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 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Professor Ali Olomi reflects on America’s longest war and how the public largely forgot about the war in Afghanistan but for Afghan-Americans, “the war became part of who we were and even shaped our career trajectories,” meanwhile Professor Karen Greenberg argues that by repealing the 2001 AUMF, closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and redefining the threat, America could finally bring the war on terror to an end, and lastly, a highly regarded scientific journal has “retracted a paper based on DNA samples from nearly 38,000 men in China, including Tibetans and Uyghurs who almost certainly did not give proper consent.” Our recommended read of the day is by Sanya Mansoor for Time on a new book by Rutgers law professor Sahar Aziz that looks at the racialization of Muslims, and how “many American politicians and institutions have perpetuated a narrative that Islam is not a religion, and thus doesn’t deserve such protections.” This and more below:

United States

14 Dec 2021

The Troubling Consequences of Seeing Muslims as a Racial Group | Recommended Read

How can a country supposedly founded on principles of religious freedom be so quick to support policies that violate the civil rights of Muslims? That’s one of the questions at the heart of a new book, The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom, by Rutgers law professor Sahar Aziz. The Racial Muslim proposes an answer: that some American politicians and institutions have perpetuated a narrative that Islam is not a religion, and thus doesn’t deserve such protections. In this view, Islam is instead a political ideology, and Muslims—in reality worshippers from diverse racial backgrounds—are viewed as a racial group, subject to racist discrimination. This phenomenon is different from religious bigotry, which tends to focus on theological arguments about why a particular set of beliefs is wrong, the book argues; here, Aziz sees a situation in which Muslims as a group are assigned a set of negative traits, such as the false notions that they are inherently untrustworthy, uncivilized and violent. Aziz spoke with TIME about the historical roots of Islamophobia in the U.S., the effects of viewing Muslims as a “suspect race” and the significance of the hateful comments recently made by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

Islamophobia in America’s Democratic Party

What was once whispered about Muslims and people of colour in the dark shadows of the Internet is now yelled by elected Republican officials in the chambers of the United States Congress, where their Muslim counterparts are nicknamed the “Jihad squad” and Islamophobic tropes are inserted into every day political discourse. Last month, Lauren Boebert (R-CO) joked in front of a room full of voters that she shared an elevator with American Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MI), and that when a DC Capitol police officer came running towards them, she told the officer, “She doesn’t have a backpack, we should be OK”. Less known and almost totally ignored by the mainstream political news media is the way in which Islamophobia and white supremacy permeates quietly but perniciously within the Democratic Party. When I asked Shahid Buttar, a Muslim immigrant and lawyer to compare the two major political parties, he said, “anti-Muslim bigotry within the Democratic Party is at least as severe as within the GOP, and arguably even worse”. “No doubt, Lauren Boebert’s joke was incredibly offensive by insinuating a smear that Muslims are threats to national security. By comparison, however, tropes about the misogyny of Muslim men may appear less hatefully damaging, but they rely equally on stereotypes cast about the same community,” says Buttar, who claims the Democratic Party weaponizes Islamophobia against Muslims who challenge the party’s elites." Buttar is not alone in accusing the Democratic Party of ingrained racism and Islamophobia, with Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim American congresswoman from Michigan, accusing her own party of doing little or nothing to protect the country’s three Muslim lawmakers from Islamophobic attacks and smears, saying, “I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party”. read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

We Know Republicans Hate Muslims. Do Democrats Care?

“F*ck them Muslims.” That’s pretty much how I and many other Muslims believe our elected officials, including many Democrats, feel about 4 million of their fellow Americans. The relative inaction over the latest anti-Muslim hate directed against Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar yet again reveals that 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks, Islamophobia remains the last refuge and safe space for bigots. Nancy Pelosi again wants to punt the responsibility to Republican leadership to police the extremists in their own party, which its “leaders” have shown no sign of doing. Democrats are also reportedly leery of giving a greater spotlight to Greene and Boebert in the course of punishing them. But they already have the spotlight, and Greene, Boebert, and their fellow hate squad members are already the base of the ever more radicalized Republican party crusading for the right of a white Christian minority to rule. So Democratic leadership, with its usual courage, haven’t formally done anything about Boebert’s hateful attack. Instead, they are expected to vote next Tuesday on a bill authored by Omar that would create a special envoy within the State Department to monitor the rise of anti-Muslim incidents at home and abroad and combat Islamophobia. Boebert’s GOP colleagues, naturally, responded with mockery and contempt. Muslims, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat, expect their elected officials to fight back and defend them as hate crimes against Muslim women in hijab have not only increased but seem to be mainstreamed by the conservative movement. Still, we aren’t surprised by their inaction. We haven’t forgotten that Chuck Schumer fulsomely praised retiring congressman Peter King in 2019 without ever once mentioning his horrible anti-Muslim bigotry, conspiracy theories, and role in spearheading divisive hearings on the supposed radicalization of Muslim Americans. If Omar had similar hateful things against Boebert and Greene, focusing entirely on their religion, would the response be so muted and neutered? Of course not. Both Democrats and Republicans wouldn’t hesitate to strip Omar of her assignments. read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

Why are Democrats so afraid of Lauren Boebert?

