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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21 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In France, the interior minister announced the shutting down of a Muslim publishing house for allegedly selling books promoting Islamic history, meanwhile in Myanmar, the ruling military junta has released Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk whose sermons have been blamed for inciting anti-Muslim violence over the last decade, and in the United States, Muslim and Arab Americans are on this year’s November mayoral ballot for the metro Detroit area. Our recommended read of the day is by Jan Camenzind Broomby for SwissInfo on what it was like for Muslims growing up in Switzerland following the September 11 attacks and experiencing the rising levels of Islamophobia in the country. This and more below:


21 Sep 2021

Growing up as a Swiss Muslim in the shadow of 9/11 | Recommended Read

Twenty years on from 9/11, young Swiss Muslims are facing rising levels of anti-Islam sentiment, stirred up by political debates and media narratives that create divides between Switzerland’s Muslims and the wider community. While there have been Muslims living in Switzerland for hundreds of years, the majority of today’s Swiss Muslim communities arrived as guest workers from Turkey, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1960s. The liberalisation of immigration policies in 1991 allowed those workers to bring their families, many of which fled from conflicts in the Balkans. Growing up in a rural town with only 10,000 pre-dominantly white inhabitants, it was initially Maymunah’s skin colour that was the source of her discrimination, she says. However, in the last twenty years she perceived a shift in attitudes towards Muslims and now says she increasingly faces discrimination because of her belief in Islam. “Before 9/11 it was the nationality that people focused on, after it became religion,” says Önder Güneş, spokesperson of the Swiss Federation of Islamic Umbrella OrganisationsExternal link (FIDS). In the eyes of the wider Swiss population, the attacks turned migrants into Muslims, and Muslims into radicals, he explains. read the complete article

21 Sep 2021

How anti-Muslim racism has gone mainstream

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Muslims in the West have been viewed with suspicion. In Switzerland about half of people think Islam is a danger to national security. A study publishedExternal link by the Center of Security Studies in Zurich states that although 56% of the Swiss population believes Islam is a peaceful religion, 46% see it as a threat. When someone in Switzerland complains of discrimination on grounds of religion, they tend to be disproportionately of the Islamic faith. The Federal Statistical Office shows in a 2016 surveyExternal link that 12 % of respondents had been discriminated against because of their religion. One-third of those were Muslims. This has direct consequences for Muslims in Switzerland. They are regularly victims of raciscm such as verbal abuse or difficultly integrating into the workplace. But Muslims didn’t have to wait until 9/11 to be discriminated in Europe. Unfavourable attitudes to Islam go back several centuries and have shaped part of European history. “In the Middle Ages there was war, and hostile propaganda on both sides,” says Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, a researcher in religious studies at the University of Lucerne. This sentiment of western islamophobia has only been aggravated by the 9/11 attacks, perceived as a turning point in the history of relations between the West and the Islamic world. “Since then, Islam has been seen as the main threat to the Western model,” says Darius Farman, a researcher at Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. read the complete article


21 Sep 2021

The secret ‘Muslim ban’ involving a Tax Court judge a national scandal

The recent revelation that a Canadian court secretly screened out “anyone who could be thought as being of Muslim or of the Islamic faith” from appearing before a judge of that court is unprecedented. This made-in-Canada Muslim ban is utterly un-Canadian. The ban was apparently issued after complaints were filed with the Canadian Judicial Council because the judge in question purportedly participated in an attempt to block the hiring of a scholar for her writing on Palestine. The Canadian Judicial Council’s decision to do little about that involvement is currently under judicial review. In any other context, we would call this what it is — a fundamental and obvious breach of the principle of equality, basic Charter principles, and human rights codes. The Tax Court of Canada implemented its Muslim ban in secret. It never told anyone that it had started screening out people that it considered Muslim. We only know that this was done because of a letter disclosed in a lawsuit brought against the Canadian Judicial Council for its handling of numerous complaints against a particular judge. The first time the court publicly acknowledged its ban was when it was contacted by the media last week. Had the lawsuit not been brought and the question not asked, no one would have known. read the complete article

