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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01 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia:  In the United States, a recent study from Brown University showcased heightened ER visits for anxiety and stress for Muslim Americans after former President Donald Trump imposed the Muslim Travel Ban, while the Conversation news group publishes a paper of the history of Muslim women wearing hijab and the diverse history of the religious and cultural practice, while in India, Narendra Modi’s BJP government has decided to label Rohingya refugees as a “threat to national security” further placing an already subjugated people in further jeopardy. Our recommended read of the day is by Amaarah DeCuir on how U.S.  lessons on 9/11 provoke harassment of Muslim American students. This and more below:  

United States

31 Aug 2021

Lessons about 9/11 often provoke harassment of Muslim students

Near the start of each school year, many U.S. schools wrestle with how to teach about 9/11 – the deadliest foreign attack ever on American soil. In interviews I conducted recently in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area – one of three places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001 – I found that Muslim students are often subjected to ridicule and blame for the 9/11 attacks. “Even if they’re joking around, they’ll say ‘terrorist’ and stuff like that,” one student told me. “That used to trigger me a lot.” Another student told me: “9/11, every single year, is so awkward. The administrators would be like ‘On this fateful day, this happened’… then the Muslim jokes would come up, like ‘Don’t blow us up.’ When I was younger it bothered me, but now I’m just desensitized to it.” “There’s so much tension, just being even this color and then being a Muslim, period,” yet another student told me. “It’s really strange, like, you feel it, they’re not saying it … ’You don’t understand this question because you’re Muslim,‘ which is the strangest thing, but it’s definitely the tension that these teachers give off sometimes.” These students are among the 55 Muslim students, ages 12 to 21, whom I interviewed in the Greater Washington, D.C., area from 2019 through 2021 about their experiences in school during classroom lessons about 9/11. Their experience is part of a larger pattern of Muslim students being targeted and bullied in U.S. schools. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
31 Aug 2021

ER visits for stress climbed among Muslims in the US after Trump’s travel ban

A recent study, led by Elizabeth Samuels, a Brown University public health professor and published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, identified at least one way in which it did: Following the ban, visits to the emergency department of people born in Muslim-majority countries increased, and so did the number of diagnoses of conditions related to stress. Several studies have revealed the health of individuals can be impacted by seemingly unrelated public policies, as well as their social environment. Following the Muslim ban, for instance, a higher number of pre-term births occurred among Muslim communities in the US whose place of origin was covered by the travel ban. Similarly, researchers identified an increased incidence of anxiety, depression, and low birth weight in children of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. This latest study looked at changes in the health status of the Muslim population in the US after the ban using anonymized electronic health records. Although the data didn’t record the religion of the patients, they did mention their country of birth, allowing researchers to select the religious majority of the country as a proxy for their religious affiliation. The study looked at more than 250,000 adults from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area, comparing the data of immigrants from Muslim majority countries (both subject to the ban and otherwise) and US-born adults. read the complete article

30 Aug 2021

Understanding Islam - a brief introduction to its past and present in the United States

In my new home in the United States, I learned not many Americans have the opportunity for such daily interactions. A 2017 Pew study found that less than half of the American population personally knows someone who is a Muslim. This unfamiliarity can often lead to Islam being viewed as a foreign religion – and can even lead to Islamophobia. As an editor of the religion and ethics desk at The Conversation, I have tried to improve the understanding Islam and its long history in the United States, with the help of articles from our scholars. For example, historian Denise A. Spellberg of the University of Texas at Austin wrote a piece exploring how Muslims first arrived in large numbers to North America as enslaved people during the 17th century. Muslims constituted as much as 30% of the enslaved West African population of British America, though that number is hard to verify. Nonetheless, their presence in the U.S. was so notable that Thomas Jefferson bought a Quran as a 22-year-old law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, 11 years before he drafted the Declaration of Independence. For Jefferson, Muslims were very much part of the United States. In that same spirit of acceptance and discovery, The Conversation brings you a series of six articles that will explain Islam and its diversity and try to clear common misconceptions. We will explore the history of American Muslims and gain a deeper understanding of their faith. read the complete article

31 Aug 2021

Anti-Muslim hate crimes fell during Trump's last year in office, FBI data shows

The number of reported hate crimes targeting Muslims in the US fell by more than a third in 2020, according to newly published data by the FBI. According to the federal agency, the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims in 2020 - former US President Donald Trump's final year in office - fell from 180 incidents in 2019 to 104 in 2020. While in office, Trump was accused of stoking anti-Muslim hatred with his rhetoric and policies, such as a ban on entry into the US for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries. According to the FBI, the Jewish community was the most targeted religious group during 2020, representing nearly 57 percent of hate crimes motivated by religious bias. There were at least 676 hate crimes targeting American Jews, down from 953 in 2019. The data has been criticised as undercounting the actual number of hate crimes as the number of local law enforcement agencies participating in the data collection fell for at least the second consecutive year. The Washington Post reported that 15,136 agencies participated in 2020, a drop of 422 from the year prior. And of the agencies that did participate, some reported no hate crimes at all. read the complete article

