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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23 Nov 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the Home Office has finally received Sir William Shawcross’s Independent Review of Prevent, the government’s counterterrorism program that has been criticized by rights groups for perpetuating damaging stereotypes about Muslims, meanwhile in the United States, Rep. Ilhan Omar responded to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stating McCarthy’s comments only “gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” and in Turkey, a “growing Uyghur diaspora has found refuge—and a reconnection to their culture—in the neighborhoods of Istanbul.” Our recommended read of the day is by Andrew Gastelum for Sports Illustrated on racism within French society and the country’s relationship with its diverse soccer-playing population, which is often influenced by whether or not the teams win. This and more below:


23 Nov 2022

‘When You Win, You’re a French Player. When You Lose, You’re Not.’ | Recommended Read

Imen Houalef specifically remembers the eyes of her coach on the first day Houalef wore a hijab to tennis practice, after three years playing together. How those eyes changed. How they made her feel, at 13, like suddenly she didn’t belong. The court no longer felt like a safe space. Houalef, a 22-year-old graphic design student, says hers is a common story among female athletes in France. Due to a ban on religious symbols in the context of several organized sports, including soccer and basketball, an athlete who wears a hijab is often faced with an ultimatum: Remove it, or watch from the stands. The soccer ban, in particular, is not French law, nor is it an official government directive. But almost all soccer in the country—from the lowest rungs, all the way up to the national team—is governed by the French Football Federation (FFF), which itself is empowered by the government’s Ministry of Sport. The FFF maintains it enforces the ban as an extension of the French republic’s established values, which means that in 2024, when Paris hosts the Summer Olympics—with all the world watching—the country with the biggest Muslim population in Europe may still prohibit its women from wearing hijabs while playing the nation’s most popular sport. This is all part of a complicated French history of diversity and inclusion—of laïcité being applied in theory but running into issues with the nuances of religion and ethnicity. That struggle can be seen throughout the country’s storied soccer history, where, at best, there is harmony and a celebration of identity through diversity. At worst? Division, discord, discrimination. read the complete article

United States

23 Nov 2022

How the Bush “War on Terror” Fed US White Nationalism and brought the Terror Home

Indeed, the American version of the twenty-first century, marked by our government’s devastating decision to respond to the September 11, 2001, attacks with a Global War on Terror — first in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and then in other countries across the Middle East — has had its grim effects at home as well. It’s caused us to turn on one another in confusing ways. After all, terror isn’t a place or a people. You can’t eradicate it with your military. Instead, as we learned over the last couple of decades, you end up turning those you don’t like into enemies in the bloodiest of counterinsurgency wars. I’ve researched for years how those wars of ours also helped deepen our domestic inequalities and political divisions, but after all this time, the dynamics still seem mysterious to me. Nonetheless, I hope I can at least share a bit of what I’ve noticed happening in the conservative, privileged community I grew up in, as well as in the military community I married into. Around the time I co-founded the Costs of War Project in the early 2010s, I fell in love with a career military officer. Our multitrillion-dollar wars were then in full swing. At home, the names of young Blacks killed by our police forces, ever more ominously armed off the country’s battlefields, were just seeping into wider public consciousness as was a right-wing political backlash against prosecutions of the police. Anti-government extremist militias like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, some of whom would storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to try to violently block the certification of an elected president, were already seething about the supposed executive overreach of the Obama administration and that Black president’s alleged foreign birth. But back then, those guys all seemed — to me at least — very much a part of America’s fringe. Back then, I also didn’t imagine that men in uniform would emerge as a central part of the leadership and membership of such extremist groups. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

Ruwa Romman feels 'huge responsibility' as first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House

On Election Day, Ruwa Romman made Georgia history: She became the first known Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House — and the first Palestinian American elected to any office in the state. GPB's Peter Biello speaks with the representative-elect. Peter Biello: What expectations do you feel are being placed on you? Ruwa Romman: In general I mean — this is also me growing up. I wear a headscarf, I wear a hijab. And even from when I was younger, it felt as if anytime I did something wrong, it almost reflected on the entire 1.2 billion Muslims around the world, which is incredibly unfair. But for a lot of people who never met a Muslim before or never met a Palestinian before, all of a sudden you are the expectation that they put on those groups of people. And so, you know, you kind of have an extra layer of responsibility there. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

