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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18 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped and saw 14 members of her family being murdered by a Hindu mob during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots, called the decision to free the men who raped her, “unjust” and said it had “shaken” her faith in justice, meanwhile Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa argues that the “global war on terror has become an effective tool for China to legitimize its crackdown on Uyghurs and exploit the fears of the international community,” and in the United States, an academic argues that the country must fulfill its international obligations and aid Iraqi civilians who were exposed to burn pits during the US invasion of the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Ben Saul for Lawfare on how the recent killing of “the most senior al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan is another triumph of American exceptionalism over international law,” and is another “body blow to the ‘rules-based international order’ that the U.S. demands others—but apparently not itself—respect.” This and more below:

United States

18 Aug 2022

The Unlawful U.S. Killing of Ayman al-Zawahri | Recommended Read

The recent killing of the most senior al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan is another triumph of American exceptionalism over international law. U.S. President Joe Biden boasted that “justice” has been “delivered,” but offered no explicit legal justification for the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Certain assumptions about its justification may be drawn from the U.S.’s previous expansive legal positions on counterterrorism, discussed below and in a previous Lawfare piece on the legality of the al-Zawahiri strike. However, the extensive and sympathetic western media coverage has largely omitted questions about its legality, illustrating how effectively the U.S. shapes the narrative of the war on terror. Almost a year after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the legality of the killing has implications for the U.S.’s militarized “over the horizon” strategy for combating terrorism in Afghanistan. The killing is most accurately described as extrajudicial execution or revenge murder designed to deter others from participating in terrorist groups. It is also another body blow to the “rules-based international order” that the U.S. demands others—but apparently not itself—respect. There are three reasons why the killing violates international law. First, it is not a lawful exercise of self-defense against any continuing armed attack by al-Qaeda, but a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and the prohibitions on the use of force and intervention in a foreign state. Second, it is not authorized by the law of war, since there is no longer an armed conflict against al-Qaeda to which the law of war applies, and al-Zawahiri may not have been a military target in any case. Finally, it violates the right to life under international human rights law—an obligation which applies to a U.S. strike abroad of this kind. read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

In New Mexico, Muslims reject sectarian label for killings

National Muslim groups have linked the killings of four Muslim men in New Mexico over the past year to sectarianism, but Muslims who knew the victims and suspected gunman point to revenge and personal feuds as possible motives. Police last week arrested Afghan refugee Muhammad Syed, 51, as the prime suspect in the shootings of four Muslim men in New Mexico's largest city, Albuquerque. Syed has denied involvement. Detectives said an "interpersonal conflict" may have driven the shootings of men of Afghan or Pakistani descent. A judge on Wednesday ordered Syed remain in custody pending trial based on charges he murdered two of the men and his history of fleeing law enforcement. His lawyer had requested bail, arguing Syed complied with release requirements in 2018 and 2019 after he was arrested for assaulting family members. Local Muslim leaders in New Mexico said it was inaccurate to call the killings sectarian, and feared the label could damage relations between Shi'ites and Sunnis who pray together at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, Albuquerque's main mosque. The United States has not experienced significant Shi'ite-Sunni tensions. "The simplicity of saying this is Sunni-Shia hate crime is so reckless," said Samia Assed, a Palestinian-American human rights activist who hosted an interfaith vigil for the victims. Afghan-American business owner Mula Akbar said Syed, a truck driver, treated women as "property," seldom worked and would try to illegally exchange digital food stamps for cash at stores, including his own. read the complete article


18 Aug 2022

Gujarat Ram Navami Violence 'Designed to Display Dominance of Hindus': Fact-Finding Report

