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
28 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Virginia, an ABC News anchor’s question to a Muslim candidate for lieutenant governor draws condemnation from many as Islamophobic, as Muslim women in the UK continue to feel unsafe as UK’s leading politicians have still been not held accountable for their anti-Muslim comments, and France’s right-wing Interior Minister tells local authorities and security forces to take “all necessary measures” to stop pro-Palestinian marches from happening. Our recommended read of the day is by Ryan Mac on Facebook employees accusing their company of bias against Arabs and Muslims. This and more below:


27 May 2021

Amid Israeli–Palestinian Violence, Facebook Employees Are Accusing Their Company Of Bias Against Arabs And Muslims

Facebook had been a “tremendous help” for activists who used it to communicate during the Arab Spring of 2011, he said, but during the ongoing Palestinian–Israeli conflict, censorship — either perceived or documented — had made Arab and Muslim users skeptical of the platform. As proof, the engineer included a screenshot of Gaza Now, a verified news outlet with nearly 4 million followers, which, when liked on Facebook, prompted a “discouraging” pop-up message stating, “You may want to review غزة الآن - Gaza Now to see the types of content it usually shares.” “I made an experiment and tried liking as many Israeli news pages as possible, and ‘not a single time’ have I received a similar message,” the engineer wrote, suggesting that the company’s systems were prejudiced against Arabic content. “Are all of these incidents resulted from a model bias?” The post prompted a cascade of comments from other colleagues. One asked why an Instagram post from actor Mark Ruffalo about Palestinian displacement had received a label warning of sensitive content. Another alleged that ads from Muslim organizations raising funds during Ramadan with “completely benign content” were suspended by Facebook’s artificial intelligence and human moderators. While there is now a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Facebook must now deal with a sizable chunk of employees who have been arguing internally about whether the world’s largest social network is exhibiting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias. Some worry Facebook is selectively enforcing its moderation policies around related content, others believe it is over-enforcing them, and still others fear it may be biased toward one side or the other. One thing they share in common: the belief that Facebook is once again bungling enforcement decisions around a politically charged event. While some perceived censorship across Facebook’s products has been attributed to bugs — including one that prevented users from posting Instagram stories about Palestinian displacement and other global events — others, including the blocking of Gaza-based journalists from WhatsApp and the forced following of millions of accounts on a Facebook page supporting Israel have not been explained by the company. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News also reported that Instagram had mistakenly banned content about the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site where Israeli soldiers clashed with worshippers during Ramadan, because the platform associated its name with a terrorist organization. “It truly feels like an uphill battle trying to get the company at large to acknowledge and put in real effort instead of empty platitudes into addressing the real grievances of Arab and Muslim communities,” one employee wrote in an internal group for discussing human rights. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United States

27 May 2021

Question to US Muslim politician prompts Islamophobia accusations

A Muslim political candidate for lieutenant governor in the US state of Virginia has received an outpouring of support after he was asked a question in a televised debate that critics describe as “Islamophobic”. Sam Rasoul is a Muslim American politician and the leading Democratic candidate in the race for the state’s lieutenant governorship. During the campaign’s only televised political debate on Tuesday night, WJLA TV anchor Dave Lucas, one of the moderators, asked Rasoul a question that prompted widespread accusations of Islamophobia, and a slew of condemnations on social media. “The Washington Post reported your fundraising effort is ‘category-leading,’ because of some out-of-state donors connected to Muslim advocacy groups – there’s nothing wrong with that – but that was the case,” Lucas said during the debate which was held at George Mason University in Fairfax. “Talk a little bit about your fundraising efforts and can you assure Virginians, if you’re elected, you’ll represent all of them regardless of faith and beliefs?” Rasoul, 39, the son of Palestinian immigrants and one of six candidates running, responded that he was “proud to have a campaign that’s 100 percent funded by individuals, with the majority of contributors coming from Virginia”. Joshua Cole who is running for re-election in the Virginia House of Delegates said he was never asked about how much money he received from “Christian donors”. “I just want a Virginia where Sam Rasoul can be measured on the merit of his work and not the stereotype of his faith,” he said in a tweet. read the complete article

