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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16 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Austria, the criminalizing of Muslim civil society has become a familiar strategy for the state, with false claims about the dangers of “political Islam” in the corridors of power leading to severe curbs on freedoms of religion, expression and association. A piece by Professor Shabana Mir notes how the agency, resistance and leadership of Muslim women is routinely ignored by mainstream media in contrast to the generous outpouring of support for the German women’s gymnastics team in their fight against sexualized attire in sports, and in France, the country’s top court approved the controversial “anti-separatism” law, which has been slammed by activists for targeting the country’s Muslim community. Our recommended read of the day is by Poppy Noor on the Guantanamo prison and the need for accountability. Noor speaks with former detainee Mansoor Adayfi, who was imprisoned for 14 years without charge, and recently released a memoir about the torture and abuse he faced at the prison. This and more below:

United States

16 Aug 2021

‘The US should be held accountable’: Guantánamo survivor on the war on terror’s failure

When a shackled Mansoor Adayfi was lumped on to a heap of shivering, naked bodies in the pitch black, a hood over his head and muffs around his ears, he assumed he was going to die. He had just been conducting research in Afghanistan, and was expecting to begin college at the end of the year. Instead, he was accused of being an al-Qaida leader, kidnapped by Afghan warlords and handed over to the CIA. He was kept in a prison camp in Afghanistan, then shipped to Guantánamo Bay. This was the beginning of 20 years of hell for Adayfi, who was held captive in Guantánamo until 2016. His new memoir, much of it written while chained and shackled to the ground with cameras and guards watching him (“I was like, I’m going to make it, my friend!” he laughs) is a harrowing account of the injustices detainees faced. “At the beginning, we had no rights. We could not talk, we could not stand, we could not pray, we could not even look at the guards – you had to follow orders 24/7,” he says, describing the value system there as “what’s wrong is right, and what’s right is wrong”. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
13 Aug 2021

This CD-Consultant Wants To Improve Muslim Representation in Hollywood

Serena Rasoul is not satisfied with Muslim representation in entertainment. From stereotyping to underrepresentation and an absence of depth in characters, the problems with the lack of accurate and rich opportunities for Muslim actors and stories to be told are many. So she decided to do something about it. She created Muslim American Casting, a resource for filmmakers and Muslim talent alike. With her company, she can cast, but more importantly consult and be a voice for a population that has not gotten the attention they deserve in Hollywood. Rasoul spoke to Backstage about her experiences in the industry, what she’s trying to do, why it’s important for representation to exist on both sides of the camera, and what actors and creators should know about Muslim stories. read the complete article

13 Aug 2021

Feds say Illinois militia leader should be put in prison for life for bombing mosque.

Illinois' White Rabbit militia boss should face "the terror enhancement" according to federal prosecutors, for leading a team of domestic terrorists in a firebomb attack on a Minnesota mosque. Even though no one was killed or seriously hurt, the government says the punishment should be life in prison. Security cameras at the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota recorded the moment of detonation on August 5, 2017; a 20-pound black powder bomb propelled by gasoline and diesel fuel. The terror team led by a resident of downstate Clarence, Illinois. A newly-filed court record shows the accused White Rabbit militia leader recently came out as transgender and changed her name to Emily Claire Hari in Minnesota state court. A jury last December found that Hari-led mosque attackers used a shrapnel-infused pipe bomb to attack the Imam's office, what prosecutors now say Hari referred to as a "hole in one." The motive, according to Hari's accomplices who testified against their former leader, was to "send a message that Muslims are not wanted in America." read the complete article

