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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29 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Europe, Afghan refugees have faced an incredibly challenging year – with many facing horrific racism, discrimination and economic hardship, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, according to an NHS analysis of waiting times, Black and Asian people in England have to wait longer for a cancer diagnosis than white people, with some forced to wait an extra six weeks, and lastly, a new report from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) “concludes that the Global War on Terror has failed to achieve its goals and caused immeasurable harm both at home and abroad.” Our recommended read of the day is by Joel Gunter for the BBC News on how U.S. authorities have denied Guantanamo detainees from accessing and keeping their artwork, identifying it as property of the U.S. government, which may store or destroy it. This and more below:

United States

29 Aug 2022

The sudden silencing of Guantanamo's artists | Recommended Read

A few weeks ago, Khalid Qasim got some news he'd been waiting 20 years for. He had been cleared for release from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Qasim has been in Guantanamo nearly half his life, aged 23 to 43. Like almost all the men sent there, he has never been charged with a crime. His release order does not mean freedom, yet. It is merely the starting gun on a long process of resettlement that, going by previous resettlements, could take years. Where he will be sent, neither he nor his lawyers know. While he waits, Qasim will paint. During his long detention, Qasim has created scores of intricate paintings and other artworks, from seascapes, to scenes of fire, to a series of lone candles that commemorate the men who died in Guantanamo. "The easiest way to explain it is that it's a way of telling others about what I feel," Qasim said, via his lawyer. "It's a feeling I have. It's a part of me. I'm putting Guantanamo on canvas." Qasim rarely puts Guantanamo on canvas in a literal sense. He is drawn to images of the sea, to images of ships and trees. He paints abstracts in vivid colours and still life scenes with deep blacks and dark expanses. He has used coffee and gravel from the exercise yard to create textures and ready-to-eat meal boxes to make mixed-media work. "This is my life," Qasim said, of his art. "It was my life here." But when Qasim is transferred out of Guantanamo, in months or years, he will not, as things stand, be allowed to take his art. It will remain the property of the US government, which may store or destroy it. Keeping his art in Guantanamo would be "the same as keeping me here", Qasim said. "The art I made is me," he said. "If they keep my art here, my soul will stay here." This was not always the case. Until the end of 2017, Guantanamo detainees were allowed to take their art with them when they were released, or give it to their lawyers to take out. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Stop Using Islamophobic Rhetoric to Condemn Christian Extremism

The justices who overturned Roe and the lawmakers who are rushing to restrict people's bodily autonomy are almost all conservative Christians. Yet some liberal commentators have condemned these restrictions by likening their perpetrators to Muslims. Since the ruling, social media platforms like Twitter have been flooded with political cartoons and tweets depicting the Supreme Court justices as Muslims or members of the Taliban. Several media organizations published pieces making the same Taliban comparison, which was also echoed by liberal celebrities like Barbra Streisand and progressives including Mark Ruffalo. As a matter of fact, Islam does not condemn abortion in a clean-cut way. Like other communities in the U.S., Muslim Americans' views on abortion are diverse and divergent. Many Muslims are pro-choice — and feel justifiably frustrated when people use lazy and careless Islamophobic rhetoric to condemn Christian nationalism in the United States. It's important to address why Americans often bring up Islam when conservative legislation involving gender rights is debated in the United States. The post-9/11 era brought about a massive onslaught against Muslims in the United States and globally. "War on Terror" enthusiasts strategically crafted stereotypes that demonized Muslim men as terrorists and Muslim women as hopeless damsels in distress, in turn making military operations in Afghanistan appealing to some American liberals and progressives by casting it as necessary to "protect" Afghan women. These perceptions have consequences: Islamophobic policies enacted and supported by both liberal and conservative politicians. While it's true that institutionalized Islamophobia in the United States is more rooted in the right, liberal politicians are not immune from the influence of our often racist, Islamophobic society either. Islamophobia has become so institutionalized that even when an issue does not remotely pertain to Islam, as in the reversal of Roe, Americans find the need to bring up Muslims. Along with stripping the right to reproductive freedom from all pregnant people, including Muslims, the Christian right's attack on abortion rights is somehow also solidifying stereotypes about Muslims as the standard for religious extremism. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Meet artist Yasmine K. Kasem: Finding an identity in the ‘Middle’

