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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
01 Sep 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In France, according to the President of the ELF-Muslim Students of France, the country’s new ban on Abayas in K-12 institutions will “further traumatize young girls at public schools”, meanwhile in Sweden, a new survey on the favorability of a ban on burning religious texts showed a 53% approval rating for implementing such a policy, and in the United States, a Muslim resident of Mount Juliet Tennessee claims that police forced her to remove her Hijab during booking procedures for a mug shot despite repeated requests. Our recommended read of the day is by Hamed Aleaziz for The LA Times on how despite making up less than five percent of those crossing the U.S. southern border, asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries make up 60% of those detained and prosecuted under an obscure entry procedure. This and more below:

United States

Asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries disproportionately imprisoned at Texas border | Recommended Read

Shams had been snared by a previously unreported federal effort that disproportionately locked up migrants from Muslim-majority countries for the obscure crime of failing to cross the border at a formal checkpoint and report to a customs office. The charge, conceived decades ago to fight drug trafficking, carries a maximum sentence of one year, double the length of the more well-known charge of illegal entry, which carries a top-end sentence of six months. Only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people who cross the southern border each year are prosecuted for any crime at all. Most are turned back to Mexico or their home countries or released into the U.S after claiming asylum. Although the U.S. prosecutes thousands of migrants annually for reentering the U.S. after being deported, prosecutions of first-time border crossers are less common. For an 18-month period beginning in October 2021, however, the U.S. attorney’s office in Del Rio, Texas, charged more than 200 migrants with violating a rarely used and all but forgotten law — U.S. 19 1459, which states that anyone crossing into the United States must cross at a checkpoint and report to a customs office. More than 60% of those charged under the failure to report law were from Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Mali, according to a Times analysis of hundreds of federal court records. Citizens of Muslim-majority countries make up a tiny portion — much less than 5% — of the people who cross the southern border, according to government data. read the complete article

Woman Claims Tennessee Police Forced Her to Remove Hijab For Mugshot Photo

A Tennessee woman claims police denied her the right to keep her hijab on for a booking photo after she was pulled over for a broken taillight and arrested for driving with a suspended license. Sophia Johnston, who is Muslim, was stopped on August 23 in Mount Juliet, just east of Nashville. Police officers said she was being taken into custody for a misdemeanor charge out of nearby Rutherford County related to a suspended license back in December 2017, which she claimed she could not recall. When she arrived at Wilson County Sheriff's Office, a female officer told her she had to remove her hijab for a booking photo. Johnston was worried the photo would be seen by men, going against her beliefs. The intake officer agreed she could keep the hijab on, promising to use a second photo with it still in place. Afterwards, Johnston was taken to Rutherford County, where she had to be booked again by the sheriff's office there. Five men were in the room at the time and all allegedly refused her repeated request to keep the hijab on. read the complete article

The 2007 GTMO ‘Clean Team’ Interviews Fail in U.S. v. Nashiri

After four years of being tortured by the CIA at various black sites, USS Cole bombing suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in what the Bush administration hoped would be a new start for him and 13 other suspected terrorists. The transfer, made in 2006, followed the Supreme Court’s finding in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that Geneva Convention protections apply to the suspected al-Qaeda operatives. As President George W. Bush framed it in a 2006 speech acknowledging the existence of the torture programs to the American public for the first time, the transfer was supposed to mark an end to the CIA-driven intelligence-gathering phase of the “war on terror” and the beginning of a justice-rendering phase through the Department of Defense. After transferring the suspects to Guantanamo, the government shifted its focus from interrogation to prosecution. But prosecutors began to believe that whatever information had been collected through the CIA interrogation program would not be admissible at trial. So in 2007, a new team of investigators, called a “clean team,” was sent to the naval base to conduct new interviews in a process that, they hoped, could be used for prosecutions. A “clean team” interviewed Nashiri, among others. Several years passed. Nashiri was ultimately charged with war crimes in 2011, facing the death penalty, and his case has been in pretrial proceedings ever since. In 2022, Nashiri’s defense filed a motion to suppress certain self-incriminating statements he had made to the “clean team” on the grounds that they were still tainted by torture. More than 15 years after the interviews, on Aug. 18 of this year, military commissions judge Lanny J. Acosta Jr. agreed with the defense. He issued a ruling that suppresses Nashiri’s self-incriminating confessions, finding that while they were not obtained through torture, they were still derived from it. read the complete article

