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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01 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Human Rights Watch reports that “Rohingya Muslim refugees in India face tightened restrictions, arbitrary detention, violent attacks often incited by political leaders, and a heightened risk of forced returns,” meanwhile at the recent OIC meeting, “ministers in Islamabad concluded with a familiar resolution, condemning the oppression of Muslims in Palestine and Indian-administered Kashmir and rising Islamophobia in western countries,” but failed to mention of China’s persecuted Uyghur minority, and in the United Kingdom, the Trojan Horse Affair podcast “exposed the manner and extent to which anti-Muslim racism has taken deep-roots within British society.” Our recommended read of the day is by John Knefel for Truthout on how many of the abuses at Guantanamo — including torture, indefinite pretrial detention and lack of oversight — have long been present in the incarceration regime in the United States. This and more below:

United States

01 Apr 2022

Some Guantánamo Prisoners Fear Transfer to US Prisons Due to Brutal Conditions | Recommended Read

Since the prison at Guantánamo Bay opened in its “war on terror” iteration in 2002, there has been a tendency among liberal critics to hold it in stark relief to the “normal” civilian legal system. The cruelty and illegitimacy of Guantánamo Bay was contrasted against the inherent perceived legitimacy of U.S. courts and prisons. For as long as the detention center and the various tribunals have been around, it’s been common to hear arguments against them from human rights NGOs based on the efficacy and security of the civilian apparatus — the success rate of terrorism prosecutions, or the fact that no prisoner has ever escaped from a supermax prison. There is no question that U.S. interrogators carried out unspeakable torture at Guantánamo Bay, that officials held prisoners incommunicado and without having been convicted of a crime, and operated for years with almost no oversight or visibility from outside watchdog groups. However, all of those elements are present to one degree or another in the normal incarceration regime in the United States, a point police and prison abolitionists have been making for the duration of the war on terror. There has always been a fear that the abuses of Guantánamo Bay will migrate into the rest of the U.S. legal system. The reality is that many of them — including torture, indefinite pretrial detention and lack of oversight — have been there all along. Ongoing plea negotiations in the 9/11 trial at Guantánamo Bay underscore just how outdated the conventional paradigm is. The five defendants in the trial are now in talks with prosecutors to bring the capital punishment case to close, but, according to The New York Times, one of the key requirements from the defendants in the prior round of negotiations in 2017 was that they be able to serve their sentences at Guantánamo, “where they are able to eat and pray in groups.” They were reportedly adamant that they didn’t want to be sent to the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where, as the Times writes, “federal inmates are held in solitary confinement up to 23 hours a day.” In the current round of negotiations, the Times reports that the five defendants want “guarantees that, even after their convictions, they would be able to eat and pray communally,” though they aren’t “pressing for a particular venue.” The ongoing fear that they could wind up back in extreme isolation, whether they’re held in military or civilian custody, reveals the baseline cruelty that permeates all U.S. prisons and detention facilities. read the complete article


01 Apr 2022

American Political Opportunism and the Long Overdue Rohingya Genocide Determination

On March 21, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced a (Rohingya) “genocide determination.” The U.S. decision was largely welcomed by Rohingya survivors. As evidenced from numerous “welcoming statements” from refugee camps in Bangladesh and diaspora campaign groups, the Rohingya rightly feel vindicated now that one of the world’s most powerful states has officially called the crimes against them a genocide, albeit after years of strategic avoidance. Within their reasoning for avoidance, was not wanting to rock the country’s Washington-brokered, neo-liberal “democratic transition,” with Aung San Suu Kyi eventually taking the helm as Myanmar state counsellor in 2016. Blinken’s “genocide determination” pinned the genocide label exclusively on the country’s military leaders. In fact, genocides are institutional crimes typically planned, organized, managed, executed, and denied by various organs of a state and those who were in charge. During the two genocidal purges of 2016 and 2017, which were the sole focus of the U.S. State Department’s forensic investigation completed in 2018 involving interviews with 1,000 survivors in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Aung San Suu Kyi was Myanmar’s state counsellor, foreign minister, and the autocratic chair of the then ruling National League for Democracy. Her official denial of genocide at the ICJ and her public acts of denial on numerous occasions removed any doubt as to where she stood and what her official and public roles were in the crime which the United States has now officially called a genocide. read the complete article

01 Apr 2022

Muslim nations tilt towards China as US influence fades and Uyghurs ignored

The attendance of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at last week’s Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Pakistan is a clear signal that many countries in the Muslim world are moving away from their traditional alliances with the US, analysts have told Middle East Eye. The conference of OIC foreign ministers in Islamabad concluded with a familiar resolution, condemning the oppression of Muslims in Palestine and Indian-administered Kashmir and rising Islamophobia in western countries. But the statement made no mention of China’s persecuted Uyghur minority, drawing condemnation from Uyghur activists already irked by the organisation’s invitation to Wang to address the conference as a special guest. “China has hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in Pakistan," Haroon Aslam, a retired senior military general and political analyst, told Middle East Eye. "That makes them a serious stakeholder in the country. Political stability means economic stability, and when it comes to Imran Khan, he definitely sees a better future for his country when aligned with Russia and China." But Wang’s invitation to Pakistan reflected a unanimity of interest among most leading OIC member states, analysts said. “Geopolitically and economically, the Muslim bloc is fast moving away from the West,” Umer Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, told MEE. read the complete article

