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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09 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the New Jersey chapter of J Street published a letter of support for the local Muslim community, which “was slandered by the past anti-Muslim, racially insensitive and xenophobic tweets of Edward Durr,” meanwhile in Canada, Muslim leaders are calling on Ontario to take action against Islamophobia, and in Myanmar, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador has voiced concerns a military build-up in the north-west bears similarities to the Rohingya genocide of 2017. Our recommended read of the day is by  for CNN on how China’s campaign against Uyghur Muslims is history repeating itself but with a “vengeance,” and calls on the international community to go beyond “dialogue” and to take concrete actions in the form of import bans and sanctions against the CCP. This and more below:


09 Nov 2021

I was born in a Chinese 'reeducation camp.' I'm watching history repeat itself | Recommended Read

I was born in a Chinese reeducation camp, where my mother was detained in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which many Uyghurs call East Turkistan. For most of my life, I tried to forget the horrific experiences my mother and I had during my early childhood. But it seems the past is repeating itself -- and with a vengeance. Now, some half a century later, China is targeting the Uyghur population with a new fervor. According to the US Department of Defense, China has detained possibly as many as 3 million Uyghurs in detention camps. Meanwhile, based on satellite imagery, CNN reports China has been destroying traditional Uyghur cemeteries. And, according to the accounts of several Uyghur women, it is incorporating an extensive forced sterilization program. Having experienced the reality of living under this regime, and now watching with horror as these atrocities are visited on my Uyghur brothers and sisters, it's difficult for me to comprehend how any Western actor could push for greater dialogue or engagement with such a regime. How cheap are the lives of my people to the international community if it ignores reports of the Chinese government's attempt to commit genocide against the Uyghurs? Democracies and nongovernmental organizations alike must do significantly more to support the Uyghur struggle -- even if it comes with an inevitable backlash from the Chinese government. read the complete article

09 Nov 2021

Settler Colonialism Meets the War on Terror: The Enclosure of China’s Uyghurs

China's detention of as many as 1.5 million Uyghurs, members of a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group, constitutes the largest internment of a religious minority since World War II. As skyscrapers rise above the arid steppes and oasis towns of Xinjiang, monuments to China’s modern prosperity, a dispossessed ethnic and religious underclass faces a density of surveillance that eclipses even the secret police of communist East Germany. Those deemed “suspect” are relegated to the 21st century’s largest system of reeducation camps, which extend across a vast territory more than twice the size of Texas. Here they enter what the Holocaust survivor Primo Levi described as the “gray zone,” where victims are stripped of their dignity and humanity, forced to walk like dogs, eat pork, and recite odes to the Chinese Communist Party’s leader Xi Jinping. Such is the subject of two remarkable books by Darren Byler, a talented anthropologist who has conducted years of challenging and courageous ethnographic research in China’s forbidding far Northwest. Terror Capitalism, a compelling though sometimes jargon-laden treatise, offers an important contribution for specialists and graduate students. In the Camps, meanwhile, is short, highly readable, and will appeal to anyone interested in violence and social justice. Together, Byler’s books bear witness, in moving and elegant fashion, to cultural genocide and economic exploitation; to the menacing capacities of Big Data and biotech; and above all, to the lives of those who have disappeared. Moreover, they are ominous sirens. Though symbols of Chinese totalitarianism, Uyghur camps intersect, in troubling ways, with the colonial histories, capitalist economies, and security practices of the Anglo-American West. read the complete article

United States

09 Nov 2021

US Supreme Court hears arguments in Muslim civil rights case

The United States Supreme Court has heard arguments in a case involving three Muslim men from California who accused the FBI of illegally conducting surveillance on them following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The country’s top court has been asked to decide whether to allow the men’s lawsuit to move forward amid opposition from the FBI, which has claimed it cannot be sued for religious discrimination because doing so could reveal state secrets. At issue is whether a 1978 US surveillance law, which sets rules for domestic spying on Americans, displaces a judge-made doctrine of state secrecy and provides grounds for the men’s case to be heard. Muslim Americans across the US have accused the FBI of systematically violating their constitutional rights by spying on them after 9/11, but there have been few opportunities to challenge the FBI’s conduct in court because it has been primarily conducted in secret. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on Monday questioned the US government’s argument that the FBI should be allowed to obtain a dismissal of the case while also keeping its evidence secret. “In a world in which the national security state is growing larger every day, that is quite a power,” Gorsuch said. On Monday, other Supreme Court justices also questioned the FBI’s claims that the lawsuit cannot be allowed to proceed on the grounds that state secrets would be jeopardised. Justice Stephen Breyer said it would be premature to dismiss the claims without the trial judge getting a chance to properly review certain documents related to the case. “My point is there should be a way to look at the information … and decide what to do,” said Breyer, a liberal jurist. read the complete article

