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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07 Nov 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, counterterrorism police have concluded that the firebombing of an immigration center in Dover was motivated by right-wing terrorist ideology, meanwhile in the United States, Dr. Mehmet Oz could become the first Muslim senator, but he has not drawn support from Muslim Americans due to his “association with Trump and past comments disparaging ‘Shariah law,'” and in Australia, a “Melbourne school has been accused of forcing a Muslim student to watch a cartoon depicting Muhammad in class, prompting an investigation by the state government.” Our recommended read of the day is by Miqdaad Versi for The Guardian on the British media’s general silence regarding the Dover attack, despite counter-terrorism police concluding that it was an act of terrorism motivated by far-right. This and more below:

United Kingdom

06 Nov 2022

Britain had a far-right terrorist attack a week ago. Why the failure to call it by its true name? | Recommended Read

Counter-terrorism police have finally concluded that a firebomb attack on a migrant centre last week was terrorism motivated by the far right. But you’d never have guessed it from this past week. There haven’t been column inches from counter-terrorism ideologues laying out the drivers of this terrorist attack, nor has there been round-the-clock media coverage of the community where the perpetrator is from, asking why they hate so much. Most national newspapers didn’t give the attack front-page prominence the next day. The day after the attack, the home secretary appeared to go out of her way to say that the attack was not being treated as terrorism. This is despite the fact that the perpetrator had tweeted that he planned to “obliterate Muslim children” an hour before his attack. He referenced the far-right Islamophobe Tommy Robinson, repeatedly wrote about Muslim “grooming gangs” and shared content from far-right Islamophobic groups including Act for America. Is it possible that the comparatively muted reaction to this despicable act of terror is because the perpetrator was not “foreign”, but instead a Briton hating immigration: a cause much of the rightwing media and our government stand behind? At the Muslim Council of Britain’s Centre for Media Monitoring, we analysed the media reporting of 16 officially designated terrorist attacks between 2015 and 2020 in painstaking detail. The report uncovered a huge disparity in the way the term “terror” (and related terms) has been used by the media. Unsurprisingly, “terror” was used far less commonly when the perpetrator was from the far right. read the complete article

05 Nov 2022

Firebombing of Dover immigration centre was motivated by terrorist ideology, police say

The firebombing of an immigration centre in Dover was motivated by a terrorist ideology, Counter Terrorism Policing South East has said, citing recovered evidence. Andrew Leak, 66, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, is believed to have killed himself after throwing two or three "crude" incendiary devices at the Western Jet Foil site, in Kent, last Sunday. Evidence from examining digital media devices found during the investigation is said to suggest "an extreme right-wing motivation behind the attack," officers said. They added: "There is currently nothing to suggest the offender was working alongside anyone else and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the public." "After considering the evidence collected so far in this case, whilst there are strong indications that mental health was likely a factor, I am satisfied that the suspect's actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology. "This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident." Facebook posts on a now-deleted account under the name of an Andy Leak from High Wycombe contain anti-Muslim sentiments and complaints about people claiming benefits if they do not speak English. read the complete article

04 Nov 2022

Katie Hopkins tour date cancelled after 24 hours as locals accuse her of Islamophobia

Katie Hopkins has seen a date on her upcoming live theatre tour scrapped after just 24 hours thanks to a backlash from furious locals. The 47-year-old ex-columnist was initially booked to host Katie Hopkins Live in 2023 at the Bedford Corn Exchange, Beds, on a date next year but local residents launched a petition accusing her of being racist. The petition began on website 38 Degrees to stop Ms Hopkins from coming to Bedford and gained 50 signatures calling for her show to be cancelled within 24 hours. A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said it cancelled the event the next day as it did not support the city's diverse community. The 38 Degrees petition wrote: "[Katie Hopkins] is well known for her Islamophobic, homophobic speeches and rants..."She does not belong in our proudly multi-racial, diverse town. Inviting her to perform here is an insult to a vast swathe of our population. "Bedford Corn Exchange should be asked to drop her from the bill, to send a strong message about the values we in Bedford hold dear." read the complete article

United States

06 Nov 2022

Oz Could Be the First Muslim U.S. Senator, but Some Muslim Americans Are Ambivalent

In just a few days, Pennsylvania could elect Dr. Mehmet Oz to the Senate, which would make him the nation’s first Muslim senator. With an eye on that history, Muslims in the state have invited him to events at mosques. They have waited for him to talk about how his life has been influenced by his faith, which he once told an interviewer hewed to the mystical Sufi Islam of the whirling dervishes. They have wondered if he would note the significance of a Muslim’s being elected to such a high national office. But he has not done any of those things. As Dr. Oz clashes with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate, in a close race that could decide control of the Senate, he is approaching his Muslim background with what appears to be great ambivalence — and some Muslim Americans have similarly conflicted feelings. He identifies himself as a secular Muslim, raised his four children in his wife’s Christian faith and rarely discusses his religious beliefs in public. Unlike most American Muslims, he is a Republican. And some of his rare comments about Islam — including a warning about Shariah law in the United States, which no group has ever proposed — have been viewed by fellow Muslims as Islamophobic signaling. Above all, though, the alienation many Muslims feel from Dr. Oz stems from his vocal backing from former President Donald J. Trump, who once said he would “strongly consider” closing mosques in the United States, told an interviewer that “I think Islam hates us” and, as president, banned travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. In other words, the first Muslim senator might be a man who owes his political rise to a figure who spread Islamophobia more widely than any other recent American leader. read the complete article

05 Nov 2022

US may elect first Muslim senator. Why are few Muslims thrilled?

