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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06 Nov 2019

Today in Islamophobia: China stages outside scenes for visiting delegations to Xinjiang, as a Syrian refugee is assaulted in California for speaking in Arabic. France continues to struggle with Islamophobia. Our recommended read today is an examination of the phrase “go back”: what it means in the era of Trump, and how it correlates to hate crimes in the U.S. This, and more, below:

United States

06 Nov 2019

Go Back To Your Country, They Said | Recommended Read

Almost a year ago, Elvis Smith woke up to a doctor telling him a bullet had obliterated his right tibia, spraying fragments of the bone up and down the inside of his leg. Smith, 60, cried. All he’d done that morning was go to work laying concrete, like he’d done most of his life, when a white man with a gun showed up shouting, “Go back to Africa.” It didn’t even make sense. Smith is an American citizen, after all — not that it should matter. Smith is among so many who have been told to go back where they came from. He was shot during a period of emboldened white nationalism that continues to this day. Throughout American history, expressions of hate have been punctuated with variations of the same sentiment: Go back to your country. Go back to Africa. Go back to China. Go back to Mexico. It’s a foundational white nationalist insult, meant to threaten a victim into believing that they don’t belong and that this is a country for white people. What makes the insult unique now is that it’s employed not only on the street corner, but on the presidential podium, giving it a new license. HuffPost built a separate database to examine what “go back” means in the era of President Donald Trump. We collected 800 reports, occurring over the last four years, in which assailants communicated some variation of “go back” to their victims. We found over 300 accounts of these incidents in news articles; 16 in police reports obtained through public records requests; and the rest were tips sent to HuffPost and its media partners in the Documenting Hate project. HuffPost spoke with 80 victims and witnesses. read the complete article

Our recommended read for the day
06 Nov 2019

'What trash are you speaking?’: A San Diego man beat a Syrian refugee teen for talking in Arabic'

There were plenty of open seats on the San Diego trolley, but Adrian Richard Vergara chose the one right next to a teenage Syrian refugee. The teen boy felt nervous as Vergara sat down, he would later say. Traveling on his way home from school, he was talking on FaceTime with a friend, speaking in Arabic — when suddenly the man next to him ripped the earbud out of the boy’s ear. “What trash are you speaking?” Vergara asked him, as prosecutors described at his arraignment last month. And when the teen refugee responded, “Arabic,” prosecutors said, that’s when the brutal beating began On Monday, Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to the Oct. 15 felony hate-crime assault after surveillance video on the trolley identified him as the attacker. Vergara is expected to be sentenced next month to five years in prison, KGTV reported. read the complete article

06 Nov 2019

Rumored Expansion of Muslim Travel Ban Exposes Trump’s Election-Year Calculus

Late last week, amid the welter of new details surrounding Trump’s now-infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president, Team Trump tried to switch the conversation back to Trump’s home turf: immigrant-bashing and anti-Muslim extremism. Unnamed administration officials let news outlets know that the president was considering expanding his Muslim travel ban to as many as four additional countries. Exactly which countries were under consideration, they didn’t say. Now, faced with powerful, potentially fatal, political headwinds, Trump is banking on being able to stoke racial and religious animus as a way to preserve his hold on power. It’s the quintessential demagogue’s calculus. Trump’s Muslim travel ban was never really about making the U.S. and its residents safer. It was, quite simply, a dragnet designed for easy-headline posturing. Banning Yemenis, or Libyans, Syrians, Iranians, Somalis and others may have created good copy, but as a counterterrorism tool it made absolutely no sense — it targeted people because of their nationalities rather than their known affiliations with terrorist groups. So, too, the drastic restrictions on asylum and refugee admissions are all about throwing racist red meat to the conservative base. read the complete article

06 Nov 2019

Opinion | The Online Cacophony of Hate Against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

