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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18 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Europe, Recai Karaca Pak, a Turkish man born and raised in Germany, has been cycling through the continent on a mission to push back against the racist and Islamophobic perception of Muslims, meanwhile in India, an Indian comedian and actor has been forced to defend himself against online accusations of “insulting the country” after he performed a monologue in the United States, and a piece in the Independent calls attention to Steve Bannon, describing him as “an international pariah whose efforts to ignite religious, cultural and political warfare in other countries warrant scrutiny.”  Our recommended read of the day is by Shaista Aziz for the Guardian reflecting on cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s testimony about the racism and Islamophobia he endured in the sport, noting that Rafiq’s “story of dealing with institutional racism isn’t exceptional. What marks him out is the fact he is finally being listened to and believed.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

18 Nov 2021

Azeem Rafiq’s testimony should shine a light on racism in every workplace | Recommended Read

In July, while waiting for a friend at Lord’s, known as “the home of cricket”, a security guard looked me up and down while walking towards me: “You’re standing at the wrong gate. You’re here to work? You need to go through another entrance.” He tried to shoo me away. Up until this point, this man and I had not exchanged a word. However, he assumed that a brown, hijab-wearing woman could only be at Lord’s to work in hospitality. I told the security guard he need not worry, I was at the right gate. He looked stunned. Cricket is riddled with class, race and gendered inequalities at every level. That incident was yet another reminder that the establishment and “polite” English society demands that people of colour, people like me, know our place. I have spent my entire life as an anti-racist campaigner, refusing to know my place, because my place is everywhere. If anyone has a problem with that, then it’s just that – their problem, not mine. It has taken years of me internalising painful experiences of racism, Islamophobia and misogyny. Coping with workplace cultures of silencing, denial and the minimising of racism, and the many harms it has caused to me and my career, has led me to this point. Like many people of colour, I watched the former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into racism in cricket with my stomach churning and my chest feeling tight. Supremely dignified and courageous, Rafiq’s testimony was triggering for so many who have been subjected to racism and Islamophobia in our places of work. Yet, unlike many of my white friends, I wasn’t shocked by his devastating testimony. His story of dealing with institutional racism isn’t exceptional. What marks him out is the fact he is finally being listened to and believed: by MPs, the cricketing authorities and the media. When I was growing up, the P-word was used frequently against me, my family members and my friends; it was often followed up by violence. Over the past two decades, aided by the “war on terror”, the P-slur has been replaced with open and mainstream anti-Muslim hate. This is likely to be part of Rafiq’s experiences. It needs to be recognised that Islamophobia is a form of racism. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

British Muslims targeted with abuse after Liverpool attack

Muslims have been the target of hatred and discrimination after Sunday’s attack outside Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital, one of the city’s MPs said on Tuesday. Labour MP Kim Johnson, who represents Liverpool Riverside, said her team was aware of Islamophobic abuse directed at women wearing the hijab. This abuse follows a car explosion in the northern British city on Sunday morning, in which the dead suspect was a 32-year-old asylum seeker who converted from Islam to Christianity in 2017. “Incidents such as these, while extremely rare, always provoke a spike in race hate and particular in the Muslim community,” Johnson told the UK House of Commons. “My team have been hearing incidents where women wearing the hijab are facing abuse,” she said. The abuse directed at Liverpool’s Muslims “is an example of the way that Muslims have been increasingly racialised and stereotyped over recent decades”, MEND, a not-for-profit group that tracks Islamophobia in the UK, said in a statement. “Assumptions and assigning blame for such atrocities to Muslims before the facts are known is not uncommon and it is important that public figures show maturity and recognise the impacts of their statements,” read the statement released Tuesday. read the complete article


18 Nov 2021

The West must do more to protect Uyghurs from China's online harassment

The recent testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haughen revealed that Big Tech is failing to protect its users from malign actors. Uyghurs, long persecuted by China’s government, have proven to be especially vulnerable. In March 2021, some 500 Uyghur Facebook accounts were infected with malware embedded by Chinese government-adjacent hackers. While the company alerted the individuals affected, Haughen was quick to note in a Senate hearing that Facebook’s counterespionage team has been consistently understaffed, putting users at risk. Lack of disclosure has been another persistent problem in the industry. In 2015, former Microsoft employees revealed that the company had decided not to tell hackers’ targets, many of them Uyghurs, that their email accounts had been compromised. Twitter has been more proactive in pushing back against abuse of its platform. The social media giant recently listed some accounts as “foreign state actors” and permanently banned them from the website: In 2020, the company de-platformed 23,750 core accounts that generated content to be retweeted, as well as an additional 150,000 accounts run by bots and trolls. But much more remains to be done to ensure Uyghur safety online. In-house measures taken by tech companies to dismantle networks of malign actors and protect their users will make the online space safer for Uyghurs to use, but there is still a need for policy to protect Uyghurs and other vulnerable communities. While Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects tech companies from being sued, Congress could push for greater oversight of these companies and their activities — including mandatory reports to congressional committees on abuse and malign influence on their platforms. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

