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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29 Mar 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, religious leaders appeal for calm after a teacher in West Yorkshire used an offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in class, as Mauree Turner talks to reporters about the rewards and challenges of being Oklahoma’s first Muslim lawmaker, and China sanctions U.S. religious freedom officials and Canadian human rights officials for raising concerns about the state’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. Our recommended read today is by Ali Saad on the French government’s ‘Islamo-leftism’ accusations against academia and Islamic scholarship in the country. This and more below:


25 Mar 2021

‘Islamo-leftism’: France enters its McCarthyist era

In recent weeks, another wave of political polarization hit France, as the concept of “Islamo-leftism” occupied centre stage in a heated cultural debate. In an interview with CNews, the French equivalent of Fox News, Higher Education and Research Minister Frédérique Vidal was asked whether or not she agreed that “Islamo-leftism is plaguing universities”. Her response was instant and shocking: “Islamo-leftism is plaguing the entire society,” she declared. She went on to say: “I am going to call for an investigation into all the currents of research on these subjects in the universities, so we can distinguish proper academic research from activism and opinion.” Vidal’s statement on “Islamo-leftism” is the latest in a string of similar pronouncements by elected officials in France. In June, President Emmanuel Macron told journalists: “The academic world has its share of blame. It has encouraged the ethnicisation of the social question, thinking this was a good line of research. But the result can only be secessionism. This means splitting the Republic in two.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United States

27 Mar 2021

They Were Guantánamo’s First Detainees. Here’s Where They Are Now

On Jan. 11, 2002, at the desolate air strip at Guantánamo Bay, United States Marines escorted 20 prisoners clad in orange uniforms from an Air Force cargo plane — “the worst of the worst,” the Pentagon called them — making them the first inmates of the wartime detention center that remains open to this day. In the years that followed, 760 more would come and all but the 40 detainees still there today would go. But the fates and misfortunes of those first 20 — who were introduced to the world in a Navy photograph, penned and on their knees — illustrates both the complex two-decade history of Guantánamo Bay starting in the harrowing period after the Sept. 11 attacks and the challenge that confronts the Biden administration as it develops a plan to try to close the prison. Some of the first 20 have managed to make good on Guantánamo dreams of marrying and having children. Some have sought obscurity. Many have not put the past behind them. But the torture of some detainees, the decision to deny them access to the civilian justice system, the choice to hold them offshore in crude conditions — and the fact that so few detainees were ever charged with war crimes — eventually made the facility a symbol to critics of all that was wrong in the Bush administration’s response. read the complete article

28 Mar 2021

New film tells story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 14 years in Guantanamo without charge

It’s a story of physical and psychological torture, of years behind bars, of the dogged search for the truth. The new film The Mauritanian tells the true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi – who was arrested two months after the September 11th attacks and spent more than 14 years without charge in America’s notorious Guantanamo Bay. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jodie Foster – the film is based on Slahi’s own memoir. read the complete article

27 Mar 2021

Mauree Turner On The Rewards And Challenges Of Being Oklahoma's First Muslim Lawmaker

Right off the bat, Mauree Turner needs to clarify something. "My name is Mauree Turner," they said on Friday during a round of 20 Questions on ELLE's Instagram Live. "I am the newly elected representative for Oklahoma's House District 88. I feel the need to emphasize Oklahoma because a lot of people still think that I am in Congress." The confusion most likely stems from this past November when Turner made history—and headlines—as the first practicing Muslim elected to the Oklahoma state legislature and the nation's first non-binary state legislator. As an Oklahoma community organizer, Turner has used their platform to advocate for issues such as criminal justice reform, LGTBQ+ rights, and public education. "[House District 88 is] full of community organizers and activists that really care and really give back and are continuously writing a playbook on what's next and then living it," they said. "I think that's, quite honestly, how I got elected." read the complete article

27 Mar 2021

Muslim Bloggers Have Inspired Me to Redefine Beauty on My Terms

Makeup is my form of self-love. Today, more than ever, we see Muslim women crushing the patriarchy and challenging society’s definition of what beauty means. Bloggers like Rhianna Beau, Sally Ashour, and Aysha Harun are redefining what makeup, fashion, and lifestyle mean to them, and Muslim girls like myself find inspiration in their empowering messages. My journey to finding empowerment through beauty and makeup as a Muslim woman has evolved as I've grown, along with our representation in these industries. I am so thankful for the many bloggers out there who share my faith and experiences to pave the way for young women like me to feel comfortable, confident, and happy with who I am. read the complete article

26 Mar 2021

Meet Alia Sharrief of the Hijab Chronicles, the Muslim Hip Hop Artist Breaking Barriers in Music

California-based emcee, hip hop artist and human rights activist Alia Sharrief established the Hijab Chronicles back in 2014 with the aim to give Muslim women in hip hop proper representation. The following year, Sharrief and her team organized a concert that featured an all-Muslim female lineup, making them one of the very first platforms in the world to bring together a group of Muslim women in hip hop for a music show. Apart from her work at the Hijab Chronicles, Sharrief also makes music. The talent has fallen in love with the art after discovering how music has the ability to uplift souls. Her creativity stems from listening to artists such as Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. “Music has always been a tool to convey a message, and that alone drew me in for life,” Sharrief tells HYPEBAE. In addition to writing her own songs, the rapper puts her skills to good use by educating children and teens on how to use lyrics to build communities, enriching young listeners with a powerful message that they, too, can change the world. In celebration of Muslim Women’s Day (March 27), we caught up with Sharrief to talk about when she realized hip hop was her calling, how she overcomes the obstacles of working in the male-dominant music industry and more. read the complete article

