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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27 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, newly released data from the FBI shows that houses of worship — across a variety of faiths, including Jewish synagogues to Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques and Catholic churches — are experiencing high amounts of vandalism, arson and other property damage, meanwhile in India, right-wing Hindu nationalists are launching campaigns against the use of the Urdu language, seeing it as a ‘Muslim’ language, and in France, the government announced its plans to close seven more mosques and associations across the country by the end of 2021. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Richard McNeil-Willson for the Byline Times on how the U.K. government’s review of the controversial Prevent strategy will likely mean the program will be strengthened “as a means of hitting back against its many critics.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

27 Oct 2021

We Can’t Trust the Prevent Review to be Honest About Counter-Terrorism Failings | Recommended Read

Concerns about Prevent are longstanding and numerous – including limited evidence of its ability to prevent terrorism, concerns around the creation of insecurity amongst minority groups, accusations of the stoking of Islamophobia and far-right extremism, and the erosion of civil and democratic rights. With the findings of the Government’s review of Prevent reportedly due before Parliament by the end of the year, indications are beginning to emerge as to whether any of these concerns have been taken seriously, and how counter-extremism will progress in the years ahead. The most consistent critique of the strategy has been that it is enabling and emboldening Islamophobia. Throughout its history, Prevent has focused overwhelmingly on Islamic extremism. Originally designed solely as an intervention in British Muslim communities, it has only recently been retrofitted to include some additional focus on the far-right. Initiatives have been introduced through Prevent which have sought to discipline Muslim communities and domesticate a British ‘moderate’ Islam, creating a framing of Muslims in the UK as a “suspect community” and as “conditional citizens”. With the introduction of the Prevent duty in 2015, public sector institutions – such as schools, GP practices, universities, hospitals and prisons – were required to report extremism, leaving schoolteachers and social workers to too often fall-back on stereotypes of who an ‘extremist’ is, and making young people fearful of exercising their rights to freedom of expression. Prevent enables an association of Muslims with violence and mainstreams an assumption that Muslim communities are somehow particularly vulnerable to extremism and radicalisation. Yet, despite a growing chorus of concern from academics, civil society groups, activists and faith groups that Prevent is harming community cohesion, fuelling Islamophobia and leading to the far-right’s own anti-Muslim narratives, supporters of Prevent and the Government refuse to countenance the idea that there could be legitimate problems with the programme. read the complete article

United States

27 Oct 2021

Houses of worship see vandalism, violence as hate crimes spike in U.S.

Houses of worship — across a variety of faiths, including Jewish synagogues to Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques and Catholic churches — are experiencing high amounts of vandalism, arson and other property damage. The big picture: 2021 is on track to exceed last year's spike in hate crimes in the U.S., many of them linked to religious bigotry. The number of hate crimes reported in FY 2020 was the highest since 2001, when a wave of Islamophobia followed the 9/11 attacks, according to updated FBI data released yesterday. read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Lisle High School teaching assistant went on anti-Muslim, racist rant, student says

Earlier this month, a Lisle High School sophomore said she was subjected to a 25-minute racist rant in health class by a teaching assistant at the school. "She talked about having background checks on 'these people' and 'your people' when she was referring to Indian people and Muslim people, two things I am," said Zoya Shaik who believes she was targeted because of her race and religion. Shaik said the substitute teacher in the classroom didn't intervene, so she decided to push back on the teaching assistant's comments that also touched on Native Americans and immigration. "My initial reaction was to correct what she was doing by telling her what she said was inaccurate and completely disrespectful," she said. Shaik said she recently began wearing a hijab and she's the only student at the school who does. "One, I felt anger. Two, I felt just unprepared. I felt shocked. I definitely felt targeted and personally attacked," she said. Shaik spoke out about the incident at Monday night's Lisle District 202 board meeting, demanding a bystander intervention training program for staff and students. "The reason I'm standing here in front of you, the board responsible for oversight, is not to relive the horrible events that took place in that classroom, but to make a demand for immediate implementation of policies and programs to prevent discrimination and bullying from happening again," she said. read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Teacher suspended for allegedly telling Muslim student 'we don't negotiate with terrorists'

A New Jersey teacher accused of telling an Arab American and Muslim student "we don't negotiate with terrorists" in response to a request for a homework extension has been suspended, district officials said. The incident reportedly occurred on Wednesday morning during first period at Ridgefield Memorial High School in Ridgefield, New Jersey, where the student, Mohammed Zubi, is a senior, according to a statement by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Zubi told CAIR-NJ he had asked for more time on his homework in math class when the teacher made the statement. The entire class, including another teacher, saw the incident, the statement said. Zubi told CAIR-NJ that the teacher later approached him, saying, "I didn't mean it like that." read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Man faces hate crime and other charges in alleged attack on Muslim couple in Framingham

