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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11 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Elon Musk said that he would end Twitter’s permanent ban of former President Donald Tump after his purchase of the social media platform is complete, meanwhile in Turkey, Uyghur Muslims urged the UN human rights chief to independently investigate the so-called “re-education camps” and allegations of rights abuses, torture and even genocide when she visits China’s Xinjiang province this month, and in Canada, a man who attacked a Muslim family outside an Edmonton mosque was sentenced last month to 90 days in jail. Our recommended read of the day is an excerpt published by Middle East Eye from Peter Oborne’s new book, which examines the transformation of the UK’s Conservative party, noting “how neo-conservative ideologues in David Cameron’s government saw British Muslims as a subversive community.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

11 May 2022

How the Conservative Party declared a cold war on Islam | Recommended Read

During the first two decades of the 21st century, the British Conservative Party mutated. I watched this happen first-hand. When I arrived at Westminster as a reporter in 1992, the Conservative Party could boast that it was the most successful and enduring political organisation in the Western world, having been a frequent party of government ever since its conception in the early 19th century. Caution, scepticism and pragmatism were the secret to its success. The party supported the British welfare state and membership of the European Union, though in neither case with much enthusiasm. This type of conservatism slowly died, or at any rate went into abeyance, after the general election calamity of 1997. By the turn of the century, the Conservative Party appeared to have run out of steam. This reflected puzzling changes in society that it couldn’t cope with. Above all, it was suffering a collapse in its membership base. David Cameron evolved from traditional Tory to revolutionary neo-conservative over the course of his leadership. In his early years as Conservative leader, he worked closely with Muslims, took a generally optimistic view of Islam and spoke up for Muslim causes. He saw this as part of the modernising project. He claimed that the Israeli blockade had turned the Gaza Strip into a "prison camp’". His foreign affairs spokesman William Hague also criticised the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 as "disproportionate", arousing Israeli fury. Cameron identified Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim woman then in her mid-thirties who had unsuccessfully fought the Dewsbury seat in the 2005 general election, as a new face for his Conservative Party. He offered her a peerage and a place in his Shadow Cabinet. What’s more, he gave her the sensitive role of shadow minister for community cohesion, which had responsibility for relations with Muslims and other minority groups. Meanwhile, the neo-conservatives around David Cameron were engineering a conservatism which had no room for Sayeeda Warsi. The most famous protagonist – and beneficiary – of this project was Michael Gove, the Murdoch protege who had given up a Fleet Street career to enter politics as a Tory MP in 2005. Gove had been the first chairman of Policy Exchange. In 2006, the year after Cameron was elected leader, Gove wrote a celebrated book. Titled Celsius 7/7, it was a call to action, and an attempt to reshape the UK and the world. Gove – and this came naturally to a founder of Policy Exchange – distinguished Islam from Islamism, asserting that the latter was a form of ‘totalitarianism’ that was fundamentally hostile to Western liberal values. “Islamists”, thundered Gove, “are a self-conscious vanguard who look down on other Muslims and consider the majority of their co-religionists as sunk in barbarity or error.” He believed that Islamists were at war with the West, with Israel standing at the frontline of the battle. Gove announced his belief that “a sizeable minority” of the UK’s then 1.8 million Muslims held “rejectionist Islamist views” which, so he said, presented a threat comparable to Nazism or communism. He declared that Islamists were on the march and that the West had collectively failed to act. Gove’s polemic has reportedly since been handed to every new member of the Conservative Friends of Israel group, to which an estimated 80 per cent of all Conservative MPs belong. In a short space of time, Mr Gove’s treatise created an enduring Tory narrative about Islam. read the complete article

United States

11 May 2022

Arab gas station, store owners say city resuming ‘unfair’ closures for unrelated crimes

