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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04 Oct 2023

Today in Islamophobia: The Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation has said that France’s move to bar its Olympic athletes from wearing the hijab would “send a message of exclusion” across the sporting community, meanwhile in the UK, the Conservative mayoral candidate for London, Susan Hall, claimed the city’s Jews were “frightened” of rival Sadiq Khan’s “divisive” attitudes, a verbal attack that many claim was targeted towards Khan as a Muslim, and in India, a Muslim teenager’s instagram account was found to have been hijacked to stoke Hindu-Muslim violence in the lead up to riots which occurred over the summer in the Satara region of the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Matthew Weaver for The Guardian on how CAGE’s director claimed he was “deported from Poland at the behest of French authorities because he criticised Emmanuel Macron’s government for Islamophobia.” This and more below.


UK campaign group chief says Poland deported him at France’s request | Recommended Read

The UK director of the campaign group Cage has claimed he has been deported from Poland at the behest of French authorities because he criticised Emmanuel Macron’s government for Islamophobia. Muhammad Rabbani, who heads a group that campaigns on behalf of those affected by the “war on terror”, was due to give a speech this week at an international security conference in Warsaw that would have been critical of France’s handling of anti-government protests. But he was detained and then deported back to the UK on Monday night. He claimed France shared information about him with the Polish authorities. Rabbani had flown to Poland to speak at a conference in Warsaw hosted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was during an OSCE conference last September that Rabbani accused France of joining China and India in launching “religious persecution” against Muslims. And he planned to criticised France again this year before he was stopped at Warsaw airport. Polish border guards showed him documents, seen by the Guardian, which showed it was recommended that his entry to European countries be refused under a July update to the Schengen information system, which is used to manage borders in the EU. read the complete article

In Conversation With Shahed Ezaydi: The Truth About Muslim Women and White Feminism

Shahed Ezaydi's upcoming book, ‘The Othered Woman: How White Feminism Harms Muslim Women’, is set to be the first to analyse the relationship between gendered Islamophobia and white feminism. Filling a huge gap in the publishing industry, Shahed’s book aims to cover a plethora of topics and issues affecting women. I had the opportunity to chat with Shahed over Zoom about all things feminism, Islam and misogyny. I’ve read quite a bit about your book, but can you share more about the kind of topics you intend to cover? I want to address topics like liberation politics, talking about the hijab and how that’s been politicised in the UK, across Europe, and even globally. White feminism has used hijab-wearing women as a tool to further their own white supremacy and white saviour complex. Muslim women being viewed as submissive, silenced and oppressed are all based on their assumptions and stereotypes. Another chapter I decided to include is how white feminists think Muslim men have a unique misogyny that other men don’t have. Muslim men are viewed, especially in the media, as their own kind of vilified, inherently evil monsters, but they don’t see men in their own communities in this way. This chapter will also include the other side of things, like why some Muslim men are choosing to opt into what Andrew Tate is regurgitating. The fact is that the misogyny they embody is not tied to their religion but rather connected to cultural and religious language, which has been co-opted to portray it as virtuous, despite it not being so. read the complete article

US warns of Chinese global disinformation campaign that could undermine peace and stability

For much of the world, China’s Xinjiang region is notorious, a place where ethnic Uyghurs face forced labor and arbitrary detention. But a group of visiting foreign journalists was left with a decidedly different impression. On a tour in late September sponsored by Beijing, the 22 journalists from 17 countries visited bazaars and chatted with residents over dates and watermelon slices. They later told state media they were impressed with the bustling economy, described the region as “full of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity,” and denounced what they said were lies by Western media. The trip is an example of what Washington sees as Beijing’s growing efforts to reshape the global narrative on China. It’s spending billions of dollars annually to do so. In a first-of-its-kind report, the State Department last week laid out Beijing’s tactics and techniques for molding public opinion, such as buying content, creating fake personas to spread its message and using repression to quash unfavorable accounts. The Global Engagement Center, a State Department agency tasked with combating foreign propaganda and disinformation and which released the 58-page report, warned that Beijing’s information campaign could eventually sway how decisions are made around the world and undermine U.S. interests. read the complete article

Islamophobia in the West, Muslim world must be tackled, experts warn

“There is a new wave of Islamophobia,” professor Yasin Aktay warns. A two-day conference in Qatar on Islamophobia between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 focused on the issue that goes beyond the West and is occasionally seen in the Muslim world itself. The academics commented on the issue on the sidelines of the conference, held under the theme “Global Histories and Practices of Islamophobia” in Doha. The event, co-organized by Georgetown University Qatar, underscored the importance of relentless scholarship, dialogue, collaborative efforts and solidarity to dismantle harmful prejudice, bias and discrimination. Speaking during a panel titled “Intellectual Roots of Islamophobia,” Dr. Salman Sayyid, professor in Rhetoric and Decolonial Thought, University of Leeds, also argued that there is nothing rational about Islamophobia, but rather, it is one of the oldest forms of racism. Linked to power relations, it is often marked by the idea that Muslims cannot be contained in the nation-state. “Islamophobia is a type of racialized governance that governs expressions of Muslimness, though you don’t have to be Muslim to be subject to Islamophobia. You just have to be Muslim adjacent or confused for being a Muslim.” He argued that undoing Islamophobia requires not simply recognizing its intellectual roots but also preserving and cultivating Muslim identity in all its expressions. read the complete article