27 Mar 2021

This Muslim Women’s Day, let's celebrate America's trailblazing Muslim women

In 2016, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of, declared March 27 Muslim Women’s Day. The day not only supports Muslim women but celebrates their accomplishments, which are often excluded or not highlighted in mainstream media. "In the current climate, Muslim women are rarely given the space to be heard above all the noise," Al-Khatahtbeh wrote in a tweet. Muslim women are a true force; they not only continue to challenge stereotypes but have been leading communities in efforts not only against Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and misogynist attitudes, but many have been front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Muslim women are diverse, independent, empowered, and most importantly, will not be silenced. Join us as we celebrate Muslim women and their resilience. Here’s a list of some trailblazing Muslim women who have broken the glass ceiling in various fields. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Mar 2021

Religious leaders and politicians call for calm in Batley cartoon row

The row over a teacher’s use of an offensive cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad is being exploited by parties on both sides, and by the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, according to politicians and religious leaders who have appealed for calm. For a second day, a small group of protesters gathered outside Batley grammar school in West Yorkshire on Friday, with more members of the media than public in attendance after the school announced it would be closed and pupils would be taught remotely. Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative cabinet minister, told the BBC: “Unfortunately, this matter has been hijacked by extremists on both sides to kind of create this culture war. What we’re forgetting is the most important party in all of this, which is the kids and their learning.” Lady Warsi said she had been in contact with parents at the school, and added: “It’s obvious that many pupils were left distressed because of what happened.” read the complete article

27 Mar 2021

Nadiya Hussain’s Warmhearted Advice For The Rest Of Lockdown

Since her 2015 Bake Off win, Hussain’s rise to fame has been groundbreaking, particularly as a visibly Muslim woman of color. The 36-year-old has pushed through racism, Islamophobia, and online trolling, usually with a smile on her face and cupcake in her hand. In 2016, she was named one of Britain’s most influential people. A Welsh website lauded her for “doing more for British Muslim women than politicians,” and just last weekend, The Guardian declared she’s done more for Bangladeshi visibility than the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She’s even baked a birthday cake for the queen of England, a three-tiered masterpiece of orange curd and orange buttercream. This summer, her new cookbook will be published stateside, focusing on cakes, tarts, and sweet bakes — a candy-colored respite from the pandemic. On the first anniversary of the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown, Hussain talks to Bustle about her last year, from egg scarcities to garden sleepovers. read the complete article


27 Mar 2021

Vandalism of Muslim prayer space at Pearson airport under investigation as possible hate crime

Vandalism of a prayer area at Toronto Pearson International Airport is being investigated as a possible hate crime, Peel police say. Several people told Peel Regional Police on the evening of March 26 that a publicly accessible Muslim prayer space was in a "vandalized state," Const. Heather Cannon said in a statement. "Peel Regional Police are investigating this incident as a possible hate crime and are working alongside the Greater Toronto Airport Authority as this investigation unfolds," she said. read the complete article

26 Mar 2021

Why are Alberta’s Black, Muslim women being attacked?

For months Alberta’s Muslim community has been on edge. A series of racially motivated assaults against mostly Black, Muslim women in Calgary and Edmonton has left many in the community feeling anxious and unsafe. “It has been a very traumatic time for those victims as well as for the Muslim community at large,” said Fatema Abdalla, communications coordinator with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Edmonton mayor, Don Iveson says the city has improved security around the city’s transit stations but he believes there is also a larger problem at play. read the complete article


27 Mar 2021

Neo-Nazi groups are using Instagram to recruit young teenagers, experts warn. Memes are being used to entice them

Instagram has become the "platform of choice for young Nazis to radicalize teenagers," according to the UK anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate's annual report. Neo-Nazi groups are using it to prey on vulnerable young people and sign them up to their extremist causes, the report said. The "slow roll" process, which gradually introduces youngsters to more troubling material, is enabled by Instagram's algorithm, say experts. Liking a seemingly innocuous meme can, in turn, present the teenager with more radical content. A March study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that users are directed to far-right content on the Explore page. Liking content relating to any form of misinformation — election, vaccination, or race-based — leads to anti-Semitic and extremist content being promoted to the user, it found. "Instagram's algorithm leads users down rabbit-holes to a warren of extremist content," the study said. read the complete article


27 Mar 2021

‘We have nothing’: Refugee camp fire devastates Rohingya, again

On Monday afternoon, a huge fire broke out in the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, killing at least 15 people, wounding hundreds and leaving tens of thousands of Rohingya homeless, again. Fueled by strong winds and hundreds of cooking gas cylinders that exploded, the massive blaze spread rapidly across the densely populated camp. It was the latest tragedy for its Rohingya residents, who have been residing in squalid shanties abutting streams of sewage-infested runoff water. A total of nine small and large-scale fires have broken out in the Rohingya refugee camps over the past year, residents and officials told Al Jazeera. read the complete article


28 Mar 2021

UN in talks with China for unrestricted Xinjiang visit

The UN is in negotiations with Beijing for a visit "without restrictions" to Xinjiang to see how the Uyghur minority is being treated, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in an interview broadcast Sunday. At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in the northwestern region, according to US and Australian rights groups, which accuse Chinese authorities of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labor. read the complete article

27 Mar 2021

China sanctions U.S. religious freedom officials, Canadian member of parliament

China has imposed sanctions against two U.S. religious rights officials, a Canadian member of parliament and a subcommittee on human rights in Canada’s House of Commons, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement released Saturday. The sanctions are the latest escalation in a growing dispute between Western nations and Beijing over the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the province of Xinjiang. The Chinese sanctions target the chair and vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins. The USCIRF has condemned China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang and endorsed recent U.S. sanctions against Chinese officials. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Mar 2021 Edition


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