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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09 May 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Sweden, authorities have issued an arrest warrant for far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan who on two separate occasions this year burned a copy of the Quran in public, meanwhile in the U.S., the Massachusetts’s chapter of CAIR has reported a 72% jump in requests for help from students experiencing Islamophobia in public schools in the year 2022, and lastly, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have “questioned the preparations for repatriation to Myanmar and said they will only go back on a permanent basis if their security is guaranteed and they will be granted citizenship.” Our recommended read of the day is by Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley for Rolling Stone on how former President and GOP frontliner Donald Trump has been cited by multiple sources saying that he would bring back the Muslim travel ban if re-elected in 2024. This and more below:

United States

Trump 2024: Bring Back the ‘Muslim Ban’ — and Expand It | Recommended Read

Donald Trump for months has been telling people close to him that he plans to bring back his infamous “Muslim ban” if he’s reelected in 2024, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. “Gotta bring it back,” Trump has said of the policy, according to the two sources, who added he regularly calls the idea “beautiful.” Banning Muslims from entering the United States is a longstanding obsession of Trump’s. In December 2015, during the GOP presidential primary, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He took a step toward that vision just a few days after taking office, when he signed an executive order banning the entry of citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq for 90 days. The former president appears to be unsatisfied with merely reinstating the ban as it existed during his presidency. More recently, Trump has privately discussed adding more countries, including Afghanistan, to the list of majority-Muslim countries whose citizens he’s seeking to ban from the United States. The hints of Trump’s interest in a reinvigorated travel ban are noticeable in his recent speeches, although they haven’t received much public scrutiny. “I will restore my travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country,” Trump said in a late-April appearance in New Hampshire. “We were very tough on that. We don’t want our buildings blown up. We don’t want to have problems.” read the complete article

Islamophobia incidents are rising in Massachusetts public schools, report finds

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations is reporting a 72 percent jump in requests for its help from parents and students experiencing an Islamophobia incident in public schools. Overall, the civil rights group received fewer requests for legal assistance in 2022, consistent with national trends reported by its Washington, D.C., office. But school-related incidents surged, replacing the workplace as the top site for complaints of harassment, discrimination, and abuse, CAIR’s annual report found. And after five years of a steady decline in calls about hate crimes and harassment, 2022 broke the trend, seeing a 33 percent jump in such complaints. Last year marked the first time school-related incidents, such as discrimination over religious head coverings and stereotypes of being violent and being perceived as terrorists, topped the list for cases of discrimination against Muslims, said Barbara Dougan, legal director of CAIR Massachusetts. A former student who is now in close contact with CAIR told the Globe in an interview that he was often the target of offensive racial and religious remarks in high school, frequently called a terrorist after moving to a new school district when classmates learned he was Muslim and of Pakistani descent. The 25-year-old, who did not want to be identified out of concern for his safety as he still lives in the same town where he attended high school, said teachers he attempted to confide in would either brush off these incidents or contribute to the harassment by making statements about Muslims “being too radical” and violent. CAIR’s 2022 report also includes complaints about students being unfairly disciplined and perceived as potential terrorists compared to non-Muslim classmates. read the complete article

US ‘war on terror’ feeding global anti-Muslim feelings - scholar

The US rhetoric on its so-called war on terror is responsible for the global proliferation of anti-Muslim sentiments, a respected scholar and author has said, terming the growing religious hatred against the community as a “neo-colonial project”. Prof Khaled Ali Beydoun’s recently-published book The New Crusades: Islamophobia and the Global War on Muslims has been hailed as a pathbreaking study on the subject for its minute examination of the issue. “Islamophobia is a tool and a weapon used by the US to advance its global power and to seize coveted natural resources such as oil in Iraq,” says Prof Beydoun, a faculty at Wayne State University Law School in the US. He was speaking to Anadolu Agency exclusively. “I chose the title because the term ‘crusade’ is used to describe the historical conflict between Islam and Christianity,” he says. “...When the war on terror was launched 21 years ago, then US President George Bush called it a ‘crusade’. So I drew on these two events to give the title to the book.” Beydoun says that besides extensive research for the book, he interviewed people exposed to anti-Muslim hatred in many countries such as India, China, France and Canada. While writing the book, he aimed to understand the feelings and thoughts of the Muslim community struggling for existence in different countries. He says that anti-Muslim sentiment is not the same in every country. “Islamophobia is not experienced by Muslims in a similar way. It really depends on where they are, which country they live in, what their identity is. The Islamophobia that Uyghur Muslims experience is strikingly different from the one that we experience.” read the complete article

