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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03 May 2019

Today in Islamophobia: The new ISPU Poll shows the preferences and attitudes of Muslim and Jews have converged during the Trump administration, and that more Americans associate Islam with violence during elections years. Facebook bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other far-right extremists off its platform. Both Australians and Brits contend with flagrantly Islamophobic comments from its politicians, while Muslim women are unfairly targeted for their face veils after the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka. Our recommended read of the day is by Rebecca Vilkomerson and titled “Violent White Supremacists Are Not A ‘Both Sides’ Issue.” This, and more, below:

United States

03 May 2019

Opinion | Violent White Supremacists Are Not A "Both Sides" Issue | Recommended read

Of course, violent white supremacist attacks on houses of worship should be of concern to everyone. The connection between attacks on Jews and hatred toward Muslims and people of color was made by the alleged shooter himself, whose manifesto claimed responsibility for setting a mosque on fire last month, and who cited the the horrifying New Zealand mosque attacks as inspiration. But Megan McCain, called on for her take on the events, pushed her own right-wing political agenda, using the occasion to absurdly place blame on Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. The truth — that violent attacks against synagogues, mosques, black churches, and Sikh temples in America are almost uniformly perpetrated by white men who identify as white supremacists — was obscured by her words, which claimed voices on “both sides” are responsible, and that Omar is among the “most extreme” on her side of the spectrum. What McCain and so many other right-wing pundits are doing is weaponizing anti-Semitism: hijacking a deadly attack against Jews to promote their anti-Muslim and racist agenda. This includes claiming an equivalence between the words of deranged white supremacists and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. This not only puts Omar in further personal danger — it contributes to the ongoing and dangerous deterioration of the discourse on anti-Semitism. What the Poway synagogue shooting suspect laid bare, once again, is that anti-Semitism is an integral part of contemporary white supremacy, alongside anti-Muslim hate, anti-blackness, and racism. read the complete article

Our recommended read of they day
03 May 2019

The Muslim Brotherhood ban: Trump's deadly message to Arabs and white Islamophobes

No one can accuse Trump of tweet-driven policy making when it comes to his forthcoming designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, which was signalled on Monday. It was stated in plain terms back in November 2016 by his then foreign policy adviser Walid Phares, a former ideologue of the Lebanese Christian militia that committed war crimes during the Lebanese civil war. Along with the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the tearing up of the nuclear agreement with Iran. The MB ban was part and parcel of the baggage Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, brought to office. As a member of Congress he co-sponsored a bill to ban the Brotherhood. It was the purpose of twin bills re-introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Mario Diaz-Balart, in the same month of Trump’s inauguration, to require the State Department to inform Congress "whether the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organisation". So this is not some big surprise. A ban on the Brotherhood has been heavily signalled. Eleven days after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the CIA published internally a document decimating Trump’s reasons for designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. If you are a Saudi prince, who employs people to cut the fingers off journalists before strangling them, you would be banging the table in support of Trump’s Brotherhood ban. If you are an Emirati crown prince who lists 83 Muslim organisations worldwide as terrorist organisations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), then Trump’s impending ban is pay day, the reward for all the investment of time and money in the US president. If you are a general who has shed the blood of thousands of Egyptians in a dictatorship far more bloody than that of Hosni Mubarak, you, too, will get a lifeline from Trump’s announcement. read the complete article

03 May 2019

Pollster says more Americans associate Islam with violence in election years

"If you look at one measure that Pew has been tracking for the past 18 years — how much the public associates violence with Islam — when that perception spikes is not after terrorist attacks, which is what you'd think. It is during election cycles, and in the drum-up to war," Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on Wednesday. "This perception of Islam being violent is being promoted for very specific political ends," she said. President Trump in 2015 proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. read the complete article

03 May 2019

Trump Has Brought Jews and Muslims Even Closer Together

In fact, despite Donald Trump’s goal of dividing Americans in every way his small diabolic brain can conjure up, the ISPU poll makes it clear that Jews and Muslims in America have more in common than ever on issues ranging from U.S. politics to how we both view each other in a very positive light. The study also found that of all the faith groups in our country, the one that had the highest percentage of Muslim friends were Jews, at 76%. And 45% of Jews report they are “close” friends with a Muslim — again the highest percentage of any religion. Given the Muslim-Jewish friendship fest, it’s no surprise that Jewish Americans hold the most positive view of Muslims of any faith group, at 53%, with only 13% having a negative view. And American Muslims views of Jews essentially mirror those very numbers with a majority of Muslims viewing Jews in a positive light, while only 10% hold an unfavorable view. On a less positive note, Jews and Muslims have something else in common: We’ve both endured a well-documented spike in hate crimes in the age of Trump. Tragically, both communities have seen people killed simply for our faith. Heartbreaking examples include the despicable white supremacist terror attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 and the recent deadly attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California and the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. That doesn’t even include the foiled terror attacks by self-professed white supremacists, and in some cases Trump supporters, plotting to slaughter Muslims in our country. read the complete article

03 May 2019

Enough with the pancakes. Can Muslims get more than IHOP at Ramadan?