01 Apr 2022

India: Rohingya Deported to Myanmar Face Danger

The Indian government’s forced return of an ethnic Rohingya woman to Myanmar on March 22, 2022 highlights the life-threatening risks facing Rohingya refugees in India, Human Rights Watch said today. International law prohibits the forced return of refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. Rohingya Muslim refugees in India face tightened restrictions, arbitrary detention, violent attacks often incited by political leaders, and a heightened risk of forced returns. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that at least 240 Rohingya in India are currently detained on charges of illegal entry. In addition, about 39 are being detained in a shelter in Delhi while 235 others are detained in a holding center in Jammu. “The Indian government gains nothing by forcibly returning a Rohingya woman to Myanmar, while she is separated from her children and put at grave risk,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s decision to expel Rohingya refugees despite mountains of evidence that their lives and freedoms would be at risk in Myanmar shows cruel disregard for human life and international law.” An estimated 40,000 Rohingya are in India, at least 20,000 of whom are registered with UNHCR. Since 2016, ultranationalist Hindu groups have targeted Rohingya refugees in Jammu as part of growing attacks on Muslims in India and called for their expulsion from the country. Since October 2018, the Indian government has deported 12 Rohingya to Myanmar, claiming that they left voluntarily. However, the government denied repeated requests by UNHCR to gain access to them to independently assess whether the decision was voluntary. read the complete article


01 Apr 2022

Bollywood movie The Kashmir Files accused of spreading Islamophobia

A recently released Indian movie called The Kashmir Files has been accused of promoting Islamophobia by political leaders and activists across the country, according to local reports. A regional politician from the opposition Congress party said the movie aims to incite tensions between Hindus and Muslims, and blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party of fanning the flames of communal hatred. “I strongly condemn the BJP government for encouraging divisive politics," said KC Alagiri, the chief of the Congress Committee in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Earlier this month, the former chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India accused the national government of “deliberately tearing…apart” the Hindu and Muslim communities, while another former chief minister Omar Abdullah said that “many lies have been projected in the film.” The Kashmir Files movie is based on the true story of the exodus of Kashmir’s Hindu minority, known as the Kashmiri Pandits, hundreds of whom were forced to leave their homes in the early 1990s after being persecuted and threatened by radical Islamists. However, the movie has been accused of weaponizing the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits to create an environment of animosity and antagonism against Muslims in Kashmir and around the country. Social media users have shared instances of moviegoers calling for violence against Muslims. read the complete article

01 Apr 2022

Why the world should be concerned about India's recent election results

Uttar Pradesh chief Yogi Adityanath is a radical Hindu cleric who could one day lead the world’s second-most populous country with an iron fist. Nearly 90 million voters took part in the elections that came to a close this month in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, making them the world’s largest subnational elections. But as grand a democratic exercise as they were, their results are as deeply ominous. The elections in Uttar Pradesh — a state so huge that it would be the world’s fifth-most populous country were it independent — are a leap forward in India’s march toward becoming an authoritarian, Hindu majoritarian state. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also rules at the centre and in 17 states, won its second consecutive Uttar Pradesh state elections, breaking a cycle of anti-incumbency that goes back decades. The BJP’s victory is a vote of confidence not just in the party, but also in Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu militant monk who has served as the state’s chief minister for the past five years. These elections enable Adityanath to stay on as chief minister and bolster his national star power. Many observers now view him as the most likely successor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this decade. read the complete article


01 Apr 2022

Macron Needs the Young Muslim Vote to Get Reelected, and He Knows It

The French president recently staged a conference in Marseille aimed squarely at young French citizens of Arab origin. It was, some say, a recognition that Muslim voters are a key demographic that can help get him reelected in April. read the complete article

United Kingdom

01 Apr 2022

UK politicians and media need to open their eyes to the Islamophobia they are fuelling

Ever since the New York Times released its eight-part podcast last month on the Trojan Horse Affair, there has been a reckoning with truth. A reckoning which has not only shaken the British establishment and the mainstream press, it has also exposed the manner and extent to which anti-Muslim racism has taken deep-roots within British society. The then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, widely regarded by British Muslims as one of the most Islamophobic Members of Parliament, used the hoax letter to justify beefing up the UK's counter-terrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives. In his current post as the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Gove, who describes himself as a "proud Zionist", has been relentless in his effort to criminalise the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign. The most damaging, perhaps, is the lasting implications of the media storm and endless coverage of Muslims represented as a fifth-column in British society. A study by researchers at Birmingham City University in 2014 that was reported by Channel 4 News found that 90 per cent of Birmingham's Muslims felt that community cohesion was wrecked by the affair. "To put it simply," as the Muslim Council of Britain notes, "the Trojan Horse hoax was weaponised, compounding institutional racism." The disastrous consequences live on. The scandal powerfully shows that Islamophobia operates in a manner unique to itself. Racism and bigotry are part of British society, just as it is part of any society. But unlike other prejudices, anti-Muslim racism is a powerful current within the ruling establishment. It is impossible to imagine that elected officials would come up with a term like "Trojan Horse," to describe a plot involving a different faith community other than Muslims, let alone publish official government documents and hold debates in parliament, conjuring up the idea that the UK is being secretly undermined by its Muslim population. The reaction to the podcast has been equally revealing. The likes of Gove, aided by journalists in the mainstream British press, closed ranks and doubled down in what is further proof that they themselves have become victims of the Islamophobic atmosphere which they helped create. A debate in the House of Lords earlier this week, on "extremism and intolerance" is a perfect illustration of the refusal to reckon with truth. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Apr 2022 Edition


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