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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11 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, inter-faith couples are living in fear following the passage of laws that seek to prohibit “unlawful” religious conversion in the context of marriage, which hard-line Hindu conservatives have labeled as “love jihad,” meanwhile in Bangladesh, many Rohingya refugees are fleeing Bhasan Char, risking drowning in the waters of the Bay of Bengal as well as prosecution if they are caught by the authorities, due to the deplorable conditions on the island, and in Belgium, a ban on Kosher and Halal meat was justified through arguments on animal welfare, however, “the political debate around it has been broader, with suspicions that the far-right has used it as a Trojan horse for an anti-Islam agenda.” Our recommended read of the day is by Nick Cohen for The Guardian on how the level of threat Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, lives with challenges the self-congratulatory claim that “Britain is the least racist country in the world.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

11 Oct 2021

Sadiq Khan’s 24/7 security challenges our notions of non-racist London | Recommended Read

Fifteen armed officers, trained in counter-terrorism and emergency medicine, will be on alert solely because a brown-skinned Muslim, caught up in a global wave of hatred, is the mayor of London. The level of threat Sadiq Khan must live with challenges the self-congratulatory claim that “Britain is the least racist country in the world” and many other complacent cliches. The police took a bomb threat in February so seriously Khan was conducting online meetings while dogs sniffed for explosives in the mayoral office, his staff told me. Last year, police put 24-hour surveillance on his family home because of credible threats against him and his wife. Without publicity, the authorities also sectioned a Nazi sympathiser from Surrey, who threatened to “do something” to Khan, which would mean “we will see him in the news”. So great is the hate staff in City Hall’s public liaison unit are offered counselling to help them cope with the volume of racist, Islamophobic, violent and abusive messages they see, and pass on to detectives. As Brenton Tarrant prepared to massacre 51 people in Christchurch mosques, he found the time to urge his supporters to show their commitment to a “white rebirth” by removing the “Pakistani Muslim invader [who] now sits as representative for the people of London”. “Why would a terrorist in New Zealand know about me?” Khan asked. Khan experienced the new rightwing politics in the campaign of the Conservative contender, Zac Goldsmith, a member of the upper class, who showed how the mainstream could exploit the lunatic fringe. The Conservatives sought to widen communal divisions between London’s Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Khan was a Muslim, they maintained, and if not quite a terrorist then a “Labour lackey who speaks alongside extremists”. I remember thinking at the time that the dog whistles were so loud, you couldn’t hear yourself speak. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

Man accused of plotting terror attack on Fife mosque

A man has gone on trial accused of preparing acts of terror, including planning an attack on an Islamic Centre in Fife. Prosecutors allege Sam Imrie intended to target the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes and live-stream footage of the attack on social media. He is also accused of possessing an arsenal of weapons as well as Neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material. The 24-year-old denies all of the nine charges he is facing. A total of three of the charges come under the Terrorism Act. The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Mr Imrie allegedly posted messages online saying he planned to attack an Islamic place of worship. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

First date. Pub. Muslim woman: The marginalised focus of the British media's narrative around Sabina Nessa's murder

For many Muslim women, the media coverage of Sabina’s death has highlighted another issue – that of the harmful stereotypes about us which exist in the Western media and society, but also within our own culture and how Muslim women’s voices are being lost in between. According to friends and family, Sabina was a brilliant teacher and a loving sister so many Muslim women were left asking why newspapers headlines focused on the fact that on the night she was killed, Sabina was going on a date at a local pub? And why was it considered more newsworthy that she was glamorous rather than kind? Consequently, the actions and behaviour of all women come under scrutiny and in this case, it is the actions of Muslim women. However the spotlight comes from both directions, both within and outside or community. In the West, there are two stereotypes of Muslim women, the submissive victim or the good girl gone bad. The idea of Muslim women leading a double life continues to be a trope used against us both within and outside our culture. There is no nuance within the conversation when the truth is that many of us have found an identity somewhere in between our Western and Muslim heritage. For every far-right keyboard warrior suggesting it was an honour killing for her lifestyle choices, there have been plenty of Muslim men and sadly some women as well who have taken to social media to judge her for doing the ordinary things most young people do on a Friday night.The interplay between the stereotypes of Muslim women within and outside our culture shows that misogyny and race are two sides of the same coin. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

