US Muslims See Rise in Islamophobia

After a six-year hiatus, U.S. President Joe Biden last week resumed the 22-year-old tradition of hosting an Eid celebration at the White House.

“Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exists,” Biden told a group of prominent Muslims.

Biden’s comments marked a significant change of tone from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who said in 2016, “I think Islam hates us.”

Trump did not host a White House Eid celebration while president, though he did issue statements marking the annual Muslim festival and invited diplomats from Muslim-majority nations to the White House for iftar dinner during Ramadan in 2018 and 2019.

FILE - President Joe Biden, left, listens as Talib M. Shareef, President and Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington, speaks during a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2022.
FILE – President Joe Biden, left, listens as Talib M. Shareef, President and Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington, speaks during a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2022.

The shift in the White House’s tone comes at a time when U.S. Muslims fear Islamophobia is on the rise.

Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a 9% increase in the number of civil rights complaints it received from Muslims in the United States since 2020.

“CAIR received a total of 6,720 complaints nationwide involving a range of issues including immigration and travel, discrimination, law enforcement and government overreach, hate and bias incidents, incarceree rights, school incidents, and anti-BDS/free speech,” the report said. BDS refers to the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement that seeks to advance social change through economic pressure.

Huzaifa Shahbaz, an author of the report, told VOA the rise in complaints about Islamophobia coincided with the lifting of COVID-related restrictions and the reopening of workplaces, worship centers and restaurants.

Others echo CAIR’s findings and point to other reasons as well.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen racism in the United States rise across the board as a consequence of the pandemic, the intensification of white supremacist groups, political polarization, and even though we have Trump out of the office, this rising climate of racism is still feeding the Islamophobia that exists really heavily in the United States,” said Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at Wayne State University.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA

American liberals are confused about Islam

On abortion, they have embraced a religion they don’t understand

With the turning tide of US abortion law has come a predictable wave of anti-religious sentiment. Fearing that repealing Roe v. Wade will bring about an authoritarian theocracy, liberals of all stripes have taken to calling out ‘Christofascism’. 

Such vengeance towards conservative Christians is nothing new, but an unexpected topic has been thrown into the latest conversations about abortion rights: Sharia Law. Being something of a culture war staple, these two words seem to trend periodically on Twitter with little impetus, but in recent days have found their way into commentary on Roe v. Wade. This started with a number of posts comparing pro-life Christians to Islamists, including one which asked ‘why does it feel like the Christian version of the Taliban is taking over America?’

Secular opponents to the pro-life stance are (not for the first time) seeing semblance between ‘Christofascism’ and Sharia Law: both are perceived as patriarchal and oppressive systems that control women’s bodies and threaten human rights, democracy and other cornerstones of their particular interpretation of ‘Western values’. 

But soon after, such comparisons were quickly met with backlash and accusations of Islamophobia. Many expressed outrage towards the conflation of the American Christian right with Islam, along the lines of the former being a patriarchal force of oppression rooted in white nationalism and the latter a minority identity which has been victimised by it. Yet most strikingly, these rebuttals were accompanied by a bold claim: that Islam, unlike oppressive and patriarchal white Christianity, in fact allows abortion. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM UNHERD

The Hypocrisy of American Islamophobia

This country’s security agencies continue their laser focus on monitoring Muslim Americans, even as they grossly underestimate the threat from white supremacists.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson excused one of the leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers organization implicated in the January 6 insurrection by describing him as “a devout Christian.” It’s safe to surmise that he wouldn’t have offered a similar defense for a Muslim American. Since September 11, and even before that ominous date, they have suffered bitterly from discrimination and hate crimes in this country, while their religion has been demonized. During the first year of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim Americans polled said that they had personally experienced some type of discrimination.

No matter that this group resides comfortably in the American mainstream, it remains under intensive, often unconstitutional, surveillance. In contrast, during the past two decades, the Department of Justice for the most part gave a pass to violent white supremacists. No matter that they generated more terrorist attacks on US soil than any other group. The benign insouciance of the white American elite toward such dangerous fanatics also allowed them to organize freely for the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the potential violent overthrow of the government.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATION

U.S. Charities Funneled More Than $105 Million to Anti-Muslim Groups, New Report Finds

A new report revealed that organizations deemed Islamophobic by the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group received more than $105 million in donations from U.S. charities between 2017 and 2019.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a Jan. 11 report titled “Islamophobia in the Mainstream” that it studied the tax records of 50 organizations it had previously identified as the largest funders of anti-Muslim causes, and found that 35 of them were the source of a total of $105 million directed at such groups. CAIR has researched Islamophobia in the U.S. for decades and has been at the forefront of high-profile legal battles involving violations of Muslims’ religious liberties. For the purposes of its research, CAIR identifies organizations as Islamophobic if they support policies that lead to discrimination against Muslims, demean Muslims because of their religion or allege that Islam represents an existential threat to the U.S (or partner with other organizations that do).

