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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07 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Indonesia, more than 100 hungry and weak Rohingya Muslims were found on a beach in the northernmost province of Aceh on Sunday after weeks at sea, meanwhile in Ukraine, Mufti Said Ismagilov, one of the most important Muslim figures in the country, fears for Ukrainian Muslims amid Russia’s invasion of the country, and in Germany, a university in Munich has apologized to two female Muslim students for discriminatory practices during online exams after the incidents sparked widespread criticism on social media. Our recommended read of the day is by Al Jazeera on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the FBI in a case concerning discrimination claims by three Muslim men from California who accused the agency of conducting illegal surveillance of them after 9/11. This and more below:

United States

07 Mar 2022

US Supreme Court rules in favour of FBI in Muslim spying case | Recommended Read

The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the FBI in a case concerning discrimination claims by three Muslim men from California who accused the agency of conducting illegal surveillance of them after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The court on Friday unanimously overturned a lower court’s 2019 ruling that said a federal law regulating government surveillance called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) trumped the state secrets privilege – a legal defence based on national security interests – that the government asserted. The ruling means the case returns to lower courts for further litigation, with the claims made by the plaintiffs not yet dismissed. The Supreme Court faulted the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals’ analysis, with Justice Samuel Alito writing that the FISA provision in question “does not displace the state secrets privilege”. The lawsuit accused the FBI of infiltrating mainstream mosques in southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance because of their religion. read the complete article


07 Mar 2022

My dread, as a European, about the war in Ukraine

Al Jazeera exists to be the voice of the voiceless, or certainly of the least heard, and I have never sat at the anchor desk without keeping that mission at the heart of my work. And my heart has broken for the people involved in every conflict that the channel has covered. But as a continental European, I have to admit that I now feel a particular dread over the current war in Ukraine. Am I falling foul of the same double standards I have been working against for years? Do I feel this way because Ukrainians, being fellow Europeans, “look like me”? Maybe. But the truth is that like most Southern Europeans, my colouring and features are much more typically Middle Eastern than Slavic. My maternal homeland of Sicily is a few hundred kilometres from the Tunisian coast. My young son does not look like the many blond, blue-eyed Ukrainian children making the freezing journey to the safety of neighbouring countries. He looks like Alan Kurdi, the Syrian Kurdish three-year-old who never made it to his destination, but washed up dead on a Turkish beach on September 2, 2015, while trying to reach a Europe that denied him, an innocent victim of war, safe and legal passage. Over the past few days, many commentators and journalists have suggested that Europeans think war, destruction and displacement belong in “uncivilised” countries far away. But this is the point I disagree with most profoundly, and which is at the heart of my sense of dread. As a continental European, I know full well that Europe is anything but immune from war. Quite the opposite: Europe has been ravaged by wars in living memory, wars whose scars continue to be felt today. We will see more double standards in weeks and months to come, especially when it comes to migration. The EU has reached the historic agreement to grant migrants from Ukraine the right to live and work within the bloc. Right on cue, various European far-right leaders are already speaking about distinguishing between the “right and wrong” kinds of migrants. Because as well as there being tensions, conflict and double standards, there are always those wanting to exploit them. As there always have been. read the complete article

07 Mar 2022

Why It’s Hard for Most People in the US to Talk About War

When former U.S. President George W. Bush released a statement on Ukraine — “condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” and calling on the American people to “stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future” — I thought to myself, Not now, man. You’re hurting more than you’re helping. And that’s because, as very few Americans will need reminding, the Bush administration took advantage of the public’s emotional vulnerability after the 9/11 militia attacks and preexisting racial dynamics to successfully fabricate the bogeyman of “weapons of mass destruction” and lead the United States to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of fighting terror. As Russia is bombing Ukraine under the purported banner of “de-nazification,” so too is the U.S. still dropping bombs in the name of combating “terror.” According to the monitoring group Airwars, the United States Coalition in Iraq and Syria is responsible for at least one civilian death in Syria, AFRICOM declared a strike in Somalia, and the U.S. is alleged to have made a strike in Yemen — all this year. To underscore the devastation these airstrikes can have on local communities, The New York Times recently published a detailed report investigating this and how supposed Pentagon accountability measures are not actually functioning. I think of statements like Bush’s as sort of “moral lemons” — stances that might look good at first glance, but actually don’t take you anywhere if you buy them. The U.S.’s “moral lemons” are actually a key part of the Russian disinformation strategy. Platforms like RT, Ruptly, Soapbox, Redfish, Breakthrough News, and more take advantage of the lack of accountability around U.S. war crimes to pump out social-media-friendly content on the subject alongside Kremlin disinformation. read the complete article

