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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27 Aug 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, seven immigrant women held at a remote immigration detention center in Florida filed a complaint citing a pattern of abuses including sexual abuse, life threatening medical neglect, and racist and degrading treatment. Meanwhile, Instagram is facing accusations of censorship over the disabling or removing the content of several prominent Muslim accounts over posts related to recent events in Afghanistan and Israel-Palestine. In the United States, Scholar-activist Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s digital archive of her mother’s life is part of a larger project addressing Blackness, womanhood and sisterhood within the American Muslim community. Our recommended read of the day is from the AP news wire on American Muslims who grew up under the shadow of 9/11 and how they endured discrimination, harassment, and questions about their faith and identity in the post-9/11 environment.

United States

27 Aug 2021

Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias

A car passed, the driver’s window rolled down and the man spat an epithet at two little girls wearing their hijabs: “Terrorist!” It was 2001, mere weeks after the twin towers at the World Trade Center fell, and 10-year-old Shahana Hanif and her younger sister were walking to the local mosque from their Brooklyn home. Unsure, afraid, the girls ran. As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks approaches, Hanif can still recall the shock of the moment, her confusion over how anyone could look at her, a child, and see a threat. But the incident also spurred a determination to speak out for herself and others that has helped get her to where she is today: a community organizer strongly favored to win a seat on the New York City Council in the upcoming municipal election. Like Hanif, other young American Muslims have grown up under the shadow of 9/11. Many have faced hostility and surveillance, mistrust and suspicion, questions about their Muslim faith and doubts over their Americanness. They’ve also found ways forward, ways to fight back against bias, to organize, to craft nuanced personal narratives about their identities. In the process, they’ve built bridges, challenged stereotypes and carved out new spaces for themselves. There is “this sense of being Muslim as a kind of important identity marker, regardless of your relationship with Islam as a faith,” says Eman Abdelhadi, a sociologist at The University of Chicago who studies Muslim communities. “That’s been one of the main effects in people’s lives … it has shaped the ways the community has developed.” In a 2017 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Muslims, nearly half of respondents said they experienced at least one instance of religious discrimination within the year before; yet 49% said someone expressed support for them because of their religion in the previous year. Overwhelmingly, the study found respondents proud to be both Muslim and American. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
26 Aug 2021

Women at Florida Immigration Detention Center File Federal Complaint Over Sexual and Medical Abuse, Toxic Chemical Spray, and Racist Treatment

Today, seven immigrant women held at a remote immigration detention center in Florida filed a complaint with federal officials, shedding light on an appalling pattern of abuses including sexual abuse by guards and a psychiatrist amounting to violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Acts (PREA), exposure to a highly toxic chemical spray, life-threatening medical neglect, violations of COVID-19 safety protocols, and racist and degrading treatment. Anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, and racist treatment run rampant in the facility. The complaint includes examples of how guards frequently shout racial slurs and use degrading, xenophobic language, in addition to the use of violence. The women report overall unsanitary and intolerable conditions including rotten food, yellow drinking water that forces them to drink from the sinks, pest infestations, and lack of access to toilet paper. read the complete article

26 Aug 2021

From Harlem to Brixton: The extraordinary lives of Black Muslim women

Scholar-activist Suad Abdul Khabeer mentions a conversation she had with her mother, who spoke of her participation in a protest movement in 1973, following the killing of 10-year-old African-American boy, Clifford Glover. He was shot in the back by a plainclothes police officer, Thomas Shea, in Queens, New York, on 28 April that same year. Amatul Haqq joined the African People’s Committee and a month later, on 25 May, she protested against apartheid and colonialism with the committee in Washington DC, near the US State Department, and the South African and Portugese embassies. “She was a part of the generation that grew up under Martin Luther King, and when all those social movements were happening. In fact, King passed away on her 18th birthday which was 4 April 1968,” Abdul Khabeer tells Middle East Eye (MEE). This is one of the many extraordinary stories that make up the life of Amatul Haqq (born Audrey Weeks), parts of which have been compiled into an online digital archive, sentimentally titled Umi’s Archive, referencing the Arabic word umi, which means “mother”. Abdul Khabeer officially started working on a web-based collection of digital artefacts related to her mother’s life in Autumn 2019. The project addresses Blackness, womanhood, and sisterhood within the Islamic community in the United States. Storytelling, combined with Islam’s emphasis on maintaining family ties, compelled Abdul Khabeer and other Black Muslims to start compiling their family archives. Another Black Muslim in the US who is uncovering the history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to one of the oldest Black Muslim communities in the United States, is Ali R. Abdullah, the founder of the Islamic Historical Society of North America (IHSONA), a group that documents the history of African-American Islam. “I was inspired because there is such an emphasis on the preservation of everyone else's history, and ours seems to be overlooked," Abdullah tells MEE. "However, most often, there are so many untold stories in the African-American community, in general, and the Muslim-American community, in particular. Over time, I realised how important it was to document one's history, for those reviewing it now and those who may need to have access to this information in the future.” read the complete article


