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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24 Nov 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the Australia, Uyghurs are urging the federal government to place human rights at the forefront of negotiations with China, meanwhile in the United States, a Muslim group and the city of Troy have reached a settlement to resolve the Muslims’ four-year legal battle to open a mosque, and lastly a new report finds that “many of the world’s largest asset managers and state pension funds are passively investing in companies that have allegedly engaged in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China.” Our recommended read of the day is by  and  for CNN on western media’s coverage of the Qatar World Cup 2022, which has incorporated orientalist discourse and amplified harmful stereotypes. This and more below:


24 Nov 2022

Why some Arabs and Muslims feel stung by coverage of the Qatar World Cup | Recommended Read

“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker,” FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said in a fiery tirade on Saturday, comparing his own plight as a redhead son of migrants to that of marginalized communities. His ostensible empathy with Qatar was due to the barrage of criticism the nation has faced in Western media for hosting the tournament. But it’s hypocritical of the West to be giving lessons in morality to others, he said.Those statements on the eve of the World Cup went viral, inviting much anger and ridicule. But to many Arabs and Muslims, they resonated strongly. In the run-up to the tournament, Western media coverage has been dominated by the controversies surrounding the event rather than the sport itself. Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, refrained from airing the opening ceremony on television, opting instead to cover criticism of the host nation. This year’s World Cup is certainly like no other before it. It is the first to be held in a Muslim country and Qatar has gone a long way to give the event a distinctly Arab and Muslim flavor. Western news outlets have also been accused of peddling stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims. The Times of London on Monday said “Qataris are unaccustomed to seeing women in Western dress in their country” in a photo caption that was later deleted after being flagged on social media. Around 87% of the country’s population of 2.9 million is made up of expatriates, many of whom are Western. Some in the Western media have spoken out against stereotyping and alleged biases. Ayman Mohyeldin, an MSNBC host who previously worked for Qatar’s Al Jazeera, said recent coverage of Qatar shows “the depths of Western prejudice, performative moral outrage and, perhaps most significantly, gross double standards.” “I always question the timing [of the criticism], as migrants throughout the region endure poor living arrangements for meager pay, while also working under strenuous physical and mental conditions,” said Mira Al Hussein, a postdoctoral researcher from the UAE who is studying at Oxford University in England. “Scrutiny is overdue and it makes no sense to tie it to global events where virtue-signaling becomes deeply problematic,” Al Hussein told CNN. “Especially when it comes from non-NGO entities that are themselves embroiled in human rights violations within and across their borders.” read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

The end of the hijab?

It’s an image that resonates for women who live in societies where their choices – about clothes, careers, where they go and so much more – are not directly controlled by the men in their lives, or by the state. To many of us, that young woman seems the very personification of a justified revolt against draconian repression. But if the hijab – or headscarf – has become a symbol of state oppression in Iran, where girls aged over nine must cover their heads when in public, it means something entirely different to many Muslim women in France, where “conspicuous” signs of religious affiliation – for example, Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps or large Christian crosses – have been banned in state schools since 2004. As Iranian teenagers and women risk their lives to burn or discard their hijabs in public, young French Muslims are challenging the school ban because they want to be free to wear their headscarves or long loose-fitting robes, called abayas, in class. Some are posting TikTok videos about how to get round a law that supporters of laïcité would say is central to France’s identity as a secular republic. In this narrative, the two protests – to wear the veil and not wear the veil – might, at their most basic level, be said to be driven by the same desire: to free women from the repressive control of the state. It may seem trite to compare the social context facing hijab-wearers in Iran with the experience of those in France, but some argue there is an underlying parallel. “It’s completely symmetrical. It’s the same system. (The women) have had enough of people controlling their bodies,” said De Féo. “To be (hijabi) or not be (hijabi) is the business of no state or man,” Sudanese-Australian activist and author Yassmin Abdel-Magied wrote on Twitter in September. “Solidarity with women resisting patriarchal control, the world over.” read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

