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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04 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Australian Muslim women who wear the hijab recount the questions and assumptions they face on a daily basis, as in Myanmar, masses of ethnically and religiously diverse coalitions continue to protest against the military, and in Canada, the Canadian branch of the far-right group “Proud Boys” dissolves months after Ottowa designated the group as terrorists. Our recommended read of the day is by Lizzie Dearden on Britain’s new counter terrorism commissioner and his encouragement of the government against the use and acceptance of the term Islamophobia. This and more below:

United Kingdom

03 May 2021

New extremism chief appointed by Priti Patel dismissed ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘violent extremism’

Britain’s new commissioner for countering extremism dismissed the use of the word “Islamophobia”, and urged the government to “push back” on it, it can be revealed. Robin Simcox, who previously worked for a US think-tank with close links to Donald Trump’s administration, was appointed to the post by Priti Patel last month. In a September 2019 article, he called for the prime minister to “push back on ‘Islamophobia’” and be “wary” of calls for an internal Conservative Party review. In the same article, Mr Simcox said Extinction Rebellion, Unite Against Fascism and the far left “need monitoring”. Earlier that year, in a piece headlined “Left’s Use of Islamophobia a Cynical Ploy to Shut Down Disagreement”, he wrote: “Muslims’ concerns about the prejudice they face in society cannot be ignored. Those concerns, however, must be addressed without throwing around accusations of Islamophobia, a word used to narrow the parameters of legitimate debate.” Mr Simcox also rejected the term violent extremism in a 2016 article, arguing that it was “dreamed up as a way to avoid saying ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islamist’ extremism in the months after the July 2005 suicide bombings in London”. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
03 May 2021

A Muslim history of the UK

Sadiya Ahmed has been busy during Britain’s latest COVID-19 lockdown. She has produced a podcast, created a heritage photography competition, and is working on setting up a Muslim History module to run alongside the national curriculum. It is all part of this former tutor’s aim to ensure British Muslim history takes its rightful place within mainstream British history. “Muslims aren’t just on the margins of British society, but are part of British society,” she says. She wants to place their stories alongside the already documented “mainstream” British history in archives, museums and academia. “It gives our communities an authenticated representation and claim to British history, as ‘our history’, one we are evidently part of.” Ahmed set up the Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative (EMHAI) in 2013 to document the history of British Muslims. “Future generations need to understand that Muslims have historic roots in Britain that actually go back centuries,” she says. The first Indian restaurant in London was established by a Muslim surgeon in 1810, and the first purpose-built mosque was opened in 1889. “I feel each generation thinks that they’re ‘the first’ because our history is largely undocumented, but we aren’t aware of the all the accomplishments of the past … Without that knowledge, we’re kind of stuck in a perpetual cycle, which grounds our identity as migrants or immigrants, and not citizens, and therefore not seen as equal to someone who’s from a white British heritage.” read the complete article


04 May 2021

'Why do you wear the hijab?': Questions I get asked as a Muslim woman

Being a Muslim woman in Australia can come with assumptions and stereotypes. They can range from faith, to the hijab (headscarf), to identity. We asked five Muslim women the questions they get asked the most, and how they've answered them. "My nephews and nieces would ask: 'Why do you put this on Auntie Ann? Why do you suddenly want to cover your hair?'" "Now [that] they understand, they're slowly learning about why we have to fast, why we celebrate Eid." She found it a bit more challenging when it came to talking to her in-laws about it. Ms Mohamed had to explain that the decision did not change who she was on the inside. "As an identifiable Muslim woman who wears a hijab, I am subject to the general Islamophobia that exists in Australia," says the Melbourne-based GP. "I had to fight to be able to keep my hijab on during surgical procedures and as a result of my presence, it created new infection control guidelines in the hospitals I worked in." Speech pathologist Rheme El-Hussein teams up with her husband to host annual open days at Heidelberg mosque in Melbourne. Both her professional and volunteer work is dedicated to helping foster an understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. The open day gives people an opportunity to break bread together and exchange questions and answers. "I think in a country like Australia, where we live in a really multicultural society, it's so important that we do things like this, because, you know, we're a family," she says. read the complete article


03 May 2021

Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: Don’t Ignore the Religious Dimensions

This time around, it’s not Buddhist monastics but young lay people who are at the forefront of Myanmar’s mass protest, with clergy from all faiths following their lead. While religious actors and symbols may be less visible than in 2007, they are still very present. This will surprise no one familiar with how deeply entrenched religion is in Myanmar’s social, political, and economic life. And indeed, precisely because of this, exploring the religious dimensions of the current protests provide critical insights on the coup and its aftermath. Among other things, the changing nature of how religion is intersecting with and influencing the protests tells us something about how the country as a whole is changing, and what its future might be. Religion, and specifically Buddhism, has long been an important cultural factor defining the nation state, shaping its political culture, and, at times, contributing to tensions between diverse communities. While the vast majority of the country – over 85 percent, cutting across ethnic communities – is Buddhist, a significant number of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i, and practitioners of the indigenous nat tradition also comprise the nation. Many members of non-Buddhist faiths are simultaneously members of minority ethnic groups, who feel doubly marginalized by the state because of their ethnic and religious identities. Second, the movement is intentionally and visibly uplifting diverse religious expression – not just Buddhist expression. While those of all faiths have participated in protest movements in the past, what is noteworthy about this movement is how members of non-Buddhist faiths are participating with pride and distinction — wearing their religious clothing and claiming their religious identity while marching and demonstrating. Equally surprising, they are being celebrated for doing so by fellow protestors. In a departure from the past, imams across the country have shown up in their Islamic garb. Muslims from the Rohingya ethnic group carry signs identifying themselves as such. Christian clergy don their robes and Christian young people write biblical passages on the shields they hold to protect them from bullets while marching on the streets. The distinct religious expression of non-Buddhist communities has been celebrated by Buddhist participants as a reflection of the diversity of the movement and its vision. read the complete article


03 May 2021

Canada branch of far-right Proud Boys group dissolves itself

The Canadian branch of the far-right Proud Boys organization has dissolved itself, the Reuters news agency first reported, just months after Ottawa designated the group as a “terrorist” entity. “The truth is, we were never terrorists or a white supremacy group,” the administrator of the official Proud Boys channel on Telegram said in a statement on Sunday. The Proud Boys, which was founded by a Canadian and has chapters in Canada and the US, among other countries, describes itself as a “Western chauvinist” organization. Canada added the Proud Boys to its list of “terrorist entities” on February 3, saying “the threat of ideologically motivated extremism has been identified as the most significant threat to domestic security in Canada”. The move came amid mounting pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to take a harder line against far-right extremism after the deadly riot at the United States Capitol on January 6. US authorities have charged several members of the US Proud Boys in connection with the violent insurrection. It is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks far-right and white supremacist groups. “The Proud Boys’ actions belie their disavowals of bigotry: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” the SPLC says on its website. read the complete article

United States

03 May 2021

Fake Incident Report At State Prison Reveals Islamophobic Sentiment

The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has alerted state officials to an act of anti-Islamic hate speech at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. CAIR-CT sent a letter to Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros Sunday and copied it to the Office of the Attorney General. In its letter, CAIR-CT said that last month several copies of a fake incident report were found in a printer at the state prison in Cheshire. Hateful language in the report was directed at Shem Brijbilas, a Muslim correctional officer. Farhan Memon, chairman of CAIR CT, said the document “... contains both offensive language and it also includes coded references to neo-Nazi and white supremacist language.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 May 2021 Edition


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