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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12 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.K, far right extremists pose as journalists to spread anti-Muslim animus. Human rights groups urge Malaysia to end violent threats against Rohingya refugees. Our recommended read today is by Mik Moore titled “How a U.S Jewish group’s leadership race became mired in Islamophobia.” This, and more, below:

United States

12 May 2020

How a U.S. Jewish group’s leadership race became mired in Islamophobia | Recommended Read

What should have been the straightforward election of a new board chair at the leading umbrella organization for the American Jewish community in late April devolved into an ugly spat mired in Islamophobia. The proposed new chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (COP), Dianne Lob, a finance executive at the investment management firm AllianceBernstein, was touted by advocates for her experience and mainstream pro-Israel positions. Yet Lob’s election was ferociously opposed by Morton Klein, head of the far-right Zionist Organization of America, because of her role as chair of COP member organization HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Among his arguments against Lob, Klein claimed HIAS is an enemy to Jews because the majority of refugees it serves today are not only not Jewish, as they once were, but Muslim. For Klein, the tone and content of his objection was nothing out of the ordinary; his denunciations of anyone he deems insufficiently pro-Israel are routinely steeped in Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. But this is not just about one bad actor: while many liberals in the Jewish institutional community came to Lob’s defense, it was not enough to prevent her ascent to COP chair from being delayed. While most Jewish leaders, institutions, and media outlets have not adopted Klein’s manner, too many share his assumptions: first, that there is nothing particularly Jewish about standing up for non-Jews; and second, that Muslims are the eternal enemy of the Jews. In other words, Islamophobia has become a benchmark for many on the right for assessing whether someone is “really” Jewish or not. Under this formula, many Christian organizations are even more Jewish than some Jewish organizations. read the complete article

Recommended Read
12 May 2020

Donald Trump Unleashes Late Night Twitter Rant Retweeting Day-Old Anti-Obama Conspiracy Posts

President Donald Trump unleashed a torrent of 10 anti-Obama retweets in less than an hour late on Monday night, promoting a former New York Post columnist who had posted a series of alleged “BREAKING” and “DEVELOPING” claims that purported to document the Clinton campaign and previous administration’s conspiracy against the president. Beginning around 11:00 p.m., Trump apparently started to troll through the past two days of the Twitter timeline of Paul Sperry, a far right pundit who has authored several anti-Muslim books, including Muslim Mafia and Infiltration, the latter claiming that Muslim “spies and subversives” had secretly penetrated the highest levels of the federal government during the Bush administration. Sperry had been posting claims about former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s prosecution as well as dredging up a three-year-old Post column, in which he attacked Sally Yates, who was fired from her brief tenure as acting Attorney General during the early days of Trump’s administration after she refused to defend the first Muslim ban. Trump, after more than 100 Twitter shares the day before, when the U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 80,000, retweeted a rapid succession of Sperry’s alleged revelations, indulging in a mini-version of his Twitter binge on Mother’s Day. read the complete article

12 May 2020

Fire at Minneapolis mosque investigated, broken window found

Officials say the cause of a fire at a mosque in Minneapolis is accidental in nature. Investigators found the cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction, police spokesperson John Elder said Monday . A neighbor saw the fire overnight Sunday at Tawfiq Islamic Center and called for help. Firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to the entryway with minor damage. The fire battalion chief told KSTP-TV crews found a broken window when they arrived with flames behind it. No one was in the mosque at the time. read the complete article

12 May 2020

‘Justice is Indivisible’: Placing Palestine Back at the Center of Muslim Discourse in the West

A less discussed portion of the American war on Islam and Muslims in the last twenty years is the systematic and centralized attempt at breaking down the American Muslim society. The same can, of course, be said of the anti-Muslim sentiment that flourished in Europe during the West’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and other Muslim countries. Since then and till today, American Muslims found themselves forced to make bleak choices to avoid media demonization and government persecution. It has become clear that the terrible consequences of September 11 – the bloody wars that followed, and the tragic but predictable backlash of anti-Western militancy in the US, Europe and elsewhere – have, sadly, emasculated mainstream Muslim discourse in Western countries, the US especially. Once upon a time, every Friday, hundreds of Imams throughout American mosques would breach solidarity with Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and so on. Money would be raised for various organizations that provided aid for victims of wars throughout the Muslim world. In fact, unity around Palestine seemed to bring millions of Muslims together despite their vastly different cultures, classes, and even their very own interpretations of Islam itself. The outcome of September 11, namely the so-called ‘war on terror’, has changed all of that, imposing a new paradigm and a stark choice on Muslim communities all across the country. The shutting down of the Holy Land Foundation, because of its support of Palestinian and other victims of Israeli violence, was only the tip of the iceberg. The accounts of many Muslim charities and organizations were drained, while hundreds, if not thousands of well-educated and outspoken Muslim intellectuals were either detained, deported, fired from their jobs or forced into silence by other means. Sadly, it was the dawn of a new and tragic era where the self-loathing, self-seeking and opportunistic Muslim intellectual peddlers reigned supreme. It is through this compromising bunch, that Western governments managed to tailor their own version of the ‘good Muslim’, to be juxtaposed with the radical, God-forbid, free-thinking Muslim, unfairly but incessantly seen as a terrorist sympathizer. read the complete article

