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
10 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a new law went into effect in Maryland “permitting college and school athletes to wear articles of clothing with religious significance while playing, or to make changes to their uniforms in line with their religious ideals,” meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), believes “Johnson should have apologized in his resignation speech to the Muslim community and has warned that ‘no concrete steps’ have been taken to tackle the issue,” and Jamil Jan Kochai’s new book, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, “brings into relief the farcical nature of a conflict in which an army can investigate itself for the death of phantom terrorists killed remotely from a control room. The result is a dark literary impeachment, a fable in which the emperor is missing not clothes but a conscience.” Our recommended read of the day is by Hannah Sampson for The Washington Post on a lawsuit filed by two Black Muslim men against Alaska Airlines for “discrimination after they said the airline removed them from a flight following a fellow passenger’s complaint over text messages in Arabic and would not allow them to travel together on rebooked flights.” This and more below:

United States

10 Aug 2022

Muslim men sue Alaska Airlines for removal from flight over Arabic texts | Recommended Read

Two Black Muslim men have sued Alaska Airlines for discrimination after they said the airline removed them from a flight following a fellow passenger’s complaint over text messages in Arabic and would not allow them to travel together on rebooked flights. Attorneys with the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which first publicized the incident in December 2020, filed the suit in federal court on Aug. 2. The group said in a statement that the lawsuit claims a federal and state violation of the men’s civil rights as paying passengers on the flight. The situation unfolded on Feb. 17, 2020, when Abobakkr Dirar and Mohamed Elamin, both U.S. citizens born in Sudan, were in first class waiting to fly from Seattle to San Francisco. The men, colleagues in a medical transport business, were planning to buy work vehicles and drive them back to Washington state, where they both lived. As they waited to take off, the complaint says, they had conversations in Arabic, and Dirar, now 62, messaged a friend in a conversation that included emoji and Arabic text. A passenger who sat next to Dirar was alarmed by the texts, grabbed his bag and told the flight attendant he was not going to stay on the plane. Calling the passenger’s complaint “unsubstantiated and disproven,” the lawsuit says airline employees chose to “self-servingly discriminate against [the men] based upon their perceived religion, race, color, ethnicity, alienage and national origin by using Plaintiffs as scapegoats in an admittedly unjustified and unnecessary display of security theater.” According to the suit, an Alaska Airlines manager told Dirar and Elamin to get off the plane. Once they complied, he explained that one of them had been flagged for sending “improper” text messages. Employees humiliated them in front of fellow passengers, the suit says, forced them to undergo more security measures even after telling police the men posed no threat and would not let them fly together on rebooked flights. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

U.S. Is Urgently Seeking a Country to Resettle a Qaeda Informant

U.S. diplomats have asked 11 countries if they would be willing to take in a former courier for Al Qaeda who was tortured by the C.I.A. and became a government informant, Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing on Tuesday. The lawyers said that finding a nation to resettle the prisoner, Majid Khan, 42, with his wife and daughter was a priority for the Biden administration at a time when prosecutors are discussing possible plea agreements with other prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Mr. Khan, a U.S.-educated Pakistani citizen, gained attention last year as the first former prisoner of the C.I.A.’s black site prison network to publicly describe his torture, between 2003 and 2006, by U.S. agents. A U.S. military jury condemned his treatment as “a stain on the moral fiber of America.” Justice Department lawyers described the Biden administration’s efforts to find a place for him in a filing that urged Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court in Washington to essentially take no action for now on Mr. Khan’s petition of habeas corpus. “The government is actively — and urgently — working to facilitate petitioner’s transfer,” the lawyers wrote in a 37-page filing that did not make clear how many of the 11 countries were still considering the request. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