27 May 2021

The film 'Two Gods' studies the life of a Muslim casket maker

The film focuses on Hanif, a casket maker and sometime body washer for a Muslim-owned business in the Newark, New Jersey, suburb of East Orange. Hanif takes under his wing two local boys, 17-year-old Naz and 12-year-old Furquan, and teaches them aspects of his trade while offering life lessons. At the same time, Hanif deals with his own personal struggles — he was formerly incarcerated and has an estranged relationship with his own son. Hanif is a practicing Muslim, and the camera lingers on the role of faith in both Christian and Muslim communities. When Furquan moves to North Carolina to live with his grandmother, he becomes an active member of a local Christian church. “(The documentary) explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy of coming of age,” said director Zeshawn Ali. “The film is a tonal balance between those two worlds, and our choice to shoot in black and white was to show how they’re so delicately interconnected.” The film’s focus on Islamic burial practices was a deeply personal one for Ali and his brother Aman Ali, who produced the film. During the multiyear production of the film, the two lost both their father and a grandmother. The filmmakers choose an ethnographic and straightforward style in part to change the narrative about the portrayal of Muslims in the media. In public statements the filmmakers have noted that the film offers an alternative portrayal of the American Muslim community, one that defies stereotypical depictions. read the complete article

27 May 2021

Shadowy Right-Wing Strategy Group Embraces Islamophobic Figures, Policies, Presents Challenge to Democracy

A cache of documents obtained and published by the investigative research organization Documented appears to show anti-Muslim hate group leaders such as Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney and others who have stoked Islamophobia are involved with the Council for National Policy, or CNP. The documents also reveal that the coalition has promoted policies championed by the broader anti-Muslim network. Founded in 1981, CNP is a coalition of influential right-wing leaders, political operatives, conservative media figures, members of the religious right, free-market fundamentalists and donors. The coalition operates on multiple fronts and focuses on political strategy, media and grassroots organizing. The goal of the coalition is to advocate for right-wing and anti-rights policies that favor conservatives and the religious right. CNP has a habit of cozying up to extreme figures, the coalition’s rosters and associations appear to show. This includes figures known for engaging in anti-Muslim hate. Journalist and author Anne Nelson researches CNP and is the author of “Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right,” which provides an in-depth look into the coalition and its history. In 2016, Hatewatch published CNP’s 2014 membership directory, a 191-page compendium on its over 400 members, some of whom are deceased, and their interests. The directory shows CNP membership included extremists harboring anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ views. It also revealed so-called “Radical Islam” and “Islamic Fascism” to be among the interests identified by several CNP members. “Radical Islam,” a problematic term as detailed later, continues to be a topic among the group. While the coalition’s existence and some of its officers are public knowledge, CNP works hard to keep its membership and activities shrouded in secrecy, including reportedly encouraging members to keep quiet about the group. The New York Times once described CNP as “a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.” CNP is invitation-only, with new members being nominated by current ones. read the complete article

27 May 2021

For Muslim candidates, question on Virginia debate stage was no surprise

Questions about faith are not new or surprising to Muslim candidates running for office. At Tuesday’s debate for the six Democratic candidates running for lieutenant governor in Virginia, Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) was posed a question about his ability to represent people of all faiths. The other candidates were given an opportunity to answer the same question, but Lucas did not directly ask them about their religious allegiances. WJLA issued an on-air apology Wednesday, saying Lucas’s question was “inappropriate and disrespectful.” The episode might have caught Rasoul — the first Muslim to serve in Virginia’s legislature — off guard, but he was not completely surprised by it. “I’ve been campaigning for 14 years and I’ve had some subtle and not-so-subtle comments made, so we’re always ready for any kind of nonsense that rears its ugly head,” Rasoul said in an interview with The Washington Post, adding, “I choose to stay positive and focus on the issues that I know everyday Virginians are looking for us to champion.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is also Muslim, said she often experienced similar questions as she was campaigning for office. She said that Muslim politicians are asked to “prove our Americanness” and that the question was predicated on the idea that “being Muslim makes you less of an American.” “How could I be a voice for all people while also embodying multiple marginal identities as a woman, a Black person, a refugee and an immigrant? My various identities have only helped me be a better legislator for my community,” Omar said. Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) said Muslim candidates experience “unfair scrutiny” that candidates of other faiths do not. “I have colleagues in Congress of many different faiths, and they aren’t asked these types of questions,” said Carson, adding that Muslims are “constantly having to defend their loyalty to this country.” “We can be both proud Muslims and proud Americans,” he said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 May 2021

