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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
12 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Delhi, a Muslim man who was attacked by Hindu nationalists in February 2020 now says he is under threat to withdraw his official complaint, while in Australia, a number of Muslim refugees will celebrate Eid in immigration detention. In the US, as many applaud GOP Republican leader Liz Cheney for voicing concern about the party’s direction, a Huffington Post piece notes that Cheney helped bring the Republican Party to the place it is today. Our recommended read of the day is by Jenny Domino on how Facebook’s history in Myanmar highlights the broader problems with content moderation in vulnerable contexts. This and more below: 


11 May 2021

Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: The Other De-Platforming We Should Have Been Talking About

On Feb. 24, 2021, three weeks after Myanmar’s military (the Tatmadaw) staged the coup that changed the course of Myanmar’s future, Facebook announced it was banning all “remaining” military and military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and Instagram, including ads from military-linked commercial entities. To this end, Facebook said it would use the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s (FFM) 2019 report on the military’s economic interests in identifying relevant commercial entities. Though Facebook had removed military accounts and pages in the past for their involvement in human rights violations– most notably the account of State Administration Council chairperson, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, in 2018– the company’s 2021 decision went much further by indefinitely suspending military and military-related accounts and pages regardless of content or behavior. In other words, contrary to popular opinion, former President Trump’s account was not the first high-profile account to be indefinitely suspended by Facebook. Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s de-platforming was described as “unprecedented” in 2018, but outside of Myanmar watchers, it garnered little global attention, much less debate. The 2021 de-platforming of the Tatmadaw offers a renewed opportunity to engage with how Facebook – and other powerful platforms – should do their part to deal with authoritarians and human rights-violating institutions like the military in Myanmar. Facebook’s act to de-platform the Tatmadaw was the culmination of incremental steps taken by the company in response to the “emergency situation” unfolding in Myanmar since the coup. For example, on Feb. 11, Facebook decided to “significantly reduce” the distribution of false content emanating from military accounts and pages still operating on the platform, but stopped short of an immediate outright ban. And it had previously declined to ban the entire military’s presence on its platform despite it being implicated in the Rohingya human rights crisis. At each of these moments, Facebook took action too late, and too incrementally, to avert harm – harm that the platform knew was imminent and which its very design facilitated. Facebook’s history in Myanmar highlights the broader problems with content moderation in vulnerable contexts, and it should serve as a cautionary lesson to companies that wish to prevent their platforms from facilitating atrocities. read the complete article

United States

11 May 2021

The Black List Reveals Inaugural Muslim List Scripts; Collaboration With Pillars Fund & MPAC

First reported last September by Deadline, The Muslim List is an initiative by The Black List, the Muslim Public Affairs Council Hollywood Bureau and Pillars Fund focusing on screenwriters who are practitioners or followers of Islam, an often dramatically underrepresented group in Tinseltown, to say the least. About 200 feature film and pilot scripts were submitted by the December 4 deadline, with evaluations conducted into early this year. “On behalf of MPAC’s board and staff, congratulations to the 10 winners of the first-ever Black List Muslim List,” said Sue Obeidi, Director, MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau. “While not a surprise, the response to the competition was very strong,” she added. “We were moved by the plethora of stories submitted, many of which were inspired by true events. Choosing the top ten was not easy, to say the least, but we are so proud of the final result. Many thanks to The Black List’s Franklin Leonard, Kate Hagen, and their entire team, and to Arij Mikati and the Pillars Fund team for their partnership.” “Our inaugural Muslim List proves what we have always known to be true: Muslim writers are teeming with diverse stories that cut across genre, identity, and message,” added Arij Mikati, Managing Director of Culture Change, Pillars Fund. “We are thrilled that Hollywood has the opportunity to hear from and support these talented voices to share their narratives with the world.” read the complete article

