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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22 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, an international megachurch has bought a former theater in London after a campaign to prevent it from being converted into an Islamic center, meanwhile in the United States, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced a bill alongside Rep. Jan Schakowsky that calls on the federal government to have a dedicated, high-ranking official monitoring Islamophobic incidents worldwide, and at the United Nations, forty-three countries have called on China to “ensure full respect for the rule of law” for the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Bilal Qureshi for NPR on how the new Dune movie touches on themes like Islamophobia, surveillance, and misguided wars, all of which have been rarely and truthfully addressed in post-9/11 films. This and more below:

United States

22 Oct 2021

With 'Dune,' Denis Villeneuve has made Hollywood's definitive post-9/11 epic | Recommended Read

While there have certainly been films about 2001, counterterrorism and American grief, there have also been limitations to how truthful those studio-funded narratives could be about the broken world that 9/11 made. Misguided wars, national failures of understanding, Islamophobia, and surveillance were all starring features of the past two decades – but those ideas have rarely been represented with much urgency. But these themes are given proper attention in Villeneuve's modernization of Herbert's novel – in his drawing out the narrative and the dangers of "us" versus "them." America's wars of 9/11 were essentially sand wars, waged in inhospitable and formidable ancient cultures amid expansive, cinematic landscapes. Insurgencies and guerilla warfare humbled and crumbled delusions of victory despite military superiority. What Dune achieves – as Frank Herbert himself wrote – is an ambivalence and suspicion of "good wars." The film's allegiance is with the natives, and certainly with cultural humility toward the unfamiliar and the unknowable. Colonizing another is a brutal if not a fatal mission. There is also a palpable fatigue and exhaustion from waging distant wars that haunts the soldiers of Dune. Unseen but ever-present forces make Arrakis a graveyard of Empires – and an ambivalence about heroism makes Dune a quite rare mainstream Hollywood epic for and about the world 9/11 made. read the complete article

22 Oct 2021

Ilhan Omar Urges Creation Of Special Envoy Role To Combat Global Anti-Muslim Hate

The federal government would have a dedicated, high-ranking official monitoring Islamophobic incidents worldwide under a new bill being introduced Thursday by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). The Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Islamophobia, which would be embedded within the State Department, would monitor anti-Muslim incidents in foreign countries and document state-sponsored Islamophobic violence in the State Department’s annual human rights report. The report, which carries significant diplomatic weight, does not routinely monitor such incidents. The bill ― titled the Combating International Islamophobia Act and co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.), among dozens of other Democrats ― comes at a time when anti-Muslim violence continues to rise. read the complete article

22 Oct 2021


A person was arrested Thursday after a mosque in Bloomington was vandalized Monday night, police said. The Bloomington Police Department identified the person as 32-year-old Adam Walls. Walls is charged with institutional criminal mischief, a felony. The recent vandalism highlights the huge surge of hate crimes across Indiana. According to an FBI report, in 2019, 80 hate crimes were recorded in Indiana. In 2020, there were 186. “The lack of civil discourse that we are seeing lately has emboldened people and encouraged them to act on their hate,” said Hiba Alami, the executive director for the Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network. Alami tells I-Team 8 that she remembers when Masjid E Noor, a mosque on Lafayette Road, was shot at several times in May 2020. Federal investigators say they believe Jonathan Warren fired shots into the mosque after a fight with his girlfriend’s father. Warren was not charged with a hate crime. Alami says it’s been difficult to swallow that fact. “We trust law enforcement, we trust the FBI, but, honestly, for the community, the way we perceive it is that there’s no other way but to have it as a hate crime.” read the complete article

22 Oct 2021

A Moroccan man was shot to death in Texas while sitting in a car

A Moroccan-American man was shot and killed while sitting in his car in the early morning hours on Oct. 11 in Martindale, Texas, about 40 miles outside of Austin. Adil Dghoughi, 31, was parked in a rural neighborhood late at night. According to local reports, Dghoughi was shot through the window of the car and died on the scene. The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said they responded to a report of a shooting at 3:42 a.m. They said a homeowner "confronted a suspicious vehicle" that was parked outside the residence. In a statement, they said, "the shooter in this case is cooperative." There is a search warrant out and the investigation is active and ongoing, they added. But the sheriff's office also said the shooter is not in custody. No other details have been released by law enforcement, leaving Dghoughi's family perplexed and looking for answers. A copy of the incident report obtained by Buzzfeed says the shooter was a 65-year-old man who used a handgun. Notably, the report also says Dghoughi was a victim of murder. NPR has not independently seen the incident report. read the complete article

