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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02 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Carol Hefner, a far right candidate for mayor in Oklahoma City has been spewing hateful and dangerous rhetoric regarding Islam, stating in a debate last week that she wants to “get rid” of the religion entirely, meanwhile Muslim women around the world marked World Hijab Day and spoke about their relationship with the hijab and the impact it has on their life, and in Norway, a court ruled that far-right attacker Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, must remain in prison, saying there remains “an obvious risk” he could return to behavior that led up to the massacre. Our recommended read of the day is by Amy Woodyatt, Nada Bashir and Dalal Mawad for CNN on France’s new proposed hijab ban in competitive sports, which could have a devastating impact on Muslim women. This and more below:


02 Feb 2022

French lawmakers have proposed a hijab ban in competitive sports. The impact on women could be devastating. | Recommended Read

The French senate in January voted 160 to 143 to ban the wearing of the hijab and other "ostensible religious symbols" in sports competitions following a proposed amendment from Les Républicains, a right wing party who argued that headscarves can risk the safety of athletes wearing them. Les Républicains Senator Jaqueline Eustache-Brinio said that the French government must have the "courage" to resist what she described as the "Islamist grip" on the country -- something her party believes has taken hold in both sport and education. "We must have the courage, wherever possible to do so, to preserve the unity and cohesion of the Republic," she told RMC, radio partner of CNN affiliate BFMTV. Muslim women in France already face restrictions on what they can wear in certain places. The full Islamic veil (burqa and niqab) has been banned from public places -- including streets, public transport, shops, hospitals, and cinemas -- in France since April 2021, following a law prohibiting the concealment of the face in the public space. The French Football Federation already bans women from wearing the hijab in official matches and competitions -- despite FIFA sanctioning the wearing of them in 2014 after a seven-year ban. On Monday, the senate conceded that bitter disagreement amongst lawmakers over the proposed ban would prevent the bill from being passed in its current state. It expressed "regret" over the government's "lack of will" to put a stop to what they described as the "development of Islamism in sport." The law will now be revised by the National Assembly, which is expected to have the final word. Critics of the bill say that far from maintaining neutrality in sports, ongoing discussions surrounding Muslim dress and so-called claims of women's emancipation and integration in French society are simply "gendered Islamophobia." read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

French Muslim women campaign against sports hijab ban

French Muslim athletes are campaigning against the proposed bill to ban the hijab in sports competitions. The #LetUsPlay campaign aims to put pressure on French senators not to pass the controversial bill, and is celebrating initial success. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

Vogue France praising Julia Fox’s headscarf is an insult to Muslim women

The social media post casually celebrating a headscarf not worn by a Muslim woman was grating because it proves that any commitment to create space for Muslim women is performative at best – and as with many other industries, has led to hollow representation for our community. This is an industry that is not committed to actually making Muslim women’s lives better in any way, or allowing them a voice – yet is still profiteering from them and their images. The real appeal for the fashion industry when it comes to Muslims is the global Muslim pound or dollar. “Yes, the headscarf” was not a political revolt by the people at Vogue France, it was proof of an industry willing to continue being ignorant to the real lives of Muslim women. It feels like the fashion industry’s only investment in our lives is the contribution from our pockets – they don’t care about the way Western governments are diminishing our rights. Is it a shock to see a white woman being treated differently? Not at all. France’s war against Muslim women has been persistent: they have had their rights thrown away, bit by bit, and people have largely stood by and let it happen. In 2004, France banned the wearing of hijab in state schools – in 2010 there was a niqab ban in most public spaces which was punishable by fines or citizenship classes. France has institutionalised its islamophobia – singling out Muslim women, separating them and trying to erase their rights to their own bodies. These same rights are sacrosanct for many feminists in the West, but have been made optional when it comes to Muslim women. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