Major funds exposed to companies allegedly engaged in Uyghur repression in China

Many of the world’s largest asset managers and state pension funds are passively investing in companies that have allegedly engaged in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China, according to a new report. The report, by UK-based group Hong Kong Watch and the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, found that three major stock indexes provided by MSCI include at least 13 companies that have allegedly used forced labour or been involved in the construction of the surveillance state in China’s Xinjiang region. In recent years, China has come under increased scrutiny over what the UN has called “serious human rights violations” against Uyghur Muslims in the region, including systemic discrimination, mass arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence. The report includes a list of major asset managers, including BlackRock, HSBC and Deutsche Bank among others, exposed to index funds that include companies accused of engaging in labour transfers and the construction of repressive infrastructure in the region. It found public pension funds across the UK, Canada and the US and funds in New Zealand and Japan exposed by the investments. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

World Cup 2022: 'Orientalist' depictions of Qatar condemned online

Western media coverage of the Qatar World Cup has come under intense scrutiny from tournament watchers, with a myriad of social media reactions pointing towards questionable “racist”, “Islamophobic” and “orientalist” commentaries. From the BBC’s refusal to air the World Cup opening ceremony on its flagship channel to others using stereotypical language and imagery when referring to the host country, many people have turned online to highlight what they call “reductive” and "isolated" portrayal of host country Qatar. In one post, a Twitter user posted a snapshot of an article from The Times, which included a photograph with the caption: “The Qataris are unaccustomed to seeing women in Western dress in their country.” Some users called the caption "ignorant" and others said that it didn't match their experiences in the Gulf country. The Times has since changed the photo caption. New York Times Gulf bureau chief Vivian Nereim asked Twitter users to share World Cup commentary they found to be orientalist, Islamophobic or racist in nature. One user replied with an Instagram post from the Telegraph about “what life really was like in the World Cup host country”. The post read: “I couldn’t hold my husband’s hand without being hissed at." Another popular trope in media coverage of Qatar has been branding Arabs as “savages” or “uncivilised” when it comes to law, politics and human rights. One tweet included a cartoon from the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné, where many were outraged at the usage of stereotypical depictions of Arabs. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

'We are disappearing': Uyghurs urge sanctions from Australia against Chinese officials

Tortured Uyghurs are urging the federal government to place human rights at the forefront of negotiations with China, with fears atrocities being committed will be pushed to the side as the relationship with Beijing resets. Australia's Uyghur community and survivors of China's detention camps in Xinjiang, were at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, calling on the government to recognise human rights abuses as genocide, and to ban Chinese products "tainted" by slave labour. The group, alongside Amnesty International, requested a meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong but were unable to secure one due to time constraints. Ms Chanisheff asked why the government hadn't yet applied Magnitsky-style sanctions to Chinese "criminals" with penalties having been applied to Russian officials for their involvement in the war on Ukraine. She also urged the government to back a private member's bill introduced in the Senate about slave labour, and said if they were serious about stopping products from entering the country "tainted" by it they would support the bill. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

Why China and US Disagree on Forced Labor in Xinjiang

The US and China have many trade disputes, but none perhaps as explosive as accusations about forced labor being used in China’s Xinjiang region. The Chinese government, which vehemently denies the charges, says outsiders have misconstrued a rural jobs program that aims to improve living standards for ethnic minorities in poor regions. But many people from one targeted group — the mainly Muslim Uyghurs living in Xinjiang — say that they have no choice but to participate or risk having themselves or family members put in detention. An assessment released this year by the United Nations human rights chief found serious violations of human rights that may amount to crimes against humanity. The US, which says the program contributes to a Chinese government campaign of genocide, has stepped up the pressure on the country with new sanctions and trade restrictions. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

Gendered Islamophobia: Muslim women are commodities for cultural and political wars

