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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14 Apr 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, a charity that addresses inequalities faced by Muslim communities, discusses the discrimination Muslims face in the criminal justice system, as questions arise regarding the new lead for the UK counter-terrorism commission for his past connections with an American anti-immigrant hate group. In the U.S. a Somali father reunites with his family in Ohio after years of separation due to the Muslim Ban. Our recommended read of the day is by Catherine Phipps on how France’s new burqa ban is rooted country’s history of colonialism and Islamophobia. This and more below:


13 Apr 2021

France’s ban on the veil looks far more sinister in historical context

Religious head coverings were outlawed in schools and government buildings in 2004, and full face coverings have been banned in public spaces since 2011. Now, the Senate has voted to ban women accompanying their children on school trips from wearing a veil. Swimming pools can also prohibit women from wearing “burkinis” (full-body swimwear favored by some Muslim women). Most controversially, the Senate also supported an amendment to make it illegal for girls under the age of 18 to “wear any clothing or dress that would imply the subordination of women to men” in public spaces. This, of course, means a veil: Revealing, rather than concealing, clothing for women apparently has nothing to do with patriarchy. These efforts to “liberate” Muslim women reiterate attitudes about women’s bodies and religious symbols that are rooted in the history of French imperialism. They echo French justifications for imperialism abroad, which was framed as a “civilizing mission” that masked widespread colonial violence. Such attitudes are rooted in centuries of beliefs of racial superiority and a need to “protect” Muslim women. By recognizing this historical tie, we can see how the overt violence inherent in imperialism is still influencing the daily lives of many Muslim women in France today. France, a historically Catholic country, cast the Muslim people under its power as racially inferior and socially undeveloped. French imperialists wielded local religious practices, including the veiling of Muslim women, child marriage and gender seclusion, to demonstrate to the French public the necessity of intervention in the region. “Rescuing” Muslim woman became an integral claim of the French “mission civilisatrice” (civilizing mission), the belief that a benevolent imperial presence could modernize and improve the lives of colonized peoples. This, of course, erased the constant violence of imperialism. France is estimated to have killed 825,000 Indigenous people during the 40-year “pacification” of Algeria, not to mention the decades of poverty, wealth extraction, massacres and the war crimes. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
13 Apr 2021

Macron's anti-Muslim fake news in the FT needs urgent correcting

Hence, Emmanuel Macron was taken very seriously indeed when he spread fake news about his country’s five million Muslims in the FT last November. In a few toxic paragraphs, he conjured up a picture of lawless council estates where Muslim parents are poisoning the minds of little girls while covering their bodies under burkas. Without a shred of evidence, the president wrote: “Visit the districts where small girls aged three or four are wearing a full veil, separated from boys, and, from a very young age, separated from the rest of society, raised in hatred of France’s values.” The president also stated that these children spend their time in hellhole communities surrounded by “hundreds of radicalized individuals, who we fear may, at any moment, take a knife and kill people”. Introducing disturbing biological references into his narrative, Macron said these areas were “breeding grounds for terrorists in France”. If the purpose of this sulfurous prose was to spread collective guilt, it certainly had the desired effect. An actual president had confirmed what venal propagandists have been saying for years – that France has been overrun by alien hordes, and that murderous, cradle-to-grave radicalism is widespread. Everyone from anonymous social media trolls with swastika avatars to the kind of racist pop-philosophers who currently dominate French political thinking now had the president’s backing. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Apr 2021

