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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08 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, CNN has brought on John Miller, a retired New York Police Department top official who faced criticism after claiming that the agency did not spy on Muslims post 9/11, meanwhile, Switzerland has summoned China’s ambassador following the publication last week of a UN report listing a litany of serious abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and in India, Rahul Gandhi, the senior leader of India’s main opposition Congress Party, has launched a cross-country “unity” march. Our recommended read of the day is by Rowaida Abdelaziz for The Huffington Post on a new report that found Muslims only account for 1% of characters on popular television shows in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand. This and more below:


08 Sep 2022

Muslims Only Make Up 1% Of Characters On TV, Study Finds | Recommended Read

Despite making up 25% of the global population, Muslims only account for 1% of characters on popular television shows, according to a report released Wednesday. The findings, which come from an analysis of 200 top-rated television shows aired in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand between 2018 and 2019, indicate yet again that the global entertainment industry has either sidelined Muslim voices entirely or cast Muslim actors in roles rooted in stereotypes. “What we’re seeing is content creators and casting directors that have no imagination,” said Stacy Smith, the founder of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the lead author of the study. “This is people being lazy with a group of people that routinely are being dehumanized as either perpetrators or victims of violence, or with disparaging comments.” Such storylines can contribute to a host of concerns in the real world, including aggression toward and fear of Muslims, Smith said. The report, titled “Erased or Extremists: The Stereotypical View of Muslims in Popular Episodic Series,” was released with support from the USC initiative, Pillars Fund and the Ford Foundation, as well as actor Riz Ahmed and his production company, Left Handed Films. Among the shows review as part of the study, 87% did not feature a single Muslim character. The 200 scripted series included just 98 Muslim characters out of 8,885 speaking roles — a ratio of about 1-to-90. When Muslim characters did make an appearance on screen, they were largely portrayed as violent or foreign, and referred to with words like “terrorist,” “predator” and “monster.” Thirty percent of the Muslim characters in the sample perpetrated violent acts against another character, and nearly 40% were targets of violence. Despite the fact that Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world, the majority of speaking Muslim characters were depicted as Middle Eastern or North African. Only 13% of all Muslim characters were shown as native to countries that are not majority Muslim. Meanwhile, two were depicted as immigrants. read the complete article

08 Sep 2022

Switzerland summons China's ambassador after UN Xinjiang report: official

Switzerland summoned China's ambassador following the publication last week of a long-awaited UN report listing a litany of serious abuses in China's Xinjiang region, the government said on Wednesday. Switzerland had "summoned China's ambassador to Bern to convey to him Switzerland's concerns following the publication of the… report on the situation in Xinjiang," the foreign ministry told AFP in an email. The landmark report – released minutes before UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet left office – detailed a string of rights violations including torture, forced labour and arbitrary detention, bringing the UN seal to many of the allegations long made by activist groups, Western nations and the Uyghur community in exile. The report said China may have carried out "crimes against humanity" against the Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups. read the complete article

United States

08 Sep 2022

CNN hires retired police official accused of lying about Muslim surveillance

CNN announced its newest hire, a retired New York Police Department top official who faced criticism after claiming that the agency did not spy on Muslims post 9/11. John Miller has been brought on as CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst. At an eight-hour city council hearing on public safety in March, Miller claimed years-long surveillance of neighbourhoods and mosques was just a “perception”. In March, Shahana Hanif, the first and only Muslim NYC council member, asked Miller if the NYPD could commit to fully disclosing the extent of its Muslim surveillance programme and if the law enforcement agency could also issue a formal apology or public acknowledgement to Muslim New Yorkers for the "discriminatory, fruitless, and damaging programme". He answered: “Perception allowed to linger long enough becomes reality. I know from my own conversation with Muslim members of the community and Muslim community leaders, that there are people… who will believe forever… [that] there were spies in their mosques who are trying to entrap people," he said. "There is no evidence that that occurred based on every objective study that's been done." Yet according to reports, including from the Associated Press and NYPD’s own internal documents, the NYPD did spy on Muslims. The AP investigation found that the NYPD profiled and surveilled New York City's Muslims in an attempt to find "radicalisation", by mapping out communities, conducting video surveillance, recruiting informants, and generating intelligence databases. read the complete article