07 Mar 2022

What the war in Ukraine taught us, Palestinians

As soon as the first Russian soldier set foot in Ukraine, thousands of civilians took up arms and joined Ukrainian troops to defend their homeland against an indisputably superior military power. Even after shells started to rain on Ukrainian cities, devastating military infrastructure and residential areas alike, brave troops and civilians supporting them made it clear that they will continue to fight for their nation’s freedom until the very end. In the face of this display of dignity and heroism, politicians and diplomats across the world raced each other to condemn Russia’s aggression and call on everyone to put their support behind Ukraine’s “resistance forces”. And one of the politicians who rushed to voice his support for Ukraine and its people was Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. But for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and apartheid, his defence of and support for the Ukrainian people was a slap in the face – it was a blatant display of hypocrisy. And it was not only Israel’s foreign minister who hypocritically condemned Russia’s invasion and expressed support for the Ukrainian resistance while ignoring Israel’s own actions. Thousands of Israelis also took to the streets in Tel Aviv “for Ukraine”. And as they marched with Ukrainian flags at hand and chanted “Free Ukraine”, Palestinian residents of the city watched on speechless. After all, that many Israelis have never taken to the streets in Israel to demand a “Free Palestine” or at least equal rights for Palestinians living under their state’s apartheid regime. To make matters worse, they undoubtedly know that whenever Palestinians try to take to the streets in Israel to say “Free Palestine” and raise their own flag, they face immediate arrest, police brutality, or worse. The shock experienced by the Palestinian people since the beginning of the war in Ukraine was not caused solely by the hypocritical actions and words of Israeli officials and citizens either. Since February 24, they also came face to face with the inherent hypocrisy of the global community at large. read the complete article

07 Mar 2022

The invasion of Ukraine and the moral conflict of sympathizing while Black

As we read the updates from the comfort of our relatively peaceful countries, we've experienced these same feelings of sorrow, fear, and sometimes guilt before. But there's another feeling that members of marginalized ethnic and racial groups often experience when Western and other industrialized countries face turmoil: cognitive dissonance. After all, how does one reconcile supporting a nation in anguish with the knowledge that the same nation exacts harm against you? Even in times of crisis, sometimes the oppressed can also be the oppressor. In the immediate, chaotic aftermath of Russia's invasion, the United Nations admitted that non-Europeans living in Ukraine experienced "different treatment" by military officers, border guards, and groups of civilians while trying to flee the country, according to Filippo Grandi, the organization's High Commissioner for Refugees. While Ukraine was certainly not a racial utopia before Russia's invasion, it's disheartening to know that even in the midst of devastation, anti-Black racism can remain strong. This cognitive dissonance is not only felt with Ukraine. In China, as COVID-19 ravaged the land, and the world was left aghast by reports of chaos and death, some responded to the plight with xenophobia and horrid treatment of Africans in Guangzhou (many of whom were left homeless). Likewise, the world has rightfully supported France after terror attacks there in recent years. But the country's treatment of minorities (particularly Muslims) can pose a conflict for some people of color who want to offer sympathy but also know French secularism consistently results in anti-Islamic policies like barring Muslim women from wearing hijab. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 Mar 2022

The Trojan Horse Affair vs. the British Press

The Trojan Horse Affair, the latest podcast from Serial Productions, debuted last month with formidable ambition. Hosted by Brian Reed, the veteran produced behind S-Town, and Hamza Syed, a Birmingham native and budding journalist, the series revisits a British political scandal from 2014 in which a fake letter supposedly revealing an Islamist conspiracy to infiltrate the school system in the English city of Birmingham and operate it according to strict Islamist principles was leaked to the press. The resulting news coverage, which largely failed to question the letter’s authenticity, sparked a hysterical public response, which politicians seized on by implementing policies that further encumbered the lives of Muslims in the U.K. The effects of those policies persist to this day, even though the letter itself is now widely understood to have been a hoax. The Trojan Horse Affair kicks off by attending to a key mystery of the letter that remains unresolved: Who wrote it, and why? As a media product, The Trojan Horse Affair swiftly became a hit. A spokesperson for the New York Times, which owns Serial Productions, said that the eight-part series garnered more than 13 million downloads in its first three and a half weeks. But as impact journalism, the podcast appears to have run into a wall. In the first few weeks since release, it drew little coverage in the British media. What coverage there has been has mostly come from culture writers, who tend to approach the podcast as entertainment rather than grappling with the significance of its findings as a news story. “It’s the kind of wild conspiracy theory that should be ideal podcast fodder, but Reed and Syed find themselves faced with an insurmountable problem: trying to make the minutiae of local politics exciting,” the Financial Times wrote in the “Arts” section. One major through-line explored in the podcast is the culture of the British press, which it critiques as being less skeptical of its government than it really should be, and whether it was that culture — combined with the country’s tenuous relationship with its Muslim population — that ultimately led to the disastrous consequences of the Trojan Horse Affair. read the complete article

