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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24 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the suspended BJP MLA T Raja Singh has continued delivering hate speeches at several rallies in Maharashtra, including open calls for violence and boycott against Muslims, meanwhile in the United States, many veterans of the Iraq war are reflecting on the invasion 20 years later, with some stating “The war was based on a lie. It was wrong for us to be there in the first place,” and in the United Kingdom, a new analysis finds that about 68% of the total Muslim population in England and Wales live in areas with the highest unemployment. Our recommended read of the day is by Asma Ahmed for The Conversation on how “educators in public schools can develop the identities of Muslim students and create a positive school culture during Ramadan.


‘Salam, Ramadan Mubarak!’: 4 ways schools can bring Ramadan into the classroom | Recommended Read

As Muslims begin observing Ramadan, it’s a good time to consider the importance of building a strong sense of belonging at school. Affirming the identities of Muslim students and all minoritized and racialized learners is a way of creating a positive classroom culture. Fostering opportunities to understand inequities, going beyond stories of racism and spotlighting greatness and achievement all matter. Over the last 10 years, I have led workshops on Ramadan, Muslims and Islamophobia with district school boards, at universities and at community events. In the past two years, I have received a considerable number of requests for workshops and presentations. Unfortunately, I believe, it took the death of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., in a “premeditated” vehicle attack in June 2021, for significant strides to be taken to educate Canadians about Islam and Muslims, and to substantiate that Islamophobia or anti-Muslim sentiments are real. School boards have started to pay more attention to their Muslim students’ identities, and also to the existence of strong explicit and implicit anti-Muslim biases among students and teachers. Muslim youth need spaces in their communities, including their schools, where they are free to be themselves and do not have to worry about facing prejudice. Youth need their schools to be safe havens to build their positive sense of self. read the complete article

United States

Ilhan Omar introduces new resolution condemning Islamophobia

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduced a new resolution on Thursday that condemns Islamophobia globally and commemorates the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, which left more than 50 Muslim worshippers dead in New Zealand. The measure, co-sponsored by 20 Democratic members of Congress, was introduced on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and comes one week after the UN commemorated its first annual day to combat Islamophobia. "This year, [Ramadan] is also a time of increasing terror and attacks against our Muslim brothers and sisters across this country and around the world," Omar said during a press conference on Thursday at the US Capitol. The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported in 2022 that it had received more than 6,000 cases of bias against Muslims in the previous year, ranging from immigration and workplace discrimination to government overreach and incarceree rights. The UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion released a report in 2021 concluding that suspicion, discrimination, and hatred towards Muslims have risen to "epidemic proportions", citing as examples both France and India. read the complete article

1st hijab-wearing judge join bench at US Court in New Jersey

US attorney Nadia Kahf has been appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court, becoming the first hijab-wearing judge on the bench, local media reported. Kahf, who is of Syrian origin, is a law and immigration attorney from the township of Wayne. She took the oath of office yesterday with her hand on a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, according to local news website North Jersey. She will serve as a Passaic County Superior Court judge after New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy nominated her a year ago, according to local media. Though Kahf is not the first Muslim woman to serve as a state judge, she is the first to wear a hijab on the bench. read the complete article

Whole Foods apologizes to Silver Spring woman who says she was discriminated against

Whole Foods Market is apologizing to a Montgomery County woman who believes she was discriminated against because she was wearing a hijab. "I was so confused and shocked," Buhite Al-Jabry told FOX 5 on Thursday. Al-Jabry said she had just finished paying for groceries at her neighborhood Whole Foods in Silver Spring Monday evening when she was singled out by a security guard who accused her of stealing. "I give him the receipt thinking he’s doing his job, just like if you shop at Costco … What shocked me is that even though he had the receipt in his hand, he keeps insisting that I didn’t scan the items," Al-Jabry explained. "He kept yelling in front of people. It was so humiliating and so many people turned around." Al-Jabry said she called for help and another employee confirmed she hadn’t stolen a thing. "He targeted me because the way I dress," she said. read the complete article

US: Biden expresses solidarity with Uyghur, Rohingya Muslims in Ramadan message

President Joe Biden expressed his "solidarity" with Uyghur Muslims in China and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in a Ramadan message to American Muslims. "Together with our partners, the United States stands in solidarity with Muslims who continue to face oppression- including Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China, Rohingya in Burma, and other Muslim communities facing persecution around the world," the statement said. The statement was released on 22 March, which marked the first night of Ramadan for many in the US and across the globe. "During this sacred time of reflection, the United States also reaffirms our support to Muslim communities suffering hardships and devastation," the statement said. "We will continue to stand with the people of Turkiye and Syria-who have lost many loved ones during the recent devastating earthquakes-and with the people of Pakistan, who are rebuilding their lives following last summer’s floods." "Today especially, we remember the universal human right to practice, pray, and preach our faiths peacefully and openly." read the complete article

‘We shouldn’t have been there’: US vets consider legacy of Iraq

Naveed Shah crisscrossed Iraq during his time in the United States Army, travelling from the capital Baghdad to the southern city of Basrah, on the banks of the Shatt Al Arab river. Like many recruits, he had been inspired to enlist after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in the US. “I felt that my country was under attack,” Shah, who now works with the veterans’ advocacy group Common Defense, told Al Jazeera in a recent phone call. “And as a Muslim, I felt that my religion had been perverted to justify something terrible.” “I didn’t think much about how we ended up in Iraq,” he said. “At the time it looked like we were winning and we were going to leave the country on decent footing.” However, as the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war approaches, Shah’s views have changed. Many veterans like Shah now wrestle with questions about the invasion’s purpose, as well as lingering combat-related medical challenges. “The war was based on a lie,” Shah said. “It was wrong for us to be there in the first place.” Shah would like to see an end to what he calls the “perpetual state of military activity” that has defined the US’s “war on terror”. read the complete article