09 Nov 2021

Jewish group finds anti-Muslim tweets ‘deeply troubling’ | Letters

On behalf of the New Jersey Chapter of J Street, and writing as a Jewish American, I support the Islamic community, which was slandered by the past anti-Muslim, racially insensitive and xenophobic tweets of Edward Durr. Durr was elected as a Republican state state senator from the 3rd District last week. This type of malicious smear — vilifying the creed of almost one-quarter of the world’s religious adherents as a “false faith” and its founder as a “pedophile” — is, unfortunately, all too familiar to Jewish people, who have suffered just this kind of religious and ethnic defamation. We know the dangerous outcomes of unchecked hatred. We hope Sen.-elect Durr’s post-election apology was sincere. Beyond his own words, we are extremely concerned about the response by leaders of the state Republican Party. Gloucester County Republican Chair Jacqueline M. Vigilante sounds as if she finds nothing wrong with the tweets and now complains of so-called “cancel culture” in the outcry against them. Both Durr’s original tweets and Vigilante’s justification are deeply troubling, as is the silence on this issue from the higher leadership of the state GOP. read the complete article


09 Nov 2021

The Liberal government must rid the country of systemic Islamophobia

The National Summit on Islamophobia was held two months before the federal election, in direct response to the killing of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario. It is clear this horrific case is not an anomaly. The last two decades have seen an atmosphere of anti-Muslim bias, often fanned by irresponsible and divisive political rhetoric. Canadian Muslims are facing a sharp increase in violent hate crimes in public places, and in places of work and worship. One example is the murder of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, who was killed outside a Toronto mosque in September 2020. Most recently, Black Muslim women have been disproportionately targeted by Islamophobic street harassment and assaults, particularly in Alberta. And this does not factor in the effect Quebec’s laicity law, commonly known as Bill 21, has had on relegating visibly Muslim women in Quebec to second-class citizens by preventing their participation in some public sector jobs. During the election, a National Action Plan on Combating Hate (part of a revised antiracism strategy) was promised by the Liberal Party as a way to incorporate findings from the Islamophobia summit by 2022. The Muslim community had hoped the federal government would commit to the creation of an office on Islamophobia to spearhead this endeavour. The federal government has an urgent role to play in combatting Islamophobia in this country. As part of the National Summit on Islamophobia, the prime minister said “there’s no question that there is work to be done within government to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia.” Meaningfully addressing Islamophobia in this country is not a simple undertaking. There is no denying that the Liberal government has inherited a number of institutions and bureaucracies that have been influenced by anti-Muslim prejudices, and this has been reinforced over many decades by successive governments that failed to recognize and tackle this problem. That being said, it is imperative Trudeau act swiftly to address institutionalized Islamophobia now, as a first step in undoing the damage and restoring the proper function of government, which is to equitably serve the people, not to unfairly target them. read the complete article

09 Nov 2021

Muslim leaders call for Ontario to tackle Islamophobia

Muslim leaders are calling on Ontario to take action against Islamophobia. Imam Aarij Anwer of the London Muslim Mosque said Monday that the province should tackle the issue now and not wait for the results of next year’s election. “We don’t want to hold another vigil as a community,” Anwer said. “We don’t want to have another community funeral where we’re all grieving. We don’t want to lose any more lives to hate or Islamophobia.” Anwer and the National Council of Canadian Muslims want to see several measures implemented by the province that they say will help curb acts of hatred against Muslims. Those include changes to the educational system so children can better understand Islamophobia, said Nadia Hasan, the chief operating officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “We also need to see the dismantling of white supremacist groups in the province by preventing them from registering as societies,” Hasan said. They would also like to see a provincial hate crimes accountability unit that investigates failures in combating hate incidents, and would like Ontario to hire more minorities in the public service. read the complete article


09 Nov 2021

European diversity campaign celebrating Hijab ended after French backlash

A diversity campaign designed to counter discrimination against European Muslim women who wear the hijab has been brought to a halt after sparking backlash in France. The Council of Europe, an intergovernmental human rights organization, said its campaign grew out of efforts by Muslim youth organizations in Europe to build respect for Muslim women amid increased Islamophobia. “Celebrate diversity & respect hijab” read one slogan, promoted under the hashtag #WECAN4HRS” Another image shared online featured a European woman of African heritage with the tagline “My Headscarf, My Choice.” But in France, where full-face coverings such as burqas or niqabs were banned in public places in 2010, outcries against the campaign were swift. “This is to be condemned and because of this France made clear its extremely strong disapproval and hence the campaign has now been withdrawn as of today,” said Sarah El Haïry, the ministry of education’s state secretary for youth. The French government lodged an official protest with the Council of Europe prior to the campaign. With French presidential elections scheduled, far-right politicians and potential candidates seized on the campaign. Political commentator Eric Zemmour, a potential presidential candidate and immigration hawk, referred to the campaign as “the veiling of Europeans.” And Marie Le Pen, a former presidential candidate with the far-right National Rally, called the campaign “scandalous and indecent.” Though Le Pen no longer heads the party she remains a member of the national assembly and an influential politician. read the complete article

