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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
16 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: A British investigative journalist estimates that the death toll from the War on Terror to be upwards of six million, meanwhile in the United States criticism continues in response to Kim Kardashian West’s dress for the Met Gala, as many point out that Muslim women who dress modestly are ridiculed in contrast to Kardashian who’s received rave reviews, and in Australia, Sydney area police stop Muslim funeral attendees from watching funerals from cars. Our recommended read of the day is by ‘Yehan’ on the China use of the ‘War on Terror’ discourse to justify the targeting and criminalization of Uyghur Muslims. This and more below:


15 Sep 2021

How Sept. 11 Supercharged China’s Propaganda

It was particularly puzzling when the Washington Post, which has done great and detailed reporting on the plight of Uyghurs, published a report in which they echoed the CCP’s framing of Uyghur genocide as counterterrorism policies. It’s an example of how successful oppression’s framing as counterterrorism has been not just in China but globally. The article, citing Chinese research and experts, allege “Chinese officials worry about the prospect of Afghanistan becoming a haven for Islamist militant groups, including ETIM [or the East Turkestan Islamic Movement],” following the fall of Afghanistan back into the Taliban’s hands. The problem is, ETIM is a “terrorist organization” whose very existence is debatable at best, according to experts. One of those experts, Sean Roberts, was briefly quoted in the Washington Post piece itself—but only to support the case that China might get politically involved in Afghanistan. This framing accepts, as much Western commentary has done, the Chinese depiction of Uyghur resistance as terror and of those fleeing Chinese oppression as inherently dangerous. Far from being a dreaded threat to China’s security, ETIM, as Roberts and others have shown, represents the CCP’s successful exploitation of the United States’ war on terror, a hyped up boogeyman to justify long-standing repressive policies in Xinjiang, culminating in the ongoing genocide. By rebranding the war on separatism as part of a global war on terror and portraying spontaneous, unorganized clashes between Uyghur civilians and security forces as acts of organized terrorism, the CCP successfully aligned its ethnic repression with the West’s war on terror in the name of freedom. Terrorist became a powerfully dehumanizing term, and those who the label was slapped on, from individuals in Guantánamo to Urumqi, became inherently excluded from human rights and due process. This was hardly a new idea. Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany loved to label those opposed to them as “terrorists,” but the United States’ language gave it new force. The CCP was taking notes as the rest of the world scrambled to strip those labeled as terrorists, however murkily or imprecisely, of their rights. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


15 Sep 2021

Up to Six Million People: The Unrecorded Fatalities of the ‘War on Terror’

Earlier this month, Brown University’s Costs of War project updated its rolling analysis of the number of people killed in direct violence due to the post-9/11 ‘War on Terror’. It found that just under a million people – between 897,000 and 929,000 – were killed directly due to violence across five theatres of war involving significant US and Western military involvement: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. These numbers have been widely reported as proving that around one million people have been killed in post-9/11 wars. Yet, they are extremely conservative figures. The real death toll is far, far higher – a fact that has not been properly reported in media reports. “The deaths we tallied are likely a vast under-count of the true toll these wars have taken on human life,” said the co-author of the Costs of War project report Professor Neta Crawford – noting that the tally does not incorporate indirect deaths due to the consequences of war through the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The new figures therefore do not account for the many indirect deaths the War on Terror has caused by way of disease, displacement and loss of access to food or clean drinking water, she acknowledged. Last September, when commenting on an earlier version of the project’s findings, Costs of War report co-author Professor Catherine Lutz pointed out that “one has to multiply that direct death number… by an estimated two to four times to get to the total number of people – in the millions – who are dead today who would not have been dead had the wars not been fought”. But even this approach is likely to produce an under-count. According to a landmark report by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development – signed by 113 governments – in “the majority of conflicts since the early 1990s, for which good data is available, the burden of indirect deaths was between three and 15 times the number of direct deaths”. The report found that, due to the impact of conflicts on public services and infrastructure, vastly greater numbers of people end up dying indirectly from the consequences of violence compared to the number that die directly from conflict. read the complete article