A man is facing a hate crime charge after he allegedly attacked a Muslim couple in a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Framingham and called them “terrorists,” with the quick response from authorities drawing praise from a prominent Islamic group. During the incident on Saturday, Oct. 16, the suspect allegedly scratched the man’s face and called the woman a “Muslim b****” when they got out of their vehicle. The suspect has been identified as Aleksey Cherednichenko, according to MetroWest Daily News. He is said to be in his 50s, and was scheduled to be summonsed to court on charges including committing a hate crime, simple assault and battery, malicious damage to a car, and disorderly conduct, according to The Boston Globe. read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Omar targeted by suspicious substance deemed not hazardous

A suspicious substance included in a package with a threatening note reported by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) wasn’t found to be hazardous, U.S. Capitol Police said Tuesday. “Today our office received a package with a suspicious substance and a threat reading ‘The Patriarchy will rise again. Merry f***ing Christmas,’” the lawmaker wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Everyone on our team is okay. We reported the package to Capitol Police and they determined it to be safe.” Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, has often been a target of violent threats, with the FBI in 2019 opening an investigation into a death threat involving a plan to kill her at the Minnesota State Fair. Threats against lawmakers have nearly doubled in 2021. read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Lawyer: Guantanamo case should be put on hold at high court

A lawyer for a Guantanamo Bay detainee says the Supreme Court should wait to decide a case involving his client until it's clear what the Biden administration will let the man say about his torture abroad by the CIA The lawyer for Abu Zubaydah told the Supreme Court in a letter Monday that a case involving his client argued at the high court earlier this month should be put on hold for the time being. An agreement by the government to let Zubaydah provide information could mean the Supreme Court doesn't need to issue a ruling on when the government can shield information by saying it's a state secret. Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and thought to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida, the terrorist group that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington He was tortured while being held at so-called CIA black sites abroad before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. read the complete article


27 Oct 2021

Israel refrains from condemning China over Uyghur abuses 'to protect interests'

Israel has refrained from adding its signature to a statement read before the United Nations deploring China's human rights violations against the minority Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Last week, 43 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and several European and Asian countries signed the statement, which expressed particular concern at "credible-based reports" of the existence of "re-education camps" in the Xinjiang province. "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. The Israeli mission received a draft of the statement beforehand, but decided against supporting the initiative, according to a European diplomat. Asked for comment on the matter, Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by local media: “Israel expresses its concerns about the Uighurs in various diplomatic tracks.” “One example of this was our signing onto the Canadian statement [on the Uyghurs] in June at the Human Rights Council. Our position on the issue has not changed.” read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

NBA’s Enes Kanter targets China, Nike over Uyghur genocide

Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter is using social media and his shoes to offer sharp criticism of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. Kanter, one of the most well-known Muslims in the NBA, has also taken aim at Nike, which maintains 103 factories in China and employs 152,000 workers there. In a video directed at the athletic apparel manufacturer, Kanter condemned Nike’s silence in the wake of horrifying reports of Uyghur genocide and other atrocities committed against minority groups in China. “You do not address police brutality in China, you do not speak about discrimination against the LGBT community (in China), you do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China,” Kanter said in the video, posted under the hashtags #HypocriteNike and #EndUyghurForcedLabor. On Monday (Oct. 25), in a game against the Charlotte Hornets, the NBA player donned a pair of custom shoes with the slogans “modern day slaves” and “no more excuses” emblazoned on them. Kanter has previously worn shoes with the messages “Free Tibet,” “Free Uyghur” and “Free China.” The last of these featured a stylized version of the famous “Tank Man” scene from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, with the turrets of the tanks replaced by images of Winnie the Pooh. Xi Jinping’s likeness has been compared to the fictional cartoon character. read the complete article