10 May 2021

Accused hate group in Ave Maria receives PPP loan

While the number of members in the KKK has greatly diminished over several decades, that doesn’t mean there aren’t hate groups left in the United States. Longtime advocacy group the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate across the U.S., identified 838 groups in 2020. The NBC2 Investigators discovered one of the SPLC-accused hate groups is in the quiet, picturesque community of Ave Maria. It’s headquartered at a home not far from the center of the community. The SPLC designated 68 hate groups in the state in 2020, but only the one in southwest Florida. It’s a non-profit named Cultures in Context Incorporated, which houses the Turning Point Project. The group is deemed ‘anti-muslim’ by the SPLC. In an email, a spokesperson for the SPLC told NBC2 that the Turning Point Project “publishes blatant anti-Muslim rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and outrageous claims about Islam. The group’s output and materials are clearly intended to stoke fear of the religion and its adherents.” The NBC2 Investigators discovered the ‘group’ is mostly the work of one man: William Kilpatrick, a noted writer. On its website, the mission of the Turning Point Project is described as “educating Catholics and other Americans about the threat from Islam by arming them with the information and analysis necessary to meet the challenge.” During the pandemic, the non-profit received federal funding — taxpayer money — in the form of a PPP loan worth $10,540. In fact, several accused hate groups received PPP loans. The SPLC called it ‘unconscionable’ by the federal government. read the complete article

12 May 2021

Clubhouse, popular new conversation app, starts booting far-right extremists

Select members of the far right, including white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes and anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, have been kicked off Clubhouse, a new conversation application that has gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, where users can engage with each other in real time about a myriad of topics in different virtual "rooms." That particular room quickly descended into chaos, with Loomer going on an anti-Muslim tirade, which apparently violates the platform's policies. "As a Jewish woman, who was physically ejected from a moving Uber by a radical Muslim driver, on Rosh Hashanah, I value my safety, I'm pro-life, and you know I don't think I should have to be roadkill because Uber doesn't do background checks on their drivers," the onetime Florida congressional candidate said. She isn't the first far-right figure to be booted from Clubhouse; in early March, white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes joined the app only to be permanently suspended within a few hours. read the complete article

12 May 2021

Liz Cheney Helped Create Donald Trump's GOP

House Republicans are set to purge Liz Cheney from their leadership ranks Wednesday, a rapid fall for the Wyoming representative from one of the GOP’s most prominent political families. In recent weeks, pundits and political writers have called Cheney “the conscience of Republicans,” a “martyr” and a “symbol of courage,” and have bemoaned “a party that lost its way.” She’s been gaining anti-Trump admirers who like her courage and see her as a voice of reason. But make no mistake ― Cheney helped bring the Republican Party to the place it is today. She, like many other Republicans, encouraged Trump or looked the other way until it was too late. Until recently, Cheney was right there with the president ― even though he always made clear exactly who he was. In 2019, The New York Times said she was competing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to see “who is Trumpier,” earning praise from the likes of ardent Trump backer and scandal-plagued Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). She voted in line with Trump’s positions 93% of the time. Until the 2020 election, her most notable differences with the president were on foreign policy. Cheney was more hawkish than Trump, in line with the reputation of her hawkish father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. She disagreed on policy, but it was never acrimonious. Cheney has expressed concern about how the Republican Party has become wedded to conspiracy theories. But even before Trump took office, his penchant for embracing and spreading these lies was well-known. He was a vocal proponent of the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was therefore ineligible to be president. In 2011, Cheney gave credibility to the birthers and refused to denounce them during an interview on “Larry King.” While she said she didn’t believe that Obama was born abroad, she said she understood where they were coming from. Cheney pushed many of the same extreme positions Trump embraced, arguing in 2019 that Democrats had become the “party of antisemitism, the party of infanticide, the party of socialism.” She frequently demonized Muslim Americans ― including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) ― implying that they are anti-American, antisemitic and a security threat. read the complete article

