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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18 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: A new report from Amnesty International finds that Sri Lanka’s Muslim community has “suffered consistent discrimination, harassment and violence since 2013, culminating in the adoption of government policies explicitly targeting the minority group,” meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Members of Parliament express concerns over their safety following the brutal killing of MP David Amess, and a new poll in the United States finds that a majority of Muslim Americans want the administration to combat white supremacy, Islamophobia and hate-violence. Our recommended read of the day is by The New Arab staff on a new report that said ten municipalities in the Netherlands paid companies to investigate mosques and their officials, imams, and Muslim community leaders. This and more below:


18 Oct 2021

Hundreds of thousands spent on 'unlawful' mosque probes in The Netherlands | Recommended Read

The Netherlands is at the centre of controversy after a report said several municipalities had paid hundreds of thousands to a private company to secretly spy on mosques and Muslim centres in the country. Ten municipalities paid companies to investigate mosques, imams and Muslim community leaders, prompting criticism about privacy, according to a report by Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. The municipalities involved include Rotterdam, Almere, Huizen, Delft, Ede and several others, and it is believed that some €300,000 has been spent on the covert investigations, Daily Sabah reported citing NRC. Employees of consultancy firm Nuance door Training en Advies (NTA) posed as mosque-goers and members of the community, to meet with imams and Muslim worshippers, in order to collect information about their backgrounds, without revealing their identity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 Oct 2021

I don’t want a life hidden by security, but we need to prevent violence against MPs

The brutal killing of David Amess has shocked the nation. I felt numbed. There is little sympathy for politicians in modern Britain. Women and ethnic-minority MPs face the worst, visceral hatred – and I’m both. After an Islamophobic package was sent to my office in 2018 – an event that required police attention and led to the hospitalisation of a member of my staff – my parliamentary post is now screened offsite before it reaches me. Social media haters are a constant background hum, though I brush them off as coming with the territory. Nobody would ever clap for MPs, yet we are, in a sense, frontline key workers. Prior to my afternoon surgery I’d acted as mediator between a housing association and disgruntled residents in a community centre, visited a building site and spoken to students about Cop26. Our job has elements of Citizens Advice, Acas, Relate, court jester and chatshow host rolled into one. Parliament’s physical home dates back to about 1080 but only for the past 30 years have proceedings been televised. Now our every action is pored over by trolls looking to trip us up on social media. I don’t want a life hidden behind layers of security, but this is now the second time in my career as an MP that one of our own has been killed in this way. When our unseen staff are also fair game, new risk reassessments are needed. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

UK Muslim groups brace for rise in hate crime after killing of David Amess

Britain’s leading Muslim organisation is to issue new guidance to help British Somalis and other individuals and mosques deal with any incidents of hatred emerging in the aftermath of Sir David Amess’s death. Zara Mohammed, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that mosques in and around Southend were devastated by the killing of the local MP and “they had regarded him as a member of their family”. “This is a heinous crime and we utterly condemn it,” Mohammed said. “Nobody in the local Muslim community could believe how anybody could brutally murder anyone, never mind Sir David, who was so engaged with them.” But she added there was “definitely an apprehension for Muslim communities at this time” after it emerged that Ali Harbi Ali, the 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder following the fatal stabbing, came from a British Somali family. There has been anecdotal evidence of threats against some British Somalis since the tragic incident, Mohammed said, particularly towards “visibly Muslim Somali women” – and against some Somali organisations. “Our own social media has been rife with hatred,” Mohammed added, after the MCB released statements over the weekend in support of the late Conservative MP and his family, and condemning the killing as “an attack on democracy”. As a result the MCB was working on producing updated guidance on “reporting hate crime”, which would be also translated into Somali and would be partly shared via WhatsApp, a popular means of communication among the community in the UK. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

‘We cannot allow a Muslim takeover’: Police investigate after racist letters sent to city councillors

