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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26 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, reporting finds that Alfreda Scheuer – a former CIA analyst who ‘gleefully participated in torture sessions’ and was bestowed the ‘Queen of Torture’ moniker in a 2014 New Yorker article, now runs a beauty company, meanwhile the United Nations has announced that a team is in China ahead of a visit to Xinjiang, in preparation for the human rights commissioner’s long sought inspection expected next month, and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has found that religious freedom has deteriorated “significantly” in India under the Hindu nationalist government, and recommends targeted sanctions over abuses. Our recommended read of the day is by Anna Schecter for NBC News on a new report from the Woodrow Wilson Center that finds that more than 1,500 Uyghurs have been detained, extradited or rendered, most in the Middle East and North Africa. This and more below:


26 Apr 2022

China is hunting Uyghurs around the world, with help from some surprising countries | Recommended Read

The Chinese government is not only mistreating Uyghurs within China's borders, it is hunting them down abroad — with help from countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — to clamp down on criticism of Beijing’s repression of Muslim minorities. The scale of the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s efforts to harass, detain and extradite Uyghurs from around the world, and the cooperation it is getting from governments in the Middle East and North Africa, is described in unprecedented detail in a new report, “Great Wall of Steel,” by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. More than 5,500 Uyghurs outside of China have been targeted by Beijing, hit with cyberattacks and threats to family members who remain in China, and more than 1,500 Uyghurs have been detained or forced to return to China to face imprisonment and torture in police custody, according to the report. “It is the first major study to place the Xinjiang humanitarian crisis in a global context, showing the international dimension of Beijing’s campaign to suppress the Uyghurs,” said the report’s author, Bradley Jardine, a Schwartzman fellow at the Wilson Center and director of research at the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

Xinjiang: UN team in China ahead of visit by human rights chief

A United Nations team is in China ahead of a visit to Xinjiang, in preparation for the human rights commissioner’s long sought inspection expected next month. The delegation was quarantining in Guangzhou, the South China Morning Post reported, before heading to Xinjiang. The five-member team was there “at the invitation of the [Chinese] government” said Liz Throssell, UN human rights spokesperson, the Post reported. The UN office of the human rights commissioner (OHRC) has been negotiating with the Chinese government since 2018 seeking to visit Xinjiang with “unfettered, meaningful access” and the freedom to interview civil society groups without supervision. OHRC has been criticised for not yet releasing a long-delayed report on the rights situation in Xinjiang, amid reports earlier this year that Beijing had insisted it not be published before the Winter Olympic Games in February. Under the rule of President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities in the far western region have since 2017 run a campaign of mass detention, re-education, and religious and cultural oppression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. They have also been accused of conducting forced labour programmes and forced sterilisation of women. Rights groups and foreign governments have labelled the policies as crimes against humanity or genocide. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

Over 600 fake Twitter accounts found promoting Chinese propaganda

A US-based intelligence company says it uncovered a network of more than 600 inauthentic Twitter accounts that spread a positive narrative of China’s far-western Xinjiang region, as Beijing was being accused of human rights abuses and locking up hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities there. According to a report released Monday by Nisos, 648 Twitter accounts posted several thousand tweets with hashtags such as #xinjiang, #forcedlabor and #humanrights, with seemingly innocuous content such as traditional dancing and scenic photos, as well as videos with individuals denying that forced labor exists in Xinjiang. The network and its tweets appear to be intended to promote “a positive narrative regarding Xinjiang and Uyghur treatment within the People’s Republic of China” and actively targeted a foreign audience, the report found. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

Watch | ‘Addicted to Hate’: Understanding Anti-Islam Sentiments in India and Sweden

Far-right politician Rasmus Paludan’s plans to burn copies of the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, in Sweden has resulted in not just counter-protests but several cases of riots in many cities. Paludan, a Danish-Swedish politician, has a history of anti-Islam and anti-immigration politics. At the same time these riots were happening in Sweden, a string of communal clashes were reported in India. They occurred during processions held during Hindu festivals. Some right-wing trolls on social media accounts played up the riots in Sweden, painting the Muslim community in general as intolerant and violent. The Wire’s Sumedha Pal spoke to neuroscientist Sumaiya Shaikh about the parallels between anti-Islam sentiments in India and Sweden. They also discuss the narrative of hate, victimhood and the rise of far-right supremacy in Sweden and Europe. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

