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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05 Dec 2019

Today in Islamophobia: US House approves Uighur Act calling for sanctions on China’s senior officials, as the Senate Finance Committee Chairman requests meeting with World Bank over a $50 million loan to China. Tory Islamophobia continues to be ignored in the UK elections. Our recommended read today is a deep dive on the CIA’s Torture Program, and what it looked like to those tortured. This, and more, below:


United States

05 Dec 2019

Recommended Read | What the C.I.A.’s Torture Program Looked Like to the Tortured

One shows the prisoner nude and strapped to a crude gurney, his entire body clenched as he is waterboarded by an unseen interrogator. Another shows him with his wrists cuffed to bars so high above his head he is forced on to his tiptoes, with a long wound stitched on his left leg and a howl emerging from his open mouth. Yet another depicts a captor smacking his head against a wall. They are sketches drawn in captivity by the Guantánamo Bay prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah, self-portraits of the torture he was subjected to during the four years he was held in secret prisons by the C.I.A. Published here for the first time, they are gritty and highly personal depictions that put flesh, bones and emotion on what until now had sometimes been portrayed in popular culture in sanitized or inaccurate ways: the so-called enhanced interrogations techniques used by the United States in secret overseas prisons during a feverish pursuit of Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In each illustration, Mr. Zubaydah — the first person to be subject to the interrogation program approved by President George W. Bush’s administration — portrays the particular techniques as he says they were used on him at a C.I.A. black site in Thailand in August 2002. read the complete article

Recommended Read
05 Dec 2019

U.S. Congress Doing Right Thing in Passing Xinjiang Bill, Zenz Says

Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who is widely credited with exposing the full extent of China's mass detentions of adult Muslims in Xinjiang, talks about the U.S. House of Representatives' approval of legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Muslim minorities. Zenz speaks with Selina Wang, Yvonne Man and David Ingles on "Bloomberg Markets: China Open." read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

The attacks on Ilhan Omar reveal a disturbing truth about racism in America

While many progressives and proponents of diversity celebrated Omar’s victory, it has also brought to the surface a dark underbelly of American culture. A Muslim, a black woman, and a refugee, she faces Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and anti-immigration strains in American culture, and putting that confluence of hate under the microscope is truly disturbing. Omar has been in office for less than a year, and there are countless examples of vitriol and attacks against her — from the public, from her opponents, and even from the White House. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

Trial set for man charged with threatening Muslim candidate

A federal trial is scheduled to begin Thursday for a North Carolina man charged with anonymously threatening to lynch a Muslim-American man campaigning for a state Senate seat in Virginia. Court records say jury selection for Joseph Cecil Vandevere’s trial is set to get underway Thursday morning in Asheville, North Carolina. Vandevere was charged in June with interstate communication of a threat to injure a person in connection with a tweet directed at Qasim Rashid. The tweet included a picture of a lynching and read, “VIEW YOUR DESTINY.” read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

Charges: Man's anti-Muslim bias fuels violent tirade outside Bloomington apartments

A Burnsville man went on a violent and racially fueled tirade, breaking out the window on a car owned by a Muslim man outside a Bloomington apartment building and uttering a racial slur while threatening to kill a bystander while brandishing a large piece of metal, according to prosecutors. Jason R. Gerardy, 39, was charged last week in Hennepin County District Court with two felonies, making threats of violence and causing more than $1,000 in property damage. Gerardy remains jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail ahead of a court appearance Thursday. Gerardy told the officers he smashed windows on two of his father’s cars after they argued and also broke “some Somalian’s windows” because “he’s a [racial slur] and doesn’t pay taxes,” the complaint quoted him as saying. One of the vehicle owners, a Somali who also is Muslim, said he was “afraid of him” since Gerardy had made comments to others who live in the apartment building that he does not like Muslims. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

George Bush, Barack Obama, and the CIA Torture Cover-up

No story in recent U.S. history illustrates the brutal fallacy of American exceptionalism than the CIA torture program and its cover-up. This week on Intercepted: As Washington D.C. remains focused on the Trump impeachment, Daniel Jones, the former top Senate Intelligence Committee investigator into the CIA torture program discusses the years-long battle with the Bush and Obama administrations to make public the findings of his still-classified 7,000 page report. Jones, the subject of the new feature film, The Report, starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening, discusses his findings. He tells the story of how the CIA, under John Brennan, spied on the Senate investigators and accessed their classified computers. read the complete article

United Kingdom

05 Dec 2019

We honor the victims of mass killings equally. Why can't politicians and the press?