It seems the Muslim woman carries the unique burden of being in constant need of rescuing - of needing to be colonised in order to be granted freedom. Of being spoken for, and over, in a condescending and vain attempt to grant her a voice. Of having to be visually available and optically desirable in order to be deemed liberated. She is constantly being discussed and written about – the subject of an ever increasing web of ‘under the veil’ cultural paraphernalia – the roots of which lie in some of the earliest orientalist texts. They speak of the desire to behold the Muslim women behind the closed doors of the Ottoman harems. This cultural obsession is both violent and oppressive. While men of colour face racism, prejudice and social hostility that in itself is both damaging and serious; the racial hierarchy will always place women of colour firmly at the bottom of racial command. Despite men of colour facing the social complexities of being ‘emasculated’ in their position below white women in power structures - not to mention the added oppressive ‘extremism’ narrative that Muslim men in particular are burdened with - there is a disproportionate social weight that often falls on Muslim women. Muslim women are used to justify a whole range of domestic and international political ends; whether it is the invasion of a country like Afghanistan, or an attempt by politicians to lead in national opinion polls, Muslim women are the most frequently traded on the political index. They can be simultaneously portrayed as defenceless and powerless, while still being worthy of the funding-panacea of English-language classes, due to their wielding of influence and control over their potentially ‘terrorist’ sons. read the complete article

United States

24 Nov 2022

For Salaam Reads, Publishing Muslim Stories For Five Years And Counting

Stories provide more than just entertainment. They present an opening to help people understand the world—and to understand people and places that are different than their world. Therein lies the value of reading for children. Kids can discover that they have more in common with others than they may have expected. And that was part of the aim of the launch of Salaam Reads, the first imprint dedicated to exclusively featuring Muslim characters and stories. The imprint, celebrating five years in the Simon & Schuster family, had two goals. One was to “plant seeds of empathy” in non-Muslim readers. The other equally or perhaps more important goal was to offer Muslim children the chance to see themselves reflected in literature, something rarely afforded youngsters. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

NYC subway slasher made anti-Muslim slurs, attacked after woman turned him down: cops

The woman slashed on a Manhattan subway — in a harrowing attack that also left a good Samaritan injured — had just rejected the suspect’s advances before he pounced on her while shouting anti-Muslim slurs, police said Wednesday. The knife-wielding brute, who remains on the loose, apparently got enraged when the woman ignored him on an Eighth Ave.-bound L train at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, cops said. He then slashed her in the face, in what police said could be classified as a hate crime. Police did not divulge details of the anti-Muslim slur, but said the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified about the incident. read the complete article

24 Nov 2022

Troy officials end mosque fight after Muslims compromise on dollars

A Muslim group and the city of Troy have reached a settlement to resolve the Muslims’ four-year legal battle to open a mosque, the two sides announced Tuesday. The mosque actually has been quietly operating for two months, following a federal judge’s scathing ruling in March. The judge ruled that the city had violated federal law by using its zoning ordinance, for years, to block the Muslim group’s repeated efforts to cooperate with the city, purchase property and open a site for religious and community meetings. The Muslims countered with evidence presented to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds. They said they’d spent significant sums in their long-thwarted efforts to find a mosque site that Troy officials would accept. Over the course of nearly a decade, they’d hired architectural and construction professionals, designed sites, submitted plans to City Hall, paid lawyers to represent them at hearings, and bought property that they were forced to sell at a loss after city zoning officials improperly deemed it unfit for a house of Muslim worship — even though similar sites had been long used in Troy by Christian churches, according to Edmunds’ ruling against Troy, issued in March. Dropping the settlement amount by about two-thirds was desirable “when you’re going to have to go to the city for things like traffic management during holidays and building permits to remodel the interior and the exterior façade,” she said. In addition, many of the mosque’s members are Troy residents, and they didn’t want friends and neighbors to think that they’d saddled the city’s taxpayers with an onerous settlement, Doukoure said. So “we really felt we needed to compromise.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Nov 2022 Edition


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