Four members of the Labour group in Wakefield received the anonymous post which warned of a “Muslim takeover” and described Islam as “dangerous”. The missives singled out the former leader of the city’s Conservative group, Nadeem Ahmed, for particular ire. “As a devout Christian, we cannot allow Muslims to take over,” one of the letters suggested. The notes – sent to councillors Steve Tulley, Michael Graham, Betty Rhodes and Olivia Rowley – were all signed off by “a Conservative colleague”, although the party has said none of its members were responsible for the letters. Councillor Ahmed was ousted as leader of city’s Tories in August despite leading them to their best election results in years in the spring. While no official reason has been given for his forced resignation, it is thought his centrist world view and willingness to work across the aisle did not always make him popular with right-wing members of his own party. Responding to the letters, he said: “If someone doesn’t like me because of my politics, I take that on the chin. But trying to sow this kind of hate because of race or religion or sexuality or anything like that, it’s pathetic and it does need addressing. People who send things like that, they have nothing better to do. They need to get a life.” read the complete article


18 Oct 2021

Paris massacre: 60 years on, France must face its colonial past

“The most violent contemporary state repression ever applied to a street protest in Western Europe.” This is how British historians Jim House and Neil MacMaster described the massacre of Algerians protesting peacefully in Paris on October 17, 1961, during the period now known as the Algerian war. The protesters – 30,000 pro-independence Algerians – were demonstrating against a curfew that had been imposed on “Algerian Muslim workers”, “French Muslims” and “French Muslims of Algeria”. According to historian Jean-Luc Einaudi, the authorities intended not only to stop the demonstration but to kill the protesters; police officers even threw some of the demonstrators alive into the River Seine. For years, the official death toll of the 1961 massacre was only three. Nowadays, historians agree that at least 48 people were killed by French police on that night, although many believe the death toll was well over 100. At the time of the 1961 massacre, the French used the term “Algerians” to refer to French settlers in Algeria, who were also known as “pieds noirs” (“black feet”) for they were the only ones who wore black leather shoes in the French colony at the time. It was a time when discrimination ran high, in the form of racism against native Algerians, including limited access to political representation and to the job market. Several decades later, Algerians living in France – both bi-nationals and second-generation immigrants – feel that we do not exist in this country where right-wing rhetoric and Islamophobia are dominant and those with multiple heritage are required to renounce their other culture in order to be considered French. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

The Guardian view on French politics: the great moving right show

This normalisation of the Le Pen dynasty was bad enough. But recent polls suggest a more complicated picture; and from a progressive standpoint, perhaps a more disturbing one. The xenophobic right has found a new star in Éric Zemmour, an author and television pundit who made his name on the French equivalent of Fox News. Mr Zemmour has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but this month he outstripped Ms Le Pen in the polls for the first time. Ms Le Pen has been attempting to woo more moderate voters by toning down the inflammatory rhetoric of her party, Rassemblement National (RN). This has given Mr Zemmour an opening. His extreme Islamophobia, culturally supremacist language and focus on immigration have made him a magnet for those disillusioned by Ms Le Pen’s detoxification strategy. Cultivating an independent, erudite persona, he has also been able to attract ultra-conservative Catholics from Les Républicains who would never vote for the RN. Mr Zemmour may or may not continue to vie with Ms Le Pen for second place in the polls, behind Mr Macron. But it is telling that an intellectual maverick with two convictions to his name for inciting hatred can enjoy such success: on immigration and cultural questions, France appears to be moving rightwards at a fast clip. read the complete article

United States

18 Oct 2021

Walmart employee in Dearborn alleges anti-Arab, anti-Muslim hate from managers

A Muslim employee of Arab descent who worked at the Walmart store in Dearborn said she was racially abused by managers, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court. Seenaa Suhail Najim, an immigrant from Iraq, accused her manager at Walmart of calling her a racial slur used against Arab people and making other derogatory remarks about Arabs and Muslims. The abuse started after she got a new manager, the lawsuit alleges. According to the lawsuit, the manager accused Najim of not knowing how to speak English, making fun of her fluency, calling her "stupid" and "dumb" and told other Walmart managers and employees she didn't know English. The manager also mocked Najim for wearing a hijab, an Islamic headscarf. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