An Australian’s Search for Belonging Led to the Silk Road and a Famed Hat

The doppa, a traditional skullcap worn across Central Asia, was passed down to the woman, Subhi Bora, as a girl by her mother, who is Uyghur, a predominantly Muslim, Turkic group from the autonomous region of Xinjiang in northwestern China. Ms. Bora, 31, who grew up in Sydney after her parents fled China, had conflicting feelings about her different cultural identities and never wore the hat outside her home. But as the repression against Uyghurs in Xinjiang has become more brutal in recent years, the crisis ignited a sense of urgency to reconnect with her heritage. That set Ms. Bora on a trip to Central Asia to find a traditional doppa like the one she was given as a child. That journey turned into a storytelling project and an initiative to connect doppa makers and buyers online, which has gained momentum in recent months. “As an Uyghur person,” Ms. Bora said, “if I don’t hold onto this doppa, it might just disappear one day.” read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

Cycling through Europe to tackle racism and Islamophobia

It has been almost 15 months since a Turkish man, Recai Karaca Pak, who was born and raised in Germany, started his journey on a bicycle emblazoned with a Turkish flag. His mission is to push back against the racist and Islamophobic perception of Muslims and Turks in Europe. Now, after pedalling across nearly 10,000 km, Karaca Pak is in Turkey. Over 60 years ago, Karaca Pak's family migrated to Germany seeking better job opportunities. His family had to give up everything and leave their home due to financial problems. ''Our loved ones, our families and relatives, our language and history, our delicious food. We gave up on everything.'' Karaca Pak studied at Kassel University in Germany and established a company after studying civil and industrial engineering. Later, he expanded his company’s work to the medical engineering field and worked with banks like Deutsche Bank and global behemoths like JP Morgan. However, despite their devoted work and understanding of life in Germany, he underlines that he and his family are scarred by their experiences of racism and propaganda. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

UN resolution on Rohingyas ask to address crisis

Calling upon Myanmar to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis, The United Nations has adopted a resolution by consensus. "The adoption of the Rohingya resolution, for the first time by consensus, demonstrates the international community's strong resolve to end this crisis", said Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations Ambassador Rabab Fatima, during the adoption of the resolution Wednesday. According to the press release, the resolution urged Myanmar to fulfil its obligations under the bilateral agreements with Bangladesh, and cooperate fully with the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar and all the human rights mechanisms of the UN, among others. "Regrettably Myanmar's failure to create conditions conducive for the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the Rohingyas, has created a protracted situation in Bangladesh" said Ambassador Fatima in her statement. She highlighted the growing desperation of the Rohingyas with no progress in repatriation that led to several security concerns and cause of instability for the entire region. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

Poland's Muslim Tatars join effort to aid migrants crossing from Belarus

For Tomasz Miskiewicz, the mufti who heads Poland's Muslim community, helping migrants entering the country from Belarus is about humanity, not religion. Miskiewicz is working with Lipka Tatars in eastern Poland, a group of around 2,000 people who are part of one of the oldest Muslim communities in Europe, to show that, like other Poles, they are keen to help. The European Union says the ongoing migration crisis has been orchestrated by Belarus - an ally of Russia - in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed over a crackdown on political protests, a charge that Minsk denies. Up to 4,000 migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, are now waiting in freezing forests on Poland's frontier, which is also the external border of the EU and NATO, the Western military alliance. "Whether a person has the right to stay legally in Poland or not, every person has the right to a roof over their head, to a warm place to stay, to a plate with warm soup and warm meals in general, to decent clothing," Miskiewicz told Reuters. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

Steve Bannon isn’t just a problem for America. He is an international menace

Bannon, who once said that his goal is to “bring everything crashing down,” is more than a domestic problem. He is an international pariah whose efforts to ignite religious, cultural and political warfare in other countries warrant scrutiny. In 2014, during a speech at the Vatican, Bannon declared that radical Islam is engaged in a global war with the Judeo-Christian west. Several years later, he tried to establish a populist training academy for ultra-conservative Catholics in an historic Roman monastery. He called it “The Academy for the Judeo-Christian West.” Pope Francis has repeatedly warned about the growing threat of populism and urged compassion toward immigrants, including Muslims. Bannon, in turn, has reportedly called Pope Francis a “sort of enemy” in conversations with the Italian far right. His “academy” met with fierce opposition from local residents and, in March 2021, he abandoned it after losing a legal battle regarding the lease. Meanwhile, in 2015, Bannon and the London satellite of his far-right propaganda outlet, Breitbart News, helped stoke the anti-Muslim sentiment that fueled Brexit (also called “Leave EU”), the campaign to separate Great Britain from the European Union. After the Brexiteers “won” the vote to leave the EU, Brexit leader Nigel Farage thanked Bannon and Breitbart for the result. During his brief time in the Trump administration, Bannon co-created Trump’s infamous Muslim ban with Stephen Miller, another Breitbart alum. Bannon left the administration in the wake of the tiki torch protest in Charlottesville, Virginia where white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us” and one counter-protester was killed. Before leaving the administration, Bannon reportedly cautioned Trump “not to criticize far right activists too severely.” read the complete article

