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 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the country is approaching the twenty year anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which was established by the government because it’s the “legal equivalent of outer space,” meanwhile Tesla has been criticized for opening a new showroom in Xinjiang, the Chinese region where authorities are accused of widespread abuse against Uyghur Muslims, and in Bangladesh, authorities have bulldozed more than 3,000 Rohingya-run shops since last month, as struggling refugee families voiced their dismay at the demolitions. Our recommended read of the day is by Sheikh Saaliq for the Washington Post on the fake auction incident in India as authorities arrest three individuals allegedly involved in the making of the website, as Muslim women who were listed on the website said the auction was intended to humiliate them, many of whom have been vocal about rising Hindu nationalism in India. This and more below:


05 Jan 2022

Suspects held after fake online sale of Indian Muslim women | Recommended Read

Police in India have detained a man and a woman alleged to be involved in the offering for sale of prominent Muslim women on a fake online auction website, according to government officials, in a case that has sparked outrage across the country. The cyber unit of the Mumbai Police detained the two suspects following a complaint from one of the targeted woman. It wasn’t clear whether the two created the website. Police brought charges against the man, a 21-year-old engineering student, and said they were investigating the woman further. Photographs of more than 100 prominent Indian Muslim women, including journalists, activists, film stars and artists, were displayed last weekend without their permission on a website and put up for fake auction. The women listed on the website also included the 65-year-old mother of a disappeared Indian student and Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. The website, which was taken down within 24 hours, was called “Bulli Bai,” a derogatory slang term for Indian Muslims. Though there was no real sale involved, the Muslim women listed on the website said the auction was intended to humiliate them, many of whom have been vocal about rising Hindu nationalism in India and some of the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The website was hosted on GitHub, a San Francisco-based coding platform. A company spokesperson said GitHub had taken down the user account that had hosted the website on its platform, and that it would cooperate with investigating authorities. The fake auction unleashed outrage on Twitter after complaints from the victims, with several women posting screenshots after finding their photos listed on the website. Women rights groups and politicians from opposition parties urged the governing Bharatiya Janata Party to take action against online harassment of Muslim women, prompting Indian technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to promise strict measures. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Bulli Bai app: Three arrested for fake auction of Muslim women in India

Indian police have arrested three people in connection with an app that shared photos of more than 100 Muslim women saying they were on "sale". The suspects - two 21-year-old men and an 18-year-old woman - are being questioned. Police in Mumbai, India's financial capital, said more arrests are expected. The app was hosted on web platform GitHub, which has since taken it down amid widespread anger and outrage. "It's too early to say who made the app and what their motive is," Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale said. Charges against the three who have been arrested haven't been confirmed yet. On Tuesday, Mumbai police arrested Vishal Kumar, an engineering student, in the southern city of Bangalore and Shweta Singh in the northern state of Uttarakhand. On Wednesday morning, they arrested Mayank Rawat, also a student in Uttarakhand. read the complete article

United States

05 Jan 2022

Muslim woman sues Missouri gun shop over hijab removal rule

A firearms store and gun range in suburban Kansas City refused to let a Muslim woman use the range unless she removed her hijab, a Muslim civil rights organization alleged in a federal lawsuit. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the law firm of Baldwin & Vernon in Independence alleges that the gun range at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit enforces its dress code in a discriminatory way that disproportionately affects Muslim women. Rania Barakat and her husband went to Frontier Justice on Jan. 1, 2020, to shoot at its gun range. According to the lawsuit, Barakat was told she would not be allowed to use the range unless she removed her hijab, a religious head covering worn by some Muslim women. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Mississippi City Ordered to Allow 2 Muslim Men to Build Mosque, Not Delay Permits

The city of Horn Lake, Mississippi, has been ordered to permit two Muslim men to build a new mosque, as well as banned from delaying permits to do so. U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills filed a consent decree Monday in favor of the plaintiffs, Maher Abuirshaid and Riyadh Elkhayyat, for whom the American Civil Liberties Union filed a discrimination lawsuit for two months ago. The consent decree was filed with agreement from both plaintiffs and city officials. The lawsuit claimed that when the city denied a zoning request for what would become the first mosque in DeSoto County, Mississippi, Horn Lake officials had done so due to anti-Muslim prejudice. Abuirshaid and Elkhayyatt are residents of DeSoto County and desire to build a mosque for their families and friends, along with other Muslims in the county, to be able to have a place of worship. The closest one is currently in Memphis, with some people having to travel a half-hour or more. The lawsuit said city officials "did not work very hard to hide the true reason they denied approval for the project—anti-Muslim prejudice." "As then-Alderman John E. Jones Jr. told the local newspaper: 'I don't care what they say, their religion says they can lie or do anything to the Jews or gentiles because we're not Muslims,'" said the lawsuit, which argued the government officials violated the First Amendment rights of Abuirshaid and Elkhayyat. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Op-Ed: There's a qualified candidate for the SBA. Why won't Sen. Young show up and vote?