21 Sep 2021

When the policies get it wrong

In Alberta alone, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has reported 14 attacks in the last ten months. At least 10 have been Black visibly Muslim Women wearing the hijab showing a clear disproportionate rate against this small community. In December 2020, a mother and daughter's wildly publicized violent assault at a shopping mall was the flashpoint for multiple attacks that would soon follow in broad daylight. Women were stalked, harassed, and violently assaulted in transit waiting areas, university grounds, malls, and park grounds. These incidents point to an urgent need for meaningful legal action based within an intersectional framework that takes into account the anti-Black racist, and Islamophobic gender-based violence. Instead, we are hearing growing calls for policy changes that would emphasize more reliance on our carcel systems. This is not the solution for racialized or marginalized communities who are all too familiar with a system that has historically been used it against them. Canadian policy and lawmakers need to do better. read the complete article


21 Sep 2021

France closes down Muslim publishing house for promoting Islamic history

France's right-wing interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, announced on Twitter that he's moving against a Muslim publishing house for allegedly selling books promoting Islamic history on key Muslim figures who fought in the name of the faith. According to the minister, the publishing house "Nawa Editions" has an editorial line that is "anti-universalist and in direct contestation of Western values," adding that it "distributed several works legitimising jihad." One such work includes a biography of the seventh-century Muslim military commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. France has been quick to celebrate and defend colonial-era figures that continue to cause controversy over the country's brutal imperial history. However, Muslims could now be regarded as extremists for publishing and celebrating figures and personalities important to their history and identity. In a statement, "Nawa Editions" condemned the "purely political" decision by the state. The publishing houses expressed their alarm at the "drift of the French political model" towards executive dissolutions of Muslim organisations without due process. France's latest actions against a Muslim organisation is part of a pattern that has seen the state closing charities that represent Muslims. read the complete article


21 Sep 2021

Myanmar’s extreme Buddhist nationalists

In a surprise move, Myanmar’s ruling military junta announced on 6 September the release from prison of Ashin Wirathu, a controversial Buddhist monk whose sermons have been blamed for inciting anti-Muslim violence over the last decade. In a statement, the military said it had dropped charges against Wirathu of sedition directed towards the previous Aung San Suu Kyi-led government. While Buddhism is rarely associated with extremism or violence, the 53-year-old Wirathu espouses a militant view that justifies the use of force against religious and cultural others, and supports authoritarian regimes. He rose to prominence in 2011, following deadly violence between Buddhist and ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims in the country’s restive western Rakhine state. Wirathu was accused of inciting hate speech against the Rohingyas, who are viewed as having immigrated from Bangladesh illegally, despite many of their families living in Myanmar for generations. read the complete article

United States

21 Sep 2021

Decades after ‘the Arab problem,’ Muslim and Arab Americans are leading political change in Metro Detroit

The oldest, largest, and most diverse Muslim American and Arab American communities in the U.S. are located in the Metro Detroit area. Christian Syrian and Lebanese immigrants first arrived in the area in the 1880s, followed later by Palestinian, Iraqi, Chaldean, Yemeni, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi Americans, and more. Many were drawn by work opportunities at Ford Motor Company in the 1920s. Changes in U.S. immigration laws in 1965 and a long string of political conflicts abroad also contributed to the growth and diversity of this population. But despite this long history, these communities in the metro Detroit area — at least one of which has blatantly displayed anti-Arab sentiment in its past — have not had significant Muslim or Arab American presence in local government other than city council — until now. This year, 20 years after 9/11, Muslim and Arab Americans are on the November mayoral ballot and signaling change for the cities of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and Hamtramck, Michigan. read the complete article


21 Sep 2021

America’s China Strategy Is Working

The long-standing tension between the lure of China’s riches and revulsion over its authoritarian practices is escalating sharply, raising the costs, risks, and hurdles involved in doing business there. Companies are getting squeezed between the Beijing government, which is not just more repressive but overtly unapologetic about it, and Washington politicians, who are more vociferously critical of China’s behavior and more intent on countering it. The complexity of navigating this expanding minefield has the potential to disentangle China’s economy from that of the United States and other countries to a degree that tariffs, trade wars, and diplomatic temper tantrums have not. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Sep 2021 Edition


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