Until Boris Johnson is held accountable for his Islamophobic comments, Muslims will feel ignored

An independent report finding that Boris Johnson’s comments about Muslims made the Tory party seem “insensitive to the Muslim community” might sound like a step forward in ridding the Conservative party of racism. But until the UK’s leading politicians are properly held to account for their derogatory comments, Muslim women will not feel safe. While Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling has said it will accept the Singh Investigation report’s recommendations in full, there appear to be no repercussions for the leader of the party, who said in 2005 while MP for Henley that “Islam is the problem”, and wrote in the Spectator that Islamophobia was only a “natural” reaction to the Quran. The Prime Minister, in a Daily Telegraph column in 2018, described Muslim women as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. Following a complaint that he broke the party’s code with these comments, he was then cleared by an independent panel. The Singh investigation did not challenge this. Despite the fact that we’re expected to believe that suddenly Johnson lost all his bigotry and apparent Islamophobia on entering No.10, there is no acknowledgement that he, as either an MP, Mayor of London or Foreign Secretary, was in a position of power and his language had a wider effect on society and on Muslim lives. read the complete article

28 May 2021

Neo-Nazi accused of terror offences was Ukip member and ‘Nigel Farage fan’

A neo-Nazi accused of terror and explosives offenses has said he was first drawn into “politics” by Nigel Farage. Dean Morrice has been charged with eight terror offenses and two counts of possessing explosive substances that were found at his home near Bristol. Prosecutors accuse the 34-year-old of creating parts for a 3D-printed gun and running a social media channel that encouraged far-right terror attacks. Giving evidence at his trial on Wednesday, the former British Army driver denied the offenses but said: “I think it’s fair to say I have fascist and neo-Nazi views.” Mr Morrice told Kingston Crown Court he enjoyed dressing up as a “right-wing fascist” in outfits including a tactical vest, beret, and skull mask, but described the activity as “LARPing” - a form of live action roleplaying. The court was shown photos that Mr Morrice had taken of two crossbows, a collection of bolts, a skull mask and the tactical vest with a badge reading “ban Islam”. Mr Morrice, who had left the Army by the age of 18, later worked in different jobs and ran companies fixing gadgets and audio equipment. He said he developed an “interest in politics” in around 2008 or 2009. “I was a bit of a fan of Nigel Farage and Ukip,” he added. “After his plane crash [in 2010] I sat up and became a bit more politically aware.” Mr Morrice said he agreed with most of the views expressed by Ukip at the time, and was a paid member of the party until “a few years ago”. He told jurors that a Facebook group dedicated to “King Nigel [Farage]” was his first engagement with politics online. read the complete article

26 May 2021

The Tory investigation into Islamophobia failed to tackle the real problem

Make no mistake, this report matters, for it seeks to address Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice within the party of government. If we can’t tackle it there, what hope do we have when it comes to tackling Islamophobia within wider society at a time of growing prejudice against Muslims and where Islamophobia has overtaken immigration as the main driving force behind the rise of the far-right? It’s welcome news that the report acknowledges that anti-Muslim prejudice remains an issue within the Conservative party, though we didn’t need a two-year investigation to be told that Mr Johnson’s remarks about Muslim women wearing the burka looking like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letter boxes’ were ‘insensitive’. They were far more than that. In the week after his remarks, there was a 375% increase in Islamophobic incidents, according to monitoring group Tell Mama. Yet what it fails to do is tackle the root causes of the problem. It claims that there is no evidence of an institutional problem within the Conservative party when it comes to racism and Islamophobia, despite the findings from anti-racist group Hope Not Hate that 57% of party members had a negative view of Muslims and nearly half believed Islam to be a threat to the British way of life. This is an investigation that failed to approach victims of Islamophobia. It narrowed its remit into one that looked at a complaints process rather than the culture of Islamophobia among party members but nonetheless still went on to claim that there is no evidence of an institutional problem. read the complete article