For decades, IHOP, the home of that famous, smiling chocolate chip pancake breakfast, has been one of the only places across the country — from big cities to country towns, from Los Angeles to West Virginia — where a Muslim family can load up on a filling meal before the day-long fast ahead. Twitter is already full of Muslims saying their IHOP craving is beginning to kick in, with moms excited to bring their kid to their first “grand American tradition of the IHOP suhoor.” And then there’s the funny intersection of Muslim families next to booths of drunken clubbers satisfying their 3 a.m. munchies. This mash-up has inspired some comic “Whoa. Did I just walk into a Muslim convention?”pre-dawn tweets over the years. So enter “Dine After Dark,” a new effort by a D.C. graduate student who spotted a classmate eating at 7-Eleven because nothing else was open when it was time for her to have her suhoor meal. Katherine Ashworth Brandt isn’t even Muslim. But she’s urging area restaurants to extend their hours to be more Ramadan-friendly. “I have a lot of Muslim friends in my life, and I am embarrassed to say it never really dawned on me what an inconvenience it was until then,” said Brandt, 34, a former congressional staffer. The always inclusive Busboys and Poets has joined in, and so has City Winery (to the consternation of some Muslims who didn’t like a place — even one that has a full menu of food — associated with alcohol hooking up with a dry religion). And Martha’s Table will serve Muslims at late hours from one of its food carts. read the complete article

03 May 2019

North Austin Mosque Targeted Again

A North Austin mosque vandalized last year was again targeted last week, as an arsonist attempted to set the building on fire Tuesday, April 23. Security footage shows a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt spraying fuel at the North Austin Muslim Community Center on North Lamar and trying to light the liquid. Two visitors inside the center reported a pungent gasoline odor during the incident. The center, one of the largest mosques in Central Texas, was vandalized on three different occasions in 2018, including tire slashings and broken glass doors and windows. While we are grateful that no person or property was damaged in this attempt, it is of deep concern to our community that events like these are becoming more frequent," said Council on American-Islamic Relations Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh. "People that seek to commit such acts are emboldened by increasingly mainstream anti-Muslim rhetoric. We issue the strongest possible condemnation of any act that seeks to harm and instill fear in vulnerable communities and urge law enforcement to step up efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice." read the complete article


03 May 2019

Facebook just removed six extremists from its platforms. Here's what should happen next.

Facebook just announced the removal of a notable cross-section of extremists from social networks Facebook and Instagram, including neo-Nazi sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos, anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer, far-right YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (again), and white supremacist Paul Nehlen, a failed Republican congressional candidate, while also removing Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan for his record of anti-Semitic rhetoric. This move by Facebook is a step in the right direction, opening doors to making its platforms safer and inspiring some optimism that the tech company might be capable of taking responsibility for the ways its platforms have empowered extremists. read the complete article

03 May 2019

Facebook bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and other far-right figures

Facebook banned several prominent accounts promoting white nationalism on the platform on Thursday. Accounts barred from Facebook, as well as its subsidiary Instagram, as part of the new enforcement include the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos and the anti-Muslim figurehead Laura Loomer. Jones was previously banned from Facebook but still had an account on Instagram, which was no longer live as of Thursday. Critics say Facebook has not, in fact, “always” banned individuals engaging in violence and hate. The company has often grappled with controlling far-right hate speech on the platform in recent years. Figures like Jones, Loomer and Yiannopoulus were able to cultivate a huge reach using the platform, making Facebook’s move “insufficient”, said Cristina López G, the deputy director for extremism at Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit media watchdog. The bans highlight the arbitrary nature of Facebook’s decisions to bar prominent individuals from posting on its services. The company acts as both judge and jury on who is allowed to host material on its network, with accounts often removed only following sustained criticism in the media. read the complete article


