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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24 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Middle East Eye features an interview with Jawad Rabbani, the 18-year-old son of Ahmed Rabbani, who the U.S. has imprisoned without charge in Guantanamo for 18 years, meanwhile in Canada, Naseeha, a mental health hotline based in Mississauga, Ontario, has seen a substantial increase in the number of calls it received, specifically from Quebec where its seen and 800% increase in volume, and in the United States, President Biden has signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure that goods made with forced labor from Xinjiang do not enter the United States market. Our recommended read of the day is by the AFP on the restricted number of prayer spaces for Indian Muslims in the city of Gurgaon, and the growing anti-Muslim hostility from Hindu nationalist forces who have “sprayed cow dung at Islamic prayer sites and called worshippers terrorists.” This and more below:


24 Dec 2021

No place to pray: Muslim worshippers under pressure in India | Recommended Read

Dinesh Bharti drives around with other activists on Fridays heckling and harassing Muslims praying outside in Gurgaon, the latest flashpoint of sectarian tensions under India's Hindu nationalist government. Muslims praying in the open "create problems in the country and the entire world," the thickset Hindu man in his 40s said, a red tilak on his forehead marking him out as a devout member of India's majority religion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election in 2014 emboldened hardline groups who see India as a Hindu nation and its 200 million-strong Muslim minority as potentially dangerous outsiders. Gurgaon is a modern satellite city of the capital New Delhi. Around 500,000 Muslims either live there, have migrated to the area for work or labour there during the day. The city has 15 mosques for them, but the local government has refused permission to build more -- even as the number of Hindu temples has grown. This has forced the community to hold Friday afternoon prayers -- the most important of the week for Muslims -- in open spaces. In recent years, Hindu groups have sprayed cow dung at Islamic prayer sites and called worshippers terrorists and Pakistanis -- referencing India's Muslim-majority neighbour and arch-rival. The local government, meanwhile, has steadily cut the number of approved outdoor worship sites. Earlier this month, the Haryana state chief minister, a member of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, declared that outdoor prayers in Gurgaon "will no longer be tolerated". Undermining their argument that religion can be practised only indoors, Hindu groups celebrated last Friday by setting up a makeshift temple and community kitchen to feed hundreds as devotional music blared. read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Haridwar: Police case after outrage over anti-Muslim hate speech

Police in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand have registered a case after a meeting of Hindu leaders called for violence against Muslims. Videos from the meeting showing provocative speeches by Hindu religious leaders went viral earlier this week, sparking outrage. The event took place in the holy town of Haridwar between 17 and 19 December. But the police said they did not open a case until Thursday because there were no official complaints before that. There have been no arrests yet, and the police case only mentions one man by name - Waseem Rizvi, a Muslim who says he has converted to Hinduism and is now known as Jitendra Narayan Tyagi. Police said that a case had been registered against Mr Tyagi and unnamed "others" under charges of "promoting hatred between religious groups". Social media users, however, have identified many of the speakers in the videos who are important religious leaders often seen in the company of ministers and members from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article


24 Dec 2021

Canadian medical journal to retract letter calling hijabs 'an instrument of oppression'

The interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Thursday said the publication is formally retracting a letter it ran about hijabs that many have slammed as Islamophobic. Kirsten Patrick's announcement comes days after she posted on Twitter, apologizing for the letter, which called the religious head scarf "an instrument of oppression." "I sincerely apologize on behalf of the CMAJ for my error in publishing the letter," Patrick said in a statement on Thursday. "I take full responsibility for the inadequacy of editorial process." The letter in question, written by pediatric surgeon Dr. Sherif Emil and published on Monday, argued that a recent CMAJ cover that featured a young girl in a hijab was misguided, and that it perpetuated an often traumatic and harmful practice. read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Ontario-based Muslim youth help line sees 'unprecedented' rise in callers from Quebec