France hijab ban 'against Olympic spirit': Islamic sports body

A group of sports federations from Muslim-majority countries has said that France's move to bar its Olympic athletes from wearing the hijab would "send a message of exclusion". The 57-member Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF), based in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, voiced "profound concern" over the French decision on Monday, which was taken in line with the country's strict rules on secularism. The ISSF said in its statement on Monday that the hijab was "an aspect of many Muslim women's identity and should be respected", adding that the French ban could prevent some French Muslim athletes from competing. "The Olympics have historically celebrated diversity, unity and athletic excellence," the statement said. "By implementing a hijab ban for their athletes, a host would send a message of exclusion, intolerance and discrimination that goes against the Olympic spirit." The statement urged French authorities "to reconsider this ban" and called for "meaningful engagement with the Muslim sports community in France." read the complete article

United States

US: San Jose police officer awarded $400K in anti-Muslim harassment lawsuit

A former police officer from San Jose, California, will receive a $400,000 settlement for a lawsuit claiming he faced harassment due to his Muslim faith. In 2018, Nabil Haidar, a Lebanese-American police officer, filed a lawsuit against the San Jose Police Department, claiming he was subjected to anti-Muslim comments, particularly after the 9/11 attacks. The lawsuit says that in November 2017 during a police briefing, a captain was acknowledging police veterans, and a sergeant reportedly made derogatory remarks about Haidar: “Captain, you forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran. He was with ISIS for two years,” referring to the Islamic State militant group, which swept through vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq before being territorially defeated in 2019. "After the 9/11 attacks, he started to be targeted and attacked because he was a Muslim from the Middle East. What I mean is almost a daily basis. He was called names, really disgusting names, like terrorist, suicide bomber, member of ISIS," said Haidar’s attorney, Randall Strauss, Fox KTVU reported. According to court records, both the sergeant and another officer whom Haidar alleged made anti-Muslim comments were suspended for a week due to their statements. read the complete article

Donald Trump is running for president while pushing a fascist platform

Three years ago, then-President Donald Trump emerged from 2020’s summer of protest with threats to send as many as 75,000 agents of the federal government into U.S. cities to bash protesters. He threatened mayors and governors who didn’t embrace his violent approach to dissent. That threat on top of his Muslim ban, his remark about the “very fine people” in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his suggestion that soldiers shoot Black Lives Matter demonstrators in the legs — the man who started his reign with a rant about “American carnage” finished it by trying to overturn an election he lost. Now that man wants his old office back. And we have been treated to a nearly three-year roller coaster of further evidence that Donald Trump is, in fact, the fascist candidate for U.S. president. The end of September gave us three more truly startling exhibits for this case. read the complete article

Right-wing media are setting the stage for the next Republican president to commit mass atrocities

On September 8, 2015, Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade warned that letting Syrian refugees into the United States would increase the risk of terrorism. The next month, Fox host Bill O’Reilly and contributor Monica Crowley both referred to Syrians migrating to Europe as an “invasion” of the continent. That November, Fox’s Andrea Tantaros argued against accepting Syrian refugees on the grounds that “not all immigrants are created equal.” In December 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trump exploited two recent tragedies (the terrorist attack in Paris and a shooting in San Bernardino) to justify his anti-Muslim proposal, but right-wing media had been pushing their audience — including Trump himself — in that direction for months. A similar dynamic is now at play, as Trump appears once more to be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and is again issuing hard-right proclamations on immigration — including a pledge to renew and expand the Muslim ban. He has also promised to end birthright citizenship and carry out “the largest deportation operation in the history of our country.” The anti-immigrant rhetoric in right-wing media has, if anything, become even more extreme since his first campaign. read the complete article


As all but 30 prisoners from Guantánamo Bay have been released, the notorious detention center has faded from the headlines. But Mingazov’s case — fraught with geopolitics — has drawn an unusual level of public attention. A former Russian soldier and ballet dancer, he fled Russia in 1999 in search of a place where he and his family could live and practice their faith freely. He was picked up in a raid in Pakistan in early 2002, when the U.S. was paying bounty for suspects, according to Gary Thompson, Mingazov’s lawyer. Wrongly suspected of being a foreign fighter, Mingazov was handed over to U.S. forces, held and tortured at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and later transferred to Guantánamo, where he was never charged and should have never been, Thompson said. During the Obama administration, Mingazov became one of 23 former detainees, most originally from Yemen, who were sent to the United Arab Emirates under a confidential diplomatic agreement with the U.S. State Department. The assurances contained in the secret diplomatic deal allegedly included provisions against being returned to a country where they would face torture, punishment, or irreparable harm. Mingazov told his family that he would attend a six-month residential rehabilitation program in the UAE before being released into Emirati society to restart his life as a free man. Instead, he has been held in extremely restrictive solitary confinement for nearly seven years in the United Arab Emirates, Valiullina told The Intercept. read the complete article

