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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14 Dec 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Rohingya widow seeks compensation from Myanmar government for death of her husband. A United Nations human rights expert has called for an independent assessment on the conditions at Bhasan Char. In Austria, the Constitutional Court overturns headscarf ban in schools. Our recommended read today is by Dean Obeidallah on policy challenges for the Biden administration related to Islam and Muslims. This, and more, below:

United States

14 Dec 2020

Anti-Muslim policies forged under Obama flourished under Trump. What will happen under Biden? | Recommended Read

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision Thursday that ruled in favor of three Muslim men who charged the FBI with placing them on the no-fly list when they refused to spy on fellow Muslims. The news stands out in an administration that has ushered in a surge in Islamophobic rhetoric and anti-Muslim policies over the past four years. But it also reminded us that anti-Muslim government policies didn’t just happen under President Donald Trump. Regardless of the political power in charge, policies predicated on anti-Muslim bigotry that wrongly target Muslim Americans had been more or less normalized well before Trump took office. read the complete article

14 Dec 2020

California has appointed its first ever Muslim chaplain to the state legislature

Imam Mohammad Yasir Khan was appointed by Anthony Rendon, speaker of the California State Assembly, on December 7 as the assembly chaplain for the 2021-22 session, according to a news release. "Imam Yasir Khan represents California's growing diversity in all the best ways," Rendon said in a statement. "I've seen the growth of the Islamic community in my own district and have become close to both religious and civic leaders. Like them, Khan shows a strong desire to contribute to the spiritual and civic vitality of California. He has already done so in many ways." read the complete article

14 Dec 2020

For many Muslims in Arizona, 2020 marked the start of a new era of civic engagement

Historically, Muslims have scarce to no representation in Arizona politics. One Muslim woman, Deedra Abboud, ran in 2018 and 2020 for seats in U.S. Congress and on the Maricopa Board of Supervisors but did not prevail. However, younger Muslims have started organizing and getting politically active at the local level — and they're persuading some older members of the community to newly get involved, too. The number of Muslims who live in Arizona is unclear, but the Pew Research Center estimates the population at 1% of adults in the state. One Arizona is a coalition of various organizations with one goal: mobilizing voters from marginalized communities. The coalition says it registered 185,000 voters this year. Ahmed Soussi, CAIR's interim director in Arizona, said One Arizona helped CAIR with registering voters at mosques and educating the community on voter suppression and intimidation. An October 2020 report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that voter registration among Muslims lagged other groups. Muslims were at 78% compared to the general public, which was at 87%. However, the study also found that the gap between intention to vote and voter registration narrowed for the community over a four year period. read the complete article

14 Dec 2020

Lost and Found in Guantanamo Bay

At Guantanamo Bay – known as Gitmo – the first detainees had been flown in by the U.S. military mostly from Afghanistan after the American bombing campaign against the Taliban. From 2001-2004, the detainees largely did not know where they were or why they were there. It was during those early years that the stories of torture had emerged. By the time I had arrived in 2004, however, things had evolved. The detainees knew where they were, and their families had been notified. They were afforded the opportunity to tell their stories and address the allegations against them. There were now compasses drawn on the floors of their cells indicating the direction of prayer toward Mecca, and detainees were given dates to break their fast during Ramadan. read the complete article


14 Dec 2020

UN expert wants scrutiny of conditions at Bhasan Char

A United Nations human rights expert has called for an independent assessment on the conditions at Bhasan Char, the remote island in Bangladesh where more than a thousand Rohingya were taken earlier this month, as he condemned the world’s “failure” to take action to help the refugees return home to Myanmar. The 1,642 Rohingya refugees were moved to Bhasan Char island before the UN could even determine whether or not the island was “suitable to safely host this vulnerable population”, said Tom Andrews, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. read the complete article


14 Dec 2020

One year of India's Citizenship Amendment Act

The CAA fast-tracks citizenship of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before 2015. However, it excludes Muslims, a move that has been denounced for undermining India's secular constitution. "It is an anti-Muslim law. That's not a perspective. ... It's an objective reality. And, when combined with the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), it tears through even what's left of the pretense of India's secularism and constitution," writer and political activist Arundhati Roy told DW. Critics believe that the CAA, along with the ongoing nationwide registration drives, could become a means of excluding the minority Muslim population of the country. The current government has recently been pushing to complete the national registries, but minority groups fear that they too will be used to discriminate against non-Hindus. read the complete article


14 Dec 2020

Austrian Constitutional Court overturns headscarf ban in schools

Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a law banning girls aged up to 10 from wearing headscarves in schools was discriminatory, overturning the measure introduced by the ruling conservatives while allied with the far right. the court found on Friday that it was clearly aimed at Muslim headscarves. That went against the state’s duty to treat officially recognised religions equally, and the principle that singling out any one of them requires special justification, it ruled. “The selective ban … applies exclusively to Muslim schoolgirls and thereby separates them in a discriminatory manner from other pupils,” court President Christoph Grabenwarter said. “There is a risk that [the law] could make it harder for Muslim girls to gain access to education, and it could lead to their social exclusion,” he added. read the complete article


14 Dec 2020

The Guardian view on China’s treatment of the Uighurs: from unthinkable to irrefutable

What once seemed surely unthinkable has become, in just a few years, irrefutable. The evidence amassed by scholars, journalists and campaigners of grotesque human rights abuses in Xinjiang has begun to cut through to the wider public. On Thursday, the France and Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann cut his commercial ties to the Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying there were “strong suspicions” that it has contributed to the repression of Uighurs. His statement followed a report that Huawei tested a facial recognition system developed by artificial intelligence firm Megvii that could be used to identify Uighurs and trigger an alert to their presence. read the complete article

14 Dec 2020

Huawei worked on several surveillance systems promoted to identify ethnicity, documents show

Huawei has worked with dozens of security contractors to develop surveillance products, some of which were touted as able to identify a person's ethnicity or to help suppress potential protests, according to company marketing documents that shed light on a little-publicized corner of one of China's most valuable tech empires. The revelation this week of Huawei's role in testing artificial-intelligence surveillance technology - including a face-scanning camera system that could send a "Uighur alarm" to police if it detected a member of the minority group - has sparked an international backlash against the tech giant - including from a French soccer star who publicly ended his work as a Huawei "brand ambassador" and urged the company to "condemn this mass repression." read the complete article


14 Dec 2020

Rohingya widow seeks compensation from Myanmar government for death of her husband

A Rohingya woman is seeking $2 million in compensation for the death of her husband who was killed by government soldiers during a 2017 military crackdown in western Myanmar, lawyers said. Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) and international law firm McDermott Will & Emery said they filed a complaint on Thursday, with Myanmar's human rights commission on behalf of Setara Begum, whose husband Shoket Ullah was killed at Inn Din village in Rakhine state. Begum's husband Shoket Ullah, a 35-year-old fishermen, was among 10 men and boys killed by soldiers and villagers and buried in a shallow grave in September 2017, according to a subsequent Reuters investigation. Myanmar's army said it sentenced the soldiers responsible for the killings to terms of 10 years with hard labour, but they were released after less than a year. "My husband was killed and Myanmar has let those soldiers who did that go free," she said in a statement. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Dec 2020 Edition


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