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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09 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: A day after Rohingya refugees filed a lawsuit against Facebook alleging the company failed to tackle hate speech against the community on its platform, Facebook announced it’s banned all postings linked to Myanmar’s military including all pages, groups, and accounts representing military-controlled businesses, meanwhile in France, Eric Zemmour launched his presidential campaign, stating he wants to “save” France from decades of immigration and liberalism, and lastly a podcast from The Intercept hosts Mansoor Adayfi, a former Guantanamo detainee and author of the memoir “Don’t Forget Us Here,” who details what life is like after being released. Our recommended read of the day is by David Smith for the Guardian on a new documentary by Alex Gibney that focuses on the story of Abu Zubaydah, who the U.S. has detained without charge for nearly 20 years and served as patient zero for the CIA’s torture program. This and more below:

United States

09 Dec 2021

‘It’s soul-crushing’: the shocking story of Guantánamo Bay’s ‘forever prisoner’ | Recommended Read

From “a black site” in Thailand in 2002, CIA officers warned headquarters that their interrogation techniques might result in the death of a prisoner. If that happened, he would be cremated, leaving no trace. But if he survived, could the CIA offer assurance that he would remain in isolation? It could. Abu Zubaydah, the agency said in a cable, “will never be placed in a situation where he has any significant contact with others” and “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life”. So opens The Forever Prisoner, an HBO documentary by Alex Gibney, which tells the story of the first high-value detainee subjected to what the CIA calls enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) and what the rest of the world knows by a simpler, uglier word: torture. Nearly two decades after that dehumanizing cable, the CIA has proved as good as its word. Zubaydah, never charged with a crime or allowed to challenge his detention, is incarcerated at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The election of Joe Biden has done nothing to signal an end to his purgatory or status as a non-person. read the complete article

09 Dec 2021

Why do elected leaders keep getting a pass on anti-Muslim hate?

It should be shocking for a member of Congress to imply that a Muslim colleague is a suicide bomber, but this shameful episode fits into a long history of anti-Muslim hate in our politics. Both anti-Muslim bigotry and antisemitism are weapons aimed at minorities to generate division and fear for political gain. This is a tactic used by those who derive their power by dividing us, which is Boebert’s strategy here. Anti-Muslim hate has existed in American society and politics for centuries, but after 9/11, it was turbocharged and turned into an enduring political weapon. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Rep. Michele Bachmann spread the lie that Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton and an American Muslim, was affiliated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Right-wing broadcaster Glenn Beck asked Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to prove he’s not with “our enemies.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a colleague and ideological ally of Boebert’s, visited the Capitol to try to force Omar and Rep.Rashida Tlaib to re-swear their oaths of office on a Bible instead of a Quran (and has endorsed antisemitic conspiracy theories). These attacks have ramifications outside of politics. The FBI reported that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. skyrocketed to all-time highs immediately after 9/11, when politicians were out in force demonizing Muslims as anti-American terrorists. In the following years, anti-Muslim hate crimes fell before spiking once again in 2015 and 2016 — around the time Donald Trump was running for president. There is a direct line connecting anti-Muslim and antisemitic political attacks to violence. We saw another heartbreaking example of this recently when Omar played a terrifying, profane death threat she received after Boebert’s anti-Muslim tirade made headlines. read the complete article

09 Dec 2021

Dem leaders considering anti-Islamophobia bill to answer Boebert-Omar controversy

Under rising pressure from the left, House Democratic leaders are eyeing several options to respond to Rep. Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar — all of which fall short of progressives' demands. Referring Boebert to the House Ethics Committee or calling up a measure tackling Islamophobia are among the actions being discussed by Democratic leaders to deal with the Colorado conservative, according to three people familiar with the matter. That might not be enough to satisfy progressives, who want their leadership to act and on Wednesday introduced legislation to boot Boebert from her committees. Democratic leaders are in a growing bind over Boebert. They don’t want to let her Islamophobic comments about Omar go unaddressed and have struggled to explain to their members why Boebert’s behavior is different than their quick punishment of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who lost his committees after posting an anime video depicting the killing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Gosar was the second member to be removed from his panels this year, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Democratic leaders are specifically looking a bill drafted by Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) that would create a special envoy within the State Department to monitor and combat Islamophobia worldwide. The bill is expected to soon be marked up in committee. read the complete article