Request to play Muslim call to prayer in Barron met with strong opposition

Somali residents in the rural northern Wisconsin city of Barron are withdrawing a request to play an amplified Muslim call to prayer from two mosques after the idea drew stiff opposition from non-Muslim residents at a recent city council meeting. Barron is home to a community of around 470 Somali refugees and their families, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Census. That population has grown since the 1990s when refugees living in the Twin Cities moved to Barron for work at a turkey processing plant owned by Jennie-O. He told Wisconsin Public Radio that residents within Barron's Somali-born population asked him if it would be possible for the two mosques in the city to play an amplified call to prayer, as is common in countries with Muslim majorities. The issue was brought to the council in September and October. Mohamed said he asked for it to be part of the council's agenda this month. At the Nov. 15 meeting, a public comment period was held on the Muslim call to prayer request. There were 14 speakers and all were opposed. An account from the Barron News-Shield said multiple speakers voiced concerns about the call to prayer triggering PTSD in veterans who served in Muslim countries. Another said they were against the mosques trying to indoctrinate youth who aren't Muslim. One man equated it to breaking into a mosque and preaching from the Bible. The city's police chief had to warn members of the public who became disruptive as when Mohamed was speaking, according to the newspaper. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

Two Muslim Women Make History In Georgia Politics

The Senate runoff in Georgia is just weeks away. But despite setbacks and efforts at voter suppression, there was some history made in the state: Voters sent the first two Muslim women to the state legislature. One of them, State Sen.-elect Nabilah Islam, joins Mehdi to discuss her work in politics, her campaign and more. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

US progressives reject Republican push against Ilhan Omar

When Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy mentioned the name of Muslim-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a Republican Jewish Coalition conference at the weekend, boos erupted from the crowd. The top Republican’s pledge has sparked an outcry from progressive and Muslim-American advocates who say the attack on Omar was unjustified. Some also warned it may be the tip of the iceberg in a campaign that House Republicans are preparing against Democrats when they take control of the congressional chamber in January. “Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress should come together to reject this cynical political attack on Rep. Omar,” Robert McCaw, director of government affairs at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement. McCaw at CAIR described McCarthy’s pledge as “beyond hypocritical”, noting he had said he would reinstate the committee assignments of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene was kicked off congressional panels last year over anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

Rep. Ilhan Omar criticizes McCarthy for threatening to remove her from committee

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) fired back at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday after he renewed a threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for what he characterized as “repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.” “McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred — including threatening to strip me from my committee — does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with,” Omar said in a statement. “What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” she added. “It is a continuation of a sustained campaign against Muslim and African voices, people his party have been trying to ban since Donald Trump first ran for office.” On Monday, Omar accused the GOP of hypocrisy for allowing antisemitism in its ranks, noting that McCarthy accused wealthy Jewish liberals of trying to “buy” elections in 2018. And Islamophobia and xenophobia from some of the country’s most influential Republicans, Omar said, have put the life and safety of one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress in jeopardy on numerous occasions. read the complete article


23 Nov 2022

Breaking Stereotypes Around the Muslims of India

There is one slot which is occupied by Muslims, perceived to be the most backward, least educated community. The stereotypes are many: They educate their children only in madrasas. The men engage in multiple marriages, treat their women like chattel, divorce their wives at the drop of a hat, and leave them to fend for themselves. These women are viewed as burkha-clad slaves of their menfolk living in ghettoes, doing nothing, only lending a helping hand to increasing their population. It is this stereotyped image which is pasted on the entire Muslim community, totally ignoring their diversity, as though they are one inflexible structure. This stereotypical narrative has woven a web round the community, distorting its reality, particularly that of its womenfolk. Having said this, I will repeat that the Muslims are far behind in education than Indians of other communities. When unemployment is highest in a community and poverty is all pervasive, education will not find a way in. In such a situation, confidence and optimism also suffers. Above all, let us not forget that no one lives in such conditions of their own free will. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