We published a study this week that found that, around the 2018 midterm elections, Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib were in the cross hairs of a tiny band of Islamophobes, long before Mr. Trump elevated them in his tweetstorms, and likely before they were even on his radar. We studied more than 113,000 tweets, posted from early September 2018 to the weekend before the election, that mentioned Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Omar Qudrat, a Republican congressional candidate in California who lost his race. Ilhan Omar was the prime target. Roughly half of the 90,000 tweets mentioning her included hate speech or Islamophobic or anti-immigrant language. Put another way, almost 60 percent of the network of accounts that mentioned or tagged her had posted at least one tweet containing hate speech or overt disinformation. Almost one-third of the tweets mentioning Ms. Tlaib were Islamophobic or xenophobic. Even Mr. Qudrat, a former military terrorism prosecutor, faced online harassment. The sheer number and proportion of negative tweets indicate that much of the targeting was done by people or organizations from far outside the districts in which the candidates ran. Our review of profiles of those accounts, which included 2,354 that attacked both women, bears this out. But the most striking thing we uncovered happened in the months after the election. When we revisited these accounts in July, a significant portion of them were simply gone. Some had been suspended by Twitter for violating standards, such as posting inappropriate content or showing characteristics of bots. Others had been deleted by the account holders. Malicious actors will often remove the accounts that make up their bot networks — like drug dealers tossing burner phones — to cover their tracks. During the height of the campaign, there were 50,699 accounts in Ilhan Omar’s Twitter network. By July, 14 percent of those accounts were missing. Similarly, in Ms. Tlaib’s network, 11.9 percent of accounts in the network were either suspended or deleted. Still others had gone largely dormant. read the complete article


06 Nov 2019

Islamophobia is on the rise in France

The day's events were just part of a vicious cycle of recrimination and demonisation that has erupted in France since the stabbing in Paris on October 3 of four policemen by a colleague who had converted to Islam. In France, it has sparked a deeply concerning escalation of Islamophobia - one that is being fuelled at least in part by the words and actions of Macron and other political leaders. In his speech at a ceremony honouring the four slain policemen, Macron called for "a society of vigilance" to act as a barrier against the "Islamist Hydra". He also called on the nation to rise up against "this underground Islamism that corrupts the children of France", by identifying "the little nothings that become terrible tragedies." These are the fight of the nation "at school, at work, in the areas of daily life". Three days later, a local right-wing politician in the city of Dijon turned on a Muslim mother who was wearing a headscarf during an elementary school visit to her local regional council. He asked the council's president to order the mother to remove the scarf or leave the assembly, saying her presence was unacceptable given the police killings. That, in turn, thrust the fraught question of what Muslim women wear back into the public spotlight, all against the emotionally-charged background of the stabbings. A slew of television and radio debates followed - none of which included any headscarf-wearing women. On the same day as the attack on the mosque in Bayonne, the French Senate began considering a bill that would ban women from wearing headscarves while accompanying school trips. In 2011, France banned the wearing of full-face veils in public, while public officials including teachers are not allowed to wear headscarves. read the complete article

06 Nov 2019

French fear and loathing towards Muslim women reveal a deeper malaise

This affair and its aftermath raises a number of key issues: the inculcation into young children of tyrannical notions, such as “loyalty to the republic above all else”; the increasingly futile weapons that secularists will employ, particularly “feminism”; and the hypocrisy of leaders who will grasp at any fiction, including linking a piece of cloth over a woman’s hair to terrorism, to harness the “popular will” required to stay in power. Amid this is the all-apparent courage and fortitude required to be a Muslim woman and mother in France today. Today, behind the terrible shaming and violent treatment of a Muslim woman and her son, is the ongoing structural violence against Muslims and other people who speak out against inequality and injustice, couched in the corporatisation of everything (including war, which must be maintained for the secular system to profit). There is no accountability for those in power when it comes to their abuse of such people - for the illusion must be maintained that they are always acting for the perpetually manipulated “popular will”. The necessary, wholesale hatred of Islam is wrapped up in a global reign of terror, deceptively labelled as the “war on terror”. Are those who seek to publicly undress Muslim women - in the same manner as Algerian women were publicly “unveiled” in the 1950s to baying, perverted European generals - to be considered “civilised”? Many courageous Muslim women have spoken out about why they wear the hijab or niqab, often under interrogation by “feminist” news hosts and other confused people at borders. read the complete article


06 Nov 2019

Muslim women ‘forced to share beds’ with male Chinese officials after husbands detained in internment camps

