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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29 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, polling station assistants in the town of Bergheim initially refused to allow a woman wearing a hijab and a protective mask to cast her ballot during Germany’s elections on Sunday, while in Canada, the family of a Uyghur activist imprisoned by China for 15 years calls on the Canadian government to make a harder push to secure his release, and in Poland, the PiS-led government has been accused of engaging in an anti-Muslim, racist, and xenophobic smear campaign targeting migrants and refugees at the border. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. David R. Stroup for The Conversation on the Chinese authorities removal of domes and minarets from mosques in the country, which Stroup notes is part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on Islam in China. This and more below:


29 Sep 2021

China: removing ‘Arab-style’ features from country’s biggest mosques the latest move in campaign of Muslim assimilation | Recommended Read

In the normally quiet city of Xining, capital of northwest China’s Qinghai province, everyday interactions between the city’s ethnic groups – Han Chinese, Hui Muslim, Tibetans, Turkic Salars and others – usually pass without conflict or fanfare. But thanks to the municipal government’s controversial demolition of the entrance hall of the city’s famous Dongguan Mosque, one of the largest in China, the city finds itself squarely in the cross-hairs of a nationwide campaign to make Islam more Chinese or “sinicise” it – in official language, “to guide Islam to be compatible with socialism”. The removal of the “Arabic-style” domes and minarets from the front gate of the mosque has sparked backlash from local residents, and even captured the attention of foreign diplomats. The story of the Dongguan’s renovation signals the expansion of an ongoing crackdown on Islam in China, which has thus far largely been enacted against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. On July 9 2021, images of a notice from the Xining municipal government announcing the renovation of the front gate of the Dongguan Mosque circulated on social media sites such as Sina Weibo and Zhihu. Similar changes were enacted at the city’s other mosques – at least ten of which stand in the city’s central Chengdong District, alone. Twitter users in Xining documented and shared images of these changes as they swept across the city. The demolition of the front gate has happened against the backdrop of a much larger crackdown on Islamic identity unfolding across China. read the complete article

United States

29 Sep 2021

The Muslim Ban, COVID-19 Delays, And A Story About How Love Conquers All

The Muslim ban of 2017, followed by the various COVID-19 travel bans, have caused much chaos and hardship in the lives of many people. I hope to see bans lifted for Europe and the U.K. in November 2021, but many of the details are yet to be released. This following story is one that demonstrates the hardships of travel bans but is also one of perseverance, dedication, and love. I’ve used different names to protect my clients’ identities. read the complete article

29 Sep 2021

Muslim McDonald’s Worker Can Pursue Hijab, Prayer Break Suit

The owner of McDonald’s franchises in Maryland must face a Muslim department manager’s lawsuit alleging she was harassed based on her religion and sex for wearing a hijab at work and had her permission to take prayer breaks rescinded, a federal judge in Baltimore ruled. Diamond Powell says the abuse occurred while she was working for Susdewitt Management LLC, which does business as McDonald’s, at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The harassment began soon after she converted to Islam in February 2017 and received permission to wear her religious head scarf while working, she says. read the complete article

29 Sep 2021

Berkeley institute: Islamophobia is shockingly common, especially for Muslim women

During her years at UC Berkeley, Ramahi said she experienced aggressions both micro and macro. There were the students who used the small prayer room on campus as a general “napping space,” she said, trampling prayer rugs in the process. But what got to her more was hearing “Islamophobic garbage” from esteemed speakers invited to campus. One speaker, she recalled, called Palestinians “animals.” That was “so damaging to my soul,” Ramahi said. Her experiences are echoed by Muslims nationwide, especially Muslim women, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley. The survey found that nearly 68% of Muslims in the United States have experienced bias, hate or exclusion — forms of Islamophobia. For women, the numbers are especially staggering. Nearly 77% of Muslim women responded that they have faced some form of anti-Islamic prejudice, compared with 58.6% of men. The survey also found that 93.7% of respondents said Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being. Ramahi felt this daily, unable to shake a low-level fear that she might be deliberately run over while walking home from campus. read the complete article