One of the new works that will be featured in Yasmine K. Kasem’s new exhibition, “Middle,” will be a series of tapestries, one of which will feature a group of people terrorizing a mosque. Created to resemble the Egyptian appliqué tapestries Kasem grew up around in her home — the tourist-friendly variety that feature pharaohs on thrones and on chariots — Kasem’s version is a visual representation of an incident in 2015 when a bunch of protesters showed up at her mosque to terrorize worshippers. “They showed up with guns, bigoted flags and drawn pictures of out prophet,” Kasem recalls. “And they were wearing pig masks, so the imagery on the tapestry makes it seem like I’m really taking a jab at conservative Americans, but no, these were real people who came to terrorize us. This is a real thing I’m showing you.” This particular tapestry, the last and most jarring one of a series, was created using discarded and reassembled fabric rather than a conventional weaving. Along with the other tapestry works in the series, as well as the additional sculptures and fabric art she’s planning on showing at “Middle,” it’s evident that Kasem is creating a highly personal, almost autobiographical artistic statement on the ongoing struggles that Muslim women still face in the U.S. and beyond. The name of the exhibition itself, “Middle,” takes on multiple meanings for Kasem: the fact that the last tapestry in the series ends somewhere around the middle of her life so far; the fact that she was raised in middle America; the idea that she often felt that she’s stuck in the middle of being a Midwestern American woman and an Egyptian; the act of having to navigate the tricky middle ground between her faith and being a queer woman. read the complete article


29 Aug 2022

India: Ruling party lawmaker arrested for Islamophobic slur

Indian police arrested a ruling party politician on Tuesday after he caused a storm with Islamophobic remarks that were broadcast on social media. Raja Singh is a state lawmaker with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP party. He was arrested on suspicion of "promoting enmity in the name of religion." His remarks targeted Munawar Faruqui, a popular Muslim comedian harassed and threatened by Hindu nationalists for his religious subject matter. Faruqui performed in Singh's native city of Hyderabad last week. Singh had earlier threatened to burn down the venue, local media reported. As his tirade against Faruqui began doing the rounds, protestors gathered to call for his arrest, saying he insulted Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Local police confirmed later confirmed the arrest. Singh has since been released and the BJP announced it was suspending his party membership. Singh now has 10 days to reply to an internal inquiry to avoid expulsion from the party. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Jailed For Being The ‘Mastermind’ Of Prayagraj Violence, Muslim Activist Was Known For Keeping The Peace

In May 2021, Javed Mohammad, a 56-year-old social activist, was sitting down to eat with his family when news of the Sulli deals app—an application to auction Muslim women online—flashed across the television screen, abruptly ending the dinner time banter. The next person to speak was Mohammad’s daughter Afreen Fatima, a 24-year-old student activist, who told her father that she was among the scores of Muslim women whose names and photos were shown on the app. There was shock and concern, but her family were acquainted with the online abuse and castigating coverage she received from pro-government media after Afreen started speaking about the persecution of Indian Muslims under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), inviting the wrath of the right-wing establishment. Together, father and daughter, along with the rest of the family, living in Prayagraj in southern Uttar Pradesh, decided to pursue the legal route to hold the people behind the app accountable. A few days later, Afreen joined other women in persuading the Delhi police to register a criminal case against them. The UP police arrested Mohammad in connection with the violence that erupted in Prayagraj on 10 June, as rallies protesting the remarks made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma against the Prophet Mohammad were breaking out in UP. The police called him the “mastermind” of the violence, illegally detained his wife and youngest daughter at a police station, and demolished their house, claiming it was an unauthorised construction. In July, Article 14 reported the weakness in the police case against the people they accuse of planning the riots, including evidence that defence lawyers say shows their clients to be elsewhere on the day of the violence and lack of evidence to back up the kind of violence—shooting pistols and lobbing bombs—described in the first information reports (FIRs) based on complaints by policemen. Article 14 spoke with friends, family, lawyers, activists and the police to find out more about Mohammad and why he has been jailed amid a slew of legal action against those critical of the attacks against minorities and free speech under the BJP, including vocal Indian Muslims—recently, fact checker Mohammad Zubair, and journalist Siddique Kappan for the past two years. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

