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
02 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Europe, the white supremacist “the great replacement theory” is being touted by mainstream figures, including political commentators and academics, while in India, anti-Muslim attacks continue as perpetrators are now recording and airing the crimes on social media, and in Canada, a Mosque in Vancouver has been threatened with a letter calling for violence against Muslims in the region. Our recommended read of the day is by Janet Reitman who profiles a former FBI agent turned whistleblower, Terry Albury, who leaked government documents revealing how the FBI engaged in religious and racial profiling during the ‘War on Terror’. This and more below:

United States

01 Sep 2021

‘I Helped Destroy People’

The second national-security leak case of the Trump era was against Terry Albury, though unlike Winner’s case, his received little fanfare. Instead, his lawyers quietly hammered out a plea deal with the Justice Department, avoiding the unwanted media attention that would come with a formal criminal complaint. In recommending that Albury receive a 52-month sentence, government prosecutors cast him as a compulsive leaker, recklessly endangering national security by “stealing” the government secrets he was sworn, as an F.B.I. agent, to protect. But Albury says he felt a moral imperative to make his disclosures, motivated by his belief that the bureau had been so fundamentally transformed by Sept. 11 that its own agents were compelled to commit civil and human rights violations. “As a public servant, my oath is to serve the interest of society, not the F.B.I.,” he says. “My logic was centered on the fact that the public I served had a right to know what the F.B.I. was doing in their name.” “These documents confirmed what American communities — primarily Muslims and communities of color — and rights groups had long known or thought to be true,” says Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “For years we’ve been hearing from people who were surveilled or investigated or watchlisted with no apparent basis for the F.B.I. to suspect wrongdoing, but based primarily on their race or religion or political organizing and beliefs. And here’s someone who was trying to do the right things from inside government, and ended up either participating or being a witness or adjacent to a range of abuses that defined, and continue to define, the post-9/11 era. What are you supposed to do as a person of conscience when you see what your country is doing?” “I was very idealistic when I joined the F.B.I.,” Albury says. “I really wanted to make the world a better place, and I stayed as long as I did because I continued to believe that I could help make things better, as naïve as that sounds. But the war on terror is like this game, right? We’ve built this entire apparatus and convinced the world that there is a terrorist in every mosque, and that every newly arrived Muslim immigrant is secretly anti-American, and because we have promoted that false notion, we have to validate it. So we catch some kid who doesn’t know his ear from his [expletive] for building a bomb fed to them by the F.B.I., or we take people from foreign countries where they have secret police and recruit them as informants and capitalize on their fear to ensure there is compliance. It’s a very dangerous and toxic environment, and we have not come to terms with the fact that maybe we really screwed up here,” he says. “Maybe what we’re doing is wrong.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
01 Sep 2021

