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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15 May 2019

Today in Islamophobia: China silences global outrage over its Muslim concentration camps, while the United Nations urges cutting off financial ties with the Myanmar army. UK Prime Minister Theresa May drags her feet amid calls for Tories to define Islamophobia, and new documents reveal a UK propaganda unit had secret plans to target French Muslims. Today’s recommended read discusses how Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orban emerged as a pariah in Europe. This, and more, below:


15 May 2019

As an American living in Europe, I know Donald Trump is wrong about Viktor Orban – he's a pariah | Recommended Read

First, Orban is not respected in Europe. Quite the opposite: the Germans are done with him, he’s alienated the French and British politicians are sick of him. His own political mentor hates him, and his party has been kicked out of the EU. After the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris, he wasted no time demonising Islam and hijacking the tragedy as a reason to build ridiculous 13-foot wall along Hungary’s Serbian border to keep out Syrian refuge children. Two years after finishing his wall, Orban had the gumption to send his construction bill to Brussels and tell them they had to pay for it. Sounding like anybody else we know? Last year, Orban decided the best way to silence the media was to just to take it away He created a new law placing over 400 privately-owned news outlets under the control of his nationalist buddies. In 2018, he fired through a new law enabling him to bypass Hungary’s judiciary by setting up a new court system run exclusively by his government. Can you imagine how quickly Trump would have sorted out his so-called "Muslim ban" if he’d possessed this sort of power? read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


15 May 2019

How Uyghurs are silenced from sharing their suffering with the world

China is using its network of concentration camps to detain Muslims who occupy the lower and middle rungs of Uyghur society but handing out prison sentences to those who occupy the upper stratosphere, including the influential and highly educated, or rather the very type who can lead an uprising against the government. It’s also worth noting here that credible reports, one quoting a Chinese police official, also suggest China is using its vast prison system to disperse Uyghur across the country is an attempt to conceal the numbers of those detained in concentration camps from the international community. A question asked by many in regards to China’s Muslim concentration camps, however, is why is there so little global outrage? The answer to this question has many facets. read the complete article


15 May 2019

UN mission urges cutting off financial ties with Myanmar army

In a statement on Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council said there had been no progress towards resolving the crisis over Myanmar's mostly-Muslim Rohingyaminority, more than one million of whom have fled military "clearance operations" in the northwest Rakhine region. "The situation is at a total standstill," said Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. "Due to the gravity of the past and continuing violations, attention must be given to the political, economic and financial ties of the Myanmar military - to identify who and what should be targeted so we can cut off the money supply as a means of increasing the pressure and reducing the violence," Christopher Sidoti, a member of the mission, said in the statement. read the complete article


15 May 2019

REVEALED: UK propaganda unit has secret plans to target French Muslims

The Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which is based at the Home Office in London, generates films, social media, websites, leaflets and news stories that are intended to influence public opinion while concealing the British government's role in their creation. Now, documents seen by Middle East Eye show that RICU has awarded a contract to a consortium of communications companies which had demonstrated its ability to operate in France. The contract makes clear that while these companies are expected to be able to influence Muslim public opinion in France as part of a covert counter-extremism programme, the ultimate aim of the programme would be to encourage the French authorities to develop their own propaganda initiatives on the RICU model. RICU was established in 2007 as part of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism at the UK Home Office. A number of people involved in its creation and management say it was inspired by a Cold War-era British propaganda unit, the Information Research Department. read the complete article


15 May 2019

YouTube Pulls Canadian Anti-Islam Vlogger Following Record Defamation Lawsuit Loss

Kevin J. Johnston, a 47-year-old Mississauga man who runs a network of sites under the name Freedom Report, was ordered to pay Toronto restaurateur Mohamad Fakih $2.5 million on Monday. The decision, written by Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson, states that Johnston made several videos targeting Fakih. Ferguson called Johnston’s actions against Fakih “hate speech at its worst.” In the videos, Johnston called Fakih an “economic terrorist,” said Fakih was a spy working with a Pakistani spy agency, that Fakih was giving money to terrorists, and claimed guests had to be a jihadi or rapist to be allowed entrance to Paramount Fine Foods, Fakih’s restaurant chain. In Ferguson’s ruling, she outlines that in one incident Johnston accosted Fakih and his family at a mall by calling them terrorists, something that Fakih said left his young children with nightmares. Johnston filmed the encounter and reportedly posted it for a brief time. Johnston used YouTube and Facebook to further his harassment campaign. read the complete article