11 May 2021

DHS stands up domestic terror intelligence team

The Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence arm is setting up a dedicated team to focus on domestic terrorism, two DHS officials told POLITICO. The team will have several full-time personnel. DHS is also renaming and refocusing a separate office that has drawn criticism for its prior work fighting extremism. The moves come as the department is increasing its focus on domestic terrorism and violent threats. Earlier this year, DHS sent out its first-ever National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin about domestic terrorism. But addressing the threat presents complex challenges, and groups representing American Muslims and others focused on civil rights aren’t yet convinced the department will get it right. Those communities have long raised concerns about what DHS calls countering violent extremism, or CVE. Since the Obama administration, those efforts have been housed under a number of different monikers at DHS. But their focus on extremism within the American Muslim community drew condemnation as discriminatory and stigmatizing spying efforts. Most recently, DHS’s Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention tried to combat white supremacist terrorism during the Trump administration. But officials previously told POLITICO that they won scant buy-in from the White House and struggled to significantly improve those efforts. Despite that, incoming Biden officials have praised the office’s work. In remarks submitted to Congress for a March hearing, John Cohen — DHS’s top counterterror official — said the office is DHS’s “key node” for its work to prevent terror attacks. read the complete article


11 May 2021

In India, Hindus fast in Ramadan for growth and solidarity with Muslim friends

Across India, many non-Muslims observe Ramadan fasting for reasons ranging from solidarity with friends to gestures of fraternity and gratitude and as a means of introspection. Like Khairnar, some fast for just a day, some for several days and others for the entire month. This year’s Ramadan came as a deadly second wave of COVID-19 descended on India, forcing restrictions on religious gatherings that are typical for the season, including the iftar parties where people gather to break their daily fast. This year’s Ramadan also comes against a broader backdrop of growing Islamophobia and sectarian tensions in a country ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party. “Islamophobia may be increasing because of the discourse of the media, politicians and the refusal of the state to act against hate crimes,” said Irfan Engineer, director of the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism. “But the syncretic traditions continue,” he said, referring to the interfaith observances of Ramadan, among other practices. Indian Muslims have long had syncretic religious observances, finding correspondences especially in the Bhakti and Sufi traditions and in a variety of localized practices in different regions of the country. These include Hindus taking part in Islamic New Year processions or worshipping Muslim saints and, likewise, Muslims celebrating Diwali or venerating Indian deities. read the complete article

11 May 2021

Delhi violence complainant drugged and left unconscious, says threatened to withdraw complaint

When 22-year-old Mushahid gained consciousness on 8 April, he found himself on a hospital bed. Mushahid is a resident Khajuri Khas, one of several areas in northeast Delhi that witnessed anti-Muslim violence in February 2020. On the afternoon of 7 April, Mushahid told me, three men sat in his e-rickshaw that he drives around Khajuri Khas and asked him to take them to a factory in Gokulpuri. Upon reaching, he said, they offered him a cold drink, and then threatened to kill him and his entire family if he did not withdraw a complaint he had filed about the Delhi violence. Mushahid had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mohan Singh Bisht, among other Hindu locals, of attacking his neighbourhood. The last thing he remembered was one of the men slapping him hard. His emergency-registration card, recorded at 11:02 pm on 7 April, stated, “Ingestion of unknown substance mixed in cold drink by some unknown person 8.30 pm today. Found unconscious at Gokulpuri.” Mushahid had fled Delhi following the communal violence last year. He returned only in September, to join his father as an e-rickshaw driver, and to pursue his master of arts in political science through a correspondence course. He told me he returned because he was emboldened by others in his neighbourhood who had filed police complaints against the perpetrators of the violence. Among those who inspired him to return was Mumtaz Mohammad, another resident of Khajuri Khas, whose account I earlier reported for The Caravan. Mumtaz, too, had named Bisht in his police complaint, and said he subsequently faced threats from local residents and the police. read the complete article


11 May 2021

France: Head of Macron’s party slams Muslim candidate’s headscarf

The head of French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party has threatened to withdraw support for one of its own candidates in upcoming regional elections after she was pictured wearing a headscarf in a campaign poster. Stanislas Guerini, who helped found Macron’s centrist movement in 2016, was reacting to an online poster depicting Sara Zemmahi, who is running for office in the southern city of Montpellier. Zemmahi, an engineer, is shown smiling in a white headscarf along with three colleagues from the Republic on the Move (LREM) party who are running in the elections on June 20 and 27. The image was tweeted on Monday by the number two in France’s far-right National Rally (RN) party, Jordan Bardella, which in turn drew a reaction from Guerini. “Wearing ostentatious religious symbols on a campaign document is not compatible with the values of LREM,” Guerini wrote late on Monday. “Either these candidates change their photo, or LREM will withdraw its support.” Government spokesman Gabriel Attal backed the ultimatum on France Inter radio on Tuesday, while adding that “legally, nothing prevents someone standing in an election from displaying a religious symbol, in this case a headscarf”. He said it was a “political choice” to have candidates who do not display their religious beliefs. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 May 2021

