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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03 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, republican Senators continue to boycott a confirmation vote for American Muslim Dilawar Syed to serve as deputy administrator of the SBA, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, it’s been two years since the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the country’s leading equalities watchdog, to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative party, and in India, a number of Indian Muslims were arrested and imprisoned for celebrating Pakistan’s win in a cricket match against the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Isobel Cockerell for Codastory on ‘tech authoritarianism’ and how the Chinese state has penetrated every aspect of life in Xinjiang and targeted Uyghurs and rights activist abroad. This and more below:


03 Nov 2021

‘Surveillance’ doesn’t begin to describe what Beijing is doing to Uyghurs | Recommended Read

Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, 27, is a writer, researcher and stand-up comedian living in Australia. Her work has been instrumental in exposing the scale of China’s forced labor program in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are corralled into heavily guarded compounds to work in factories under prison-like conditions. She became a key propaganda target for Chinese authorities, who have denounced her as a national traitor, after her research on human rights abuses was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). She is now writing a memoir about her experiences, titled “You’re So Brave.” In October, she and her colleagues at ASPI published a new report detailing the complex network of repression in Xinjiang. You’ve been researching surveillance in Xinjiang for years. Was there anything that shocked you while you were working on this project? I think what’s really striking to me is the extent of the Communist Party of China’s penetration into people’s daily lives. We did a case study on one family, and their son was 19 when he was caught using a file-sharing app called Zapya, which people just use to share music. For this, he was sentenced to three years in prison — and not even by a real court. Somebody in the neighborhood committee informed him about his sentence, outside of legal procedures. Then this neighborhood committee would visit the family six times in a single week, supposedly to “calm their thoughts” after the verdict. This is a very personalized system. In a normal society, the police are the police and the people are the people. The uniform separates them. But, in this situation, the whole dynamic is different at a local level. In the same community, some civilians have policing and spying powers, and some civilians are just subject to all this unlawful treatment. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021


Wrists and ankles strapped into a restraining “tiger chair,” a man is used as a subject with which to “train” artificial intelligence-assisted facial recognition technology to detect states of emotion. Minute changes in facial expression are analyzed by the facial recognition technology to determine whether the test subject possesses a “negative mindset” or a heightened state of anxiety, allegedly indicating a potential for anti-social behavior. This is not a vision from a dystopic television series. On the contrary, this is a lived reality in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far north-west of China, where the Chinese state, in concert with a number of China’s major surveillance technology companies, has striven to perfect new means of monitoring the region’s Uyghur population. Researchers estimate that, between 2016 and 2019, up to one million people in the region had been detained without trial in a system of “re-education” camps. In addition, between 2017 and 2020, 533,000 people were formally prosecuted for a variety of “crimes” under broad definitions of “extremism” and “terrorism.” Outside of the camps, the region’s Turkic Muslim populations are also subjected to a dense network of high-technology surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring, which severely limit all forms of personal freedom and enhance the state’s hold over society. This intense surveillance has led some to describe Xinjiang as a 21st-century police state. read the complete article

United States

03 Nov 2021

Shahana Hanif makes history as the first Muslim woman elected to the New York City Council.

In New York City, a global beacon that draws a diverse population from all over the world, the City Council has never had a person of South Asian descent — or a Muslim woman — among its membership. That changed on Tuesday, when Shahana Hanif, a former City Council employee, won her election in a Brooklyn district that covers Park Slope, Kensington and parts of central Brooklyn. Ms. Hanif, who is Bangladeshi American, was the first Muslim woman elected to the Council in its history, despite the fact that the city is home to an estimated 769,000 Muslims. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021

Hammoud elected as Dearborn's first Arab American, Muslim mayor

State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud was elected as Dearborn's seventh mayor, becoming the city's first Arab American and Muslim to win the spot on Wednesday, defeating former Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak. Hammoud received 55% of the vote to Woronchak's 45%, according to City Clerk's unofficial results early Wednesday morning. About 47% of the Wayne County community's residents identify as Arab and 29.1% are foreign-born, according to the U.S. census. The 31-year-old state House lawmaker becomes just the seventh leader for the city of nearly 110,000 residents. Hammoud took the stage at Mohammed Turfe Community Center near Schaefer close to 11:30 p.m. and declared victory. "To the young girls and boys who have been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity, to those of you who were ever made to feel that their names are unwelcome, and to our parents and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet still persisted — today is proof that you are as American as anyone else, and there is a new era in Dearborn,” he told an audience of hundreds. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021

GOP Senator Rand Paul's religious litmus test for public service should alarm us all