08 Sep 2022

Conversion Isn’t a Ticket Out of White Supremacy

White Christian nationalism has recently come into sharper focus because of the January 6 insurrection and controversial Supreme Court rulings regarding reproductive rights and the separation of religion and state. Yet, the influence of whiteness on religion extends beyond Christianity, which often becomes equated with “religion” itself. Despite the growing number of white people converting to religions racialized as “non-white,” such as Islam, these converts attract less interest. However, a closer look at white converts who enter more racially diverse religious communities offers a unique opportunity to understand different manifestations of white supremacy that are not tied exclusively to MAGA supporters. When I worked on a collaborative study between 2018 and 2021 that focused on Polish female converts to Islam, I was oblivious to how white supremacy might manifest. My colleagues and I interviewed 40 women in Poland and the United Kingdom, which is home to the largest Polish diaspora in Europe. When speaking with women who willingly joined the ranks of Islam, the most vilified faith tradition in Poland, I approached them with sympathy because they experience a great deal of anti-Muslim prejudice. By and large, the findings aligned with existing research on white conversion to Islam: White people may lose some degree of their racial privilege, especially if they adopt visible signs of Islam such as a headscarf or a beard. They may be symbolically excluded from their own ethnic communities; they may be complimented on their fluency in their native language by well-meaning people; they may be asked “where are you from?” Having become unintelligible in their own communities, these white converts to Islam often seek authenticity and want to be accepted within Muslim communities. As Muslims who are racialized by both non-Muslims and Muslims, sometimes they are not accepted or welcomed with open arms in either community. What opened my eyes to the racial dynamics of conversion was the realization that many white people, even those who are minoritized, still attempt to preserve and obscure their privilege using a variety of strategies. Initially, my colleagues and I did not ask a single question about racial identity in the study on converts. Yet, when I read the data through a critical lens that was sensitive to race, I saw that whiteness did manifest itself in the Polish converts’ responses under the guise of “blue eyes and blond hair,” “Europeanness,” “Polishness,” or “being civilized.” read the complete article

08 Sep 2022

Confronting Liberal Islamophobia

Islamophobia, like other systems of bias, operates in both liberal and conservative spaces in American society, albeit in different ways. Islamophobia by conservatives is easily identifiable through hateful speech, hate crimes and support for state national security and immigration practices targeting Muslims. The absence of such observable factors in liberal circles, however, does not make Islamophobia any less of a problem. To the contrary, the stealth of liberal Islamophobia arguably makes it more insidious. Liberals proudly boast their support for multiculturalism and pluralism, which purportedly includes Muslims. Their discourse follows the usual script of diversity, equity and inclusion: religious bigotry, racism, and anti-Muslim hate has no place in liberals’ institutions. A closer examination of behavior, however, betray those proclaimed values. Heightened scrutiny, tokenization, double standards, disparate application of policy, and implicit bias are the most common ways that liberals perpetuate Islamophobia—all the while claiming the higher ground in America’s culture wars. But unspoken bias does not make it nonexistent. Heightened scrutiny is a telltale sign of discrimination. A Muslims’ words and behavior, unlike that of their counterparts belonging to majority groups, are scrutinized for any clues of incompetence or disloyalty to the institution. This microscopic treatment is a constant reminder to Muslims of their outsider status. Muslims’ bodies are surveilled. When did they arrive and leave? What did they wear? Is their body language appropriate according to European Christian norms? Muslims’ words are dissected to test whether they deserve to remain in that space. To whom did they speak? How often did they speak? What did they say? How did they say it? Like state surveillance, heightened private scrutiny by neighbors, co-workers, and the public communicate in no uncertain terms to the Muslim that she is not equal to her White counterparts. read the complete article


08 Sep 2022

India: Congress’s Rahul Gandhi launches march to ‘unite India’

Rahul Gandhi, the senior leader of India’s main opposition Congress Party, has launched a cross-country “unity” march, echoing iconic protests by India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, as he aims to revive the party’s sagging electoral fortunes ahead of the 2024 general elections. Gandhi, a scion of the influential Gandhi family, flagged off the march, named “Bharat Jodo Yatra” or “Unite India Rally” in the southern coastal town of Kanyakumari on Wednesday to counter the increasing religious divide, rising unemployment, escalating prices and the weakening of democratic institutions. Gandhi attacked the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu supremacist organisation – for dividing India, officially a secular nation, on the lines of religion and language. The BJP has been accused of running anti-Muslim agenda, with increasing attacks against Muslims since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014. Dozens of Muslims have been lynched in the past eight years amid rising Islamophobia. The party has denied the charges. “The Indian flag does not belong to any particular community or party, it belongs to all of us. Millions and millions of people feel there’s need to take action that brings India together,” Gandhi said at the rally. “Our tricolour guarantees the right to practice any religion of choice, but today this flag is under attack,” he said. read the complete article

08 Sep 2022

Bilkis Bano: Have 11 men convicted in high-profile Indian rape case gone missing after release?