Conservative Chairman Warned Not To Neglect Tackling Islamophobia In the Party

New Conservative chairman Oliver Dowden is under pressure to step up action on tackling Islamophobia in the party by a prominent Muslim MP who has accused them of “dragging their feet” on the issue. In a letter from Labour MP Afzal Khan, vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Muslims, Dowden has been asked to deliver on promises made following the Singh report which earlier this year concluded anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem for the Tory party. The Singh report released in May this year asked the party to set out a new code of conduct for members by this November. The letter, also addressed to party co-chair Ben Elliott, also insists the Conservatives must officially adopt a definition of Islamophobia widely used by other political parties. Khan said tackling Islamophobia should have been far more prominent at the Conservative autumn conference held in Manchester this week. Khan, the MP for Manchester Gorton, said: “It is a disgrace that the Conservative Party have dragged their feet on this issue for so long. “Islamophobia has real-life implications for the Muslim community here in the UK and government figures reveal that year after year hate crimes are the highest against Muslims. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

UK Muslim charity slams 'institutional Islamophobia' after regulator concludes two-year investigation

Human Aid UK has welcomed the end of a long and drawn out inquiry conducted by the Charity Commission on Thursday, claiming the investigation was based on Islamophobia. The Muslim charity, which provides emergency assistance to all communities, released a statement outlining alleged institutional bias where they said the commission was “excessive in its approach” and acted as an “extension of police and security services harassment policy”. “The institutional Islamophobia faced by Human Aid UK has been further compounded in the way the Commission has presented certain events in the two-year investigation, using incriminating language against the charity,” said the statement. The aid group also drew a comparison between the treatment they faced with the way the Charity Commission handled claims of sexual exploitation against Oxfam: “The institutional bias of the Charity Commission report into Human Aid UK is evident when compared to the report into the serious allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam a non-Muslim charity, which was completed in less time, and which resulted in a carefully worded 143-page report, “ Chair of Human Aid UK, Nur Choudhury said. read the complete article

United States

11 Oct 2021

Misconceptions abound as Islamophobia persists

A newly released survey of U.S. Muslims from the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley shows that the problem of Islamophobia is widespread: 76.7 percent of Muslim women have personally faced it, along with 58.6 percent of men. The difference in their experiences is likely because Muslim women wear a hijab (religious veil), making them more recognizable. Still, the numbers are stark. The study also found that most Muslims censor their speech or actions, fearing how people might react; one-third have hidden their religious identity at some point in their lives. Nearly all participants reported that Islamophobia affects their mental health and well-being. But what stood out most in the survey is this finding: U.S. Muslims share an overwhelming desire to have their children recognized as Americans. Nearly 95 percent agreed with its importance, while 77.5 percent strongly agreed. The finding is well aligned with what I heard last week at a community dialogue hosted by the National Conflict Resolution Center, part of the series we call “A Path Forward.” We launched “A Path Forward” in 2019, following the hate crimes that were perpetrated by Earnest. It was a way to bring members of our community together to build understanding and begin the process of healing — a need that continues. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

US teacher under fire for pulling off Muslim 2nd grader's headscarf

The incident took place Wednesday at Seth Boyden Elementary School, when teacher Tamar Herman allegedly tried to pull off the headscarf of Sumayyah Wyatt in front of her classmates, which the girl's family says left her traumatized. The little girl tried to hold on to her hijab as Herman tried to remove it, according to reports. Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was one of the first people to condemn the anti-Muslim act. "Herman told the student that her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear hijab to school anymore. Imagine being a child and stripped of your clothing in front of your classmates," Muhammad said. "Imagine the humiliation and trauma this experience has caused her. This is abuse. Schools should be a haven for all of our kids to feel safe, welcome and protected – no matter their faith." The South Orange-Maplewood School District said it is investigating the allegation, adding it "takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously." But it maintained that "Social Media is not a reliable forum for due process and the staff member(s) involved are entitled to due process before any action is taken." read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

Rochester Hills mosque vandalized following evening prayers

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s mosque in Rochester Hills was vandalized Friday night as children played inside following evening prayers. No one was hurt in the incident, but the community is shaken, a mosque official said Saturday. The mosque was nearly empty at the time of the incident, but some members and their children had stayed behind to play after evening prayers ended. The mosque has security cameras that captured the incident and showed the perpetrator smashing the front door, shattering the glass, with an unknown tool, according to the mosque. Members didn’t discover the vandalism until they arrived for morning prayer at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, said Muhammad Ahmad, director of outreach at Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Michigan. Ahmadiyya is a revivalist movement within Islam founded in 1889. “It’s scary because women are there, kids are there,” Ahmad said. “We generally feel very safe in this neighborhood, but this has shaken up everybody up, especially the kids.” read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

