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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02 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the Milwaukee City Attorney has hired an attorney who previously worked for an anti-Muslim group and wrote a book to claim that Islam is not a peaceful religion, meanwhile in China, research finds that the system of oppression in Xinjiang will likely continue to exist due to a “convoluted architecture of party and government institutions, as well as the insidious penetration of the party-state into remote villages and the homes of Xinjiang’s Indigenous populations,” and in the United Kingdom, a British Muslim MP marks Islamophobia Awareness Month and calls on Boris Johnson’s “government to step up and enact meaningful change to protect our communities both online and offline.” Our recommended read of the day is by Billy Perrigo for Time on how Facebook has done little to clampdown on the anti-Muslim ‘Love Jihad’ conspiracy theory, despite being aware of the danger and prevalence of it on its platform. This and more below:


02 Nov 2021

Facebook Let an Islamophobic Conspiracy Theory Flourish in India Despite Employees' Warnings | Recommended Read

In a video posted to Facebook in November 2020, an extremist priest called for Hindus to rise up and begin killing Muslims in India. “People need to learn that this is not the time to protest, but the time to go to war,” said Narsinghanand Saraswati, who has been named by at least one international watchdog as an extremist hate preacher. “This is a global war where Islam’s jihadis are fully prepared. It’s our choice if Hindus should fight or not. But Muslims will not spare Hindus.” “It’s time for every Hindu to invoke the warrior in them,” Saraswati said in Hindi in the Facebook video. “The day Hindus take weapons and start killing these Love Jihadis, this Love Jihad will come to an end. Until then, we can’t stop it.” With 1.4 million views as of late October this year, the video was one of the top posts on Facebook about “Love Jihad,” a popular Islamophobic conspiracy theory that suggests Muslim men are attempting to wage a holy war against Hinduism by marrying and converting Hindu women to Islam. Facebook banned the QAnon conspiracy theory in October 2020, designating it a “militarized social movement.” But the company has not applied the same definition to Love Jihad, which began as a fringe conspiracy theory but began to enter the Indian political mainstream around 2016 after being taken up as a narrative by Hindu nationalist groups. Facebook is aware of the danger and prevalence of the Love Jihad conspiracy theory on its platform but has done little to act on it, according to internal Facebook documents seen by TIME, as well as interviews with former employees. The documents suggest that “political sensitivities” are part of the reason that the company has chosen not to ban Hindu nationalist groups who are close to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

In Modi's India, There's No More Room for Muslim Bollywood Superstars

After seven years of the rabid Hindu nationalist rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that draws its appeal and legitimacy from the progressive marginalization of the country’s 14 percent Muslim population through a relentless campaign of hate, partisan policymaking and political messaging, the very idea of India having a Muslim cultural ambassador now feels like a quaint leftover of a bygone era. More doors have been closing on "King Khan" – as Shah Rukh Khan is often called by the media and his fans – in his own land than he once opened for others in faraway places. The king’s powers have frayed to the point that even the prince is now easy prey. His son, Aryan, was recently arrested in a dubious drug bust on a cruise party. No drugs were found on Aryan but he still ended up in jail. The country’s Narcotics Control Bureau argued in court that the 23-year-old’s phone messages with his friends showed they planned to "have a blast," which somehow pointed to a "larger international drugs-related conspiracy." In any semi-functioning democracy, such spurious reasoning would be laughed out of court and dismissed right away. But in India, where the rule of law has become a fig leaf to conceal a crumbling democracy, unlawful detentions have become commonplace. He finally walked free on Saturday after getting bail, after having spent nearly a month in jail, apparently for nothing. Given the level of capture of governing institutions by Modi’s party and the impunity with which they are used to crush the regime’s targets and push its supremacist agenda, the dramatic arrest clearly had a much larger purpose: sending out the message that even the most powerful Muslims in India are not safe anymore. The average Muslim already feels endangered, living under Modi’s Hindu nationalist dispensation that wears its bigotry as a badge of honor. Lynchings, vigilante terror, open calls for genocide and myriad other forms of hate crime and speech are a daily reminder of their undesirability in the Hindu state that Modi’s party is busy fashioning, replacing India’s secular republic. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