How India’s ‘Hindutva pop’ stars use music to target Muslims

Upendra Rana, a singer-songwriter based in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, started by performing at low-key events in and around his village of Rasulpur before launching his YouTube channel in 2019. Since then the unassuming, middle-aged Rana, whom one Indian publication described as dressed like a bank clerk, has amassed close to 400,000 followers, with some of his songs attracting millions of views. His secret? Rana is a star in an incendiary genre referred to as “Hindutva pop” that paints Muslim Indians as villains who should move to Pakistan, India’s Muslim-majority neighbor. In a video made last year, Rana is seen praising Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, a powerful Hindu priest who openly calls for genocide of Muslims and creating an Islam-free India — in a song about the “resurgence” of a Hindu nation. Rana is unapologetic about anti-Muslim hatred in his songs. “They (Muslims) can’t stand the truth,” he told Religion News Service. “They can say anything about our gods and expect us to be mum. Even then, we are not as violent as them.” At the same time, he dismisses the idea that his songs are offensive. “I talk about the glorious Hindu kings of the past. Most of their opponents were Muslims. So, whenever I talk about them their opponents would be mentioned. So what’s the harm in that?” he asked. But many observers say the increasingly popular genre, which emerged after the Bharatiya Janata Party won national elections in 2014, is triggering violence against Muslims, a minority already marginalized by Hindu nationalists with support from the BJP government. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Protests in India over release of 11 men jailed for gang rape

Hundreds of people have held demonstrations in several parts of India to protest against a recent government decision to free 11 men who had been jailed for life for gang raping a Muslim woman during India’s 2002 religious riots. The protesters in the country’s capital, New Delhi, chanted slogans on Saturday and demanded the government in the western state of Gujarat rescind the decision. They also sang songs in solidarity with the victim. Similar protests were also held in several other states. The 11 men, released on suspended sentences on 15 August, when India celebrated 75 years of independence, were convicted in 2008 of rape, murder and unlawful assembly. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

In Bilkis Bano’s Fate, Lies the Future of Indian Muslims

On August 15, eleven men who were convicted for the gang-rape of a Muslim woman and the murder of seven members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots were released from jail in Godhra. The men, who were serving life sentences, were set free under a remission policy. When they returned to Singvad village in Gujarat’s Dahod, they were greeted, celebrated and garlanded by their families as well as Hindu right-wing groups. The incident wherein convicted rapists were celebrated is a damning indictment of India’s Hindu-right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. It lays bare the extent of impunity that Hindus accused and convicted of hate-crimes against Muslims enjoy under the Narendra Modi government. Whatever little justice she got from moving India’s courts has now been overturned with the Gujarat government accepting the unanimous recommendation of a local panel that included members linked to the state’s ruling BJP to free the eleven convicts, who served only 15 years of jail time. Incidentally, Bilkis was neither consulted nor informed about this decision to free the convicts. The decision puts her in an extremely vulnerable position today. With the 11 convicts walking free, Muslim residents have begun fleeing Dahod and have vowed to stay away until the convicts are jailed again. The political motivations underlying the Gujarat government’s decision to free the convicted rapists is obvious. Gujarat will vote in state legislative assembly elections in December this year. And stirring communal hatred and polarizing society is Prime Minister Modi’s key strategy to win the elections. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Modi’s India Is Where Global Democracy Dies

In his eight years in power, Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government has profaned Indian democracy, espousing an intolerant Hindu supremacist majoritarianism over the ideals of secularism, pluralism, religious tolerance and equal citizenship upon which the country was founded after gaining independence on Aug. 15, 1947. Drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany, the regime uses co-opted government machinery, disinformation and intimidation by partisan mobs to silence critics while dehumanizing the large Muslim minority, fanning social division and violence. Civil liberties are systematically violated. India, the world’s largest democracy, is where the global battle between liberalism and tyranny is being lost. Yet Western democracies like the United States refuse to call out Mr. Modi, instead courting him to maintain access to India’s huge market and for the nation’s utility as a strategic bulwark against China. Parliament’s composition already reflects this majoritarianism. At 200 million, India’s Muslim population is the third largest in the world, after Indonesia’s and Pakistan’s, accounting for about 15 percent of Indians. (Hindus make up around 80 percent.) But Muslims hold just 5 percent of Parliament seats. The B.J.P. is the first governing party in India’s 75-year history without a single Muslim member of Parliament. Laws and rights are applied unevenly. Muslims can now be arrested for praying in public, while Hindu pilgrims are congratulated by state officials. The state celebrates the Hindu religion, while protests are orchestrated against Muslim customs like the wearing of the hijab and the call to prayer. Hindu vigilante groups attack Muslims and their businesses. A high-ranking B.J.P. leader called Muslim refugees from Bangladesh “termites” eating away the country’s resources. Emboldened by state support, Hindu extremists now openly threaten the genocide and rape of Muslims, while the government arrests journalists who call out acts of hate. On Aug. 15, Independence Day, the government released 11 convicts serving life sentences for gang-raping a Muslim woman and murdering 14 members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom that occurred on Modi's watch. read the complete article


