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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15 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, authorities are asking whether and how a “rehabilitation” center in Saudi Arabia fits into President Biden’s efforts to close the prison at Guantánamo, which opened more than 20 years ago and currently holds 36 prisoners, meanwhile in China, the government is using “broad surveillance measures used over the years against Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims” to help enforce lockdown rules among people long at risk of arbitrary detention, and in India, due to concerns over institutionalized persecution of Muslims, many Indian Muslims are now starting to give up hope in the country they call home and looking to move abroad. Our recommended read of the day is by Nisid Hajari for Bloomberg on the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and how today “the nation’s beleaguered Muslims increasingly face the marginalization and brutal prejudice that Pakistan’s founder predicted.” This and more below:


15 Aug 2022

Modi’s India Is Becoming a Reflection of Jinnah’s Fears | Recommended Read

In August 1947, as their nations were born amid flames, mass rape and some of the 20th century’s bloodiest ethnic massacres, leaders of a fledgling India warned that Pakistanis had erred in insisting on their own country. Many contemporary observers might call them prescient. While Pakistan is now a nuclear power with a GDP per capita not too far behind India’s, it is rife with extremism, burdened by debt, led by weak and corrupt civilian politicians and dominated by an army that dictates affairs of state despite having lost every war it has fought. Before gloating, however, Indians should recall why exactly Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah was so determined to carve a Muslim-majority homeland out of the former British India: He predicted the rights of Muslims would be at risk in a country dominated by Hindus. Seventy-five years later, India is in danger of proving him right. Under a right-wing, Hindu nationalist government since 2014, led by charismatic Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country has grown distinctly hostile toward its Muslim population — the world’s third largest. Indian Muslims have been targeted by politicians, the media and vigilante mobs. Their rights have been eroded and their place in society diminished. The country that fought so bitterly against partition now appears intent on confirming its central logic. Jinnah’s main fear was how little power Muslims would wield in a united India. That’s what drove the initial break with his former allies in the Indian National Congress party — including Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister— a decade before independence. And it’s why Jinnah retracted his support for a last-minute compromise brokered by the British in 1946, after Nehru intimated that the Congress would not honor the agreement once the British were gone. Indeed, an Indian state once convinced of its duty to protect minorities now seems unremittingly hostile. Prejudice has seeped into the courts and the police, as well as all levels of government. Laws have accepted at face value ludicrous conspiracy theories such as “love jihad” — the idea that Muslim men are romancing Hindu women in order to convert them. Modi’s decision to strip Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its constitutionally guaranteed autonomy has made clear that even enshrined protections are vulnerable. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

Why many young Muslims are leaving India

One afternoon in February 2019, in a genteel neighbourhood in Patna, a couple of children gathered in front of a house and screamed: “Pakistan murdabad” – death to Pakistan. It wasn’t the content of the slogan that bothered the 35-year-old engineer who had grown up in Patna, studied mechanical engineering in Bengaluru, and now works at a consultancy firm in Noida. Aamir told me that he believed that the children – “barely seven-eight years old” – had picked his house because it was one of the few Muslim homes in a Hindu-majority neighbourhood, and perhaps the most easily identifiable since his mother wore the hijab. “These kinds of things really hit you hard,” he said. “We have lived in that house forever, I was born there.” The episode reinforced what had been on Aamir’s mind for sometime: that he was no longer welcome in the country in which he had grown up. It was perhaps best to leave. Or as Aamir put it: “flee”. Being Muslim in India was always complicated, he said, but now it was just plain scary. “We all have listened to that odd barb all our lives, but today, violence is implicit in that barb.” Last year, Aamir put in an application as a “skilled worker” seeking permanent residency in Canada. Aamir isn’t the only one wanting to go away. Troubled by the present and anxious about the future, many Indian Muslims are now starting to give up hope in the country they call home. The insecurity stems from what critics of the government call an institutionalised persecution of Muslims since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014 – from a steady onslaught of violence by vigilante groups backed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to the legal hounding of Muslim voices critical of the regime. Endorsed by top leaders, there has been an explosion of anti-Muslim prejudice in everyday life. Earlier this year, Gregory Stanton, an expert on genocidal violence, said the situation was so alarming that “genocide could very well happen in India”. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