United Kingdom

15 May 2019

Police chiefs in row over definition of Islamophobia

The row centres on a proposed new definition of Islamophobia by a group of parliamentarians who say they consulted extensively before writing it, including with some police officers. The definition from the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims is: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” The National Police Chiefs Council, which represents the leaders of law enforcement in England and Wales, issued a statement voicing their concerns on Tuesday night. Its chair, Martin Hewitt, said: “We take all reports of hate crime very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. However, we have some concerns about the proposed definition of Islamophobia made by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. “We are concerned that the definition is too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states. There is also a risk it could also undermine counter-terrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism. “It is important that any definition of anti-Muslim hostility is widely consulted on and has support across the Muslim community.” read the complete article

15 May 2019

Theresa May Will Reject Calls By Muslim Groups To Define Islamophobia As A Type Of Racism

Theresa May is to reject a definition of Islamophobia proposed by British Muslim groups, BuzzFeed News can reveal. At a parliamentary debate on anti-Muslim prejudice on Thursday, ministers will oppose the definition which states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” More than 750 British Muslim organisations had called on the government to adopt the British Muslims all-party parliamentary group definition, which was produced after consultation with legal experts, MPs and Muslim groups. Instead, BuzzFeed News understands ministers will appoint two new independent advisers to produce their own definition of Islamophobia. The two advisers will also investigate anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain. read the complete article

United States

15 May 2019

Can States Be Terrorists? An Interview with Dr. David Luban

HS: what are the legal ramifications of an FTO designation? Who does this actually affect? DL: Well, it might lead to US sanctions being imposed. I don’t think that the sanctions require the FTO designation, but that would be a natural road to it. One of the biggest effects is that there is a US crime under which a lot of people who are suspected terrorists are prosecuted, and that is the crime of material support for terrorism. One of the three laws about [terrorism] makes it a crime to give material support to a designated terrorist organization, an FTO. And what’s material support? Well, it’s very broad. It’s communications devices, like giving a cell phone. Or transportation devices. Money. Obviously, weapons are material support. But I think that the most interesting is money because some designated FTOs like Hamas and Hezbollah have so-to-speak social services providers as well as militants involved in them. And you can imagine somebody who wants to give to the social services side with no intention that it be used for military activity or terrorist activity. Doesn’t matter. They’ve still committed material support, provided that they knew it was a designated FTO. So it cuts very broadly. So you can imagine that there might be collection baskets going around in mosques to support social services at various places in the Middle East. If that money is actually going to a designated FTO, then the criminal implications are very severe. The punishment for material support for terrorism can be decades in prison. read the complete article

15 May 2019

Reps. Omar and Schakowsky: We must confront threat of white nationalism -- together

As a Muslim American and a Jewish American elected to the United States Congress, we can no longer sit silently as terror strikes our communities. We cannot allow those who seek to divide and intimidate us to succeed. Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence. We're not alone. Violence against minority groups is increasing in our country. In the months leading up to the Poway shooting, three black churches in Louisiana were set on fire, a civil rights center in Tennessee burned down -- with a white power symbol found nearby, a Hindu temple in Kentucky was vandalized, and a Hindu priest was attacked in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. Of the more than 7,100 hate crimes reported in 2017 -- the last year data was available -- nearly four out of five were motivated by race, ethnicity, ancestry or religious identity. The goal of these terrorists, articulated in attack after attack, is as consistent as it is unhinged: to create a white ethnostate that excludes religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. White supremacists claim Islam is incompatible with Western society and seek to terrorize Muslim communities in order to strike fear in practitioners of the religion. Jews, who for centuries have faced discrimination, dehumanization, scapegoating and even genocide, are once again under threat today. read the complete article

15 May 2019

Who Are the Muslim Brotherhood? Are They Terrorists?

