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.

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07 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Tensions erupt in Mississauga, Canada over broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer. Scottsdale Community College apologizes for discriminatory Islamic questions on quiz. Our recommended read today is by Leila Ettachifini on Muslims providing critical coronavirus relief during the month of Ramadan. This, and more, below:

United States

07 May 2020

Muslims Observing Ramadan Are Providing Critical Coronavirus Relief | Recommended Read

Believers Bail Out, a Muslim-led organization working to end cash bail and raise awareness about anti-Muslim racism and anti-Blackness has an especially timely call to action for its members, stated right in its Twitter bio: “Pay your zakat to bail and join the movement to end mass incarceration!” Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, is an obligatory yearly donation of about 2.5 percent of one’s wealth to those in need. This year, as Ramadan coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Muslim organizations and individuals are choosing to focus their resources, including zakat, on coronavirus relief efforts. As people in prison continue to contract—and die from—coronavirus at an alarmingly higher rate than the rest of the population, Believers Bail Out is among them. “[Imprisoned people] are really scared about their health as the virus rampages through jails and prisons, which already had issues with cleanliness and overcrowding,” said Maryam Kashani, a professor and organizer with Believers Bail Out. “[...] We believe that distributing our zakat for the purposes of bailing Muslims out of pretrial and immigration incarceration and supporting those we are unable to bail out is a required part of our noble tradition.” Muslims are overrepresented in U.S. prisons and often subjected to discrimination, particularly during Ramadan. It can be difficult for people observing the month in prison to obtain meals at the correct times and receive their medication at night, rather than during the day when they are fasting. As such, Believers Bail Out encourages zakat donations in order to bail out Muslims from both pretrial incarceration and U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement custody and provide resources like soap and Qur’ans to those who are denied bail. The organization launched a Ramadan bail out fund on the first day of Ramadan. Since then, it has raised more than half of its $100,000 goal. read the complete article

Recommended Read
07 May 2020

Nutley man in jail after allegedly ramming car, shouting slurs at Muslim family

A Nutley man was being held at the Essex County jail Wednesday after he allegedly rammed his SUV twice into another car and spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric at the female driver and her 16-year old son. Michael Morrison, 55, allegedly began the April 21 attack while at a Carvel ice cream shop on Franklin Avenue, where the woman and her son were also waiting. According to police, he yelled, "You're a terrorist," "I'm going to kill you," and "Go back to your country'' at the pair. The alleged assault continued after all three left the store. After exiting the Carvel, Morrison allegedly followed the woman in his sport utility vehicle and crashed into the driver’s side of the victim’s vehicle twice. He attempted to hit the car a third time while she remained parked at a stop sign, according to officials. read the complete article

07 May 2020

Scottsdale Community College apologizes for discriminatory Islamic questions on quiz

A student brought the discriminatory quiz questions to the attention of school officials in late April. In a May 1 statement posted to social media, SCC Interim President Chris Haines said the student expressed concern over the wording of three questions related to Islam on the quiz. “SCC senior leadership has reviewed the quiz questions and agrees with the student that the content was inaccurate, inappropriate, and not reflective of the inclusive nature of our college,” Ms. Haines stated. “SCC deeply apologizes to the student and to anyone in the broader community who was offended by the material. SCC Administration has addressed with the instructor the offensive nature of the quiz questions and their contradiction to the college’s values." The three questions shown on social media are multiple-choice questions that were all marked incorrect. The first is, “Terrorism is _____ in Islam.” The student chose “always forbidden” as their answer; other choices included “Justified within the context of jihad”; “justified under international law”; or “always justified.” The second question asks where is terrorism encouraged in Islamic doctrine and law? The student chose the answer “terrorism is not encouraged in Islamic doctrine and law,” which was marked incorrect. Other answer choices were, “the Medina verses”; “the Muhammad verses”; and “the Mecca verses.” The third question is, “Who do Islamic terrorists strive to emulate?” The student chose Ibn Tamiyyah as their answer. Other choices were the Prophet Muhammad; Saddam Hussein; or Osama bin Laden. read the complete article


07 May 2020

Analysis- EU Research Center for Islam and Democracy: Support or more surveillance?