New poll reveals how much we presume about Muslim Americans' politics

Twenty years ago, Americans hardly gave their Muslim neighbors a thought. Then came 9/11, and our opinions suddenly blossomed. Two decades later we may be past assuming that Muslims want to topple the American government, but other supposed givens — that Muslims tend to be conservative, for instance — have been challenged in a new poll that shows how rudimentary our understanding of American Muslims can be. Start with the finding in a new poll, commissioned by Emgage and Muslim Public Affairs Council, that Muslim Americans voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in 2020, with 86% support. Only 6% voted for Donald Trump. The survey of more than 500 Muslim Americans also gives us a picture beyond the vote into how Muslim Americans view the Biden administration and key domestic and foreign policies. It’s not surprising that a majority of Muslim Americans want the administration to combat white supremacy, Islamophobia and hate-violence, which have direct, negative consequences for Muslim Americans. Their interest in addressing inequalities and enhancing access to health care, however, is more counterintuitive for a group we think of as first-generation immigrants. More than three in four American Muslims support Medicare for All, and 78% of Muslim voters believe the tax system is too generous to the rich. These progressive stances are easier to understand if one is familiar with the justice orientation of Islam, as well as the demographic makeup of the American Muslim community. One-third of Muslim households in America are at or below the poverty line, making Muslims the most likely faith community to report low income levels. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

U.S. tells Supreme Court Guantanamo detainee can give limited testimony

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden informed the Supreme Court that a suspected high-ranking al Qaeda figure held at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could provide limited testimony about his torture at the hands of the CIA. Earlier this month, U.S. Supreme Court justices questioned why the U.S. government will not let the detainee, Abu Zubaydah, testify. Zubaydah, a Palestinian man captured in 2002 in Pakistan and held by the United States since then without charges, repeatedly underwent waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely considered torture. In response to questions from three justices during oral arguments earlier this month, Acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher wrote a letter to the court on Friday informing the justices that Zubaydah could provide a declaration in the pending case. read the complete article

18 Oct 2021

After 20 years, it's time to repeal the Patriot Act and begin to dismantle the surveillance state

Hussain was an FBI informant sent to surveil and entrap followers at the Newburgh mosque. With the FBI's resources, Hussain manufactured an ambitious "terrorist" plot to fire a Stinger missile at U.S. military planes and plant car bombs. He entrapped four Black Muslim men, inducing the men with the prospect of free vacations, expensive cars and $250,000 in cash. The four men were stuck in extreme poverty, and one suffered from severe mental-health issues. No actual weapons were acquired, let alone used. Yet in 2011, all four were sentenced to 25 years in prison. Hussain walked free. This October marks 20 years of the Patriot Act — and more than 20 years of far too many accounts like that of the Newburgh Four. Over the last two decades, the U.S. government has built a vast network to police, surveil and entrap people when no crimes have even taken place. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

18 Oct 2021

Sri Lanka: Alarming rise in state-sanctioned violence and discrimination against Muslims - new report

Sri Lanka’s Muslim community has suffered consistent discrimination, harassment and violence since 2013, culminating in the adoption of government policies explicitly targeting the minority group, Amnesty International said in a new report published today. The 80-page report, From Burning Houses to Burning Bodies: Anti-Muslim Harassment, Discrimination and Violence in Sri Lanka, traces the development of anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka since 2013 amid surging Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. The discrimination has evolved from a series of mob attacks into government policies explicitly discriminating against Muslims, including the forced cremation of Muslim Covid-19 victims and current proposals to ban both the niqab (face veil) and madrasas (religious schools). read the complete article