16 Sep 2021

How social media – aided by bots – amplifies Islamophobia online

Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, stereotypes that associate Muslims with terrorism go far beyond depictions in newspapers and television. Recent research raises the alarm about rampant Islamophobia in digital spaces, particularly far-right groups’ use of disinformation and other manipulation tactics to vilify Muslims and their faith. In July 2021, for example, a team led by media researcher Lawrence Pintakpublished research on tweets that mentioned Omar during her campaign for Congress. They reported that half the tweets they studied involved “overtly Islamophobic or xenophobic language or other forms of hate speech.” The majority of offensive posts came from a small number of “provocateurs” – accounts that seed Islamophobic conversations on Twitter. Many of these accounts belonged to conservatives, they found. But the researchers reported that such accounts themselves did not generate significant traffic. Instead, the team found that “amplifiers” were primarily responsible: accounts that collect and circulate agents provocateurs’ ideas through mass retweets and replies. Their most interesting finding was that only four of the top 20 Islamophobic amplifiers were authentic accounts. Most were either bots – algorithmically generated to mimic human accounts – or “sock puppets,” which are human accounts that use fake identities to deceive others and manipulate conversations online. Bots and sockpuppets disseminated Islamophobic tweets originally posted by authentic accounts, creating a “megaphone effect” that scales up Islamophobia across the Twitterverse. read the complete article

15 Sep 2021

The Hypocrisy Around Kim Kardashian's Met Gala Outfit

One Instagram post in particular pointed out the hypocrisy in what Kim was wearing to the several burqa bans currently happening across Europe. The @girlsagainstoppression Instagram is a feminist page run by a collective of 7 young women around the world. Lusyomo Simatele is 22-years-old and is one of the owners of the account. As soon as the group saw Kim’s outfit they immediately questioned it, especially given everything that has recently been happening in Afghanistan. “It’s like sis, do you not know what’s going on in the world? This is not the time, it’s unsavoury, it’s tone-deaf,” Lusyomo says. Even though Lusyomo isn’t Muslim herself, members of the group are and they were all openly discussing issues around Islamophobia as soon as they saw Kim’s outfit. “When Muslim women are fighting for their rights, there’s a lack of sincere allyship,” she says. “A lot of the things they’re demonised for, they’re marginalised for, you see a Western woman do the same thing and everyone’s like ‘oh look at her go’.” “This has very little to do with Kim Kardashian. It’s one of those times where you have to use the context of pop culture to bring social justice to the forefront for people to truly understand how big a problem it [Islamophobia] is. “So many people didn’t even realise that so many countries that are considered progressive are banned head coverings.” read the complete article

15 Sep 2021

Curtin University lobbies for retraction of unethical AI study on Uyghur facial recognition

An Australian university implicated in unethical research using facial recognition technology to identify Uyghur and Tibetan minorities has unsuccessfully lobbied for it to be retracted by publishers on multiple attempts. An internal review of research by Associate Professor Wan-Quan Liu – who has since resigned and now works at a university in China – found he breached several ethical codes including a failure to obtain informed consent and approval. The study, first reported by Four Corners in 2019, was partly funded by the Chinese government and was criticised by human rights campaigners who were worried it could be misused by authorities to persecute Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The paper remains online despite Curtin University's deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Chris Moran, repeatedly urging publisher Wiley for it to be retracted, along with any reference to the university immediately removed. read the complete article

