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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21 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, the Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Canadian-born former Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr who was seeking to wipe away his war crimes convictions, elsewhere in the US, Knox County Detention Facility in conjunction with the University of Tennessee is under scrutiny as to the treatment of a Muslim woman who had her hijab removed after she was arrested for protesting on campus, and in India, France 24‘s Navodita Kumari reports that Muslim voters are increasingly feeling targeted by the ruling BJP party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with hate speeches. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian on a report published by India Civil Watch International, which revealed that Facebook and Instagram owner Meta approved a series of AI-manipulated political adverts during India’s election that spread disinformation and incited religious violence. This and more below:


Revealed: Meta approved political ads in India that incited violence | Recommended Read

Facebook approved adverts containing known slurs towards Muslims in India, such as “let’s burn this vermin” and “Hindu blood is spilling, these invaders must be burned”, as well as Hindu supremacist language and disinformation about political leaders. Another approved advert called for the execution of an opposition leader they falsely claimed wanted to “erase Hindus from India”, next to a picture of a Pakistan flag. The adverts were created and submitted to Meta’s ad library – the database of all adverts on Facebook and Instagram – by India Civil Watch International (ICWI) and Ekō, a corporate accountability organisation, to test Meta’s mechanisms for detecting and blocking political content that could prove inflammatory or harmful during India’s six-week election. According to the report, all of the adverts “were created based upon real hate speech and disinformation prevalent in India, underscoring the capacity of social media platforms to amplify existing harmful narratives”. During his decade in power, Modi’s government has pushed a Hindu-first agenda which human rights groups, activists and opponents say has led to the increased persecution and oppression of India’s Muslim minority. read the complete article

Activists launch campaign against India's Election Commission after Muslim voters targeted

Muslim voters in India feel targeted more and more by the ruling party and Prime Minister Modi with hate speeches. There have been reports of Muslim voters' names being removed from the voting list and in one village in Uttar Pradesh, they were even beaten up. But no action has been taken by the Election Commission of India against these complaints prompting activists to launch a campaign against it. read the complete article

United States

Muslims say religious freedom violated by sheriff's office after University of Tennessee arrest

When Layla Soliz was forced to remove her hijab by Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies when she was booked after being arrested with her husband and 10 other pro-Palestinian demonstrators the night of May 15, it marked a shocking interaction with the American justice system. It was her first time in handcuffs, her introduction to jail and the first time her religious rights were violated in a way that brings trauma to Islamic women. Jailers photographed her without her hijab, a Muslim head covering worn by women as part of their faith, and publicly posted the mug shot online, a violation of the agency's own policy. When she and others arrested on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus reached the Knox County Detention Facility late that night, following hours waiting in a dark van with their hands bound by zip ties, she had no inkling that sheriff’s deputies would violate her constitutional religious rights. Several federal lawsuits have been filed after police departments forced the removal of religious headwear during custody, and the plaintiffs have secured substantial settlements in some cases. read the complete article

US supreme court rejects appeal of Canadian who was held at Guantánamo

The US supreme court has rejected an appeal by a Canadian-born former Guantánamo detainee who was seeking to wipe away his war crimes convictions, including for killing a US soldier in Afghanistan. Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by US troops following a firefight at a suspected al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of an American special forces medic, the US army Sgt Christopher Speer. Khadr, who was suspected of throwing the grenade that killed Speer, was taken to Guantánamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission. He had waived his right to appeal when he pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that included murder. But his lawyers argued that a subsequent ruling by the federal appeals court in Washington DC called into question whether Khadr could have been charged with the crimes in the first place. A divided three-judge panel ruled that, despite the appellate ruling, Khadr gave up his right to appeal. read the complete article

The U.S. was set to move 11 detainees out of Guantanamo. Then Hamas attacked Israel.

The Biden administration was close to transferring 11 detainees out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a country in the Middle East in October 2023, but abruptly halted the move amid concerns about political optics after Hamas’ attack on Israel, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the planning. More than seven months later, the administration has not set a new date for the transfer, the officials said, and the detainees remain at Guantanamo with no clarity on when, or if, it will happen. The holdup has frustrated administration officials who said they believe election-year politics are supplanting President Joe Biden’s policy of reducing the population at Guantanamo, and ultimately closing the facility. These officials said they are concerned the likelihood that the transfer takes place before November’s presidential election diminishes the closer the election gets. And they worry the stalled process that has left 11 men sitting in detention for months without clarity about when they could be transferred could become a human rights concern. read the complete article

Targeting Muslims while they bank

About a year ago, I bought event tickets online through PayPal. They cost $200, and I used my credit card to buy them. Shortly afterward, I received an email from PayPal that said it needed additional personal information to complete the payment. I assumed my credit card was processed on the PayPal network. I called PayPal and was told that there was a security flag. A what? I am an American citizen, have been chief executive of two American companies, and have an impeccable credit record. I wondered what the problem could possibly be. But PayPal would not provide me with any additional details without further personal information. The $200 charge was on my credit card, but my ticket purchase hadn’t been completed; PayPal wouldn’t send the payment to the vendor because of the security flag. This “security” issue preoccupied me for months. Then, about two months ago, I received notice that a class action lawsuit had been settled. As part of the class, I could get $47. Lucky me! Turns out a non-Muslim of Mexican heritage in California had a similar security flag while trying to get a mortgage. According to the lawsuit, the mortgage company, Pulte Mortgage LLC, had bought data from a company, CoreLogic Credco LLC, that indicated a partial match of the plaintiff’s name to a name on the Office of Foreign Assets Control list. I wrote to PayPal again. In a pleasant surprise, it came clean. Their response stated: “Your accounts, and those of some of the other individuals you identified, were limited for a brief period in time in 2023 because your name and their names were a partial match to a name on the OFAC sanctions list.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 May 2024 Edition


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