US panel wants India blacklisted over 'worsened' religious freedom

Religious freedom has deteriorated "significantly" in India under the Hindu nationalist government, a US commission has said as it again recommended targeted sanctions over abuses. It was the third straight year that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked that India be placed on a list of "countries of particular concern" –– a recommendation that has angered New Delhi and is virtually certain to be dismissed by the State Department. In an annual report, the panel –– which is appointed to offer recommendations but does not set US policy –– voiced wide concern about South Asia and also backed the State Department's inclusion of Pakistan on the blacklist. In India, the commission pointed to "numerous" attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, in 2021 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government promoted "its ideological vision of a Hindu state" through policies hostile to minorities. "Religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened," the report said. "The Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies —including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda — that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities," the report also noted. It pointed to a "culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups" and arrests of journalists and human rights advocates. read the complete article

United States

26 Apr 2022

US: Anti-Muslim discrimination on the rise, advocacy group finds

Cases of discrimination and harassment against Muslim Americans rose nine percent when compared to 2020, according to a leading Muslim advocacy and civil rights group. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) said in a report published on Monday that it received 6,720 complaints last year, with the rise in issues ranging from bullying in schools, freedom of speech concerns, hate crimes, physical assaults or placement on a federal terrorist watchlist. Researchers specifically documented a 28 percent rise in hate and bias incidents involving the forcible removal of hijabs, harassment, vandalism, and physical assault, among others. "Islamophobia is structural and deep in our society," Nihad Awad, Cair's executive director, said at a press conference on the release of the report on Monday. "This suspicion is deep because it impacts the lives of millions of American Muslims. It has been escalating for the past three decades since Cair started to document these cases." read the complete article

26 Apr 2022


The phrase “War on Terror” invokes many different feelings and images depending upon one’s position in America and the world. While many understand it merely as a descriptor for a new frontier in American foreign policy and war, for others it has meant a new set of violent interventions and disturbances to their way of life. Last year’s somber reflections on the 20 years since 9/11 rarely engaged fully with the complexity and scope of the actions set in motion by American incursions into Afghanistan, Iraq, and multiple other countries in the years to follow. While Rep. Barbara Lee did receive her “flowers” for her brave stance for urging restraint in the days after 9/11, and for being the sole member of either chamber of Congress to vote against the first Authorization of Military Force, the U.S. government itself has not been called to account for the human impact of its policy prescriptions and militaristic actions over the past two decades. In Innocent Until Proven Muslim, author Maha Hilal clearly explicates the destruction caused to Muslim communities by the war on terror. Hilal provides countless examples across a range of policies and interventions that were used domestically and abroad to “fight terrorism.” Bringing a unique perspective to these issues, Hilal systematically explores how the underlying doctrine of the War on Terror has proved remarkably durable — spanning 20 years and three different presidential administrations. She provides countless examples of how a wide range of violent policies and interventions, both domestically and abroad, were justified in the name of “fighting terrorism” and have since become institutionalized. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

CIA ‘Queen Of Torture’ Resurfaces With Unlikely New Career

A woman whose controversial participation in America’s War on Terror led to her being dubbed the ‘Queen of Torture’ has a very different career these days. Alfreda Scheuer – a former CIA analyst who ‘gleefully participated in torture sessions’ – was bestowed the 'Queen of Torture’ moniker in a 2014 article in The New Yorker, which quoted a source who said Scheuer ‘bears so much responsibility for so many intelligence failures that she should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done’. Scheuer is now running a company called YBeU Beauty in a bid to help women ‘look good, feel good, and do good’. Aside from recommending beauty products, Scheuer also runs life coaching sessions on the company’s Facebook page, in which she advises customers to ‘take a moment to express your gratitude and be glad’, Rolling Stone reports. Scheuer famously served as Jessica Chastain’s inspiration for her role in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, which follows a CIA agent’s relentless hunt for Osama bin Laden. The Kathryn Bigelow-directed film featured many hard-to-watch scenes, most notably in the form of stomach-turning portrayals of waterboarding, a violent interrogation tactic Scheuer refused to acknowledge as torture in a recent interview. As for her ‘Queen of Torture’ title, Scheuer said: “I got that title because I was in the arena. In fact, I raised my hand loud and proud and you know, I don’t regret it at all.” read the complete article


26 Apr 2022

‘Victory’ in defeat? Le Pen raises the far right’s glass ceiling, fails to crack it