27 May 2021

Uyghurs targeted by fake human rights emails

Members of the Uyghur Muslim community in China and abroad are being targeted in a surveillance efforts by likely "Chinese-speaking" hackers through the use of fake emails from the United Nations (U.N.) and a human rights group, cybersecurity researchers announced Thursday. The findings were part of a joint collaboration between cybersecurity groups Check Point Research and Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team, which concluded with “low to medium confidence” that the effort was carried out by Chinese-speaking hackers. The researchers found that the hackers were targeting Uyghurs in both China and Pakistan using malicious emails designed to trick individuals into installing a back door into Microsoft Windows software to allow the hackers to collect information and carry out further attacks. The emails are sent under the guise of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council or from a fake human rights organization known as the Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, both of which target Uyghurs applying for grant funds. The emails either used malicious downloaded documents or links to fake websites to install the back door. “We believe that these cyberattacks are motivated by espionage, with the endgame of the operation being the installation of a back door into the computers of high-profile targets in the Uyghur community,” Lotem Finkelsteen, the head of threat intelligence at Check Point, said in a statement provided to The Hill. read the complete article


28 May 2021

Residents of India’s Lakshadweep islands resent gov’t’s new moves

A series of regulations proposed by an administrator belonging to India’s governing party in a set of islands in the Arabian Sea has caused widespread resentment and fear among its residents. Residents in the smallest among India’s eight “Union Territories” (UTs), with a population of 65,000 people – 97 percent of them Muslims – are fearful of a series of moves by its right-wing administrator appointed by the federal government. Praful Khoda Patel, who belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the first non-bureaucrat administrator of the Lakshadweep Islands. Patel once served as the home minister of Gujarat state when Modi was its chief minister. Since he took over the Lakshadweep administration in December last year, Patel has pushed through a slew of new laws and regulations without consulting locally elected representatives in India’s only Muslim-majority territory apart from Indian-administered Kashmir. Residents say the proposals threaten their livelihoods, land ownership, culture and even the fragile ecology of the tropical islands. The controversial proposals range from a ban on beef, disqualification of people with more than two children who wish to contest the village council elections, to taking over land belonging to the locals for the purpose of development without safeguarding the interests of the landowners. read the complete article


23 May 2021

France implements 'far-right agenda' to silence its Muslims on Palestine

When pro-Palestinian marchers tried to organize protests against Israel's bombardment of Gaza civilians and support the people of Sheikh Jarrah, who were being forced off their land to make way for Jewish settlers - the French state quickly moved to ban the marches. The government of French President Emmanuel Macron cited "a serious disturbance of public order" and that the protests could harm "Israeli interests." Organizers of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators condemned the attempt to stifle their rights as "politically motivated." For French Muslims, however, it also revealed an uncomfortable and increasingly oppressive reality. "France is the only democracy in the world where protests supporting Palestine are forbidden," says Elias d'Imzalene, a human rights defender speaking to TRT World. But such actions follow a pattern in which Macron's government has attempted to stifle Muslim voices in the country. Earlier this year, Macron pushed for a "Charter of Imams," a set of principles that would define an Islam of France, which amongst other things would regulate what Muslims could speak about in mosques. The aim of such measures is to create a "state of exception against Muslims living in France by limiting their civil and political rights, and the right to express their religion," warns d'Imzalene. France's right-wing Interior Minister told local authorities and security forces to take all necessary measures to stop pro-Palestinian marches from happening. At the same time, French politicians were busy supporting Israel, but at home they are demanding Muslims in mosques neither talk about foreign policy issues nor protest about it. The Charter of Imams, which has been "massively rejected by Muslims", is one of the critical pillars of a broader attempt at silencing Muslims, says Marwan Muhammad, a high profile anti-racism activist in the country. "The idea here is to politically silence Muslim leaders in order to control Muslim opinion," says Muhammad speaking to TRT World. read the complete article