29 Aug 2022

New Report Concludes Global War on Terror a Failure

A new report released today by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) concludes that the Global War on Terror has failed to achieve its goals and caused immeasurable harm both at home and abroad. “The Failures of the War on Terror” provides evidence detailing how terror attacks, groups, and fighters have increased substantially over the last 20+ years and explains why the war-based approach to terrorism has failed to achieve its goals and should be discarded. “Since the attacks of 9/11, FCNL has been warning that war is not the answer to addressing terrorism. It should not take decades and tens of thousands of lives to reach the clear and obvious conclusion that the Global War on Terror is a failure. But we are now 21 years into it and there is no course-correction on the horizon,” said FCNL General Secretary Bridget Moix. “One does not need to be a Quaker or person of faith to see this war was lost years ago. When will our leaders admit failure and stop the endless violence?” read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Canada continues to censor internal interviews on review of Afghan war

This August marks one year since the U.S. exit from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul. The unforgettable acts of desperation and chaos that followed for so many Afghans still continues. If “Canada’s mission in Afghanistan” directly contributed to these outcomes, why have officials continuously obstructed the disclosure of hundreds of interviews with Canada’s military and government insiders who participated in a review of their role in the war? In the lead-up to the scheduled NATO exit, I filed a request under the Access to Information Act with the Privy Council Office (PCO) for documentation related to over 500 confidential interviews with Canadian military, foreign service, aid workers and other government civil servants about their experience in the war in Afghanistan. These interviews and round tables were part of an internal “lessons learned” exercise initiated by the Harper government sometime between 2011 and 2012, following the military’s exit from Kandahar. For over a decade, the PCO has kept information regarding these interviews “secret” and inaccessible to the public. In the U.S. example, a three-year legal battle under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Washington Post won access to more than 600 confidential internal interviews with government and military insiders who had a direct role in the war. This resulted in the publishing of the Afghanistan Papers in December 2019. The papers show how U.S. officials made rosy pronouncements they knew to be false, and hid evidence showing there was no progress and no end game throughout the 20-year NATO campaign. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Afghan refugees on the racism they’ve faced in their first year in Europe

Europe is just the greener side of the same hell,” says Rias Ahmed*, a former Afghanistan government official who now lives in a small town in Italy. Rias is among the 124,000 civilians who left Afghanistan in the weeks after the Taliban took control of the country on 15 August last year. After ten days in hiding in Kabul, he was evacuated to Germany on 25 August, before being resettled in Italy later that day. For him, and the many other refugees now living in the EU, the past year has been incredibly challenging – with many facing horrific racism, discrimination and economic hardship. “Not all Europeans are racist, but each time we go to the stores or walk the streets, we encounter blatant racist comments. One person called me a leech who’s sucking their tax money and living for free in their country. “I have tried to learn Italian hoping that life would be easier, but I just can't bear the insults any longer. I'd rather go back to Afghanistan than die of shame here.” Many refugees have faced difficulties obtaining paperwork. Nilofar Ayoubi, an Afghan journalist and human rights activist, says her sister, who was evacuated to Barcelona, has found this particularly “stressful” – having still not received the document she needs from the Spanish authorities to allow her to travel outside the country. “The support [from EU governments] is so minimal,” says Nilofar. “She’s upset and wants to go back. The situation for so many Afghan families is so bad that many believe it’s better to go back to our country instead of being humiliated here. “Unfortunately, us Afghans have had a hard year in Europe. The authorities believe by evacuating refugees they’ve done [us] a favour and that’s not fair. [We] don’t ask for special treatment, just a humane one where basic needs and rights are attended to. I have heard of so many instances of refugees living on the streets in western Europe.” read the complete article