Lawyers Expand Legal Fight for Longest-Held Prisoner of War on Terrorism

Lawyers for the longest-held prisoner in the U.S. war against terrorism have begun a new legal offensive in multiple courts aimed at securing his release from Guantánamo Bay. The prisoner, known as Abu Zubaydah, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 in a raid by U.S. and Pakistani security services. He was the first person held in the U.S. secret prison network known as the black sites and the first to be waterboarded by the C.I.A. The initiative follows the Pentagon’s disclosure over the summer that a national security parole-style board deemed Abu Zubaydah too dangerous to release. He has never faced criminal charges at Guantánamo. U.S. intelligence concluded that while he was a militant in Afghanistan in the 1980s and ’90s, he had never joined Al Qaeda and had no link to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Abu Zubaydah, 52, is being held indefinitely as a detainee of the war on terrorism the United States declared in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. He is colloquially called a “forever prisoner” because of the endless nature of that war. The new initiative began last month with U.S. lawyers filing a lawsuit in Spokane, Wash., against two psychologists who waterboarded Abu Zubaydah for the C.I.A. at a black site in Thailand in August 2002. They also oversaw a program in which he was deprived of sleep, confined to a box and subjected to other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as the C.I.A. euphemistically called them. The new lawsuit on behalf of Abu Zubaydah alleges that he was subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, medical and scientific experimentation without his consent, war crimes and arbitrary detention. That effort is led by Solomon B. Shinerock, a former federal and New York City prosecutor who recently joined Abu Zubaydah’s legal team. He said the prisoner was used as “a guinea pig to test the bounds of human tolerance.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

Susan Hall: Tory London mayor hopeful accused of Sadiq Khan 'dog whistle' attack

The British Conservative Party is embroiled in controversy after its mayoral candidate for London, Susan Hall, claimed the city's Jews were "frightened" of rival Sadiq Khan's "divisive" attitudes. Members of Khan's Labour Party described the comments on Monday as a "dog whistle" attack on the incumbent London mayor, who has been in the position since 2016 and is the first Muslim to assume the role. Speaking at a Conservative Friends of Israel event at the Conservative Party Conference in the city of Manchester, Hall said, "I know how frightened some of the (Jewish) community are because of the divisive attitudes of Sadiq Khan." She added: "One of the most important things we can do when I become mayor of London is make it safer for everybody, but particularly for our Jewish community." The remarks caused uproar amongst Khan's colleagues in the Labour party, including Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, who said: "Sadiq Khan has repeatedly stood by London’s Jewish communities in the fight against antisemitism. Susan Hall’s dog whistle politics have no place in London." The remarks were also condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which said they were part of "a pattern of Islamophobia within Conservative London Mayoral candidate campaigns". read the complete article


A Muslim teenager’s Instagram account was hacked weeks before Satara erupted in violence

On the morning of August 15, just as Shaikh, a 35-year-old accredited social health activist in Satara, was about to leave for an Independence Day event, a neighbour came running to her. He showed a social media post from her son’s Instagram handle, which insulted 17th century Maratha ruler Shivaji. “From the language, I knew my son did not write it,” Shaikh told Scroll. “It was full of abuses.” Soon, she received a call from a relative. The relative’s daughter had gotten abusive messages from her son’s Instagram account. “Local leaders in our community advised me to go to the police station,” she said. Shaikh said they warned of consequences of such posts going viral. Shaikh took her son to the Satara city police station, from where she was referred to the cyber cell. There, she deposited the two cellphones used by the family. But within hours, screenshots of the post had already gone viral. A mob of 40 people gathered outside her house and pelted stones. Her mother-in-law and 11-year-old daughter cowered inside. “They called us deshdrohi (traitors), and asked us to go to Pakistan,” Shaikh said. At the cyber police station, Shaikh and her son’s doubts about the Instagram account being tampered grew stronger. “My son deleted the post, but it reappeared within seconds. Even the police saw it happen. It was clear that his account had been hacked,” Shaikh said. read the complete article

The BJP is ‘legitimising’ hate speech: Indian Muslim MP

On September 21, Kunwar Danish Ali, an Indian Muslim member of parliament with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), was subjected to Islamophobic comments and communal slurs by a legislator from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri called Ali a “pimp”, a “terrorist” and used the pejorative “circumcised” among other derogatory remarks inside the Indian parliament. Al Jazeera spoke to Ali about the incident, how requests to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn Bidhuri’s behaviour have gone unanswered and what he believes the incident says about the future of Indian democracy. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Oct 2023 Edition


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