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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, history is being made as Hamza Yousaf is expected to become the first non-white head of the Scottish government, making it so that the current leadership role in British, Scottish and Irish parliaments are occupied by people of South Asian descent, meanwhile in the U.S., for the second year in a row, hundreds of Muslims observing Ramadan broke their fast and held taraweeh prayers in New York’s Times Square, and in Canada, Federal Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, has called for the removal of anti-Muslim stereotypes from public school books in the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Ahmed Twaij for Al Jazeera on the parallels of what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine, to what former U.S. President George W. Bush did with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and how both leaders need to be held accountable for their crimes. This and more below: 


Bush did what Putin’s doing — so why is he getting away? | Recommended Read

It was disgracefully dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the invading United States military forces, but for millions of Iraqis around the world, it was anything but. Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the start of what then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan described more appropriately as an “illegal” war on Iraq by the US and its allies. What we did learn from the war is the abhorrent hypocrisy of labels in conflicts when viewed through a Western lens. This war has, as an Iraqi, plagued my thoughts daily since March 2003. It has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, with millions of others displaced and their lives ruined. Sadly, over the last 20 years, we have failed to see any accountability for the plethora of lies and false arguments by both former US President George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s governments that led to an era-defining conflict. In contrast, it took current US President Joe Biden mere weeks to decry his Russian counterpart as a “war criminal” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The reason Iraq has witnessed decades worth of war is directly linked to Bush’s 2003 decision to invade a country that had already been ravaged by years of brutal sanctions. The death of innocent Iraqis matters just as much as the deaths of innocent Ukrainians. Just as Ukrainians deserve life and solidarity, so too do Iraqis. Just as we should want Putin to be tried for his crimes, we should be demanding that Bush be charged for his. We cannot wait another 20 years. read the complete article

28 Mar 2023

Latest Quran-burning in Denmark shows politicisation of anti-Muslim hate

Setting ablaze the Islamic holy book has become a part of growing political rhetoric among far-right movements across Europe. Members of a Danish far-right group, Patrioterne Gar Live, gathered outside Türkiye’s embassy in Copenhagen, displayed anti-Muslim placards and burned a copy of the Quran along with the Turkish national flag, while broadcasting it live to their Facebook page. The hateful act last week drew a sharp condemnation from Ankara the very next day, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry saying it will never accept such “vile actions being allowed under the guise of freedom of expression”. The Denmark incident is the latest in a growing trend in Europe where far-right groups use freedom of expression as an excuse to carry out hateful acts under the protection of the state. The frequency of the events forced Türkiye to issue a strongly-worded statement, showing its concerns about “the dangerous dimensions of religious intolerance and hatred in Europe”. read the complete article

US puts trade curbs on 5 Chinese firms over alleged role in Uyghur repression

The Biden administration on Tuesday imposed new trade restrictions on five Chinese companies for allegedly aiding in the repression of the Uyghur Muslim minority but China rejected the accusation as "lies" aimed at constraining it. According to Hikvision's 2021 half-year report, at least four of the companies facing new curbs belong to the Chinese surveillance camera maker including Luopu Haishi Dingxin Electronic Technology Co, Moyu Haishi Electronic Technology Co, Pishan Haishi Yong'an Electronic Technology Co and Urumqi Haishi Xin'an Electronic Technology Co. The companies "have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-technology surveillance against the Uyghur people and members of other Muslim minority groups," in the Xinjiang region, the Commerce Department said in a posting in the Federal Register. read the complete article

‘Historic moment’: Politicians of South Asian descent set to lead Scotland, Britain and Ireland with Yousaf victory