18 Oct 2021

Amid Flames and Gunfire, They Were Evicted From Where They Called Home

Ahmad Ali watched helplessly as the police set his home on fire. They swarmed into his village, wielding sticks, to beat up participants in what local residents described as a peaceful protest against forced evictions. When the protesters fought back, they opened fire, killing two people, including a 12-year-old boy. Then the police began burning local homes and the possessions inside: a bed, a quilt, hay for feeding their cattle. “Please see!” said Mr. Ali in a video of the incident, speaking to a national and world audience. “Are we lying?” Videos and descriptions of the violence shocked much of India after they went viral last month and drew world attention to a government campaign of forced evictions in a far northeastern corner of the country. Local government officials said they were targeting an exploding population of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh squatting on land needed for vital agricultural projects. But interviews and a review of documents by The New York Times showed that many of the evicted residents were legal citizens of India with a right to live on the government-owned land. Instead, critics of the government say, the evictions appear to be part of a broader campaign by India’s ruling party against the country’s Muslim population. “They want Muslims to live suppressed, under the mercy of the Hindus,” said Swapan Kumar Ghosh, vice president of a nonprofit working for the state’s displaced people. Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have rallied their Hindu nationalist base in part by pressing initiatives that put the country’s more than 200 million Muslims at a disadvantage. read the complete article


18 Oct 2021

Edmonton mayoral hopefuls outline plans to tackle anti-Muslim racism

Strengthening street harassment bylaws, improving responses to hate motivated attacks and calling out racist rhetoric are among the strategies some Edmonton mayoral candidates say they would use to tackle anti-Muslim hate. Five of the candidates vying for the mayoral seat took part in an online forum Thursday evening set up by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCMM). Moderator Mustafa Farooq questioned Kim Krushell, Mike Nickel, Michael Oshry, Amarjeet Sohi and Diana Steele about their plans to tackle not only hate motivated attacks, but also public racist sentiments. There have been several hate motivated attacks on Black and racialized Muslim women this year. At an anti-COVID restrictions protest at the Alberta Legislature in February, some protesters carried lit torches, a symbol of white supremacy used by the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, and more recently by white supremacists at the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. "We've had these folks mobilizing in our city. Violence, groups, that are tearing the social fabric of our city apart," Farooq said. read the complete article


18 Oct 2021

Muslim women were held in a cell for months by Chinese police for cyber 'pre-crimes' such as accessing WhatsApp and a school Gmail account, book says

Women belonging to China's Muslim ethnic groups were detained in a cell for months by Chinese police after being accused of various cyber "pre-crimes," an excerpt from the book "In The Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony" revealed. Vera Zhou, a US permanent resident and student at the University of Washington, said she was detained for downloading a VPN in order to access her school homework and email accounts while visiting her father and boyfriend in Xinjiang, China. "They informed me that I will be sent to a 're-education class,'" Zhou wrote in remarks to the US Department of Education. "I was required to change into their uniform which has neon green stripes on the sleeves and pants. The door was locked from the outside." "I was there from October 2017 to March 2018," she added. "I spent my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018 New Year in that cell." The Uighurs and Hui are the two major Muslim ethnic groups in China, living under intense surveillance from the Chinese government. More than one million Uighurs are believed to have been sent to "re-education" camps and prisons like Zhou's, where former detainees detail horrific experiences with torture and medical experiments. Zhou was held along with 11 other Muslim women identified by police as extremist "pre-criminals" through China's internet security law, the book out Tuesday says. The law, implemented in 2017, requires internet network operators to share personal data with Chinese authorities. read the complete article


18 Oct 2021

After 9/11, China grew into a superpower as a distracted U.S. fixated on terrorism, experts say

Twenty years ago, White House officials were worried about China, and tensions were rising. But on the morning of Sept. 11, Al Qaeda extremists hijacked four airliners and crashed three of them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. America's attention abruptly shifted to the "war on terror." U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan and the Middle East, and the challenge posed by China was set aside for nearly two decades. After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration reversed course with China to gain its support at the U.N. Security Council for the fight against Al Qaeda, easing pressure on Beijing over human rights and pressing Taiwan to hold off on an independence referendum. At Beijing's request, in 2002 the U.S. declared an obscure Uyghur organization, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, to be a terrorist group. The move, and the rhetoric surrounding the fight against terrorism, gave China a justification to crack down on Muslims in China, experts said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Oct 2021 Edition


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