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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01 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In France, far-right anti-Muslim writer, Eric Zemmour, announced he is running in the French presidential election in April, meanwhile in the United States, another video surfaces of Rep. Lauren Boebert making anti-Muslim comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar, as Democratic members of congress condemn Boerberts remarks at a press conference. During the press conference, Rep. Omar also played the audio of a death threat she received shortly after Boebert’s discriminatory remarks, calling her a “sand n***** b****” and a “f***ing traitor.” Lastly, in the United Kingdom, the editor of the Sunday Times has said British newspapers have made mistakes in their coverage of Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Azeezah Kanji for Al Jazeera on the use of torture in the U.S. prison system and how the “depiction of Guantanamo as a foreign and lawless ‘state of exception’ from American justice obscures the abuses endemic in the American (in)justice system itself – which inspired the very blueprints from which Guantanamo was designed.” This and more below:

United States

01 Dec 2021

Assange and the assurances of ‘civilised’ torturers | Recommended Read

In persisting with its campaign to have Wikileaks founder Julian Assange extradited from the United Kingdom, the US continues to expose its own systemic crimes. The “assurances” of humane treatment now issued by the United States government – currently under consideration by the UK High Court – testify to the horrors otherwise routinely inflicted by America’s mass incarceration state. For instance, the US has said that it will spare Assange from internment in ADX Florence: the federal super-max built to keep hundreds of prisoners in almost total isolation for years on end, in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture. However, nothing in the assurances protects Assange from being placed in a Communications Management Unit – in some ways even more restrictive than a supermax – as drone whistleblower Daniel Hale was last month. In addition, the US has pledged not to subject Assange to the exceptionally draconian solitary confinement regime of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) – unless, that is, “he was to commit any future act that met the test for the imposition of a SAM”. One of the paradigmatically Kafkaesque features of SAMs – which, in the words of a report from Yale Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights, “seal off the prisoner from the outside world and shield his treatment from public scrutiny(PDF)” – is that the state does not need to reveal its reasons for imposing them. In cases such as that of Fahad Hashmi – extradited from the UK and convicted by the US of “material support for terrorism,” for allowing an acquaintance to use his cellphone and leave a suitcase of rain ponchos and socks at his apartment – pre-trial SAMs appear to have been applied to break the target’s resistance to submitting a guilty plea. Other previous cases of Muslims extradited from the UK to the US on “terrorism” charges illuminate how assurances – which are both unverifiable and unenforceable – have served as a humanitarian shield for abuse; plausible deniability behind a screen of compassion and responsibility. The depiction of Guantanamo as a foreign and lawless “state of exception” from American justice obscures the abuses endemic in the American (in)justice system itself – which inspired the very blueprints from which Guantanamo was designed. Techniques of terrorisation are shared between the Gitmo “exception” and the US prison norm: the uses of omnipresent surveillance, prolonged isolation, extreme light and temperature exposure, food deprivation, force-feeding, forced nudity, sexual violence, beatings and chemical weaponry (tear gas, pepper spray) to subjugate and control. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

Another video shows Lauren Boebert suggesting Ilhan Omar was terrorist

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado suggested to a crowd in September that Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, whom she called "black-hearted" and "evil," was a terrorist. In those same remarks, she said that she felt safe around Omar because the Democrat wasn't wearing a backpack while they were in an elevator together. It's another instance in which Boebert suggested Omar, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, was a terrorist. On Monday, the two lawmakers sent dueling statements about a phone call between the pair set up by Boebert after she apologized last week to "to anyone in the Muslim community I offended," when similar comments surfaced on social media. The video of Boebert's anti-Muslim comments, made in New York at a September Staten Island Conservative Party dinner, were posted on Facebook that month by an attendee running for borough president. Additionally, at the September event, Boebert also disparaged Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota, another Muslim member of Congress. "Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. These are just black-hearted evil women," Boebert said. Boebert's remarks were also posted on Twitter in September by Mike DeCillis, a New York Democratic congressional candidate. They received little attention outside of a local press write up, which noted she called her "the jihad squad" and a "black-hearted evil" woman. In her statement, Omar said Boebert refused to apologize to her. "Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments," she said. "She instead doubled down on her rhetoric and I decided to end the unproductive call." "It just gets worse," Omar told CNN. "This is unhinged, and she continues to be emboldened by her party. This is their brand and it's dangerous." read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

Marjorie Taylor Greene launches Islamophobic attack on Ilhan Omar calling her a ‘bloodthirsty’ Al Qaeda supporter