31 Aug 2021

Scott Presler appearance canceled for third time

The Upstate Conservative Coalition, which was planning to host Presler on Tuesday night at the business American Tactical Systems, announced on its website Tuesday morning that the free Presler talk will have to be postponed yet again. Two previous appearances in Saratoga County were canceled. "Once again, the socialist country we now find ourselves living in has threatened to use their regulatory powers to attack our Freedom of Speech Rights and our Economic Rights of Free Enterprise," the group's website announced. "Our freedoms are under attack. Please stay vigilant and steadfast as we will find an alternate location in the near future." Presler, who took part in the rally on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, is identified as a former top strategist for an anti-Muslim group that is listed on Hate Watch by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His appearance in the Capital Region has been rescheduled two times before. Originally, he was to sign up new voters at Gavin Park in Wilton for an event touted by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik who called him an "American Patriot" on Twitter. Sponsored by the Saratoga County Republican Committee, the event was canceled, GOP leaders said, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. read the complete article

31 Aug 2021

Kansas City-area Chipotle fires assistant manager who tried to remove a worker’s hijab

A Chipotle in Lenexa fired an assistant manager after an employee accused him of attempting to forcibly remove her hijab. The employee, a 19-year-old Muslim woman, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week. She said that starting in July, the assistant manager asked to see her hair. The woman wrote in a complaint filed Aug. 23 that, “I informed him that I wear a hijab for religious reasons and I cannot remove it.” The assistant manager, however, continued asking to see her hair, the complaint said. He also made similar comments to the employee’s cousin who worked at the same location. “I would tell him no and walk away,” she wrote. On Aug. 9, after the store had closed, she was cleaning when the assistant manager, “came up behind me and pulled hard on my hijab.” Her hijab was attached with pins and only came off halfway. Her hair was exposed a little, the complaint said. The assistant manager then asked the employee’s cousin if he could see her hair. “I was shocked, humiliated and scared,” she wrote while also saying the assistant manager kept laughing. read the complete article

31 Aug 2021

A Historic Win for Brooklyn’s First Muslim Woman Elected to NYC Council, Shahana Hanif: “This Seat Has Only Been Held by White Men”

Shahana Hanif, the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants and community organizer, made history last month when she became the first Muslim woman elected to New York City Council, one of the first South Asian reps, and first woman of color to represent her Brooklyn district. Hanif’s election holds many firsts. She is the first Muslim woman elected to NYC Council and among the first cohort of South Asians in City Hall. She is also a part of the 30 women who were elected to City Hall (most of them women of color)—surpassing the goal of 21 elected women to office. Ultimately, Hanif says she wants to “uplift communities that have not had a voice or visibility through elected representation.” This includes her community of Kensington and those who are Muslim. “Muslims live everywhere. In our city, we are a growing faith community and have a ton of needs. And so [I will be] connecting with leaders across the city and making sure that the Muslim voice is present in in City Hall, alongside the needs of South Asians.” read the complete article


30 Aug 2021

Why some Muslim women feel empowered wearing hijab, a headscarf

This article will explain some of the complex issues that go into many Muslim women’s choice to wear the hijab, including why some women see it as a mark of empowerment. It will also draw attention to some of the global Muslim feminist movements that often go unnoticed in the Western world. For some Muslim women today, wearing a hijab can be a religious act – a way of demonstrating their submission to God. The Quran instructs both men and women to observe modesty in their dress and behavior. However, Muslim women’s clothing isn’t entirely about adherence to faith. It has been used in the past – and present – as an assertion of identity. Under colonial rule, Muslim women were encouraged to be more like European women and remove the veil. As demands for independence from colonial rule grew, the veil, Killian says, became a “symbol of national identity and opposition to the West.” Today, some Muslim women in America may wear the hijab as a way of asserting their pride in the face of Islamophobia. In much of the Western world, the headscarf continues to be seen as representative of Muslim women’s oppression. In Switzerland, voters approved legislation in March 2021 to ban face coverings, while France is pushing for a more restrictive policy on hijabs. In a judgment on March 14, 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union, which interprets EU law, allowed private companies in France to bar employees from wearing “religious, political and philosophical signs” in the interest of “neutrality.” Sociologist Z. Fareen Parvez says the anti-headscarf legislation was a “turning point” in the lives of Muslim women looking for acceptance and integration in French society. The headscarf is not just a religious symbol for many of the women; it is a way of being. But this focus on Muslim women’s clothing takes attention away from other issues and how Muslim feminist movements are trying to bring about change. In Indonesia, for example, female Muslim religious scholars, or ulamas, are helping change how Islam is understood and practiced. read the complete article

