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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07 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Sweden, the burning of the Quran by a Danish far-right politician is indicative of the tide of institutionalized anti-Muslim hate, writes Khaled A. Beydoun, meanwhile in the United States, Rep. Ro Khanna is to be a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, a post which could help Rep. Khanna shed light on the prevalence of Hindu Nationalism and it’s impact on Indian Muslims, and the Biden Administration transfers ‘High-Value Detainee’ Majid Khan From Guantanamo to Belize, the first detainee to publicly describe the torture he and others faced in the custody of the CIA prior to being transferred to the prison. Our recommended read of the day is by Sara Ather for the Middle East Eye who writes on Narendra Modi’s demolition campaign targeting Muslim homes, which according to Ather, targets not only physical structures, but also Muslims’ political standing and basic rights. This and more below: 


06 Feb 2023

India's bulldozer war on Muslim neighbourhoods | Recommended Read

The abrupt nature of demolition drives, leaving little room for legal investigations, is profoundly altering how Muslims perceive normal life in India, blurring the lines between public and private space. The demolitions cause Muslims economic harm, while also damaging their political standing. Somehow, a belief seems to exist that violence against Muslim homes is less severe than violence against bodies - a form of “collateral damage” that demands no urgent action. But this ignores the political dimension of home demolitions, which aim to eliminate the targeted group’s ability to survive. In the Haldwani case, national media adopted a nefarious narrative framing the Muslim protesters as a “jihadi gang” - a conspiracy theory that has been deployed against other Muslims, using the false claim that they are illegally occupying Hindu lands. In recent years, the policy of demolitions has become an inseparable part of the ruling BJP’s administrative discourse. And the road from homelessness to statelessness is not as long as some would like to imagine. If we stop existing on the map, do we still exist in the political community as participants? And if we don’t exist in the political community, what keeps us from becoming mere abstractions? While measures such as India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens threaten Muslims’ legal status as citizens in the nation, the narrative of “encroachers” seeks to develop a similar link of criminality, with Muslims portrayed as “illegally” grabbing lands that legitimately belong to Hindus. The state of Uttarakhand, which includes Haldwani, has been the focus of strong Hindutva propaganda promoting it as the “land of the gods”, further pushing the concept that the Muslims who live there are outsiders. read the complete article

03 Feb 2023

How Shah Rukh Khan's Pathaan will strengthen Hindu nationalism

In the thriller, Pathaan is tasked with stopping a deadly attack planned by an Indian ex-spy, Jim (John Abraham), who joins forces with a Pakistani army general, Qadir (Manish Wadhwa). The movie villains threaten to unleash a lethal virus over a city in India that would annihilate its entire population. The Pakistani general wants to retaliate against India's decision to revoke Article 370, or the special status of the semi-autonomous region of Kashmir, while the former spy has a personal axe to grind with his former bosses. Pathaan, a special agent working at the top of India's intelligence agency, RAW, has to pair up, albeit awkwardly at first, with Pakistani spy Rubina (Deepika Padukone) to save India from the deranged duo. Since the film's main antagonist is an aggrieved Indian former spy working at the behest of a Pakistani general, it has been applauded for providing some nuance to the longstanding geopolitical rivalry existing between the neighbouring countries. So, in this way, Pathaan, a "good" Indian Muslim, works with Rubina, a "good" Pakistani agent, to prevent a massacre in India orchestrated by a "bad" Pakistani general and a "bad" errant Indian agent. There are good people and bad people, the film seems to say. It doesn't matter if they are Indian or Pakistani. This, some observers have noted, is the subversive plot that all of India and even Pakistan have been waiting for, as Delhi slides further into authoritarianism and fascism under the Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. But is Pathaan really the film we have all been waiting for? Does it poke at any of the myths of Hindu nationalism and supremacy that have enveloped India over the past decade? For this, we must return to that scene when the whisky-toting-bikini-clad liberal Pakistani spy Rubina (read: "good Muslim") stares longingly at Pathaan and asks if he is Muslim. read the complete article

United States

06 Feb 2023

Biden Administration Transfers 'High-Value Detainee' Majid Khan From Guantanamo to Belize