Far-right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green has launched an Islamophobic attack on her Democratic colleague Ilhan Omar, calling the Minnesota representative "bloodythirsty" and an apologist for terrorism. Ms Greene, who represents the north-western corner of Georgia in the US House of Representatives, appeared on a TV show hosted by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon on Tuesday to defend similar comments made by fellow Republican Rep Lauren Boebert. Ms Boebert was forced to apologise "to anyone in the Muslim community I offended" on Friday after a video emerged showing her calling Ms Omar, a Somali-born US citizen and practicing Muslim who represents Minnesota in the House, "evil" and "black-hearted". But on Tuesday Ms Green declared that "Lauren Boebert did nothing wrong", making a series of false or exaggerated claims about Ms Omar that linked her to Islamic terrorists. "She hates Israel. She’s pro-Hamas. She’s pro-Al-Qaeda," said Ms Green on Mr Bannon’s ‘War Room’ show. “She’s basically an apologist for Islamic terrorists. "There is no need to apologise to that woman because she will never stop. She’s bloodthirsty, she wants Republicans completely taken out, she wants Republicans jailed... "This is one of the worst members of Congress. She’s a disgrace to our nation." Rep. Ilhan Omar did not specifically respond to Ms Greene’s comments on Tuesday, but said: "The evolution of this dangerous tale is frightening. Trying to come up with the most bigoted ways to traffic Islamophobic tropes is the brand of the Republican Party. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

The exhausting, soul-sapping meanness of Lauren Boebert

Lauren Boebert, a Republican member of Congress from Colorado, is mean. She is a public bully who wraps her insults in comedy, in the flag, in Christianity. She has spent the past few days luxuriating in the hullabaloo that she created by lobbing anti-Muslim insults into the air during a monologue in front of her supporters. The subject of her derision was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is Muslim and who wears a hijab and who Boebert likes to imply is a terrorist or, at the very least, a terrorist sympathizer. Omar has responded by calling Boebert a buffoon. Boebert later posted a video describing the exchange. Boebert has also spent significant time railing against the colleagues she calls the “jihad squad.” Boebert is intimately, audaciously mean. To see it displayed so blatantly, and seemingly with such glee, isn’t exactly shocking in this divided country, but it is exhausting. How does she have time to throw such petty foulness into the town square? Where does she get the energy? There are ample topics over which members of Congress could spiral into vicious debate. There are plenty of social ills and cultural dilemmas about which to rant and argue. And yet Boebert has chosen to say insulting, dangerous, made-up things about a colleague as a comedic riff while onstage. Boebert, 34, is a performer above all else. She’s part of a generation of legislators who arrived in Congress fully steeped in the language of social media. They know how to attract followers and nab viewers and transform themselves into name brands within their sphere. They know how to build a fan base. They can go viral with ease as they recognize that every moment is a possible post. And Boebert uses meanness as a magnet. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

Ilhan Omar reveals new death threat message as she and Muslim members condemn Lauren Boebert

Muslim members of Congress condemned Rep Lauren Boebert after she made Islamophobic remarks that surfaced last week, calling on congressional Republicans to hold her accountable. Reps Andre Carson of Indiana, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were joined by Rep Jamaal Bowman of New York, who is not Muslim, to condemn the Colorado Republican after she called Ms Omar part of “the jihad squad”. Ms Omar also played the audio of a death threat she received shortly thereafter, calling her a “sand n***** b****” and a “f***ing traitor.” “Condemning this should not be a partisan issue,” Ms Omar, who wears a hijab and was one of the first Muslim members of Congress, said. “This is about our basic humanity. and fundamental rights of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution.” She also criticised Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for saying she and Ms Tlaib should retake their oath of office on a Christian Bible. Ms Omar said she had only seen one Republican, anti-Trump Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, speak out about Ms Boebert’s words. Mr Kinzinger is retiring from Congress, giving him more latitude to buck his own party. Ms Omar also spoke out against GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy for being silent about the slurs. “The silence speaks for itself,” she said. Ms Tlaib said that she was not worried that she or others could face similar consequences if Republicans win back the House in the 2022 midterms. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

THE PARIAH: He Declined the FBI’s Offer to Become an Informant. Then His Life Was Ruined.

