government believes there to be a “serious risk of genocide”. Ministers have already tried to buy off the rebels by proposing a review of health supply chains, but now may go further and promise not to procure goods from Xinjiang on grounds of risk of forced labour. The Foreign Office has resisted any proposal that requires anyone save the international courts to decide unequivocally if genocide is taking place, including in Xinjiang. It has fiercely opposed the UK domestic courts, or ministers, being given that role. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, is said to be keen to clean up health supply chains, but may come under pressure from the Foreign Office not to do anything that disturbs relations with China at a sensitive time. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

Biden administration rules Myanmar army committed genocide against Rohingya

The Biden administration has formally determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar's military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity, U.S. officials told Reuters, a move that advocates say should bolster efforts to hold the junta that now runs Myanmar accountable. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce the decision on Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, U.S. officials said, which currently features an exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya. It comes nearly 14 months after he took office and pledged to conduct a new review of the violence. Myanmar's armed forces launched a military operation in 2017 that forced at least 730,000 of the mainly Muslim Rohingya from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh, where they recounted killings, mass rape and arson. In 2021, Myanmar's military seized power in a coup. read the complete article

United States

21 Mar 2022

Dr. Oz’s Heritage Is Targeted as Rivals Vie for Trump Backing

Late last year, before he had formally entered the Pennsylvania Senate race, David McCormick flew to Florida for a private meeting with Donald J. Trump, angling to get in the former president’s good graces ahead of a Republican primary that would soon pit him against Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon and television personality. Mr. McCormick, then the chief executive of the world’s largest hedge fund, had an edge in pitching Mr. Trump: His wife, Dina Powell McCormick, had been a senior national security official in the Trump White House, and she accompanied him to the meeting at Mar-a-Lago. As Mr. McCormick and his wife, now a top Goldman Sachs executive, made their case, the topic soon turned to electability and Dr. Oz’s Turkish American heritage, which has since become a central point of contention in the campaign. At one point, Ms. Powell McCormick, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who is fluent in Arabic, pulled out a picture that showed Dr. Oz alongside others wearing Muslim head coverings, according to four people briefed in detail on the exchange, which has not previously been reported. The people briefed on the conversation said Ms. Powell McCormick told Mr. Trump that the fact that Dr. Oz was Muslim would be a political liability in parts of Pennsylvania. The McCormick campaign denied that account and insisted that the McCormicks have focused only on Dr. Oz’s ties to Turkey as a liability. The McCormick campaign has publicly made Dr. Oz’s heritage an issue from Mr. McCormick’s first day as a candidate in January, when he called on Dr. Oz to renounce his Turkish citizenship. His campaign has since accused Dr. Oz of harboring “dual loyalties.” Dr. Oz’s Muslim faith has not been part of the public debate. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

CAIR urges Georgetown University to probe student complaints of Islamophobia

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Georgetown University Law Center to look into student claims of Islamophobia by a law professor. In a letter to the law school this week, CAIR Maryland director Zainab Chaudry wrote that they had "received meticulously detailed complaints of an alleged long-standing, documented pattern of behaviours, assignments and rhetoric that has mischaracterized or maligned Muslims and other groups, and has perpetuated harmful untruths and stereotypes". The student's allegations against Professor Susan Deller Ross at Georgetown Law Center, who teaches women's human rights and international law, included providing legal documents advocating for hijab bans, describing the hijab as a device that subordinates women and asking students to advocate for the right-wing Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India. The allegations against the professor also included encouraging Islamophobic themes in classroom discussions, having minority students act out stereotypical scenes of human rights abuses and using the law centre to portray Islam as not having human rights and oppressing women. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

Refugee rights group sues on behalf of Somali family separated by Muslim ban

The International Refugee Assistance Project filed a lawsuit this week on behalf of Afkab Hussein, a Somali refugee in Ohio who has been separated from his wife and children for nearly seven years. His family’s arrival to the US was initially prevented under former President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, however even with the new administration, the family as continued to experience delays. "We filed this lawsuit on behalf of our client because it’s an unconscionably long period of time to be separated," IRAP senior litigation staff attorney, Melissa Keaney, told The New Arab. "It’s been almost seven years. It’s time this family can get back." Hussein fled violence in Somalia when he was a child and grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya, where he met his wife, Rhodo. Since resettling in the US in 2015, he has been able to visit his wife and two young children only twice. In Ohio, he settled in an area with a good school district for his children, costing him extra money. He remains alone, awaiting good news. His family was approved to join him before the Muslim ban in 2017, but they were then blocked due to the executive order. They were then approved for travel in January 2020. Their travel was cancelled the day before they were scheduled to leave, after they had sold all of their belongings in anticipation of their resettlement. IRAP’s refugee resettlement data showed that most refugees who were affected by the ban and previously approved to resettle in the US were either denied or are still in limbo. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