27 May 2021

Synagogue, mosque and church to join under one roof in Berlin

A group of Muslims, Jews and Christians joined on Thursday to lay the foundation stone for a centre that will house places of worship for each religion in a symbol of interfaith dialogue in the German capital. Days after protests in Berlin over the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza, and at a time when politicians are warning of rising anti-Semitism in Germany, the "House of One" offers a beacon of hope for dialogue, said its founders. "It is important that dramatic world conflicts can be discussed in the German capital and that people have a stage to highlight problems in their countries and express their opinions," said Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller at the ceremony. "But hatred and violence, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, racism and incitement have no place in our society," he added.The heads of Germany's Central Council of Jews and Central Council of Muslims have welcomed the project and the religious exchange it aims to make possible. read the complete article


27 May 2021

The Austrian government's new 'Islam map' has alarmed the country's Muslim community

The Austrian government came under fire Thursday for a new "Islam map" showing the location of mosques and associations around the country, with religious groups saying it would stigmatize Austria's Muslim population. Earlier, Integration Minister Susanne Raab unveiled an internet website called the "National Map of Islam" with the names and locations of more than 600 mosques, associations and officials and their possible links abroad. But the interactive map - compiled in collaboration with the University of Vienna and the Documentation Centre of Political Islam - alarmed many of Austria's Muslims and the ruling centre-right OeVP party's coalition partner, the Greens, also distanced itself from it. The Green party's spokeswoman for integration Faika El-Nagashi complained that "no Green minister or MP was involved or even told about it. The project mixes Muslims with Islamists and is the contrary to what integration policy should look like." Ms Raab insisted that the map was not meant to "place Muslims in general under suspicion". The aim was "to fight political ideologies, not religion," she said. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has regularly criticized what he calls "political Islam". "Imagine if a similar map was drawn up for Judaism or Christianity," said Tarafa Baghajati, the head of another Muslim organization, complaining that it equated terrorism with religion. He pointed out that around eight percent of Austria's overall population of 8.9 million were practicing Muslims and most of them had no links with such organizations. "It's worrying and I'm disappointed with the government for adopting far-right ideas," he said. read the complete article


28 May 2021

Will the new Myanmar include the Rohingya?

As a result of the military takeover, Daw Aung San Suu Kyyi was put under house arrest, yet again, along with a number of prominent NLD party members, while many others were forced into exile. What struck me during those early days was the unconditional adoration for “The Lady” among the protesting crowds; Suu Kyyi’s face adorning the streets of Yangon on placards, t-shirts, and demonstrators’ faces. While not all protesters adopted such adulation, this sense of “idolization” was unsettling, and my mind wandered to the Rohingya and their plight. Etched in my consciousness was the Tatmadaw’s horrifying ethnic and religious persecution of 2017, that saw Rohingya villages in Rakhine State burned to the ground, thousands murdered, and hundreds of thousands forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The silence of Aung San Suu Kyyi and a sector of the Burmese general public was deafening. While western media had been quick to canonize and idolize Suu Kyyi, they failed to recognize the fact she was just a political survivor who really did not have much choice but to go along with military orders. Nearly four months since the onset of the coup, the issue of the Rohingya people is an ever salient one, and the role they play in the future of Myanmar is very much undetermined. Since the overthrow of the democratically elected National Defense League and ASSK, boycotts and strikes by the Civil Disobedience Movement have spread across the country. The legislative body (CRPH) - made up of mainly deposed NLD MPs - has been formed in exile, as has the National Unity Government (NUG), which aims to consolidate power among the various ethnic groups that make up Myanmar’s rich, yet bruised social fabric. As these groups vie for international support to overthrow the military junta by announcing a host of concessions and promoting federal democracy, it begs the question - if they do indeed regain power from the military regime, will they honor these promises and take a more progressive and inclusive approach? Will they absorb Rohingya grievances and secure a place for them at the decision-making table? read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 May 2021 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results