In Human Rights, Middle East

In the past year, the United States, Canada and other Western countries have experienced a sharp rise in Islamophobia.

Increasingly, Islamophobes are resorting to violence to oppress members of a religion they do not understand.

Recent apparent hate crimes against Muslims

In October of last year, Wadea al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy, was killed when he was stabbed 26 times in his home in Illinois. His mother, Hanaan Shahin, was also stabbed and strangled, leaving her critically injured. Authorities have described the killing as a hate crime motivated by lslamophobia and anti-Palestinianism.

In November of last year, three Palestinian students were shot in Vermont. Although they all survived, one of them has a bullet lodged in his spine, and it is unclear if he will ever walk again.

Last month, a 42-year-old woman in Texas named Elizabeth Wolf attempted to drown a Palestinian Muslim child in their apartment complex’s pool. The woman asked the mother where they were from and if the child was hers before attacking them. When the mother came to rescue the child, the attacker ripped off the mother’s hijab, beating the mother and attempting to keep her away as the attacker continued trying to drown the 3-year-old daughter. A neighbour attempted to rescue the children as the attacker was taken away while screaming “Tell her I will kill her and I will kill her whole family.”

Then, just two weeks ago, an assailant in London, Canada set fire to the home of a Palestinian Muslim family after warning them about a “free palestine” sign on their property. Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze and no injuries were reported. However, the fire caused approximately $30,000 in damage to the home.

Responding to anti-Muslim hate

To explore the nature of the threats confronting Muslims in the West today, I spoke this week with Qasim Rashid, a former Democratic Party candidate for the United States Congress.

Rashid himself has been subjected to frequent anti-Muslim smears, including death threats that led to a criminal prosecution and conviction of the individual who threatened Rashid.

Rashid is a human rights lawyer and author who served as a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Islamic Studies program. He has published numerous books and law review articles. His work has been published by The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and USA Today.

You can watch and listen to our discussion here:

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Showing 4 comments
  • Denis Cooper

    Hey Dimitri, My rant for the week. It seems like any and every establishment empowered to govern, these day just throws caution to the wind and does like they please. Constitutions, rule of law etc are ignored. Governments, NATO, UN, EU whoever dont care about what the people say anymore. They are inwardly focused to aciieve their own goals. We the peoples of the world need to take back the power from their hands. (If it not already too late).

  • Anthony Christie`

    What says this fellow about the majority Muslim countries that do include notions of apostasy, blasphemy etc. in their legal systems i.e. are the various flavours of legalized (“compelled”, to use his terminology) Islamism in Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc?
    This discussion skirts the conflation of Islamist politics and law with Islamic private religious belief in exactly the same way Jewish politics and law is conflated with Judaism in Zionist Israel and Christian politics and law vs privately held views and practises of Christianity in, say, the United States. The very notion that law (“Sharia”) arises from religious texts (Bible, Quran) is conflationary and contradictory.
    I appreciate his position that Islam mandates a separation of Church and State. This is not a widely reported view and I wonder if he propounds this view in Saudi universities.
    Fundamentalist religiousity of every stripe is contradictory to secular pluralist political ideals.

  • John Dirlik

    That Muslim countries include apostasy in their legal system hardly justifies the Islamophobia and hate crimes Muslims and Palestinians are subjected to.

    Whataboutism should not be used as a sort of back-handed defence of the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the vile hatred fuelled by the corporate media.

  • Eric Peter

    There seems to be a double standard between Antisemitism and Anti-Islamism. It seems that in the USA even a Jew can be sued for antisemitism. How ironic. Hate is hate. So why the apparent double standard. If a Jewish child is attacked as was the Muslim child described above, watch how quickly justice is rolled out.

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