After a gunman unloaded his weapon and killed a man last week in front of Salim Mohnsin’s gas station and convenience store — a shooting caught on camera that went viral on social media — the city shuttered Mohnsin’s East Garfield Park business, with no signs of reopening. Now, in the wake of the recent gun violence that has rattled the public and prompted city leaders to vow action, some Arab business owners say they’re being unfairly targeted and closed by city agencies when the violent crime happens near their shops and gas stations, even when the crime is totally unrelated. “We’re an easy target,” said Ray Hanania, a member of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, which held a news conference Monday to highlight what they say is unfair treatment by the city. “Any time it’s an Arab store (where a shooting occurs), we’re closed.” In the last three weeks, organizers said at least 10 Arab- and Muslim-owned businesses have been cited and shut down. This recent crackdown follows a similar sweep last summer that led to numerous businesses being cited and shut down for city violations. Some wondered whether Arab or Muslim businesses in poor neighborhoods were being scapegoated. “We’ve been targeted by inspectors and the city of Chicago. Any crime happening in the city, they come into the business. If it happens close to the business, they blame the business,” said Hassan Nijem, president and chief executive officer of the chamber. “What they do is shut off the businesses. They don’t fight crime, they fight the businesses.” read the complete article

11 May 2022

Incivil replies to ‘The Squad’ nearly doubled after Trump tweet, researchers find

After Trump’s 2019 tweet telling four congresswomen, known as “The Squad,” to “go back” to their home countries, the number of incivil replies to tweets made by the congresswomen almost doubled, new research finds. Despite all four congresswomen — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — being U.S. citizens, many of the remarks echoed Trump’s sentiment that the congresswomen don’t belong holding office in the United States. In particular, two types of incivility towards the congresswomen increased significantly after Trump’s tweet — the use of stereotypes and threats to individual rights. According to the researchers, these four women “represent the racial, gender and religious minority in the United States” and have been the target of a large amount of incivility online. This research provides insight into incivility on Twitter, particularly when it is directed towards members of minority groups. To conduct their study, the researchers collected all replies to all tweets made by the four congresswomen from June 1, 2019, to August 31, 2019 — six weeks before and six weeks after Trump’s July 14 tweet. Out of the total 102,815 replies to the congresswomen’s tweets during the time period, a sample of 20,563 were coded for 14 variables, including tones and popular topics such as immigration, Muslim ban, abortion, LGBTQ rights and more. The researchers determined that just under two-thirds of all replies during the 12-week time period included at least one type of incivility. The findings also showed that, after Trump’s comments, the total number of replies to the congresswomen’s tweets jumped by roughly 20 percent. Overall, the most common type of incivility used against The Squad was “name calling,” identified as using disparaging remarks, such as “idiot” or “stupid.” Second was “stereotype,” which was identified as associating an individual with a group and using terms, such as “Muslim,” in a derogatory manner. Third was “threats to individual rights,” which is implying someone should not have rights, such as freedom of speech. Fourth was “vulgarity,” which is the use of swear words. read the complete article

11 May 2022

New Novel Satirizes ISIS & U.S. Foreign Policy

Zarqa Nawaz has spent her career busting stereotypes of Muslim North Americans. And in what might otherwise pass as a summer beach read, her new novel centers on an American middle-aged Muslim woman and uses humor to tackle everything that’s gone wrong with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Nawaz joins Mehdi to discuss the book, “Jameela Green Ruins Everything.” read the complete article

11 May 2022

Tennessee schools could now see blanket book bans. Here's what you need to know

During the last days of this year's legislative session, Tennessee lawmakers quickly passed a law opening the door for potential statewide bans on books challenged by parents in public schools. The bill gives the politically-appointed state textbook commission, which includes controversial members like a long-time activist accused of being "anti-Muslim," the authority to hear appeals from students, families or school employees who disagree with a local school board's decision regarding a challenged book. The commission's final vote on materials, challenged as "inappropriate for the age or maturity levels" of students, would then apply to every school in the state, not just the school where the challenge originally arose. The bans would apply not just to required reading but could also apply to books in school libraries or optional materials available for students to read independently. The move is the latest development in ongoing culture wars both in Tennessee and nationwide over what is taught or made available in public schools. read the complete article