Despite calls from progressives, many House Democrats are cagey about punishing Rep Lauren Boebert after sanctions against two like-minded demagogic right-wing members of Congress. On Wednesday, a host of progressive Democrats led by Rep Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts – and including Rep Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Jimmy Gomez of California, Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – called for a resolution to strip the Colorado Republican of her committee assignments. “Words have consequences,” Ms Pressley said at a press conference. “We must acknowledge that and respond with action.” Ms Boebert’s remarks came after the House censured Rep Paul Gosar and stripped him of his committee assignments after he tweeted an anime video with his head doctored onto a character who kills a character with Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s head. Similarly, the House stripped Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene for her inflammatory rhetoric. But despite Ms Omar saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her that there would be swift action, Ms Pelosi has laid the blame at the feet of Republicans for failing to hold the most extreme elements of their caucus accountable. “It’s their responsibility to deal with their people,” she said Wednesday. “How we deal with addressing the fear they have instilled with their Islamophobia and the rest is something that hopefully we can do in a bipartisan way. But the responsibility is on them.” Over the weekend, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told Axios that it was Republicans’ responsibility to strip Ms Boebert of her colleagues. read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

Americans spent 20 years forgetting Afghanistan. I didn’t have that luxury.

As a history professor specializing in the Middle East and Islam, I always start my lessons on Afghanistan the same way. I ask my students: What is the longest foreign war in U.S. history? Their guesses include the war in Vietnam, World War II — even, inexplicably, the American Civil War — but not once has a student mentioned the 20-year campaign in Afghanistan that finally ended, in tumultuous fashion, this past summer. It’s not their fault. Despite the tens of thousands of lives lost and billions spent over the two-decade war in Afghanistan, our country has had a way of collectively forgetting about it. From the spasm of coverage in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to the wall-to-wall coverage this summer of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, most Americans’ awareness of Afghanistan has happened in bursts of remembering and forgetting. As a child of refugees from Afghanistan, I never had the luxury of forgetting. My journey was shaped by a commitment to remember what other people forgot. Afghanistan faded from the public memory. It would pop up in the headlines when tragedy struck or during election season, but it faded into the background like a dull hum. When you listened for it, you could hear it, but otherwise life went on. For those with loved ones in Afghanistan, though, the war was a constant. For us, every phone call with relatives lingered around the latest bomb or drone strike. My cousins and other family members experienced 20 years of turmoil, caught between Taliban bombs on one hand and American drones on the other. Whenever I talked to them, I could hear the exhaustion in their voices. Every Afghan American I know has lost a family member or friend. The war became part of who we were and even shaped our career trajectories. Afghan friends became immigration attorneys and activists. I became a historian. read the complete article


14 Dec 2021

As Olympics open, Uyghurs set to take rights case to court

China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority could come before the courts in Argentina at about the same time that the Winter Olympics open on Feb. 4 in Beijing. Michael Polak, a British lawyer representing the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project, is preparing a “universal jurisdiction criminal complaint” to submit to the criminal courts of Argentina in February. Last week, an unofficial body set up in Britain to assess evidence on China’s alleged rights abuses against the Uyghur people concluded that the Chinese government committed genocide and crimes against humanity. Additionally, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to soon release a report on human rights in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China In a statement, the U.N. said it had “similarly identified patterns of arbitrary detention, coercive labor practices and an erosion of social and cultural rights.” It also said it had been unable to gain “unfettered access” to the region. Argentina agreed last month to hear a case against the Myanmar military involving the treatment of the minority Rohingya under the principle of “universal jurisdiction.” This principle holds that severe crimes can be tried in any jurisdiction. “There are universal jurisdiction provisions in different jurisdictions around the world," Polak said. "But the Argentinian one is the most realistic because the courts are actually able to use it. And they are very keen on using it because of their own history. Realistically, the aim would be to bring these people before the Argentinian courts and for them to answer the allegations.” read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