22 Oct 2021

Online Furor Over a Student’s Hijab Engulfs a Liberal Town

The second-grader said her teacher in Maplewood, N.J., had begun to pull off a hijab she wears as an observant Muslim, exposing her hair and prompting her to hold on to the head covering, the family’s lawyer said. The girl’s mother recounted the story on Facebook. Then, an Olympic medalist who fences in a hijab and lives in the same New Jersey school district denounced the incident on Instagram, where she has 384,000 followers. Soon, the story was cascading across the internet, drawing news crews and police cars to the front of the elementary school as the controversy roiled the liberal suburb. The teacher, Tamar Herman, has said that she brushed back the girl’s hooded sweatshirt because it was covering her eyes, unaware the girl was not wearing her usual hijab underneath. The “moment” she realized it, Ms. Herman said, the student “kept the hood on.” Professor Costley White, who has spoken to the girl’s mother about the classroom interaction, said she believed a series of missteps had allowed the controversy to snowball. Ms. Herman, she said, could have contacted the girl’s parents to let them know what had happened, as would have likely happened had another article of clothing been removed by a teacher. The school district, Professor Costley White said, could have done more to defuse the situation by talking to the girl’s mother “as a person,” rather than quickly turning to the police and prosecutors. Had there been “just a little tiny bit of humanity,” she said, the girl’s mother “wouldn’t have felt like her only recourse was to share the story on social media.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Oct 2021

Megachurch buys Golders Green Hippodrome after mosque plan blocked

An international megachurch, Hillsong, whose founder has been accused of concealing child sexual abuse has bought a renowned former theatre in north London after a campaign to prevent it from being converted into an Islamic centre. The Golders Green Hippodrome had been owned since 2017 by Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami (Centre for Islamic Enlightening). It paid £5.25m for the Grade II-listed building and planned to use it for conferences, seminars, youth activities, English-language classes, after-school clubs and prayers. But some residents objected, saying it would cause traffic congestion. A minority went further, suggesting that a Muslim presence in the neighbourhood could be dangerous and was undesirable. In July this year Barnet council deferred a decision on Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami’s proposal. Lawyers for the Islamic group had written to the council claiming religious discrimination. The proposal to convert it into an Islamic centre divided the local community, which has a large Jewish presence. One objection lodged with the council claimed: “This is going to force the Jewish population to run away, and make this beautiful neighbourhood too crowded with loads of burqas and veils.” read the complete article

22 Oct 2021

Sheffield Hygge cafe praised for response to 'Islamophobic' review

A cafe owner has been praised for his response to a customer who left a one-star online review referring to a staff member who was wearing a hijab. Alex Moore, owner of Sheffield's Hygge, said his policy was "to be inclusive, friendly and to spread love not hate". The one-line Google review from "George Cross" referred to being served by someone in "moslem dress" [sic]. Tell MAMA, an organisation which works to counter Islamophobia, thanked Mr Moore for his "act of solidarity". Mr Moore, who has reported the comment to Google, shared a screenshot of the review on the cafe's social media accounts. His reply read: "Hi George. I believe you're referring to the 'hijab', worn by 'Muslim' females. "Don't worry - we don't charge for offering basic information to ignorant people." read the complete article

22 Oct 2021

British Muslim group releases 6-step guide to keeping mosques safe amid heightened concerns

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has created a six-step guide on how to keep mosques safe following the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, as concerns on Islamophobia continue to grow. The 10-page guidance is aimed at helping congregations, mosque goers and religious religious leaders protect the premises as well as the local community at large. Muslims are encouraged to prepare a safety plan, ensure security systems are up-to-date, and report hate crime and abuse. The creation of the guide comes as recent data released by the Home Office finds that nearly half of recorded religious hate crime offences (45 per cent) in England and wales targeted Muslims in 2021. read the complete article