“I just realized then that he’d cut me off without saying a word. He even unfollowed me on Facebook, on Instagram. I can’t even explain how shattered or humiliated I felt,” Khan said. “People were messaging me from around the world saying they were looking forward to seeing me at his wedding. I didn’t even know how to reply to them.” Khan lay back in bed, tears stinging his eyes. He had experienced so many small betrayals over the years since his problems with the U.S. government began: acquaintances quietly severing ties, phone calls and messages left unreturned, and even parents of friends telling their children it’s too much trouble to associate with him. A handsome, athletic young man who had been accustomed to being the center of attention since his high school days, Khan — though he had never even been accused of a crime — was now a pariah. He had plummeted into a downward spiral of depression, anxiety, and sleepless nights. Each friendship lost, or rumor about him overheard, had dealt another blow to his self-esteem. Learning secondhand about his childhood best friend’s marriage, to which he would not be invited, was the worst blow yet. The slow unraveling of Khan’s personal life had begun almost a decade before, with a sudden visit from the FBI. Khan had been an international student attending Northeastern University in Boston to study business management. In 2011, after graduating, he returned to the U.S. on a visitor visa. While staying with family, he was approached by the FBI with an offer to become a paid informant for the bureau. Khan declined. After leaving the country a few weeks later, Khan and his legal team believe he was placed on the U.S.’s no-fly list as well as the terrorist watchlist. read the complete article

United Kingdom

01 Dec 2021

Sunday Times editor admits report on media coverage of Islam has ‘valid criticisms’

The editor of the Sunday Times has said British newspapers have made mistakes in their coverage of Muslims, ahead of the launch of a report that concludes the British media is highly critical of Islam. Emma Tucker, who took over as editor of the newspaper last year, said she welcomed the report by the Muslim Council of Britain “in the full knowledge that it contains criticisms of the press, my own paper included”. She said: “Some of those criticisms are valid. Some I would respectfully disagree with. All, though, are useful. To move forward in serving that broad readership, we want to hear views from every part of it.” Tucker, tipped as a potential successor to John Witherow as editor of the Times, said her newspaper needed to hire more diverse staff to ensure it improved its coverage of Islam while making clear “sometimes we will just see the issues differently”. The report was produced by the Centre for Media Monitoring, a project of the Muslim Council of Britain. After analysing 48,000 online articles published between late 2018 and 2019 by British-based news providers, its researchers concluded that 59% associated Muslims or Islam with negative behaviour or qualities.In general, rightwing outlets were more critical about Islam than left-leaning publications. The Spectator had the highest proportion of articles about Muslims classed as “antagonistic”, with 37% of pieces thus categorised. The New Statesman had the highest proportion of articles considered to be “supportive” of Muslims, at 16%. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

London Underground: Muslim man told 'this is a Christian country' by passenger in racist attack for reading Quran on Tube

A London Underground passenger was left shocked after a stranger started shouting at him for reading the Quran. In a video capturing the tirade, you can hear the stranger say: "Let me tell you, this is a Christian country. You behave in our manners and the way we do things." According to the passenger at the receiving end of it all, he was reciting the Quran softly. The man can also be heard saying: "That's your problem, you have no respect," adding, "I was here and you didn't even have the decency to ask if you could do it." The victim spoke to MyLondon about the incident but wished to remain anonymous. He said: "I was in shock at first. Then he continued and that’s when I felt attacked and humiliated. "He got everyone’s attention and he tried to deny me of my basic right. "I tried to ignore him many times. All I wanted was to read my Quran as I do every morning." He continued: "Nobody seemed bothered but him to be fair. "I told him to move if he was that pressed or to shut up, but he did neither." British Transport Police have said they are investigating the incident but released no further statement. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

‘There is no safe space for me to be myself’: What it’s like to live as a Muslim woman in the UK

“It’s one of the worst identities you could be,” says Aysha Yaqub* on being a Muslim woman in the UK. At 27-years-old, Yaqub has been on the receiving end of countless death threats and verbal abuse because of her religion. According to statistics from the Home Office, Muslims were the target of 2,703 religious hate crimes in the year ending March 2021 – 45 per cent of all those recorded. MEND, a charity that seeks to tackle Islamophobia in the UK, predicts the true extent of hate crime towards Muslims is likely much greater as many, like Yaqub, never end up filing a report with the police. “As one woman once told me, ‘if you want me to report the comments I receive for wearing a niqab, that’s all I would be doing all day’,” says Shockat Patel, a MEND board member. Although there are no known statistics around which demographic is most affected by Islamophobia, MEND’s work shows that those who appear visibly Muslim, such as women who wear the hijab or niqab, are likely to be targeted. In a parliamentary debate on 24 November, Labour politician Afzal Khan said defining Islamophobia is “the first step in rooting it out” and will “establish a mechanism for accountability”. This sentiment has been backed by MEND, which said the absence of a definition has allowed Islamophobia against visibly Muslim women to “permeate all sections of society”. “Lots of women say they are fearful of going out, just because of the fact they are wearing a headscarf. For those that wear a niqab [the garment that leaves only eyes visible] they find it even more difficult because they know, almost certainly, that they are going to get verbal abuse,” Patel says. Hamida Agarwal*, who converted to Islam more than 15 years ago, says she had never experienced any form of racism until she began wearing a headscarf, despite being a brown woman. “I conformed, and I fitted in. I drank alcohol, I dressed the way everyone else dressed. But as soon as I put the hijab on everything changed,” she says. “The way people looked at me, the comments that were made, I just couldn’t believe it. It was really difficult to now live this life where everywhere you go, you’re now on the defensive and feel like you have to break a stereotype.” read the complete article