Over the last year, Naseeha, a mental health hotline based in Mississauga, Ont., has seen a substantial increase in the number of calls it received. Even more substantial has been the growth in calls received from people in Quebec, according to the organization’s executive director, Muhsin Kermalli. In a statement recently shared on Twitter, Naseeha said these calls involve people experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. Since its launch in 2006, Kermalli said the organization has never seen so many calls coming from Quebec in a single year. Naseeha is now ringing the alarm bells over what it believes is the beginning of a “mental health catastrophe.” “Overall, our volume has gone up about three [times] in the last year…which is unprecedented for us,” Kermalli told in a phone interview on Tuesday. “But specifically with Quebec, we've seen an 800 per cent increase in volume.” The rise in calls takes place in the same year that four Muslim family members were killed in London, Ont., in what police described as a targeted attack and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a terrorist attack. Kermalli noted that several Quebec callers who reached out to Naseeha this year specifically mentioned the London attack when explaining their anxiety to counsellors. Kermalli pointed to the more recent incident involving an elementary school teacher who was removed from her classroom for wearing a hijab due to Quebec’s Bill 21. The legislation bans the wearing of religious symbols by certain government employees considered to be in positions of authority while at work. The province’s premier, Francois Legault, has defended the bill saying it was voted on democratically and “supported by the majority of Quebecers.” While the classroom incident happened earlier this month, Kermalli said the organization has continued to hear from callers anxious about the legislation since it was first implemented in 2019. He explained that concerns around the bill’s impact, coupled with anxiety surrounding the London attack and loneliness as a result of the ongoing pandemic, are all contributing to the feelings of depression and isolation that many of Naseeha’s callers are saying they experience. read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Quebec's Bill 21: Islamophobia dressed up as secularism

Leading politicians fell over one another to express their support for this Islamophobic attack. “We’re proud to say we live in a secular society,” declared Christopher Skeete of the governing party, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). He also tweeted, quite preposterously, that ‘No one ‘removed’ a teacher for wearing a headscarf. A person wearing a religious symbol (2 yrs after a secularism bill was passed) was asked to remove a religious symbol and refused to do so.’ ‘The reason this teacher doesn't have a job is because she didn't respect the law,’ added Pascal Bérubé, the Parti Québécois’s critic on secularism. A statement issued in 2019 by the Table de Concertation Contre le Racism Systématique (TCRS) sets out a clear and compelling case against this racist legislation. It shows how the claim to advance ‘secularism’ is false and demonstrates how, far from ensuring ‘the State acts in a neutral manner towards all, not favouring or disadvantaging them according to their beliefs,’ Bill 21 ‘institutionalizes discrimination against people who are in the vast majority racialized and, in addition, often women.’ The statement goes on to condemn the measure for ‘denying many people access to employment or preventing them from thriving in their workplace, thus reinforcing the economic and social precariousness that religious minorities already experience.’ Very correctly, it suggests that the bill also contributes to ‘an increase in intolerance towards religious minorities in Quebec and in several other countries around the world,’ with Muslim women as especially frequent targets in this regard. Though it can’t be stressed enough that racism and Islamophobia are not particular to Quebec, as commentators in other parts of the Canadian state often imply, the utter hypocrisy that drives the ‘secularism’ in this legislation could hardly be more obvious. As TCRS points out, Bill 21 grants exceptions on enforcement as long as violations of supposed secular values are considered ‘emblematic or toponymical features of Quebec's cultural heritage.' To be sure, Bill 21, though it is enacted in the particular context of Quebec society, is a manifestation of an international wave of racism and Islamophobic bigotry that has intensified in recent years. In country after country, this has taken the form of the promotion of a distorted concept of ‘secular values.’ Linked to both the US-led war on terror and the racist targeting of immigrant communities in Western countries. Islamophobia has been seized upon by mainstream politicians moving closer to the embrace of overt racism and it has become a potent rallying call for the growing forces of the far right. read the complete article

United States

24 Dec 2021

'A renewed sense of purpose': CAIR-Ohio continues work after betrayal of former director

Amina Barhumi describes the betrayal by her former boss as a punch to the gut. The acting executive director of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio), said finding out that former executive director Romin Iqbal had been spying for years on the organization for an anti-Muslim group was a shock to her, but it won't stop her from doing the work she or others at CAIR-Ohio believe in. "An attack on us is not just an attack on CAIR-Ohio. It's an attack on our work to protect Muslims. It's an attack on the work ... we do to defend Muslims. And it's an attack on our work to empower Muslims." Now that the initial shock of the news of Iqbal's efforts to spy on the Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization has passed, Barhumi said it served as a wake-up call for the staff. "I came to the organization, as others in my staff and our staff and team have, with really the purpose to be able to fight this kind of anti-Muslim hatred," she said. "We will make sure that our work is even more effective. There's just a renewed sense of purpose, I think, particularly in combating and being on the offense when it comes to anti-Muslim discrimination." There is a focus right now on sharing as much information as possible with people and being available to the community for questions in order to build trust, Barhumi said. They are listening to people's questions and working to be as transparent as possible, but, Barhumi said, "there are obviously more questions than answers, even for us." read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Another Judge Quits Guantánamo Case