Dilawar Syed, President Biden’s pick to serve as deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is obviously qualified for the job. He’s had a successful career as an entrepreneur running software, health care and artificial intelligence companies. Small businesses across the commonwealth, in particular, would benefit from Syed’s leadership as the number two person at the SBA. Yet our senator, Rand Paul — the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship — is leading a boycott of Syed’s nomination. Sen. Paul and his fellow Republican Senators on the committee have thrice refused to show up to committee meetings and thus have prevented a quorum that would allow a vote to take place. It appears that Sen. Paul’s opposition is not based on Syed’s business credentials, but rather on Syed’s faith. If confirmed, Syed would be the highest-ranking Muslim American official in the Biden administration. “Because of the incontrovertible evidence affirming Mr. Syed’s business acumen and qualifications to serve in this role, it appears that committee Republicans have, sadly, turned to character assassination in the form of anti-Muslim bias and bigotry to stymie his confirmation,” stated in a letter to the committee from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. Sen. Paul and his Republican colleagues on the committee have singled out Syed for his involvement with one of our nation’s most prominent Muslim civic organizations —Emgage. They’ve clearly studied the playbook for attacking Muslim Americans and resorted to one of the most common tactics: false claims of anti-Semitism. Yet Jewish groups across the country have come to Syed’s defense, including the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League. Sen. Paul is undermining our nation’s commitment to religious liberty by his petty peddling in Islamophobia. Kentuckians of all faiths should be alarmed by his religious litmus test for public service. read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 Nov 2021

Anti-Muslim hate crimes make almost half of religiously aggravated offences, says Home Office

Muslims have been the target of almost half of recorded religious hate crimes, according to a Census 2021 report from Home Office. Hate crime offences recorded against Muslims reached 45 per cent of all recorded religious hate crimes in the year ending March 2021 – a similar proportion to the previous year. The 2,703 offences against Muslims included acts targeted towards more than one religious group and instances where the assumed religion of the victim was not the same as their actual faith group. Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Secretary-General Zara Mohammed condemned the “pervasive form of bigotry” and the threat it poses, especially to young Muslims. Racially motivated hate crimes saw an increase of 12 per cent while the volume of charges has seen a decrease in recent years, suggesting a need for further action. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021

Islamophobia Awareness Month: Why won’t the EHRC investigate the Tories?

Islamophobic sentiments don’t just occur on the fringes of the far-right. In fact, according to a Hope Not Hate report published last year, 57% of Conservative Party members had a negative attitude towards Muslims with almost half of Conservative Party members (47%) believing that Islam is “a threat to the British way of life”. Around 58% believed that “there are no go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter”. Councillors who have shared posts calling for Muslims to be deported, described Saudis as “sand peasants” and shared material comparing Asian people to dogs have all been quietly reinstated. There seem to have been little to no consequences for Tory MPs who have retweeted the likes of Tommy Robinson. And of course, there’s the Islamophobic campaign run by former Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith against Sadiq Khan, as well as Tory leader Boris Johnson comparing Muslim women to letter boxes and bank robbers. Islamophobic incidents rose by 375 per cent in the week after Boris Johnson’s remarks, according to monitoring group Tell MAMA. The issues of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party has not gone away, yet it’s received barely a fraction of media coverage after the publication of the Singh investigation which the Tories asked to look into all forms of prejudice in the Conservative Party. It was downgraded from an initial investigation which was supposed to look at Islamophobia. So, if the Tory party is failing to tackle prejudice against Muslims within its own ranks, one would hope the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the country’s leading equalities watchdog, would step in. The Muslim Council of Britain first wrote to the EHRC over two years ago, asking it to investigate the Tory Party, though no action as of yet has been taken. They’ve since reiterated their call, even submitting a dossier of daming evidence. The country’s leading equalities watchdog, it seems, is happy for the Tory party to implement its own plan, despite the evidence that it is failing to deal with the problem of Islamophobia among its ranks. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021

Co-founder of neo-Nazi terrorist group was dedicated to ‘all-out race war’, court hears

The co-founder of a neo-Nazi terrorist group was dedicated to an “all-out race war” in Britain, a court has heard. Ben Raymond, 32, is on trial accused of seven terror offences including remaining a member of National Action after it was banned by the government in 2016. Bristol Crown Court heard that he coined the phrase “white jihad” to describe his aims, and “fought his holy war with words and images”. Mr Raymond allegedly co-founded National Action in 2013, and then supported successor groups that operated under different names after the ban. Opening the trial on Tuesday, prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC said: “For the defendant and his cohorts, the work of Adolf Hitler was, and remains, unfinished … the movement had an innocuous name, National Action, but the group’s ideology was anything but innocuous. “It advocated the same Nazi aims and ideals - the ethnic cleansing of anyone who did not fit the Aryan Nazi mould: Jews, Muslims, people of colour, people of Asian descent, people of gay orientation and anyone remotely liberal.” Jurors were told that one member had plotted to murder a female Labour MP, while another made a pipe bomb and threatened Muslims. read the complete article


