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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16 May 2019

Today in Islamophobia: While jihadists go to jail, white supremacists often get away with impunity across the world. American Muslims in public life face outsize scrutiny. In India, Hindu nationalist mobs are emboldened under Modi, while in Sri Lanka, hardline Buddhists are identified as the perpetrators of many attacks on Muslims. Today’s recommended read reveals that the white supremacist behind the mosque shooting that killed over 50 worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, exchanged emails with Austrian far-right leader Martin Sellner. This, and more, below: 


16 May 2019

Far-Right Leader Martin Sellner Emailed With New Zealand Mosque Shooter Months Before Massacre | Recommended Read

Austrian and German news outlets reported this week that Sellner had exchanged emails with Tarrant until at least July 2018, and that both men invited each other to their respective countries. If Tarrant was ever in Austria, they should meet for coffee or beer, Sellner wrote Tarrant in July according to emails first reported by Austrian broadcaster ORF. Tarrant returned the offer, writing that people in Australia or New Zealand would be happy to host Sellner. ORF also reported that Sellner deleted the emails a few hours before a raid on his house. The revelation prompted a leader of Austria’s Social Democrat party to question whether Sellner received a tip-off about the raid. Sellner is currently attempting to move to the U.S. to marry another far-right YouTuber. After his financial ties to Tarrant were revealed, U.S. authorities cancelled his travel waiver, which allowed him into the country without a visa. A Republican Party committee in Sellner’s partner’s home county of Kootenai, Idaho is currently asking the federal government to renew Sellner’s waiver. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
16 May 2019

Austria bans Muslim headscarf in primary schools

Austria has passed a law intended to ban Muslim girls from wearing a headscarf in primary schools. The Jewish yarmulke and Sikh patka are not included in the new measure. The governing parties have admitted the law is intended for Muslim girls. ÖVP lawmaker Rudolf Taschner said the law was meant to "free girls from submission," while FPÖ education spokesman Wendelin Mölzer said it was about sending a signal "against political Islam" and promoting integration. Austria's official Muslim community organization, IGGÖ, has said it would legally challenge the "destructive" law that "discriminates exclusively against Muslims." read the complete article


16 May 2019

Jihadis Go to Jail, White Supremacists Go Free

Brenton Tarrant, the right-wing extremist who carried out the March attack, was deeply influenced by digital hate culture—the loose coalitions that researchers have identified among white power activists, anti-Muslim activists, neo-Nazis, alt-right trolls, and men’s rights activists (as well as other groups) that use websites, forums, social media platforms, and encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. Digital hate culture is not a new phenomenon; white supremacists in the United States have been using digital communications technology for three decades. Nor is this culture unique to social media; blogs and websites have long been part of its networks. Digital hate culture—at least in North America and Western Europe—has one core premise: that the “white race” is being replaced as a consequence of mass immigration, Islam, and liberals who have embraced cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism. This is better known as the “white genocide” myth, which took center stage in Tarrant’s manifesto. Unlike the rigorous online policing of jihadi groups and their potential recruits, there has been a reticence on the part of social media companies to challenge right-wing extremism. Jihad has no mainstream political support in any liberal democracy—and the views and online networks of jihadis are rightly countered, disrupted, and even shut down with government and private sector cooperation. read the complete article

16 May 2019

Why copying the populist right isn’t going to save the left

In the wake of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, many American liberals insisted that “winning back the rust belt” could only happen if the Democrats embraced white fears about immigration. Indeed, Clinton herself had a long track record of statements and Senate votes against “illegal” immigration and for “border security” (including a “fence”), while prominent European social democrats have been calling for “immigration realism” since the late 2000s. But since the so-called refugee crisis of 2015, these worries have escalated into a panic, as the leaders of Europe’s social democratic parties scramble to show their concerns over immigration. This dramatic shift in the rhetoric of ostensibly centre-left parties is part of a larger panic over how to halt the spread of rightwing populism across the west in recent years. The conventional wisdom has been largely steered by a growing group of academics and pundits, often of the right or centre, who offer the same advice: social democratic parties will perish unless they take care of the “left behind” voters by limiting immigration. Some academics now even go so far as to openly defend white identity politics. read the complete article

United States

16 May 2019

American Muslims In Public Life Say They Face Outsized Scrutiny

"They cannot stand that a refugee, a black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim shows up in Congress thinking she's equal to them," Rep Ilhan Omar said, referencing President Trump, members of the Republican Party and even members of her own party. It resonated with many American Muslims and, more specifically, black Muslim women across the country. Many say the storm of criticism around Omar, the first black Muslim woman in Congress, is more about who she is than what she says. "It's not surprising to me to see because I know what it's like to be a black Muslim woman," said Vanessa Taylor, a writer based in Philadelphia who writes about black Muslim womanhood. "There is this sense that black women have to atone for sins that are constructed elsewhere. So, it's not even a matter of if she actually did ... [what critics accuse her of] or if it's actually a wrong thing to do. It's really just a matter of a black woman's position is to be [one of] atonement." read the complete article

16 May 2019

Disguising Hate: How Radical Evangelicals Spread Anti-Islamic Vitriol on Facebook

A coordinated network of evangelical Christian Facebook pages publishing overtly Islamophobic, conspiratorial content paints extreme, divisive right-wing rhetoric as having broad American support but is actually tied to one individual, a Snopes investigation reveals. These pages claim that Islam is “not a religion,” that Muslims are violent and duplicitous, and that Islamic refugee resettlement is “cultural destruction and subjugation.” Just hours after the April 2019 Notre Dame spire collapse in a catastrophic fire, this network went into overdrive sowing doubt about the possible role Muslims had in its collapse. Multiple pages within this network have stated that their purpose is “message boosting & targeting.” Ten of the pages within the network explicitly support U.S. President Donald Trump in their titles and belong to an umbrella organization that “[speaks] up for a Trump-Pence agenda. read the complete article