A recently released fact-finding report on the communal riots that broke out in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar and Khambhat towns during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami on April 10, 2022, places the responsibility for the violence squarely on the Hindu community. The report claims that the violence was anti-Muslim in nature, planned by the Hindu community and took place in the presence of the police. The report is based on interviews conducted by the fact-finding team of Neha Dabhade, the deputy director of the Centre for Study of Society & Secularism, and Hozefa Ujjaini, a social activist and the director of the NGO Buniyaad, who visited Khambhat and Himmatnagar between July 25 and 27, 2022. As The Wire had reported on April 11, on the afternoon of Ram Navami in Himmatnagar, some Hindus reportedly celebrated their festival by wielding swords as part of their processions. When the processions entered Ashrafnagar, a Muslim-dominated area located between two Hindu localities, Shakti Nagar and Mahavir Nagar, the Hindu men apparently provoked the local Muslims, leading to communal violence. While the incident appears to be random in nature, the fact-finding report shows that the violence had been planned by the Hindus in the procession. The report also dismantles the modus operandi employed by the Hindus to create the sense of communal tension as the Ram Navami procession entered Ashrafnagar area. read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

Bilkis Bano: The pain of seeing my rapists go free

Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped and saw 14 members of her family being murdered by a Hindu mob during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat, is back in the headlines. On Monday, 11 convicts who were serving life sentences for rape and murder in the case, walked out of prison to a heroes' welcome. A video that has since gone viral showed the men lined up outside the Godhra jail while relatives gave them sweets and touched their feet to show respect. In a late-night statement on Wednesday, Bilkis Bano called the decision to free the men "unjust" and said it had "shaken" her faith in justice. "When I heard that the convicts who had devastated my family and life had walked free, I was bereft of words. I am still numb," she said. "How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice," she wrote, appealing to the Gujarat government to "undo this harm" and "give me back my right to live without fear and in peace". The decision to free the convicts was announced by the Gujarat government on Monday, as India celebrated its 75th anniversary of independence. read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

'Rohingyas cannot settle in Delhi, won't let this happen': AAP lashes out at BJP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government after cabinet minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that Rohingya Refugees in Delhi will be shifted to EWS apartments in Bakkarwala. In an aggressive tone, AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said his party will not allow Rohingya migrants to settle in the national capital as they would become a threat to Delhiites in the future. Further, taking a jibe at the Centre, Bhardwaj told the Centre to settle the Rohingyas in BJP-ruled states instead. Bharadwaj condemned Puri's statement and said the rapid penetration of Rohingyas will jeopardize national security. On Wednesday, Union Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri outlined new provisions for the Rohingya, signalling a potential change in the government's critical stance towards the refugee group from Myanmar. Rohingya refugees would be allotted flats in western Delhi's Bakkarwala area, providing basic amenities and round-the-clock police protection, Puri had said on Twitter. However, later in the day, the Centre backtracked on support for Rohingya refugees. The Union Home Ministry said Rohingya refugees in the capital New Delhi would be held at a detention centre and then deported. read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

India: Eleven convicted of gang-rape of pregnant Muslim woman released from jail

Eleven Hindu men jailed for life for the gang-rape of a pregnant Muslim woman during Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 have been freed on remission, officials said on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from the victim's husband, lawyers and politicians. The men were convicted in early 2008 and released from jail in Panchmahals in the western state of Gujarat on Monday when India celebrated 75 years since the end of British rule. The Gujarat violence, one of India's worst religious riots, led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Gujarat was then led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as chief minister, and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party still rules it. read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

Karnataka: Group of men and women on outing targeted over presence of Muslims

In an instance of moral policing involving suspected right-wing activists, three young men were allegedly attacked and their two female friends verbally abused on Tuesday while on an outing to Madikeri in Karnataka’s Kodagu district. The attackers allegedly questioned the presence of two Muslim men in the group from Mangaluru. A case on charges of wrongful restraint, intentional insult, unlawful assembly with arms, rioting, criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt was registered by the Madikeri rural police on the basis of a complaint filed by one of the men. According to the complaint filed by Nanda Krishnan (26), the group also comprising Mohammed Shamseer (24), Saman Sajeed (23) and two women travelled from Mangaluru to Madikeri on a sightseeing tour in a car early on Tuesday. After visiting the Abbey Falls in the morning, they parked their car and hired a jeep to travel to the Mandalpatti Peak. When the youngsters returned to the spot where their car was parked in the afternoon, they were allegedly surrounded by a group of 30 people, who questioned the inter-religious nature of the group of friends. The three men in the group were allegedly beaten up and the women verbally abused by the mob. The tyres of the car that the group had travelled in were punctured and the pictures of the five people were clicked. read the complete article