Muslims targeted in two separate attacks in southwestern France

Islamophobic attacks have continued across France with two separate incidents reported last week. A Muslim butcher and grocery store that sells halal products in the southwestern province of Lot-et-Garonne was targeted on Sunday night. Setting the store in Bon-Encontre town on fire, arsonists drew two swastika on the wall. The town fire brigade reported that the store was completely burnt, but no one was harmed. The public prosecutor initiated an investigation on the attack. In the other attack that took place in the southwestern province of Toulouse, a pig head and skin was left in front of an Islamic community centre. Speaking to local media, Abdellatif Mellouki, a Muslim community leader, drew attention to rising Islamophobic attacks across the country. Meanwhile, the European Collective for Struggle against Islamophobia, a non-profit advocacy group, linked the attacks with a TV programme named Zone Interdite that particularly focuses on the alleged threat of radical Islamism. read the complete article

United States

02 Feb 2022

Biden Administration Rejects Use of Testimony Obtained From Torture in Guantánamo Tria

The Biden administration has pledged to no longer invoke statements made by a prisoner during his years in C.I.A. custody in his death-penalty proceedings, repudiating an earlier effort to use evidence obtained from torture in a case at Guantánamo Bay. A 37-page filing submitted Monday night at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the law governing military commission trials at Guantánamo Bay “prohibits the admission of statements obtained through torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment at all phases of a military commission.” The filing, however, did not entirely foreclose the possibility that a future U.S. government might choose to interpret the law that governs military commissions differently, and try to use evidence obtained through torture. Instead, the Justice Department asked the appeals court to step aside and let military judges at Guantánamo Bay decide the question as it comes up. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

Mayoral Candidate Faces Backlash After Saying She Wants to “Eradicate” Islam

A far right candidate for mayor in Oklahoma City has been spewing hateful and dangerous rhetoric regarding Islam, stating in a debate last week that she wants to “get rid” of the religion entirely. Carol Hefner, a conservative businesswoman seeking to unseat current Republican Mayor David Holt, claimed during a debate in January that Islam is inherently “oppressive” and “just like slavery.” “It’s insipid,” Hefner said of Islam. “It should be eradicated from our culture, from our world, [and] unfortunately it has been here since the beginning of time.” (Besides being blatantly Islamophobic, Hefner’s words are also factually inaccurate, as Islam was established in the 7th century CE.) Hefner added that she doesn’t know how she would “get rid” of Islam, but that she “would like to have those conversations.” There are around 30,000 Muslims in the state of Oklahoma — and many of them live in Oklahoma City, the largest municipality in the state and the city that Hefner hopes to lead. Local Muslim leaders spoke out against her hateful rhetoric. “She is talking about 1.9 billion Muslims. When she used the word ‘eradicated’ she is talking about eradicating 1.9 billion Muslims,” said Dr. Imad Enchassi, the Senior Imam for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, adding that Hefner’s comments are “more than problematic” but also “plain dangerous and Islamophobic, to say the least.” After being criticized by community members, Hefner tried to walk back her statements, saying that Soltani and Enchassi “took it personally” and were “looking for a reason not to like my comment.” In spite of video evidence showing the contrary, Hefner claimed that she wasn’t talking about ending Islam in general. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

CAIR, over 80 Muslim organizations call for federal investigation into spies

More than 80 Muslim organizations sent a letter to a the U.S. Justice Department on Monday, urging it to investigate an anti-Muslim organization. The letter, penned by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), asks that the government investigate the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a nonprofit that allegedly paid moles to spy on Muslim organizations, including CAIR, and was working with the Israeli government. It was discovered in December that the now former executive director of CAIR-Ohio, Romin Iqbal, had been working with IPT as a spy for more than 10 years, according to CAIR. CAIR's national office, in Washington D.C., hosted a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon urging the federal government to find out whether IPT broke any laws when it worked with Iqbal to get access to recordings of CAIR meetings, internal emails and strategic plans. CAIR-Ohio said it supports every aspect of the letter. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

NYPD officer facing hate crime charges for anti-Muslim attack on motorist, district attorney's office says

A New York City police officer is facing hate crime charges after he allegedly punched a motorist until he was unconscious while using anti-Muslim slurs, according to the district attorney's office. Riggs Kwong, 50, was off-duty when the incident occurred on January 16, according to a news release from the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Kwong was charged with "third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, third-degree assault, third-degree menacing, second-degree aggravated harassment, falsely reporting an incident and improper use of colored or flashing lights," according to the release. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

