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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24 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the community of Saratoga Springs NY, anti-Muslim activist Scott Presler’s appearance to canvas for votes spurs the community to hold a vigil titled, “No to Hate in Upstate, No to Fascist attacks on Democracy” , while in Canada, an investigation into the vandalism of a Mosque in the city of Scarborough finds “no credible evidence” that the vandalism was “hate-motivated,” and in Europe, a newly imposed law allowing companies the freedom to ban visible religious and political symbols at work disproportionally impacts Muslim women in EU member states. Our recommended read of the day is by Karen J. Greenburg on the legacy of America’s decades long “war on terror.” This and more below:


23 Aug 2021


As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks looms, the Biden administration is making it crystal clear that it intends to finally bring the most obvious aspects of that war to a close, no matter the consequences. “It is time,” Biden, the fourth war-on-terror president, said in April, “to end the Forever War.” Although mired in controversy, turmoil, and bloodshed, the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan did indeed take place, even if several thousand were then sent back to Kabul Airport to guard the panicky removal of the vast American embassy staff and others from that city. Putting a fine point on both the Afghan withdrawal and the Iraqi change of direction, many in Congress have acknowledged the need to remove the authorizations passed so long ago for those forever wars. In June, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Force (AUMF) in Iraq that paved the way for the invasion of that country. And this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee followed suit. The removal of that 2002 AUMF remains, of course, painfully overdue. After all, it has been used through these many years to cover this country’s disastrous occupation of and attempts at “nation-building” in Iraq. Eventually, during Donald Trump’s last year in office, it was even cited to authorize the drone assassination of a top Iranian general at Baghdad International Airport. Like so many war-on-terror policies, once put in place, successive administrations showed no urge to let that AUMF go. Passed in October 2001, the Patriot Act, for example, downgraded Fourth Amendment protections, enabling law enforcement to conduct mass warrantless surveillance on Americans. Muslims as a group — rather than based on individual suspicion — were detained without charge, targeted in stings and terror investigations, and threatened with imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay. Plans are also now on the table for the repeal of the even more impactful 2001 AUMF, passed by Congress one week after 9/11. Like the Iraq War authorization, its use has been expanded in ways well beyond its original intent — namely, the rooting out of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Under the 2001 AUMF’s auspices, in the last nearly two decades, the United States has conducted military operations in ever more countries across the Greater Middle East and Africa. But in Congress, what’s now being discussed is not just repealing that act, but replacing it altogether. Traditionally, when a war ends, there’s a resolution, perhaps codified in a treaty or an agreement of some sort acknowledging victory or defeat, and a nod to the peace that will follow. Not so with this war. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
23 Aug 2021

The new and improved Taliban: The parting US gift to Afghanistan

Twenty years ago, the United States pretended it was going to Afghanistan to dismantle the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and bring Afghans peace, prosperity, liberal democracy and rule of law. Above all, it acted as if it was invading Afghanistan to liberate Afghan women from their burqas and make them all look just like American women. Predictably, it did not turn out that way. The US had no such intentions or capacities. Its intentions in Afghanistan, in fact, were purely military and strategic. It needed to flex its military, security and intelligence muscles near Russia, China, and Iran. For those purposes, the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been a spectacular success. That it was a calamity for Afghanistan and its people is entirely irrelevant to American military strategists. This new Taliban is markedly different from the Taliban of 20 years ago. This time around, its leaders want to be part of regional and global politics. It seems, during the Doha conferences, they realised that their resumption of power in Afghanistan now needs international recognition – they realised that to survive, they must rule, not terrorise. It is delusional to think the US military can be the source of anything other than terror and mayhem anywhere it goes. Those of us who lived through the banality of Bush’s “war on terror” and the rise of neo-conservative militancy remember only too well the crescendo of terrorising propaganda against Islam and Muslims during what was one of the darkest periods of Muslims’ lives in America. In her pioneering study, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, Deepa Kumar mapped out in detail how the fear and loathing of Muslims was definitive to the imperial pedigree of the “war on terror” that commenced after 9/11 and syncopated with the war in Afghanistan. In his American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, Khaled Beydoun updated a critical assessment of that psychopathology of Muslim hatred. Between these two seminal books we have a solid record of what the Afghan war meant for the global rise of Muslim hatred. read the complete article