Can Hollywood repair what TV has done to Muslims?

Our perspectives and frames of reference are shaped by stories. They help us make meaning of a complex world and even influence our actions. I’m reminded of this every time someone asks if, as a Muslim woman, I was forced into marriage. Or every time an eyebrow is raised when I express an opinion. Or whenever someone asks me if I sympathise with terrorists. Even a simple but somehow ridiculous observation that "you speak English very well" is a reminder of how deep stereotypes run sometimes, of Muslim women as inarticulate or lacking autonomy. These might sound like small discomforts in a daily life and easily brushed off, but they can be disruptive and demeaning to me as I go about my day. Now multiply that by the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. It is not just about the numbers. It is how these microaggressions are magnified into sweeping narratives. There can be oppressive or discriminatory policies at play. The limitations on what Muslims can be, for example. In mainstream films and some fictional stories, Muslim actors are often still trapped in roles depicting the stereotype of a taxi driver who is also a terrorist and an oppressive husband, or the victim-terrorist paradox. Where are the new stories and new frames of references? After all, the ones who hold the power to tell the stories hold the power to shape our societies. When you think about it, the jobs we hold in high esteem are often service-oriented: doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists. They are all so important that society would break down without them. But there are also the jobs that shape society in other ways, inform us of the world, facilitate policies and tackle stereotypes: journalists, editors, authors, producers, screenwriters, film-makers, and so on. These callings are especially relevant in today's increasingly polarised world and can go a long way to help societies pay attention to more than one version of a story or just one story. We need more people from more diverse backgrounds to choose these vocations so we have varied perspectives and more nuance in our films, books, TV scripts, that is – in our storytelling. This would then, in the long run, make a crucial difference to how we see the world. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

The 9/11 Trial: Why Are Plea Bargain Talks Underway?

Pentagon prosecutors have struggled for more than a dozen years to hold the death-penalty trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and his four co-defendants at Guantánamo Bay. They have litigated everything from Mr. Mohammed’s choice of court attire — he sometimes dons a paramilitary camouflage vest — to how much evidence of C.I.A. torture the defense teams and, ultimately, a military jury should be allowed to see. Now a trial prosecutor who has been on the case since the George W. Bush administration, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., is in talks with defense lawyers about trading guilty pleas for at most life in prison without parole. Why are the two sides talking? Here is a rundown. read the complete article


21 Mar 2022

'The Kashmir Files' Uses Kashmiri Pandits For Propaganda, and Hates Muslims

The truth that Agnihotri bases his film on is that the Kashmiri Pandit exodus featured a great deal of unconscionable violence by militants and caused terror among the minority Kashmiri Pandit population. The lie is that all Muslims must be collectively punished for this, and any violence visited upon them is justly deserved. The proximity to truth that this film has is best left to those Kashmiri Pandits who are in possession of this haunting legacy of memories. To elide the truth of the brutalities that informed the Kashmiri Pandit exodus is unambiguously wrong; for the criticism of this film, it is also unnecessary. In his film, Agnihotri shoots the government’s gun off the shoulder of the Kashmiri exodus. But beyond the usual Pakistanis and violent terrorists, his targets are the media, leftist professors at universities like JNU and anyone opposing the reading down of Article 370. Of course, his real target are Muslims: past, present and future. In broad strokes, the Muslims of The Kashmir Files are unequivocally shown as barbaric, or servile to a barbaric cause. The main antagonist, Bitta, is drawn with the barest outlines of conscience, throwing his atrocities in higher contrast. He decides not to ‘marry’ the daughter-in-law of his old teacher, Pushkar – a hint of decency. Instead, he makes her eat rice squelching viscerally with her dead husband’s blood – barbaric. Later on, he offers sanctuary to a poet who had been beloved by the community: decent! Soon after, the poet’s body is shown hanging, brutalised and dead, from a tree: barbaric. The subtext goes – even in kindness, anticipate the knife in the back. While the argument could be made that this is a narrative structure well used to emphasise the evil of a terrorist, this structure makes its way across nearly every Muslim character. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