A Muslim Writer on Finding Her Voice in Post-9/11, Post-Trump America

Like other Americans, I wondered, who was attacking us. But as a Muslim, I had other questions too: Did the attackers claim to be Muslims? And, if so, what would happen to the rest of us? In the immediate aftermath of that day's horror, my grief and anger as an American was so compounded with my fear and anxiety as a Muslim that it compelled me to do something unthinkable for me: I poured my heart out to the readers of the Sunday paper. Back then, it was unusual for a news reporter to pen a personal response to a national tragedy. This was long before social media made us all performative, confessional animals. I needed my neighbors in the Midwest to know that while Muslim Americans shared their grief and anger, we also feared whether our country would turn on us. I ended that column with the questions my college-aged sister had asked me: "Will the government come after us like they did with the Japanese? Will other Americans stand up for us?" I told my readers the same thing I told her: I don't know. I wasn't sure what to expect but dozens and dozens of readers responded to her question with expressions of support: Yes, we will stand up for you, you and your family are one of us, they said, in one way or another, in message after message. There were just two negative, Islamophobic emails in the bunch. Such an overwhelmingly positive response seems inconceivable now, given how polarized our discourse is now and how normalized hate speech has become—an irony, when you consider how heightened anti-Muslim sentiment was at the time. Instead, the Muslim community bore the brunt of the fallout of 9/11 for years. The government targeted Muslim communities with surveillance, questioning and confinement. It seemed law enforcement and the media used the label of "terrorism" for heinous crimes only if the perpetrator was Muslim. The number of anti-Muslim hate crime incidents reported to the FBI rose from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001— and those are just the official numbers. Countless incidents are never reported to the FBI. Over time more Americans have become like that reader, increasingly comfortable with the idea and presence of Muslims—as neighbors and even family members. Yet simultaneously, the conservative right turned Islam into an effective political weapon and used it to bludgeon Muslims who have sought greater representation and political power. These opposing forces once again became evident in the correspondence I got from readers, The tone and tenor changed notably in the summer of 2016 as the political rhetoric of the presidential campaign came to a boiling point. Public writers have always had our share of angry critics. But the criticism I received turned increasingly vitriolic, with a deep undercurrent of anger. People who disagreed with what I'd written weren't merely looking to dissent but to silence me. read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

Since 9/11, US Muslims Have Gained Unprecedented Political, Cultural Influence

It's been an impressive 2021 so far for Muslim Americans. The U.S. Senate, that bastion of partisan gridlock, overwhelmingly confirmed the nation's first Muslims as a federal district court judge and to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Legislatures in five states swore in their first Muslim members, including a nonbinary, queer hijab-wearing representative in, of all places, Oklahoma. Three Detroit suburbs are poised this fall to elect their first Muslim mayors. The New York Jets tapped Robert Saleh as the first Muslim head coach of any American pro sports team. CBS premiered, then renewed The United States of Al, the first broadcast network sitcom with a Muslim lead character. And Riz Ahmed, star of Sound of Metal, became the first Muslim nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. As the 20th anniversary of September 11 approaches, the recent rise of many Muslim Americans to positions of power and influence—in Washington and in statehouses, on big screens and small ones, across playing fields and news desks—is a development that few in the U.S. would have predicted two decades ago, Muslims included. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks by the radical Islamic sect Al-Qaeda, anti-Muslim hate crimes exploded and the ensuing global "war on terror" to root out jihadists created a "climate of discrimination, fear and intolerance," as one think tank described it, that surrounded people of Islamic faith in this country and lasted for years. Then, just as heightened anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. seemed to be subsiding, Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 on an agenda overtly hostile towards Muslims, and revved it up again. It is the experience of coming of age in this post-9/11 environment, experts say, that drew a new generation of young Muslims to activism, and motivated them to use their voices in political and cultural arenas to debunk misinformation. That they've found a receptive audience beyond the Muslim community suggests to some observers that many Americans now understand that the anti-Islamic rhetoric they've been served in recent years is based on myths and untrue. As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who in 2007 became the first Muslim sworn in as a member of Congress, tells Newsweek, "The haters have been proven to be liars." Maybe. But trend data suggests the answer is not that simple and anti-Islamic sentiment remains a factor 20 years after 9/11. Anti-Muslim hate crimes, for instance, are second only to anti-Semitic incidents, FBI statistics show. And in a Gallup poll, one-third of Americans, and a full 62 percent of Republicans, said they'd never vote for a Muslim candidate for president, by far the least support for people of any religion in the survey. Is the recent rise of Muslim Americans to positions of prominence a temporary surge forged during the backlash of the Trump era or a permanent change in American consciousness? Are the constant, often viciously personal attacks on Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan—the most famous Muslims in American politics as well as two of the nation's most strident progressives—a last gasp of Islamophobia or proof that, in some quarters at least, it's never going away? If, in fact, the political and cultural shift toward Muslims has staying power, what will the impact be? read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