Islamophobia in the classroom: Hijab allegations underscore broader problem, teachers say

In South Brunswick last year, a parent complained after a local teacher used the movie "Not Without My Daughter" to teach students about Islam. The film has been criticized for promoting negative and extreme stereotypes of Muslims. In another Middlesex County case, a teacher had to step in to stop a sixth-grade boy who was chasing and taunting a female student with shouts of "Allahu Akbar!" For Muslims, who view the hijab as an expression of faith, the alleged episode in Maplewood was hurtful and offensive. It also highlighted what community leaders say is a larger problem of bias in the classroom. “This is really a wake-up call for districts,” said Nagla Bedir, founder of Teaching While Muslim, a New Jersey-based nonprofit focused on education and anti-bias training. “A lot of schools across the country have tried to be more inclusive and anti-racist, but part of anti-racism is also [teaching about] Islamophobia.” Half of Muslim parents with children in K-12 schools said their kids had experienced bullying over their religion, according to a 2020 survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Michigan-based group that studies the Muslim American community. Thirty percent said that a teacher or other school official was the source of the bullying. “Islamophobia in our public schools must be addressed in New Jersey and nationwide,” Maksut said. “Classrooms are a place for students to feel safe and welcome, not fear practicing their faith.” read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

'We are one': New Mexico school comes together to support a classmate bullied for wearing a hijab

When a seventh-grader confided in social studies teacher Janice Adams after several students bullied her for wearing her hijab at school, tears pooled in her eyes. Students had hurled Islamophobic insults. One student was dared to rip off her hijab, a traditional head covering worn by Muslim women, but he didn't go through with it. "She was crying and she said she felt pretty alone," said Adams, a teacher at Camino Real Middle School in Las Cruces. "I told her how amazing she is and that she's loved." Adams brought the girl to Brittany Johnson, a special education teacher who advises the school's leadership class and student council. "It breaks my heart to know that this is even something we have to talk about," Johnson said. "(Bullying) is not something we take lightly. I suddenly felt that we needed to show everyone – not just her but her bullies as well – that we are one. You're not going to do that to one of our students. You're not going to make somebody feel like they're alone." The next day, Johnson's leadership class, the student council, and members of the school's football and volleyball teams came together to escort the seventh-grader between classes to show their support. About 100 students gathered to walk her to class, Johnson said. read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

In India, boy meets girl, proposes — and gets accused of jihad

Sagar, 22, is from India's Hindu majority, and her 26-year-old fiancé Mohammed Shameem is Muslim. They're among hundreds or possibly thousands of interfaith couples who've crossed state lines in recent months to try to marry far from home, according to activists helping them. The couples are fleeing laws that prohibit "unlawful" religious conversion in the context of marriage. Hard-line Hindu conservatives have labeled it "love jihad" — a conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of wooing Hindu women to force them to convert to Islam. Muslim leaders deny this. India's Supreme Court has rejected the theory. But more than half a dozen of India's 29 states have introduced laws banning the use of marriage to push someone into converting. The idea behind the "love jihad" laws is to halt forced conversions. But critics of India's Hindu nationalist government accuse it of amplifying an unfounded theory to consolidate Hindu votes across the country and spread hatred for Muslims. Islam has about 200 million followers in India. They're India's largest minority, and one of the biggest Muslim communities in the world. In practice, the "love jihad" laws have been used to arrest Muslim men — and Shameem was scared. In today's India — where Hindu conservatives hold sway — it not only complicates their wedding plans, but leaves them ostracized and vulnerable to attack by extremists. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

RSS-linked accounts promote hate speech, 'anti-muslim narrative india': Facebook whistleblower