03 Nov 2021

T20 World Cup: When Indian fans are jailed for celebrating Pakistan's win

Like millions of others around the world, Nafeesa Attari was glued to her screen as India played Pakistan in their opening match of the T20 World Cup. The schoolteacher from the northern Indian city of Udaipur watched as Pakistan won the match by 10 wickets in what was a clinical and emphatic win. Days later she was arrested and held in a police cell. Her apparent crime: her WhatsApp status celebrating Pakistan's victory. She is among several Muslims in India who have been arrested or detained for supporting Pakistan in the recent match - raising fresh concerns about freedom of speech in the world's largest democracy. Observers argue that these arrests are the latest weapon in the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) agenda to target Muslim minorities, a charge the government strongly refutes. "Jeeeet gayeeee… We wonnn," Ms Attari wrote, over an image of some of the team's players in her WhatsApp status. Her post was spotted by one of her students' parents, who sent it to others before it went viral on the messaging service. Ms Attari was fired from her teaching job, and arrested under a section of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises "assertions prejudicial to national integration". In an interview with a local TV channel, she appeared visibly distressed as she apologised for causing offence. read the complete article

03 Nov 2021

The Growing Crusade Against Sex, Muslim Culture, and Lesbians in India’s Ads

India’s leading fashion designer was forced to withdraw advertisements for his latest line of wedding jewellery after he was threatened with legal action by a politician from the ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Mangalsutra jewellery collection launched by Indian fashion label Sabyasachi, owned by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, featured portraits of models, some in lingerie, adorned with bridal jewellery while posing with romantic partners, some portraying same-sex couples. Mangalsutras are considered sacred ornaments in Hindu tradition and are worn by wives as symbolic representations of their marital status. Far-right Hindu quarters found the campaign offensive because of the models’ revealing apparel, the intimate nature of their poses, and the suggestion of same-sex romance. The removal of the Mangalsutra campaign is the third in a series of informal ad censorships led by the ruling Hindu nationalistic party, which has been tightening its grip on the country’s biggest companies. In October, clothing company FabIndia received major flak from ruling party politicians for using the partially Urdu phrase “Jashn-e-Riwaaz,” which translates to “Celebration of Tradition,” to promote its upcoming collection ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali. The phrase drew condemnation for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community. While Urdu originated in 12th century India and is currently one of its 22 official languages, it uses a Persian-Arabic script and is considered a “Muslim language” by many Indians. Even though it’s spoken by India’s Muslims, who make up 14 percent of the country’s population, it’s increasingly controversial for Hindu hardliners who focus on it also being the national language of India’s bitter rival, Pakistan. Since Modi has come to power, numerous towns, cities and streets have lost their Urdu names for new Hindi names. read the complete article


03 Nov 2021

A seat at the table

As the host of Across Her Table—the podcast Abid produces with her husband, Javed Shaikh—Abid has been asking that question since spring 2020. Launched soon after Ontario’s first pandemic lockdown in April 2020, the interview-based podcast features conversations with women, many of whom have Muslim and immigrant or refugee backgrounds. It was around this time that Abid earned her TESOL certification, and was trying to land a job. With little to do, her husband, an ardent fan of podcasts, suggested they start one. Abid thought about what she would want as a listener and realized she didn’t hear stories about immigrant, Muslim women—“at least not this intersectionality, all in one place.” She has since featured pioneering women and community leaders with this background on the show’s first two seasons. A third season is set for release in fall 2021. read the complete article


03 Nov 2021

Tripura anti-Muslim riots demonstrate how Indian and Bangladeshi extremists feed off each other

The third week of October saw the northeastern state of Tripura rocked by violence. Muslim homes, shops and mosques were attacked as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a prominent Hindutva organisation, a part of the larger Sangh Parivar umbrella, led violent marches. These marches in turn were organised in response to anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh. The week starting October 13 saw Durga puja pandals across Bangladesh under attack. Notably, the epicentre of this violence was in the Comilla district of Bangladesh – which immediately neighbours Tripura and has been a significant source of post-Partition migration into the northeastern state. These incidents showed a troubling tendency for majoritarian forces in both India and Bangladesh to benefit from each other’s actions in order to cynically use atrocities on a minority in one country to try and justify anti-minority repression in the other. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Nov 2021 Edition


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