The Charmed Life & Strange, Sad Death OF THE QUILLIAM FOUNDATION

The birth pangs, charmed life and death throes of the entity that once proudly described itself as “the world’s first counter-extremism organization” serves as a stark reminder not only of Quilliam’s ideological legacy, but perhaps more importantly, the opaque machinery of power that brought it into existence. Despite the think tank’s spectacular fall from grace, right to the end it had retained close ties to British elites. Among its most recent donors, for instance, was Richard Sharp, who had donated a total of £35,000 to Quilliam up to 2019. Sharp, who was nominated by Boris Johnson to become chairman of the BBC – taking up the post in February – is also a major Tory donor, having given over £400,000 to the Conservative Party. How did Quilliam, despite such ongoing largesse from parts of the British establishment, end up disappearing off the face of the internet in early 2021? To understand this we must go back to the organization’s little understood and opaque origins. From the outset, the Quilliam Foundation – launched with £674,608 of Home Office funding – made its primary mission to oppose Islamist terrorism with an unyielding fixation on seeing its own definition of ‘Islamism’ as the core driver of radicalization. The organization would go on to raise a total of around £2.7 million from the UK Government up to around 2011. According to the award-winning former Guardian senior investigative journalist Ian Cobain, a UK Government official told him that Quilliam “was actually established by the Office for Security and Counterterrorism (OSCT) at the UK government’s Home Office.” The initial plan “was to fund it covertly, with money appearing to come in from a Middle Eastern benefactor, but actually channelled by MI6. But a decision was taken to grant it acknowledged – but far-from-trumpeted – UK government funding,” Cobain added. In 2013, I was told by a former Home Office researcher that The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left – the bestselling memoir of Quilliam co-founder Ed Husain – was “effectively ghostwritten in Whitehall.” Both Ed Husain and his colleague Maajid Nawaz were members of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), which calls for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate through non-violent means. This background is crucial, then, in understanding Quilliam’s obsession with ‘non-violent extremist ideology’ as the linchpin of vulnerability to terrorism – an approach that was attractive to a New Labour Government which after 9/11 had, following the lead of the Bush administration, dragged Britain into prolonged bloody wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere across the Muslim world, while pursuing discriminatory counter-terror policing measures at home. read the complete article


10 May 2021

For Muslim refugees in immigration detention, another sombre, isolated Eid holiday

Eid usually involves dawn prayers and gatherings to share food and gifts. Family and community are central to these celebrations. This Eid will be particularly significant for many in the Islamic faith, as COVID-19 curtailed last year’s festivities. Yet for Muslim refugees and asylum seekers in Australian immigration detention facilities, observances will be muted. This is not a new phenomenon. Since 2015, I have conducted over 70 interviews with regular visitors to Australian detention facilities. Long before COVID-19, restrictive visiting rules were separating detainees from their communities of support. Visitors have been required to submit complex online applications at least one week before each visit. Group visits have required additional approvals and taken weeks to organise. Friends and family members with unpredictable work schedules, poor digital literacy or limited English have struggled to visit detention at all. Blanket bans on fresh food have also been enforced, and detainees and visitors have been required to sit in assigned chairs under constant surveillance. During the pandemic, detainee isolation has become even more pronounced. Visits were banned altogether for much of last year, and detainees went months without seeing friends and family members. For Muslim detainees, these restrictions will make for a sombre Eid. Christian detainees faced similar constraints this Easter, as did families wishing to celebrate Mother’s Day last weekend. Decades of research attests that immigration detention causes profound harm. Limiting access to culture and community only compounds people’s anguish.-- read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 May 2021 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results