United States

18 Nov 2021

What It’s Like to Worship While the FBI Is Watching

For decades, American Muslims have been under surveillance by the federal government—the NYPD embedded informants in mosques after 9/11, to take just one example. One particular case from 2006, in California, involves an FBI informant sent by the bureau to 10 mosques under the auspices of learning more about the faith. This person converted and then tried to goad his new friends into plotting violence with him. But no one at the mosque wanted anything to do with his radical talk. In the end, the only person who was convicted of anything was the informant himself. That’s why some of the people who were targeted in this operation sued the FBI. Last week, that lawsuit made it all the way to the Supreme Court, after stops and starts in lower courts due to the government’s claim that litigating the case would unveil “state secrets.” The question now facing SCOTUS: Can the government continue to claim that “national security” trumps the civil rights of Muslim Americans? I spoke about the case, its backgrounds, and the implications with Rowaida Abedlaziz, who reports on immigration and Islamophobia at HuffPost, on Tuesday’s episode of What Next. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

Muslim student called ‘terrorist’ in class plans to sue N.J. district, lawyer says

A civil rights attorney plans to sue a school district in Bergen County after a teacher allegedly referred to an Arab American Muslim student as a “terrorist” during a conversation about homework. The teacher was suspended with pay from Ridgefield Memorial High School after the Oct. 20 incident, according to Aymen Aboushi of New York City, the attorney for student Mohammed Zubi and his family. Zubi, a senior, claims he asked the teacher if he could finish an assignment at home. The teacher allegedly responded, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Aboushi said. Aboushi said the student took several days off school because of the remark, which apparently amused some students and mortified others. “The student has returned to school because he doesn’t have much of a choice,” Aboushi said. “He’s a senior and the school year is halfway gone, he’s on sports teams. His whole life revolves around this school and for this to happen because of a teacher put him in a very difficult situation.” Aboushi said he’s planning to file a notice of intent to sue the school district, a precursor to filing a civil rights complaint. “We’re seeking for them to retrain or provide training for their teachers regarding this matter, including cultural and other (sensitive issues) for the Islamic faith and Middle Eastern descent,” Aboushi said. read the complete article


18 Nov 2021

Case of man accused of killing Muslim family in London, Ont., adjourned to December

A London, Ont., man facing terror-related murder charges for allegedly killing four members of a Muslim family has had his case adjourned for a month. Veltman is next in court for a judicial pretrial on Dec. 15. Nathaniel Veltman is accused of deliberately hitting the family with his truck on June 6. Police have alleged the incident was motivated by hate against the Islamic faith. Veltman faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, in what prosecutors say was an act of terrorism. read the complete article

18 Nov 2021

London's first female Muslim councillor believes representation can inspire others

The City of London's first-ever female Muslim city councillor, Marium Hamou, believes that such representation on council can inspire others in the city. "People who feel that they're 'other' can see themselves in me and they can be inspired to do these things: running for council, running in politics, doing all of these things," said Hamou, who was sworn in as Ward 6 councillor Wednesday at City Hall. "I remember when I was in my teens," she said, "I saw a Muslim woman who was a hijabi that was in politics, but in Turkey, and I remember seeing a picture of her going, 'I want to be that,' and I'm doing it here in Canada. So, yeah, you just have to see it." She also thinks that because there's so many Muslims in London, it's good to have this sort of representation in city council. read the complete article


18 Nov 2021

Comic Vir Das under Hindu nationalist fire over ‘two Indias’ jab

An Indian comedian and actor has been forced to defend himself against online accusations of “insulting the country” after he performed a “two Indias” monologue in the United States. Vir Das, 42, is one of India’s top satirical performers, known for his sharp takes on the rise of Hindu nationalist forces in the country. Critics say intolerance against minority communities, mainly Muslims, has intensified in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, and that freedom of speech is under threat in the world’s biggest democracy. “I come from an India where we worship women during the day and gang rape them at night,” Das told a packed Washington, DC, venue during his current world tour. In a nearly seven-minute-long video posted on Monday, he covered issues ranging from air pollution, journalism, and Modi’s coronavirus relief efforts to cricket. “I come from an India where we bleed blue every time we play green,” he said, referring to the sporting uniforms of his country and archrival Pakistan. “But every time we lose to green, we turn orange all of a sudden.” Orange refers to muscular Hindu nationalism, often symbolised by the colour saffron. Soon after Das released the video on social media, users accused him of insulting India on the global stage, and at least two police complaints were filed against him. Leading Indian actress Kangana Ranaut slammed Das, calling the video “soft terrorism” and writing on Instagram: “Strict action should be taken against such criminals.” Das took to Twitter insisting the video was a “satire about the duality of two separate Indias that do different things”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Nov 2021 Edition


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