United States

15 Sep 2021

Muslim Americans reported hate incidents nationwide on 9/11 anniversary

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 passed Saturday, Muslim Americans braced for what community leaders said happens every year around this time: a wave of hate and overt Islamophobia. Passersby outside the Islamic Center of Greater Austin in Texas discovered a bloodied mask of a pig’s head and a sign planted in the ground reading, “You are as unclean to God as a pig is to you.” The Austin Police Department’s hate crimes review committee is looking into the vandalism, but it needs more evidence for it to be considered a hate crime, according to local news station KVUE-ABC. “These kind of crimes affect families, communities and our entire nation,” Zainab Chaudry, a director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told NBC Asian America. 9/11 is always a particularly difficult day, Chaudry said. “Some Muslims take off from work; others plan so they won’t have to leave home that day,” she said. “Parents have confided they keep their children home from school, while many mosques step up security measures.” Aicha Toure, a Black Muslim woman who wears a hijab, was allegedly assaulted and called a “Muslim terrorist” on a Spirit Airlines flight from Atlanta to Detroit by a white female passenger. After managing to record the woman, Toure reported the incident to CAIR. The white woman, who was arrested in Wayne County, reportedly harassed several people on the flight, including an older South Asian woman and members of the crew. In Maryland, CAIR received reports of a woman who was harassed with racist comments by a white neighbor and a Muslim child bullied by a teacher and peers the Friday before 9/11. A statement from CAIR said the family of the young boy detailed an Islamophobic 9/11 lesson plan, during which the teacher asked their son to tell the class who was responsible for the attacks. “This kind of scapegoating and harassment can have a lasting impact into adulthood,” Chaudry said in a statement posted online. “Every student is entitled to a safe learning environment.” Underreporting is a huge problem in Muslim American circles, Chaudry said. She encouraged those who have experienced attacks to come forward to trusted leaders so the scope of Islamophobia in their communities can be better understood. read the complete article

15 Sep 2021

CAIR alleges Ferndale police forced Muslim woman to remove hijab for booking photo

A Muslim woman and an advocacy group Wednesday called on the city of Ferndale to address allegations that police removed the woman’s Islamic headscarf to take a booking photo. Amy Doukoure, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan Chapter, which is representing the woman, said the group is filing a notice of claim against the city. Bowe, who is African American, said she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the June 21 encounter with police. Bowe is also founder and CEO of Miss Muslimah USA, a national pageant for Muslim women. "This whole thing has left me traumatized and feeling numb and detached," she said as she spoke at the news conference, choking back sobs at one point. "Even though it's over, I still see myself going through it over and over again." read the complete article

United Kingdom

15 Sep 2021

Peaceophobia review – how to build a car and a community

While one of the performers tries to tell us the history of his beloved VW Golf, a voice from the vehicle interrupts with a chronicle of racism and Islamophobia in Britain. The founding of the BNP. The Bradford riots. The Prevent programme. There’s a cruel irony here. For Bradford-based performers Ali Yunis, Casper Ahmed and Sohail Hussain – who wrote the show alongside poet and playwright Zia Ahmed – cars are both an escape and an unintended catalyst for harassment. The hours spent painstakingly perfecting their vehicles are a retreat from everyday pressures and prejudices, yet those same cars make these Muslim men a target for police officers and passersby. For someone who’s not been behind the wheel of a car in a decade, Peaceophobia’s world of car clubs and modified motors is a complete unknown. But even the most car-ambivalent will struggle not to get pulled along by the obvious passion of Ali, Casper and Sohail. Staged in a multi-storey car park and opening with the thrill of a Golf and a Supra driving into the performance space, Peaceophobia seizes brilliantly on the theatricality of the car show. In between enthusing about their cars, the three recall their many experiences of racist and heavy-handed policing. But in spite of this, the emphasis is on building – whether that’s cars, camaraderie or community. Throughout the show, the performers put together a car in front of us, punctuating scenes with the oddly hypnotic choreography of reconstruction. read the complete article


16 Sep 2021

‘Despicable’: Sydney police stop Muslim mourners from watching funerals from cars

With a large percentage of the Sydney Muslim community living in the 12 local government areas of concern, and under the toughest restrictions, the community has had to adapt. Under lockdown rules, only 10 people can attend a funeral. So when three families had to bury their dead at Rookwood cemetery on Wednesday, some turned up in cars, allowing them to watch without being present outside. Police arrived soon after the families had parked up, preventing them from burying the dead until all the cars left. NSW police said there were a “large number of attendees” and that they were “in breach of the current public health orders.“ According to mourners who spoke to Guardian Australia under the condition of anonymity, up to 10 police vehicles turned up, knocking on car windows and instructing them to leave. Tensions escalated, with attendees saying they were frustrated at their inability to even watch their loved ones being buried, let alone fulfil the traditions they hold dear. Four men were arrested as the families pleaded with police to allow them to watch the burials. Kieran O’Halloran, a family friend who turned up to pay his respects, said he was shocked at the behaviour of the police. “The way they acted was despicable. They showed no sensitivity to the fact it was a funeral and had no reverence for the cemetery. “No one was talking out of line, and then the police just marched on them. They surged forward, getting right in your face. Of course they’re gonna get a reaction from some people.” read the complete article