12 May 2020

District to investigate Islam quiz questions, criticizes Scottsdale college's 'rush to judgment'

Dozens of human rights groups have called on Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to address hate speech and violent threats against Rohingya refugees in the country amid a slew of online posts threatening murder and sexual violence. Monday's open letter, signed by 83 organisations, said the surge in hateful messages attacking the Rohingya community was causing fear of physical violence and discrimination among the refugees. The online posts directed at the Rohingya in the country included discriminatory and dehumanising language and images, with some users threatening prominent Rohingya activists as well as their supporters with murder and sexual violence, the groups said. 11) District to investigate Islam quiz questions, criticizes Scottsdale college's 'rush to judgment' (United States) The Maricopa County Community College District defended a Scottsdale professor criticized on social media for quiz questions that implied terrorism is encouraged under the Islamic faith. A Muslim student at Scottsdale Community College took offense to the questions, which were part of a quiz administered last month during a World Politics course. The student circulated the questions on social media, prompting backlash. The school apologized last week, saying it agreed with the student that the questions were inaccurate and the professor would apologize. But the district, of which the Scottsdale college is a part, said Monday that the questions posted on social media were taken out of context and fell within the scope of the course. At least one voice in the Muslim community is saying the school violated Damask's academic freedom. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said the backlash illustrates how many in the Muslim community live in denial about aspects of Islam that cater to radical terrorists. "If you’re talking to Osama Bin Laden or the radicals, they would tell you that’s what motivates them," Jasser said. "It’s not my Islam, but the questions are about what’s motivating militants." Imraan Siddiqi, the executive director for the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said it's possible for Islamaphobic sentiments to be promoted under the guise of academic freedom. False assertions about Islam can be harmful to the public at large, and Damask's phrasing of the questions erroneously conflated Islam as a whole with terrorism, according to Siddiqi. read the complete article

12 May 2020

Ramy Youssef Isn't Joking

There, steadily over the next few years, the big things started happening: Hulu picked up his semiautobiographical alt comedy, Ramy; HBO gave him an hour-long stand-up special called Feelings; and he inked a deal with the production company A24. This January, things hit a high note when he surprised Hollywood (and himself) by winning a Golden Globe for his performance on Ramy, beating out front-runners Michael Douglas and Bill Hader. Youssef, an Egyptian American and a practicing Muslim—not a rare thing in America, but a rare thing in Hollywood, and even rarer on TV—took the stage and showed gratitude to God in Arabic (“Allahu akbar”), both as a meaningful gesture to Muslim viewers and also as a satisfying slight f*ck-you to Globes host Ricky Gervais, who earlier that night had made fun of winners for thanking God. “We made a very specific show about an Arab Muslim family living in New Jersey, and this means a lot to be recognized on this level,” he said to a mostly white audience. Though not everybody knew who he was, his speech pierced the bubble of the Globes, and it was obvious that now everyone needed to. Youssef had been awarded one of the highest honors for one of the unlikeliest shows—all because, for a short time, his mouth gave up on him. I ask him if a part of him always knew that this whole thing was going to work out. “I had faith,” he says. “There is a fine line between faith and confidence. Confidence has a self-reliance. Faith is really about giving in.” “There's who you think you are and who you want to be, and then who you actually are,” he says. “There's that gap in the middle, and that's always going to be the DNA of the show.” To him, that middle is where the most interesting stories live, especially under the guise of religion. Who is more self-aware of their shortcomings than someone who wrestles with their faith? read the complete article


12 May 2020

France has made wearing face masks compulsory in public, while maintaining a controversial ban on burqas and niqabs

Meanwhile, a 2010 ban on Muslim head and face coverings, namely the burqa and niqab, remain in force. The new face mask rule has resurfaced a heated debate over that law. The 2010 law was justified on the basis that head coverings worn by Muslim women violated female freedoms. It only permitted face coverings if justified for health reasons. Many Muslims have pointed out the irony of making people wear face masks while still keeping the 2010 law. "Even in the face of global pandemic France won't admit its bigoted burqa ban is wrong," tweeted Qasim Rashid, a candidate for the US Congress for Virginia state. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted: "Can the Islamophobia be any more transparent? The French government mandates masks but still bans the burqa." read the complete article


12 May 2020

How has coronavirus pandemic affected China's concentration camps?

