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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14 Nov 2019

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, members of the Tory party have been suspended over Islamophobic online posts. In India, the country settles after Ayodhya temple verdict. Our recommended read today is by Nathan Bernard and Andy O’Brien on a private Facebook group that was used to promote anti-muslim hatred in Maine. This, and more, below:

United States

14 Nov 2019

Recommended Read | Private Facebook Group Fans Flames of Racist Hatred in Maine

It was Nov. 6, the morning after Safiya Khalid’s historic electoral victory in Lewiston, the second-largest city in Maine. Khalid had just become the first Somali-American to win a seat on the city council in this deindustrialized mill town, where thousands of African refugees have settled over the past two decades. Her groundbreaking accomplishment in a campaign marred by Islamophobic political attacks garnered national attention. Members of a popular local Facebook group called LA’s Journal were not celebrating. Many had spent the past week spreading racist and anti-Muslim hate speech online in an effort to derail Khalid’s campaign — a tactic that had proven effective in past municipal elections. Some members of the Facebook group called Khalid a “shitbag muslim” who wears a “head diaper;” another advocated “killing as many muslims as possible.” One poster shared Khalid’s home address, implicitly encouraging other group members to terrorize the 23-year-old candidate, who reportedly received death threats and was subjected to other harassment during the race. “Good morning lewiston. Is everyone congratulating safiya khalid this morning,” LA’s Journal member Shawn Asselin posted in the private group. “No,” replied fellow group member Scott Moody. “They should never be able to run for anything,” he added, referring to Muslims as “flea bags.” “F*ck her piece of shit,” opined an LA’s Journal member named Luc Plourde, whose comment was “liked” by several others. read the complete article

Recommended Read
14 Nov 2019

Silence Will Not Protect Us: Immigrants Speak Boldly Despite Threats of Violence

As an outspoken immigrant who is often critical of the United States government’s policies, I have often been told to go back “instead of stirring up trouble here.” Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to aggressive and hateful speech in the course of pursuing justice. Many immigrants and refugees have left home countries where governments restricted their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. They arrived in a country where such freedoms are protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. And yet, those who become outspoken community organizers, activists and even elected officials in the U.S. are targeted and silenced by the government. This targeting of immigrants and refugees, particularly people of color, for speaking up shows the emptiness of the rhetoric about the sanctity of free speech for all in this country. By silencing outspoken immigrant activists, jailing them and inciting violence against them, the government and White supremacists are attempting to keep immigrants in a state of fear and intimidation. read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

Yes, Stephen Miller is absolutely a white nationalist

Known as a shrewd and ruthless bureaucratic operator, Miller has consistently pushed the administration to adopt the harshest policies possible on immigration, targeting not just undocumented immigrants but legal immigrants, as well. He spearheaded Trump’s efforts to ban people from Muslim countries from coming to the United States. He has proposed that the United States admit zero refugees and sought to crack down on asylum seekers. Miller has a long history as a right-wing provocateur and opponent of immigration. In high school, he wrote an article asking why there were “usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school." Given all this, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Southern Poverty Law Center published an article Tuesday based on emails it obtained from the right-wing website Breitbart, in which Miller “promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage.” read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

Muslim woman says Denver arena worker told her to remove hijab, refused to let her enter

Gazella Bensreiti, 36, a mother of three girls, said in a Facebook post that she was at the arena Nov. 5, where her 8-year-old daughter was going to sing the national anthem with her school choir. When Bensreiti went to pick up her ticket, she said a female employee told her "take that thing off," referring to Bensreiti's hijab, a headwrap some Muslim women wear in public. Bensreiti said she refused to take it off, telling the worker that she wears it because of her religion. "She responded, 'I don’t care, you can’t come in with it on.' I then asked if she’d be willing to take me to the side so that I could remove it and show her my entire head in private. Again, she told me no," Bensreiti wrote, adding that a group of white men standing in front of her still had baseball caps on. read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

Complaint: Brooklyn school forced Muslim child to watch others eat during religious fast

On May 14, while a 9-year-old Muslim student at Public School 264 Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts was fasting for Ramadan, an employee at the school allegedly told him that because he was laughing during a lunch break, "you must sit in the cafeteria and watch all the kids eat while you are fasting!" according to the complaint. The state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The student’s mother, Zaman Mashrah, filed a discrimination complaint with the New York City Department of Education's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management in May. The DOE requires that a written determination be provided to Mashrah within 90 days but she said no report has been created, despite several requests, and the employee still works at the school. read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