The U.S., Muslims, and a Turbulent Post-9/11 World

Although most Americans did not contribute to the idea that there is something inherently bad about Islam, there were enough voices of hate, deliberate misinformation, and genuine misunderstandings to create a powerful message: Muslims are not to be trusted. Since the attacks, divisions in American society have deepened amid changes wrought by the technology and media revolution, the weaponization of misinformation, and foreign policy choices. Muslims, like other minorities, have become caught up in the sometimes-bitter national conversation about history, race, religion, ethnicity, and heritage. But there are still some important areas of progress. New connections and coalitions have taken off in the last twenty years. Amid a rise in hate crimes against minorities, American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, and other civic organizations have found allies and built new relationships. Civil society and religious leaders have polished their advocacy, while philanthropists are finally turning their attention to issues of hate and extremism. American Muslims have found new agency and organizations to use art, culture, and policy as vehicles to repair societies and build understanding. For instance, the Pillars Fund, a pioneering, grant-giving organization, focuses on amplifying the leadership and talents of American Muslims. The importance of listening to diverse civil society voices, engaging with local and national leaders, and creating new bridges has activated many Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. More should be done, but there are improvements in the way non-Muslims talk about Islam today, as well as in the dialogue about ensuring inclusive societies. However, anti-Muslim political rhetoric and policies as well as far-right ideology in the United States have grown through the financing, organization, and networking of those who do not want an inclusive country. read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

Muslims are a growing presence in U.S., but still face negative views from the public

An unprecedented amount of public attention focused on Muslim Americans in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. Muslim population has grown in the two decades since, but it is still the case that many Americans know little about Islam or Muslims, and views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarized along political lines. In 2015, the Center projected that Muslims could number 3.85 million in the U.S. by 2020 – roughly 1.1% of the total population. However, Muslim population growth from immigration may have slowed recently due to changes in federal immigration policy. The number of Muslim houses of worship in the U.S. also has increased over the last 20 years. A study conducted in 2000 by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership identified 1,209 mosques in the U.S. that year. Their follow-up study in 2011 found that the number of mosques had grown to 2,106, and the 2020 version found 2,769 mosques – more than double the number from two decades earlier. As their numbers have increased, Muslims have also reported encountering more discrimination. In 2017, during the first few months of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim American adults (48%) said they had personally experienced some form of discrimination because of their religion in the previous year. This included a range of experiences, from people acting suspicious of them to being physically threatened or attacked. In 2011, by comparison, 43% of Muslim adults said they had at least one of these experiences, and 40% said this in 2007. A series of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2014, 2017, and 2019 separately asked Americans to rate religious groups on a scale ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 representing the coldest, most negative possible view and 100 representing the warmest, most positive view. In these surveys, Muslims were consistently ranked among the coolest, along with atheists. read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

White supremacist praise of the Taliban takeover concerns US officials

White supremacist and anti-government extremists have expressed admiration for what the Taliban accomplished, a worrying development for US officials who have been grappling with the threat of domestic violent extremism. That praise has also been coupled with a wave of anti-refugee sentiment from far-right groups, as the US and others rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan by the Biden administration's August 31 deadline. Several concerning trends have emerged in recent weeks on online platforms commonly used by anti-government, White supremacist and other domestic violent extremist groups, including "framing the activities of the Taliban as a success," and a model for those who believe in the need for a civil war in the US, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, John Cohen. Cohen said on the call that DHS has also analyzed discussions centering on "the great replacement concept" a conspiracy theory that immigrants, in this case the relocation of Afghans to the US, would lead to a loss of control and authority by White Americans. "There are concerns that those narratives may incite violent activities directed at immigrant communities, certain faith communities, or even those who are relocated to the United States," he added. Far-right extremist communities have been invigorated by the events in Afghanistan, "whether by their desire to emulate the Taliban or increasingly violent rhetoric about 'invasions' by displaced Afghans," according to recent analysis from SITE Intelligence Group. Extremists often take current events and weave them into their own narrative and worldview, said Mendelson, which is what is taking place in the aftermath of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid the humanitarian and military crisis. "They're taking the same kind of core tropes and themes, and kind of bigoted views of the world, and injecting them into this current event," Mendelson told CNN. There has been a lot of Islamophobia and xenophobia echoed by White supremacists and anti-Muslim activists, claiming that public safety and national security is threatened because they see refugees through a stereotypical lens as being dangerous criminals or terrorists, according to Mendelson. read the complete article