On Feb. 2, 2023, a Saudi-born Pakistani citizen convicted of aiding Al Qaeda's terrorist activities in 2002 and 2003, Majid Khan, was released from U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay and transferred to the custody of the small Central American nation of Belize, where he will be a free man. Khan is the first so-called "high-value detainee" — a special prisoner designation made by the George W. Bush Administration in 2006 — to be released and repatriated. He was also the first detainee to publicly describe the torture he and others faced in the custody of the CIA prior to being transferred, in 2006, to Guantanamo. Khan's repatriation to Belize comes nearly a year after his official sentence ended on March 1, 2022, and ends a complex diplomatic effort that had Khan waive his rights to call witnesses regarding the torture he experienced at CIA black sites in return for leniency in sentencing. On Oct 2021, he testified in open court about that abuse without calling or naming witnesses: Appearing in open court, Majid Khan, 41, became the first former prisoner of the black sites to openly describe, anywhere, the violent and cruel "enhanced interrogation techniques" that agents used to extract information and confessions from terrorism suspects. He spoke about dungeonlike conditions, humiliating stretches of nudity with only a hood on his head, sometimes while his arms were chained in ways that made sleep impossible, and being intentionally nearly drowned in icy cold water in tubs at two sites, once while a C.I.A. interrogator counted down from 10 before water was poured into his nose and mouth. [...] He spoke about failed and sadistic responses to his hunger strikes and other acts of rebellion. Medics would roughly insert a feeding tube up his nose and down his throat. He would try to bite it off and, in at least one instance, he said, a C.I.A. officer used a plunger to force food inside his stomach, a technique that caused stomach cramps and diarrhea. read the complete article

06 Feb 2023

Rep. Ro Khanna talks growing Hindu nationalism and visa wait times as he prepares to helm India Caucus

Rep. Ro Khanna will be a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, he said in an exclusive interview last week. Khanna, a Democrat who has been representing California’s 17th Congressional District since 2017, will co-chair the caucus with Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla. “I’m going to try to make it about not just us India, but also the Indian American community and highlighting the contributions of that community,” he said. “I think being Indian America and being part of the community, knowing so many of the community leaders, knowing the passions and interests of young people, I’ll be able to do that.” Khanna said that, having spent much of his career in Northern California's Silicon Valley, he has been immersed in Indian American issues for years. The rising tide of Hindu nationalism is on the forefront of the diaspora’s collective consciousness; from professional spheres to college campuses, reports of Islamophobia and casteism abound in South Asian spaces. Khanna hasn’t shied away from such conversations, and his vocalness has sparked outrage from right-wing Indian Americans. In 2019, 230 Hindu and Indian American entities wrote letter criticizing Khanna for denouncing Hindu nationalism (also known as Hindutva) and for advocating religious equality on the subcontinent. read the complete article


06 Feb 2023

Muslims of Europe, Southeast Asia denounce desecration of Quran

The Muslims in Europe and Southeast Asia continued to condemn the recent desecrations of the Quran and Islamophobia in Europe as a group of Muslims staged a protest in The Hague and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) denounced the incidents over the weekend. Hundreds of Muslims marched toward Koekamp square as part of the "stop anti-Muslim hatred" protest organized by the Federation of Islamic Organizations (FIO) and the Haaglanden Region Islamic Organizations Association (SIORH). Gathering in the square, they chanted slogans against the desecration of Islam's holy book, condemning such Islamophobic acts. They also performed a prayer and recited verses from the Quran. Speaking at the demonstration, Tahsin Çetinkaya, the head of the Turkish Islamic Culture Foundation, said Islamophobia has risen to "a new level" in the Netherlands. "Muslims, mosques and other Islamic institutions have faced various Islamophobic acts over the years, including the sending of threatening letters to mosques, the hanging of pigs' heads on mosque doors and arson," he added. read the complete article


31 Jan 2023

The wildfire of Islamophobia is burning through Sweden

Sweden once stood apart as an oasis of inclusivity within a European landscape ravaged by xenophobia and racial populism. Against the racial and religious grain rooted across the continent, Sweden remained a defiant alternative to the Islamophobic climate gripping France, and the nativist currents raging through Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and the other white walls of fortress Europe. The comparative warmth that characterised Swedish immigration policy, and its celebration of the cultures newcomers and Swedes of colour injected, was frozen by the gradual rise of the right-wing Sweden Democrats. Their climb in power has been steady since 2010, with the right-wing party claiming more and more seats each election, with 2022 being a major flashpoint in their political impact. This rise was, in great part, fuelled by the transnational Islamophobia that drove the political discourses in Sweden’s neighbours to the south. In Denmark, hateful discourses are fanned by a different kind of fireman, Rasmus Paludan, who fixated on exporting Islamophobia to Sweden. On Saturday, January 21st, Paludan made Sweden the stage of his new plot. As I write in my new book, The New Crusades, this is the wildfire of “dialectical Islamophobia in Europe, where white supremacist movements mixed with Islamophobic tones travel ferociously across borders” that are porous to white hatemongers like Paludan, but deadly for Africans and Arabs, and increasingly, Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Feb 2023 Edition


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