How do Muslims celebrate Independence Day? The many loyalty tests since Nehru

My everyday experience, however, should not be exaggerated to paint a sweet, rosy picture of Muslim patriotism. The question “how do Muslims celebrate Independence Day?” is not as innocent as we think. It is serious political anxiety, which is inextricably linked to the idea of national Independence and the expected role of Muslims in it. National Independence, at least in a political sense, is not a fixed phenomenon. It is always defined in relation to changing political realities and electoral requirements. For this reason, Muslims’ association with official commemorative practices must be explored as an everchanging discourse of expectations. In other words, we must look at the ways in which different generations of Muslims are asked to prove their loyalty; and how these ‘loyalty tests’ contribute to the dominant notions of national independence. Three watershed moments are significant in this regard. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

As India turns 75, there is little to celebrate

Though, a closer look at India’s “report card” reveals that it is faltering on several fronts. As is often the case, the Modi government has run yet another successful marketing campaign that has struck a chord with many citizens. But there is very little to celebrate about India at 75. On its 75th birthday, democracy also appears to be in decline in India. The human rights of minority groups are under constant attack, and Islamophobia has become a public policy in the country. Indeed, lynchings, Islamophobic misinformation campaigns and cultural intimidation are an everyday facet of the lives of Indian Muslims. In 2019, for example, the Parliament of India passed the Islamophobic Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). CAA granted a fast track to Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, undermining “constitutional equality” by inserting religion as a qualifier for citizenship. The government brutally suppressed the protests against the act, branding them “anti-national”. Anti-CAA activists were arrested and denied bail using India’s draconian anti-terror law. Also in 2019, the BJP government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir’s special status in the Indian constitution. The move not only fulfilled the longstanding Hindu nationalist promise to ensure that Indian-administered Kashmir is (at least constitutionally) an integral part of territorial India, it also established a new pathway to Hinduise the state. Furthermore, in order to curb protests against the revocation of its special status and autonomy, the government introduced a communication blackout and shut down cable TV, internet and phone lines for several months across the territory. Beyond its efforts to intimidate and subdue India’s Muslims, the government has also been engaged in a wider campaign to silence all dissenting voices. Modi and his government have also spearheaded a crackdown on human rights organisations. In 2020, Amnesty International had to shut down its operations in India after its bank accounts were frozen and office premises raided. While the government insisted that Amnesty had violated regulations for receiving donations from abroad, the NGO itself – just like most of the international community – interpreted it as a response to its criticism of India’s human rights record. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

Raise your Indian flags high: There’s much injustice to cover up

An initiative spearheaded by Modi’s most radical nationalist minister, Amit Shah, is urging people to display flags at homes and businesses and post pictures on social media. But of course this could only lead to more polarization in Modi’s India, where blind nationalism is displacing democracy at a rapid pace: In a viral video, daily wage workers complain about being forced to buy flags to “prove” their patriotism, when they barely have enough to buy a meal. Modi’s “Har ghar tiranga” (“tricolor in every house”) campaign has become yet another flash point in our society — a tool of distraction for what really matters. As India grapples with an economic crisis — with the rupee plunging to historic lows — and the pain of rising unemployment is felt on the streets, the Modi government has decided to announce an ambitious plan: display at least 200 million flags by Aug. 15, Indian independence day. WhatsApp groups among relatives, colleagues and friends are descending into virtual “us” vs. “them” slugfests over the flag. In India, patriotism has become a toxic performance. A Muslim friend who works in finance and lives in an exclusive neighborhood in Mumbai found himself removed from his office WhatsApp group because he refused to change his profile picture to the national flag. “I did not change my display picture. I felt pressured. I was being singled out with every third person asking me to change it. I did not want to be coerced into proving my patriotism,” he told me. There’s little to celebrate this independence day. The past eight years have made India a global cause of alarm, as the Modi government has subverted democracy in favor of his own brand of autocratic Hindu nationalism. India has fallen to the 150th position in the World Press Freedom Index as journalists are arrested every odd day over tweets or for reporting critical stories. Hate crimes against Muslims have been normalized, to the extent that news channels do not even consider them worthy of coverage anymore. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