01 Sep 2021

An obsession with migration figures is about more than just numbers

The “great replacement” – the conspiracy theory that globalist elites are planning to supplant the white population of Europe with Muslim and/or black migrants – was originally formulated by the French white nationalist writer Renaud Camus. A century on, The Strange Death of Europe, by the British author and commentator Douglas Murray, is essentially an attenuated version of the great replacement theory for the Telegraph-reading classes. Murray, while distancing himself from Enoch Powell’s inflammatory rhetoric, has long argued that Powell understated the demographic implications of immigration, and repeats Evans-Gordon’s claim, saying: “London has become a foreign country. In 23 of London’s 33 boroughs ‘white Britons’ are now in a minority.” Black or Asian Britons, then, are foreign, even if born here, and whether or not they identify as British – a sentiment Powell also endorsed, of course. Nevertheless, the argument is still made that being concerned about ethnic and demographic change is somehow not about race: instead it’s about numbers, or the “pace of change”, or “culture”. Similarly, Sir Paul Collier, an eminent development economist, wrote: “The 2011 census revealed that the indigenous British had become a minority in their own capital.” By “indigenous”, he, like Shriver and Murray, means those classified as “white British”, which includes me, but not, for example, my partner, although our respective immigrant parents arrived in London within a couple of years of each other. For an intellectual defence of this view we can look to Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at Birkbeck College, who, together with David Goodhart, now a commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argues that “racial self-interest”, when it comes to immigration and its impact on demographic change, is not necessarily “racist”. For Kaufmann, that means that it would be rational and legitimate for the UK to give explicit preference to white immigrants, on the grounds that they’d be more acceptable to Shriver’s “original inhabitants”. Meanwhile, his book Whiteshift has a chapter entitled, apparently without irony, Is the White Genocide Theory Entirely False?. He concludes that there is indeed “truth to the white nationalists’ transformationist charge”, and that the liberal elite is indeed responsible – but it’s not actually a plot to change the country’s racial makeup. Shriver, however, goes all-in on the conspiracy theory, arguing that “for today’s left, non-white cultures must be protected, preserved and promoted, while evil European cultures deserve to be subsumed”. All of these arguments share a fundamental underpinning: that what we, as citizens, care about when it comes to our fellow citizens is their ethnic background or ancestry; there is something fundamental or innate we get from our ancestors that makes us British, or not; and correspondingly, immigration will, over time, mean that we are (both as individuals and as a country) somehow “less British”. read the complete article

02 Sep 2021

US’ ‘save Afghan women’ chorus has a problem—it’s laden with colonial missionary stereotypes