In this backdrop, I am deeply concerned by the hold-up in confirming Dilawar Syed, President Biden's nominee for Small Business Adminstration (SBA) deputy administrator. He is uniquely qualified to help lead SBA as it continues to deliver aid to small businesses. Syed brings 20 years of experience leading companies that are driving major impact across the technology, healthcare, and business services sectors. As a business owner and a taxpayer, it's painful to see an eminently qualified public servant and an entrepreneur like Syed stalled by Senate Republicans. Syed should be have been confirmed six months ago. Instead, he has yet to receive a vote in the committee. Syed's nomination is currently held-up in the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship as the Republican members have continued their months-long blockade by impeding a quorum. It appears they are holding up a qualified candidate for political gain. If confirmed, Syed would become the highest-ranking Muslim in the Biden administration. There are insinuations that his nomination is being blocked because of religious prejudice. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Guantanamo Bay: ‘The legal equivalent of outer space’

As with the other so-called “war on terror” policies, including “enhanced interrogation”, lawyers were among the first to be consulted. Meanwhile, the US State Department feverishly worked on a plan to find a suitable location to hold those whom Donald Rumsfeld, then US secretary of defence, famously described as “the worst of the worst”. In Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the Secret Prisons, Clive Stafford Smith, human rights lawyer and director of a justice campaign group, 3DC, recounts a Newsweek article in which the US State Department lawyer David Bowker discussed his work on a committee looking at the rights of suspected “terrorists”. Bowker told Newsweek that their aim was to “find the legal equivalent of outer space”, somewhere out of the reach of the US judicial system. Those who were not US citizens still enjoyed constitutional rights when they were on American soil, so it was important to find a place where those jailed would have no legal rights. In any case, al-Qaeda had been branded the enemy in the global “war on terror” and, as such, this gave the Bush administration more flexibility in handling those they considered prisoners of war, rather than criminals. To make themselves even less accountable for their dealings with detainees, Rumsfeld, with the support of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, labelled the suspects as “unlawful combatants”. This effectively rendered them outside of the 1949 Geneva Conventions protections. read the complete article


05 Jan 2022

Tesla criticised for opening showroom in China's Xinjiang region

Tesla has been criticised for opening a new showroom in Xinjiang, the Chinese region where authorities are accused of widespread abuse against Uyghur Muslims. The US-based electric car maker, led by Elon Musk, announced the opening in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, on Friday, declaring on social media: "Let's start Xinjiang's all-electric journey." But the move drew fire from US Republican senator Marco Rubio as well as the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. It urged Tesla to close the showroom and "cease what amounts to economic support for genocide". China has been accused of interring one million Uyghurs and members of other minorities in "re-education" centres in Xinjiang. The US has labelled China's actions as genocide and is planning a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China next month over the issue. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Faced With Questions About Forced Labor in China, the I.O.C. Is Tight-Lipped

The activists’ request was straightforward: They wanted to share their concerns about human rights in China, in particular the possibility that official merchandise for the Beijing Olympics was being made with forced labor, and to hear what the International Olympic Committee was doing to ensure it was not. For months, they pressed Olympics officials for a conversation. The I.O.C., the body that oversees the Games, sidestepped at first. Eventually, officials from the committee agreed to meet — but only for an “active listening exercise,” not to share any information. And the talk would have to remain secret. Finally, late last month, the I.O.C. pulled out entirely from meeting with the activist group, the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region. Concerns about China’s human rights record loom over the country’s preparations to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month. World leaders and activists have focused on the authorities’ suppression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority, in the western Xinjiang region, and allegations that Uyghurs are being pressed into forced labor. The United States, Britain, Canada and Australia have announced diplomatic boycotts. The I.O.C. has consistently deflected calls to exert more pressure on China — a lucrative market and an important financial and organizational partner for the Olympics — for its potential abuses. When Peng Shuai, a three-time Olympian, disappeared from public life after accusing a top Chinese leader of coercing her into sex, the I.O.C. held a video call with her and said she appeared to be safe, despite widespread global concern. When challenged on China’s suppression of civil liberties in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, officials have argued that the Games are not political. But the correspondence between the I.O.C. and the anti-forced labor coalition, which was reviewed by The New York Times, shows how reluctant the committee is to engage Beijing’s critics even on issues directly related to the operation of the Games. read the complete article


05 Jan 2022

Uighurs file criminal complaint with Turkish prosecutor against Chinese officials

A group of Uighur Muslims, an ethnic minority facing widespread repression in China, has filed a criminal complaint in Turkey against Chinese officials for crimes against humanity, genocide, torture and rape. The lawsuit, brought by 19 Uighurs in the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office, was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday. Turkish prosecutor Gulden Sonmez told the news outlet he was bringing the complaint forward because international bodies have largely stayed silent on the Chinese-sanctioned human rights violations. Around 50,000 Uighurs live in Turkey. Those filing the criminal complaint claim they have not heard from their loved ones since they were taken to a detention facility inside China. read the complete article

05 Jan 2022

Moroccan-Belgian YouTube star fights against Islamophobia

Many Muslim women in Europe face difficulties and prejudices when they try to find a job. But Myriam Bouzian didn't let setbacks in the conventional job market stop her – and took matters into her own hands. DW's Rose Birchard reports. read the complete article


05 Jan 2022

Thousands of Rohingya shops demolished in Bangladesh, leaving refugees desperate

Bangladesh authorities have bulldozed more than 3,000 Rohingya-run shops since last month, a government official confirmed on Tuesday, as struggling refugee families voiced their dismay at the demolitions.About 850,000 members of the stateless Muslim minority are packed into overcrowded displacement camps in Bangladesh, most having fled neighbouring Myanmar after a 2017 military clampdown that prompted an international genocide investigation. Bangladesh has been praised for taking in the refugees but rights groups have criticised restrictions placed on the refugees, most recently a drive to knock down makeshift shops that serve their communities. The country’s deputy refugee commissioner Shamsud Douza told Agence France-Presse that more than 3,000 “illegal shops” had been demolished. “The number of Rohingya is increasing. And they need shelters. We are already building sheds on the premises,” he said, adding that relief groups were ensuring the refugees were still getting daily necessities. But Khin Maung, a Rohingya community leader and rights activist, said the demolitions had already hurt tens of thousands of refugees in the camps. “Rohingya families are large and the amount of food ration given to them is decreasing. Many families used to rely on the income from the shops,” he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Jan 2022 Edition


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