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.

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12 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Texas State University Police Department is investigating after a man reportedly attempted to remove a student’s hijab while she was walking on campus, meanwhile in India, clashes between Hindus and Muslims during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami have prompted police in India to impose a curfew in several Indian states, and local media reported that authorities in Madhya Pradesh demolished several houses belonging to Muslims, and in France, stakes are particularly high for French Muslims as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will face off President Emmanuel Macron in the second-round of elections. Our recommended read of the day is by Robert F. Worth for the New York Times on “The Forever Prisoner,” a new book detailing the torture and imprisonment of Abu Zubaydah, who has been imprisoned without charge for twenty years and is still being held incommunicado at Guantanamo Bay. This and more below:

United States

12 Apr 2022

The Appalling Treatment of a Prisoner at Guantánamo | Recommended Read

In the wee hours of March 28, 2002, a joint team of F.B.I. and C.I.A. officers, accompanied by the Pakistani police, raided a house in the city of Faisalabad. The suspects inside tried to flee, and in the ensuing melee the C.I.A.’s main target, a clean-shaven Palestinian with wild corkscrew hair, was shot and badly wounded. He was known as Abu Zubaydah, and President George W. Bush soon announced his capture as one of the first big victories in the nascent War on Terror. He was said to be No. 3 in Al Qaeda, a financier and planner of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Still bleeding, he was hustled off to one of the C.I.A.’s secret so-called black sites for interrogation. Eventually, investigators would discover that Abu Zubaydah had never been a member of Al Qaeda, never fought American forces and never had advance knowledge of any Qaeda attacks. By that time, the horrific torture inflicted on him had already become the template for later C.I.A. interrogations, even though it yielded no significant intelligence. When the Senate Intelligence Committee released its damning report on the C.I.A.’s post-9/11 torture program in 2014, Abu Zubaydah’s appalling mistreatment and the lies told about him were front and center. Abu Zubaydah is often cited in the vast library of books written about the 9/11 attacks and their legacy, from self-justifying C.I.A. memoirs to angry critiques of the Bush administration. Yet he remains a mysterious figure, because — amazingly — he is still being held incommunicado, in deference to a promise made by the Bush administration to the C.I.A. in 2002. Although he has never been charged with a crime, he sits in a cell in the American prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, his body and mind permanently scarred. “The Forever Prisoner” is a comprehensive and at times excruciatingly detailed narrative about Abu Zubaydah and the people who ordered and oversaw his interrogation. The authors managed the extraordinary feat of communicating with him through a “circuitous route” that they don’t describe, presumably because it violated the rules of his confinement. They also spoke at length with the military psychologists who tried on Abu Zubaydah the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — a revolting euphemism for beatings, sleep deprivation, near-drownings and other forms of torture. read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

'Why don't we just kill them?': New book details CIA rendition and torture programme

In the early years of America's war on terror, during an undisclosed meeting of the top brass of the US's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), senior intelligence officials gathered to discuss what to do with the individuals subjected to rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques". After looking at a number of options, including keeping them in detention, sending them to another country, and prosecuting them, one senior official asked, "Why don't we just kill them?" The details of that meeting were revealed on Monday, in a virtual panel with author and journalist Cathy Scott Clark, whose book The Forever Prisoner offers an in-depth look into the CIA's controversial torture programme. The book, which will be released later this week, focuses on the case of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah, who was interrogated using techniques that amounted to torture - including being waterboarded 83 times in one month, hung naked from a ceiling, and deprived of sleep for 11 straight days. It covers a number of aspects in the CIA's rendition programme, including interviews Clark had with several top military and intelligence officials. In the process of working on the book, Clark interviewed James Mitchell, one of the architects of the torture programme. Clark also interviewed another person, identified as "Gus" in the book, who orchestrated the entire rendition operation. "Having met and interviewed so many people in the programme, my overall feeling is that it sort of became like a pack mentality - that everybody was in it together," Clark said. "And if someone were to say who's responsible should someone be prosecuted, I don't think you can point to any one person." read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

TXST police investigating after student reports man attempted to remove their hijab

The Texas State University Police Department is investigating after a man reportedly attempted to remove a student’s hijab while she was walking on campus in late March. The victim reported she was walking on Bobcat Trail when she was approached by an unknown man. He then attempted to remove her hijab while making derogatory statements. According to the department, the suspect was described as a white male with medium brown hair and a high and tight haircut. He is in his early-to-mid 20s and has tattoos and piercings. read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

Defense, prosecutors alike request leniency for Minnesota mosque bombers, citing testimony against militia leader

