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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08 Nov 2019

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, the extreme right protests the construction of a mosque, while a new bill passed in the country calls for Muslim preachers to learn German in exchange for work visas. In the United States, Muslim women take a firm place in American politics in the era of Trump. Our recommended read today is on Xinjiang: “Their only crime was that they are Muslims”. This, and more, below:


08 Nov 2019

Recommended Read | Inside Xinjiang’s five-star propaganda tour

Xinjiang has been dominating my thoughts this week after having several long phone calls with Olsi Jazexhi, an Albanian-Canadian journalist and academic who went to the region in August on a North Korea-style propaganda tour. For months, Jazexhi had been reading the reports about the Uyghur humanitarian crisis, and decided to investigate for himself. “I approached the Chinese embassy in Albania and presented myself to them as an Albanian journalist. I told them I’d seen so many stories and I don’t believe them to be true,” Jazexhi told me. “I never imagined what the media were saying was true and that things were even worse – even more tragic.” He was greeted by his guides for the trip: a group of Chinese Communist Party officials. “We were given first class treatment,” Jazexhi said. “Wherever we went, state police were at our service. The traffic was stopped and the police opened the way for us. We were treated like presidents.” The journalists stayed in five-star hotels while they toured the cities of Xinjiang and were lectured on China’s so-called “de-extremification” program to stamp out terrorism and separatism in the region. “They presented us with their own version of the history of Xinjiang,” Jazexhi said. Almost every night, the journalists were given a show. “A group of boys and girls were selected to sing and dance for us everywhere we went. They were using Uyghurs like monkeys in the zoo.” read the complete article

Recommended Read

United States

08 Nov 2019

Alleged anti-Muslim attack reported in west metro, group says

Without warning or explanation, according to Galbayte and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the man punched and elbowed Galbayte three times in the left side of his face while shouting slurs and ordering him to return to his home country. Galbayte, 49, is Muslim and immigrated from Somalia. He was working for the food delivery service DoorDash when he was allegedly assaulted about 9:50 a.m. on Oct. 27. "Still, I don't know," Galbayte said of what was going through his mind at the time. "I'm in shock." The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department issued a news release Thursday after CAIR-Minnesota first drew attention to the case. Police confirmed the date and location of the incident — the 5000 block of St. Albans Bay Road — but did not address CAIR-Minnesota's assertions that the alleged attack was "bias-motivated." read the complete article

08 Nov 2019

Muslim Women Are Claiming Their Rightful Place In America’s Politics

“Having the president of the United States target a minority community in this way, was deeply concerning to me,” Ghazala Hashmi told HuffPost. “I knew that more of us need to be visible and that we have to speak out.” Shortly after Trump signed Executive Order 13769, which barred citizens from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the country, Hashmi began to plan her campaign. Hashmi, a Democrat, unseated Republican Glen Sturtevant in the state Senate. Her win –– which was recognized by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton –– was part of a blue wave in which Democrats in Virginia flipped both the state Senate and the House of Delegates. The momentous takeover is the first time in over a quarter-century that the Democrats have full control of both legislative chambers and the governorship. “I fully expected that there’s been a great deal of Islamophobia, and just the traditional trolling, that is now the unfortunate part of our politics,” said Hashmi. Hashmi joins other Muslim women who secured historic wins on Tuesday, including 24-year-old Abrar Omeish, who is also from Virginia and shares the accolade with Hashmi as one of the first Muslim women elected in the state, as well as being the youngest woman to hold elected office in Virginia’s history. read the complete article

08 Nov 2019

Preaching ‘hate’ for Islam, speaker arrives in a divided Willmar

John Burns had been living in Willmar, Minn., for some time, but one interaction in particular stands out. An acquaintance wanted to recruit him to a group that has been warning others about the dangers of Islam and the infiltration of Muslims into their west-central Minnesota community. But Burns, 75, was the wrong guy. He’s been voicing concerns against anti-Islamic sentiments in the town, which is home to a growing Somali American population. He’s written letters to the editor, spoken at city council meetings and called every media outlet he could think of. The group, called “Thee Book Club,” has rented an auditorium Thursday evening at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar to host a controversial speaker who’s made his mark across Minnesota and beyond trying to convince attendees that Islam is a dangerous cult. read the complete article

08 Nov 2019

Hashmi’s election draws racist comments on Facebook

Days after Virginia’s legislative elections, racist comments continued to flood news stories about Ghazala Hashmi becoming the first Muslim American to serve in the state Senate, with hundreds of Facebook users linking her to terrorism and saying it was a “sad day” for Virginia. Reactions ranged from “amazing news” to “why did we let this happen,” according to an analysis of about 3,000 comments posted to five news articles on Facebook. More than 40 comments said Virginians “forgot” about the 9/11 attacks, while many others used anti-Muslim slurs referring to Hashmi. However, many people posted objections to such remarks and celebrated Hashmi’s election. read the complete article

United Kindgom

08 Nov 2019

General election: WhatsApp messages urge British Hindus to vote against Labour

Messages urging British Hindus to vote against Labour in the general election are being circulated on WhatsApp, raising concerns about the chat app's role in spreading divisive political content. Sky News has seen more than 20 separate messages shared on WhatsApp using the app's "forward" function. One begins by saying: "Pass this to every TRUE Indian," before going on to claim that "there are now no excuses left for any Indian to still be with the Labour Party". A third suggests talking points to "confront" Labour candidates with on the doorstep, including asking why, in Pakistan, "Hindu minor girls are, on a daily basis, being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslims?" Labour candidates warned that the messages were stoking division and risked inciting violence. "Lots of people when they receive a WhatsApp message, they see that as the truth," said Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi. read the complete article