15 Sep 2021

French writer calls for ban on Muslim names

A far-right polemicist and writer expected to run for the French presidency has sparked fresh controversy by calling for a ban on traditional Muslim names such as Muhammad. Famed for his strident TV appearances and essays, Eric Zemmour has created a cult of personality through calls to drastically cut immigration and enforce integration in France. He often calls for Muslims to adopt traditional French customs and culture. Ahead of the launch of his latest book “La France N’a Pas Dit Son Dernier Mot” (France has not yet said its last word), Zemmour said if he was elected president, he would restore a law — introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte and abolished by socialist President Francois Mitterrand in 1993 — that only permitted names from the Christian calendar of saints and those from “ancient history.” Zemmour added: “I will re-establish the 1803 law. A French man will no longer have the right to call his son Muhammad.” He said: “I think that we have to make French people again. Previous generations of immigrants changed their names (to adopt French ones). There is no reason why the new ones should not do the same. What upsets me is that after three generations, people are still calling their children Muhammad.” read the complete article


15 Sep 2021

‘They Are Manufacturing Foreigners’: How India Disenfranchises Muslims

Sahera is one of around two million people in Assam who have been rendered stateless. Many are Bengali Muslims, a vast majority of them marginal farmers and daily wage laborers, who have nonetheless become the focus of a sustained campaign of disenfranchisement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party or B.J.P. Portrayed as illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, they have become mired in a Kafkaesque system of accusations, trials and imprisonment, which spawned a nationwide citizenship act that has been compared to Nazi Germany’s Reich Citizens Law. The Hindu right has long identified border regions like Kashmir and Assam as places to raise the specter of a Muslim threat. But while Kashmir has often been used to conjure the danger of secession, Assam represents, in the rhetoric of Hindu extremists, a more insidious menace — that of a steady, cross-border influx of Muslims guaranteed to make Hindus a persecuted minority in their own country. Assam is largely peripheral to historic Indian civilizations as well as to modern India — Guwahati lies more than 1,000 miles east of Delhi, with China and Myanmar far closer. Yet Assam has become central to the question of who is — and who is not — entitled to be a citizen in India. In July 2018, Assam published a National Register of Citizens that was intended to be a definitive record of citizenship. Any resident of Assam whose name did not appear on it would have to go before a foreigners’ tribunal to plead their case: They would have to prove that they were born in Assam before 1971, when Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan and refugees flooded into the state, or that they were the children of such a person. If the tribunal declared them foreigners, their only recourse was the courts. The “national” in the N.R.C. is, however, misleading. It applies only to the state’s multiethnic population of some 33 million, a third of whom are Muslim, although Modi threatened to create a similar citizens’ register for all of India. When the initial version of the N.R.C. was released, the names of nearly four million people were left off and their citizenship put in question. Amit Shah, then the B.J.P.’s president and Modi’s able lieutenant, declared that these ghuspetiyas — a Hindi word for “infiltrators,” widely understood to be a derogatory code word for Bengali-speaking Muslims — would be deported to Bangladesh. As those omitted from the N.R.C. wrestled with how to prove they belonged in Assam, a “final” version of the list was produced in August 2019, this time excluding 1.9 million people. But the B.J.P. discovered that it had run into a snag. The process of creating the lists had been expensive, confusing and traumatic — people killed themselves after discovering they were not on them — and prompted special rapporteurs at the United Nations to raise questions about their discriminatory nature. Of the nearly two million people potentially rendered stateless, many were Bengali Hindus as well as Bengali Muslims. This posed a problem for the B.J.P., which regarded Bengali Hindus, a significant group in the rest of India and a majority population in the Indian state of West Bengal, as essential to their majoritarian nation of one billion Hindus. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Sep 2021 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results