14 Aug 2021

PayPal and the ADL: A Match Made in Censorship Hell

A few weeks ago, PayPal and the Anti-Defamation League announced a joint project focused on “uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements.” As the ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt explained, after first looking into how these movements use services like PayPal, the collaboration will aim to ultimately bar them from these platforms and starve them of funds, focusing on everyone “from those who marauded through the Capitol to those who were beating up Jews in broad daylight just a few months ago.” Sounds pretty uncontroversial. Who could possibly be against that Except the trouble, as it always is when it comes to measures like censorship, is that the people doing the censoring usually have a very different definition of what an “extremist and hate movement” is than you, the reader, does. For them, it might be someone who talks about “revolution” or “eating the rich,” someone who protested against police brutality last year, or simply groups and people that fight for the rights of Palestinians. Under its former president Abe Foxman, with whom the ADL was virtually synonymous for years, the organization began increasingly embracing Washington’s Islamophobic “war on terror” and subsuming its stated principle of ensuring “a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate” to the more central goal of defending Israeli apartheid and maintaining the government connections to do so. read the complete article


13 Aug 2021

IntelBrief: Human Rights Abuses and the War on Terror in South Asia

Nine days after the September 11th attacks, then President George W. Bush defined the Global War on Terror by stating, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Authoritarian regimes have appropriated the rhetoric of the Global War on Terror and used related terrorism legislation to justify repressive actions. The United States’ own approach to counterterrorism, which included the use of torture, has effectively weakened its ability to hold repressive regimes accountable. Going forward, it will be important for governments, communities, and the private sector to work together to ensure that NGOs are not securitized by default. read the complete article

16 Aug 2021

Detainee says China has secret jail in Dubai, holds Uyghurs

A young Chinese woman says she was held for eight days at a Chinese-run secret detention facility in Dubai along with at least two Uyghurs, in what may be the first evidence that China is operating a so-called “black site” beyond its borders. The woman, 26-year-old Wu Huan, was on the run to avoid extradition back to China because her fiancé was considered a Chinese dissident. Wu told The Associated Press she was abducted from a hotel in Dubai and detained by Chinese officials at a villa converted into a jail, where she saw or heard two other prisoners, both Uyghurs. While “black sites” are common in China, Wu’s account is the only testimony known to experts that Beijing has set one up in another country. Such a site would reflect how China is increasingly using its international clout to detain or bring back citizens it wants from overseas, whether they are dissidents, corruption suspects or ethnic minorities like the Uyghurs. The AP was unable to confirm or disprove Wu’s account independently, and she could not pinpoint the exact location of the black site. However, reporters have seen and heard corroborating evidence including stamps in her passport, a phone recording of a Chinese official asking her questions and text messages that she sent from jail to a pastor helping the couple. read the complete article

14 Aug 2021

CCTV watchdog criticises Hikvision Uyghur response

The UK's CCTV watchdog has criticised a Chinese firm for not saying if its cameras are used in Uyghur internment camps. Professor Fraser Sampson, said: "If your company wasn't involved in these awful places wouldn't you be very keen to say so?" In July, MPs said Hikvision provided the "primary camera technology" used in Uyghur internment camps. The company said it respected human rights. On 8 July, MPs on the foreign affairs committee published a report which said: "Cameras made by the Chinese firm Hikvision have been deployed throughout Xinjiang, and provide the primary camera technology used in the internment camps". More than a million Uyghurs and other minorities are estimated to have been detained at camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang, where allegations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse have emerged. The foreign affairs committee recommended that Hikvision "should not be permitted to operate within the UK". read the complete article

Bosnia & Herzegovina

13 Aug 2021

Why Bosnia’s ban on genocide denial was a necessity

Genocide denial in Bosnia started in 1992, almost simultaneously with the genocide itself. In May 1992, the first major massacre of the war was committed when Serbian forces shelled the main street in Sarajevo, hitting a breadline of civilians and killing 26 people. That same day, Serbian media reported that the Bosnian government had bombed its own citizens in order to blame the Serbs. In the following three and a half years, Serbian authorities and media used similar tactics to deny, trivialise or justify many other genocidal massacres in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From the very beginning, those invested in denying a genocide ever took place in Bosnia used the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe the worst atrocities committed in the region. By doing so, they hoped to forestall the use of the term “genocide” in the Bosnian context and prevent a public outcry in support of Bosnians. They were successful to a certain degree. The term “ethnic cleansing”, introduced merely as a euphemism for genocide, evolved into an established academic term over the years and was repeatedly used to obscure the reality of what really happened in the region during that dark period. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and later domestic courts also contributed to this ever-growing wave of genocide denial by repeatedly issuing rulings that narrow the scope of the genocide both in terms of time and territory. While the genocide actually lasted for three and a half years and included atrocities committed over a wide geography, the courts ruled that only the events that took place in Srebrenica between July 11-12,1995 can officially be considered a “genocide” – a restriction not applied to any other case of genocide before or since. read the complete article


