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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22 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., Former President Donald Trump has vowed to expand his 2017 Muslim Ban if elected in 2024, meanwhile, the Turkish foreign ministry has summoned several Danish diplomats for talks following recent Quran burnings in front of Turkish embassies, and lastly, Human Rights Watch on Sunday has declared that the UN has failed to hold those responsible for the genocide of Rohingya Muslims accountable for crimes against humanity. Our recommended read of the day is by Maha Hilal for Middle East Eye on the gruesome legacy of the still open Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and how U.S. lawmakers should heed the call of the international community to finally close the facility for good. This and more below:

United States

Why won't the US close Guantanamo? | Recommended Read

Last month, the US Senate passed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) for 2024, an appropriations bill defining military priorities, and one that has consistently placed restrictions on remedies to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay. This year's bill, like many years prior, includes a prohibition on funds to close the infamous prison camp; a prohibition on funds to transfer the incarcerated men out of the prison; a prohibition on the transfer of detainees to Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and the US; and a prohibition on modifying the prison. By supporting these measures, federal lawmakers have once again voted to perpetuate the problem of Guantanamo, the violence it is notorious for, and the collective responsibility of the Muslim men detained who have been rendered guilty until proven innocent. President Joe Biden, who has made past promises of closing the prison, has taken no action to initiate this process. Rather, he reportedly invested millions of dollars last year in renovating parts of the facility and upgrading its courtroom in a move that The New York Times described as a "retreat from transparency in the already secretive national security cases at the base". Although the US finally allowed a UN torture investigator's visit to Guantanamo without restrictions, it was not to invite accountability. It was instead to promote the facade of accountability after 22 years by allowing the visit in the first place - only to categorically reject any wrongdoing. In other words, the US is not committed to accountability but to the creation of contested narratives that have long outlived the truth. Government impunity, after all, was built into the War on Terror's legal infrastructure. read the complete article

Scoop: Inside Trump's new plan to limit immigration

Former President Trump wants unprecedented restrictions on immigration and the border if he's elected in 2024 — such as screening prospective immigrants for "Marxist" ideologies and a naval blockade to target drug smugglers, Axios has learned. Trump's plan would involve waves of harsh new policies — and dust off old ones that rarely have been enforced, if ever. It would: 1) Expand Trump's "Muslim ban" idea to block more people from certain countries from entering the U.S. As president he banned immigration from more than a dozen countries that are mostly Muslim or in Africa; President Biden rescinded that executive order. 2) Ramp up ideological screening for people legally applying to come into the country. U.S. law has blocked communists from entering for decades, it just hasn't been enforced. Trump wants to enforce it to reject applicants who are deemed "Marxists." 3) Seek to end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. Trump considered this as president, but today's conservative-leaning Supreme Court has given his team more confidence about taking on an inevitable legal fight. What they're saying: "For those passionate about securing our immigration system... the first 100 days of the Trump administration will be pure bliss — followed by another four years of the most hard-hitting action conceivable," Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Axios. Trump would rush "people through the system, stripping due process protections from them, eliminating any access to legal services, and really transforming this into an assembly line deportation machine," the American Immigration Council's Aaron Reichlin-Melnick told Axios. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Muslims were debanked for years but British society never bat an eyelid

In the wake of Nigel Farage’s hasty ejection from Coutts Bank, debanking has been the topic du jour among those concerned with civil liberties in the United Kingdom. Suddenly, from across the political spectrum there have been loud proclamations about the latent dangers and injustices of a banking system that without any transparency can remove one’s access to a bank account with impunity. However, this is where the largely unacknowledged side of the debanking system must be brought up. The majority of debanked individuals in the UK are Muslims, and for well over a decade the mainstream has allowed this to go unrecognised. When individuals or businesses have their bank accounts closed in this scheme, it is common for them to receive no explanation as to why, or what they have done to upset the risk analysts within the banks. However, when pushed, the blanket answer occasionally given is that it is related to money laundering or terrorism. This is where British Muslims frequently find themselves the victims of an apparatus that not only fails to ensure equitable access to financial services for all, but instead appears to malign minority voices by design. None of these examples posed a threat to anybody, nor did they break any laws or terms of service with the bank. The likely explanation, as posited by Fadi Itani OBE for the Muslim Charities Forum, is a culture of discrimination against charities because of their names, and who they seek to help. These mainstream Muslim organisations with no criminal associations were debanked without grounds, and the same situation is faced by scores of regular people every day across the country. The only link between each example given was their Muslim faith and the fact that each had been previously, and spuriously, denounced online as being linked to malicious foreign governments and groups, which were all disproven. read the complete article