26 Aug 2021

How France’s conservatives are using the plight of Afghan women to attack feminists

“We must plan and protect ourselves against large irregular migratory flows that endanger those who are part of them and fuel trafficking of every kind,” said French President Emmanuel Macron in a speech last week after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. His comments sparked outrage in France. To many, especially on the left, this framing — which criminalizes refugees facing atrocities and presents their entry as a potential threat — suggested a “shocking” lack of empathy. The hashtag #EmmanuelLePen, in reference to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, trended on Twitter. A lot has been said, and will continue to be said, about this response to the crisis. But there is another concerning trend in French discourse on Afghanistan: the exploitation of the plight of Afghan women to attack French feminists and distract from the issues at hand. Many of those in France who raised their voices supposedly for Afghan women do not seem to be sincerely motivated by these concerns. Instead, several public figures, particularly conservatives, have accused intersectional and decolonial feminists of remaining silent regarding the situation faced by Afghan women. read the complete article

27 Aug 2021

After Afghanistan, let’s not be misty-eyed about the West’s rules-based order

The reality is, Afghans have been paying the overwhelming brunt of that cost, not only because of how the withdrawal has been taking place but simply as a result of over two decades of intervention, going much further back than the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. At the same time, however, beyond Afghanistan, there lies the continuation of another long moment in the world of geopolitics. One that is indelibly related to how we think about international order, Western involvement and what comes next for both. If one considers what international law is supposed to mean on the ground, or in terms of state sovereignty, they ought to ask where it was when it came to Syria and its immediate neighborhood, or when different Muslim groups were so abysmally treated by Beijing? How does one explain the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, now being described as “apartheid,” or the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014? Lest we forget, Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations — and even membership to these pillars of international order could not protect it from a Russian invasion. The notion of a unipolar world, where a rules-based liberal international order, underpinned by international law is, in essence, the fundamental organizational principle of international relations, is simply not real. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that enough people believing it should be the fundamental principle underlying international relations has been enough to make a difference in the world. But as time goes on, fewer of those in positions of authority continue to believe in the principle of international law deeply enough. And as the vacuum in whatever constitutes international order continues to grow, two major powers — China and Russia — continue to not only challenge but also provide alternatives to the existing system. read the complete article

27 Aug 2021

Afghanistan: Muslim Instagram users complain about censorship

Instagram is facing accusations of censorship over the disabling or removal of content from a number of prominent Muslim accounts over posts related to recent events in Afghanistan and Israel-Palestine. Several Muslim users of the Facebook-owned social media platform said their accounts had been suspended or had posts about Afghanistan removed in the past two weeks, since the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. According to messages posted by Instagram on the disabled pages, the content was removed due to breaking "guidelines on violence and dangerous organisations”, prompting concerns that Muslims posting about global affairs were being linked with violence. “You cannot write the word Taliban,” Zahid Akhtar, founder of DOAM, told Middle East Eye (MEE). “The content is automatically removed after a while, because you’re promoting ‘violence and dangerous organisations’. But we’re just posting the news without commenting. We’re posting what mainstream media, like Al Jazeera and the BBC, are posting. “What I’ve learned in recent years is that if Muslim organisations like ourselves do this, our content gets censored.” read the complete article

26 Aug 2021

Afghanistan's Uyghurs fear the Taliban, and now China too

"We have no one to help us right now," one told the BBC after the meeting. "We are terrified," he said. "Everyone is terrified." Like millions of other Afghans, the country's Uyghurs are waking up to a different reality this week, one in which the Taliban is in charge. Like other Afghans, the Uyghurs fear a worse existence under the Taliban. But they also fear something else: greater influence for China. Many of Afghanistan's Uyghurs - thought to number about 2,000 - are second generation immigrants whose parents fled China many decades ago, long before the current crackdown began. But their Afghan ID cards still say "Uyghur" or "Chinese refugee", and they fear that if China enters the vacuum left by the US, they could be targeted. "That is the biggest fear for Uyghurs in Afghanistan now," said a Uyghur man in his fifties in Kabul, who said his family had not left their house since the Taliban took power. "We fear the Taliban will help China control our movements, or they will arrest us and hand us over to China," he said. All the Uyghurs in Afghanistan who spoke to the BBC said they had been effectively hiding at home since the Taliban seized the country, communicating only occasionally by phone. read the complete article

26 Aug 2021

Drones and Spec-Ops: The terrifying legacy of America's war on terror in Afghanistan