23 Aug 2021

Op Ed: Why the Recent Ruling by the EU on the Hijab ban is so Problematic

It’s no secret that The EU has a problem with Muslim women, a bold statement I know, but it’s animosity runs deep into the surface. Recent rulings via The EU’s highest courts allow companies, under ‘certain conditions‘ to ban against visible religious and political symbols. This legislation was triggered by two German Muslim women who were demanded to remove their hijab in the name of neutrality in the workplace. What a lack of forbearance! This is an excuse for the EU to continue its history of prolifically breeding islamophobia, and we are no longer accepting it. This so-called ‘neutrality’ is to ‘prevent social disputes,’ as put by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The problem with neutrality is that it ardently cannot be achieved, it will simply be avoided. So, the way I see it, the EU is actively contributing to institutionally oppress Muslim women in oppose to fighting the rising Islamophobia. The court is aggressively reinforcing the oppression Muslims face on a daily in Europe, insinuating a Muslim woman’s choice of wearing a hijab is political. The Hijab is not a playground for legislation and debate, the EU is purposely isolating millions of Muslims, almost into second-class citizens. This ban will disproportionately affect Muslim women, and therefore is an Islamophobic attack. This legislation is even more disheartening given the context. Although the courts enforced similar Islamophobic ratifications in 2017, this ban comes at a time of growing anti-Islamic hate. The hypocrisy of Europe is astonishing, politicians outright spill Islamophobic oratory, rarely being held accountable. For example, Austrian official Sebastian Kurz stating, “Turkey is a better place for Afghan Refugees” a not so surprising view, this is a too common theme of Muslim migrants often being scapegoated and loaded into turkey due to certain ‘cultural alliances.’ But Turkey fails to possess the capacity, they have been pleading with the EU since 2016 to share the responsibility of these innocent individuals, yet EU states seem to only fetishize the cheap labour and completely disregard the human that comes alongside it. A ban on the hijab is a symbol of prejudice and it begs me to question what are we, as EU members, going to teach our children now: that it’s okay to judge a person by what he or she wears, it’s okay to not like them for it, that having your own sense of style is wrong, that being yourself is now legally banned?” read the complete article

23 Aug 2021

Taliban Helps China Target Afghan Uyghurs to Woo Beijing

The fall of the Afghan capital to the Taliban is not only an existential crisis for Kabul’s female population, religious minorities, journalists, human rights activists, and those who held key roles in the previous Afghanistan administration or US-led forces, but also Afghan Uyghur families. “If anyone even knocks on the door, I scream that it’s the Chinese Government coming to take us back to China,” an Afghan Uyghur woman told the Uyghur Human Rights Project. These fears were amplified when the Taliban announced that it regards China as a “friend” of Afghanistan and that it is willing to help Beijing round-up those suspected of having ties with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) – a separatist outfit aligned to al-Qaeda. Today, there are an estimated 2,000 Uyghurs living in Afghanistan, but despite most having lived in the country for years and many having Afghan citizenship, their official identification forms still state that they are “Chinese migrants”, prompting fears that they will be used as a bargaining chip or diplomatic gesture by the Taliban to curry favour from Beijing. Tellingly, the Taliban is adopting the Pakistani Government’s diplomatic double-speak in calling-out the oppression of Muslims around the world but staying silent on the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China to stay in Beijing’s good graces. “We care about the oppression of Muslims, be it in Palestine, in Myanmar, or in China, and we care about the oppression of non-Muslims anywhere in the world, but what we are not going to do is interfere in China’s internal affairs,” the Taliban spokesperson told reporters last month. Clearly, the Taliban wants to show the Chinese Government that it welcomes it as a partner in the post-US military occupation era. read the complete article