House, Senate Near Agreement on Uyghur Bill Aimed at China

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are close to agreement on legislation aimed at punishing China for the alleged oppression of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, according to two people familiar with the discussions. A deal would set up a potential vote on the legislation before the end of the year if Senate committees sign off and the measure can be squeezed into the schedule. Versions of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act have passed in the House and Senate, and lawmakers in both chambers have been working to iron out differences. The House-passed version would require the U.S Department of Homeland Security to create a list of entities that collaborate with the Chinese government in the repression of the Uyghurs, a predominately Muslim ethnic minority as well as other groups. It also contains a “rebuttable presumption” that assumes all goods were made with forced labor unless the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection gives an exception. read the complete article

14 Dec 2021


A HIGHLY REGARDED scientific journal has retracted a paper based on DNA samples from nearly 38,000 men in China, including Tibetans and Uyghurs who almost certainly did not give proper consent. The rare retraction by the journal, Human Genetics, follows a two-year crusade by a Belgian scientist to push publishers to investigate research that he and others say is complicit in human rights violations. The paper’s authors used DNA samples from across China to assess genetic variation among and within ethnic groups. The journal’s editors retracted the paper because of doubts about the informed consent process. According to a retraction notice published December 11, three authors, including the two lead authors, agreed to withdraw the paper. Human Genetics is published by Springer Nature, which retracted two other papers for similar reasons in August and September. At least nine of the paper’s 30 co-authors are affiliated with Chinese police departments or police academies, and several others are affiliated with forensic science departments at Chinese universities. Researchers are often given co-author slots in exchange for collecting samples and data, said Moreau, making it likely that at least some of the Chinese samples were collected by police. China’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees police across China, has been building out a national DNA database, over the objections of human rights activists. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has interned Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in cruel camps and forced them into labor. Authorities have collected DNA from nearly all residents of Xinjiang and Tibet as part of a broader surveillance program. Elsewhere in the country, they have collected samples from “focus groups,” including people with mental illnesses. They have also targeted DNA from men across the country using an efficient and powerful technique focused on the unique sequences that occur on the Y, or male, chromosome. By gathering so-called Y-STR data from just a portion of men, police can build out family trees for a much larger swath of the male population. read the complete article

14 Dec 2021

Here’s How We End America’s Forever Wars

But beyond expectations of continued violence in Afghanistan, there was an even greater obstacle to officially ending the war there: the fact that it was part of a never-ending, far larger conflict originally called the Global War on Terror (in caps), then the plain-old lower-cased war on terror, and finally—as public opinion here soured on it—America’s “forever wars.” As we face the future, it’s time to finally focus on ending, formally and in every other way, that disastrous larger war. It’s time to acknowledge in the most concrete ways imaginable that the post-9/11 war on terror, of which the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan was the opening salvo, warrants a final sunset. Nonetheless, the place where the war on terror truly needs to end is right here in this country. From the beginning, its scope, as defined in Washington, was arguably limitless, and the extralegal institutions it helped create, as well as its numerous departures from the rule of law, would prove disastrous for this country. In other words, it’s time for America to withdraw not just from Afghanistan (or Iraq or Syria or Somalia) but, metaphorically speaking at least, from this country, too. It’s time for the war on terror to truly come to an end. With that goal in mind, three developments (Repeal 2001 AUMF, Close Gitmo, Redefine the threat) could signal that its time has possibly come, even if no formal declaration of such an end is ever made. In all three areas, there have recently been signs of progress (though, sadly, regress as well). read the complete article


14 Dec 2021

Outrage as Quebec teacher removed from classroom for wearing hijab

The removal of a Canadian teacher for wearing a hijab in the classroom has sparked widespread condemnation of a controversial law in the province of Quebec, which critics say unfairly targets ethnic minorities under the pretext of secularism. Fatemeh Anvari, a third-grade teacher in the town of Chelsea, was told earlier this month that she would no longer be allowed to continue in the role because her headwear ran afoul of Bill 21, a law passed in 2019. Under the measure, public servants in “positions of authority” – including police officers, lawyers, judges, bus drivers, doctors, social workers and teachers – are barred from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, kippahs and hijabs. But the law has an outsized impact on Muslim women and in schools in the province, where 74.5% of teachers are women. “This is not about my article of clothing. This is a bigger issue … I don’t want this to be a personal thing because that won’t do any good to anyone,” Anvari told CTV News. “I want this to be something in which we all think about how big decisions affect other lives.” Anvari’s dismissal has prompted protests at her school, where students and staff put up green ribbons and posters in support of her. The decision to remove Anvari from the classroom, and to reassign her to a literacy project on diversity and inclusion, has also led to frustration from federal politicians. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Dec 2021 Edition


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