With Little Hope of Government Protection, Muslims in Tripura Are Living in Fear

After a spate of anti-Muslim attacks and violent incidents in Tripura, Muslims in the state, particularly those living in or close to affected areas, are filled with fear. As per reports, by October 27, during protests organised by right-wing Hindu groups like the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Hindu Jagran Manch, Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh, at least 15 mosques and over a dozen of houses and shops belonging to Muslims were vandalised in Tripura. The violence in the state has led to rising fears among many Muslims, who are a minority forming 8.6% of the total population. Those who live in the Unakoti and North Tripura districts told The Wire that they were feeling particularly vulnerable. People from the violence-affected areas say they are being targeted “without any reason”. While attacks against Hindus in Bangladesh are being used as an excuse for the violence and vandalism in Tripura, the minority Muslim population in the state knows they have nothing to do with what happened in the neighbouring country. “I have two children. My wife and all the other women and children of our family have taken refuge in one house. Around 100-110 people have left for Kailashahar since this morning. We are Indians and we were born here. Why are we being made to suffer for something which has not even happened in our country?” Abdul said. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Munawar Faruqui: Indian comic’s show cancelled amid growing cry of intolerance and Islamophobia

Indian comedian Munawar Faruqui, who had earlier spent more than a month in jail for a joke he didn’t crack, said he is not being allowed to work because of relentless threats and abuses from Hindu right-wing vigilante groups. “I get 50 threat calls daily, I had to change my SIM card thrice,” Mr Faruqui told news channel NDTV in an interview on Sunday. “When my number gets leaked, people call up and abuse me.” Mr Faruqui, 30, was arrested earlier this year after he wrapped up a stand-up show because a complaint was filed against him by the son of a politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was accused of cracking offensive jokes about Hindu deities and “insulting” Hindu religious sentiments. But the police said they were not able to find any video evidence from the gig to prove the comedian actually made those jokes on stage. He was granted bail by India’s Supreme Court after spending 35 days in jail. In his interview with NDTV, the comedian said that if the country’s youth can decide who to vote for, “then they can definitely decide what to watch”. Mr Faruqui claimed he had to face three consecutive cancellations for shows after he received threats from the far-right Hindu group Bajrang Dal, which in the English language means the brigade of Hanuman, a prominent Hindu deity. “What is happening is unfortunate. Lots of wrongs are happening in this country,” Mr Faruqui said, raising fears about the growing instances of communal violence in India. read the complete article

United States

02 Nov 2021

A new generation of Muslim American media puts women in focus

East London-born Rifat Malik was recently appointed as the editor in chief of a new American publication centering the work of Muslim women journalists. “Muslim women are often vilified, obsessed over, become the target of speculation or are infantilized in the media and sometimes within the Muslim community,” Malik told RNS. The Texas-based American Muslim Today hopes to change that narrative by placing women at the heart of the storytelling. The current editorial staff is six women, including interns, while the sole men involved in the project are in technology and other supporting roles. While some outside contributors are men, the bulk of their content is authored by women. “The point of our publication is to offer a woman’s perspective,” said Malik. Not only on issues that affect women, she added, but also “those that impact the wider Muslim community.” The publication’s foremost goal, she noted, is to provide professional coverage of news and topics that appeal to the roughly 3.5 million Muslims in America, as well as those living in other Western countries. The digital-only publication attracts 20,000 daily visitors across its web and social media platforms, a figure that is steadily rising. The growth of AMT and similar publications, such as Muslim Girl, suggests changing attitudes in the Muslim community in America — toward women and media. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Yemeni Americans push for representation in key US Arab community

In a Detroit suburb that has seen growing Arab American political influence over the last decades, several Yemeni Americans are running for office to ensure representation for their own community. Dearborn, Michigan, is known for its large Arab and Muslim population, and residents have elected dozens of officials of Arab background over the past 30 years, including to the city council, the school board, and the local court. But almost all of these officials have been of Lebanese descent. Now, with an expanding Yemeni presence in the city, three candidates are vying to become the first Yemeni Americans to join the seven-member city council in municipal elections on Tuesday. Advocates say Yemeni Americans have become more involved in politics locally and nationally after former US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen. They also say the increase illustrates the diversity found within Arab and Muslim communities across the US. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Nearly 4 in 10 who say election was stolen from Trump say violence might be needed to save America