Muslims in prison—time for a wake-up call

A former prisoner officer once described to me how, during the fasting month of Ramadan, she would wake up Muslim prisoners for an early breakfast because they did not have access to alarm clocks (not necessarily available in some prisons). The prisoners trusted her to do the right thing. She had not received any training on the religious needs of prisoners but had learnt on the job that certain rituals matter a lot to Muslims—especially during the holy month. But not all Muslim prisoners have been quite so fortunate. She went on to describe how other prison officers deliberately didn’t wake up Muslim prisoners during Ramadan because they had decided that the men were unlikely to keep the fasts. As Ramadan starts this week, the alarm clock story is indicative of the discrimination Muslims face in the criminal justice system. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of Muslims in prison: they now make up 17 per cent of prisoners—a figure that has doubled over the last 15 years—when they only make up five per cent of the general population. Our work at Maslaha, a charity that works on addressing inequalities faced by Muslim communities, has enabled us to hear directly from the prisoners themselves. The absence of their voices in mainstream conversation makes it easier to caricature them: the radical Muslim; the terrorist Muslim; the extremist Muslim. All the while there is scant evidence to back up these impressions. As one man who had been in prison told us: “As a Muslim person, praying five times a day in congregation is normal and it happens every day, every year, all up and down the country, all the over the world. But when it happens in a prison environment, and you’ve got a bunch of Muslim lads in one cell, it starts setting off alarms in the prison staff—what are they up to, what’s going on?” We had a number of conversations with Muslim men who have been banned from Friday prayers for minor infractions of prison rules: they told us that the prison authorities knew how much such prayers meant to them, and would deliberately use the threat of denying them their religious freedom as leverage. As one said: “They know that’s the one thing that will get to a Muslim, if he’s not going to get to Friday prayers. That’s their best threat.” read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

‘Mind Boggling’ US Experts Speak Out Against Appointment of New UK Government Counter-Extremism Chief

The new Lead Commissioner for the UK Government’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) recently spoke at an American anti-immigrant hate group that regularly circulated anti-Semitic, white nationalist materials. He also promoted racist conspiracy theorists, including a proponent of the ‘Great Replacement’ ideology which inspired recent far-right terror attacks, Byline Times can exclusively reveal. The new Government appointee even has close ties to a senior Trump administration official with a history of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. A former advisor to then US Secretary of State John Kerry (currently US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate in the Biden administration) has now spoken out about the danger of falsely equating British Muslim community organizations with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Home Office, however, has doubled down – refusing to condemn the appointee’s shocking affiliations and endorsements, while insisting on his “wealth of expertise”. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

Tired of Muslim ‘terrorists’, charity tackles cinema stereotypes

From Bodyguard, the British television thriller series, to the US CIA drama Homeland, the portrayal of Muslim characters on-screen has often been perceived as problematic at best. Men are cast as fringe, culturally backwards figures linked with misogyny, violence and anger. Women are depicted as oppressed victims with little to no agency. Tired of the stereotypes, a new charity aims to change the script on representation in the entertainment industry and end the common use of anti-Muslim tropes. Launched last week, UK Muslim Film seeks to “integrate the Muslim experience into the heart of British culture” through film and television. Envisaged as a year-round hub, it will host screenings and masterclasses, among other events, and nurture emerging storytellers with a fund reserved for aspiring filmmakers of Muslim backgrounds – and other underrepresented groups – to boost their presence in the industry. Backed by the British Film Institute (BFI), the charity will also advise productions on how to better represent Muslims in cinema and avoid perpetuating offensive, negative stereotypes. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

UKIP's Hamilton defends candidate who sent offensive tweets about Muslims

UKIP's Wales leader has defended a Senedd election candidate who sent offensive tweets about Muslims. The Muslim Council of Wales says Stan Robinson's Twitter account is a "collection of hateful, bigoted and deeply worrying misinformation and conspiracies". Neil Hamilton said the Twitter account was "of no consequence" to the election. Mr Robinson said free speech is "an intrinsic British value". Stan Robinson is number three on the UKIP South Wales West list. On his Twitter account, Mr Robinson has in the past fortnight posted several derogatory messages about Islam and Muslims. He has also retweeted a message labelling migrants "parasites" who should be "arrested" or "shot" to "stop the invasion". One graphic image was tweeted at the end of last month, depicting the Prophet Muhammad and suggesting child abuse. read the complete article

United States

13 Apr 2021

Somali father reunites with family in Ohio after years of separation due to 'Muslim ban'