Removing Hurdles for Religious College Athletes

A new law went into effect in Maryland this summer permitting college and school athletes to wear articles of clothing with religious significance while playing, or to make changes to their uniforms in line with their religious ideals. The Inclusive Athletic Attire Act, requires the governing bodies of public colleges and universities, community college boards of trustees and the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association to allow athletes to "modify an athletic or team uniform to make the attire more modest to conform to the requirements or preferences of the student athlete's religion or culture." This means athletes can now wear head coverings, such as a kippah, hijab or turban, or wear additional clothing such as undershirts or leggings for religious reasons. "Hopefully, no student in Maryland will ever have to worry about not being able to compete in sports because of their religious beliefs," said Zainab Chaudry, the Maryland director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR, who testified before members of the state House and Senate on behalf of the bill. "It's very long overdue. We're really grateful to the lawmakers who voted on the right side of history to make sure students don't have to choose between their religion and their passion for sports." Maryland's law was inspired by Je'Nan Hayes, a high school student who approached CAIR to advocate on her behalf after a referee benched her basketball team's regional final in 2017 because she was wearing a hijab for which she had not gotten a state-signed waiver. Chaudry said "numerous" Muslim families, mostly parents of high school students, have called on CAIR to support students who were being prevented from playing in school sports because they wore hijabs. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

Houston's Muslim community on alert after 4 men killed in Albuquerque

The Houston Police Department said they are increasing patrols at mosques around the city and meeting with Muslim community leaders later this week after a fourth Muslim man was killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, over the past nine months. Law enforcement is now looking for a suspect's vehicle that they believe is involved in these murders. Officials said the common factors among these cases were the victims' race and religion, but they cannot confirm if these were hate crimes until a suspect or motive has been identified. Still, the senseless killings have sent shockwaves through Muslim communities across the country, fearing that another Islamophobic attack could happen in their area. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

Albuquerque Police Detain Suspect in Killings of Muslim Men

On Tuesday, the police said they had arrested a man who was himself Muslim and who may have targeted at least two of the victims because he was angry that his daughter had married a man from the other major branch of Islam. The police said the man, Muhammad Syed, 51, would be charged in two of the killings and that he was a suspect in the other two deaths. Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, a mosque that at least three of the victims had attended, said he understood that the authorities were looking at the possibility that the suspect was a Sunni Muslim who may have been motivated by resentment over a marriage to a Shiite Muslim. He and the police cautioned that details remained sparse, and Mr. Assed noted that at least one of the victims was Sunni. Police officials said they were not yet sure if a dispute over a marriage was the sole motive, but said they were aware of it and had found evidence that an “interpersonal conflict” may have led to the shootings. Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department said that it was not yet appropriate to label the killings as either hate crimes or serial murders. read the complete article


10 Aug 2022

The Dark Absurdity of American Violence

Less than a year ago, the U.S. military, on its way out of Afghanistan, added 10 more names to its ledger of collateral damage in the war it had waged for two decades. A few days after 13 American service members and almost 200 Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, U.S. officials went looking for a white Toyota that they believed contained a car bomb. They found one, and they vaporized it. Officials initially thought that the strike had killed someone affiliated with Islamic extremists. Instead, the final tally of the dead consisted of one aid worker, two other adults, and seven children. Having fallen within some faraway officer’s acceptable margin of error, those people are now, in the official accounting, no more than details of a tragic but blameless accident. The military investigated itself and decided not to punish those responsible. Before the investigation, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had called the strike “righteous.” After the investigation, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, called it a “tragic mistake.” American literature is necessarily littered with meditations on violence—its ubiquity, its marrow-deep kinship with this country’s mythology of frontiers tamed and destiny manifested. But although Jamil Jan Kochai’s writing touches on these themes, his profound and visceral short-story collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, is much more an interrogation of another central facet of modern American violence: its absurdity. More than almost any other work of fiction I’ve read in the post-9/11 era, Kochai’s collection lays bare the surrealism that colors nearly every interaction between one of history’s most powerful empires and the people it considers disposable. By using a fantastical style to describe the ordinary lives lost over the course of the war, Kochai brings into relief the farcical nature of a conflict in which an army can investigate itself for the death of phantom terrorists killed remotely from a control room. The result is a dark literary impeachment, a fable in which the emperor is missing not clothes but a conscience. Simply detailing the scope and nature of the War on Terror’s carnage is one thing, but Kochai, whose stories feature anthropomorphic monkeys who instigate revolutions and a child’s severed limbs dutifully reattached by his mother, opts for a far less-traveled road, creating a world so preposterous that the violence seems like just another type of everyday absurdity. In a vacuum, Kochai’s characters and scenes would come off as ludicrous, but framed against the past two decades, they reveal how inured we’ve become to the strangeness of war. The book’s central means of indictment is to show us just how terrifyingly routine violence became for anyone who lived through the U.S. military’s prolonged campaign in response to the September 11 attacks. Many of the central characters in the collection’s 12 stories are Afghan Americans, immigrants from other parts of the world, or Afghans whose lives the war has ruptured. For the most part, the U.S. is on the sidelines. Kochai creates a deeply powerful inversion, stripping it of agency and giving it as passive a voice as it has given the men, women, and children killed or maimed by stray Hellfires. Coupled with the phantasmagorical streak that runs through many of these stories, this reversal underscores the nonsensical imbalance between the world’s most powerful military and people from one of the poorest places on Earth. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

