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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15 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In China, the state sponsored genocide against Uyghur Muslims living in the country’s Xinjiang province has been brought to the attention of the international community, though many Americans are still unaware, while scholars from Brown University report that the ‘War on Terror’ has killed nearly one million people and has cost more than eight trillion dollars, and in the United States, the depiction of Muslims in American cinema and television has continued to be broadly negative, according to PBS Newshour. Our recommended read of the day is by Gwen Aviles on how young American Muslims reflect on Islamophobia post 9/11. This and more below:

United States

13 Sep 2021

Terror attacks shaped their lives before they were born. Young Muslims reflect on Islamophobia in a post-9/11 world

"The bus driver went up to my mother and told her that it was 'completely unacceptable' for my brother to be drawing planes," Malik, a senior at Sienna College, told Insider. "My mom set us down for a conversation and said, 'I respect your passion, but we can't talk about or be interested in planes. It's dangerous because we're Muslim,'" she continued. That was the first time Malik learned about what happened on September 11, 2001. She hadn't yet been born when the extremist Islamist terrorist group al-Queda hijacked four flights and killed thousands of people in what remains the deadliest terrorist attack to date. Saturday, which marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11, was both a day of mourning for the lives lost in the attacks and a reflection on the innumerable ways the tragedy shaped the lives of Muslim Americans. The school-bus incident was the first time the 17-year-old understood that practicing Islam - a religion she says "has nothing to do with the few who committed the attacks" - could put a target on her back. Malik is part of a generation of Muslim-Americans who grew up in 9/11's shadow. Despite either not yet being alive that day or being only a few years old during the attacks, the torrent of Islamophobia that was unleashed on Muslims in the tragedy's aftermath has forever changed them. Two decades later, this group and many others are still trying to reclaim their religion amid the widespread verbal abuse and violence that their communities face. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
14 Sep 2021

My Boss at Google Said I Got Too “Emotional” About Trump’s Idea for a Muslim Registry

Right after Trump was elected, a reporter at the Intercept was reaching out to tech companies and asking if they’d help the Trump administration build a list of Muslims in the United States like Trump had said he would. This was around the time of the Trump Muslim ban. Nitasha Tiku, who was at BuzzFeed News at the time, was doing her own story on it, and she reached out to us. I was doing policy comms for Google at the time. Her inquiry ended up coming to me, so it was my job to give advice to the company on if and how we should make a statement on it. I thought it’d be better to make a simple statement that we wouldn’t help make a Muslim list, so I made that suggestion. The story would have gone away, and by not commenting we were adding fuel to the fire. It just made sense—of course the company wouldn’t provide a list to the US government of every Muslim who uses Google in America. I wasn’t emotional. I brought it up matter of factly, which is what my job was—to provide counsel on policy comms for the company. It’s what they pay you for. Twitter made a statement. Facebook and Google decided not to comment. I kept my manager updated as the story gained traction, and the company continued to decline on making a statement. Then Nitasha got an email that was sent to her by accident by a Facebook PR person, who apparently thought he was addressing a colleague. He called the idea of a Muslim registry a “straw man.” Nitasha’s story about the email forced Facebook’s hand, and the company eventually issued a formal response: “No one has asked us to build a Muslim registry, and of course we would not do so.” Google finally made a statement saying they wouldn’t do it, either, and the story went away. Shortly afterward, in my review at the end of the year, my manager didn’t give me the top performance rating. When I asked for specifics on why, she gave me one example: One of the things that stuck out to us, she told me, as I remember it, was that we know that your wife is Muslim. You got very emotional about the request for comment about the Muslim list. You really shouldn’t be bringing personal politics to work. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

As a Muslim woman, I found Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala outfit bizarre and distasteful