When Humza Yousaf took his oath of allegiance in Scottish parliament in 2016, he wore a gold embroidered sherwani – a traditional South Asian jacket – and a kilt. He is now expected to make history by becoming the first non-White head of the Scottish government, following his election as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) on Monday. The triumph of British-born Yousaf, whose family trace their ancestry to Pakistan, is just the latest reflection of how times have changed as people of South Asian descent occupy leadership roles in the British, Scottish and Irish parliaments. Yousaf, 37, joins British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Hindu, who secured the role last October and whose Indian parents came to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s. And across the Irish Sea is the Republic of Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose father is an Indian-born doctor. India and Pakistan were once the jewel of a British empire that stretched so far across the globe it was often said the sun would never set on it. But 75 years since the end of the British Raj, many commentators have remarked at how history has come full circle. But while political representation of minorities in Britain has improved, racism is far from vanquished. Yousaf’s victory was greeted with racist comments on social media by members of the far right. Others have noted that Sunak and Yousaf were also both selected by their parties and have yet to face a general election. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Humza Yousaf: Scotland gets a Muslim leader in a moment of extraordinary change for British politics

Humza Yousaf’s appointment as first minister of Scotland is a historic moment for the UK. It means that, for the first time in history, the country has a Hindu prime minister in Westminster (Rishi Sunak) and a Muslim first minister in Scotland. On the face of it, these two men, whose families came to the UK as immigrants looking for a better life, embody the dream that, through hard work, immigrants and their children can make it to the top of society. Similar stories are playing out elsewhere at the top level of British politics, too. Scotland’s main opposition party Labour is led by Anas Sawar, a man who is also of Pakistani Muslim heritage, as is Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. The Westminster cabinet also has unprecedented ethnic diversity. Many of these politicians are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who came to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, economic migrants from former colonies like India, Pakistan and the nations of east Africa and the Caribbean, who came with little money and limited English language. This first wave of postcolonial migrants often worked in the great British industries, in factories and in mills, settling in large town and cities. Scotland is the only western European nation to have a Muslim leader and the UK the only democracy where the children of formerly colonised people are running the country that colonised their parents’ and grandparents’ nations. The moment is monumental. The UK, Scotland and indeed Ireland are all led by people from the south Asian diaspora. read the complete article

Almost half of young Muslims have faced Islamophobia, polling suggests

Almost half of young Muslims have experienced Islamophobia at work, in shops and restaurants or in education settings, new polling has suggested. The survey results have been described as “extremely concerning” and “especially prescient” because they come in the same week as Scotland’s first Muslim leader was voted in. The survey findings for Hyphen, an online publication specialising in news, culture and lifestyle about Muslims in Britain and Europe, show “much more needs to be done by employers and educators on tackling Islamophobia in public life”, editor Burhan Wazir said. The Savanta survey had 2,073 so-called Generation Z respondents in the UK aged 16-24, of which 1,002 were Muslims. Some 49% of the latter grouping said they have experienced Islamophobia in a school, university, or another education setting, 47% have done so in a social setting, while 44% of those with jobs said they have faced it in the workplace. Females were more likely to say they have experienced Islamophobia in a social setting (53%) than males (41%), while for educational settings the breakdown was 53% of females compared with 45% of males. read the complete article

United States

Taraweeh prayers held in New York's Times Square

For the second year in a row, hundreds of Muslims observing Ramadan broke their fast and held taraweeh prayers in New York's Times Square. The weekend event was organised by Muslim social media influencer SQ, in collaboration with Muslims Giving Back and Droplets of Mercy. Dahlia Tarek, who attended with family and friends, said it was important to provide the space for people to ask questions about Islam in an open and welcoming environment. “I think the fact that it’s happening in the [busiest] part of the city is an amazing thing,” Ms Tarek said. “I hope it still keeps happening every year because it’s really good and I hope the population keeps growing.” The event's goal was to help non-Muslim New Yorkers see how Ramadan is observed. “Of course Islamophobia is on the rise and our religion is one of the most misunderstood religions in the world, yet we are the fastest-growing religion in the world,” SQ said. He added that the event, held under the bright neon lights and advertisements of New York's most famous square, was an opportunity for Muslims to come together and also help other people learn more about Islam. read the complete article