01 Dec 2021

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found. Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China. Airbnb is one of 14 top-level sponsors of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A growing number of governments, including the U.S. and U.K., have said they are considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games due to the ongoing genocide in Xinjiang. Airbnb told Axios the company believes the sanction does not apply to these listings and that it implements guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury to comply with sanctions. read the complete article

01 Dec 2021

Zara blocked in France over Uyghur forced labour probe

The expansion of a Zara clothing store in France was blocked over a probe into whether its parent company Inditex benefits from the use of forced labour of Uyghurs in China. Zara France wanted to double the surface area of its shop in the centre of the western city of Bordeaux, but on the 9th of November, the regional commission charged with examining the project voted against it. "It was a political decision by us," said Alain Garnier, one of the elected officials on the commission. The expansion of a Zara clothing store in France was blocked over a probe into whether its parent company Inditex benefits from the use of forced labour of Uyghurs in China. Zara France wanted to double the surface area of its shop in the centre of the western city of Bordeaux, but on the 9th of November, the regional commission charged with examining the project voted against it. "It was a political decision by us," said Alain Garnier, one of the elected officials on the commission. "We wanted to send a strong signal by blocking the expansion of stores that don't have sufficient control over their suppliers," he added. read the complete article


01 Dec 2021

Far-right pundit Eric Zemmour to run for French president

Far-right TV pundit-turned-politician Eric Zemmour announced on social media on Tuesday that he is running in the French presidential election in April. An anti-immigration hardliner who has twice been convicted for inciting hatred, Zemmour surged from nowhere to become a factor in the presidential contest in recent months. He had been widely expected to declare his candidacy after mounting a promotional book tour that doubled as a drive to drum up support for a presidential bid. In a 10-minute video released on Tuesday, Zemmour said that he took the decision to run for the presidency because “no other politician has the courage to save the country from the tragic destiny that awaits it.” “I’ve decided to run in the presidential election so that our children and grandchildren don’t suffer barbarity, so that our girls won’t be veiled … so that they can inherit a France as it was known to our ancestors,” he said, reading from a statement at his desk. Many accuse Zemmour of stoking divisions and encouraging discrimination against France’s Muslim population. He has repeatedly argued that France is being “submerged” by immigration and is in danger of “losing its identity” under the influence of Islam, which he says is “incompatible” with western values. Many accuse Zemmour of stoking divisions and encouraging discrimination against France’s Muslim population. He has repeatedly argued that France is being “submerged” by immigration and is in danger of “losing its identity” under the influence of Islam, which he says is “incompatible” with western values. read the complete article


01 Dec 2021

Chinese leadership closely linked to Uyghur ‘cultural genocide’ in new report on leaked papers

A stash of newly leaked documents purportedly links China’s top Communist leadership with the reeducation and relocation of the Uyghur population and other minorities in the Xinjiang province, according to reports. The papers revealed how the Beijing administration cracked down on the community in line with speeches made by President Xi Jinping. Titled “Xinjiang papers,” the documents say that a set of digital files was leaked to the London’s Uyghur Tribunal in September this year. Covered in 51 pages, the documents show how China’s administration planned security, control of population explosion and punishment of the Uyghur population and includes three speeches by Mr Xi. The document states that nearly all the information is classified as confidential and contains highly sensitive and pertinent material on Beijing’s policy in Xinjiang. They show how the top rank of Chinese Communist party (CCP) leadership sought re-education and relocation of the Uyghur population in an attempt to correct the imbalance in the Uyghur and Han population in the Chinese province. Nearly three million rural labourers running in surplus were transferred into full-time employment in a bid to stop Uyghurs from “having nothing to do” and then being “easily exploited by evildoers,” according to the document. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Dec 2021 Edition


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