03 May 2019

Online histories bite Australian election candidates

Australian political parties have cut loose or chastised several of their own candidates for sexist, anti-Muslim, racist and homophobic behavior less than three weeks before elections, with most falling victim to their own online histories. Morrison on Thursday stood by Liberal candidate Jessica Whelan against accusations that she made anti-Muslim posts on social media. Morrison said Whelan’s social media comments appeared to have been doctored and a complaint had been made to police. Another Liberal candidate, Jeremy Hearn, was dumped by the party on Wednesday after a series of anti-Muslim comments came to light. He wrote online in 2016 that taxpayers should not fund Muslim schools because they were “fomenting rebellion against the government.” read the complete article

03 May 2019

Jessica Whelan concedes she made 'ill-informed' anti-immigration posts

Former Tasmanian Liberal candidate Jessica Whelan has conceded she made anti-Muslim immigration comments in social media posts, but insists she no longer holds those views. Ms Whelan has also confirmed she will now run as an independent candidate after she stepped down as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Lyons on Friday after more screenshots of social media posts attributed to her emerged. One post included a reference to “filthy Muslim”. The Hobart Mercury uncovered two new Facebook posts bearing the candidate's name and photograph. One called for a national vote on banning Muslim immigration and the other argued Tasmania should not accept refugees from Syria and Iraq. read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 May 2019

Roger Scruton's intellectual bigotry makes everyday racism more acceptable

Scruton characterises Islamophobia as a “propaganda word”, at a time when the UK is battling anti-Muslim bigotry from a variety of quarters. This applies to the Conservative party in particular. When interviewed, Scruton said the term Islamophobia was “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue which we are all worried about”. Against the backdrop of rising anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK and beyond, this would seem to be a particularly controversial thing to claim. The most recent example of weaponised anti-Muslim hatred in the New Zealand attacks would be ample evidence on its own, but there are many other instances. So what is this “major issue which we are all worried about”? According to Scruton, it is "the extent to which Islam condones or does not condone the violence committed in its name". In this framing, Islamophobia cannot be discussed, except in relation to extremism by Muslims. In the same interview in the New Statesman, Scruton described Muslim refugees to Europe as a “sudden invasion of huge tribes” – again, language that is aimed at stigmatising Muslims, strengthening the hand of the far right, which seeks to do the same. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

03 May 2019

Sri Lanka’s Face-Covering Ban a Wrongheaded Response to Easter Bombings

In ordering the ban, Sirisena joins a growing number of countries which, in the name of national security, target Muslim women who wear the veil. Under international human rights law, governments may restrict rights to freedom of expression or religion, including wearing of religious attire or display of religious symbols, but only when such restrictions are proportionate and on reasonable grounds. A government’s impulse to take dramatic security measures is understandable in the wake of mass violence, but the face ban disproportionately restricts the rights of women who wear the burqa or niqab, a veil leaving only the eyes visible. For Muslim women who feel uncomfortable being uncovered in public, a ban can cut off access to public transit, education, employment, and social services, isolating them and barring them from opportunities to be part of society and benefit from critical services. The ban also adds to stigma against Muslims, who have already reported feeling threatened in Sri Lanka, a majority-Buddhist country, after the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks and authorities identified the perpetrators as members of a domestic Muslim militant group. Angry crowds have threatened and assaulted mostly Muslim refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom have been evicted from their homes. read the complete article


03 May 2019

China is punishing Muslims for fasting. So US Muslims are fasting from China.

This Ramadan, human rights groups and Muslim organizations are urging U.S. Muslims to boycott products made in China, where authorities have for years cracked down on Muslims fasting. “People say, ‘Oh, I can’t boycott China, everything is made in China,’” said Hena Zuberi, director of outreach for the nonprofit Justice for All, who helped found the Fast From China campaign this month. “Well, we have the spiritual wherewithal to refrain from eating and drinking during the day in Ramadan. This is a time to control your nafs (self).” Launched April 19 by the Sound Vision Foundation’s Save Uighur project, the Fast From China initiative aims to get Muslims to rethink their everyday purchasing decisions and replace items bearing a “Made in China” label with products made in other countries. By setting the stage for more long-term campaigns, Zuberi said, they hope to change both Muslim consumers’ minds and American businesses’ relationship with Chinese manufacturing. For at least three years, the Chinese government has forced members of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province to skip the obligatory fasting and other religious rituals that mark Islam’s holy month. Reports from Xianjang suggest authorities have forbidden restaurants from closing during the month and banned workers, students and women from fasting and praying. Officials often send out invitations to events with food and drink, and those who do not attend and eat are regarded with suspicion. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 May 2019 Edition


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