The media machinery has led with the narrative of how America ‘rescued’ these women from the ‘barbaric’ treatment of the Afghan Taliban two decades ago; the decision to now ‘abandon’ them signals a retreat to savage times, to leave Afghan women to menacing, cliff-hanger prospects. Afghan women faced violent injustice under Taliban rule; there were threats to girls’ education, attacks on sexual orientation, restrictions on public mobility to name a few, but the problem with the ‘saving’ mission is that it is laden with colonial missionary stereotypes. It relies on certain assumptions including a sense of superiority — American superiority — to do the ‘saving’, buttressed by the belief that white feminism is leading these Afghan women to the only possible future they envision for themselves. Why has the ‘saving Muslim women’ mantra stuck, despite the oversimplification and condescension it reeks of? Because there’s something appealing about rescuing a lesser force, extricating them from prickly circumstances, hijacking their reclamation, instructing them on the precise freedoms they must demand to enter the ranks of modernity and its broad-minded brigade. Armed with similar liberalism chants, celebrities and do-gooders swiftly joined the club of saviours for Afghanistan. From Laura Bush paving the way for the plight of Afghan women to be taken note of soon after 9/11, to Mavis and Jay Leno’s fundraiser campaign, American influencers publicly aired rage against the Taliban’s gender-based atrocities. In their wake, however, these well-intended ‘freeing’ crusades endorsed military intervention and air strikes in Afghanistan — culminating in a war that outlasted their home country’s direst predictions. Witnessing how the ‘tyranny of saving’ played out in global political theatres, military missions masquerading as rescue squads for Afghan women have proven difficult to digest. But the problem with the white (wo)man’s burden runs deeper; ‘saving Afghan women’ hasn’t been free of white feminism’s blind spots. Such brands of cookie-cutter feminism, applied to Afghanistan and other countries, assume a gross generalisation of the complex political, historical and social trajectories that inform the cultural milieu of these societies. The top-down, one-size-fits-all strategy ignores differences among Muslim women — who are not a homogeneous bunch, nor any less capable of nurturing their own, homegrown feminist ranks. Their empowerment goals, the desire for a less oppressive future, may not identically match the ‘freedom’ peddled by white feminism — this difference in what agency might look like, appears to have been glossed over by the white saviours. read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

Can the Taliban 'really' give the Afghan woman her Islamic rights?

Former US President George Bush criticized Joe Biden for the withdrawal, remarking that Afghan women and girls could "suffer unspeakably hard at the hands of the Taliban." That is ironic, keeping in mind his "war on terror" that killed more than 47,000 Afghan civilians (including women). Twenty years back, then-first lady Laura Bush said in a radio address that "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women." Fast forward to now and there are bodies falling from planes trying to flee Kabul and Afghan women are at the bottom of the global gender gap report. Now comes the White Feminism issue. In her recent book 'Against White Feminism,' Rafia Zakaria, an attorney and author, defines a White feminist as someone who "refuses to consider the role that whiteness and the racial privilege attached to it have played and continue to play in universalizing white feminist concerns, agendas, and beliefs as being those of all feminism and all feminists." At some point, the perception of a needy woman becomes more important than the woman’s existence at all. Bringing this back to the region, the Taliban has emphasized that women would be expected to wear the hijab but not the burka. But that is not merely a religious symbol. Nima Naghibi, Associate Professor at Ryerson University, points out that the Western sees the veil as a barrier and way to the heart of the Orient. Indeed, Oriental men accept the veil as a national and cultural honor. Correspondingly, Deniz Kandiyoti, Professor at the SOAS University of London, says that conservative beliefs, shaped in the atmosphere of colonization, is the only way to resist foreign occupation and to preserve traditions. On that line of thought, "a woman's possible liberation" is perceived as an attack on the family. Ultimately, Afghan women become victims that have to be rescued by people with white saviour complexes. Conversely, as the Taliban spokesperson said, "These are not our rules; these are Islamic rules," saying it is "for their security." Both sides benefit; the West has someone to save, and the Taliban someone to protect. Leila Ahmed, Professor at the Harvard Divinity School, explains that in such situations, women, stuck between their pious/nationalist identity and the West’s idea of women, have to choose "between betrayal and betrayal." read the complete article