Impact of Trump's "Muslim Ban" 5 years later

Five years ago, then President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. While that order has since been reversed under the Biden administration, many families are still feeling the impacts. Rowaida Abdelaziz, an investigative reporter for HuffPost, joined CBS News' Lilia Luciano to discuss. read the complete article

02 Feb 2022

Islamophobia and the Tyranny of Empathy: The Case of 'Jihad Rehab'

This past weekend I got cozy on my living room couch and attended my first screening of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival— the premiere of Meg Smaker’s Jihad Rehab. The film’s hapless title manages to be both inaccurate and offensive—“rehab” refers to an incarceration facility in Saudi Arabia and the casual equation of the word “jihad” with terrorism is offensive to Muslims—and foreshadows the next 108 minutes of the film. The film focuses on four Yemeni men, at least three of whom were teenagers when they were imprisoned by the US military in Guantanamo Bay. After being tortured and held without any judicial process for 15 years, the men are transferred to a prison in Saudi Arabia where they are allegedly rehabilitated by the state. “With empathy and extraordinary access Jihad Rehab is a powerful document,” reads the film’s synopsis. From the very first frame, it is not empathy, but a clear presumption of guilt that imbues the film. I was immediately struck by the filmmaker’s voice, not dissimilar to a military interrogator, as she cross-examines the film’s participants with leading questions, asking again and again about their alleged crimes and attempting to goad them into confessions. She identifies the men in the film with text on screen that emulates a “rap sheet” (the filmmaker’s words), effectively condemning these former child-soldiers—all of whom maintain their innocence throughout the film and their near 20 years of imprisonment—as terrorists. In one scene, a participant is out on a probationary period from the “rehab” prison, and pointedly asks the filmmaker not to film him because of potential endangerment. She callously does so anyway and dramatically scores the scene for the audience’s benefit. Two of the four Yemeni men she begins interviewing drop out before the film ends, visibly disturbed by the filmmaker's patronizing posture. The basic duty of care and ethical responsibility a documentarian is expected to have with their participants is dangerously lacking. read the complete article


02 Feb 2022

‘We’re not oppressed’: Canadians unite to mark World Hijab Day

As a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, growing up and living in London, Ont. has been a “rollercoaster” ride, Yasmin Khan says. From being yelled at to “go back home” while walking outside with friends or missing out on opportunities in school due to her headscarf, the discrimination has affected her mental health. “Sometimes you feel so judged and neglected by society that you reach a down point in life and you’re like, I don’t want to wear it anymore,” the 22-year-old Western University student told Global News. Khan’s struggles and insecurities are shared by many other Muslim women in Canada and around the globe, who say they have faced verbal and physical attacks because of their faith. On World Hijab Day, now in its 10th year, Muslim women are sharing their experiences on different online platforms about what it’s like to wear the hijab and why they choose to do so, while also inviting non-Muslim women from all backgrounds and faiths to step into their shoes by donning the head-covering for a day. Bangladeshi-American Nazma Khan, who launched World Hijab Day (WHD) in 2013, said the aim is to raise awareness and normalize the wearing of a hijab. Having faced discrimination and bullying in school and university by being spat on, chased, kicked and called a “terrorist”, Khan is hoping the annual event can foster religious tolerance so other women do not have the experiences she had to endure. “I want to invite [people] into our lives, even for a day, just to understand [Muslim women] a little better,” she said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