14 Aug 2021

Austria: Campaign against 'political Islam' suffers a setback in court

During the raids in Vienna on 9 November 2020, I was awoken by special forces crushing in my door, levelling their guns at me and waking up my children. I was targeted alongside 29 others, accused of being an enemy of the state and financing terrorist activity. The raids themselves lacked any legal basis, as was recently confirmed by the Graz Higher Regional Court after several defendants launched objections. While the prosecution accused some of those targeted in the raids of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, the court pointed out that the Brotherhood is not considered a terrorist organisation in Austria. And yet, criminalising Muslim civil society has become a familiar strategy for the Austrian state, with false claims about the dangers of “political Islam” in the corridors of power leading to severe curbs on freedoms of religion, expression and association. Following criticism voiced by opposition parties who pointed out that the deadly attack on 2 November 2020 could have been prevented if the human resources had focused on the perpetrators rather than on Muslim citizens. Thus, this campaign against “political Islam” can be viewed as an attempt to divert attention and cover up for the failure of the Austrian security services to prevent the attack. Instead of pinpointing the perpetrator before the devastating shootings, Austrian intelligence put their focus on innocent Muslims, cracking down on those who have been critical of state policies. This was one major finding of an independent investigation committee. The state’s crusade against “political Islam” is part of a continuum of unconstitutional, Islamophobic policies that also includes Austria’s hijab ban and the closure of mosques. read the complete article


14 Aug 2021

Bollywood’s Kareena Kapoor subject to online abuse over baby’s name

Kapoor has been attacked on social media for calling her second son Jehangir, the imperial name of the 17th-century Mughal emperor, which means “conqueror of the world”. Kapoor, a Hindu, and her husband, Saif Ali Khan, a Muslim and also a Bollywood star, have faced abuse for their marriage. The attacks have highlighted how, in India, for some, history is political and personal. Figures from the past and their actions are often seen in the context of current political and religious disputes. Among supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and Hindu extremist groups, there has been a desire to expunge the Mughals rule from history. This attitude prompted BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, to rename Muslim towns in the state and replace them with Hindu names. Bollywood’s secular culture has allowed both Hindus and Muslims to thrive. Inter-faith marriages have become common. The reigning star triumvirate – Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan – are Muslims, and two of them have married Hindu women. These inter-faith marriages have angered Hindu extremists. Kapoor, for example, was attacked online for marrying Khan. The BJP’s “love jihad” campaign was aimed at preventing inter-religious marriages on the unfounded grounds that Muslim men coerce innocent Hindu women into converting to Islam. read the complete article


14 Aug 2021

Bollywood’s Kareena Kapoor subject to online abuse over baby’s name

France’s top court on Friday approved the controversial "anti-separatism" law, which has been slammed by activists for targeting the country's Muslim community. "The law is intended and designed to empower the government at the expense of certain religious liberties," said professor of political science at San Diego State University Ahmet Kuru to France24. The professor said the bill targeted Muslims despite its language being neutral. "The political context and its process are focused on Islam," he said. The "anti-separatism” law was introduced following a series of terrorism incidents perpetrated by Islamic radicals, such as the beheading of a school teacher, Samuel Paty, who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to students. The bill's sponsors have argued it preserves France's "republican values". However, the new law will have a significant impact on education, social and religious life, women's rights, establishment and management of religious associations. It has created legal grounds to ban hijab-wearing women from accompanying children on school trips and could also prevent women from wearing burkinis, a form of modest swimwear that covers the entire body. It allows officials to intervene in mosques and associations responsible for their administration, as well as control the finances of associations and NGOs belonging to Muslims. It also restricts the educational choices of Muslims by making home schooling subject to official permission. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Aug 2021 Edition


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