A lawyer for 11 men convicted of gang-rape and murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots in India, who were controversially released from prison last month, has denied a report that the men have gone missing. The men were found guilty of raping Bilkis Bano, who was 19 years old and pregnant at the time of the anti-Muslim riots that left more than 1,000 people dead. She survived the attack by a Hindu mob but saw 14 members of her family killed. Last month, having served 14 years of a life sentence, the men walked free from prison to a heroes’ welcome from relatives and supporters. Now, a report by the video news portal Mojo Story claims that the freed convicts are all either missing or have gone to ground. Journalists from the outlet visited homes associated with all 11 men but reported that there was no sign of them, while purported family members and neighbours did not provide clear answers to their whereabouts, according to video interviews by the outlet. The report came just days before India’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hear two pleas challenging their release in the case. There are fears that by the time the country’s highest court gives its Friday ruling, the 11 men might already be untraceable. However Rishi Malhotra, a lawyer representing the 11 convicts dismissed such concerns. He told The Independent: “First of all they were not on bail. They were released. They are very much there [at their homes]. There is no need for them to go underground. It is absurd.” read the complete article

08 Sep 2022

Karnataka hijab row: 'Will right to dress also mean right to undress?' asks Supreme Court

While hearing arguments on behalf of petitioners challenging the hijab ban in Karnataka’s government institutions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday remarked if the right to dress would also mean a right to undress. The remark came from Justice Hemant Gupta, in response to an argument that the right to dress forms part of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a), and the same has also earlier been laid down by the court. "You can’t take it to illogical ends. Right to dress would mean right to undress also?,"Justice Hemant Gupta remarked. In a batch of pleas challenging the ban on hijab in Karnataka Government PU institutes, senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for petitioners, argued that it has been laid down by the top court in the NALSA judgment that the right to expression under 19(1) (a) of the Constitution includes right to dress. He added that even in this situation, while there can undoubtedly be a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2), in the present case the women are not refusing to wear the uniform. read the complete article


08 Sep 2022

Ethnic violence, fear and alienation in Xinjiang

Perhat Tursun’s “The Backstreets” is a meditation on Uyghur identity and the suffocating atmosphere of the security crackdown in his homeland in western China. The celebrated Uyghur writer’s work has received its first English translation by anthropologist Darren Byler and an anonymous Uyghur linguist at an urgent time. Since 2017, China has arrested some 1.5 million Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, majority-Muslim people, for “reeducation.” Under the auspices of counterterrorism, Beijing has unleashed a wave of repression and rage against the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang. Using a combination of demographic resettling and forced sterilization, concentration camps, a panopticon of 21st-century surveillance technology, and forced labor, the Chinese Communist Party seeks to eradicate Uyghur culture and identity. In 2020, Tursun was disappeared, reportedly sentenced to 16 years in prison. He is among the hundreds of Uyghur intellectuals interred by the state in its bid to erase an independent local identity. “I chose to translate ‘The Backstreets’ because it was a masterful work of modernist fiction,” Byler told me in an email exchange. “It also spoke to the issue I was researching as an ethnographer: how rural migrant Uyghurs live despite the forms of systematic discrimination they experience while navigating settler-colonial institutions in the city.” A stranger in his own land, the novel’s protagonist reflects on the alienating effects of racial discrimination and the climate of fear choking Xinjiang’s capital city Urumqi. In the modernist tradition, the novel follows a stream-of-consciousness journey of an unnamed labor migrant as he flees the poverty of the Uyghur countryside to take up a government post and find an apartment to live in. He wanders the streets shunned by those around him and horrified by the harsh urban landscape: “The murky condition of [Urumqi] in the fog, the murky mental condition of my brain, and the ambiguous position of my identity in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region seemed to be totally of the same substance; sometimes they mirror each other, and sometimes they seep into each other.” read the complete article


08 Sep 2022

Germany: Ruling in favour of fired Palestinian Deutsche Welle journalist a 'relief', says lawyer

A German court ruling in favour of a Palestinian journalist dismissed by state-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is the first step to rehabilitate her reputation, her lawyer has said. Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa won her lawsuit on Monday against DW, which dismissed her and six other journalists earlier this year on charges of antisemitism. The Berlin Labour Court ordered DW to reinstate Maraqa and to pay for the costs of the legal dispute. Hauke Rindsorf, Maraqa’s lawyer, said the ruling was a "relief for Farah in the difficult situation Deutsche Welle brought". The court ruling, which followed a hearing on 20 July, suggested that Maraqa’s termination was "legally unjustified", the journalist said on Twitter. Maraqa was one of seven Arab journalists - from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria - who were fired by DW from its Arabic service in February. The dismissals were based on a controversial external investigation led by Ahmad Mansour, who has been accused of promoting anti-Muslim views. Mansour, known for his pro-Israeli views, is a self-proclaimed German-Arab-Israeli expert on Muslim "radicalisation" and antisemitism. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Sep 2022 Edition


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