During the 2016 campaign, a presidential candidate named Donald Trump warned of the dangers of a small, radicalized portion of the country resorting to what it viewed as justified violence. In pushing his proposal to ban all Muslim immigrants, Trump cited polling from a like-minded immigration group. “Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing 25 percent of [Muslims] polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad,” Trump said in a statement. Other, high-quality polling showed significantly lower levels of support among Muslims for potentially justified violence. But even if we take this one at face value, what does all that say about what Trump has wrought? A poll released Monday by the Public Religion Research Institute is the latest to show that, even after the tumultuous events of Jan. 6, a large number of Republicans — 3 in 10 — believe violence might be justified “to save our country.” What this poll adds to the dialogue is how much that overlaps with belief about a stolen election. Among those who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, support for justified violence rises to 39 percent. PRRI’s data show 31 percent of American adults wrongly believe the election was stolen from Trump. If 39 percent of them believe violence could be justified, that translates to 12 percent overall — about 31 million American adults — who believe the election was stolen and also sympathize with the statement that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” The PRRI survey is merely the latest to reinforce the powder keg that remains in the American electorate — and just how much Republicans, especially, will entertain the idea of justified violence. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Jamil Jan Kochai on Americans’ Fear of Islam

In “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” your story in this week’s issue, someone—presumably an F.B.I. agent—is surveilling the home of an Afghan family in West Sacramento, California. How did this scenario come to you? Like many of my stories, “The Haunting” was inspired by a joke. I had read an Onion article titled “FBI Counterterrorism Agent Wistfully Recalls Watching 20-Year-Old Muslim-American Grow Up,” which I found hilarious but also oddly plausible. I could imagine an F.B.I. agent growing to feel a disturbing sense of affection for some Muslim family he was surveilling. This figure sort of fascinated me. I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with federal agents myself. When I was in fourth grade, a few weeks after 9/11, I opened the door one day to find two F.B.I. agents standing on our front porch. I remember they spoke with my father for a short time and, fortunately, seemed to disappear afterward. And yet their presence still sort of lingered in our home. In our daily lives. We became very careful about what we discussed on the phone or online or at school. We lived with an odd sense of paranoia, which we often joked about in group chats, but this feeling of being surveilled did weigh on me. The agents had left, but they continued to exist in our lives like spectres. We felt haunted. We still feel haunted. But now, at least, I can write about the ghost The grandmother in the family left Afghanistan forty years ago; Hajji, the father, is semi-disabled; and, presumably, the children were born in the U.S. Why would this family be perceived as a security threat? The same reason, I think, that Muslim students in New York were perceived as a security threat. And Muslim families all across the U.S. Or pine-nut farmers in Jalalabad. Or a taxi driver. The U.S. (its government, its military, its policing institutions, and, to be honest, much of its population) developed a pathological fear not only of Muslims but of Islam itself. But, hey, if you don’t believe me, I’ll let a former F.B.I. agent speak for himself: “It was made very clear from day one that the enemy was not just a tiny group of disaffected Muslims. Islam itself was the enemy.” read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Becoming a domestic terrorist: How 3 self-styled 'patriots' were led to lethal plot

In the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, four militia men in Kansas were finalizing their own campaign : a plot to bomb the mosque and homes of Muslim refugees in the small town of Garden City, Kansas. “I’m a domestic terrorist on a f---ing federal government list right now,” the plot's ringleader, Patrick Stein, was recorded saying before the FBI made arrests in October 2016. It was an attack authorities said could have eclipsed the Oklahoma City bombing. But one of the men, Dan Day, was actually an FBI informant, who over several months secretly recorded hundreds of hours with the small militia and derailed their deadly plot. In a series of exclusive interviews with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Day and his family described what they endured for months as Day worked for the FBI. His story is told in the new ABC News documentary, “The Informant: Fear and Faith in the Heartland,” now available on Hulu . Ifrah Ahmed, who as a child fled Somalia’s civil war and then waited in a refugee camp for 17 years before coming to Garden City, said the men's level of hatred for total strangers is “beyond anything that my brain can comprehend.” “There’s only one good kind of Muslim, and that’s a dead motherf---er, straight up,” Stein claimed during a recorded conversation in 2016. “A little g----mn 1-year-old, that little f---er, he’s gotta go.” “When I hear the [recordings] it’s like, ‘How can somebody be that?’” Ahmed said. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Bice: Muslim leaders criticize City Attorney Tearman Spencer for hiring lawyer who worked for anti-Islamic 'hate groups'