United States

07 Mar 2022

WATCH: Lauren Boebert’s Remorse For Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Didn’t Last Long

A few short months ago, Boebert told an anecdote in which she saw Capitol security running, then spotted Omar. She joked that she decided it must be okay since Omar wasn’t wearing a backpack — implying that her colleague would be likely to carry an explosive into the Capitol. She referred to Omar and others in Congress as the “Jihad squad.” Boebert followed this up with an apology, calling the entire thing an ‘unneccesary distraction.’ Her public apology was to “anyone in the Muslim community” who she might have offended, but she also said that she was contacting Omar directly, with the implication that this would also be an apology. However, true atonement isn’t in a verbalized apology, but in ongoing better behavior — and this, it appears, was more than Boebert could manage. In the clip below, she is again playing to an audience, and brings up the same bigoted insult: “Oh sweet little jihad squad.” read the complete article


07 Mar 2022

German university apologises over Muslim discrimination

A university in the southern German city of Munich has apologised to two female Muslim students for discriminatory practices during online exams after the incidents sparked widespread criticism on social media. HM Hochschule Munchen said on Twitter that “it offered sincere apologies” to the students who were asked by instructors to remove their headscarves during online exams to rule out any suspicion of fraud. “Religious headdresses cannot be compared to ordinary fashion accessories, and they have to be handled differently,” the university’s management said and promised that it would change the instructions to the examination supervisors to ensure respect for religious freedom. One of the students thanked social media users for their support via her Instagram account “_kb.ra”, but also criticised the management for their late response to the incident. She underlined that Muslim students will continue their efforts until the university’s management ensures equal treatment, and puts an end to the discriminatory practices. “We won’t stop until we get justice,” she said on her Instagram account. Although Germany’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, Muslims, especially women wearing a headscarf, often face discriminatory practices in the education and labour market. read the complete article


07 Mar 2022

Is the hijab on trial in India?

A debate about the headscarf has sparked protests in India after a group of Muslim students in the southern state of Karnataka were barred from entering their school and asked to remove their hijabs. While end-of-year exams are under way, some girls say they are facing the possibility of choosing between their hijab and their education. So what would a hijab ban mean for religious freedoms in India? read the complete article


07 Mar 2022

Ukrainian mufti fears for his country's Muslim community

Mufti Said Ismagilov, one of the most important Muslim figures in Ukraine, is well versed in conflict. The Donetsk native was forced to flee his home town when Russian-backed separatists occupied eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014 after receiving word they were out to capture him for becoming an outspoken activist against the takeover. Later, when driving in a nearby area, someone shot a rifle round through his car window. His life was only spared thanks to a bulletproof vest. Mufti Ismagilov then moved to Kyiv, but now, as rockets fall around him, he fears for Ukrainians in general and the country’s Muslim population in particular. He said Russia's actions in Crimea after Moscow annexed the Ukrainian province did not bode well for the Ukrainian Muslim and Tatar communities. Most Crimean Tatars, a Muslim people indigenous to the Black Sea region, opposed Russia’s seizure of the territory from Ukraine in March 2014. Community members said they faced discrimination and hardship as they came under pressure to align themselves with the Russia-backed authorities. “It is dangerous in Kyiv every day, starting from the first day of the war,” Mufti Ismagilov told The National in a phone interview. The fears of some community members are built on historical instances of repression. read the complete article


07 Mar 2022

More than 100 Rohingya land on beach in Indonesia's Aceh

More than 100 hungry and weak Rohingya Muslims were found on a beach in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh on Sunday after weeks at sea, officials said. The group arrived on Jangka beach near Alue Buya Pasi, a fishing village in Bireuen district, early Sunday. The villagers who saw the 114 ethnic Rohingya on a rickety wooden boat helped them to land and then reported their arrival to authorities, said Badruddin Yunus, the leader of the local tribal fishing community. “They look very weak from hunger and dehydration after a long and severe voyage at sea,” said Yunus, adding it wasn’t clear where the group was traveling from or where it was headed because none of them could speak English or Malay. The 58 men, 21 women and 35 children were given shelter and received help from villagers, police and military, while local authorities including the coronavirus task force were helping to process them, Yunus said. More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a clearance operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Mar 2022 Edition


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