U.S. Domestic Terrorism Prosecutions: The Reality Behind the Government’s Inflated Numbers

Since the 9/11 attacks, counterterrorism has been the top priority of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Its initial single-minded focus on international terrorism has shifted in recent years to encompass domestic terrorism. Over the last decade, the department has asked Congress for more than $500 million to pay for terrorism-related prosecutions. These funds support more than 300 positions in the U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country, which claim to have won more than 2,000 domestic terrorism-related convictions in this time. Unfortunately, data released by DOJ in litigation that we brought some five years ago shows that these numbers are wildly inflated. As the United States struggles to come to grips with white supremacist violence, it is critical that policymakers and the public understand the actual extent, nature, and efficacy of these prosecutions. For years DOJ has withheld the information necessary to see behind the domestic terrorism convictions it claims. Data on prosecutions from U.S. Attorneys is compiled in a government database, which includes several categories relevant to domestic terrorism, but identifying information (e.g., docket numbers) about the cases is redacted. Seeking to understand which political leanings were targeted in domestic terrorism cases and the type of conduct that rose to the level of terrorism in the eyes of prosecutors, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request for this data. When our request was denied, we sued the department to obtain identifying information about the roughly 4,000 cases that were tagged as relating to terrorism for the period from January 2006 to September 2020. Judge Moss agreed. He ordered the department to review case files tagged as terrorism and release identifying information on those that had been publicly linked to terrorism or met the statutory definition of domestic terrorism. The department has thus far reviewed some 1,140 dockets. According to its monthly releases of docket numbers, in only 71 (roughly 6 percent) did the DOJ make a clear connection to domestic terrorism. Information on the vast number withheld is sparse. Surprised by the low number of cases that met the criteria for disclosure, we asked Judge Moss to conduct an in camera review of documents relating to a sample tranche of 20 cases withheld by the DOJ. He found that 19 out of 20 cases he reviewed did not involve terrorism but were mostly personal disputes, concluding that the government’s representation of its counterterrorism efforts is “vastly overstated.” read the complete article

'What happens if I am killed?' Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks out about threats

Death threats are a persistent part of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's life. "I have to have regular conversations with my kids: 'What happens if I am killed?'" Omar said in an interview. "I have to have regular conversations with them about how to walk down the street, things to look for." Since the Minneapolis Democrat won her congressional seat in 2018, two men have pleaded guilty to threatening to kill her. Omar's name, along with those of other prominent Democrats and some media figures, was found on a list put together by a man federal prosecutors warned "stockpiled assault weapons, studied violence, and intended to exact retribution on minorities and those he considered traitors." In the most recent incident of threatening behavior, a man accused of starting fires at two Minneapolis mosques allegedly vandalized Omar's congressional office nearby and sent harassing emails. When Democrats ran the House during her first four years in office, Omar said she could count on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make sure she had the help and protection she needed. She said she lacks that confidence with the new Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy. "I don't know if I feel confident that if things were to rise to a dangerous level again if I can rely on the current speaker to take my safety and the safety of some of my other former vulnerable colleagues [seriously]," said Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. read the complete article