I’m a writer whose niche is modest fashion — in fact, I’ve written a whole book on the subject — so dedicating a few hours of my time to critiquing the fashion choices of a Kardashian feels a little like selling my soul. Nevertheless, I simply must address Kim Kardashian’s bizarre Met Gala getup from last night, which covered her in black from head-to-toe (save for a slick ponytail). There’s another black garment that’s known to cover the wearer completely, but I doubt it would ever see the light of day on a red carpet in the West. The burka, after all, has become a symbol of extremism, and when Muslim women choose to wear skin-covering abayas and burkas, they’re considered stifling and oppressive — the furthest thing from high fashion and glamorous. Burkas can provide wearers with anonymity, which is deemed a “threat to security” in many areas of the Western world. An Elle story meanwhile used the term “incognito” to describe Kardashian’s appearance. When Kardashian’s outfit began to make the rounds on Instagram, I confidently expected it would be written off as an obvious “miss” by mainstream publications. There was no way an ensemble like this could make it to any “best dressed” lists, I naively believed. But alas, Kardashians can make anything seem “cool” — even concepts that are regarded as barbaric and backwards when embodied by Muslims. “Artistic”, “creative”, “mysterious”, and “inventive” were some of the words used to describe her outlandish outfit. When it’s on the red carpet, and donned by a famous reality television star, the tone is light-hearted, even humorous. When a garment providing the same level of coverage is worn by a Muslim woman, it instigates public uproar over immigration, fundamentalism and feminism. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

Where Were the Hijabs on the Met Gala Red Carpet?

When I first saw Prabal Gurung’s “Who Gets to Be American?” collection in 2020, I was moved to tears. I asked myself: Are people of color the only ones critically thinking about this question because our Americanness is constantly called into question? The answer, in the fashion industry, can often feel like we still don’t know what to do with people we do not truly understand. This dress, which features a sash posing that exact question, is displayed front and center at the latest exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute show, which, according to Vogue, is its “most ambitious exhibition to date.” And yet, of the almost 100 designers in this year’s exhibition of American fashion, not a single one is Muslim. Also, not a single hijab-wearing person walked the red carpet. This year’s co-chairs included Amanda Gorman, Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka, and Billie Eilish; these culturally impactful individuals are among the youngest to ever co-chair. They do so alongside Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, Tom Ford, and of course, Anna Wintour. Before this group, over the past 70 years, there had only ever been seven Black co-chairs of the Met Gala. Yet with a dream team of young co-chairs and Wintour on the runway talking about “diversity,” the reality is that it is another year of this event without breaking the unfortunate standard of no Muslim hijab-wearing representation. How someone gets invited to the Met Gala has long remained a mystery to people not affiliated with the event. Designers and companies, and influentially, Wintour herself, make those decisions based on certain “qualifications” unbeknownst to even some of those who do get invited. When I think about qualifications as a reason for exclusion, I realize I too am part of the problem. Why do I immediately go to the thought of which Muslim women in hijab would be qualified? I don’t think about why anyone else on the carpet is qualified. This is how we become critical and hostile to those within even our own communities. It’s a setup. And furthermore, why do Muslim folks, or any people of color, constantly have to be overqualified to be welcomed in any space? It’s why most of us are so good at what we do. There’s no room for mediocrity for us to be in the rooms we fought to be in. And even when you’re in the room or at the table, you can never be totally sure if it is because of you or to maintain upkeep for hollowed-out promises of equity. It has become an anxiety-inducing expectation to constantly think about how people are going to “mess up” when it comes to having you in their spaces. Just last week during NYFW, I was misidentified multiple times by brands or in photos. When I was misidentified in a major fashion publication in 2018, I went into the offices to sit down with a top decision-making editor to explain why this mistake was so disheartening. Misrepresentation of Muslims in American media has had fatal impacts on our communities, and to this day, we remain constantly overlooked. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

Our Catholic faith demands that we confront Islamophobia

Anti-Muslim prejudice is not only unfair and untrue—it’s also a social sin, argues Jordan Denari Duffner, a scholar on Muslim–Christian relations, interreligious dialogue, and Islamophobia. Defining Islamophobia as such, Duffner argues that Christians should be at the forefront of efforts to work against it. Her newest book, Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) About Anti-Muslim Discrimination (Orbis Books), was published this year, but Duffner has been answering this call since young adulthood. After spotting a chain email that advanced anti-Muslim stereotypes circling her Catholic community as a teen, Duffner says she felt called to work for change. “I saw this strange disconnect,” she says. “[Catholics] talked about love, hospitality, and treating others how we want to be treated—yet we weren’t carrying those values over.” Duffner’s first book about interreligious understanding, Finding Jesus among Muslims (Liturgical Press), examined her Catholic faith, which Duffner says is strengthened by interfaith relationships. Islamophobia is an examination of the outward action Duffner says we are called to as Christians. “I think we can have a warped sense of self and also of the Muslim other when we don’t recognize that, yes, both of our communities have done harm to one another,” Duffner says. “And ultimately that means we both have the responsibility to stand up for each other today and to work for peace.” read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