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME

Hate Speech: Christians, Jews join Muslims seeking action against congresswoman

Boebert was recently caught on tape telling a made-up story about riding a Capitol elevator with Ilhan Omar in order to call her a terrorist

Boebert was recently caught on tape telling a made-up story about riding a Capitol elevator with Ilhan Omar in order to call her a terrorist:

“I said, well, lookey there, it’s the Jihad Squad… She doesn’t have a backpack… so we’re good.”

Boebert also said Omar and Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib are “black-hearted, evil women”.

“It was not the first time she’s said such things about Islam. As a result, Omar is now receiving anonymous death threats”, the Christian group said.

“Muslim and Jewish civil-rights groups are now calling on House leaders to seek accountability for Boebert, who has previously suggested that only Christians should serve in Congress. Let’s join them”, the Christian group said in the petition addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader McCarthy.

“We need to show Congress that American Christians stand in solidarity with American Muslims, and tell Republican Leader McCarthy and Speaker Pelosi to formally censure Boebert”, it said.

“As grassroots Christians from across the country, we join the call of Muslim and Jewish civil rights groups who are demanding swift condemnation of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s unacceptable and un-American hatred”, the group said.

“We ask that you formally censure Rep. Boebert for her repeated verbal assaults against our Muslim siblings and against religious freedom itself. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all”, Faithful America said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UMMID.COM

New Initiative Aims to Change How Movies Portray Muslims

An advocacy group has created a worker database with help from Disney to bring more Muslims into the filmmaking process.

A scene from “Ali’s Wedding” (2017), which was cited in a report about Muslims in movies as having “the only present-day Muslim lead.”Credit…Netflix

A new initiative to promote the inclusion of Muslims in filmmaking has been created by an advocacy group with the support of the Walt Disney Company — following a report issued this year that found that Muslims are rarely depicted in popular films and that many Muslim characters are linked to violence.

The project, the Pillars Muslim Artist Database, was announced on Tuesday by the Pillars Fund, an advocacy group in Chicago. It produced the earlier report on depiction along with the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and others.

Kashif Shaikh, a co-founder of Pillars and its president, said that when the group discussed the findings, those in the industry often said they did not know where to find Muslim writers or actors.

The database, Shaikh said, aims to give Muslim actors, directors, cinematographers, sound technicians and others, who could help create more nuanced portrayals, the chance to compose online profiles that can be reviewed by those hiring for film, television and streaming productions.

That way, “Muslims around the country would be able to opt in and talk about their talents, talk about their expertise,” Shaikh said. “It was really meant to be a resource for studios, for the film industry.”

The report on depiction, “Missing & Maligned,” was issued in June and analyzed 200 top-grossing movies released between 2017 and 2019 across the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jamil Jan Kochai on Americans’ Fear of Islam

The author discusses “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” his story from the latest issue of the magazine.

n “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” your story in this week’s issue, someone—presumably an F.B.I. agent—is surveilling the home of an Afghan family in West Sacramento, California. How did this scenario come to you?

A blackandwhite photograph of the author Jamil Jan Kochai in front of a bookshelf.
Photograph by Jalil Kochai

Like many of my stories, “The Haunting” was inspired by a joke. I had read an Onion article titled “FBI Counterterrorism Agent Wistfully Recalls Watching 20-Year-Old Muslim-American Grow Up,” which I found hilarious but also oddly plausible. I could imagine an F.B.I. agent growing to feel a disturbing sense of affection for some Muslim family he was surveilling. This figure sort of fascinated me. I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with federal agents myself. When I was in fourth grade, a few weeks after 9/11, I opened the door one day to find two F.B.I. agents standing on our front porch. I remember they spoke with my father for a short time and, fortunately, seemed to disappear afterward. And yet their presence still sort of lingered in our home. In our daily lives. We became very careful about what we discussed on the phone or online or at school. We lived with an odd sense of paranoia, which we often joked about in group chats, but this feeling of being surveilled did weigh on me. The agents had left, but they continued to exist in our lives like spectres. We felt haunted. We still feel haunted. But now, at least, I can write about the ghosts.

Why not tell the family’s story directly? Why see it through the eyes of a spying outsider?

The story started with the agent. I figured out his voice and perspective before I actually knew whom he would be surveilling. It was only after I began watching this family through the eyes of the agent that their characters and relationships and conflicts became apparent to me. I discovered this version of this family through the outsider himself. He was absolutely essential.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORKER

20 years without complexity: The legacy of 9/11 for American Muslims

by Anjabeen Ashraf | 13 Oct 2021

What is it like to hold a crossroads within your body? For many American Muslims, our identities have become a crossroads between familiar and foreign. Between safety and danger. Between belonging and othering.

In the years prior to 9/11, people were ignorant of Islam. There were opportunities to inform and people would listen. There were discriminatory policies like secret evidence that was rampantly used by former President Bill Clinton’s administration but at least we were on the verge of change. That is, until 9/11.