Ali was joining his family in Columbus, Ohio, after 11 years of separation, due in part to the Trump administration’s “Muslim Ban." At the airport, Ali greeted his daughter, Afnan Salem, 22; his other two grandchildren, Rashed's sisters, Reem, 6, and Rahaf, 5, whom he had never met before; his daughter, Sabah, 24; and his wife, Fadumo Hussein, 49, with hugs and exclamations of “Papa!” Moments later, he would greet his two eldest, twin brothers Abdelrauuf and Abdulritha, both 29. Ali is one of several thousand refugees and immigrants who have waited years to reunite with their families due to Trump administration policies, including banning people from several Muslim-majority and African countries from entering the United States. Though the Biden Administration lifted Trump's bans on day one, allowing Ali to join his family, the wait for many immigrants seeking to do the same likely isn’t over, experts say. The administration has yet to set a higher cap on the number of refugees admitted each year or to give clear guidance on what is next for those whose visas were denied due to the bans. Avideh Moussavian, director of federal advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center, said an estimated 74,000 people applied for visas and were directly affected by the bans from January 2017 through the end of January 2021. Of those, about 41,000 were denied visas and couldn’t get an exception or a waiver. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

Biden on track to accept lowest number of refugees in modern US history

The United States is on track to accept the smallest number of refugees ever recorded, according to a new report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC report shows that midway through the 2021 fiscal year, only 2,050 refugees have been admitted to the US. While the Biden administration has worked to rebuild the US's Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) - among other initiatives - via executive order, revoking some restrictive immigration policies and conducting the required consultations with Congress, the IRC report shows that such efforts have stalled. "There has now been an unexplained and unjustified eight-week delay in issuing the revised refugee admissions policy," the group said. "This delay means that highly restrictive and discriminatory Trump-era policies remain firmly in place." Despite pledges to raise the cap on the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States, which were drastically lowered under former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has yet to sign a presidential determination making it so. Since the document remains unsigned, the Trump administration's 15,000 cap on refugee admissions per year remains in effect. But at this rate, the Biden administration is set to reach less than half of that number. If Biden does not sign the presidential determination for this fiscal year, the IRC estimates the US will admit 4,510 refugees, which represents less than half the number from the last year of the Trump administration. The group also warned that the Trump administration's near-total ban of refugees from Somalia, Syria and Yemen also remains in effect, as admissions from countries subject to "extreme vetting" remain at a near halt. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

Anti-Muslim activist confirmed to textbook commission

The Tennessee House on Monday voted to confirm the appointment of Williamson County education and anti-Muslim activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to a seat on the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. A founder of the organization Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Cardoza-Moore has fought to stop the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro. In recent months, she spread misinformation about the presidential election and urged people to go to Washington, D.C., to “defend our Constitutional Republic” ahead of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot that resulted in several deaths and damage at the U.S. Capitol. When fighting construction of the mosque, Cardoza-Moore contended that “radical Islamic extremists” would use it as a foothold in the area. “You have Christian music headquartered here,” she said. “The radical Islamic extremists have stated that they are still fighting the Crusaders, and they see this as the capital of the Crusaders.” She also said that 30 percent of Muslims are terrorists. "Her anti-Muslim comments and conspiratorial views should be nowhere near an educational institution,” said Huzaifa Shahbaz, Council on American-Islamic Relations Research and Advocacy coordinator. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

Ramadan is important for many reasons, from fasting to fighting Islamophobia

With tens of thousands of students returning multiple days each week to in-person instruction in the San Diego Unified School District on Monday, students in classrooms may find many Muslim students who are fasting. It’s important they receive support. Incidents of bullying against Muslim students are unacceptable in all their forms, from verbal assaults to physical attacks to cyberbullying. In past years, upticks in bullying and harassment have been sharp and sudden. Muslims girls who wear the headscarf “hijab” struggle with their classmates, school staff and teachers’ misconceptions. According to multiple studies, Muslim students are twice as likely to be bullied than children in other faiths. Islamophobia shatters Muslim American youth’s sense of belonging to the American society and created an extensive gap between young Muslims’ perception of their identity: who they are and how they are perceived by others and the society at large. Because of the psychological, emotional and social impact of Islamophobia on Muslim students, Ramadan is a good opportunity for teachers to clear common myths and misconceptions about their Muslim students because people feel included when the people around them understand their lives. Muslim refugee and immigrant students might experience emotional loss of missing family members, and homes. These emotions are intensified during the month of Ramadan because Ramadan is about family and community. Muslims around the world break their fast each day with friends and family, and the first holiday without loved ones can be extremely painful. When teachers and staff are educated about Ramadan, they foster an atmosphere of cultural awareness and sensitivity for the whole school community. Sensitivity towards fasting students may include fostering a positive dialogue and relationships among teachers, staff and students to recognize the Muslim students who are fasting; not having the fasting students in the lunch court and providing them with a supervised, quiet space to rest; allowing less strenuous playground or physical education activities, especially towards the last hours of the day; and accommodating the Muslim students during exams and state testing. read the complete article