A new initiative by several conservative members of the European Parliament (MEP) from Austria and Germany seems to be more of an attempt to criminalize Muslims and expand the surveillance of their religious institutions than an endeavor to empower them. One should pay closer attention, when an article promoting the creation of a center that studies Islam, starts with the words “The project should by no means be anti-Muslim” – quoting an MEP, who might have exactly this in mind. Three MEPs from the Christian-Democratic European People’s Party (EPP) from Austria and Germany announced to have launched a cross-party and cross-border project proposal, which is an initiative for the establishment of an “EU Research Center for Islam and Democracy” (ERCID). The corresponding EU commissioner in charge is Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who is responsible for “Protecting Our European Way of Life,” a critical title, which sparked outrage with its portfolio covering four policy areas: migration, security, employment and education. Many observers have pointed out that this title obviously builds on the racist discourse, which has been mainstreamed with the rise of the far-right in recent years, portraying immigrants and people of color as invaders who do not want to assimilate into European societies. These cornerstones do not really give hope for the best point of departure. According to the first media coverage of the initiative, the ERCID should “strengthen the backs of those Muslims who are already inclined to the European basic values … but are being sidelined by fundamentalist organizations with a lot of Arab or Turkish money.” read the complete article

07 May 2020

Is there a difference between a niqab and a face mask?

In western Europe some have seen in this trend the unmasking (pun intended) of a deep hypocrisy: in contexts where Muslim women who wear the niqab have been vilified for covering their face in public, and such forms of dress banned in some places, the sudden social acceptability, even encouragement and good social manners of face covering highlights the nonsensical attitudes towards those forms of female Islamic dress. The idea that face coverings prevent effective communication, for instance, is being tested and found a little wanting. Indeed, it has been suggested that ‘we are all niqabis now’, thus pointing to a symmetry between the niqab and face masks belied by the apparent hypocrisy. Yet, neither the hypocrisy nor the symmetry actually allow us to grasp what is at issue and it is questionable as to whether the prevalence of face masks might help spark a more constructive conversation on the niqab. This is because in addressing the question, ‘is a face mask used to help block coronavirus really that different from a niqab?’ a good deal of caution is also warranted. The reason for this caution is that the answer from both sides, that of the women wearing them along with that of people banning them, is ‘yes, it is’. To understand why, we need to grasp the logic of niqab wearing, face mask wearing, and niqab banning. The symmetry breaks down when it comes to the reasons for wearing it. Vidya also talks about her relationship with God and how this orients and guides her choices regarding dress, behaviour and so on. This is because for many women who wear forms of dress such as the niqab, burqa, or hijab it is a profoundly religious act. To quote another woman I spoke to: “It’s between me and God”. read the complete article

07 May 2020

I’m spending this Ramadan in a hospital emergency room. It feels just like home.

“I’m Dr. UH-khh-tudr,” I say to my patients and families of South Asian backgrounds, as I see their eyes moving from my face to my badge. In Seattle, where I practice, most South Asian families I meet in the emergency department are first-generation Indian immigrants from Hindu backgrounds, attracted to the city by opportunities to work in the technology sector. With all the violent anti-Muslim rhetoric and turmoil in India these days, I always wonder what they think upon encountering me, an American-born Indian Muslim doctor. In Seattle, news of the coronavirus arrived in early February, around the same time that I was becoming more aware of the escalating violence and hate-filled rhetoric toward Muslims in India. Although this kind of malice has existed for a long time in India, it has found particular clarity since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, and it’s gotten much more severe in recent months. My extended family all over the world were following the news closely. As the disaster leaders at my hospital started putting coronavirus plans in place almost immediately, and the situation on the ground seemed to be changing minute-by-minute, I struggled to keep up with the information coming from my hospital and the news about India coming by way of my family. In India, during my last visit this past summer, my interactions felt tense. Unease was palpable everywhere — at the airport in the line for immigration, in the malls, in the chai shops, on the streets. It had been seven years since I had last set foot on Indian soil, and I had always looked forward to these visits as a kind of anchor. But this time, a constant sense of worry made it feel as though my every step was on unsure footing, like I could never rid myself of my sea legs. Now, WhatsApp messages from family members across the world are constantly rolling in, sharing news and reports of mob violence against Muslims and pogroms, all this under the blind eye of the police, backed by the ruling party, who in some cases have helped to foment it. My cousins in India send word that my nonagenarian grandmother is safe and does not need to leave her house for anything. I wonder whether they are referring to the virus or the violence. As a physician, I think of all of this when I think of India, where the hashtags #CoronaJihad and #BioJihad are trending. I think of the Muslims in India who are suffering, who are sick, who are being asked to prove they are not infected by the virus before being allowed care, who are being segregated if they are allowed care, or worse, who are being denied care altogether. I think about the kind of covenant I enter with a patient and their family each time I become their doctor, the small bond that develops between us, and all the ways that we can either bolster or weaken that bond. read the complete article