02 Sep 2021

) Beaten and humiliated by Hindu mobs for being a Muslim in India

The two attacks were among several instances of anti-Muslim violence in August, but the last month by no means was cruellest for India's biggest religious minority group, with a population of more than 200 million. Similar attacks were reported in the preceding months too - and many made headlines. "The violence is overwhelming. It's rampant and common and also very acceptable," says Alishan Jafri, a freelance journalist who's been documenting attacks on Indian Muslims for the past three years. He says he comes across "three-four such videos every day" but is able to verify only one or two which he then shares on social media. Religious faultlines have existed in India for a long time but, critics say, anti-Muslim violence has risen since 2014 under the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Communal violence is not a recent phenomenon, but it grows in sync with the strategies of those in power and political mobilisation," Prof Tanvir Aeijaz, who teaches politics science at Delhi University, told the BBC. "The distrust was always there but cleavages have been sharpened now by religious nationalism and ethno-nationalism." During Mr Modi's first term in power, there were numerous incidents of Muslims being attacked by so-called "cow vigilantes" over rumours that they had eaten beef, or that they were trying to smuggle cows - an animal many Hindus consider holy - for slaughter. The prime minister did not condone such attacks, but was criticised for not condemning them quickly or strongly enough either. In 2019, a fact-checker website that counted "hate crimes" in India reported that more than 90% of victims in the past 10 years were Muslims. And the perpetrators of the attacks remain unpunished amid accusations that they enjoy political patronage from Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party after a government minister garlanded eight Hindus convicted for lynching a Muslim. "Such attacks have become so common in our country today only and only because of the impunity these thugs enjoy," says Hasiba Amin, a social media co-ordinator for the opposition Congress party. "Today hate has gone mainstream. It is cool to go attack Muslims. The hate mongers are also rewarded for their actions." read the complete article

01 Sep 2021

How Taliban return in Afghanistan triggered Islamophobia in India

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has given yet another excuse to India’s Hindu supremacists to unleash a new wave of Islamophobia against its Muslim minority. Muslim politicians, writers, journalists, social media influencers and everyday citizens have become the targets of a hate campaign launched by the country’s right wing, including members of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As soon as the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government last month, the hashtag #GoToAfghanistan began trending on Indian social media, a repeat of the #GoToPakistan campaign launched by right-wing groups who want to turn India into an ethnic Hindu state. “The word Taliban or Talibani is deliberately being fed into the vocabulary of the masses by both sides of the spectrum – people who might be anti- or pro-BJP,” poet and activist Hussain Haidry told Al Jazeera. “It is being done just the way Pakistani or ‘jihadi’ or ‘aatankwadi’ (terrorist) terms were fed as slurs against Muslims.” Haidry said Muslims who counter hate or are vocal about atrocities against the community are being accused of being Taliban sympathisers, even if they condemn the group. Statements construed to be in support of the Taliban gave more fodder to BJP leaders and spokespersons, especially with the elections around the corner in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh’s controversial saffron-robed chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, was quick to jump on the bandwagon and claim such statements were an “attempt to Talibanise” India. Adityanath’s government announced the setting up of a new anti-terror centre in Deoband, birthplace of the Deoband school of thought on which the Taliban loosely bases its ideology. Barq said the Uttar Pradesh government is “busy making anti-Muslim policies”, calling Deoband a terror hub and setting up the centre there as a means to further its “politics of hate”. “What has Deoband done to be labelled as such? It is an Islamic seminary where alim (Islamic scholars) study, what is wrong there?” “This is a policy of hate which they think will win them the elections.” read the complete article


01 Sep 2021

Langley, B.C., mosque increasing security after receiving threatening letter

A Metro Vancouver mosque has received a disturbing letter containing references to Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, and threatening violence. The letter was received in the mail last Thursday, but the Langley Islamic Centre only shared a photo of it in a Facebook post Tuesday evening. “We are shaken by a deeply concerning violent threat that was directed towards our beautiful community in Langley,” the post says. “The letter received…is meant to directly threaten members of the Langley Muslim community. The letter clearly stated a reference to the Christchurch Mosque Attack.” The letter came via Canada Post and is made up of text cut from newspapers and magazines affixed to a sheet of paper. “You have two months to shut ths (sic) place down and leave,” it begins, before referencing the Australian man convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the Christchurch massacre. The mosque has turned the letter over to Langley RCMP who say the threat is being taken very seriously. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Sep 2021 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results