11 May 2022

Elon Musk says he would end Twitter's permanent Trump ban

Elon Musk said Tuesday that he would end Twitter's permanent ban of former President Donald Tump after his purchase of the social media platform is complete. Twitter implemented the ban days after the Jan. 6 attack "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" by Trump. “I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, told The Financial Times, adding: “I would reverse the permanent ban." “Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice,” he continued. “It will amplify it among the right. This is why it’s morally wrong and flat up stupid.” The ban, according to Twitter, sought to avoid violence sparked by Trump's words — not Trump's words generally. But Musk and innumerable GOP lawmakers seem to believe hate speech — even that which might incite violence and use disinformation to do so — should be protected speech online. With or without Trump, the site is a hellscape overrun with fake accounts, misogyny, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and other social maladies. Trump’s return would bring a tidal wave of toxicity. But Twitter's problems, believe it or not, are bigger than him. And if Musk takes the reins, rest assured the problems will start at the top. read the complete article


11 May 2022

Uyghurs in Turkey urge UN rights chief to probe China 're-education camps'

Turkey's Uyghur Muslims on Tuesday urged the UN human rights chief to independently investigate the so-called "re-education camps" and allegations of rights abuses, torture and even genocide when she visits China's Xinjiang province this month. Turkey's 50,000-strong Uyghur community have staged daily protests outside the Chinese consulate in Istanbul over the past few years, holding pictures of their relatives and family members with whom they lost touch for months, and even years. In March, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she would pay a visit to China, including Xinjiang, in May, after an agreement with Beijing, as rights advocates mounted pressure that her office release its long-postponed report on the rights situation there. "I am calling on the UN rights chief to walk freely in the concentration camps and talk freely with the people, without surveillance cameras or without the presence of Chinese police, to reveal to the world the human rights situation there," Mirza Ahmet Ilyasoglu, an Uyghur living in Turkey, told a press conference in Istanbul. "Because if the UN goes there and listens to the one-sided Chinese thesis ... it would come up with a completely false report which would be very embarrassing for the UN and the human rights agency," he said. read the complete article

11 May 2022

The Kashmir Files: Singapore bans film praised by India’s Modi

Singapore has banned a controversial film on the exodus of Hindus from Indian-administered Kashmir for its “provocative and one-sided portrayal” of Muslims that officials in the city-state fear has the “potential to cause enmity between different communities”. Released in March, The Kashmir Files depicts in harrowing detail how about 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus – known as Pandits – fled the Muslim-majority region following attacks by rebels in 1989 and 1990, when an armed resistance against New Delhi’s rule began. Up to 219 Hindus may have been killed, according to official figures. The 170-minute Hindi language film was praised by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Hindu nationalist followers and is one of India’s highest-grossing films this year. Soon after the film was released, Modi said 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,” the Indian leader said, without clarifying to whom he was referring. But critics say the film is loose with facts and tackles themes close to the political agenda of Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, which has been accused of marginalising and vilifying Muslims. “The film will be refused classification for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir,” the Singapore government said in a statement on Monday in response to media queries. “These representations have the potential to cause enmity between different communities, and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in our multi-racial and multi-religious society,” the statement added. read the complete article


11 May 2022

Barnaby Joyce says One Nation has changed. Is he right?

Barnaby Joyce claimed at a candidate’s forum on Monday night that the anti-immigrant, nativist One Nation party led by Pauline Hanson had changed. “The party of 10, 15 years ago is not the party of today,” Joyce said. “Things change. Mollify.” The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, was first elected in 1996, shooting to notoriety after being disendorsed by the Liberal party for comments about Indigenous Australians. In her maiden speech she said Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Asians”. Here are some notable incidents since Hanson herself returned to the Senate in 2016. That maiden speech was relevant then and it is still relevant today,” she said in 2016, before warning that Muslims were responsible for organised crime, violence, “collapsing social cohesion” and numerous other social ills. Two months later, she turned up to the Senate for question time dressed in a burqa. The stunt – roundly condemned in a speech by then attorney general, Liberal senator George Brandis, earning him a bipartisan standing ovation – was intended to support her long-running anti-Muslim campaign, which at the time was focused on banning the garment. Earlier that year, she said: “Islam is a disease; we need to vaccinate ourselves against that”. Joyce denounced those comments as “bat poo crazy”. “This kind of stuff does not help anybody,” he said. “It was just stupid, it was plain dumb.” read the complete article