Senate votes overwhelmingly to keep 2001 authorization for war on terror

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to continue congressional authorization for the use of military force in the global fight against terror, turning back an effort by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to repeal the 2001 measure. Senators rejected the amendment 86-9 as they are debating a separate repeal of two authorizations of military force in Iraq. There is broad bipartisan support to withdraw that congressional approval granted in 1991 and 2002 for military strikes against Saddam Hussein's regime. While those two authorizations are rarely used and focused on just one country, Iraq, the 2001 measure gave President George W. Bush broad authority for the invasion of Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism, approving force "against those nations, organizations, or persons" that planned or aided the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Passed in September 2001, it is still used to this day to justify U.S. military action against terror groups — including al-Qaeda and its affiliates, such as ISIS and al-Shabab — that are deemed to be a threat against America. The 2002 measure that launched the invasion of Iraq 20 years ago this week has been used much less frequently, and supporters of repealing it say it is vulnerable to abuse. read the complete article

Ron DeSantis breaks silence on allegations he observed torture at Guantanamo

Ron DeSantis has broken his silence on allegations that he observed the force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay during his time serving as a Navy lawyer there. The Independent reported last week on claims by a former prisoner of the prison camp, Mansoor Adayfi, that Mr DeSantis observed his brutal force-feeding by guards during a hunger strike in 2006 – a practice the United Nations characterised as torture. “I was a junior officer. I didn’t have authority to authorise anything,” Mr DeSantis told Piers Morgan, in an interview to be broadcast on Thursday. “There may have been a commander that would have done feeding if someone was going to die, but that was not something that I would have even had authority to do.” The Florida governor’s response did not address the central allegation from the detainee that he witnessed the force-feeding. Investigations by The Independent, The Washington Post and other outlets did not report that Mr DeSantis authorised the force-feeding – rather, that he observed and was aware of the practice. read the complete article

Don’t Be Fooled. Ron DeSantis Is a Bush-Cheney Republican.

DeSantis served in Iraq and at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay and made his military career a centerpiece of his 2018 campaign for governor. “Service is in my DNA,” he wrote at the time. “My desire to serve my country has been my goal and my calling.” In recent weeks, we have learned a little more about what that service actually entailed, details that weren’t more widely known at the time of his 2018 race. As a lawyer at Guantánamo Bay, according to a report by Michael Kranish in The Washington Post, DeSantis endorsed the force-feeding of detainees. The reason to highlight these details of DeSantis’s service at Guantánamo is that it helps place the Florida governor in his proper political context. The standard view of DeSantis is that he comes out of Donald Trump’s populist Republican Party, a view the governor has been keen to cultivate as he vies for leadership within the party. And to that end, DeSantis has made himself into the presumptive heir apparent to Trump in look, language and attitude. But what if we centered DeSantis in Guantánamo, Iraq and the war on terrorism rather than the fever house of the MAGA Republican Party, a place that may not be a natural fit for the Yale- and Harvard-educated lawyer? What if we treated DeSantis not as a creature of the Trump years but as a product of the Bush ones? For a moment in American politics — before Hurricane Katrina, the grinding occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis that nearly toppled the global economy — George W. Bush represented the clear future of the Republican Party. read the complete article

United Kingdom

68% of Muslims in England and Wales live in areas with high unemployment

The ONS suggests the younger age profile of this group is a contributing factor as to why Muslims in England and Wales had the lowest rates of employment. Those who identified as Muslims are generally a younger cohort than other religions and more likely to be studying. The percentage of students among those who said they were Muslim was almost twice that of the overall population. The ONS notes that reasons for being “economically inactive” varied significantly between different religious. Working-age Muslims who were economically inactive were the most likely to be studying, at 13.8%, compared with 7.3% of the overall population. This cohort was also most likely to be looking after family and home, with 16.1% of economically inactive Muslims giving this reason, compared with 5.8% for the overall population. Last year a study confirmed the existence of a “Muslim penalty” in the employment market but rejected previous suggestions that it was due to cultural and religious practices. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Ethnic and Racial Studies journal, found discrimination towards Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim to be a significant barrier to them accessing work. read the complete article


Unaffected by FIRs, T Raja Singh continues calling for killing of Muslims in rally after rally in Maharashtra

Over the past one month, suspended BJP MLA T Raja Singh has been seen attending several rallies in Maharashtra and delivering speeches full of hateful content and open calls for violence and boycott against Muslims. Several FIRs have been lodged against him for his incendiary speeches in Maharashtra. Twitter account Hindutva Watch tweeted a clip from the speech in Shrirampur on March 10. T Raja can be heard addressing Muslims as ‘Landya’, an anti-Muslim slur. “Jo bhi landya Love Jihad karega, arey beta tum aadhe kate ho, pure kaat denge“, Singh is heard telling the sizeable crowd as he is met with a huge rounds of applause from the audience and organizers. He then says that Muslims won’t even get loudspeakers to pray 5 times a day in a Hindu Rashtra. Singh also lauds Balasaheb Thackeray, who he claims, openly threatened to ‘clean out’ the landya by shooting them. He goes on to claim that Thackeray spoke of ‘eliminating’ insects and cockroaches (Muslims) with a spray. He also claims that Thackeray described the ideal Hindu youth to be the ones who can kill anyone who opposes the Hindutva faith or the country, or anyone who commits Land Jihad or Love Jihad. He then urges his audience to listen to Thackeray’s speech and ‘implement’ it. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Mar 2023 Edition


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