In Search Of Peace: How To Build Trust Between Two Religions To Stave Off Islamophobia

Two recent events, one where a Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable shot three Muslim men on a train and shouted out, ‘‘If you want to live and vote in Hindustan, I’m telling you its only Modi and Yogi,” and the second, the communal violence leading to bulldozing of Muslim houses by the State at Nuh in Haryana, are simply travesties and perversions of the idea of religious freedom as enshrined in the Constitution. Why do Hindu-Muslim riots erupt at regular intervals and more so when elections seem to be around the corner? Why do religious processions, such as the ones in Nuh, which are essentially the carrier of tensions and violence, aim to attack the religious symbols and bodies of the ‘other’? What kind of hate had the RPF constable nurtured against Muslims that he didn’t even think about his own ruin when committing murder? Can we see this Hindutva-engendered hatred, extremism and fanaticism against Muslims as the cultural product of Islamophobia? Perhaps yes, or maybe not. Islamophobia in India is understood, particularly by Right-wing religious conservatives, as a fear of disrupting the majoritarian construction of India as a Hindu place that posits upper-caste Hindus as the normative national subject, and Muslims as backward, foreign and potentially dangerous. This enables extreme violence against Muslims, making them targets of the State’s security apparatuses and bulldozing their homes to force them to relocate to particular neighbourhoods where they may feel more secure. read the complete article

Muqtedar Khan on Why Religious Nationalism Is Poisoning South Asia

The suffering of Muslims in India has reached unprecedented levels since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. In addition to the demonization of the community, they are targets of mob violence and hundreds of Muslims have been killed, injured and rendered homeless. Their homes, businesses, and places of worship have been targeted by Hindutva mobs. There is a systematic attempt to deprive them of their livelihood and way of life, and to erase their place and contributions in India’s history and culture. For millennia, India took pride in its social diversity and inclusive culture. So, what happened? How did it become the intolerant and hate-filled society that it is today? Muqtedar Khan, an Indian American academic and professor of international relations at the University of Delaware, draws on his personal experiences as a child and young adult growing up in India, and his insights as a political scientist to make sense of what is happening in India today. In an interview with Sudha Ramachandran, South Asia editor of The Diplomat, Khan says that changes to the Indian Constitution being made by the BJP government are “designed to send the signal that non-Hindu religious identities will not be tolerated.” “There is no room for Islam and Christianity in this design of a Hindu state,” he said. read the complete article


Turkish foreign ministry summons Danish, Dutch diplomats over Koran burnings

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the Danish charge d'affaires and a Dutch diplomat over Koran burnings, state-owned broadcaster TRT Haber said on Monday. Anti-Islam activists have burned or damaged several copies of the Muslim holy book in recent months, prompting outrage in the Muslim world and demands that the Nordic governments ban such acts. Turkey has repeatedly condemned such protests in recent months, including those in Sweden, which is awaiting Ankara's approval to join NATO. read the complete article

Six years after Rohingya genocide, human rights activists call for action

The military generals responsible for acts of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated against Myanmar’s Rohingya population remain unpunished more than half a decade later, Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared on Sunday, emphasising that some 1 million affected refugees still have little hope of returning home safely. This Friday, August 25, will mark the six-year anniversary of the date the Myanmar military launched a campaign of mass atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State. This genocidal crusade saw an estimated 25,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced to what has since become the world’s biggest refugee camp in Bangladesh. More than 730,000 Rohingya now live in the sprawling camps of Cox’s Bazar, under tightening measures implemented by security forces and growing violence by armed groups. Some 600,000 more remain in Myanmar, their movement widely restricted by junta authorities under a system of apartheid, HRW said. In a statement released on Sunday, HRW condemned the United Nations Security Council’s failure not only to hold those responsible for such atrocities to account, but also to maintain adequate aid to support the victims. read the complete article

Has the U.S. Campaign Against Uyghur Forced Labor Been Successful?