22 Oct 2021

43 countries call on China to respect Uyghur rights

Forty-three countries have called on China to "ensure full respect for the rule of law" for the Muslim Uyghur community in Xinjiang, in a statement read at the United Nations on Thursday that sparked outrage from Beijing. The declaration, signed by the United States as well as several European and Asian member states and others, accused China of a litany of human rights violations against the Uyghurs, including torture, forced sterilization and forced disappearances. "We call on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her office," the countries said in a joint statement, read at the United Nations by France. "We are particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," the statement continued, citing "credible" reports that "indicate the existence of a large network of 'political reeducation' camps where over a million people have been arbitrarily detained." read the complete article


22 Oct 2021

These Windsor teens say Islamic Heritage Month is a chance to get to know them

Students at the only Islamic high school in Windsor, Ont., hope people will take time this October during Islamic Heritage Month to get to know the religion and the damaging impact of Islamophobia on young people. Sundus Hussein, a Grade 11 student, said the month is an opportunity to tackle negative stereotypes. "I feel like not a lot of people are educated on Islam — shere's not a lot of good sources to find out about it — so having this month puts it in a positive light to learn." Anti-Muslim attacks rose by nine per cent across Canada in 2019, according to the latest report on hate-crimes by Statistics Canada. In June, the Afzaal family was killed when they were run down on a street in London, Ont., prompting an outcry across the country to combat Islamophobia. Grade 12 student Hamza Hamed believes Islam is not well represented around the world, and that's perpetuating racist stereotypes. "There's a lot of people who have Islamophobia and xenophobia toward Muslims. I feel that in order for us to all become more educated and to learn more about Islam, it is important for us to have a month where people can learn and understand what Islam really is about." Hamed is one of dozens of teenagers attending Windsor Islamic High School, which opened this past September in east Windsor. He and his peers were meeting this week to talk about Islamic Heritage Month for the school newsletter. read the complete article


22 Oct 2021

UN envoy: Myanmar is now in conflict, could be failed state

The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar has warned that February's military takeover has led to armed conflict and if power isn’t returned to the people in a democratic way the country “will go in the direction of a failed state.” Christine Schraner Burgener told a U.N. news conference Thursday that conflict between the military, which took power on Feb. 1, and civilians and ethnic minorities is intensifying in many parts of the country. “The repression of the military has led to more than 1,180 deaths,” she said. “The army uses a range of tactics against civilian populations, including burning villages, looting properties, mass arrests, torture and execution of prisoners, gender-based violence and random artillery fire into residential areas.” She said the situation is reminiscent of the pattern of operations that the military, known as the Tatmadaw, used against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state in 1997. The Rohingya were first targeted by Myanmar’s security forces in 1997-98 and over 700,000 fled to neighboring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in 2017. Schraner Burgener said the movement against the military is now “increasingly militarized,” with the so-called National Unity Government formed by supporters of the ousted democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyi seeking to mobilize a greater number of Peoples Defense Forces and calling for “a people’s defense war.” “Clearly, in the absence of international action, violence has been justified as the last resort,” she said. read the complete article


'While I'm Alive, I'll Keep Speaking.' Journalist Rana Ayyub's Fight to Expose the Truth in India

Rana Ayyub is one of India’s most famous journalists, and a thorn in the side of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She rose to prominence after she self-published Gujarat Files, a 2016 book about the 2002 violence in the state of Gujarat that left at least 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus dead. Ayyub’s work accused Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, and his allies of being complicit in the anti-Muslim violence and included undercover audio recordings of politicians in India’s now-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. (Modi has never been formally charged and has said his government used its “full strength” to “do the right thing.”) Since then, Ayyub has struggled to find editors at mainstream Indian publications willing to publish her work. This summer, she joined the American newsletter platform Substack. She also writes a regular column for the Washington Post, and has occasionally written for TIME, including a TIME cover story in April highlighting the Modi government’s mismanagement of the country’s devastating second wave of COVID-19. And for the past several months, she has endured an escalating campaign of intimidation from Indian authorities and supporters of the ruling party. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Oct 2021 Edition


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