24 Aug 2021

Them and Us: How America Lets Its Enemies Hijack Its Foreign Policy

It is difficult to overstate—and in fact easy to understate—the impact of 9/11. By any measure, the “war on terror” was the biggest project of the period of American hegemony that began when the Cold War ended—a period that has now reached its dusk. For 20 years, counterterrorism has been the overarching priority of U.S. national security policy. The machinery of government has been redesigned to fight an endless war at home and abroad. Basic functions—from the management of immigration to the construction of government facilities to community policing—have become heavily securitized, as have aspects of everyday life: travel, banking, identification cards. The United States has used military force in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Yemen, and a number of other countries. Terrorism has become a prominent issue in nearly all of Washington’s bilateral and multilateral relationships. The war on terror also reshaped American national identity. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was a country bereft of the unifying sense of purpose that the Cold War had fostered. Gone was the clarity of the ideological struggle between capitalist democracy and communist autocracy, the free world and closed societies. After 9/11, President George W. Bush marshaled the aspiration for a unifying American identity and directed it toward a new generational struggle. The war on terror, he declared, would be on par with the epochal struggles against fascism and communism. Bush’s framing of counterterrorism as a defining, multigenerational, and global war represented an effective form of leadership after an unprecedented national tragedy, but it led inexorably to overreach and unintended consequences. The U.S. government soon abused its powers of surveillance, detention, and interrogation. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq became about far more than taking out al Qaeda. American democracy was linked to militarized regime change in ways that undermined its health at home and legitimacy abroad. The victories Bush and his administration promised—and that conservative media relentlessly predicted—never materialized, sapping Americans’ confidence in government and provoking a search for internal scapegoats. The jingoistic nationalism of the immediate post-9/11 era morphed into a cocktail of fear and xenophobia that eventually produced a president, Donald Trump, who paid lip service to ending wars abroad and repurposed the rhetoric of the war on terror to attack a shifting cast of enemies at home. read the complete article

United States

23 Aug 2021

Saratoga Springs vigil to counter Presler's GOP voter registration drive

Citizens opposed to a GOP-supported appearance by anti-Muslim activist Scott Presler will gather for a vigil on Wednesday evening in Congress Park. The 5:30 p.m. “No to Hate in Upstate, No to Fascist attacks on Democracy” event, organized by Joe Seeman, will coincide with Presler’s voter registration drive in Gavin Park in Wilton. “He’s a fascist,” said Seeman who ran for state office in 2020. “Does he wear a white robe and a Nazi symbol? No. But he is a far-right radical who promotes conspiracy theories and the Jan. 6 insurrection.” Seeman said nearly 100 people have signed up to be at the vigil that is meant “to send a strong message that racism and fascist attacks on our Democracy have no place in Saratoga County, New York State or the United States of America.” He said organizers decided not to appear at the Presler event, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik and the Saratoga County Republican Committee, as it would likely lead to "a shouting match," which his group wants to avoid. Presler, of Virginia, has been described by Stefanik, who announced his appearance in a tweet, as an “American Patriot.” She also tweeted he will be joining #TeamElise and "everyone is excited to meet you." In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed Presler's efforts in its HateWatch. They described him as an Act for America organizer who put together “March Against Sharia” in 18 states. The nonprofit Law Center, which monitors hate groups around the country, noted that the Facebook page for these marches has “racist and violent content directed toward Islam and Muslims.” Presler’s group, the Law Center also noted, “is recruiting the services of anti-government groups to act as security for the rallies.” Those include anti-government groups like the Oathkeepers, the Proud Boys and the 3 Percenters. In a joint statement, the dozen chairs of the Democratic Committees in Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District are condemning her and the Saratoga County GOP for their support of Presler. read the complete article

23 Aug 2021

Washington is poised to accept a wave of Afghan refugees. How will they be received?