United Kingdom

29 Sep 2021

'As a Muslim, Britain First becoming a political party frightens me to my core'

Yesterday the Electoral Commission announced that Britain First was allowed to, again, be an official political party. As a visibly Muslim woman wearing the hijab, I find the rhetoric and vitriol which Britain First use to gather and garner support incredibly offensive and frightening. Actually, I find that their stance overtly incites hatred against Muslims and Islam in the UK. I am absolutely gobsmacked that a party with such views and ideologies has been allowed to stand as an official political party, potentially allowing for members of parliament to espouse these views in the Commons. As far as I am concerned, they are in breach of laws criminalising incitement of hatred based on race or religion in the UK. My biggest concern is that by allowing Britain First to have a such a platform from which to voice these discriminatory and hateful ideologies against Muslims in particular, I fear that once again my family and I will be on the receiving end of this action. read the complete article

29 Sep 2021

Meet Muslim Sisterhood: the art collective encouraging people of all backgrounds and body types to start swimming

As they partner with Nike Swim to launch the brands first full coverage swimwear range, we chat to Lamisa Khan, Zeinab Saleh and Sara Gulamali about how they created a global movement that defies outdated stereotypes and champions diversity. What began life as a way of expressing themselves and sharing their art on Instagram – they were seeking to represent a variety of young Muslim women in London, Khan tells me – is now a global community of Muslim women all over the world. What more do they think could be done societally to encourage more inclusion of Muslim and modest women in sports and creative spaces? “With all kinds of diversity and inclusion initiatives, it’s really just about allowing and enabling a community to do what serves them best rather than dictating it. We often talk about how we should be including women from ‘marginalised’ communities in spaces of sports and creativity, but these spaces aren’t often built with us in mind and sometimes we already exist and nobody is really looking hard enough.” read the complete article


29 Sep 2021

Family of Canadian Uyghur advocate held in China upset, outraged he remains detained

It wasn’t until Tuesday morning, when Kamila Telendibaeva saw the footage and pictures of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor landing in Canada, that she started to picture her own reunion with her husband who has been in a Chinese prison for 15 years. As she watched the joyful scene, Telendibaeva said she was happy to see Spavor and Kovrig freed after a years-long ordeal, saying it was great for the two men and the country. But thinking about a reunion with a husband she hasn’t seen in years, and a father who has never met his youngest son, now a teenager, Telendibaeva raised her voice and raced over her words. “Honestly, my blood is boiling,” she said, adding that she felt the Liberals are ignoring Huseyin Celil’s case, and wants to see a harder push to secure his release. Celil has been detained in China since 2006, after he was arrested in Uzbekistan and sent to China after his long-standing advocacy for the human rights of his Muslim ethnic Uyghur minority. Telendibaeva said the family’s overtures to Chinese officials to see Celil in-person have been unsuccessful. Their period visits to him in prison were cut off about five years ago when Beijing first cracked down on Muslim Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, rounding them up into prison camps, citing the need to fight terrorism. Telendibaeva added she hasn’t heard much recently from Canadian officials about the state of her husband’s case. read the complete article

29 Sep 2021

Authoritarian regimes are using Interpol to hunt down their critics

One week later, Moroccan authorities confirmed that Aishan had been arrested after a terrorism alert was issued by Beijing through Interpol. He now faces possible extradition to Xinjiang, China, where more than a million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim communities have been held in concentration camps in a crackdown described as “genocide” by the U.S. State Department in July. “He’s in frustration, he’s really afraid. If he’s deported to China, it’s a death sentence for him,” said Abduweli Ayup, a prominent Uyghur activist. Ayup, who is based in Norway, where he runs an organization dedicated to assisting Uyghurs in exile in Turkey. Aishan’s case highlights how Interpol, the largest law enforcement organization in the world, with 194 member countries, can be used by authoritarian leaders and human rights violators to track down critics across international borders. While Interpol can serve as an effective vehicle for fighting crime, rights groups, lawyers and politicians have repeatedly voiced concerns that the issuing of red notices has been repeatedly abused by repressive governments — including China, Russia and Belarus — to target dissidents, journalists or political opponents seeking refuge in other countries. read the complete article