Former Guantanamo Bay Inmate Showcases 20-year Ordeal In Paintings

When Ahmed Rabbani ran out of paint to satisfy his artistic yearnings during 20 years of incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, he turned to whatever came to hand -- dirt, coffee grinds and even spices such as turmeric from the prison canteen. "Through painting, I would feel myself outside Guantanamo," the 53-year-old Pakistani said this week at an exhibition of his work in the port city of Karachi. "Painting was everything for me there." Rabbani was detained by Pakistan authorities in September 2002 and handed over to the US Central Intelligence Agency for a bounty of $5,000. He was "sold" on the basis he was a notorious militant known as Hassan Ghul, but Rabbani always insisted it was a case of mistaken identity. He was also accused of recruiting his older brother Muhammed into extremist circles. Both were never charged or faced trial during two decades in detention, and they were only released in February this year. Born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where his parents worked, Rabbani moved back to Karachi as a teen and was a taxi driver at the time of his detention. Fluent in Arabic, he specialised in guiding visitors from the Middle East -- a factor which contributed to him being misidentified. While imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, painting became an obsession for Rabbani, although years spent on hunger strike meant he was often too frail to even hold a brush. In "The Unforgotten Moon: Liberating Art from Guantanamo Bay", around two dozen pieces Rabbani was allowed to take from prison are on display -- alongside works by local artists who have "re-imagined" paintings that were confiscated. read the complete article


The Urgent Need To Defend Uyghur Children And Their Families

Though I always understood the gravity and brutality of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) genocide and crimes against humanity ongoing against Uyghur Muslims, the birth of my son has given me a newfound appreciation for the depravity of the CCP’s strategy of separating child from parent. This week, a new report from Bitter Winter revealed three videos of Uyghur boys, ages 5 to 11, coerced into saying that they loved or wanted to join the People’s Liberation Army. They said it in Chinese, not Uyghur. They were goaded by CCP officials to say what they said. These boys are but a few of the estimated 900,000 Uyghur children separated from their parents in so-called boarding schools or live-in kindergartens. While we have long known about these programs thanks to the meticulous work of China scholar Adrian Zenz, these videos provide evidence of the nature of the CCP’s indoctrination. It is no secret that the CCP seeks to tear apart Uyghur families; the ultimate aim is replacing the family unit with the Party. Some Uyghur children are effectively orphaned because both of their parents are extrajudicially imprisoned in the CCP’s political prison camps which are estimated to hold between 1.8 million to 3 million individuals. Others have parents sent to various parts of China as part of mass forced labor programs. Some children never even come into being because the CCP subjects Uyghur women to forced abortion and forced sterilization. These little boys serve as an additional justification for why policymakers and civil society activists must continue defending the rights and freedoms of Uyghurs. read the complete article


Rohingya refugees demand citizenship and security on first return to Myanmar

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh said on Saturday they would not return to Myanmar to “be confined in camps” after making their first return visit as part of efforts to encourage their voluntary repatriation. Nearly a million Rohingya Muslims live in squalid camps in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar. Most have been there since fleeing a military-led crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in 2017 and had not returned until now, although Bangladeshi officials have made several trips to Myanmar as they seek to repatriate the refugees.Twenty Rohingya Muslim refugees and seven Bangladeshi officials visited Maungdaw Township and nearby villages in Rakhine state on Friday to see the arrangements for resettlement. Rohingya have questioned the preparations for repatriation and said they will only go back on a permanent basis if their security is guaranteed and they will be granted citizenship. “We don’t want to be confined in camps. We want to get back our land and we will build our own houses there,” Oli Hossain, who was among the refugees who visited Rakhine state, told Reuters by phone. “We’ll only return with citizenship and all our rights,” said the 36-year-old Hossain, father of six children. Myanmar is offering Rohingya national verification cards (NVC), which Rohingya refugees regard as inadequate. “Myanmar is our birthplace and we are citizens of Myanmar and will only go back with citizenship,” said refugee Abu Sufian, 35, father of three children. “We’ll never accept NVC. This will effectively identify Rohingya as foreigners,” he told Reuters. The authorities had “even changed the name of my village in Rakhine,” he added. read the complete article