Washington state might have just elected its first two Muslim women to office

Across Lake Washington from Seattle, in the suburb of Redmond, Varisha Khan is holding on to a narrow lead in her race for a seat on the Redmond City Council. Across the state, in the Tri-Cities town of Pasco, meanwhile, Zahra Roach has clinched a seat on that city’s council. According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, while a Muslim man has been elected before — Zak Idan in 2017 to the Tukwila City Council — Khan and Roach are, if current results hold, believed to be the first two Muslim women elected to public office in the state. With regard to faith, Khan, who wears a hijab, said questions about Islam were a bigger factor at the beginning of her race. Khan said she also attracted media attention from conservative blogs and radio programs like the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in Seattle for her associations. The conservative blog “Shift” attempted to disparage Khan by comparing her to Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and other socialists, like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. The blog also referred to Khan as an extremist and anti-Semite. It cited Khan’s support of Linda Sarsour, a former leader of the Women’s March on Washington, who along with two others, stepped down after charges of anti-Semitism. read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

The GOP attacked Ilhan Omar for calling Stephen Miller a ‘white nationalist.’ She says his leaked emails prove her right.

Omar’s blunt critique of one of President Trump’s most trusted aides immediately drew the ire of prominent figures on the right, who pointed out that Miller is Jewish and accused the freshman representative of anti-Semitism — a charge she has repeatedly faced over past comments about Israel’s ties to U.S. leaders. On Tuesday, Omar resurrected her incendiary tweet. Her characterization of Miller had been accurate, she tweeted, and now there was proof. Earlier in the day, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report titled, “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails,” which has since sparked intense blowback against Trump’s top immigration adviser, prompting calls from Democratic leaders for him to resign or be fired. After reviewing more than 900 emails Miller sent to editors of the conservative site Breitbart between 2015 and 2016, the report’s writer noted he had been “unable to find any examples of Miller writing sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who is nonwhite or foreign-born.” read the complete article


14 Nov 2019

What India owes its Muslim citizens after the Ayodhya temple verdict

All sides had publicly committed to respecting the court verdict. This is how a mature democracy must behave. But if this entails Muslims accepting the construction of a Ram temple at the site, Hindu groups need to pay equal attention to the court saying that the demolition of the mosque was “a serious violation of the rule of law” and that “it is necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship.” This is possible only if those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid are punished. Many high-profile right-wing personalities and BJP leaders are facing trial in this case, including former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani. But the byzantine twists and turns of a 27-year-old legal process, in which both witnesses and some the accused have died or claimed amnesia, have made many cynical about the eventual outcome. Justice in this “other” Ayodhya case is critical to Indian democracy’s promise of fair play and equality. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Nov 2019

Lady Warsi says Tories still failing to tackle 'racism at every level'

Lady Warsi, who has been a vocal critic of the Tories’ handling of anti-Muslim sentiment within the party, accused the party of having an institutional problem with dealing with the issue. Her comments come after the Guardian obtained a dossier revealing that 25 sitting and former Conservative councillors have been exposed for posting Islamophobic and racist material on social media. Warsi, the first Muslim woman to attend cabinet, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m starting to question just how much needs to come to light before the party finally acknowledges we have a serious and deep problem with Islamophobia and that, institutionally we’re failing to deal with it.” Asked about Johnson’s move to hold a general inquiry into racism, rather than specifically about Islamophobia, in the party, Warsi said: “I am disappointed that the party, having now realised that there is a problem in relation to a specific form of racism is still trying to absolve its responsibility by diluting what it is that its going to look at.” She added: “Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party, three chairman later, two prime ministers later, the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia. read the complete article

14 Nov 2019

Tories suspend 25 party members over Islamophobic and racist online posts

The Conservative Party has suspended a number of its members pending an investigation after a dossier suggested they had posted or endorsed Islamophobic and racist material online. Twenty-five sitting and former Tory councillors were said to be among those named in the documents, which were obtained by The Guardian. read the complete article


14 Nov 2019

Is the world still living in the shadow of the crusades?

For several centuries in the Middle Ages, Christians waged a ‘holy war’ aiming in part – ostensibly, at least – to liberate the Holy Land. Six experts discussed the question for BBC World Histories earlier this year, writing on whether those events, recreated in books, films and firebrand speeches, continue to affect lives and politics in the region and around the globe today. Suleiman A Mourad: The history of the crusades is told invariably as a savage, religiously inspired clash of civilisations between medieval European Christians and oriental Muslims. We think that this explains (at least in part) modern violence and the political tension between the west and Muslim countries, linking it to what happened centuries ago between the crusaders and the Muslims. Irrespective of motives, our tendency is to stereotype the present and the past, and to reject their complexity. read the complete article


14 Nov 2019

Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

Polish agents arrested two people accused of planning attacks against Muslims inspired by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, the security service said on Wednesday. The group intended to carry out attacks using firearms and explosives, the statement said, and during one search of a house in the Warsaw suburb of Wlochy, ABW agents found materials for making large quantities of explosives, guns and ammunition. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Nov 2019 Edition


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