29 Aug 2022

Nazem Kadri Brings Stanley Cup to Hometown Mosque

Calgary Flames forward Nazem Kadri brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown mosque on Saturday. It was a day filled with pride and joy for the 31-year-old Kadri, who won the title with the Colorado Avalanche this past season. “That’s the goal, to inspire and motivate the youth. This young generation is looking for role models so I do the best I can and I’m just happy I get to share it with everybody,” he said. “I didn’t expect this kind of turnout. I’m very grateful for all the supporters." Kadri began his day with the Cup at London Muslim Mosque. He said the mosque is part of his background. “It’s part of my roots, it’s part of who I am," he said. Kadri’s visit was a welcome celebration in a community that was rocked by tragedy last year. Four members of a Muslim family were run over by a truck and killed in what police described as motivated by anti-Muslim hate. “It’s difficult. We’re still dealing with the scars and the sorrow that comes from the horrific attack that happened last year to our community,” said Hassan Mostafa, a family friend who sits on the board of directors of Kadri’s foundation. “Does celebrating this erase all of that? Absolutely not. But it’s great to have something tremendous like this to celebrate. Our community needs something like this, and we’re so excited and so proud.” Kadri has faced his share of racism and Islamophobia, especially in this past postseason. read the complete article

29 Aug 2022

Acadie Nouvelle cartoon sparks backlash over depiction of Muslims

A controversial cartoon published in New Brunswick's largest French-language newspaper is prompting pushback over how it portrays Muslims. The cartoon, published in the Aug. 17 edition of l'Acadie Nouvelle, shows a caveman dragging a woman by her hair. Below is an illustration of a man wearing a turban and carrying a gun, using a leash to drag a woman wearing a burqa. "Evolution?..." is written above the cartoon. The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement calling the cartoon Islamophobic and said it spreads stereotypes that "fuel widespread hatred." Lina El Bakir, the organization's Quebec and francophone community advocacy officer, said she was appalled to see the illustration. "We thought that kind of stereotypical and harmful imagery was something of the past and as a country we were past that," she said. "and that's really frustrating." El Bakir said the cartoon is being circulated and is iimpacting the Muslim community across Canada. "It feeds into a narrative that is destructive," she said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

29 Aug 2022

Revealed: ‘disturbing’ race divide on cancer patients’ wait times in England

Black and Asian people in England have to wait longer for a cancer diagnosis than white people, with some forced to wait an extra six weeks, according to a “disturbing” analysis of NHS waiting times. A damning review of the world’s largest primary care database by the University of Exeter and the Guardian discovered minority ethnic patients wait longer than white patients in six of seven cancers studied. Race and health leaders have called the results “deeply concerning” and “absolutely unacceptable”. The analysis of 126,000 cancer cases over a decade found the median time between a white person first presenting symptoms to a GP and getting diagnosed is 55 days. For Asian people, it is 60 days (9% longer). For black people, it is 61 days (11% longer). Diagnosis delays may mean fewer treatment options while starting treatment later may also mean it is less effective – reducing the odds of survival. Previous research had already shown that ethnic minority patients have worse outcomes when it comes to some cancers in England and are less likely to report positive healthcare experiences. The government and the NHS have repeatedly promised to tackle ethnic inequalities in healthcare. Experts say the findings show serious action is needed to understand how and why black and Asian people wait longer – and to prevent it from happening. read the complete article


29 Aug 2022

Women with hijab found to face bias in Egypt

Women wearing hijabs (Muslim headscarves) are being discriminated against by businesses in Egypt, a BBC Arabic investigation has discovered. The evidence appears to violate Egypt's constitution, which bans discrimination based on religion, sex, race or social class. Since 2015, some Egyptian women wearing a hijab have taken to social media to complain about such treatment. Mayar Omar, a 25-year-old research executive from Cairo, says she has faced repeated problems going to some high-end restaurants. "You want to feel that you can be yourself when you enter a venue and no-one is forcing you to do something, or make you feel that you are the cause of a problem for the venue or your friends." On hijabi lifestyle social media groups, BBC News Arabic found what appears to be a growing trend, with women accusing numerous venues of refusing them entry if they are wearing a hijab. "In most cases the main cause is classism," Nada Nashat, a lawyer and women's rights activist, said. "So we find discrimination against hijabi women in venues that like to present themselves as upper-middle or upper class. "But we also find discrimination against non-hijabi women in lower and middle classes." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Aug 2022 Edition


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