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approached, as an American Muslim, I noticed anxiety creep up within me. As the date got closer, the anxiety was replaced with dread because I knew that the narratives we have constructed about 9/11 and what followed lack the complexity required of such a deeply impactful event. Narratives that erase the impact for American Muslims.

Safety and security

Americans were willing to accept the subjugation of an entire group of people under the guise of safety, but the resulting impact of the policies and practices of the post-9/11 environment led to an unleashed security apparatus that has never been held accountable. It has also led to the strengthening of local policing norms that are just as destructive as the federal ones.

As former FBI agent Mike German writes in “Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy:” “With the encouragement of Congress both the Bush and Obama administrations, the FBI transformed itself into a domestic intelligence agency of unprecedented power that operates primarily in the dark, all but immune from traditional methods of oversight. This unconstrained and highly secretive FBI predictably turned its sight on those it has always viewed as most dangerous to the established order: minority communities, immigrants, and those agitating for political, economic, and social change.”

What this meant locally for Oregon’s Muslims can be understood through two stories.

Oregon Attorney Brandon Mayfield understands the destructive power of the FBI and local law enforcement very well because he was a victim of it. Back in 2004, in the wake of the Madrid commuter train bombings, several fingerprints were discovered. The Spanish National Police shared the fingerprints with the FBI and it returned 20 possible matches. Brandon’s prints were flagged, because of his prior military service. Even though the Spanish National Police found that his prints were not an identical match and communicated this to the FBI, the FBI still went after him. They began sifting through personal life to find out that he had converted to Islam, he represented defendants in national security cases and he worshipped at a mosque frequently surveilled by the FBI.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STREET ROOTS

Opinion: A Muslim cemetery was finally approved in Virginia. Now bigotry needs a proper burial.

A suburban Virginia county south of D.C. recently put a quiet end to a five-year saga in which the odor of Islamophobia grew into a stench as time dragged on. That the events surrounding a proposed Islamic cemetery in Stafford County unfolded under color of local law, and were allowed by county officials to fester for year after year, was more than poor judgment. It has become a sterling example for local governments of how not to deal with minority communities.

Stafford is a diverse place of more than 150,000 people, and the Islamic cemetery in question would not be the county’s first. In fact, the nonprofit All Muslim Association of America (AMAA) had run a small cemetery there for about 20 years when, nearly out of capacity, it bought a new parcel of land in 2016 with plans for a larger cemetery where Muslims of modest means could be laid to rest.

What ensued was an embarrassment to Stafford and a Kafkaesque odyssey for the county’s Muslim community. That it ended, mercifully, with the county’s capitulation — authorities there ceased their attempts to block the proposed cemetery last year, and recently agreed to a $500,000 settlement, without admitting guilt — does not mitigate the gratuitousness of the entire episode, which was a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.

The details of the county’s preposterous rationale in drafting a bespoke new land-use scheme, whose only discernible intent was to impede the new cemetery, are byzantine. Urged on by two landowners — one of them a county Planning Commission member — whose property abutted the tract for the proposed 45-acre cemetery, the county adopted new rules banning cemeteries located within 900 feet, almost the length of three football fields, of any private homeowner’s well used for drinking water. The state standard required a separation of only 100 feet, and there was no science justifying a broader buffer for cemeteries and drinking water sources generally or this parcel in particular.

When AMAA officials found out about the zoning maneuver months after the fact — no one had mentioned the new rule to them, nor solicited their input — they were shocked. Not only had the group not been informed of the change, but county officials had affirmed at the time of the parcel’s purchase that a cemetery could be built there “by right,” with no special zoning approval needed. After the controversy erupted, a state official affirmed that a 100-foot setback was adequate for public health.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

9 tropes about Muslims that are a product of Islamophobia

There are nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world, and the religious group continues to grow rapidly. Yet Islam continues to be largely misunderstood by many, which has given way to Islamophobia and even violence against Muslims.

While Islamophobia existed long before 9/11, a dislike for Islam and Muslims became more deliberately weaponized in the service of war and politics in the post-9/11 world, says Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU).

Mogahed and others say that post 9/11 Islamophobia has manifested in different ways around the world, including the adoption of the Muslim travel ban — one of former President Trump’s signature policies; the persecution of the Uyghur people in China since at least 2017; and the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Twenty years after 9/11, ignorance about Islam and an “othering” of its adherents continue to be driven by tropes. Here are the most common:

1. All Muslims are Arab

Islam started in the Middle East, but has since spread all over the world. From the Rohingya in Myanmar, to the Uyghurs in China, and Bosniaks in the Balkans, Muslims are an extremely diverse community and do not come from a single region.

Although many people use the terms “Muslim” and “Arab” interchangeably, it is not accurate to do so.

“Arabs are actually a minority of the Muslim population, both globally and in United States,” Mogahed told CNN. “They make up 20% of the world’s Muslims.”

Muslims are not a monolith, and are of all different races, skin tones, ethnicities and speak different languages.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY NEWS