For years, American consumers unwittingly bought products from T-shirts to solar panels sourced from Xinjiang, where researchers have found that the Chinese government has used a vast forced labor system to control the Uyghur population. Last June, a new U.S. law went into effect aimed at ending the flow of goods from Xinjiang to the states—and ending the forced labor system behind it. Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which passed with bipartisan support, all goods produced fully or partly in Xinjiang are presumed to have been made under coercion and therefore barred from entry into the U.S., unless a company can prove otherwise. When it was passed, the law was heralded as the U.S. government’s strongest step yet to address human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Now, more than a year since the law went into effect, a recent report suggests that it has had mixed success. The report, authored by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, focuses on China’s solar industry—one of the law’s key targets. As of 2020, Xinjiang accounted for about 45 percent of the global solar-grade polysilicon supply; by 2022, the share had dropped to 35 percent, according to the solar industry analysis firm Bernreuter Research. In other sectors targeted by U.S. customs agents, such as apparel and agriculture, companies are also now responsible for tracing their full supply chains and avoiding Xinjiang. Overall exports from the region to the United States have plummeted. According to Chinese government customs data, for the first half of 2023, Xinjiang shipped $23.6 million in goods to the U.S., a significant drop from the $201.5 million in exports last year. read the complete article

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Embrace of Hindu Nationalism

Vivek Ramaswamy, an Indian American former pharmaceutical executive, recently emerged as a long-shot Republican presidential candidate. Approaching DeSantis in the polls, but far behind Trump, Ramaswamy’s anti-woke rhetoric, extreme policy proposals (like raising the voting age to twenty-five), and relative youth (he’s thirty-eight) have made him appealing to a segment of Republicans that seem to be growing more anti-democratic by the day. But for all of the attention on Ramaswamy, there’s one aspect of his campaign that’s been glossed over by the press: his support for Hindu nationalism. Supporters of the movement believe that India belongs to Hindus, while religious minorities— specifically Muslims and Christians—should be subjected to violence, have their cultures and contributions to Indian history erased, and be reduced to second-class citizens, all while India’s secular democracy is restructured into an autocratic Hindu ethno-state. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India since 2014, and his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are both rooted in this exclusionary ideology. Even among politicians who were favorable toward Modi, Ramaswamy stuck out as exceptionally ingratiating: “I respect Modi for reviving national pride in India,” he tweeted. “It was a healthy reminder of what we are missing right here in America.” It’s alarming that Ramaswamy sees Modi’s India—with its suppression of dissent, punitive and arbitrary demolition of Muslim-owned homes and businesses, normalized anti-minority hate speech, laws restricting religious freedoms, and dangerously common mob lynchings of Muslim men—as an aspirational vision for America. It’s also ironic that while Ramaswamy attempts to court favor with American Christians, he praises a leader under whose rule atrocities against India’s more than thirty million Christians have skyrocketed. read the complete article

'In India, As Also Globally, Islamophobia Predates 9/11': Political Anthropologist Irfan Ahmad

Muslims are living in a state of terror and without a choice. Islamophobia has led to ugly consequences: today, Muslims’ lives are marked by social dispossession, routine humiliation, worsening economic status, and attacks on their cultural symbols like the hijab, mosques and Urdu. We have recurring cases of Muslims being lynched, with the authorities doing nothing or very little. What they can eat, wear, watch, speak and how they behave in public space are all dictated by the ideology of a Hindu nation. A democracy that robs its own citizens to pursue their own choice and aspiration is clearly anything but a democracy. Notice that phrases vilifying Muslims seem to have become acceptable: ‘love jihad’, ‘corona jihad’, and ‘land jihad’. In use are slur words denoting Muslims’ wretched economic condition: ‘redi jihad’ (street vendor jihad) and ‘puncturewala’ because many Muslims are automobile mechanics. What is worse is that amidst such rampant dispossession against Muslims, it is the talk of ‘Hindu genocide’ that people like Major Surendra Poonia (with six lakh Twitter followers) promote on social media. To transform aggressors into victims–it happened in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom too, as anthropologist Veena Das noted– is to defy facts and justice. Among Western states, aggressive French Islamophobia is similar to the one in India. Compared to other countries, in both France and India, the State and non-State actors have been more widely involved–tacitly or otherwise–as the driver of Islamophobia. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Aug 2023 Edition


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