16 May 2019

Rashida Tlaib becomes first Muslim woman to preside over House floor

Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib notched another historic first on Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first Muslim woman to preside over the House floor. Proceedings on the House floor are led by the speaker of the House or people presiding in her sted from the speaker's party. House freshmen, like Tlaib, have been worked slowly into the rotation recently of learning how to preside over the floor. Tlaib tweeted about the experience following presiding over the floor, writing, "Not bad for a girl from Detroit that didn't speak English when I started school & first in my family to graduate high school & college." read the complete article

16 May 2019

Black Muslim Women on Protest, Faith, and Justice During Ramadan

In the Americas in particular, Black Muslims have an extended history of engaging with Islamic holy days in search of liberation. To ever hope to know Islam in America, you have to actually know Black Muslim women. To recognition of this history, four Black Muslim women share their experiences with Islam — as a source of comfort, a tool for liberation, and a means to survive in a world that seems pitted against every facet of their identities. Their approaches to activism during Ramadan may all be different, but each of these women capture the legacy of Black Muslims working towards liberation. read the complete article

16 May 2019

School Controversy: Video Surfaces Showing Teacher Dressed In Muslim-Like Head Scarf During Active Shooter Drill

A video produced by students in the audio-visual department at Penn Trafford High School has prompted concern. It was meant to be used as a training drill, should there ever be a real emergency like a shooter in the building. According to the school district, the video was only to be seen in-house, but without authorization, it was placed on Facebook by students. Once viewed, some, like Jim Atkins of Harrison City, thought the person portrayed as the shooter was made to look like a Muslim by wrapping a scarf around his head. “It shouldn’t be profiling somebody like that,” he said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

16 May 2019

Yes, Islamophobia is a type of racism. Here’s why

Hatred against Muslims does not begin with the sound of gunfire breaking through the peaceful calm of a place of prayer. It begins with simple prejudice in our schools, our workplaces and our communities. The all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, which I lead with Anna Soubry, is determined to meet this challenge. That’s why we have produced a report establishing, for the first time, a working definition of Islamophobia. It was clear from the evidence we gathered, including powerful testimony from the victims of Islamophobia, that what we’re up against goes wider than anti-Muslim hatred. It is structural, often unconscious, bias. read the complete article

16 May 2019

Muslim group condemns UK government's rejection of Islamophobia definition

"It is truly extraordinary that the government believes it is better placed to determine the harm that Muslim communities face than Muslim communities themselves, who - alongside dozens of leading academics in the field - have overwhelmingly endorsed the APPG definition of Islamophobia," Harun Khan, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain told Middle East Eye. According to the report, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire decided to reject the definition, which has been endorsed by over 750 British Muslim groups, on the grounds of free speech. Instead, the government will appoint two new advisers to produce their own definition of Islamophobia. "To claim that merely defining this racism is somehow an impediment to free speech is deeply disingenuous and appears to be a willful misreading of the definition" Khan said. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

16 May 2019

Sri Lanka: Hardline Buddhists 'likely behind attacks on Muslims'

In the anti-Muslim unrest that started Sunday, mobs moved through towns in Sri Lanka's northwest, ransacking mosques, burning Qurans and attacking shops with petrol bombs, residents said. Authorities have arrested dozens of suspected rioters, including three described as Sinhala Buddhist hardliners who had been investigated for similar actions in the central province of Kandy last year. Asked who was organising the attacks, Dissanayake said: "I think these organisations that Amith Weerasinghe, Dan Priyasad, and Namal Kumara (are heading)," referring to the three Buddhist hardliners arrested on Tuesday. read the complete article


16 May 2019

India's Muslims fear for their future under Narendra Modi

With an increase in hate crimes against Muslims in India in recent years, some fear the world's largest democracy is becoming dangerously intolerant under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As the 48-year-old sat cross-legged on his bed, his eyes filled with tears as he recounted the horror of what happened. "They beat me with a stick, they kicked me in the face," he said, showing me the injuries to his rib cage and his head. For decades his family have served beef curry from their small food stall - but never before had they faced such trouble. Some states have made it illegal to sell beef because Hindus consider the cow sacred - but it is legal to sell it in Assam. read the complete article


16 May 2019

Myanmar army chief's Twitter account suspended over anti-Rohingya hate speech

A Myanmar army general accused of masterminding genocide against the country’s Muslim Rohingya people has had his Twitter account suspended, following complaints about him using the social media platform for hate speech. Min Aung Hlaing, the south-east Asian country’s top ranking general, had his @sgminaunghlaing account taken offline this week. Min Aung Hlaing, who was also accused of using social media to spread anti-Rohingya propaganda, had his Facebook account deleted in August 2018, after the United Nations called for Myanmar military leaders to be prosecuted for genocide. He used social media to refer to Rohingya people as “Bengali”, implying that they were immigrants rather than Myanmar citizens. On Facebook he denied army atrocities and claimed that the military was targeting militants rather than committing genocide. read the complete article

New Zealand

16 May 2019

Film based on Christchurch mosque shooting in the works

According to Variety the film’s title will be Hello, Brother, the words spoken by 71-year-old victim Hati Mohammed Daoud Nabi, who opened the door to the gunman of Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died. The central characters are “a family facing death and destruction in Afghanistan who escape with their lives”. Masoud announced the film at the Cannes, where producing company Acamedia is looking for backers. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 May 2019 Edition


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