With mass staff departures amid charges of sexual harassment and toxic work conditions, Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer must be finding it hard to find high-quality attorneys to work for him. Just consider one of his recent hires — Jennifer DeMaster. Last month, Spencer named DeMaster, 37, an assistant city attorney making $71,780 annually. It's a big pay boost for the 2015 graduate of the law school at Regent University, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. DeMaster has worked only sporadically in recent years. From 2015 to 2017, she worked as a legal analyst for the Clarion Project, a group that has been labeled one the major proponents of Islamophobia in the United States. Before that she was a law clerk at the American Center for Law and Justice, where she prepped attorneys on "Sharia law (and) radical Islamic ideology," according to a resume she filed with a federal court. DeMaster has also promoted her conservative Christian take on the Middle East in a book and documentary. Her Twitter account has been suspended for years. In her book, DeMaster said she set out to debunk the myth that Islam is essentially a peaceful religion. "I am not now, nor will I ever advocate for Islam in this book or make the apologist argument that 'Islam is peaceful, and these bad guys aren't really Muslim,'" DeMaster wrote. read the complete article

United Kingdom

02 Nov 2021

Boris Johnson accused of ‘insult to British Muslims’ after failing to respond to Islamophobia concerns for a year

The prime minister’s failure to answer questions on Islamophobia for a year is an “insult to British Muslims”, an MP has said. Afzal Khan raised a point of order in Parliament on Monday, saying Boris Johnson had “ignored” a letter marking Islamophobia Awareness Month in November 2020. “This time last year to mark this month, I wrote to the prime minister raising concerns over Islamophobia, urging him to better safeguard British Muslims and to fulfil his promise to carry out an independent investigation into his party,” he told the House of Commons. “A year on, the prime minister has still not responded. This is wholly unacceptable and an insult to British Muslims.” Mr Khan asked what action could be taken and urged Mr Johnson to make a statement on this year’s Islamophobia Awareness Month. A debate marking Islamophobia Awareness Month will be held in Parliament’s Westminster Hall on Tuesday. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Reminder: Bigotry against Muslims is why Islamophobia awareness month exists in the first place

As Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) arrives, we are once again invited to reflect on the current reality of Muslims in the UK. For many of us, the daunting realisation that not much has changed since last year’s campaign has already set in. It feels like every 12 months we go through the same routine: posters, exhibitions, statements by politicians, and official events organised by Muslim institutions, all demonstrating that racism against Muslims continues to rise. Yet, despite all of this, the situation only gets worse. In this context, it would be easy to give in to the feeling of despair or even to feel totally hopeless about contributions to IAM having any impact at all. However, while the month should be used for collective contemplations over the current state of Islamophobia in the UK, it should also be taken as an opportunity to review what is wrong with the responses to the ongoing rise in violence, hate speech, and laws targeted at Muslims. It is only in doing so that we can disturb monotonous, often state-legitimised exercises, which allow politicians and so-called community leaders to act out their supposed concern, but in the end, really do not make any impact. Putting forward a clear and uncompromising strategy, which mobilises Muslim communities, unions, and civil liberty organisations against Islamophobia in all its forms, is especially significant this year – given the IAM events will also take place in the immediate aftermath of the 20th anniversary of the so-called War on Terror. It will, therefore, require seriously addressing how the British state continues to legitimise and justify the targeting of the 3.4 million Muslims at home, but also its role in murdering, occupying, and torturing countless more around the world, under the guise of fighting terrorism. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

It’s time this government started taking seriously the epidemic of Islamophobia in this country