The marginalisation of the Indian Muslim

Shortly after India gained independence, we gave ourselves a Constitution that guaranteed equal citizenship to everyone. Yet, 75 years later, there are growing concerns among Muslims that their citizenship rights might be under threat. Those concerns were reflected not long ago in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the biggest nationwide mobilisation of Muslims since Independence. Even though the ruling dispensation has put that contentious legislation on hold, it has not done much to address the anxiety. In fact, the CAA protests were followed by riots in the national capital, followed by an expansive crackdown on Muslim civil society activists. Lately, we have seen the dawn of bulldozer justice. In three Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States, the bulldozer has been employed as a barely disguised tool of collective punishment in Muslim neighbourhoods. The judiciary has refused to put a stop to this brazen illegality. These unfortunate developments remind us of the gap between legal citizenship and substantive citizenship. In a democracy, that gap is mediated by the political process, which structures the engagement between citizens and state institutions. Thus, insofar as minorities are concerned, their access to the promised package of civil, socio-economic and political rights is governed by the model of political accommodation of minorities. We have not yet mentioned the BJP model of Muslim accommodation, because the party (and the larger Sangh Parivar) is opposed to the very concept. The BJP conflates any form of Muslim inclusion with ‘appeasement’, which it holds to be the motor fuel of separatism and communalism. This notion of appeasement is flexible enough to cover even the participation of Muslims in the political process which governs them. Hence, the BJP refused to field a single Muslim candidate in the 403 constituencies of U.P. For the first time in India, a ruling party has no Muslim MLA or MP. As if to underscore the point that the denial of political representation to Muslims is a matter of principle rather than political constraints, the party has even discontinued the practice of nominating token Muslim candidates to the Rajya Sabha. read the complete article


15 Aug 2022

UN rights chief in Bangladesh, to visit Rohingya camps

United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet arrived in Bangladesh on Sunday for a four-day visit that will include a trip to squalid camps housing nearly a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The exodus of Rohingya was sparked by a 2017 Myanmar army offensive against the mostly Muslim minority, with the UN's highest court last month giving the green light to a landmark case accusing the Buddhist-majority country of genocide. Five years later the refugees refuse to go home in the absence of guarantees for their safety and rights from military-ruled Myanmar, making host country Bangladesh increasingly impatient. Bangladesh, meanwhile, has come under fire for its own rights record under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whom Bachelet will meet during her visit, as well as local activists. Nine groups including Human Rights Watch said that Bachelet should "publicly call for an immediate end to serious abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances" in Bangladesh. read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

An email bomb threat, a Chinese conspiracy, an Aussie activist and the 'best day of his life'

An Australian activist's long-running campaign of criticism against the Chinese Communist Party has taken a dark turn, with the 23-year-old stuck in legal limbo overseas after "walking into a trap" he believes was set for him. Drew Pavlou was arrested by British police on July 21, shortly after arriving to conduct a protest against Beijing’s oppression of the country's Uyghur Muslim minority. Despite only telling a few fellow protesters about the stunt over encrypted messaging service Signal, someone knew he was going to be there. "The thing that raises a lot of questions is how did they know that I would be at the embassy at the day, at that time," he told Yahoo News Australia. What he didn't know at the time, he says, was an email had been sent to the Chinese embassy in London, allegedly from him, threatening to blow it up if they didn't release the estimated one million Uyghur people held in Chinese camps. Mr Pavlou has been in touch with the CEO of encrypted email service ProtonMail. His lawyer, barrister Michael Polak, is urging British police to request the IP of the email sender, which they believe will point back to China. "We’re very keen for them to find the IP address that’s come from," Mr Polak told Yahoo. "We suspect it's come from the Chinese authorities." read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