Canada expels Chinese diplomat for alleged intimidation of lawmaker

Canada has expelled a Chinese diplomat after an intelligence report accused him of trying to intimidate a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority. “Canada has decided to declare persona non grata Mr Zhao Wei,” the Canadian foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, said in a statement on Monday. “The decision has been taken after careful consideration of all factors at play.” The rare decision to remove an accredited diplomat comes only days after Joly’s office summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cong Peiwu, to express frustration over attempts to meddle in Canada’s domestic politics. Justin Trudeau’s government has been under growing pressure to respond to China following revelations Zhao was part of an alleged campaign to threaten and harass the Conservative MP Michael Chong, as well has his family in Hong Kong. A 2021 report about Chinese influence in Canada by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) included information about potential threats to Chong and his family. read the complete article


Rockhampton mob ringleader was head of ‘patriots’ group that posted anti-Islam content

The ringleader of a Rockhampton mob that surrounded the home of an Indigenous teenager on Sunday was previously the national leader of a far-right “patriots” group, which regularly published anti-Islam content online. Torin O’Brien, a former One Nation candidate, posted the names and photographs of the two Aboriginal young people, believed to be teenagers, on Facebook last week and called for locals to attend their address on Sunday. About 30 people attended the property, some knocking on windows and calling for the occupants to come outside. One person fled out the back door and was chased by members of the crowd. Police stood guard outside the property after arriving at the home. Concerns about vigilantism in Queensland are growing amid heightened community sentiment about youth crime. Media reports about the Sunday incident were largely sympathetic to the group, including one referring to them as “anti-crime crusaders”. Andy Fleming, an antifascist researcher said O’Brien had been the national president of the Patriots Defence League, an anti-Islam group that was deregistered as an incorporated association in 2015 after it was claimed to be a domestic violence group. The group’s Facebook page, dating back to when O’Brien was involved, shows pictures of him wearing clothing with the group’s logo. Social media posts from the Patriots Defence League also refer to Muslims as “terrorist scum”, “rats” and “filthy”. read the complete article


Sweden arrests in absentia Rasmus Paludan who burned Quran copy

Far-right Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, who burned a copy of the Quran earlier this year, has been reportedly arrested in absentia in Sweden. The Malmo Prosecutor's Office issued an arrest warrant for Paludan on suspicion of "several crimes," Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported. Paludan has been investigated a couple of months ago for "incitement against a group of people, insult and gross assault against an official," it said. He said he wants to testify virtually from Denmark with the help of Danish police. Earlier this year, Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into anti-Muslim Danish and Dutch politicians on charges of inciting public enmity and insulting religious values. The move came after Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and then later in front of a mosque in Denmark. Paludan also said he would burn the Muslim holy book every Friday until Sweden is admitted to the NATO alliance. Global condemnations have poured in over the Quran burning, with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemning Paludan’s actions as "deeply disrespectful." read the complete article


Islamophobia, bigotry, intolerance & misinformation: How hate speech is the new normal

A new normal prevails in #NewIndia, where elected Members of Legislative Assemblies, belonging to the party that controls the union government, are openly supported extra-judicial killings, now even threatening of persons who speak against majoritarianism. Last week, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a MLA belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the Bijapur constituency of Karnataka recently said that “If you speak about our faith or about India, then you will be shot. ” this open threat was issued by the said MLA as he was speaking about the murder of Atique Ahmed in Uttar Pradesh, saying that this same method will be used in Karnataka too, where decision will be taken on the road. His state goes to the polls on May 10. Hate speech has been a dark spot on Indian democracy for decades, but the scale of the problem has accelerated sharply in recent years, with the Indian polity being regularly bombarded with hateful speech and polarising content. This development has gone hand in hand with the rise and consolidation of the current regime at the centre since 2014 with even cabinet ministers and officials committing offences of hate bartering, with impunity. The vitriolic tone used in these particular instances of speech is the most relevant, as it aims to not only stigmatise or isolate the minorities (especially the largest majority in India, Muslims) but are so extreme that they amount to exhortations to physical harm and violence. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 May 2023 Edition


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