Muslim women whose husbands have been detained in Chinese internment camps are reportedly being forced to share beds with male government officials assigned to monitor them in their homes. Communist party workers regularly sleep alongside members of persecuted Uighur minority families during surveillance visits that last up to a week, party sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA). The monitoring forms part of the systematic repression of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region, where experts and human rights groups believe more than a million Uighurs – most of them men – have been arbitrarily detained in secretive re-education camps. The officer described the spies as “helping” the Uighur families “with their ideology, bringing new ideas” and “talk to them about life, during which time they develop feelings for one another”. He claimed he had “never heard” of any official attempting to take advantage or sexually abuse someone they were staying with, and suggested it was “now considered normal for females to sleep on the same platform with their paired male relatives”. The government describes the programme as voluntary, but China’s Muslims are well aware that refusing any state initiative can lead to being branded a potential extremist. Social media images show the new “relatives” attending Uighur weddings, funerals and other occasions once considered intimate and private. read the complete article

United Kingdom

06 Nov 2019

First guide for reporting to tackle anti Muslim hate is published

Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar helped produce the report which he hopes will show leadership to other countries. The guide has been jointly published by the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia with the National Union of Journalists and academics at Newcastle University. The group found participants said “headlines hurt” and questioned why there aren’t more positive stories about Muslims in the media. The report found that “terminology is often used without much regard for accuracy – such as the terms ‘hijab’ and ‘burka’ being used interchangeably” and said articles sometimes reference an individual’s Muslim faith when it isn’t clear why it is relevant to the story. read the complete article


06 Nov 2019

Something Is Rotten in the State of Saudis: Non-Muslim Chinese Allowed Into Mecca

From its foundation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enforced a strict policy of forbidding non-Muslims to visit the holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina. There are not even exceptions for ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries, unless of course they are Muslims themselves. But now it seems Saudi Arabia is making an exception—for Chinese tourists. He took great exception to the visit, particularly given the atrocities metered out to his compatriots in his homeland of Xinjiang; the extra judicial incarcerations, the demolition of mosques, the confiscation, burning and forbidding the reading of Qurans, the separation of parents from children and placing them in State orphanages, and the compelling of Muslim women to marry non-believing Han Chinese. Imin asked, “Are they doing this for lucrative Chinese cash?” “According to Islamic traditions this is unacceptable,” he said bitterly. Paradoxically, the CCP is sending secular Han Chinese tourists to Mecca and Medina while at the same time limiting the possibility for devout Han Muslims to go on pilgrimage there. Not to mention, of course. Uyghurs. read the complete article

06 Nov 2019

These Chinese Companies Are Building Xinjiang’s Surveillance State. You Can Buy Their Cameras On Amazon.

The goods and apps come from three companies — Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and iFlytek — which the US Commerce Department recently placed on an export blacklist for their role in aiding in the surveillance and detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s northwest Xinjiang region. The blacklist designation prevents US companies from exporting commodities or software to those companies. But it does not stop Amazon and eBay from selling their products in their own online marketplaces, or Google and Apple from distributing their apps to US consumers. BuzzFeed News’ findings underscore, however, the extent to which the technology industry’s leading companies continue to work with entities that supply surveillance software and cameras to watch over one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minorities. BuzzFeed News counted hundreds of products from Dahua and Hikvision, which manufacture security system equipment, and iFlytek, a voice recognition and translation company, on Amazon, eBay, and Overstock. Apple and Google also collectively distributed more than 100 apps from the three Chinese companies on the Apple App Store and Google Play, the main marketplace for Android software. “We know that these companies are amongst the suppliers of the surveillance regime in Xinjiang and the whole spectrum of incarceration,” said James Millward, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, of Hikvision, Dahua, and iFlytek. “It points out how difficult it is to try to pressure China on these issues.” read the complete article


06 Nov 2019

In Norway, Negative Attitudes Toward Muslims Are Still Widespread

The World Happiness Report published by the United Nations in March this year identified Norway as the world’s third happiest country. The Scandinavian nation is doing remarkably well when it comes to key variables that influence well-being, such as income, freedom, trust, life expectancy, social support and generosity. Yet despite being a happy, free and affluent country, Norway hasn’t been immune to right-wing extremism that has gained traction in different corners of the world. Corroborated by different investigations and studies, Islamophobia and racism are now serious challenges for the Norwegian society. According to the European Islamophobia Report, 14% of the country’s Muslims experienced harassment in 2017. The same report found that 34% of the population “displays marked prejudices against Muslims.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Nov 2019 Edition


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