08 Nov 2019

Home Office-backed counter-extremism group waging Twitter campaign against Corbyn

An interfaith organisation which has frequently attacked Jeremy Corbyn over allegations of antisemitism and which has described the Labour Party as a “Stalinist cult” is receiving support from the Home Office. Faith Matters receives funding through a Home Office counter-extremism programme, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT), which offers grants and other assistance including social media training to help recipient organisations to “amplify” their work. The organisation has regularly used its Twitter account to attack Corbyn, both directly and by retweeting critical articles. The Home Office’s funding for Faith Matters appears to raise fresh questions about political attacks on the leader of the official opposition by organisations benefiting from government support. read the complete article


08 Nov 2019

Buddhists fight violence against Muslims with flower power

n May, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, roughly 100 Buddhist nationalists armed with sticks and stones surrounded three Muslim prayer sites, blocking worshipers from praying. It was another example of members of the Buddhist majority intimidating Muslims in Myanmar, where a transition to democracy after half a century of military rule has been accompanied by a rise in ultranationalist sentiment and religious violence. The night after the incident, Thet Swe Win, a longtime peace activist, convened a group of like-minded Buddhist friends and interfaith activists to brainstorm ways to show solidarity with the Muslim minority. He recalled a visit to Paris in 2015, where he saw Muslims handing out flowers after a terrorist attack there, and was inspired by the gesture of empathy. The “white rose campaign” soon spread from Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, to more than 20 mosques and Muslim prayer sites across the country and has become a potent symbol of interfaith relations in a country where few voices speak out against anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence. “I’m doing this work because only a few people are doing it,” said Thet Swe Win, 33. “I’m trying to mobilize people to be more responsive.” read the complete article


08 Nov 2019

Anniversary of Berlin Wall collapse marred by rise of anti-Muslim politics

As the events of 1989 led up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the anniversary of which is being marked on Saturday, Erfurt was one of the leading hubs of the protest movement in the former East Germany. Demonstrations have again been seen on its streets this year as neo-fascists and extreme right politicians mobilised against the construction of a mosque in the town. Although the authorities have given permission for the building, the protests emerged amid a growth in anti-Muslim activism centred on the former eastern Germany. Bjorn Hocke, a regional political, who led the protests called for 2020 to be the “year of deportation”, claiming it would give a boost to the “underutilised” Erfurt airport. He promised to be at the gates for the "at the first deportation flight, waving and calling out for a good trip home". The comments caused outrage but boosted Mr Hocke’s career. In regional elections last month he led his Alternative for Deutschland (AFD) party to second place with 23 per cent of the vote. To Suleman Malik, the imam behind the much delayed mosque project, the comments are part of a wave of death threats and harassment, including deliveries of pigs heads to the building site. Islamphobia is real in Erfurt and the wider state of Thuringia, where 7,000 Muslims live in a 2 million population. read the complete article

08 Nov 2019

Muslim preachers must speak German to work in the country under proposed law

The bill, which passed cabinet on Wednesday, means that foreign preachers will only be granted work visas if they can demonstrate basic German. They would then need to show improvements in their language skills after a year in order to prolong their stay. Although it applies to all religious preachers, the coalition treaty signed by the German government - which includes the rule - specifically refers to imams. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer hailed it as “a vital contribution for successful integration in Germany.” The government justified the move by saying that imams have a central role to play as models of integration for other immigrants, who often turn to mosques for help when they first arrive. Germany's Green party attacked the draft law, saying it will exacerbate the already acute shortage of imams to serve the country’s growing Muslim population. According to a recent study, over 90 percent of imams active in Germany come from abroad. Criticism also came from the Islamic community. Bekir Altaş, head of the Millî Görüş mosque association, said that many Muslim associations had made German language skills a requirement for preaching in their mosques years ago. “The government’s plans smack of populism. The portrayal of language skills equating with ‘good imams’ is dangerous - it downplays German-speaking hate preachers who use their rhetorical abilities to gain notoriety, while ignoring the good work done by other preachers in their native tongue,” Altaş said. read the complete article


08 Nov 2019

As Bigotry Stirs Globally, Bosnian Jews, Muslims Recall Lesson in Tolerance

Bosnia's Jews and Muslims on Thursday marked the bicentenary of the rescue of a dozen Jews from an Ottoman-era governor's jail, saying their liberation by Sarajevo Muslims is a great example of co-existence at a time of rising global sectarian hatred. The 1819 rescue, which happened during a Muslim uprising, and consequent removal of corrupt Turkish governor Mehmed Ruzdi Pasha is a holiday for Sarajevo's Jews, known as Purim di Saray. The governor had sought a huge ransom to spare the Jews' lives. The event was marked by a joint exhibition and conference depicting the events and celebrating nearly 500 years of peaceful coexistence between Jews and their Muslim neighbors, as well as between Jews and Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats. "Bosnian Muslims and Jews are one body," said Bosnia's Muslim top cleric Husein Kavazovic. "Amid the ever rising evil of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia ... we are renewing our pledge that we will remain good neighbors who will watch over each other as we did in the past." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Nov 2019 Edition


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