11 May 2022

Protests in New Delhi halt demolition in Muslim neighborhood

Authorities in New Delhi stopped a demolition drive in a Muslim-dominated neighborhood after hundreds of residents and a number of opposition party workers gathered in protest Monday. No buildings were razed down before the bulldozers retreated. Anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks have risen across India in the past month, including stone throwing between Hindu and Muslim groups during religious processions, followed by demolition drives in a few states where many Muslim-owned properties were razed down by local authorities. This was most recently seen last month in a northwest neighborhood in New Delhi where bulldozers destroyed several Muslim properties before the Supreme Court halted the drive. The demolitions were carried out days after communal violence there left several injured and sparked arrests. Amid heavy police presence Monday, bulldozers arrived in Shaheen Bagh, a neighborhood that in 2020 became a site of intense protest after the Parliament passed a controversial bill the previous year that amended the country’s citizenship law. The new law would fast-track naturalization for persecuted religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims, sparking many to call it discriminatory. Officials have said these demolition drives target illegal buildings and not any particular religious group. But critics argue such moves are the latest attempt to harass and marginalize Muslims, who are 14% of India’s 1.4 billion population, and point to a pattern of rising religious polarization under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. As the bulldozers drove away, Mohammed Niyaz, a 47-year-old resident in the neighborhood, called it “vote-bank politics” intended to divide the Hindu and Muslim communities. read the complete article


11 May 2022

Oussekine: The police killing that shocked France

When it comes to events in France's recent history to look back on, Oussekine's death could hardly be more pertinent. "It had an immediate impact on French society. It caused the cancellation of planned government reforms of universities, known as the Devaquet law," says Fabien Lemercier, the French correspondent for film website Cineuropa. "But more importantly, it had a very strong and still ongoing influence on how the French public views and denounces police violence." What's more, it raised serious questions about the country's treatment of immigrants, especially from its former colonies, that are still extremely resonant today, at a time when the recent presidential campaign was contested by the far-right politician Marine Le Pen, who is known for her anti-immigrant policies, and coloured by questions around French identity, European citizenship and the treatment of the Muslim community. Up until the moment of Oussekine's death, as Chevrollier suggests, many immigrants had faith that they could be incorporated into French culture without any trouble. Indeed, while Malik was from a Muslim background, it was later revealed he was looking to convert to Catholicism and become a Jesuit priest at the time of his death. "The fact is that Malik and all of the Oussekine family was so 'French' – we got a word for that in France, a word that was really popular in the 1980s: assimilation. It's a terrible word if you ask me," says Chevrollier. "The Oussekine family was really assimilated. For them it meant, let's put away our Arabic heritage, and now we are French, in a way more French than the white guys. So it was even more symbolic that it was this family, who so tried to assimilate, that suffered from police brutality [and] were in the middle of this political storm." read the complete article


11 May 2022

90 days in jail for man who attacked Muslim family outside Edmonton mosque

A man who attacked a Muslim family outside an Edmonton mosque was sentenced last month to 90 days in jail, court records show. Jeffrey Ryan Hill, 34, pleaded guilty on April 6 to mischief and uttering threats for menacing a Muslim woman and her four children in the parking lot of northeast Edmonton’s Al Ameen mosque on New Year’s Day 2022. The incident was one of more than a dozen allegedly “hate-motivated” crimes in Edmonton since December 2020. Judge Carrie Sharpe sentenced Hill to 90 days in jail at the suggestion of the Crown, followed by a year of probation including anger management classes. Sharpe denied Hill’s request to serve the sentence on weekends, saying it would fail to properly denounce his “disturbing” behaviour. She noted he threatened a complete stranger outside her place of worship and damaged her vehicle while she and her children were trapped inside. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 May 2022 Edition


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