‘Broken inside’: Muslim women react after Indian court upholds hijab ban

After months of controversy over the hijab ban in India, the High Court of Karnataka dismissed the petitions filed by Muslim girls in Udupi, who had sought the right to wear hijab in classrooms. The High Court stated that wearing the hijab (Muslim headscarf) is not an essential practice in Islam and that freedom of religion under Article 25 of the constitution is subjected to reasonable restrictions. The bench also said that students cannot object to uniforms that educational institutions have prescribed as it falls under the category of reasonable restrictions. The verdict has been criticised widely by Muslims, especially Muslim women on social media platforms, who feel that the judgment will further alienate Muslims in India. Aliya Assadi, a 17-year-old who studies in a Pre-University (PU) college in Udipi and one of the petitioners of the hijab row controversy, feels disheartened by the court's ruling. “The verdict is shocking for us as we had high hopes and trust in the judiciary,'' she told TRT World, adding that it “has broken us inside”. Assadi said if the hijab was not an essential part of the Islamic religion, students wouldn’t have struggled for it and compromised their studies. “As a girl I know how it is going to affect most of [our] education as many of us have no choice but to quit studies then,” she said, adding it is her personal choice to follow her religion. She said that they are going to fight for it until they get justice. read the complete article

21 Mar 2022

Kashmir Files, hailed by Modi, triggers anti-Muslim hate speech

An Indian film focusing on the exodus of thousands of Hindus from Indian-administered Kashmir that won accolades from Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fanning anti-Muslim sentiments in the country. The Kashmir Files, a 170-minute Hindi-language movie released last week, tells the fictional story of a student who discovers his Kashmiri Hindu parents were killed by rebels – and not in an accident as his grandfather told him. Hundreds of thousands were forced out of Kashmir, losing homes and many lives, when a revolt erupted against Indian rule in 1989. Many were Hindus, known as “Kashmiri Pandits”, and later ended up living in camps across northern India. A small number of the community, however, continues to live in the Muslim-majority valley. Supporters of the movie, set during both the violent upheaval of 1989-90 and the present day, say it shines light on an often overlooked chapter of Indian-administered Kashmir’s history. Modi on Tuesday praised the movie, saying it showed the truth and that vested interests were running a campaign to discredit it. “They are shocked, that the truth that was hidden for so many years is out and is backed by facts,” Modi said, without clarifying to whom he was referring to. A state leader from the BJP gave government employees a half-day off to see the movie, while supporters of Modi and the BJP endorsed the movie on social media. However, critics say it is loose with the facts and targets Indian Muslims even outside Indian-administered Kashmir. Many see the film as evidence of the growing religious polarisation Modi’s critics say he has fostered since coming to power in 2014. read the complete article


21 Mar 2022

Canadian mosque worshippers subdue hatchet-wielding attacker

Worshippers at dawn prayer in a suburb of Toronto tackled and subdued a 24-year-old man who allegedly entered their mosque and attacked people with bear spray on Saturday, according to local police. Peel Regional Police said the man walked into the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and allegedly “discharged bear spray towards people in the mosque while brandishing a hatchet″ just before 7am. Speaking on behalf of the mosque, Nadia Hasan of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said a group of about 20 men was praying when the man sprayed them. “Some of the men turned around and they very bravely decided that they were not going to let him attack them,″ she said. ”They tackled him to the ground and apprehended him until the police showed up.″ Mohammad Moiz Oma from the suburb of Mississauga has been arrested. Police say they are considering “all possible motivations″ for the incident, and charges are pending. Police said the congregants received minor injuries as a result of the bear spray. “People are obviously quite shaken up and are recovering,″ Hasan said. ”For the most part, folks are still processing what’s happened and are trying to kind of see how they can ensure that their communities remain secure.″ At this point, investigators think the incident was an isolated act and are considering hate as a possible motive, police said in a statement. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Mar 2022 Edition


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