Concerned for Uyghur rights, Britain replaces Chinese survelliance systems

Concerned over Uyghur rights violations and the presence of Chinese-owned surveillance systems at the Department of Defence and police forces that has undermined national security, the British government has replaced security equipment provided by Chinese-owned tech companies at key government offices, media reports said. Other rights groups are campaigning for Hikvision and Dahua to be banned in the UK due to the companies' involvement in the Chinese state's repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. Hikvision and Dahua cameras are used in concentration camps throughout the Uyghur region, Asian Lite reported. This comes as the British MPs alleged that the Chinese government is persecuting minorities and intruding on governmental departments and research centres worldwide. Among the Chinese companies are Hikvision and Dahua. Offices belonging to the Home Office, Department of Health & Social Care, Department of Work and Pensions, and Department of Justice have replaced the Chinese-made security equipment. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

'No woman in burqa ever hurt me. Men in suits led us to war:' Man calls out hypocrisy of stereotypes

Stereotypes can be extremely harmful and often form the base for hatred and bigotry. Hate crimes against Muslims rose 1617 percent from 2000 to 2001 in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to the FBI. While hate crimes have considerably come down over the past two decades, Islamophobia is still a huge issue in America, and in many parts of the world. A letter written to The Guardian and highlighted how people have been taught to be afraid of women wearing a burka when it is always the men in suits who continue to ruin life for everyone. The letter was written in response to police officers forcing a woman to remove her burkini on Nice beach in France. Many towns in France have banned burkinis and face coverings. The letter was written by a person named Henry Stuart, who hailed from London. "No woman in a burqa (or a hijab or a burkini) has ever done me any harm," wrote Stuart, revealing his personal experience that went against all the stereotypes associated with Muslims. "But I was sacked (without explanation) by a man in a suit. Men in suits missold me pensions and endowments, costing me thousands of pounds," they wrote. Stuart also spoke about men in suits ruining the world as well. "A man in a suit led us on a disastrous and illegal war. Men in suits led the banks and crashed the world economy. Other men in suits then increased the misery to millions through austerity. If we are to start telling people what to wear, maybe we should ban suits," they added, questioning the hypocrisy of those attempting to villanize those wearing a burqa. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

Compromise or cut loose? China labour watchdogs’ tough choice

When the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) launched in 2005 promising to promote the use of traceable, sustainable cotton in global supply chains, the non-profit organisation (NGO) honed in on cotton-growing regions with a documented history of human rights abuses. BCI’s mission took it to Xinjiang, China, the homeland of the Uighur ethnic minority, where the NGO began working in 2013. To assist its work on the ground in one of the world’s largest cotton-producing regions, BCI partnered with state-owned Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a firm human rights groups and Western governments have accused of overseeing the arbitrary detention and forced labour of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority Muslims. Despite mounting evidence of abuses detailed in NGO reports and media investigations in 2018 and 2019, BCI continued to operate in Xinjiang until October 2020. The non-profit’s exit came several months after the United States Office of Foreign Assets banned transactions with the XPCC over its role in “serious rights abuses against ethnic minorities.” In a statement that has since been removed from its website, BCI, which has headquarters in London and Geneva, said the “sustained allegations of forced labour and other human rights abuses” were a factor in its departure. Since then, BCI has declined to comment on its decision to leave Xinjiang, or why it took as long as it did to act. “BCI has once never issued a public apology, nor has the chairman ever faced the media on this,” Brett Mathews, the editor of Apparel Insider and a garment supply chains expert, told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