30 Aug 2021

The Rohingya's Quest for International Justice

The situation faced by the Rohingya is once again in the spotlight with the Bangladesh government reportedly commencing the COVID vaccination drive for Rohingya refugees on one hand and the Indian government terming them “a threat to national security” on the other. Last month, the Human Rights Watch minced no words in asking the Indian government to release the detained asylum seekers. The scale of atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar’s brutally oppressive military dictatorship on the Rohingya for decades is well known. The Rohingya were termed by the UN Secretary General as the most persecuted minority in the world. The long-standing discrimination against the Rohingya, in law and policy as well as in practice, including a denial of citizenship and violations of their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, has been detailed elsewhere. Since the military crackdown in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2016 and 2017, the Rohingya have been subjected to brutal forms of violence, including torture, persecution, extra-judicial killings and deportation. A UN Fact finding mission further documented various forms of sexual and gender based violence and observed that Myanmar’s military was using the same to terrorise and punish ethnic minorities. As stateless persons who have either fled from Myanmar or live in the country under heightened repression and with a subordinate status, there is little hope for Rohingya of seeking justice and accountability against the military officials, who have perpetrated heinous crimes, from the courts in Myanmar. It is in this context that international justice initiatives for the Rohingya people gain significance. read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

'Proud of you': Trump writes gushing letter to Hungary's authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán

Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán has shared a picture of what appears to be a very warm letter sent to him by Donald Trump. In it, Trump wrote: “Thank you for your beautiful letter and for your generous support and encouragement on behalf of the citizens of Hungary.” He continued: “I am grateful for your continued friendship and enduring commitment to fighting for the ideals you and I cherish: freedom, patriotic pride, and liberty.” In bold felt tip pen underneath the formal letter, he added a postscript. “Great job on Tucker (Fox) Proud of you!” Mr Orbán posted a snap of the letter on Instagram, captioning it with a sunglasses emoji and a message saying: ‘Thanks for watching.” Critics have described Orbán’s leadership as openly authoritarian – he describes himself as an advocate of “illiberal democracy” and throughout his time in office has systematically dismantled many of the country’s democratic institutions. Last year Hungary passed a law allowing Orbán to rule by decree, alarming many critics who oppose his anti-immigration, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT policies. read the complete article


25 Aug 2021


The 35-year-old Rohingya refugee has changed home thrice in the past four years and learned to live inside shacks in one of the 34 refugee camps – together forming the world’s single largest refugee camp – in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar bordering Myanmar. The government of the South Asian nation has banned the construction of stronger shelters capable of withstanding not just the annual monsoon, but also frequent dry-season fires. The ban is a constant reminder of their precariousness to the nearly one million Rohingya sheltered in Bangladesh. While Alam does mind this state of uncertainty of a refugee camp, he surely is thankful for the fact that, four years ago, he survived a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military which United Nations investigators found to have been conducted with “genocidal intent”. “We will never forget what happened with us,” Alam told Al Jazeera, “They killed our families and burnt down our houses. We fled with our lives.” Alam, along with 750,000 others, fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar military on August 25, 2017, launched a brutal offensive against the Muslim minority in Rakhine state following an attack on a military outpost by a Rohingya armed group. Entire townships inhabited by the Rohingya across the Maungdaw region went up in flames. The new arrivals in Bangladesh joined more than 200,000 Rohingya who had fled earlier violence. Four years since the exodus, many of the refugees see no visible hope of going back to their homeland. read the complete article

United Kingdom

31 Aug 2021

Can Labour fix its relationship with its Muslim voters before it’s too late?

We know the party has been losing white voters in so-called red-wall towns but there are growing cracks in Labour’s relationship with the British Muslim electorate. These threaten the party’s standing in many northern towns, midlands cities and London constituencies. To ensure that this is not the start of a long-term breakdown of the electoral relationship, Labour needs to think differently about how it engages with the Muslim community. The Labour Party has long been seen as the party of all ethnic minority communities in Britain. And indeed it remains the party of choice for the overwhelming majority of Muslim voters. In 2017, 87% of Muslims voted Labour. Among voters from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds (the vast majority of Muslims in the UK), support was above 90%. The same data is not available for the 2019 general election, but 64% of all BAME electors voted Labour. A small survey commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network in 2021 also showed 72% of Muslim respondents identified with Labour, compared to only 9% who identified with the Conservatives. This backing is disproportionately important for the party. The concentration of Muslim voters in relatively few constituencies and the British electoral system of first past the post mean that although Muslims only make up 4% of the population, if they vote as a group, they have the ability to decide who becomes the local MP in some areas. What the narrow victory in Batley and Spen should show Labour is that it doesn’t have to solely rely on biraderi networks for electoral success. By engaging with Muslim women and other voters directly, and by bypassing the biraderi networks, it can win elections without having to compromise its progressive beliefs. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Sep 2021 Edition


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