27 Oct 2021

Hate campaign in India against Urdu for being a ‘Muslim’ language

Last week, Hindu right-wing forces in India forced a leading firm to withdraw its festive season advertisement after it featured a couple of words from the Urdu language, which in the popular imagination in the country is a “Muslim language”. The company, FabIndia, issued an advertisement for Diwali – a significant Hindu festival that falls next month – showcasing its latest collection of clothes. The text at the top read: “Jashn-e-Rivaaz”. “Jashn” in Urdu means a celebration while “Riwaaz”, which is actually “Riwaaj”, means tradition. The title translated to “A Celebration of Tradition”. But a young parliamentarian belonging to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who often makes headlines for his Islamophobic remarks, was not happy. “Deepavali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz,” 30-year-old Tejasvi Surya posted on Twitter, calling Diwali by its more traditional name. “This deliberate attempt of Abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out.” FabIndia is a household name in India and sells clothes, furniture, home furnishings and food items. It has hundreds of showrooms across the vast country and abroad. Surya said the company “must face economic costs for such deliberate misadventures”. Soon, other members of the BJP and other Hindu nationalist groups started attacking FabIndia on social media, accusing the brand of “hurting” the religious sentiments of Hindus. “The Hindutva project sees Urdu as a ‘Muslim’ language. And invisibilising Urdu is part of the larger project of marginalising the Muslim community, in fact, physically eliminating it,” Nivedita Menon, professor at the Centre for Political Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

27 Oct 2021

Tripura: Mosque vandalised, two shops set on fire during VHP rally

A mosque and a few shops were vandalised and two shops set on fire at Panisagar sub-division in North Tripura, 155 km from here, during a VHP rally Tuesday evening against recent vandalisation of Durga Puja pandals in Bangladesh. Speaking to, Panisagar Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Soubhik Dey said a VHP protest rally of around 3,500 people was organised in Panisagar. “A section of VHP activists at the rally ransacked a mosque in the Chamtilla area. Later, three houses and three shops were ransacked and two shops set on fire in the Rowa Bazar area, around 800 yards away from the first incident,” the official said. The ransacked houses and gutted shops belong to members of the minority community and a case is being registered based on a complaint from one of them, said the police. read the complete article


27 Oct 2021

How Prime Minister Trudeau can prove that he is serious about fighting Islamophobia

Last June, I watched the Islamophobia summit that was held online. From the beginning until the end, I sat patiently for long hours listening to speaker after speaker who came to share their own experience with Islamophobia, or to present some of their research and activism on the topic, or to the politicians presenting the policies or legislation they were suggesting to fight Islamophobia. I had mixed feelings about the summit. One on hand, this sort of public stunt can be very politically useful in dispensing with most of the anger and the fear that many Muslim Canadians felt and expressed immediately after the horrible event. It was a high-profile event, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke, several of his ministers did show up and spoke as well as activists and academics. Muslims can feel that their issues matter, and they are being given some attention. On the other hand, an event is never enough. A day is never enough to address all the issues and angles related to Islamophobia. The speakers were somehow selected, either through the government channels or pushed forward from particular advocacy groups. Forgotten were many voices speaking about themes like national security and Islamophobia, the war on terror and Islamophobia, media and Islamophobia. Perhaps both topics and speakers were picked in an effort to sterilize the discussion in order to not make some politicians feel uncomfortable: a sort of “Islamophobia-washing.” One of the issue that I didn’t hear during the Islamophobia summit was the strong link between the Canadian national security laws and Islamophobia. As if the two past decades of war on terror with what they brought as new anti-terrorism legislation, war in Afghanistan, spying and arrests of Muslim Canadians had no impact on shaping the narrative about the “dangerous nature” of Muslim Canadians and thus the banalization of their physical harm. This link is key in understanding the state of Islamophobia in Canada. We can’t claim to fight Islamophobia while in the imaginations of many Canadians, (prompted by some media and some politicians), Muslims still represent a threat to “us.” To fight this narrative and break the false premise that Muslims represent a threat to our national security, concrete actions should be undertaken by the new government. read the complete article


27 Oct 2021

France shuts down Allonnes mosque, plans to close 7 more: Darmanin

France announced on Tuesday its plans to close seven more mosques and associations across the country by the end of 2021 on the pretext of "radicalism" as part of its Islamophobic campaign against the country's Muslim population. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in a statement on Tuesday that the mosque in the city of Allonnes in northwestern France has been shut down for six months on grounds of harboring "radical Islam" leanings. He said the bank accounts of the mosque's administrators were also seized. "The sermons propagated in this mosque cultivating hatred toward France," Darmanin wrote on Twitter, defending the closure. He added that seven associations or religious buildings will be "disbanded by the end of the year." The minister also bragged about the fact that some 13 associations have been closed since President Emmanuel Macron took office in Elysee Palace. Underlining that 92 of the 2,500 mosques in the country were closed as a result of the inspections, Darmanin also said that since September 2020, residence permits of 36,000 foreigners have been canceled due to the "threat to the public." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Oct 2021 Edition


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