A federal judge will render criminal sentences Tuesday for two Illinois men who bombed Bloomington's Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in 2017, then aided prosecutors in convicting their militia leader. Michael McWhorter, 33, and Joe Morris, 26, both face mandatory-minimum sentences of 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of federal felonies. The crime spree of the "White Rabbits 3 Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters" included robbing a Wal-Mart with airsoft guns, trying to extort the Canadian railroad, invading homes and attempting to firebomb a women's health clinic in Champaign, Ill. Attorneys for McWhorter and Morris are both asking U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank for 10-year sentences, citing their critical testimony against Emily Claire Hari — the mastermind of the terror spree who was sentenced last year to 53 years in prison. The Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office says it plans to ask Frank to grant leniency for the two men because of their cooperation, opening the door for the judge to issue a sentence below the statutory mandatory minimum. Leadership for Dar Al-Farooq is also advocating for a reduced sentence for the two men, according to prosecutors. "Both Morris and McWhorter have expressed remorse for their participation in the bombing and have accepted responsibility for their actions," said Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's Office in a sentencing position filing. "The government acknowledges and greatly respects Dar Al-Farooq's ability to forgive their attackers and to use this act of terrorism as a platform to promote mercy." read the complete article


12 Apr 2022

French Muslims, minorities brace for presidential election duel between far-right Le Pen and Macron

The second round of the French presidential election on April 24 will be a duel between incumbent president Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, polls revealed late on Sunday after a tense first round. Stakes are particularly high for French Muslims, many of whom worry about seeing their rights rolled back if Le Pen wins. Le Pen is the historic leader of the National Rally, formally known as the National Front, which has campaigned on anti-immigration rhetoric for years. Days before the election, Le Pen said she would ban the wearing of the hijab in public if elected, and that fines would be imposed on women wearing the Islamic headscarf. But Le Pen's rival, incumbent president Emmanuel Macron, has struggled to convince French minorities about his willingness to defend their rights. Throughout his five-year mandate, Macron's party has passed a controversial law against "separatism" that is widely seen as discriminatory to Muslims, dissolved a major anti-racist organisation monitoring Islamophobia, and generally stigmatised practising Muslims for their appearance and lifestyle choices. French Muslims have been leaving their country in ever-greater numbers over the past years, the New York Times reported in February, fleeing a political climate of distrust and scapegoating against their community. Overall, the presidential campaign this year has been marked by the sharp rise of Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric among several presidential candidates, notably the TV pundit Eric Zemmour. Zemmour only earned seven percent of the votes on Sunday, most of which are expected to go towards Le Pen in the second round. read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

Why France’s Macron Needs Every Vote to Beat Le Pen

France’s presidential election has revealed a nation drifting toward the political extremes, with more than half of voters picking far-left or far-right candidates in the first round on April 10. The result sets up a tense endgame in which President Emmanuel Macron will face off against Marine Le Pen, a longtime admirer of Russia’s Vladimir Putin who wants to pull the European Union’s only nuclear power out of NATO’s integrated command structure and ban Muslim women from wearing the veil in public. A Le Pen victory would strike at the heart of Europe’s post-war liberal consensus. If Macron prevails, he’d be the first incumbent to do so since Jacques Chirac 20 years ago. Le Pen and other anti-establishment candidates have lured voters away from mainstream parties by channeling popular anger over crime, job insecurity and a perceived decline in living standards. The Socialists, the party of Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande, have never recovered since many members quit to join Macron’s new centrist party, enabling his victory in 2017. Le Pen has benefited from the emergence of Zemmour, who has put racial grievances at the center of French politics and whose voters may rally behind her in the second round. Le Pen has sought to moderate her views for her third run at the presidency. She dropped a plan to ban dual citizenship -- a calling card of the far right -- and scrapped toxic policy proposals including an explicit pledge to pull France out of the European Union. She’s tried to win over younger voters with promises of tax breaks to the under-30s, and to soften her image -- sharing personal stories about her life as a single mother with three children and her Bengal cats. Her party’s broad anti-immigrant platform remains, and includes a pledge to fine Muslim women for wearing headscarves in public. read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

