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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26 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, an architect won the Pulitzer Prize after working with investigative reporters to help identify Chinese concentration camps holding Uyghur Muslims from satellite photographs, as in India, a Muslim street vendor was mercilessly attacked in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh state by a mob in yet another religiously motivated attack, while in the U.S., Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene publishes more anti-Muslim content on her Twitter. Our recommended read of the day is by Audrey Clare Farley on how Western nonfiction literature about the Muslim world fuels retribution and combative U.S. foreign policy towards the region. This and more below:


25 Aug 2021

How Western Books About the Muslim World Fuel War and Retribution

It didn’t take long after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan for nonfiction about captive or oppressed Muslim women to begin trending on Goodreads, nor for social media users to recommend such bestsellers as Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter, Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Jean Sasson’s Princess trilogy for “insight into what’s happening in Afghanistan,” in the words of one Reddit user. It’s a bit of a reach. Both Mahmoody’s and Nafasi’s books are set in post-revolutionary Iran, and Sasson’s takes place in Saudi Arabia. But according to literary scholar Dohra Ahmad, who sardonically coined the genre “oppressed Muslim women narratives,” such stories have never been known for their “regional, doctrinal, or economic specificity,” even though some authors have presented nuance. Why do such singular stories of abuse capture the American imagination of Islam at large? Why do they spark such moral outrage when this country does next to nothing to protect women and children from abuse here at home? And what is their impact on Muslim women globally? As the reading masses turn to beloved nonfiction to process the crises abroad, as Americans more generally devour sensationalized (and often, inaccurate) media about women in Afghanistan, and as critics of the withdrawal traffic in canards about Afghan damsels in distress, these questions are well worth asking. As readers young and old consume bestsellers about Muslim women’s suffering (often in lieu of more meaningful engagements with Islam), Muslim women globally have been increasingly subjected to military force, surveillance, discriminatory policies, and hate crimes by those who claim to be liberating them. Beyond inspiring imperialist sentiments, many pulp bestsellers about Muslim women have helped give rise to doublespeak. Muslim women can be talked about as “poor” victims and as irredeemably depraved beings who must be kept out at all costs. It’s impossible not to see this same contradictory rhetoric being used now, as President Biden’s critics profess pity for the women and children of Afghanistan while also retweeting viral images of a refugee-packed aircraft with the caption, “Raise your hand if you want this plane landing in your town?” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
26 Aug 2021

Alison Killing: The British architect who won a Pulitzer

Architectural writers have won prizes in the criticism category before, but Killing is the first architect to win for reportage after her investigation with Buzzfeed News’ Megha Rajagopalan and programmer Christo Buschek scooped the International Reporting Prize. Her Twitter bio now simply reads: ‘Architect who won a Pulitzer’. The trio’s investigative series, called ‘Built to Last’, combined architectural analysis of satellite imagery with traditional reporting to find a network of camps built by the Chinese government as part of its mass internment of Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups in the province of Xinjiang. It was this interdisciplinary approach that wowed the judges, with the Pulitzer Center’s executive editor, Marina Walker Guevara praising the series for ‘marrying satellite data analysis, architectural renderings and traditional shoe-leather reporting to show the true scale of a cultural genocide the Chinese government claims doesn’t exist’. In terms of piecing the jigsaw together, the breakthrough came when Killing realised that Baidu Maps – China’s version of Google Street View – was censoring the locations of some camps confirmed by journalists who had visited them, replacing them with grey masked tiles. Realising these tiles held the key to finding other camps, the team plotted all of Baidu’s censored locations in Xinjiang, producing a list of 5 million sites. This was then narrowed down to 50,000 by focusing on areas near towns and cities. Killing then worked through the locations, cross-referencing them with satellite imagery from Google Earth and examining their architectural characteristics to confirm they were camps. In the end, the team drew up a final list locating 347 camps in Xinjiang province, the largest with a capacity for holding 32,000 people. One of the most shocking realisations was the permanent nature of the newer camps. The pre-2017 camps mostly comprised ‘makeshift’ facilities in converted government buildings, schools, hospitals and apartment buildings. But from late 2017 onwards, Killing explains, the camp programme shifted to purpose-built compounds or prisons with heavily barricaded perimeter walls and guard towers at regular intervals along them. read the complete article

25 Aug 2021

Why has so little been said about the Afghan casualties of the past 20 years?