07 May 2020

Tensions erupt in Canadian city over broadcast of Muslim call to prayer

The City of Mississauga passed a motion last Wednesday to temporarily exempt mosques from a noise bylaw so they can broadcast the Adhan once a day until the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which should finish by 23 May. A condition was that the Adhan did not call on people to congregate in mosques, because places of worship are shut as a part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In an attempt to inflame tensions, Faith Goldy, a white nationalist who was barred from Facebook last year, tweeted that the Adhan was a sign of the demographic threat Islam and Muslims pose to Canada. The motion also prompted a man to trespass and stalk a mosque in Edmonton, and threaten to take part in a "Ramadan Bombathan". A letter was also placed in three different online petitions calling for the decision to be reversed, arguing that it was a "violation of human rights". Another open letter was posted on Facebook by Hani Tawfillis, a pharmacist who ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative Party candidate in the last federal election, said that Canadian soldiers who fought in the Middle East would be hurt by hearing the call to prayer, and equating it with slogans used by the Islamic State group. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 May 2020

UK Muslim, 100, walks garden laps for virus victims while fasting

A 100-year-old man is walking laps in his east London garden to raise funds for coronavirus victims in the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and dozens of other countries. Born on January 1, 1920 in modern-day Bangladesh, Dabirul Choudhury moved to London to study English literature in 1957. Inspired by Tom Moore, a fellow British centenarian who attracted worldwide attention by walking garden laps and raising almost 33 million pounds ($41m) for the National Health Service (NHS), Choudhury had a target of 100 laps when he started his mission on April 26. But Choudhury hit that goal within days, and continues with the garden laps to raise more funds. As a Muslim, he is fasting during Ramadan while he walks. So far, he has raised about 75,000 pounds ($92,700). read the complete article

07 May 2020

The Rohingya, Uyghurs, Shiites, the Ahmedis and the Homosexual: A Warning to British Muslims

No matter what you believe, there are people in this country who are in love with those of the same gender and also in love with Allah – living, praying, fasting, performing Hajj, touching the Kaaba. Fundamentally, you are not Allah and so do not have the power to claim whether one is a believer in the eyes of God, and who is not. For Shirk is the gravest sin. When I moved to Britain, I studied and worked and entrenched myself within the deepest corners of the British political establishment. I saw things I still can not talk about for fear of my life, and the things I did talk about led to the British Government outing me as a gay man to my family, my family and friends back home in Pakistan, and to everyone else. My homosexuality was weaponised because the Government understood what it would mean for someone brown and Muslim like me. But I am no different to your brother, your uncle your son, your cousin, your lover, your friend. But entering the most powerful halls as a gay, Muslim, Pakistani immigrant to Britain helped me understand the grave problems rooted within my community here, but more importantly, how the British Muslim community was being seriously (forgive me for the insult) f*cked over. Worse was realising that the British Muslim community was many times unaware of the intricacies of structural oppression, not out of ignorance or lack of education. But out of an apathy that has been built from decades of systemic trauma. read the complete article

07 May 2020

After coronavirus, black and brown people must be at the heart of Britain's story

It must be painful to be racist right now. Knowing that if you become sick, a black or brown person is highly likely to be involved in the hard, dangerous service of trying to save you. Knowing that if you need to get to work, a black or brown person is disproportionately likely to be involved in getting you there via bus, train or cab. Knowing that if you eat fresh food, migrant workers are having to be flown into the country to pick it because there aren’t enough British workers willing to do it. I don’t believe Britain is a country of racists. But we have been conditioned to erase the contribution of ethnic minorities to our national identity. The last time we were in a period of national crisis, a settlement – a social contract – was reached between the state and the British people. In 1945, in exchange for subjecting the civilian population to total war, the government offered the welfare state. We eulogise this as the offer of housing, welfare and unemployment benefits, healthcare and legal aid. The British people had earned their entitlement to these benefits, which formed a foundational part of what it meant to be a citizen of this country. But there was one fundamental problem. The millions of Africans, Asians and other people who came to be regarded as “ethnic minorities” (though they weren’t a minority in the empire) – and who made both this wartime victory, and the new welfare state institutions possible – were not part of the story. And what followed shows that when you exclude people from the narrative, they become excluded in real life. The idea of being entitled to a share in Britishness, and its national wealth, erased the contribution of black, Asian and ethnic minority people. And, over the decades that followed, the breakdown of the social contract – as the state remorselessly cut back its spending and stopped fulfilling its side of the bargain – was blamed on the presence of those visible, allegedly unentitled “outsiders.” read the complete article