While many Muslim Americans have welcomed Oz’s candidacy, his run has failed to generate the excitement previous firsts spurred in Muslim-American communities. Oz is the first Muslim major party nominee for the Senate. “Policies are more important for us here than anything else. Identity is great and wonderful, but if a candidate doesn’t align with our values and principles, it doesn’t make sense for us to support somebody like that,” said Nagi Latefa, a Palestinian-American resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who promotes civic engagement in the community. Oz, who describes himself as a “secular Muslim”, has only discussed his identity when asked. And unlike Muslim Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, for example, he has not centred issues that specifically appeal to Muslim Americans in his campaign, including advocacy for Palestinian rights and combatting Islamophobia. Moreover, Oz’s association with Trump and past comments disparaging “Sharia law” have drawn rebuke from Muslim-American activists. read the complete article

05 Nov 2022

A high-school athlete who was disqualified for wearing a hijab is now running the New York City marathon

In was October 2019, and Noor Abukaram felt "on top of the world." The 16-year-old varsity cross-country athlete had just achieved a personal best in a 5K invitational, and was making plans to celebrate with friends. Then, her heart sank: Abukaram's name was missing from the official place list because, she soon learned, she was wearing a hijab. Unbeknownst to Abukaram, then 16, the athletic association in her state required waivers from athletes who wished to wear clothing for religious practices. Her coach had failed to supply one. "I was humiliated. I needed to escape," Abukaram wrote for ESPN earlier this year. "So, I went to the bathroom, as I think any girl does when they're going to cry." But Abukaram's instinct to escape was short-lived. She's since become an outspoken advocate for runners of all identities as the founder of Let Noor Run, which fights discrimination in sports. In October 2021, her work helped to change the Ohio legislation that disqualified her. On Sunday, Abukaram will be running the New York City marathon — her longest race yet — as a member of Team Inspire in bright colors and a hijab. Now, she wants to be seen. "Diversity belongs in running, and inclusion belongs in running because it's such a beautiful sport that anyone can pick up," Abukaram, now a 19-year-old sophomore at Ohio State University, told Insider. "For me, I feel like everybody's a runner." read the complete article

04 Nov 2022

Former ICE chief teams up with anti-Muslim group for US border intiative

A former director for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently collaborating with an anti-Muslim group for a project centred around immigration at the country's southern border. Thomas Homan, who served as acting ICE director under former President Donald Trump, has been working on a project titled Defend the Border and Save Lives, both a promotional and media project that is also tied to Homan's book of the same name. A look at the team section of the project's website prominently lists Tom Trento, who is the CEO and founder of The United West, an organisation labelled an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC's Hatewatch was the first to report the partnership. Trento's The United West has a history of Islamophobic rhetoric, including saying that the US is in a "war against Shariah Islam". "There is no doubt that, for those with eyes to see, we are at war with devout Muslims who follow the jihad teachings of doctrinal Islam," Trento wrote in a 2016 email to supporters, as reported by the SPLC. "Therefore, it is essential that all Americans adopt a 'war-footing' mentality and are constantly prepared for any threat, any situation, any problem." read the complete article

07 Nov 2022

The Problem With Jihad, Rehab Isn’t Filmmaker Meg Smaker’s Color or Religion

Does Jihad, Rehab, a film about four men previously detained at Guantánamo and now subject to a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia, bring us any closer to understanding their experiences—or our responsibilities? Or does Jihad, Rehab do something else entirely? The film garnered strong reviews upon its release, but discontent about the film and its ethics had in fact been brewing since 2019, beginning with its highly offensive title. For Muslims, the primary meaning of jihad, which is often translated into English as “struggle,” is the jihad of the self, the struggle one constantly goes through to be a better Muslim and a better person. The title, on the other hand, not only perpetuates Western distortions of Islam but reductively mocks Muslim belief by cutely joining jihad with rehab, as if a core tenet of your faith is something you need therapy for. Anger over the film didn’t end at the title, however. After the film was selected for the festival, a group of filmmakers met with Sundance curators to voice their concerns over its content. They also wrote an open letter criticizing the film and Sundance’s decision-making processes. The primary objection to the film revolves around a presumption of guilt that hangs over the subjects of the film, even though none of them were ever charged—let alone convicted of anything. Then there’s the ethical question of interviewing men while they are incarcerated. How free are they to answer anybody’s questions? Executive Producer Abigail Disney ended up distancing herself from the film in her own open letter. “A person cannot freely consent to anything in a carceral system,” she wrote, “particularly one in a notoriously violent dictatorship.” And then there’s the question of informed participation. Through Cage, a British-based NGO that deals closely with survivors of Guantánamo, five former Guantánamo prisoners wrote about their objections to the film, stating that they learned that two of the four men featured in the documentary “were not aware the film was being released publicly.” read the complete article

