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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23 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the Aziz Foundation is planning an event next month in London in an effort to encourage the UK government to enshrine the United Nations International Day to Combat Islamophobia into UK law, meanwhile in the U.S., former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mansoor Adayfi reflects on 21 years of the facility and how the impact of the prison has spread well beyond its walls, and in India, a rally held by supporters of Monu Manesar, the YouTuber suspected of killing two Muslim men last week in a car fire, was marked by calls for violence against investigators of the crime as well as Muslims in the community. Our recommended read of the day is by Baljit Nagra and Paula Maurutto for The Conversation on how their study looking into the treatment of Canadian Muslim communities by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) reveals the importance of addressing institutional Islamophobia in the country. This and more below:


22 Feb 2023

CSIS targeting of Canadian Muslims reveals the importance of addressing institutional Islamophobia | Recommended Read

There has been an uproar recently among politicians who have called for the resignation of Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s first special representative on combating Islamophobia. In recent years, Canada has witnessed the highest number of Muslims killed in hate-motivated attacks out of all the G7 countries. In response, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, has called on the federal government to scrap the position of the special representative on combating Islamophobia altogether. However, our research on the treatment of Canadian Muslim communities by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), shows how vital it is to address institutional Islamophobia. In our recent study we interviewed 95 Muslim community leaders living in five major Canadian cities to learn about their experiences with CSIS. This study is the first of its kind to map the anti-Muslim tactics employed by CSIS in its racialized surveillance of Muslim communities. We found that CSIS adopts specific surveillance practices that are informed by Islamophobic tropes. This works on the premise that Islam and any expression of religious devotion to it represents a potential terror suspect. Consequently, CSIS engages in mass surveillance that brings entire Muslim communities under suspicion. It relies on false radicalization assumptions that depict Muslim communities as hotbeds of extremism that must be contained through aggressive surveillance strategies. read the complete article

United States

22 Feb 2023

Seattle becomes the first city in the US to ban caste discrimination

Seattle is explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of caste, making it the first city in the US to take such a step. The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday that amends the city’s municipal code to include caste as a protected class, alongside categories such as race, religion and gender identity. The law prohibits caste discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other arenas, and allows caste-oppressed people in the city to lodge complaints of discrimination. “It is a very simple question: Should discrimination based on caste be allowed to continue in Seattle?” Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who sponsored the ordinance, said during Tuesday’s city council meeting. “But while simple, it is also profound and historic.” Though the caste system originated in ancient India and is rooted in Hinduism, its contemporary form developed under centuries of Muslim and British rule, and it can now be found in virtually all South Asian countries and religious communities. After India attained independence, the country’s new constitution, authored by a Dalit legal scholar, formally banned caste discrimination, but caste-based prejudice remains a serious problem in modern India. read the complete article

23 Feb 2023

I was a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, but who is its biggest captive?

It was 21 years ago this month that I was flown in the belly of a US cargo plane, hooded, blindfolded, gagged and chained in an orange jumpsuit, for over 40 hours. I didn't know where I was being taken, or why. My journey into the unknown started when I was sold to the CIA as an "Egyptian Al-Qaida general" in 2001 after the US invaded Afghanistan. I was 18 years old, and I am from Yemen. After I was imprisoned for around three months in a black site in Afghanistan, I was taken to Kandahar military prison, an airbase that served as a transit station to the unknown. I wasn't the only one being held there. When a huge cargo plane landed in Kandahar three weeks later, we all knew that some of us would disappear. Without being able to see, hear or speak, we were dragged to the first plane blindfolded, and then chained to the floor. It was a journey of pain and suffering. When the plane eventually landed, we hoped it would be the end to our suffering. It wasn't. It was only the beginning of a longer, more brutal journey. On my first morning in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp — for that is where I was — I took a long look around me. I found myself caged in a rose chain-link cage where even animals wouldn't survive. There were many others there too. I could see swollen faces with bruises, black eyes, shaved heads and faces, split lips and bleeding wounds. We all looked the same. It was like a signature that the soldiers wanted to leave on us all. US President George W. Bush and his administration needed to prove that they were "winning" the "War on Terror", so they called us the worst of the worst. The whole world agrees that Guantanamo is a stain on our humanity and one of the biggest human right violations of the 21st century. There are those who tortured and abused us at Guantanamo who are still bragging about their time there and their work. Their humanity was the first real victim of that place. read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Feb 2023