18 Aug 2022

China and the Uyghurs: Introducing the genocide to fresh eyes and minds

During his decade in power, Xi has presided over a severe crackdown on the religious, social, and political freedoms of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups living in Xinjiang. The Uyghurs speak a language similar to Turkish and number around 12 million. They traditionally represented the majority of the population in Xinjiang but are now less than half of the province’s inhabitants due to massive Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) migration. Although the current efforts to suppress the Uyghurs’ identity and autonomy are unprecedented in their scale, the Chinese state has long tried to subsume Uyghur particularism. Such policies actually predate the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. In his book China and the Uyghurs: A Concise Introduction, Morris Rossabi dates back to the 1880s, when China was ruled by the Qing dynasty, the first efforts to thwart self-rule and encourage the migration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang. Rossabi, an Associate Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, has written a succinct account of the Uyghurs’ history and their relationship with Chinese rulers. In contrast to recent books on the topic, Rossabi’s work does not focus specifically on the increasingly draconian measures imposed on the Uyghurs by China during the last decade. Instead, China and the Uyghurs spans the whole period of Chinese rule in Xinjiang, starting in the 1750s. The Chinese government’s claims that the Han have ruled Xinjiang for two millennia are, according to the author, “historically inaccurate." read the complete article

18 Aug 2022

Global war on terror a tool to legitimise China’s action on Uyghurs: Book

The global war on terror has become an effective tool for China to legitimise its crackdown on Uyghurs and exploit the fears of the international community, claims Dolkun Isa, a leading voice of the ethnic group in his memoir. Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress who has been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to various global forums, says his goal in writing “The China Freedom Trap: The Story of a Uyghur Fighting Chinese Hegemony with an INTERPOL Red Notice” is to “warn the world, expose the Chinese communist regime’s deep influence on the free world and its great and growing threat to global peace and democracy”. The book, published by Har-Anand Publications, is based on Isa’s personal experiences. “It will tell you the interesting stories of a person who has faced great injustice in the free world, and who has become a victim of larger ideological struggles between freedom and violence, democracy, and dictatorship. What sets my story apart from those of activists like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi is that it takes place entirely in the free world and centres of Western values,” he says. read the complete article


18 Aug 2022

The US must compensate burn pit victims in Iraq too

On August 10, United States President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act, aiding approximately 3.5 million American veterans with severe medical conditions linked to toxic exposure to burn pits during service, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Open air pits of military waste, sometimes as large as football fields, are burned to destroy munitions, chemicals, plastics, and medical and human waste, typically using jet fuel. Used widely until at least 2010, burn pits were still permitted at least as of last year, when waste management facilities were not available. Their impact, however, extends beyond the harm to those who were deployed and exposed to toxins in the short term. Fatal cancers. Birth defects that can cause infant death or lifelong disabilities. Malformations including a missing hand, cleft lip and paralysed club foot. Anencephaly — an underdeveloped brain and incomplete skull. These are just some of the devastating conditions plaguing Iraqi civilians following toxic exposure from the 2003 US invasion and occupation and 1991 Gulf War. How is this a fair price for civilians to pay for simply residing in their homes while the US “war on terror” forcibly exposed them to burn pits and depleted uranium? When will the US fulfill international law obligations to compensate them for the toxic war zones that its military has left behind? Biden said this is “the least we can do” for veterans. Where is equivalent acknowledgment – and compensation – for Iraqi civilians, who have no escape from the kind of toxic surroundings the act aims to address for injured US veterans? Many of those paying the highest price are Iraqi infants born two decades after the start of the “war on terror”. According to Dutch peace organisation PAX, more than 780,000 rounds of depleted uranium were fired in 1991, and more than 300,000 rounds in 2003. Diseases linked to genetic damage in Fallujah, which was contaminated with depleted uranium munitions, have been documented at higher rates than in Hiroshima. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Aug 2022 Edition


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