After trillions of dollars spent and countless lives lost, the U.S. is finally breaking away from the quagmire in Afghanistan. In the past two decades of war, this remote and mountainous country in Central Asia became the testing ground for some of the most advanced military tactics and technologies of the 21st century which had all but failed at protecting innocent civilians. Perhaps no other weapon is more controversial and characteristic of Washington's military adventure in Afghanistan than unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. During the longest war in U.S. history, Afghanistan had become the most drone-bombed country in the world. Over and again, reckless drone operators sitting on cold computer chairs would mistake innocent Afghans for militants, killing them from hundreds of miles away based on rough guesses about their identity from the way they behaved, or if they carried a weapon. The frequency of these "signature strikes" also accounted for a disproportionate number of civilian deaths. At its peak, airstrikes killed 700 innocent Afghans a year – a figure that is likely well below the actual number due to the U.S. government's loose definition of enemy combatants. As one Obama administration official revealed to The New York Times in 2012, all military-age males in a strike zone are counted as combatants unless "explicit intelligence posthumously" prove their innocence. Running parallel to the fear of drones in Afghanistan is the fear of door-kicking American special forces armed to the teeth. As the war progressed, these elite soldiers came to occupy a central role in the war under the Obama administration's counterinsurgency approach. In 2010, Wikileaks released secret Afghan war logs that showed for the first time how the NATO coalition has been using "black" units to carry out "kill or capture" missions at night to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. Despite being supported by the most advanced military technologies, these troops regularly misidentify targets and often end up murdering civilians, children and even the Afghan Police, which the U.S. helped set up. read the complete article


26 Aug 2021

Morocco court postpones Uyghur extradition hearing

A Moroccan court on Thursday postponed an extradition hearing for a member of China's Muslim Uyghur minority wanted by Beijing for "terrorist acts", charges he denies, his lawyer said. The hearing was postponed until September 1. Yidiresi Aishan, 34, was arrested at China's request on July 19 on arrival at Casablanca airport from Turkey. China accuses him of "terrorist acts committed in 2017" and of belonging to a "terrorist organisation", his lawyer Miloud Kandil told AFP. Aishan, a computer scientist based in Turkey since 2012, denies China's allegations and says he has not been back in China since that year, Kandil said. Rights group Amnesty International said last month Aishan risks being detained and tortured if forcibly returned to China. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Aug 2021

When the EDL Came to Luton

Just over a decade ago, thousands of EDL thugs arrived in Luton to hold their ‘homecoming’ march. For young people like myself, along with others who call this town home, the events which occurred at that time were seared into our memories as we braced ourselves for racist violence simply for daring to exist. The repeated EDL marches, which started in 2009, would turn the town into a ‘no-go zone’ on weekends, catapulting it into the imaginations of some as the ‘epicentre of the global clash of civilisations’. The intimidating marches meant we couldn’t venture into town with our families for fear of being attacked on the basis of our religion and colour of skin. The experience left an indelible mark, especially for teenagers like myself, making us very quickly aware that our identities were considered ‘problematic’, and that it wasn’t just skinheads who thought we didn’t belong, but also members of the establishment media who sought to portray the likes of Tommy Robinson as misunderstood free speech martyrs or just ‘political activists’. More than four in ten of Luton’s children live in poverty, and the town has one of the highest homelessness rates among local authorities throughout England. It was against this backdrop in 2009 that Tommy Robinson rose to prominence, after a small minority of extremists from the now banned Al-Muhajiroun group protested against the homecoming of the Royal Anglian Regiment in the same year. The EDL was subsequently formed – a group that called themselves ‘patriots’ seeking to defend their country against the ever-creeping threat of Islam and the ‘Islamisation’ of society. Never mind that for decades tens of thousands of British Muslims in the town had rejected the dozen or so extremists from Al-Muhajiroun and even confronted them as they set up a stall in the town centre, demanding they leave. In the eyes of so many, we were all guilty of harbouring extremists; the whole community was to blame. Commentators like Douglas Murray sought to portray Robinson as a ‘free speech martyr’. Others conducted interviews with him on our news channels and invited him to the Oxford Union. It always struck me that they didn’t have to worry about being in the same vicinity as him, while Muslims like myself were told we had to stay away from his gangs for our own safety. Robinson was offered the chance to discuss matters on his own terms, giving his views the credibility he so craved. But away from the screen, it was clear what Robinson stood for. Actions speak louder than words: I remember how he would roam around the town with his camera, marching up to South Asian youths, shouting obscenities and demanding they explain the actions of others. We didn’t need to be told how a former BNP member like Robinson was being misunderstood when we’d experienced first-hand his groups of thugs attacking Asian-owned businesses. What made matters worse were headlines that portrayed Luton as an epicentre of extremism, not only smearing an entire community but also providing the far right with a target. It was left to us to pick up the pieces – editors far-removed from the consequences of it all didn’t have to worry. We watched as they shouted ‘p***’ and made it clear we didn’t belong, and our parents had to once again confront a threat that they thought they’d seen off in the 1980s with the marches of the National Front. The moral panics over halal meat and Muslims trying to ‘ban Christmas’ or generally take over schools and the rest of society were not just pushed by Tommy Robinson – they were also ever-present in sections of our media, who made the same arguments in the columns of newspapers as those being heard on the streets of Luton. Luton wasn’t the epicentre of the global clash of civilisations: it was where the working classes came together once more to oppose the far right. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Aug 2021 Edition


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