07 May 2020

Rohingya refugees sent to 'flood-prone' island off Bangladesh

More boats carrying Rohingya refugees have arrived in waters off Bangladesh. Some of the refugees have been transferred to a small island, Bhasan Char, described by rights activists as a "dangerously flood-prone island without adequate healthcare". Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom reports. read the complete article


07 May 2020

His Dictionaries Taught Chinese To The Uyghur World. Then He Was Taken Away

Her brother, Hüsenjan, who has published more than 40 dictionaries, was particularly proud of it since Gulruy’s major was finance. He thought she would really find it useful in her new life in America. That massive dictionary, funded by the banking system, offered Uyghurs a promise of commensurability. A way of entering the mainstream Chinese economy, one word at a time. In 2019, Gulruy’s brother, Hüsenjan Esker (玉山江·艾斯卡尔), Vice Chair of Terminology and Senior Translator of the Ethnic Languages Committee Office (语言委员会名词术语办公室 yǔyán wěiyuánhuì míngcí shùyǔ bàngōngshì) of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, disappeared. Dictionary writers are responsible for the living edge of language. In Northwest China, the rapid establishment of Chinese state education systems and publishing houses meant that Hüsenjan had to invent new words to help the new world make sense for Uyghurs. From Gulruy’s perspective, what has happened to her family is an indication of how widespread state violence has become in the Uyghur region. She said, “We are religious, sure. We are Muslim. But that just means that we pray and follow the basic rules of Islam. We are all college-educated, but we pray at home. My oldest sister did teach the children to pray and they listened to the Qur’an on an mp3. This is why my nephew was taken. Hüsenjan didn’t pray at all, he was a Party member. But still, they thought he was protecting our ethnicity.” Gulruy believes that Hüsenjan was detained because of his work on a dictionary of Uyghur place names. Because the Uyghur names for places carry a claim to native sovereignty, his effort to collect them and pair them with their Chinese equivalents may have been deemed to have been a “separatist” activity. Unlike Mahmud Kashgari, who wrote the first Turkic dictionary nearly 1,000 years ago, Uyghurs are no longer allowed to write their own history. Hüsenjan’s audacity to systematically document how Uyghurs refer to their homeland outweighed decades of Party loyalty, decades of service to the regional government. read the complete article

07 May 2020

After advocating for his release, Uighur woman hears from father via Chinese media

Samira Imin had been waiting three years to see her father’s face again. She had been praying to hear his voice telling her that he missed her, that he was safe and healthy — that her public campaign urging China to release Iminjan Seydin, a prominent Uighur publisher and historian, had worked and her father was now free. But when it finally happened, it was via a two-minute video posted on Twitter by Chinese state media on Monday (May 4) morning, in which her father states that Imin had been “deceived” by “overseas anti-China forces” into believing he had been detained. “It looks like, obviously, he was forced to say that to me under threat,” Imin said. “We all know that. ... They tried to silence me by having my dad say that to me, and they tried to discredit my words. If I didn’t speak up, I don’t think they would have released him and made this video.” Last year, she learned from sources in Beijing that Seydin had been detained in one of these camps before being convicted of “inciting extremism” in a secret trial in February 2019. Seydin was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, deprivation of political rights for five years and a fine of 500,000 RMB, allegedly over a colleague’s Arabic rhetoric book that he published in 2014. read the complete article


07 May 2020

Suspect claims Norway mosque attack was 'emergency justice'

A Norwegian man suspected of killing his ethnic Chinese stepsister and then storming an Oslo mosque and opening fire said Thursday on the first day of his trial that it was an act of “emergency justice" and that he regretted not having caused more damage. Philip Manshaus appeared at a court west of Norway’s capital and denied charges of murder and terror read to him by a prosecutor, the Norwegian news agency NTB said. Manshaus has acknowledged the facts but denies the accusation, saying he opposes non-Western immigration. Broadcaster NRK said that during his testimony Manshaus claimed the white race “will end up as a minority in their own home countries” and criticized those who "blackmail national socialism.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 May 2020 Edition


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