According to the Telegraph, the excerpt from the complaint says, “RSS (Indian nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) Users, Groups, and Pages promote fear mongering, anti-Muslim narratives targeted pro-Hindu populations with V&I (violent and incendiary) intent…. There were a number of dehumanizing posts comparing Muslims to ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’ and misinformation (claiming that men have been urged to rape their female family members).” It further added, “Our lack of Hindi and Bengali classifiers means much of this (anti-Muslim) content is never flagged or actioned….” Haugen cited an undated internal survey by Facebook, which claims that the posts that got the most views were fake or inauthentic. “40% of Top VPV (View Port Views, or impressions) Civic Posters in West Bengal Were Fake/Inauthentic/fake. The highest-VPV user to be assessed as inauthentic had more than 30M accrued in the L28 (last 28 days),” one of the complaints said, according to the newspaper report. It added that among the viral shares was an “out-of-context” video by an Indian politician to stir anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan sentiments. read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

Uyghurs tortured and beaten to death in re-education camps in Xinjiang, former Chinese police officer reveals

A Chinese defector has revealed to Sky News how Uyghur detainees are transported in their hundreds on packed prison trains, along with details of torture and deaths inside re-education centres in Xinjiang. The man, who says he served as a police officer in Xinjiang and asked only to be identified by the name Jiang, told Sky News of the grim conditions on board the trains. "We gather them together, put hoods on their head, two people handcuffed together, to prevent them from escaping," he told Sky News. Jiang said that freight trains were used to transport Uyghurs who had travelled to other parts of China back to Xinjiang. "In cases related to politics, jeopardising the regime, cases involving overthrowing the regime - you're allowed to beat people," he told Sky News. "It's ok, to make them turn in other people's names." "You use various methods to put pressure; two people use sticks to weigh down their legs; tie him up and trample their arm; shackle their hands, pour cold water - put a water pipe into their mouth and tie them up," he added. "How to say, under this kind of management in the re-education centre, beating somebody to death, for sure, it happens." read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains

Four years after Beijing launched a brutal crackdown that swept up to a million or more Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons, its control of China’s far west Xinjiang region has entered a new era. Chinese authorities have scaled back many of the most visible aspects of the region’s high-tech police state. The razor wire that once ringed public buildings in Xinjiang is nearly all gone. Gone, too, are the armored personnel carriers and many surveillance cameras. But there is no doubt about who rules, and evidence of the terror of the last four years is everywhere. It’s seen in the fear that was ever-present, just below the surface, on two rare trips to Xinjiang I made for The Associated Press, one on a state-guided tour. It’s hard to know why Chinese authorities have shifted to subtler methods of controlling the region. Regardless of intent, one thing is clear: Many of the practices that made the Uyghur culture a living thing – raucous gatherings, strict Islamic habits, heated debate – have been restricted or banned, replaced by a sterilized version. Xinjiang officials took us on a tour to the Grand Bazaar in the center of Urumqi, which has been rebuilt for tourists, like many other cities in Xinjiang. Here, there are giant plastic bearded Uyghur men and a giant plastic Uyghur instrument. Crowds of Han Chinese snap selfies. James Leibold, a prominent scholar of Xinjiang ethnic policy, calls it the “museumification” of Uyghur culture. Chinese officials call it progress. read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

Why this Uyghur activist is campaigning to change street names in Tower Hamlets

Rahima Mahmut, a singer who has been living in London for 21 years, is calling on Tower Hamlets Council to change the names of three locations around a large building that was recently acquired by the Chinese Embassy. “It’s like they’re building their own palace there,” Rahima fumes. “It’s like a fortress facing the Tower Bridge.” “We are asking Tower Hamlets Council to dedicate three names to three different communities that are being affected by Chinese government oppression - Tibet Hill, Uyghur Court and Hong Kong Square,” she says. “It would be symbolic.” Rahima is an ethnic Uyghur. Uyghurs hail from the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Several decades of Han Chinese migration from different parts of China has resulted in the Uyghurs becoming a minority in their homeland, which they prefer to call East Turkestan. In the last few years particularly, Xinjiang has seen much media attention, amid allegations that China is holding as many as 3 million Uyghurs in concentration camps there. According to Rahima, the crackdown on the Uyghur people and their cultural identity started at the end of 1996, when Chinese police went around arresting religious Uyghur Muslims. Uyghurs went on to march, demanding cultural and religious freedoms, but their peaceful protests were met by even more state violence. read the complete article

11 Oct 2021

China continues ongoing Uyghur crackdown, accuses US of 'racism and white supremacy'