Mélenchon fans in his bastion north of Paris weigh up their options

The 19-year-old had been excited to vote for the first time in the French presidential election and had been glued to it on social media, but her candidate, the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had missed the final by just over one percentage point. “I’m gutted,” she said. She is now one of the millions of Mélenchon-fan kingmakers whose second-round vote could decide the election as Emmanuel Macron tries to win them over in order to hold back the far-right Marine Le Pen. “Not a single vote for Le Pen!” Mélenchon thundered to his supporters after polls showed up to one-third of them might be tempted to give an “anti-system” vote to Le Pen because they despised Macron. “Of course, I’ll now vote for Macron without a second’s hesitation – not for his platform but to keep out Le Pen, otherwise we’ll drift into far-right dictatorship,” Aminata said. She hoped to work abroad, but if Le Pen was elected she feared having to cut short her studies and leave France straight away. Aminata wears a Muslim headscarf, which Le Pen wants to ban from all public spaces, including the street. “My mum is an accountant, she lived through the difficulties of home-working during Covid and thinks Macron handled that well,” Aminata said. “But I felt Mélenchon was a vote of hope for young people; he was the only candidate with a real anti-racism platform and he came so close.” Mélechon had a historically high score in the département of Seine-Saint-Denis, the traditionally leftwing bastion north of Paris, whose pockets of high-rise estates are among the most deprived in France. Across the whole of Seine-Saint-Denis, Mélenchon took 49% of the vote – far ahead of Macron on 20% and Le Pen on 11%. But it was in the small Seine-Saint-Denis town of Villetaneuse, population 13,000, that Mélenchon reached one of the highest national scores: 65%. Its residents were now mulling over what to do. Aliya, 19, a law student who had voted Mélenchon alongside her mother, a district nurse, would now choose Macron in order to block Le Pen. “It’s a no-brainer – Le Pen’s anti-immigration programme against foreigners is unconstitutional, and runs counter to people’s religious freedoms to wear a headscarf. I’ll vote Macron to keep Le Pen out and everyone I know will do the same.” read the complete article


12 Apr 2022

Hindu-Muslim clashes prompt Indian police to ban gatherings in affected areas

Clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a religious festival prompted police in India to impose a curfew in one town and ban gatherings of more than four people in affected parts of Gujarat and two other states on Monday. A day earlier, at least one person was killed and ten, including nine police, were injured when a Hindu procession was pelted with stones in a town in the western state of Gujarat. In the central state of Madhya Pradesh, more than 35 people were injured during similar clashes, while the eastern state of Jharkand also suffered communal violence. "We have detained seven people after the clashes and tight security arrangements have been put in place to prevent further tension," said M J Chaudhari, a police official based in Khambat town of Gujarat's Anand district, where one incident took place. Authorities in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, also imposed a curfew in parts of Himmatnagar town. read the complete article

12 Apr 2022

Muslim homes razed as clashes mar Hindu festival in India

Clashes between Hindus and Muslims during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami have prompted police in India to impose a curfew in several Indian states even as authorities in central Madhya Pradesh state demolished several houses belonging to Muslims, witnesses said and local media reported. At least one person was killed and several houses or shops were set on fire in at least seven Indian states that witnessed violent clashes on Monday. In Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, the district administration demolished the houses of many Muslims and alleged the residents were involved in stone-pelting a Hindu procession. Videos on social media showed mobs pelting stones on mosques in several areas and DJs playing loud music outside the mosques. "Police came to demolish Jama masjid complex in Talab chowk. They broke down the shutters of the shop but then they left after Muslims confronted them. But they have returned again and began demolishing the complex," local news website Maktoob reported. The violence started on Sunday when the Muslim community objected to a DJ playing objectionable music in the procession. This was followed by stone-pelting and arson at many places in the city, in which many people including Khargone's superintendent of police were injured. read the complete article


12 Apr 2022

US activists demand Saudi Arabia halt deportation of Uyghurs to China

US activists have called on Saudi Arabia not to extradite four members of the Uyghur Muslim minority to China, saying they risk serious violations of their human rights if they are deported. Protests took place in New York and three other cities across the US and Canada on Sunday, over reports that Buheliqiemu Abula, her ex-husband Nuermaimaiti Ruze, their teenage daughter and religious scholar Aimidoula Waili were expected to be deported during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Abula and her teenage daughter were detained near Mecca earlier this month, while Ruze and his friend Waili were detained in November 2020 after they went to perform a pilgrimage in Mecca. Amnesty International reported on Sunday that Abula and her daughter had been transferred to a deportation centre in the south of the capital Riyadh, ahead of their planned deportation. "Right now, Buheleqiemu Abula and her daughter appear to be at elevated risk of deportation, as they have been taken to a deportation centre," Alkan Akad, a China researcher at Amnesty International told Middle East Eye. "We call on Saudi authorities to halt all plans to deport Buheliqiemu Abula and her 13-year-old daughter." "Their transfer to Riyadh indicates that they are at high risk of deportation to China, where they could likely be subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and persecution. Under international law, the kingdom has an obligation not to forcibly return Uyghurs to China." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Apr 2022 Edition


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