Twenty years post-9/11, the links between Islamophobia and suicide remain unexplored

This year, 9/11 holds a dual significance for Americans across the country. It not only marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events and lives lost since Sept. 11, 2001, but also National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. For American Muslims who are both victims of increased rates of Islamophobic violence and survivors of suicide attempts, this juxtaposition is especially stark. In the field of public health, Islamophobia is recognized as akin to racism in how it leads to negative physical and psychological health outcomes. But this definition misses the crucial elements of structural violence and social stigma that underlie the hate crimes and microaggressions American Muslims face. These elements are not only the key ingredients in such acts of social violence, but also the same risk factors for individual self-directed violence, which is the definition of suicide. I am the first self-identifying Muslim American to receive federal funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct grassroots mental health research within the American Muslim community. I identify as a victim of Islamophobic violence and a survivor of a suicide attempt. The hypothesis of my research is that the past two decades of anti-Muslim stigma in the sociopolitical climate of post-9/11 America have created the necessary conditions for young Muslims in America to internalize self-hatred and ultimately attempt suicide. Suicide is a major public health concern worldwide. It is a top 10 leading cause of death in this country and the No. 1 leading cause of death in certain populations. A July 2021 study revealed that American Muslims report two times the odds of a suicide attempt in their life compared to other faith groups. These findings suggest a disparity and indicate that there is a unique set of factors that increases American Muslims’ risk of suicide. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

“Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire”: Deepa Kumar on How Racism Fueled U.S. Wars Post-9/11

According to the Costs of War Project, the wars launched by the United States following 9/11 have killed an estimated 929,000 people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. The true death toll may never be known, but the vast majority of the victims have been Muslim. “Racism is baked into the security logic of the national security state in the U.S., as well as in terms of how it operates abroad,” says Islamophobia scholar Deepa Kumar, a professor of media studies at Rutgers University. “The war on terror was sold to the American public using Orientalist and racist ideas that these societies are backward.” Kumar is the author of “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: 20 Years After 9/11,” an updated version of her 2012 book that examined how the war on terror ushered in a new era of anti-Muslim racism. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

WATCH: How American Muslims have been represented in popular culture post-9/11

At the 20th anniversary of 9/11, American Muslims are considering what the last two decades have meant for them and their communities. As part of that ongoing conversation, PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz spoke with Kashif Shaikh, co-founder and president of Pillars Fund, on Sept. 14 about the ways Muslims have been depicted in stories and on screen in the years since 9/11. Shaikh, who was born to Pakistani American parents and raised in the Cincinnati suburbs, said that as he was growing up, he felt Muslims were often “othered” and portrayed in a negative light in pop culture. Harmful tropes pictured people yelling on airplanes, or portrayed women as needing to be “liberated” from their seemingly oppressive symbols of their Muslimness, like removing a headscarf. He said that Hollywood has often reinforced stereotypes, “whether it be about Black folks, about LGBT folks — and they were doing the same thing about Muslims.” As part of the work of his foundation, he said that their goal is not necessarily to advocate for positive portrayals of Muslims, but rather “to have a multitude of representation of Muslims, because Muslims are so nuanced — they have so many stories to tell.” Shaikh said the most basic problem has been that Muslims on screen have traditionally been represented in a negative light, associating them with terrorism or subjecting to “othering,” when they are made to seem different from other Americans. Film and television has reinforced those harmful tropes, he said. “I knew that the portrayals were incredibly negative — [but] I actually didn’t recognize just how erased we were from the screen,” Shaikh said of his organization’s 2021 analysis of popular movies. Many in the film industry have even questioned whether there are Muslim filmmakers and creators, Shaikh said. His organization hopes this research and their other work can help provide a resource to showcase Muslim talent and storytellers. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021


Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Authorization for Use of Military Force on September 18, 2001, Daphne Eviatar, the director of the Security With Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA said: “On September 18, the 20th anniversary of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, we must not forget the lives destroyed and communities turned upside down as the United States conducted lethal assaults from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria to Somalia. “Decades of US policies targeting Black, Brown, and Muslim communities and painting them with suspicion has fomented Anti-Muslim sentiment, at home and abroad, denying basic rights to Muslims suspected of having links to armed groups. The discriminatory use of US military force against Black, Brown, and Muslim communities abroad has been grossly overlooked. On this 20th anniversary, the United States must acknowledge and hold itself accountable to those families and communities, worldwide as well as stateside. “The recent written accounts of former detainees Mohamedou Salahi and Mansoor Adayfi highlight the enduring horrors experienced by those harmed by Unites States policies and abuses post 9/11, including the use of torture, the full accounting of which still has not been released by the CIA. It’s well past time for the United States to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay and release or transfer those who are still held without charge or trial, like Toffiq al-Bihani, who remains imprisoned more than a decade after being approved for transfer. read the complete article

14 Sep 2021

The Throughline From the War on Terror to Donald Trump

On a recent episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick spoke with Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, about the ongoing legal ramifications of Sept. 11 and the forever wars. Azmy has been challenging the U.S. government repeatedly over the past two decades, litigating matters from the rights of Guantánamo detainees to discriminatory policing practices, to government surveillance, to the rights of asylum-seekers and accountability for victims of torture. I feel like we can’t really leave this conversation without talking, at least for a moment, about Abu Zubaydah, who you no longer defend, but defended for over a decade. He’s the subject of torture, unlawful detention, unlawful questioning, and he’s still there, the No. 40 guy at Gitmo. What does that leave us to think about the project of the 40 people still left behind at Guantánamo? Abu Zubaydah was at the intersection of so many pieces of the war on terror. Apprehended in Pakistan; flown to Thailand, where there was initial interrogation by the FBI, by Ali Soufan, who suggested he was making some progress and got some major leads from Abu Zubaydah. Nevertheless, civilians in D.C. thought we needed to do more and then he became one of the first victims of the systematic program of torture and dehumanization and brutalization through waterboarding, all sorts of physical violence, and then sent to European black sites for more torture interrogation, and after the 2006 decision in Hamdan that basically said the Geneva Convention prohibit this kind of brutalization, brought to Guantánamo. He is the iconic face of indefinite detention now because there are some people who are cleared for release who, in theory, the government should be working on returning. There are some people who are slated for military commissions, so will be tried, although, we can talk about why that probably won’t happen, and then some who Obama said there’s not enough evidence to try, but too dangerous to release. In our opinion, in a place that believes in due process, that should be a null set. You should only be prosecuted based on what you’ve done, not on predictions of how black your soul is based on some expert prognostication about returning to the fight. But nevertheless, he is in that category. But ultimately, I think this is about keeping him secret. He has a lot of stories to tell, some of which have gotten out through his drawings, but it is hard to know what the government would ultimately do with Abu Zubaydah after what they have done to Abu Zubaydah. read the complete article


15 Sep 2021

What Is China Doing to the Uighurs in Xinjiang?

In the past few weeks, however, allegations that China is committing massive human-rights abuses and even genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang have begun to reclaim international attention. On Monday, the U.N. human-rights chief announced that her office has been unable to obtain access to the region but is assembling a report on the allegations based on information obtained through other means. Last week, a coalition of human-rights groups issued a joint letter to major international broadcasters, including NBC, urging them not to cover the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest China’s abuses against the Uighurs and other minorities. And meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stepped up efforts to intercept imported goods made using forced labor, specifically targeting Chinese cotton that is widely suspected to be grown in Xinjiang by Uighurs in forced-labor camps. Despite the growing attention to the alleged atrocities in Xinjiang, the situation there remains largely opaque to the American public. That’s partly because China has kept a tight grip on the flow of information and muddied the waters with its own propaganda but also because it’s a complex conflict with a lot of history in a little-known part of the world. Here’s what you need to know. read the complete article


15 Sep 2021


The War on Terror has killed nearly 1 million people and cost more than $8 trillion, according to a report by Brown University’s Costs of War Project. This week on Intercepted: Journalists Murtaza Hussain and Rozina Ali break down how the 9/11 attacks reshaped U.S. foreign and domestic policies. In the last two decades, the U.S. launched two wars, leading to millions dead and wounded. There was also a rise in unmanned drones killing innocent civilians, the use of widespread domestic and international surveillance, innocent people imprisoned, and perpetual human rights abuses and war crimes. And recently, there was a turning point in the war in Afghanistan, with the Taliban retaking the country. Hussain and Ali walk through the systematic failures across institutions — whether it be the government, military leadership, or the press — and the lack of accountability. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Sep 2021 Edition


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