Ruling on Shamima Begum exposes the complicity of courts commentators and politicians in the rise of authoritarian laws

The latest ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on the lawfulness of Shamima Begum’s revocation of citizenship reveals a flawed system that legitimises secret evidence and denies people the right to due process. Although SIAC acknowledged that Shamima Begum was a victim of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, the Court accepted it had no power but to rubber stamp a highly political and racially motivated decision by the Home Office to revoke her citizenship. The case has always had little to do with national security. The citizenship deprivation policy is crafted towards exploiting Islamophobic and racist sentiments for political gain rather than a genuine concern for the country’s safety and security. The tragedy of the shocking treatment of a young, vulnerable and desperate woman, illustrates that national security arguments have been abused and require to be subject to public scrutiny. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

These portraits challenge stereotypes surrounding Muslim girlhood

Sabiha Çimen’s award-winning project Hafiz reveals the “poetic and playful moments” in the lives of teenage Turkish girls who spend their schooldays learning the Qur’an by heart. Over the next five years, she would develop, Hafız: Guardians of the Qur’an, a project focusing on young girls learning to recite 604 pages of the religious book. The photographic glimpse into a world that is usually hidden from view would win last year’s prestigious First PhotoBook award at Paris Photo. Her interest in postcolonial thought undeniably informs her artistic practice, which seeks to challenge cultural representations of Muslim women as ‘subaltern’ – a term referring to those demarcated as being of lower status in society. For Çimen there is a political dimension – as well as a feminist incentive – to photographing the girls in this manner. “I wanted to give Muslim women a chance to speak for themselves. In both western and Islamic cultures, they are often underrepresented. And if they are represented, it is in degrading, one-dimensional ways, as side characters.” Çimen approaches her work as an insider, with the empathy to develop intimacy with her subjects – a palpable characteristic of her work. read the complete article

23 Feb 2023

Who’s afraid of a Chinese balloon?

On February 4, a US fighter jet shot down what the United States insists was a Chinese “spy balloon” off the coast of South Carolina; according to China, it was merely a weather balloon that had blown off course. The airborne object was taken out with a Sidewinder missile — which, at $400,000 a pop, was also the weapon of choice a week later as the US military went about frenetically shooting up more unidentified stuff in the sky. In response to the fate of the Chinese balloon, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi categorised US behaviour as “almost hysterical” and urged the US “not to do such preposterous things simply to divert attention from its own domestic problems”. It meanwhile bears emphasising that, even if the Chinese balloon was indeed conducting surveillance rather than meteorological operations, the US reaction is still pretty “preposterous” given the country’s own stellar track record of surveilling everyone and everything in the world. Of course, the US’s unilaterally endowed right to act as Big Brother-in-Chief extends to the practice of spying on US citizens, too — speaking of “domestic problems”. Now in the “war on terror” era, the FBI has shown even greater dedication to dismantling basic civil liberties. Muslim communities have been especially persecuted with relentless unwarranted surveillance and plenty of “other dirty tricks” — like when the agency opted to spend heaps of US taxpayer money paying informants to entrap unsuspecting folks in FBI-manufactured terror plots. Last but not least, the National Security Agency (NSA) has done its own bit for “national security” by presiding over the secret and illegal mass surveillance of Americans, including the interception of phone and internet communications. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

Memoir tells of author's personal experience of the repression of China's Uyghurs

NPR's Steve Inskeep speaks with Uyghur-American author Gulchehra Hoja about her memoir of Uyghur exile, hope and survival. It's titled: A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Feb 2023 Edition


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