29 Sep 2021

Polish ministers accused of Islamophobia over intensive smear campaign against migrants

Minister for the Interior Mariusz Kamiński and Minister of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak held a press conference where they claimed a tenth of the Middle Eastern migrants stuck at the border have been found to have possible connections with terrorism, organised crime and people smuggling. Yet the most extraordinary moment of the press conference came when a picture was presented of a man having sex with a cow. The ministers said the picture, found on a migrant’s phone, is “evidence of zoophilia” against which Poland must be protected. The ministers said the identities of several hundred illegal immigrants trying to enter Poland via Belarus have been verified. Two-thirds of them were selected for “deep verification” over alleged threats to the security of Poland. A quarter of this group “may have dangerous connections or have participated in illegal practices,” they claimed. The litany of alleged sins culminated with the incendiary claim that “examination of the identity of people staying in detention centres found evidence of paedophilic activity and zoophilia”. Opposition politicians and large sections of the Polish media have condemned the government’s press conference as “embarrassing” and an example of the basest kind of Islamophobia. The jaw-dropping association of migrants stuck at the border with horrendous forms of criminal activity has plunged Poland even deeper into scandal over its treatment of people facing increasingly harsh conditions as colder weather approaches. Poland’s PiS government appears to be weaponizing the migrants for its own ends, using harrowing images of crime and sexual perversion to suggest that they all constitute a threat to national security and Poland’s Christian culture. read the complete article


29 Sep 2021

German elections: Hijab-wearing woman turned away from voting booth

Polling station assistants in the western German town of Bergheim initially refused to allow a 21-year-old woman wearing a hijab and a protective mask to cast her ballot during Germany's elections on Sunday. The poll workers reportedly cited a ban on face coverings for not allowing her to vote, according to the local WDR public broadcaster. The law says those who wish to vote must be identifiable. She was later allowed to vote after researching the law and complaining to city officials. The town's elections board said she is allowed to wear her headscarf and vote, while adding that restrictions on face coverings apply to more conservative forms of dress such as the burqa or niqab. Video of the woman talking to poll workers circulated on social media. Users accused election workers of being Islamophobic or racist. read the complete article


29 Sep 2021

Muslim woman attacked for wearing hijab in Vienna

A Muslim woman living in the Austrian capital Vienna was spat on by a woman in an Islamophobic attack. Digital creator Baraa Bolat says the woman verbally harassed her after she got off a city bus. The woman pulled off her hijab, causing the pin attached to the veil underneath her chin to wound her. Ms Bolat said the worst part was that no one helped her. The assailant only stopped when Ms Bolat started filming her. She shared the incident on social media to raise awareness of such attacks. read the complete article


29 Sep 2021

‘They started shooting’: Assam Muslims recount police killing

Soon after the Friday prayers on the platform of a razed mosque, Ainuddin struggled to recount the sequence of events of the previous day when his elder brother Mainal Haq was allegedly shot dead by the police in Darrang district of northeastern Indian state of Assam. “The police shot him in the chest. The photographer thrashed him. They kept thrashing him even after he was dead,” Ainuddin told Al Jazeera. The stomping of his bullet-ridden body by a photographer had gone viral.Next to him, the rest of the family including Mainal’s wife and his children sobbed in a makeshift shelter of two small tin sheets that they erected by the river on Thursday after their houses were demolished as part of anti-encroachment drive. Up to 1,300 families now have been rendered homeless and living in makeshift tin houses. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Sep 2021 Edition


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