November marks Islamophobia Awareness Month. This yearly occasion is a sobering reminder of just how pervasive and insidious Islamophobia is in our society. It reminds us of the need to tackle this hatred and the violent crimes and discrimination it manifests. Like so many Muslims up and down the country, I have experienced this hatred first-hand. I am often on the receiving end of Islamophobic abuse – whether it is offensive messages online holding me personally accountable for “grooming gangs” or conflating Islam to terrorism. As Muslims we are targeted because of faith, our practices, and the way we dress. Our places of worship are threatened, and our young people fear Islamophobic bullying in schools and on the streets. I am determined to build a society free from Islamophobia to allow future generations of British Muslims to thrive. In recognising this month, MPs from all sides of the House will come together for the first time in a Westminster Hall debate to stamp out Islamophobia once and for all. Now it is time for the government to step up and enact meaningful change to protect our communities both online and offline. In the face of this epidemic of violence and hatred in our society, the Conservative government appears to be at worst in denial about the problem and at best shockingly complacent. Most damningly, they still refuse to name and define the problem. Since November 2018, I have been campaigning for the APPG on British Muslims working definition of Islamophobia to be universally adopted. This definition already has the confidence of over 800 Muslim organisations, hundreds of local councils, the Mayors of London and Greater Manchester as well as every single major political party. The one notable absence from the list is the Conservative Party. read the complete article

02 Nov 2021

Morrisons team leader sacked for twice pulling off colleague's hijab

A supermarket worker sacked for pulling down a colleague's hijab has lost an unfair dismissal case after claiming she was just 'having a laugh'. Natalie McGonigle pulled down a Muslim colleague's hijab without her permission on 'two separate occasions' in acts deemed 'disrespectful' towards the colleague's religion. Mrs McGonigle, who was a team leader at a Morrisons store, insisted she had meant 'no malice or offence' and was just 'messing around'. She was sacked for gross misconduct following a disciplinary investigation by Morrisons, and her appeal against the decision was later dismissed. Now an employment tribunal has ruled Morrisons had every right to sack Mrs McGonigle for her conduct and her 'misconceived belief' that her actions were 'done in jest'. read the complete article


02 Nov 2021

Xinjiang’s Oppression Has Shifted Gears

Kites fly and children run outside renovated mosques. This is Xinjiang, China’s western frontier region, in 2021. Or at least, this is what outsiders are allowed to see and what Chinese propaganda presents. Beyond the sanitized streets of tourist areas, a different reality persists. Heavily militarized police patrols and sprawling reeducation facilities may be disappearing. But highly securitized prisons, intensive propaganda and indoctrination, ubiquitous surveillance, population control, and coercive labor assignments are there to stay. The government is focused on redefining the region’s image as an exotic travel destination and a safe haven for cultural integration. Propaganda posters of smiling minorities flood the landscape while information operations use dancing Uyghur individuals as their main subjects to convince the world that people in Xinjiang are happy and grateful to the Chinese Communist Party. But since the first revelations of the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang back in 2017, a lot has come to light. A robust array of government sources, police leaks, and first-hand testimonies have depicted a ruthless and systematic attempt to take control over and forcibly assimilate people perceived as an imminent (if imaginary) threat to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This system’s potential longevity is made possible by a convoluted architecture of party and government institutions, summarized in this interactive chart, as well as the insidious penetration of the party-state into remote villages and the homes of Xinjiang’s Indigenous populations. Neighborhood and village committees represent the lowest tier in the CCP’s hierarchy across the country. They are, in theory, voluntary self-governing organizations. In Xinjiang, they have become the true focal point of the party’s approach to control people at the community level, with new exceptional policing powers. Officially paired with local police stations, human surveillance, and mosque management teams to form the “trinity” mechanism, the committees manage their respective jurisdictions and are at the forefront of the reeducation system. read the complete article


02 Nov 2021

What 20 years (and counting) of the war on terror must teach us

Late on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, American fighter jets swept over Afghan skies. This moment marked the opening of the war in Afghanistan, and more broadly, the beginning of our “war on terror.” As the fighting began, peace advocates across the world knew what lay ahead. As with any war, there would be needless deaths, horrific destruction and terrible tragedies. But few among us could have known the full scope of what was to come. For the next 20 years, the United States engaged in what would become the longest war in our history — longer than the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined. The global war on terror has involved dozens of other nations, and over the course of the post-9/11 wars, more than 929,000 people have died, and 38 million people have been forced to flee their homes — all at a cost of more than $8 trillion taxpayer dollars. Twenty years on, with American ground troops freshly removed from Afghanistan, this is a prime moment to consider what the past two decades of violence have wrought. Given the experience in Afghanistan, it’s clearer than ever the global war on terror has been an unmitigated humanitarian and strategic disaster. It’s now the duty of our lawmakers to ensure we learn how to prevent and end wars. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Nov 2021 Edition


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