On her third attempt, Le Pen has moved several steps closer to the Élysée Palace, adding almost 3 million votes to her tally from 2017 and surpassing 40 percent of the vote. Not since World War II has the nationalist far right come this close to power in France. “The ideas we represent have reached new heights,” Le Pen told supporters in a defiant speech, hailing a “shining victory” even as she conceded defeat to the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron. The 53-year-old vowed to “keep up the fight” and lead the battle in parliamentary elections in June. A large majority of French voters once saw it as a moral obligation to keep the far right at a low score, banding together in a “republican front”. Some have stopped thinking that way, others are simply tired of having to vote against the Le Pens again and again. Sunday’s result showed enough voters are still willing to rally against the far right, though the margin is shrinking. Far from weakening Le Pen in this campaign, Zemmour’s incendiary attacks on immigrants and Muslims helped trivialise the far right while allowing the National Rally leader to come across as more respectable. While Zemmour ultimately flopped, abandoned by “tactical” voters who rallied behind Le Pen, his candidacy also revealed the extent to which the French far right can count on the indulgence and complicity of a growing segment of the media. read the complete article

26 Apr 2022

The Real Meaning of Emmanuel Macron’s Victory

It is, therefore, hugely significant that, throughout the just concluded campaign, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party—as the National Front party that her father once led has been renamed—had to move sharply centrist in search of popularity. It gave up, however disingenuously, on its promise to leave the European Union, and it was forced to backtrack from Marine Le Pen’s long affiliation with Vladimir Putin. Éric Zemmour, who more overtly represents the racist ideology of the old Front, pur et dur, got less than ten per cent of the vote. With the the traditional French conservative parties having collapsed, from their own incompetence, there is nothing remotely surprising, in French terms, about far-right nationalism trying to pass itself off as something more palatable—any more than there is about that phenomenon in the United States. Le Pen did not get an enormous vote as a far-right extremist; she got an exceptionally large, though losing, share by pretending not to be a far-right extremist. She also benefitted enormously from the presence of Zemmour, who was so much further right and so unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant that Le Pen seemed temperate by comparison. The whole force, and successful burden, of Macron’s remarks as the campaign ended was to remind people who Le Pen really is, and what her family legacy has been—though struggling to differentiate herself from her openly fascistic-minded father, she inherited her position mainly because of her family name—and what she really stood for. He did, and the French understood the reminder. read the complete article


26 Apr 2022

Jahangirpuri violence: Why Arvind Kejriwal's silence is jarring

An anti-corruption crusader, Mr Kejriwal entered politics a decade ago promising to clean up the political system and focus on development. In Delhi, where his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been in power since 2013, they have been credited with turning around government-run schools, setting up affordable neighbourhood clinics and providing cheap water and electricity. Recently, they expanded their footprint to Punjab by sweeping the state election. Mr Kejriwal has often said that his party believes in equality of all religions and justice for all. In a country where politics relies heavily on caste and religious divisions, many found AAP's promise to refrain from "divisive politics" refreshing and hoped it would become a viable alternative to the big national parties. But since last week, after Delhi's Jahangirpuri neighbourhood was shaken by Hindu-Muslim violence, critics have been asking why he is not speaking up for the city's Muslims. Hindus and Muslims have blamed each other for the violence, which broke out after a Hindu religious procession marched past a mosque while celebrating a festival. Afterwards, the federal government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sent in its police forces, which arrested mostly Muslim men. The civic authorities, also controlled by the BJP, brought in bulldozers - officially to demolish illegal encroachments but widely seen to be aimed at "teaching a lesson to Muslim rioters" as most shops and businesses targeted belonged to the community. The crackdown hasn't come as a surprise - anti-Muslim violence has risen in India in recent years and there have been similar actions in some BJP-ruled states recently. But critics say Mr Kejriwal's response has been rather underwhelming. More than a week has passed since the violence, but he has not visited the area. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 Apr 2022

Policy Exchange exposes its Islamophobic agenda in a desperate defence of PREVENT

A report by Policy Exchange, due to be published tomorrow, [1] is an academically poor and desperate attempt to defend the Islamophobic PREVENT strategy [2]. The report smears Muslim organisations for challenging the policy and holding the government to account for the targeting of their community. “The report fails to contend with any of the substantive arguments presented by CAGE and others against PREVENT. It is a ‘rinse and repeat’ of tired Islamophobic tropes, stereotypes and mischaracterisations.” “It is very telling that in its attempt to defend PREVENT, Policy Exchange has completely ignored the vast body of critique from beyond the Muslim community. This underlines their open Islamophobic agenda. read the complete article


26 Apr 2022

Twitter Suspends Far-Right Dutch Leader for Tweet Blasting Islam

Twitter suspended the account of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders after he sent a tweet mentioning Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that attacked Islam. Twitter Inc. took the action after it said Wilders violated its rules against hateful conduct, the leader of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party told Dutch news outlet NOS. The social media company deleted the tweet sent on Tuesday by Wilders, where he was responding to Sharif’s condemnation of incidents of Islamophobia in Europe. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Apr 2022 Edition


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