Listing the loosely-affiliated Brotherhood would bar Americans from providing it with assistance and force U.S. financial institutions to freeze its assets. Political parties inspired by its tenets are in power in several nations, potentially exposing those governments to penalties. The Trump administration has swung firmly behind Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a joint attempt to roll back the influence of shared foe Iran. All three U.S. allies have banned the group, arguing despite its denials that it shares the extremist agenda of groups such as al-Qaeda and that it doesn’t accept the idea of the nation state. Autocratic Gulf governments fear the Brotherhood’s power at the ballot box. Many experts say the Brotherhood doesn’t fit the criteria for terrorist activity outlined by U.S. law because there’s no proof it has engaged in violence that threatens the U.S. or its interests. Designation wouldn’t be easy because the Brotherhood itself is deeply fragmented and not monolithic. Aside from the political parties it has inspired, there are charities and mosques all over the world that have links to the group. The move also risks alienating countless Muslims. Even some of those critical of the Brotherhood -- who regard it as illiberal, authoritarian or suspiciously secretive -- say it shouldn’t be banned. read the complete article

15 May 2019

San Francisco’s facial recognition technology ban, explained

The “Stop Secret Surveillance” ordinance passed 8-1 in a vote by the city’s board of supervisors Tuesday. The ordinance will implement an all-out ban on San Francisco city agencies’ use of facial surveillance, which tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoftcurrently sell to various US government agencies, including in Amazon’s case, US police departments and in Microsoft’s case, a US prison. These technologies can detect faces in images or live video streams and match those facial characteristics to someone’s identity in a database. Today, facial recognition technology is widely used by the Chinese government for Orwellian mass surveillance of ordinary citizens in public life — most alarmingly to target the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority in what’s been called “automated racism.” In the US, the tools are far less ubiquitous but becoming increasingly popular with law enforcement agencies. Dozens of local police departments across the US use the technology to match driver’s license pictures and mug shots to criminal databases. It’s also used (in some cases by private citizens, not police) to monitor crowds at events such as protests, shopping malls, and concerts to identify potential suspects in real time, which has caused alarm among civil liberties advocates, who say this use can have a chilling effect on free speech. read the complete article

15 May 2019

Mosque Explores the Muslim Experience in a Post-9/11 America

The Black Actors Guild’s production of Mosque by Jihad Milhem wrestles with questions of identity and belonging in the 2010 landscape of New York City, when outrage sparked over a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Mosque started as a way for Milhem to work through his own identity as an American with Welsh and Middle Eastern origins who, when he first started writing, was trying to gain the courage to tell his father that he wasn’t Muslim. It was also a way of creating more opportunity for himself as an actor. Mosque’s two main characters are a father, Abdul, and his son, Mohammad, who go by Abe and Mo. They’re Palestinian Americans who run a corner store in Manhattan. The play is set in 2010, during the outrage around the “Ground Zero mosque,” and it deals with Islamophobia—on a personal level between Abe and Mo and a friend who’s as close as family, and through actions from total strangers that affect the father and son’s lives in profound ways. read the complete article

15 May 2019

Why Liz Cheney Is So Determined to Marginalize Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

Liz Cheney, the chair of the House Republican Conference, is determined to make a fast name for herself in Congress. Cheney seeks to advance herself politically by remaining in constant attack mode, and her attacks of late have been aimed at Democratic Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Cheney’s not alone in going after the first two Muslim women ever elected to the House, but her targeting of Tlaib and Omar stands out: It is in the Nixonian tradition of her party, but with the distinct Cheney edge. Tlaib and Omar are among the most notable faces of a changing Congress, where new members from diverse backgrounds are demanding deeper debates about economic, social, and racial justice, preservation of the planet, and peace. They have objected to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, bigotry, and bias at home and abroad. Their advocacy has stirred debate and controversy. In response, President Trump and his allies have aimed outrageous attacks at both Tlaib and Omar. There has been little subtlety in the targeting of these congresswomen, which has often taken on a visceral win-at-any-cost tone. Last month, when Cheney and her fellow Republicans were attacking the Minnesotan, the advocacy group J Street observed, “This campaign of hate against Representative Omar is just the latest escalation in the long-running right-wing effort to scapegoat and stigmatize Muslim Americans in a transparent ploy to score political points, rally xenophobic voters and distract from the real challenges and threats facing our country. It is an attack on democracy itself and on the values of freedom and equality that our nation is meant to uphold.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 May 2019 Edition


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