02 Feb 2022

World Hijab Day: 5 Muslim women explain what the headscarf means to them in 2022

On World Hijab Day, women (including non-hijabi Muslims and non-Muslims) are invited to wear the square scarf as a show of solidarity as well as to educate and increase awareness about why so many Muslim women around the world choose to wear it. Founded by Nazma Khan in 2013, World Hijab Day is a chance for many Muslim women to celebrate their choice to wear the scarf in a world where that choice is heavily loaded with negative connotations and hypervisibility. It also illustrates the huge spectrum of hijabi Muslim women. For Muslims, hijab is more than a piece of cloth, it’s a code of modesty and a religious practice that embodies their faith and informs the way they move, speak and even how they interact with others. Despite what the hijab has come to be known as, Islamically it is not exclusive to Muslim women; it applies to all Muslim-identifying individuals. The hijab has taken on a complex position in society. For some, it’s a symbol of oppression, and for others, it evokes a sense of freedom. Often the women wearing the hijab are caught in the middle of this crossfire. This World Hijab Day, we spoke to five British Muslim women about their relationship with the hijab and the impact it has on their life. read the complete article


02 Feb 2022

The World Has Failed to Stand With Myanmar

U.N. member states have continued to justify their failure to act by hiding behind the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its “Five-Point Consensus” on Myanmar, which calls for an end to violence, constructive dialogue, and an ASEAN special envoy to bring all parties together to find a peaceful solution to the coup. That consensus has been brazenly violated by Myanmar’s junta. It has broken my heart to watch my family, friends, and fellow civilians continue to be brutalized by perpetrators who have never been held to account for their past mass atrocities against ethnic minority groups. As a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority community, I know this terror personally: In 2005, when I was 18, the military and security forces imprisoned my family and me for seven years in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison due to my father’s democracy activism under the prior military dictatorship. After my release from prison in 2012—the year Myanmar held semi-democratic by-elections—I allowed myself to feel a glimmer of hope for my country. But the international community failed to end the military and security forces’ brutality. The same is happening today. Under its principle of noninterference, for instance, ASEAN chooses to reject the thousands of civilians seeking refuge from the military’s airstrikes and instead engages with the military and security forces, including by allowing them to participate in key ASEAN meetings. This is the same approach it took in 2017, when it refused to condemn the military’s genocidal campaign against my community, the Rohingya. Meanwhile, Britain, Canada, the United States, and the European Union have yet to impose a comprehensive set of targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s military and its related businesses, including the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. read the complete article


02 Feb 2022

'Genocide Games': Mock opening ceremonies and boycotts scar the face of Beijing 2022 amid Uyghur abuse

A masked Xi Jinping look-alike will be crowned "champion of genocide" by activists gathering for a mock opening ceremony in London on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. Uyghur supporters will adorn him with gold medals representing each of his genocidal acts, as activists around the world gather to decry a sports event that has now been dubbed the "Genocide Games." Few games since Hitler's notorious propaganda coup in 1936 have been tainted by an abundant amount of controversy and ill-feeling as the Olympic Games Beijing, set to start on Friday, February 4. The year 2016 heralded one of the darkest periods of their history with unrelenting crackdowns, mass arrests, disappearances and human rights abuses that many nations in the democratic world are now deeming a genocide. Calls to move the Games came thick and fast, beginning with an August 2020 direct challenge to the IOC from the World Uyghur Congress through human rights lawyer and director of Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, London barrister Michael Polak, on the grounds of "verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity taking place" against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims in China. Submitting the complaint through the IOC Ethics Commission directly to President Thomas Bach, he claimed that awarding Beijing the Games was in breach of the Olympic Charter and "tarnished the reputation of the Olympic movement." But calls were snubbed by the IOC and a subsequent 180-strong human rights group open letter in February 2021 calling for boycotts fell on deaf ears. This was despite concerns by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the IOC was neglecting its due diligence by not conducting a human rights assessment of the Games. read the complete article


02 Feb 2022

Norway court rejects mass killer Breivik’s parole request

A Norwegian court ruled on Tuesday that far-right attacker Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, must remain in prison, saying there remains “an obvious risk” he could return to behavior that led up to the massacre. Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, killed 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011. Last month, Breivik faced a parole hearing before the three-judge Telemark District Court where he professed white supremacist views and flashed Nazi salutes on the hearing’s opening day, while claiming to have renounced violence. But the court said he remains a potential threat, saying Breivik could not be taken at his word when he said he would no longer commit acts of violence. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Feb 2022 Edition


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