“My first experience of racism was in the masjid,” Sumaiyah Clark of Milwaukee recalled. Clark, whose grandparents were among the first Muslim families in Milwaukee, shared an incident that happened when she was 6 years old. “I was so excited because for Eid I got the Superstar Christie Barbie (the first Barbie with the facial features of a Black woman). She was brown. She had this glorious hair and a sparkly dress. I go to the masjid and the other girls are like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so ugly!’ Her brother Burhan Clark, Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center board chairperson, said, “When I was young, there were two types of Muslims. Either you were with the Nation or you were a terrorist. Being a Muslim who’s not part of the Nation and not a terrorist, I felt I had to educate people about who I am, what Islam is and work through their automatic assumptions.” The Clarks were among a panel of four distinguished participants discussing “The Black Muslim Experience.” The event, co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center, was held in February at the Islamic Resource Center in Greenfield and organized by IRC librarian Muna Jaber. MMWC board member Fatoumata Ceesay welcomed the audience to hear from the panel of African American Muslims in the diaspora as they shared their experiences of being Black and Muslim, including what they wish others knew and how others can best support them. read the complete article

Judge Signals Impatience a Year Into Sept. 11 Case Plea Talks

A year has passed since prosecutors began plea talks with five defendants in the case over the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the judge is showing signs of impatience with the lack of progress as the Biden administration examines aspects of the proposal. Prosecutors, defense lawyers and the judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, traveled to Guantánamo Bay last March but postponed a planned hearing to permit the sides to enter into plea negotiations. Since then, Colonel McCall has canceled each scheduled hearing, in part citing a joint request from prosecutors and defense lawyers to delay the proceedings while the administration evaluates the proposals. At issue is a list of so-called “policy principles,” mostly the details of how the accused would spend the rest of their lives in prison. Prosecutors say the lead defendant, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, conceived of the plot, and that the other four men had lesser roles as deputies or travel and finance arrangers for the hijackers. Defense lawyers are seeking written assurances that the men would continue to have access to legal counsel and would not be put in solitary confinement, as they were during the years they were held incognito in overseas C.I.A. prisons. read the complete article


Islamophobia minister recommends removing Muslim stereotypes from school books

Federal Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia Amira Elghawaby said that public school books need to be rewritten to remove Muslim stereotypes. Before joining the federal government, Elghawaby wrote a booklet identifying the Red Ensign as a symbol of hate. The booklet targeted school children. “I heard from students who still experience lessons that embed stereotypes and promote misinformation about Islam and Muslims,” testified Elghawaby at the Senate Human Rights committee. “Is it possible there will be resources available at a national level to any teacher anywhere in Canada that looks at either Islamophobia, anti-racism efforts, citizenship — you know, that is certainly an interesting question to explore,” testified Elghawaby. “I know I will be looking at what other tools are available to advance education and awareness on Islamophobia and the contributions of Muslims in Canada.” read the complete article


Why We Need to Help the Uyghur People in China NOW with Elfidar Iltebir, Elisha Wiesel, and Josh Rogin

As China’s Uyghur Muslim community continues to face persecution, including detention, forced sterilization and the deliberate erasure of their culture, what is the world doing to help? Josh Rogin, columnist for the Global Opinions section of The Washington Post moderates a conversation about the plight of the Uyghur people — and what we can do about it — with Elfidar Iltebir, president of the Uyghur American Association, and Elisha Wiesel, chairman of the board of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. read the complete article

New Zealand

NZ mulls harsher law against refugee boat arrivals – despite no refugee boats ever having arrived

Large groups of asylum seekers arriving to New Zealand by sea could be detained in prison for up to 28 days without a warrant, under a law change that was proposed even though a refugee boat has never reached the country. The bill – put forward by the Labour government – passed its first reading on Wednesday. It also determines that asylum seekers who arrive in groups of 30 or more by sea would have no possibility of attaining the entry permissions or temporary visas conferred on other travellers to New Zealand – including asylum seekers who enter the country by air. The measures were decried by opponents as fear-mongering and election year cynicism in a country that has never seen a mass arrival by sea and where policy on asylum seekers has rarely struck the more conservative notes of Britain and Australia. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Mar 2023 Edition


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