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has doubled down on accusations the US is the home of "racism and white supremacy" amid China's ongoing genocidal campaign against the Uyghur ethnic group. Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance – which produced the Durban Declaration – Mr Zhao put some of the failure to fully eliminate racism at the feet of the United States. “Due to the inaction and botched performance of a few countries including the United States, the international community still has a long way to go to eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” He went on to claim "racism and white supremacy are still spreading in the US" and said this had “again torn to pieces the US disguise of 'equality' and 'freedom'". Mr Zhao’s Chinese Foreign Ministry propaganda comes amid the ongoing Chinese state crackdown on the Muslim Uyghur ethic group in the country’s northwest Xinjiang province. China’s pattern of subterfuge and deflection has often centred on accusing the United States, and other western nations of racism and other human rights abuses. “If the US truly cares about human rights and is committed to realizing racial equality, it should redress its deplorable human rights record, eliminate the rampant racial discrimination at home, rather than sit idly by as radical ideas like white supremacy and hate towards ethnic minorities lead to new tragedies,” said Mr Zhao on Friday. read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

Belgium’s Jews lament ban on ritual slaughter

A ban on kosher and halal slaughter without first stunning an animal has meant he now struggles to source fresh kosher meat and often has to resort to frozen cuts imported from outside Belgium. The EU's highest court ruled back in December that member countries may enact legislation on animal welfare grounds following a move by Belgium's Dutch-speaking region of Flanders to bring in a ban (subsequently followed by French-speaking Wallonia). “You do something like that and your intention is probably just animal welfare or political gain,” he said, “but you’re sending a signal that ‘we don’t really care about Jews. We don’t care about their customs, we don’t care about their traditions.’” He said the Jewish population in Belgium — around half of the 42,000 or so live in Antwerp — has been more or less managing by importing kosher meat from other countries. But he's concerned that more bans will follow in the rest of the EU. “It's not a theoretical issue, it's something that's spreading like cancer,” he said, adding, “You already have enough to worry about as a Jew in Europe." Dominiek Lootens-Stael is a member of the parliament of the Brussels-Capital region for Vlaams Belang, the far-right political party that originally proposed the ban, with the support of Belgian animal welfare organizations. Lootens-Stael said fear of being branded racist had kept Belgium’s animal rights organizations from supporting a ban on the practice in both Jewish and Muslim communities sooner. Though the legal arguments against ritual slaughter were based on animal welfare, the political debate around it has been broader, with suspicions that the far-right has used it as a Trojan horse for an anti-Islam agenda. The population of Muslims in Belgium is around 15 times higher than the Jewish community, making up around 6 percent of the total. read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

They Were Promised a New Home. Then They Tried to Escape It.

Its name translates into “floating island,” and for up to 100,000 desperate war refugees, the low-slung landmass is supposed to be home. Bangladesh is struggling to find a long-term solution for more than one million members of the largely Muslim Rohingya minority group who fled persecution in Myanmar. The first plan — stick them on an island — looks increasingly difficult to pull off. Growing numbers of migrants are fleeing Bhasan Char, risking drowning in the waters of the Bay of Bengal as well as prosecution if they are caught by the authorities. For human rights groups, the exodus stands as testament to the deplorable conditions on the island. “Thousands of Rohingya refugees are confined to the island and not granted permission to leave,” said Zaw Win of Fortify Rights, a human rights organization. “They lack freedom of movement, access to quality health care and livelihoods.” read the complete article


11 Oct 2021

Little Mosque on the Prairie creator pens new comedy series

Acclaimed Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz is returning to the small screen next summer with a new CBC comedy series. She is the creator, showrunner and lead actor in ZARQA, a comedy about a divorced Muslim woman. The show follows Zarqa (the self-titled character played by Nawaz), who learns that her ex-husband is marrying a white yoga instructor half his age. To get back at him, Zarqa decides she will find a date for the wedding too. For Nawaz, ZARQA is a chance to expand the types of Muslim stories available on TV in Canada. "I was watching shows like Workin' Moms and Divorce, and there are all these shows with women who are single and divorced, but they tend to be white," she said. "And I realized that we don't have a lot of shows out there with Muslim women who are struggling with the same issues. Usually Muslim women portray refugees or the wife of a terrorist — a very narrow range of personalities. "And I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to explore this avenue with a Muslim woman? Because this also happens to Muslims. Divorce is a universal issue and we should explore it on television." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Oct 2021 Edition


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