Knife crime represents 39% of all murders in the U.K. and has reached its highest level since the Second World War. In 2019, attacks — typically involving robbery or violent assault — in London have reached a seven-year high. Yet none of these crimes have been international stories, until this weekend when a man named Usman Khan, who was out on parole with a previous terror conviction, stabbed innocent civilians indiscriminately on the London Bridge. The first victim to be lost was an outstanding young man, Jack Merritt, who had been advocating for prison rehabilitation, which would obviously benefit a convict like Khan. But criminals like Khan have no shame or sense of who they victimize in acts of political violence. Nor do politicians like Boris Johnson, currently running to keep his position as prime minister, who, before the victims could even be buried, took out a front page ad to argue that Londoners ought to vote for him to keep themselves safe from terror. Never mind the fact that Merritt’s father asked that the murder of his son not be weaponized for cheap political points, instead hoping that the cause his son worked so passionately for would not be forgotten. But for the press and politicians it is just too tempting and too easy to use this attack to fan the flames of fear that Islam is haunting the West. The only way to save yourselves, they tell the public, is to continue to elect Islamophobic politicians who vow to be your saviors. Here in the United States, major media outlets covered the attack obsessively, unlike any of the other knife attacks that had taken place this year. They also quickly dropped any mention of the knife attack in the Netherlands on the same evening once it was determined that there was no “motive of terror,” which usually ultimately translates into it not being a Muslim perpetrator. Where Islam is not involved, the message goes, there is no need to be alarmed. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

The Perils of Engaging CVE Policy Making: A British Case Study

Academics with expertise in Islamic Studies have much to offer a public arena saturated with prejudiced media coverage, self-styled experts and growing anti-Muslim sentiment. However, making interventions in the mainstream can come at a price if individuals become targeted by well-funded interest groups. This politicization of the field can also force scholars to make the difficult decision of whether or not to engage with governments in case they are labelled as Islamophiles or “Islam sympathisers.” For those of us working on the subject of countering violent extremism (CVE), this can hold professional and personal risks when researching within our communities, such as the accusation of colluding with state power or benefitting financially from the “radicalization industry.” This dilemma impacted me personally, as one of the academics invited to write a paper for the UK government Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE). In this brief essay, I provide an account of my interactions with the CCE and outline the factors that ultimately led to my work being excluded from publication. The incident illustrates the pitfalls and unspoken rules by which CVE functions in Britain and highlights the influence of an overlapping network of interest groups and institutions that frame narratives about the threat of violent radicalization and narrow rules of engagement. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

Open letter: Tory Islamophobia has been ignored in this election

We should hold the Conservative Party, our government for the last decade, to a high standard. All serious and repeated allegations of Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-black racism should be taken seriously. Yet, it was not asked during the ITV debate, and while Boris Johnson was challenged on Channel 4 it has not received a sustained and thorough level of criticism via broadcast news or the influential pages of our national newspapers. We cannot allow Boris Johnson to pull the rug on the inquiry into Islamophobia and racism within his party, and not be brought under public scrutiny. It is incredibly disingenuous to allow the Conservatives to masquerade as an anti-racist party without making any substantial commitments to minority communities to improve the current climate of racism. Both former and current Tory councillors have been suspended after they were exposed for sharing extremely racist and Islamophobic content online. Some of this included a call to ban mosques, using terms such as “Islamist rape gangs” and “Somali scum” as well as expressing support for fringe far-right hate preachers like Tommy Robinson and Pamela Gellar. Yet the dozen or so Tory councillors suspended earlier this year were reinstated almost right away, and allegedly only had to attend a one-day “diversity training” session, issue an apology to a local Muslim leader, or simply do nothing. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

Ashville FC: Non-league club probed over 'anti-Muslim' email

A football club is being investigated over an email which told a charity it would only work with it if it had "nothing to do with Muslims". International Learning Movement, which provides overseas aid, asked Ashville FC in Wirral if it could collect money outside the ground on match days. A reply from the club's email read: "We are interested as long as it has nothing to do with Muslims." Cheshire FA confirmed it was investigating. The Blackburn-based charity described the email, which has been seen by the BBC, as a "direct form of discrimination". One of its members, Kurt Davies, said it was "disgusting" and the person who had approached the club in the first place was a Muslim and "very upset and shocked" by the response. read the complete article