09 Nov 2021

Afghanistan: Emran Feroz' chronology of a disaster

Emran Feroz' book is a reckoning: angry, indignant and factual. In this frequently less than sober non-fiction book, the author deliberately includes his personal family history and his experiences of trips to Afghanistan. This blend of objective facts and subjective biographical experience opens up the corridor of his treatise, which reads briskly, is informative, but is also in places pointedly provocative, stimulating both reflection and contradiction. In five chapters on 200 pages, the author paints a picture that he at various points repeatedly describes as "dystopian" and that leaves little room for optimism about the future. The intra-Afghan rifts appear to run too deep, with too many criminal, ideologically blinded and religiously fanatical actors trying to assert their interests in a great and brutal game of power. From his point of view, the country's population is bearing the brunt of the suffering. Here, the readership is primarily given the perspective of the rural Pashtun population from the east and south, who live at the centre of the "War on Terror" and have suffered particularly from bombardments and raids that often resulted in arbitrary arrests and torture. These are also the areas where the Taliban enjoy the most support, recruiting much of their militia from amongst the locals. The author's attachment to the people of this area and his sympathies for the rural population are obvious and he often points out the stark contrast between urban and rural areas. The book unfolds its strength particularly in the third and fourth chapters, in which the outrageous and often unpunished human rights violations over the course of the "War on Terror" are vividly described. The author's anger at these crimes becomes palpable, bringing a certain authenticity to the written word and drawing the reader into the emotionality of the victims and their suffering. Overall, despite the aforementioned points of criticism, Feroz's book is largely a successful and thoroughly recommendable account of the tragedy of Afghanistan and the past 20 years of the "War on Terror". It reminds us that bringing peace to a war-torn country can rarely, if ever, be achieved through further conflict and violent action, which only serves to brutalise the people even more. In this respect, the book is a timely and welcome contribution to the debate; its substantive usefulness outweighs the points of criticism already mentioned. read the complete article


09 Nov 2021

Myanmar military build-up ‘mirrors’ movements before Rohingya atrocities, says UK

Britain’s deputy UN ambassador has voiced concerns a military build-up in Myanmar’s north-west bears similarities to the Rohingya genocide of 2017. James Kariuki told reporters before heading into a closed-doors meeting with the UN security council on Monday: “We are concerned that this rather mirrors the activity we saw four years ago ahead of the atrocities that were committed in Rakhine against the Rohingya [Muslim minority]” The remarks came as UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said the humanitarian situation in Myanmar was deteriorating, with more than 3 million people in need of life-saving aid, adding that “without an end to violence and a peaceful resolution of Myanmar’s crisis, this number will only rise”. Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the international court of justice over a 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya that forced more than 730,000 people to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh. Myanmar denies genocide and says its armed forces were legitimately targeting militants who attacked police posts. About 223,000 Burmese remain internally displaced, including 165,000 in the country’s southeast – adding to those already displaced in Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin states prior to the takeover, the UN emergency relief coordinator said. read the complete article


09 Nov 2021

‘Sooryavanshi’ Review: Cops on a Crusade

Shetty’s latest installment tries to up the ante (a fool’s errand, given how over-the-top each of the prior movies already is) by smushing them all together: The movie’s titular Anti-Terrorism Squad officer, played by the action veteran Akshay Kumar, is joined by the supercops of the previous films (Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh) for a bullets-and-brawn extravaganza. But movies are not math, and three is not always better than one. “Sooryavanshi” is both overstuffed and paper-thin. Its haywire maximalism — including a relentless, deafening soundtrack and cuts so rapid and inconsistent as to make you dizzy — ornaments a patchy bomb-scare plot whose heroes and villains are both numbskulls, making unconvincing gaffes to keep the narrative moving. Shetty’s crusading state warriors, whose violence and vigilante tactics are played for laughs and hoots, have always seemed a bit tone-deaf, but “Sooryavanshi” veers into apologism: The film is rife with gleeful scenes of police brutality and pernicious stereotypes about Muslims. Whenever Sooryavanshi is confronted about Islamophobia (an increasingly urgent issue in India), he starts singing the praises of the single Muslim cop on his force as if to remind everyone what a “good Muslim” looks like. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Nov 2021 Edition


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