China has maintained that the camps, located in its western Xinjiang region, are "re-education centers" aimed at providing jobs and language skills for Uyghurs, who are primarily Muslim. Human rights groups estimate some 80,000 Uyghurs have been transferred to forced labor factories throughout China before and after the COVID-19 outbreak while the majority of the population was ordered to stay sheltered in place for their safety. “There is a disregard for [the Uyghurs’] health because cross border travel restrictions were put in place to prevent the spread and protect individuals from themselves,” Louisa Greve, director of global advocacy for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Fox News. “At a minimum, it's a disregard for their health.” Despite some international condemnation over China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, the pandemic has provided the government with a cover to carry on with “business as usual,” said Anna Hayes, a researcher and professor of Politics and International Relations at James Cook University in Australia. “Since the COVID-19 [pandemic], the government said you need to go back into production now. So those workers who have been on a bit of a furlough, they have now been sent back into forced labor,” Hayes told Fox News. “If in the camps there are COVID-19 outbreaks, they’re going to be coming either from new internees, or more likely they’re going to be the managers, the bosses, the cleaning staff, who get infected and then bring it into the camps,” Hayes said. Meanwhile, the poor conditions in the camps make them fertile ground for an outbreak should the virus be brought in. read the complete article

United Kingdom

12 May 2020

Far right ‘posed as journalists to spread anti-Muslim lies’

Far-right extremists are exploiting the lockdown “to spread hatred of Muslims,” Qari Asim, chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the government’s adviser on Islamophobia, told The Telegraph newspaper. “We’ve had reports that people have been going around mosques (in West Yorkshire) pretending to be independent journalists and talking to people, and effectively again trying to gather information and trying to make some footage saying Muslims are still congregating,” said Asim, the imam at Makkah Mosque in the northern city of Leeds. Churches, mosques and other places of worship have been closed since the lockdown began in March to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. The restrictions have coincided with Muslims celebrating Ramadan. There have been cases of social media posts alleging that Muslims are ignoring the rules to gather in the evenings and flout restrictions on funerals. “It’s extremely disappointing that even during such unprecedented times of national emergency, some people have continued to spread hatred of Muslims and unsubstantiated claims that an increase in coronavirus cases will happen during Ramadan because most Muslims tend to have social gatherings,” the MCB said. read the complete article


12 May 2020

Gujarat’s Muslims fight Islamophobia, hatemongers amid COVID-19 lockdown

Amid the ongoing battle against the deadly COVID-19, Muslims in the state of Gujarat are not just fighting the disease but the rising hate and Islamophobia. Bruised and battered since the 2002 communal riots in this western Indian state, the minority community had been lying low till the right-wing media last month went to circulate Islamophobic slants of news targeting Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic reformist group, for the spread of coronavirus in India. While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s flush-with-funds info-tech cell kick-started what activists said a “systematic, synchronised and organized” attempt to target Muslims through distortion and lies which were communal in nature and inciteful in tone, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani himself also twice—on April 25 and May 2—publicly accused the Jamaat of deliberately spreading the deadly pathogen. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of non-government organizations (NGOs), the Muslim community has fought the hate campaigns and stopped them in their tracks. By writing protest letters to Gujarati newspaper editors for sensitive headlines day in and day out, flooding police stations with strongly-worded complaints of harassment, and breathing down the neck of cybercrime officials with constant phone calls, hundreds of alert Muslim men and women throughout the state have been fighting out Islamophobia. Indeed, according to Gujarat director general of police, Shivanand Jha, at least 600 FIRs—80 per cent of them related to hate campaigns–have been lodged against the social media posts peddling fake news and 1,300 people have been arrested since the beginning of the lockdown what with 570 social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram having been suspended or deleted. read the complete article

12 May 2020

India Coronavirus: Pregnant student Safoora Zargar at risk in jail

The 27-year-old sociology student at the prestigious Jamia Milia Islamia university was taking a nap, her husband, who didn't want to be named, told the BBC. The couple had married 19 months ago, and Ms Zargar had discovered just weeks earlier that she was pregnant. The officers told them they were from the "special cell" - the anti-terror wing of the Delhi police - and asked her to go with them to their office in central Delhi. They said they wanted to ask her some questions about her involvement in protests against a controversial citizenship law that critics say is discriminatory towards Muslims. At the police station Ms Zargar was questioned for several hours, and at 22:30 she was arrested. That was on Friday 10 April. So for a month now, she's been lodged in Delhi's overcrowded Tihar jail - at a time when India is under a strict lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the government's own advisory says pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to infection. Ms Zargar has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) - a draconian law that makes it nearly impossible for the accused to get bail. Since her arrest, she's been allowed to make two five-minute calls each to her husband and her lawyer. She has been denied both visits and letters on account of Covid-19 restrictions. Ms Zargar is among a number of Muslim students and activists who have been jailed since India's lockdown began on 25 March, leading to accusations that the government is using the pandemic to crack down on free speech and dissent. read the complete article


12 May 2020

Malaysia urged to end violent threats against Rohingya refugees

Dozens of human rights groups have called on Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to address hate speech and violent threats against Rohingya refugees in the country amid a slew of online posts threatening murder and sexual violence. Monday's open letter, signed by 83 organisations, said the surge in hateful messages attacking the Rohingya community was causing fear of physical violence and discrimination among the refugees. The online posts directed at the Rohingya in the country included discriminatory and dehumanising language and images, with some users threatening prominent Rohingya activists as well as their supporters with murder and sexual violence, the groups said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 May 2020 Edition


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