Hamidi, the executive director and co-founder of the Kent-based Afghan Health Initiative, which supports the health and education of the local Afghan community, said last week that the dreams and aspirations of Afghanistan’s people were in jeopardy after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the resurgence of the Taliban. Will the majority of the public oppose resettlement, as they did for Vietnamese refugees of the 1970s? Will conservatives like Tucker Carlson be successful in whipping up xenophobic opposition to refugees as columnist Danny Westneat described last week? Time will tell. But early indications are that in Western Washington at least, the arms of our community are open. While huge immediate challenges remain — specifically housing — and the long-term social and psychological effects of displacement and dislocation yet to be felt, Hamidi said the outpouring of support and well wishes from the community has been overwhelming. We have seen too often how Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment have reared their ugly heads after major geopolitical shifts and crises like we are experiencing now. After 9/11, for example, hate crimes targeted toward Muslims spiked. But while nuance is often a missing element in our political discourse, we can’t afford to fall into the lazy trap of conflating Afghan Muslim refugees with the Taliban’s ruthless and fringe interpretation of Islam. Just as the intolerance and hate of the Westboro Baptist Church does not represent Christianity, the Taliban do not represent Islam. Hamidi said the desperation of the refugees speaks for itself. read the complete article


23 Aug 2021

No evidence Toronto mosque break-in was 'hate-motivated,' police say; investigation continues

Toronto police say there is no evidence to suggest a break-in at a Scarborough mosque over the weekend was hate-motivated, but that the investigation is still in its early stages. Police say they received a report at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday after the break-in at Baitul Jannah Islamic Centre was discovered in the early hours of the morning. A donation box and a video recording system were stolen. An office area was ransacked and a Quran and various books thrown to the floor, while another donation box was damaged. "While there is no evidence to suggest this is hate-motivated at this time, out of an abundance of caution, our Hate Crime Unit has been notified and will support the ongoing investigation," police said in a statement Monday. The mosque's president Atiqur Rahman told reporters Monday it's not the first time someone has broken into the building and that community members have been left shaken by the incident. "We want protection from the law enforcement agency," he said. read the complete article


24 Aug 2021

'Racism is well and truly alive': Muslim footy star Sonny Bill Williams slams 'fear mongering' critics for opposing a new mosque being built in Sydney

Kiwi rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has lashed out at 'racist fear-mongers' trying to block a new mosque under construction in Sydney's south. Signs have appeared at the Carlton building site apparently left by locals opposing the mosque going up in a residential area and bringing increased traffic to the area. But Williams - who played both rugby union and rugby league before embarking on a boxing career - believes the complaints are based on racism and bigotry. Williams, who lives in the Carlton area, says a mosque is long overdue for the large local Muslim community who currently must travel across the city to pray. He dismissed residents' claims about increased traffic saying there was already a school on the same street and another nearby. 'There are thousands of Muslim families in the area, and we don't have a place we can go to worship,' Williams told the Daily Telegraph. 'Unfortunately this is fear mongering. 'The Muslim community has been here in the Carlton area since 1950s and has never had a mosque. read the complete article


24 Aug 2021

The Taliban talks a lot about sharī‘a — but how much does that really tell us about how they will govern?

When the media asks “What is sharī‘a?”, has it not already been established over the course of the two decades that have elapsed since 9/11 that sharī‘a is much more about methodologies than it is about one, singular set of laws? Has it not been repeatedly explained, ad nauseam, that Muslims uphold the sharī‘a by the manner in which they follow their religion — the way they pray, perform the pilgrimage, and so on — as opposed to some kind of slavish monolithic adherence to a reified understanding of Islam. Despite hearing these patient explanations over the last twenty years — and offering a fair few of them myself — we nonetheless continue to be fierce denunciations in the West of “Islamic Law” and frequent calls to “ban Sharia law”. One must wonder: is the question itself (“What is sharī‘a?”) posed in bad faith, or the result of wilful incomprehension, or of cultural amnesia? Or are certain figures after a particular answer, and won’t stop asking the question until they get what it wants? When the Taliban says it will govern “within the framework of Islamic law”, they are saying what every Islamist group, militant and non-militant alike, has claimed. How could they say otherwise? But in the abstract, the statement doesn’t mean much. Indeed, various political groups in Muslim majority countries — even those that reject the label of “Islamist” — uphold the framework of Islamic law as one they respect. When the Taliban says they will govern “within the framework of Islamic law”, they are repeating what is already enshrined in the constitutions of almost every Muslim majority nation — and just consider how different Saudi Arabia looks compared to, say, Indonesia. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Aug 2021 Edition


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