9/11 Family Members Can Get Answers through Plea Agreements, Not a Trial

As a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows (Peaceful Tomorrows), I have been advocating for plea agreements in the 9/11 case since 2017. Peaceful Tomorrows is the only 9/11 family organization with NGO status allowing our members to travel to Guantánamo and witness the proceedings in the 9/11 case firsthand, not as victim family members but as representatives of civil society. Collectively, our members have spent hundreds of hours observing the pre-trial hearings that have been ongoing since 2012. We speak regularly with both the prosecution and defense attorneys in order to inform our understanding of developments in the 9/11 case. All of my experience tells me one thing: the reason there has been no justice and accountability in either the 9/11 or the U.S.S. Cole cases, indeed no ability to even begin a trial in either case, is torture. All the defendants were tortured at CIA black sites overseas and at Guantánamo. Pre-trial litigation in both cases has largely concerned what evidence of the defendants’ torture would be admitted in a trial and what later confessions will be suppressed because they are tainted by that torture. In her report on Guantánamo on June 14 of this year, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism stated, “the single most significant barrier to fulfilling the rights of victims and survivors was the use of torture. Torture was a betrayal of the rights of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.” The same can be said for the victims of the U.S.S. Cole bombing. read the complete article


Delhi Home of Independent Muslim Woman Journalist Set on Fire; She Suspects Foul Play

A Delhi-based independent Muslim woman journalist who runs a popular YouTube channel has alleged that miscreants burnt her house and turned into ashes her books, which included a copy of the Quran as well as the Ramayana. While 33-year-old journalist Khushboo Akhtar, who runs the ‘Pal Pal News’ YouTube channel, has not identified any miscreants, she claims she was possibly targeted due to her journalism work, which involves raising issues concerning Muslims and other oppressed communities. She suspected foul play after she noticed that her books, including the Quran and other religious scriptures, as well as a copy of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which her mother liked to read, had been pulled out from a cupboard and set on fire next to a washing machine outside the room. “I keep getting threats for regularly drawing people’s attention to burning topics and social issues,” she said in her police complaint. Akhtar said she had no personal enmity with anyone, but would often receive threats over her work. read the complete article


More Swedes favor ban on Quran burnings as country's image damaged

More than half of Swedish people are in favor of a ban on the burning of the Quran and other books, according to the latest survey published by a pollster. The percentage of Swedes who want to ban such burnings increased to 53%, two points higher than the previous poll. Some 37% were in favor of burning holy books within the scope of freedom of expression, while the remaining did not express an opinion. The survey was conducted with 1,291 randomly selected Swedish nationals between Aug. 15-27. In Sweden, the government and the main opposition are preparing to change the law on provocations against the Quran. The Swedish government announced earlier this month that it was reviewing the Public Order Law to prevent increasing attacks on the Quran in the country. read the complete article


Britain has done more than ignore the Uyghur genocide – from politics to business, it is complicit

This week, yet another foreign secretary has justified engaging with the perpetrators of genocide, on the basis that going to Beijing would allow them to raise concerns in private. According to an official statement, James Cleverly made clear the UK’s “strength of feeling about the mass incarceration of the Uyghur people” in his bilateral meetings with senior Chinese government figures. Once again, this has shown China that when it comes to the mass contravention of human rights, the UK government has nothing but words in response and fails to stand up for its values. Shocking as this is, it is hardly surprising, given not just the failure to protect the Uyghur people from genocide but the concerted efforts to deny the facts and a wilful ignorance across politics, business and civil society in the UK. In stark contrast, the silence of UK ministers and the refusal of the government to use the word “genocide” when discussing the plight of Uyghurs is palpable. Meanwhile, with an increasingly worrying regularity, pivotal figures and organisations within the upper echelons of British society are opting to turn a blind eye to the reality of genocide. read the complete article