13 Apr 2021

As Ramadan begins, lawsuit alleges mistreatment of Muslims at Va. prison

Last year, a Muslim inmate at Virginia’s Wallens Ridge State Prison wrote a letter about alleged mistreatment at the maximum-security facility. Officers beat Muslim prisoners and withheld their meals, the letter said. One inmate had threatened suicide but prison staffers didn’t seem to care, according to the letter. “The officers make remarks about our faith such as ‘Why don’t you ask Allah to save you?’ and call us wanna-be sand [n-word],” the letter said. “This letter is a cry for help.” The complaint is among many that Gay Gardner, an adviser for the nonprofit group Interfaith Action for Human Rights, says she received from Muslim inmates in Virginia state prisons last year. Now, she is suing the Virginia Department of Corrections to force it to explain how it treats some Muslim inmates — and whether they will be able to observe Ramadan, Islam’s month of fasting and prayer, which is sacred to almost 2 billion people around the world and began Tuesday. The prison, which is in Southwest Virginia near the Kentucky border, houses about 1,000 state inmates and is in litigation over alleged excessive use of solitary confinement, for which it was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2019. To investigate the treatment of Muslims at the facility, Gardner last year filed a public records request with the Virginia Department of Corrections. But she said the agency would not release even statistics about how many Muslims are in its custody.When she asked for specifics about conditions at Wallens Ridge, she received only documents related to “high level policies.” read the complete article


13 Apr 2021

Asaduddin Owaisi’s Bid to Redefine Indian Secularism

Donned in a trademark sherwani, clipped beard, and skullcap, Owaisi addressed the crowd of more than 5,000 mostly Muslim supporters. Looking out over a sea of green-hued Gandhi caps with his party’s name and symbol, the 51-year-old leader lifted his hand in a seasoned political gesture, and quiet spread over the crowd. He shut his eyes before beginning at a sermon pace: “Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim” or “In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful.” By the time his remarks were over around 30 minutes later, he had reached a booming crescendo. “We Muslims,” he declared, “have rejected Pakistan to make India the home of our hearts. Now, it is time for the Hindus to prove their patriotism and reject Modi.” Later that day, Owaisi recounted his critique of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu-majority Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alienated the country’s nearly 200 million Muslims. But it isn’t just Modi that Owaisi blames. He told me that his entry into the din of Indian politics was meant “shake up the political equilibrium,” which has “forever taken Muslims for granted.” A barrister and member of the national parliament, Owaisi has galloped his way to fame via blazing speeches, the wild conspiracies that surround him, and (according to detractors) nefarious motives for disrupting the political balance between Modi’s BJP and its main rival, the Indian National Congress party. He is leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, which, despite its name, has a relatively limited reach. In elections this spring, he dreams of expanding his party across the country to give Muslims a greater voice. The community constitutes 15 percent of the vast democracy’s population and has seen discrimination rise under Modi as populism and Hindu majoritarianism have become more pronounced. Mob violence, militant attacks on Muslims and Muslim-owned businesses, and other acts of discrimination are routine. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim legislation, such as the cancellation of Kashmir’s special status; the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which allowed citizenship to be tied to religion; and the inhibiting of interreligious marriage in certain parts of the country has put even more pressure on Muslim communities. Right before India shut down due to the pandemic, a nationwide protest movement against the CAA led to riots in the capital. Owaisi channeled this anger, delivering furious speeches in parliament and taking on Modi’s many fans on mainstream media channels, typicaly in flowing Urdu, which used to be a mark of Indo-Muslim high culture. In December 2019, he even tore up a copy of the controversial CAA in parliament for all to see. The same month, he led thousands of followers in an anti-CAA demonstration in Hyderabad, where participants read the preamble of the Indian Constitution in Urdu and English. It is no wonder, then, that his fans see him as a bulwark protecting India’s Muslims. For his detractors though, he is a wild maverick—worthy of suspicion—who aims to disrupt deep-seated electoral calculations in Indian politics for personal gain. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Apr 2021 Edition


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