06 Nov 2022

America’s 9/11 Wars Created the Foot Soldiers of Far-Right Violence at Home

Forrest was in the first wave of American veterans who turned to domestic terror once they returned home. It also happened after World War I and II, after the Korean and Vietnam wars — and it is happening after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sedition trial now taking place in Washington, D.C., features five defendants accused of trying to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021, and four are veterans, including Stewart Rhodes, who founded the Oath Keepers militia. In December, another sedition trial is set for five members of the Proud Boys militia — four of whom served in the military. The point is that a relatively small number of veterans are having an outsized impact on white supremacist violence, thanks to the respect that flows from their military service. While they are outliers from the mass of law-abiding vets, they are the tentpoles of domestic terror. This is a consequence of our society venerating a massive army and going to war at regular intervals: The last 50 years of far-right terror have been dominated by men with military backgrounds. In 2005 the so-called war on terror was justified by President George W. Bush as “taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.” The irony is that those wars — which cost trillions of dollars and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians — instead radicalized a generation of American zealots who for years to come will inflict violence on the country they were supposed to protect. This is yet another stupendous offense for which our political and military leaders should face history’s vengeance. read the complete article


06 Nov 2022


As emotions run high in the Iranian community this week, I asked my roommate Tara Mehr (age 20), an Iranian McGill student from Vancouver, to speak about the recent events. She is especially passionate about the misrepresentation of the cause of protests. Recently, most of the conversation in the media is about how the hijab itself oppresses women in Iran, when in reality that is not the case. The issue is about choice, personal freedoms, and women having autonomy over their own lives and bodies. It is not about the specific articles of clothing or religious symbols that they wear, but rather the choice to wear it or not. Tara expresses how it is easy for people to villainize Muslims and push the issue on the religion itself. Unfortunately, we have seen Muslims being targeted in Canada and across the world countless times. Although familiar, it does not make it any less painful when anyone, from world leaders to ordinary citizens, display blanatant disregard for Muslim lives. It is a beautiful religion, but the corrupt Iranian government is weaponizing religion to take away people’s rights. The problem is not with the hijab itself, but rather the weaponization of the hijab and the religion by the government to strip women of their freedoms. read the complete article


06 Nov 2022

Muslim student allegedly forced to watch offensive cartoon of Muhammad at Melbourne school

A Melbourne school has been accused of forcing a Muslim student to watch a cartoon depicting Muhammad in class, prompting an investigation by the state government. A teacher at the college, in Melbourne’s north, allegedly played an “explicit and blasphemous” cartoon to the class that depicted the prophet Muhammad, according to the student’s father. The Victorian education department is investigating the incident. Depictions of the prophet are strictly prohibited in Islam, and the student reportedly expressed her concern to the teacher but was dismissed. In a Facebook status, the student’s father said the teacher’s insistence on playing the cartoon caused his daughter “painful psychological and mental trauma”. read the complete article


05 Nov 2022

More than 80 Rohingya detained in Myanmar trying to flee: source

More than 80 Rohingya people seeking to travel by boat to Malaysia have been detained in Myanmar's southeast after traffickers abandoned them, a security source told AFP on Saturday. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine state are widely regarded as illegal immigrants in the Buddhist-majority country and have long faced discrimination, been denied citizenship, health care and education. The group, which included women and children, had been detained by authorities on Friday near Thanbyuzayat town in Mon state, a security source who didn't want to be named told AFP. "They were hiding near rubber farms after the boats which they took from Rakhine state left them," the source said, adding that traffickers had promised to take them to Malaysia. Muslim-majority Malaysia is a key destination for Rohingya fleeing persecution. An investigation is ongoing, and it is unclear whether the group will face criminal charges for leaving Rakhine state. read the complete article


07 Nov 2022

India at 75: upending narratives and rewriting history

The palatial family home of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the freedom struggle stalwart and close confidant of Mahatma Gandhi, is now a museum where loyalists come to pay tribute. But 75 years after independence, that history is being rewritten across the country as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeks to promote its own Hindu nationalist agenda. Critics accuse the BJP of upending settled narratives to fit its outlook, promoting the roles of its ideological forebears, and downgrading the contributions of Muslims to Indian history and society. The BJP ousted Nehru's Congress party at elections in 2014, after the dynasty he founded had dominated Indian politics for decades. His daughter Indira Gandhi, who grew up in the house, and grandson Rajiv both went on to become prime ministers. Today, whether the emperor Akbar –- of the Muslim Mughal dynasty that ruled India for 300 years –- won or lost a key battle against a revered Hindu king depends on which textbook is being used. At the launch of a book on Hindu kings' resistance to the Mughals, home minister Amit Shah -- a key ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- declared: "No one can stop us from writing the truth. We are now independent. We can write our own history." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Nov 2022 Edition


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