A Marine judge presiding at a war crimes trial at Guantánamo Bay stepped down on Thursday because he was offered a fellowship at the F.B.I., the latest personnel change in what has become a revolving door at the court. Lt. Col. Michael D. Zimmerman was the fourth judge to preside over the case of Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, 61, who was arraigned in 2014. Mr. Hadi is accused of commanding Taliban and Qaeda fighters who committed war crimes by targeting troops and civilians with suicide bombings and roadside explosives devices and by firing on medical evacuation helicopters in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004. Colonel Zimmerman’s departure illustrates a key problem that has bedeviled the hybrid military-civilian court that President George W. Bush established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Unlike federal judges, who are given lifetime appointments, military judges generally serve for a few years at military commissions and then move on to other legal roles or retire, creating delays and disrupting continuity in cases. The Sept. 11 trial has had four judges sit at Guantánamo in nearly a decade, and three military judges handled the cases administratively from afar during the coronavirus pandemic. The Saudi prisoner who is accused of plotting the suicide bombing in 2000 of the Navy destroyer Cole has had four judges in a decade. The case of the Qaeda courier Majid Khan involved four judges from guilty plea to jury sentence. The revolving nature of the military commission judiciary has also created conflict of interest challenges in instances when judges or their staff members secretly sought post-service positions at the Justice Department, which sends prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to the Guantánamo cases. read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Family torn apart by Guantanamo: 'I have never seen my dad'

Jawad Rabbani was born a few months after his father Ahmed Rabbani was mistaken for a terrorist, arrested and transferred to Guantanamo Bay. For 16 years, he knew very little about why his father was tortured and detained. read the complete article


24 Dec 2021

The Combating Islamophobia Act: On Hate Crimes And ‘Irrational Fears’

The result of a vote, on December 14, in the US House of Representatives regarding the combating of Islamophobia, may, possibly, appear to be a positive sign of change, that Washington is finally confronting this socio-political evil. However, conclusions must not be too hasty. The resolution - ‘Combating International Islamophobia Act' - merely called for establishing the position of a “Special Envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia”. Arguably, HR 5665 would have not passed, were it not for the embarrassing episode last September, when Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado mouthed off such obscene and racist language, in which she suggested that Rep. Omar was a terrorist. The fact that Boebert would make such racist references publicly, while being aware of the particular cultural sensitivity that exists in her country at the moment, speaks volumes about the complete disregard that many Americans, whether in power, in the media or on the street, have towards their fellow US Muslim citizens. Whether HR 5665 would prove decisive in condemning Islamophobia or holding Islamophobes accountable, is a different story. Hence, we must not hesitate to confront the term itself, the misleading reference that what Muslims in the US and throughout the world are experiencing is some kind of a pathological phenomenon, that of fear, itself instigated, as some suggest, by Muslims themselves. Anti-Muslims are outright racists. Though Islam is a religion, in the mind of these racists, Islam is affiliated with brown and black-skinned people and, therefore, the hate of Islam and Muslims is part of the anti-black racism that continues to define many parts of the world, especially the US and Europe. The US is not the only Western country where Anti-Muslim bias and hate crimes are on the rise. Canada, too, which has witnessed the horrific January 2017 attack on the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec – in which six Muslims were killed and 19 others wounded - is equally culpable. According to a report by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in September, Anti-Muslim incidents in Canada are growing exponentially. Fatema Abdalla, NCCM’s communication coordinator, described Anti-Muslim hate in Canada as “systemic”. “Not only is it growing, but it’s also evolving,” she told Global News, following the release of the report. Similarly, in the UK and the rest of Europe, Anti-Muslim bias and hate crimes were reported, based on extensive studies and research as well as experiences of ordinary Muslims on a daily basis. While the vote in Congress to ‘monitor and combat Islamophobia’ is a positive step, the urgency of the situation demands not just symbolic gestures, but the outright criminalization and prosecution of Anti-Muslim hate crimes. read the complete article

24 Dec 2021

Biden Signs The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Into Law

On December 23, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China do not enter the United States market. The law is a direct response to reports of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities being subjected to forced labor and other atrocities, and is to prevent U.S. businesses and consumers from becoming complicit in the atrocities. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department recognized the atrocities against the Uyghurs as genocide and crimes against humanity. Commenting upon the development, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that: “The ongoing genocide perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities is a challenge to the conscience of the entire world, which is why the House twice passed legislation to hold the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] accountable for its exploitation of forced labor and put an end to this horrific practice.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Dec 2021 Edition


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