United Kingdom

10 Aug 2022

Lutfur Rahman: How an Islamophobic media witch-hunt plagued my political career

I’ve lived in Tower Hamlets most of my life. I grew up here, I went to school here, I’ve raised a family here. I love my home, and I’ve dedicated most of my life to serving my borough. My fellow residents. Tower Hamlets has always been a diverse place – a haven for immigrant communities; be it the French Huguenots fleeing persecution, the Jewish community fleeing the pogroms, and of course the Bengali and Somali community. It’s been a long journey, at times packed with lies, shadowy political machinations, and Islamophobic rhetoric. A false narrative that has plagued my career. This is my story of how Islamophobia was deployed to stop my political career, and undo all the good I had tried to do for my community. It was around 2006/2007 that I became aware of Islamophobic smears, when I applied to become the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow. I heard whisperings throughout my campaign, that I was somehow Islamist-linked, had dealings with extremist groups, fundamentalists. My relationships with mosques and community organisations was used against me. It shocked me, and I believe that was the beginning of my faith and heritage becoming the key focus of attacks. Although I did not get the candidacy, I was as always, delighted to serve my community as a councillor. In 2008, I became the Labour leader of Tower Hamlets council. I enacted policies to benefit the borough, including spending £20 million to buy back Right to Buy homes to house our homeless families. It was during this time that a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary entitled, Britain’s Islamic Republic, was released. The documentary, hosted by journalist Andrew Gilligan, the former advisor to the Mayor of London, portrayed me as some sort of ‘mad mullah’, presiding over an Islamic dictatorship; once again recycling old accusations. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a democratic socialist. I believe in democratic values, I respect the secular nature of the country I live in, and the laws of the land. I was also a practicing as a solicitor at the time. Against the backdrop of the war on terror, my identity as a Bengali Muslim was being weaponised for political gain. I finally got my hands on the dossier – stocked with Islamophobic tropes and full of hysteria; for which some of my Labour colleagues had, I’m sorry to say, fallen hook, line, and sinker. I then made the decision to stand as an independent. What happened to me and what happened in Birmingham during the Trojan Horse Affair share haunting similarities. Because I am a British-Muslim, some parties were happy to believe the lies without much scrutiny – just as they were willing to believe the Trojan hoax on very shaky evidence. Since 9/11, Muslims have all too often been a convenient ‘other’ in our society. Labour and other parties will field BAME candidates, and court BAME votes, but still have a long way to go to reject Islamophobia at all levels of society. read the complete article

10 Aug 2022

‘UK leadership candidates not held to account over Islamophobia'

The UK leadership candidates must address Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, according to the head of the country's largest and most diverse Muslim umbrella organization. That has triggered demands that the next prime minister takes Islamophobia within the Tory party seriously after a silence regarding the issue from outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), believes Johnson should have apologized in his resignation speech to the Muslim community and has warned that "no concrete steps" have been taken to tackle the issue, despite the MCB recording more than 300 instances in the Tory party since 2019. Her remarks came after allegations from Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Nusrat Ghani that the party is institutionally Islamophobic and her "Muslimness" was raised when she was fired from her transport minister's post. "I have written a great deal about the problem of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry in the Conservative Party. I'm afraid at the very top is Boris Johnson himself, who's been guilty of a series of terrible remarks," said Peter Oborne, a British political journalist and author. He pointed out that Islamophobia has been tolerated for a long time, and "the very ugly culture of Islamophobia" is at the highest ranks of Tory MPs, counselors and ordinary Tory members who often believe "wild conspiracy theories about Muslims which are quite alien to an advanced Western society which claims to be tolerant." In his book The Fate of Abraham: Why the West is Wrong about Islam, Oborne explains how the British conservative think-tank Policy Exchange has contributed to dismantling traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism in the UK "with Muslims as its main targets." "I describe the various ways in which an image of Islam and an image of Muslims are being constructed in the West. This has been done by media, is being done by politicians, and also by think-tanks," he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Aug 2022 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results