'Any story could be your last' - India's crackdown on Kashmir press

Asif Sultan was first charged with aiding militancy in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which has seen an armed insurgency against Indian rule since 1989. He is charged under an anti-terror law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in which it's extremely difficult to get bail. The second charge against him is under another controversial law - the Public Safety Act (PSA) - which allows detention without charge for up to two years. Mohammad Sultan rejects the accusations. He believes Asif was targeted for his work, in particular an article about an anti-India militant that Asif wrote a month before he was arrested in August 2018. "Asif is a professional reporter and he has been jailed for writing about the militancy. He has nothing to do with them [militants]," says his father. "They [the government] wanted to make an example out of him so that no one dares to cover topics the government doesn't approve of." The BBC has spent more than a year investigating accusations against the Indian government that it is running a sinister and systematic campaign to intimidate and silence the press in the region. We had to meet journalists in secret, and they asked for their names to be hidden, fearing reprisals. read the complete article

India says ready for polls in Kashmir as top court hears Article 370 pleas

The Indian government has told the country’s top court it is ready to hold elections in Indian-administered Kashmir “any time now”. The last state assembly elections in Indian-administered Kashmir were held in 2014. On August 2 this year, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud started hearing petitions filed by Kashmiri and other groups and individuals who claim India’s move to scrap Article 370, which granted Indian-administered Kashmir its partial autonomy, was illegal. The special law gave exclusive rights on property and jobs to the permanent residents of India’s only Muslim-majority region and allowed it to have its own constitution. It also barred outsiders from settling permanently or buying property in the region, which is also claimed by neighbouring Pakistan. The situation worsened in 2019 when Modi’s government removed the region’s special status and brought it under New Delhi’s direct control by turning it into a federal territory governed by a hand-picked administrator. Since then, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has passed a series of laws and policies which residents in the valley say are aimed at changing the demography of the region and deny them their historical rights over their lands and livelihoods. read the complete article


Finnish government renounces racism after a summer rocked by racist scandals

The Finnish government unveiled a new plan Thursday to try and shake off the stigma of racism that has marred the first months of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's right-wing coalition government. The plan is aimed at combating racism and anti-Semitism, including a new law to criminalise Holocaust denial and plans to possibly ban Nazi and Communist symbols – although that could prove legally difficult. "Every minister in the government renounces racism and is committed to actively combating it", Orpo told a press conference in Helsinki, where leaders pledged up to €1.5 million to bring in the 23 measures outlined in the plan. The government was pushed into action only after it was rocked by repeated scandals since forming in June. Rikka Purra, finance minister, and leader of the far-right Finns Party, had to apologise for past racist comments she made online after being condemned by her government colleagues. The incendiary words she shared in 2008, particularly against immigration, Islam and racism, as well as threats of violence, have resurfaced. read the complete article


France's 'abaya ban' is set to 'traumatise' young women

In its latest push for radical secularism, France announced a ban on "abayas", a loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women at public schools, arguing the garment violates France's strict secular laws in education. The ban has triggered a fresh row over secularism, racism, sexism and Islamophobia. Loubna Regui, president of the ELF-Muslim Students of France, told The New Arab the ban is "racist" and "illogical" as abayas are not religious clothes. "Anyone who does a little internet research discovers that it's just a Middle Eastern cultural garment," she said. "France is the only country, alongside Afghanistan and Iran, to control what women can and cannot wear. It's dangerous that even today, the country of Simone de Beauvoir falls that low," she added. Zerbib, like some other far-right-aligned French figures and politicians, admits that racial profiling might be the only way to go further with this ban. While the last thing a teenage girl may need is being fashion policed by the school's personnel daily for the bagginess of her skirt, openly racial profiling students, which is illegal, will further traumatise migrant students from all religions, argues Loubna Regui. "This a problem that has existed for a long time: young girls (from Arab, Turk, and African backgrounds) who are harassed by school principals by their teachers criticising their outfits. This ban will further traumatise young girls at public schools," added Regui. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Sep 2023 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results