09 Dec 2021

Tlaib offers tearful rebuke to anti-Muslim comments from Boebert

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) provided a tearful rebuke to the recent Islamophobic sentiment on Capitol Hill following Rep. Lauren Boebert's (R-Colo.) incendiary comments likening Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to a violent foreign terrorist. In a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, Tlaib, often choking back tears, said the anti-Muslim speech is inspiring violence in communities with Muslim populations living peaceful lives. “It is hard being a Muslim in our country right now, and this makes it worse,” Tlaib said before turning the heat directly to Boebert. "You called a colleague a suicide bomber. You called her a terrorist," she said. "By saying that, you said it about all Muslims in our country, and you know it. You knew exactly what you were doing. And you have to be held accountable." read the complete article


09 Dec 2021

A Day After Rohingya Refugees Sued Facebook for $150B, the Company Announced Some Changes

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Wednesday it has expanded its ban on postings linked to Myanmar’s military to include all pages, groups, and accounts representing military-controlled businesses. It had already banned advertising from such businesses in February. The February action, which also banned military and military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and Instagram, followed the army’s seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The new action came just a day after a high-profile lawsuit was filed in California against Facebook parent Meta Platforms seeking over $150 billion for the company’s alleged failure to stop hateful posts that incited violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military and its supporters, which crested in 2017. Activists say the military uses the internet to spread disinformation and hate speech. In April, Facebook announced it was “implementing a specific policy for Myanmar to remove praise, support and advocacy of violence by Myanmar security forces and protestors from our platform.” The group Burma Campaign UK, which had sought to get Facebook do more to curb the military’s reach through its platforms, welcomed the move but noted that Facebook had resisted taking down military companies’ pages. “The belated decision to remove military company pages appears more an act of desperation after being sued for $150 billion for being involved in Rohingya genocide than any genuine concern for human rights,” Burma Campaign UK’s director, Mark Farmaner, said in a statement. read the complete article

09 Dec 2021


On Tuesday, with 39 men remaining at Guantánamo Bay, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on closing the infamous military prison. This week on Intercepted: Intercept photo editor Elise Swain breaks down the horrifying story of one Yemeni man after being released from Guantánamo. After 20 years in arbitrary detention, former Guantánamo detainee Abdulqadir al Madhfari was released from a United Arab Emirates prison to his family’s care in Yemen. His freedom lasted less than a week. Suffering the mental impact of long-term detention and torture, al Madhfari fled from his own family and was captured and detained by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Swain discusses the consequences of life after Guantanamo with Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee and author of the memoir “Don’t Forget Us Here.” Mansoor calls for accountability and reparations to the men detained and tortured, describing how his life and those of others now resemble “Guantánamo 2.0.” read the complete article

09 Dec 2021

House Votes to Impose Forced Labor Ban on Goods Made in Xinjiang

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would ban a wide array of imported products made in China’s Xinjiang region, moving over the strong objections of large corporations to crack down on companies sourcing goods produced through forced labor by persecuted Muslim minorities. The lopsided 428-to-1 vote reflected increasing bipartisan ire at China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where officials have waged a campaign of repression against Uyghurs, the Muslim ethnic minority group, detaining as many as one million in internment camps and prisons. But the legislation’s fate is uncertain in the Senate, where similar efforts have stalled amid a fierce lobbying effort by businesses that have argued that the bill’s requirements are too onerous and would disrupt global supply chains. The measure would impose high standards for companies seeking to import products from the region, barring imports of goods made “in whole or in part” in Xinjiang unless companies could proactively prove to customs officials that the products were not made with forced labor. read the complete article