05 Dec 2019

Beijing’s attack on Uighurs isn’t counterterrorism

“China’s repressive campaign in Xinjiang is not about terrorism,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said at a meeting of Central Asian states during the United Nations General Assembly in September. It’s “about China’s attempt to erase its own citizens’ Muslim faith and culture.” That same week, the Chinese ambassador claimed that the camps constitute useful experiments in preventive counterterrorism. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan flatly rejected China’s claims, saying the idea that the Chinese government is carrying out counterterrorism is a “false narrative.” Uighur Muslims “can be detained for simply possessing books on religion and Uighur culture, reciting the Quran at a funeral, or even wearing clothing with the Muslim crescent,” he said. “What China is doing is not counterterrorism,” Sam Brownback, ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the State Department, and State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said in an essay in May. “It is ugly repression, on a mass scale.” read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

How the center-right co-opts the far-right in Austria

The various country cases discussed in this project show the extent to which right-wing populist parties have shaped and radicalized the discourse on Islam and Muslims in European societies. In contrast to the United States, with its de facto two-party system, the multiparty systems in Europe afford smaller and niche parties greater opportunities to engage in agenda setting and influencing larger parties. This happened with radical right and right-wing populist parties, which, once marginal, have grown their support and can now often act as agenda setters in national politics. This is especially salient in countries where such parties are part of governing coalitions, as has been the case in Denmark, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and Austria. In contrast to Western Europe, in Hungary and Poland mainstream right parties have basically transformed themselves into radical right populist parties. But this radicalization process was not the result of niche party influence; rather, it was due to ideological shifts and voter seeking strategies of the governing parties themselves. The Austrian case is instructive because the governing People’s Party (ÖVP) under the leadership of 33-year-old Sebastian Kurz has started co-opting the anti-Muslim (and anti-immigration) agenda of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). Here, we have a nominally centrist-right rather than a radical right-wing party (like the League in Italy), which plays a central role in the implementation of anti-Muslim positions. It is thus important to understand how these policy claims have been popularized and subsequently implemented through legislation and other measures such as shutting down mosques, banning facial covering in public, and issuing a headscarf ban in kindergartens. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

US House approves Uighur Act calling for sanctions on China's senior officials

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would require the Trump administration to toughen its response to China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang, drawing swift condemnation from Beijing. The Uighur Act of 2019 is a stronger version of a bill that angered Beijing when it passed the Senate in September. It calls on the president, Donald Trump, to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China’s powerful politburo even as he seeks a trade deal with Beijing. Last week Trump signed into law legislation supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong despite angry objections from China. The Uighur bill, which passed by 407-1 in the Democratic-controlled House, requires the president to condemn abuses against Muslims and call for the closure of mass detention camps in the north-western region of Xinjiang. It calls for sanctions against senior Chinese officials who it says are responsible and specifically names the Xinjiang Communist party secretary, Chen Quanguo, who as a politburo member is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership. China’s foreign ministry said the bill was “arrogantly discrediting China’s efforts to combat terrorism” and seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs. In a statement, it said the situation in Xinjiang was “not a human rights, nationality, or religion issue at all, but an issue of anti-terrorism and anti-secession”. read the complete article


05 Dec 2019

Grassley questions World Bank on Xinjiang loan

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has requested a meeting with the World Bank over a $50 million loan approved for China's Xinjiang region, where upwards of one million ethnic minorities have been detained, in a letter obtained exclusively by Axios. read the complete article

05 Dec 2019

Wanted: Chinese cadres to hold Beijing’s line in Xinjiang as Han Chinese head for the exits amid international furore over Uygur internment camps

The measures targeting Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang have triggered “widespread discontent among Han Chinese officials and citizens”, a source close to the central government told the South China Morning Post. The source said Chinese President Xi Jinping was aware of the problem because he had been briefed by the country’s chief Xinjiang policy coordinator, Wang Yang. “[Wang has] said in his briefings that even the Han people are deeply dissatisfied,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Life is harsh [in Xinjiang] even for cadres. Officials are exhausted as nobody is allowed days off [even after working for weeks].” These reports come as China faces increasing pressure to allow international monitors into the internment camps. That’s especially since news outlets in November published reports based on the so-called China cables, or a leak of classified documents that indicate the camps were set up as forced indoctrination centres. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Dec 2019 Edition


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