How, and Why, the BJP Sometimes Courts Muslim Voters

In the ever evolving Indian electoral battlefield, the elusive Muslim vote continues to be a hot topic of discussion. As crucial states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh go to polls at the local or regional level, all political parties in the fray are trying to garner popular support to win the elections. In this electoral logjam, the Muslim vote has often remained a prized electoral reward over the years. While the Muslim vote has traditionally remained with the Indian National Congress (INC), recent election seasons have revealed the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)’s clandestine approach to garner the Muslim vote. In fact, contrary to existing perceptions, the BJP does not undervalue the Muslim vote and have been consistently keen to acquire it. However, the difference lies in its approach and its tacit machinations in acquiring Muslim votes — as the party adopts a clandestine, ad hoc approach to win the support of Muslims and its electoral strategy in doing so differs state-to-state depending on what favors the leadership of the time. On the question of Muslims, the party chooses to control the narrative on the ground to suit its state leadership and, of course, its electoral prospects. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, where municipal polls are in the offing, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to garner the votes held by the “Pasmanda Muslims,” who comprise the underprivileged Muslims within eastern Uttar Pradesh. They constitute 85 percent of the Muslim vote share and their support could enable the BJP to win significant number of seats in the eastern part of the state — a region that is the home turf of sitting Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Adityanath was a five time member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, a key city in the region. read the complete article


23 Nov 2022

China is erasing their culture. In exile, Uyghurs remain defiant.

Shayda, originally from Xinjiang’s regional capital of Ürümqi, moved to Saitama, Japan, with her husband in 2008. She has been unable to return home since Chinese authorities escalated a campaign of repression targeting Uyghurs and other minorities in 2017. Her children had begun losing their own language in Saitama, and when she spoke Uyghur to them, they replied only in Japanese. So she and her husband decided to send them to the Istanbul school during the summer holidays. The Shayda children joined students who mostly lived locally, including some effectively orphaned after their parents were detained by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang. Others had traveled from Germany, France, and Canada. Shayda’s two boys learned to speak and write in Uyghur, and one recited a poem during the ceremony. “I’m almost crying now,” she said, describing how meaningful the past few weeks had been to her. “I spent a lot of time abroad and I, and all Uyghurs, miss our country so much.” Uyghurs are ethnically as well as linguistically Turkic and predominantly Muslim. They make up one of China’s largest minority groups and have faced various forms of persecution for decades. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s renewed attempts at forcible assimilation have included bans on most forms of cultural and religious expression, detentions of more than a million people in prisons plus “reeducation” camps, the sterilization of women, and hauling children to closed boarding schools. A tiny proportion of Uyghurs who were already outside the country or managed to escape in time have found refuge abroad. The largest population outside central Asia, estimated at around 50,000, is in Turkey. There are smaller, but growing, numbers in North America, Europe, and Australia. read the complete article

23 Nov 2022

Slavery links and quality concerns: Why there could be a dark side to your solar panels

Australia should approach its renewable energy transition with caution, experts say, amid concerns of labour exploitation in the production of solar panels. Polysilicon is the most common material used to produce solar panels, and around 45 per cent of the world's supply comes from Xinjiang, China. The United Nations says China may be committing crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, with experts accusing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of exploiting its Uyghur Muslim minority into forced labour to make products including solar panels. China strongly denies allegations of human rights abuses against its Uyghur Muslim population. Solar panel production is linked to slave labour, according to Martijn Boersma, an associate professor of modern slavery at Western Australia's University of Notre Dame. “Unfortunately, innovation that is meant to address climate change can be linked to labour exploitation," he said. “Solar-grade polysilicon producers are connected to Uyghur forced labour – either directly through participation in state-sponsored forced labour schemes, or indirectly through the sourcing of their raw materials.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 Nov 2022

The Problem With Prevent

As human rights groups call for an overhaul of the government’s flagship Prevent counter-radicalisation strategy, what might we see in the Home Office’s long-awaited publication of the independent review into the scheme’s effectiveness? More than three years after it was commissioned, and with multiple reporting deadlines missed, the Home Office has finally received Sir William Shawcross’s Independent Review of Prevent, the programme designed to tackle terrorism by enabling public bodies to identify people deemed at risk of radicalisation. But while ministers have committed to publishing both the review and its own response, no date has been agreed beyond “in due course”. The review was commissioned in 2019, in part to look at how effectively Prevent worked within communities, following criticism it created divisions and perpetuated damaging stereotypes about Muslims. It has since ignited a debate around whether the programme should target far right and Islamist extremism equally. It immediately proved controversial, with a coalition of human rights organisations and community groups including Amnesty International and Liberty boycotting it over Sir William’s appointment over comments he made when director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank, in which he said: “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.” Sam Grant, advocacy director at human rights organisation Liberty, said Shawcross’s appointment suggested the government was trying to “whitewash” the review and had prevented any meaningful engagement with Muslim communities. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Nov 2022 Edition


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