09 Dec 2021

Peel schools can access new education platform to combat Islamophobia

The Muslim of Association of Canada (MAC) has launched an education platform to combat Islamophobia that can be used in Peel schools, and the rest of Ontario. The association, headquartered in Mississauga, received a $225,000 grant in June from the Ontario Ministry of Education as part of the government’s plan to invest in countering Islamophobia and ensuring classrooms are free from discrimination. The impetus to fund the program also became more apparent after the fatal attacks against a Muslim family in London, Ont. read the complete article

09 Dec 2021

Teacher removed from post in Quebec elementary school for wearing a hijab

A teacher employed at an elementary school in Chelsea, Quebec, has been removed from her teaching position because she wears a hijab, CTV News reported Wednesday evening. The Western Quebec School Board confirmed that a Grade 3 teacher at Chelsea Elementary School, located 20 kilometres north of Ottawa, was moved from her job as a teacher in the classroom because of Bill 21, Quebec’s law that bars some civil servants from wearing religious symbols. Parents were sent an email Dec. 3 telling them the teacher would no longer be in the classroom. They learned later that it was because of Bill 21. Parents placed green ribbons on a fence outside the school as a sign of support for the teacher. “It’s shocking as a parent to see this come into action within our small little community,” parent Amanda DeGrace told CTV News. “It’s very sad to me that we’re seeing Bill 21 come into action and the impact that it’s having on everyone involved.” Wayne Daly, the interim chair of the Western Quebec School Board, said the board removed the teacher once the human resources department became aware of the situation. Daly said most residents in his sector of Quebec oppose Bill 21, and the board had told the Quebec government that it was against it “from a human rights perspective” and because it was “unethical,” but the board has no choice because it’s the law. read the complete article


09 Dec 2021

France’s New Far-Right Firebrand

Éric Zemmour launched his candidacy to become the 26th president of France with a mix of nostalgia and searing provocation. The notoriously combative broadcaster appeared in an online video on Nov. 30, replicating Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s June 1940 call to arms. De Gaulle was appealing for resistance against Nazi occupiers during World War II, while Zemmour said he wanted to “save” France from decades of immigration and liberalism. There was no mention of the broadcaster’s own alleged threat to public order—the fact that in November he went on trial for inciting racial hatred after saying of unaccompanied immigrant children that they are “thieves, they’re murderers, they’re rapists, that’s all they are. We must send them back.” The verdict is expected in January. Zemmour made those comments on the CNews television channel, where he has appeared as a full-time commentator on current affairs each weekday evening. He has already been convicted twice for inciting racial and religious hatred. Indeed, spreading the idea of collective guilt is a cornerstone of Zemmour’s venomous discourse. He claims France is being “submerged” by dark-skinned immigrants from Muslim countries, yet he traces his own heritage to a Berber family in what is now the Muslim-majority country of Algeria. Zemmour identifies as Jewish, yet arguably his most despicable deceit is his false theory that the World War II-era French Vichy regime did not collaborate with the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust. Instead, he has portrayed the Vichy government’s head, Marshal Philippe Pétain, as someone who had “protected the French Jews.” His best-known book, The French Suicide, is a study in cataclysmic negativity that frequently drifts into nihilism and alleges that France has been in terminal decline since the 1960s, as it has failed to cope with waves of immigrants who could not be integrated. It also states that the country was catastrophically damaged by student protests and contemporary social movements, including those for sexual liberation, feminism, and gay rights. Yet regardless of this purported national demise, Zemmour is determined to run the country. As an author, Zemmour is well known for rehearsing the details of the culture wars that are a constant source of division in French society. Whether he is debating laïcité—the French brand of secularism—race, identity, or related issues, he does so with a poisonous intensity in front of an audience of millions on primetime TV. Hate sells in France, and an exploitative media is happy to champion rabble-rousers like Zemmour. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Dec 2021 Edition


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