Questioning the moral objectives of our mission was, for me at least, a necessary precursor to participation. In the 12 years since my service, however, those doubts have become a full-blown rejection of the stated motivations behind Operation Herrick. In the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan last week, many of my colleagues rightly pointed to the deaths of UK service personnel. But there was hardly any mention of the human cost to the Afghan people. Ledwidge estimates that British troops alone were responsible for the deaths of at least 500 Afghan civilians and the injury of thousands more. Overall, the war is believed to have killed almost a quarter of a million people, a third of whom were civilians. Many MPs have rightly highlighted the impending loss of Afghan human rights at the hands of the Taliban. But where was this concern over the past two decades? What of the human rights of those killed in a 20-year US drone attack programme, where an estimated 90% of victims were innocents? How did this square with “western liberal values”? read the complete article

25 Aug 2021

Seven Podcasts Worth Listening to About 9/11

With the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks just over two weeks away, we are recommending sources for learning more about that tragic day and its consequences. This week, we’re recommending podcasts worth listening to. The Other Latif (Radiolab). Latif Nasser, the host of the New York Public Radio show Radiolab, hosts The Other Latif. Abdul Latif Nasser–the other Latif–was a detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. government accused the latter Nasser of having trained with al-Qaeda and advised Osama bin Laden. He denied the charges, however, and insisted he was innocent. Over the course of six episodes, Nasser the host sets out to learn how his namesake landed in Guantanamo and whether he belonged there. Last month, more than a year after the final episode of The Other Latif podcast aired and five years after he was cleared to leave “Gitmo,” Nasser became the first Guantanamo detainee to be released by the Biden administration. He spent more than nineteen years at Guantanamo. read the complete article


25 Aug 2021

Muslim bangle seller charged with sexual assault after being harassed by mob for working ‘in Hindu area’

A Muslim bangle seller has been charged with molestation and fraud a day after he was beaten up in central India by a mob which destroyed his wares and accused him of working in a Hindu-majority area under false pretences, in the latest incident of targeted violence against a minority community. The incident took place on Sunday in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh state where the man, identified by his first name Tasleem, was beaten mercilessly by a mob consisting of men from the majority Hindu community. The men accused Tasleem of assuming a fake Hindu name, suggesting that he was hiding his identity, presumably for a nefarious purpose. The video of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, triggered widespread outrage. It showed the 25-year-old being beaten up by the group in a crowded street in the Banganga area in Indore. Unidentified men are heard using communal slurs at him as people around him watched. Three men have been held by the police and a case of rioting, assault, robbery, intimidation and trying to disturb communal harmony was registered against the men who thrashed Tasleem. However, that only happened after hundreds of people reportedly gathered outside the police station demanding action. The police later on Monday also booked the victim on charges of molestation, based on the complaint of a minor. A case of fraud was also registered against Tasleem for carrying two identity cards — one with a Hindu name and the other with his Muslim name. The victim was later seen on a video shared on social media saying that his identity card had his village address and his alias on it, not a fake name. The incident was met with widespread outrage as it comes after several such attacks on the minority community. Recently a Muslim man was thrashed in northern India’s Kanpur city by a Hindu mob, while the daughter of the victim was seen pleading for mercy. The man was accused of trying to convert a woman to Islam. read the complete article

United States

25 Aug 2021

Marjorie Taylor Greene faces angry backlash after Islamophobic tweet: ‘Islam is not a religion of peace’

Far-right Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is embroiled in yet another social media furore over a tweet in which she insisted Islam is “not a religion of peace”. The GOP congresswoman, who has previously been sanctioned by the House of Representatives over her long history of racist, incendiary and sometimes violent statements, offered her thoughts on the implications of the withdrawal from Afghanistan in an typically unambiguous post. “Pray for American missionaries in Afghanistan,” she tweeted. “There are reports that some families may have been killed. Islam is not a religion of peace.” It is unlikely Ms Greene will face any formal consequences for her tweet, whether from Twitter or in Congress. She has repeatedly indulged in racist conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric directed not just at Muslims but at Jews, as well as her myriad political opponents, but she remains in office. read the complete article


25 Aug 2021

Uyghur businessman, who disappeared in 2017, confirmed to be held in Xinjiang's internment camp

A Uyghur entrepreneur, who disappeared four years ago following his return from the US, has been confirmed detained by authorities in an internment camp in northwestern China's Xinjiang region, sources familiar with the case told Radio Free Asia. Mahmutjan Memetjan, 35, was picked up by authorities in 2017, the year authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) launched a vast network of internment camps. The real estate investor, also known as Mehetjan Alqut, had lived in Yengisheher (in Chinese, Shule) county, in Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture, where he ran the Kashgar Alqut Property Company. Chinese authorities have targeted and arrested numerous Uyghur businessmen, intellectuals, and cultural and religious figures in Xinjiang for years as part of a campaign to monitor, control, and assimilate members of the minority group purportedly to prevent religious extremism and terrorist activities. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Aug 2021 Edition


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