The messy representation in Never Have I Ever is crucial for South Asian women

Mindy Kaling’s TV show Never Have I Ever has been making waves since the first season was released on Netflix in 2020. It follows the life of Indian-American teenager Devi Vishwakumar, and has received equal amounts of love and hate from South Asian audiences. Despite the show’s mixed reception, viewers came back to season two in the hopes that it would bring more to the table – and when it came to the addition of Aneesa, an Indian-American Muslim girl who was as cool as Devi was awkward, Never Have I Ever didn’t disappoint. It’s no secret that we all love seeing someone like ourselves on screen, and as a Muslim-Pakistani girl, I’m all too aware that Muslim representation for women that isn’t sexualised or exoticised or just plain bad is difficult to come by. So when Aneesa was introduced as a Muslim character in the show’s second season, I loved it – and not because she was like me at all. Quite the opposite in fact: Aneesa’s fashion at 16 is better than mine in my 20s and she has a certain cool-girl aesthetic that high school me couldn’t even think to dream of. But like I did, she also struggles with her parents and obedience and observes eating Halal food. Seeing her on screen felt so important because it was one of the only times I’ve seen a Muslim character be comfortable in their own skin, without their Muslim-ness being the most important part of who they are. Aneesa isn’t a “perfect Muslim” but she doesn’t have to be, because that’s unrealistic. I love that Aneesa is a teenager first and foremost, because Muslim representation and all the heavy discourse that comes with it can put way too much pressure on young Muslim women. Why should we have to make our religious identity a public stance, and always be called on to justify it? read the complete article

15 Aug 2022

The U.S. Wants to Close Guantánamo. Could a Saudi Center Provide a Way Out?

The program, with its campus in Riyadh, and another in Jeddah, grew from a counterterrorism campaign that began in 2004 to re-educate citizens who had made their way home from jihadist training camps in Afghanistan and others influenced by them. About 6,000 men have gone through some form of the program, among them 137 former detainees of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, none of whom were convicted of war crimes. The last Guantánamo detainee was sent to the program in 2017, just before President Donald J. Trump dismantled the office that negotiated transfers. Now the question is whether and how the center fits into President Biden’s efforts to close the prison at Guantánamo, which opened more than 20 years ago to hold terrorism suspects seized around the globe in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Thirty-six prisoners remain at Guantánamo today. read the complete article

United States

15 Aug 2022

The opera "Omar," on a Muslim slave in America

"Omar," an opera that recently had its world premiere, tells the story of Omar Ibn Said, a 19th century Muslim scholar stolen from Senegal and sold into slavery in America, who left behind a remarkable autobiography written in Arabic. Correspondent Martha Teichner talks with Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels about how their opera tells a largely-forgotten story, informing the history of our multicultural nation. read the complete article


15 Aug 2022

Our House Podcast: Mehreen Faruqi on giving up her birth citizenship and Islamophobia | SBS News

Australia’s parliament is now its most diverse yet, as the chambers start to more accurately reflect the makeup of our nation. The Our House podcast speaks to politicians, new and experienced about how parliament is changing, how tough its been to get where they are, and how they hope to inspire other young and multicultural Australians. In this episode of Our House, Mehreen Faruqi talks about how she wants to see more genuine engagement from politicians with multicultural communities, how she copes with Islamophobia, and whether she thinks the culture of parliament will improve now that it’s more diverse. She also tells us how hard it was to give up her birth citizenship, and why she thinks no one else should have to face that process. read the complete article


15 Aug 2022

Xi Crackdown Foils Shanghai-Like Covid Unrest in Xinjiang, Tibet

To combat fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 in outlying areas like Xinjiang and Tibet, Chinese authorities are drawing on a security apparatus previously used to quell dissent against authorities in Beijing. Broad surveillance measures used over the years against Tibetan Buddhists and mainly Muslim Uyghurs, both minority groups in China, are helping enforce lockdown rules among people long at risk of arbitrary detention. That has helped ensure there’s no public displays of anger like those seen earlier this year during the monthslong lockdown in the financial hub of Shanghai. “It’s ironic but very convenient for the CCP that it first constructed Uyghur ethno-national identity as a religious extremist ‘thought virus,’ took draconian steps to eradicate it, and then a real virus came along for which similar techniques were useful,” said James Millward, professor of history at Georgetown University, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. The student, who asked not to give his full name discussing sensitive issues, said local community offices were now using some anti-terrorism approaches to fight Covid. Community workers that once took people away to re-education schools now send them to quarantine centers. Propaganda is loudly and repetitively broadcast on the street and over the radio, Lea said. “People are quite scared,” he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Aug 2022 Edition


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