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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06 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities have arrested the alleged creator of an app that shared photos of more than 100 Muslim women saying they were on “sale,” meanwhile in Europe, France has assumed the rotating European Union presidency for the next six months, causing many to worry that “Paris may attempt to impose its anti-Muslim views on the bloc as a whole,” and in the United States, CAIR is calling for state and federal hate crime investigations into the vandalism last week of a northeastern Iowa mosque captured on the building’s security cameras. Our recommended read of the day is by Jana Lipman for the Washington Post on the legal history of Guantanamo Bay naval base, and why the U.S. specifically chose the location to build a detention camp “because it could simultaneously hold the detainees outside the United States and not be constrained by a host country.” This and more below:

United States

06 Jan 2022

The United States has long sought to exploit Guantánamo’s legal contradictions | Recommended Read

Twenty years ago this month, the military transformed the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, into a detention camp for suspected terrorists. The first arrivals, largely captured in Afghanistan, were shackled, dressed in bright orange jumpsuits and photographed cowering behind barbed wire. The U.S. government claimed it could hold these “enemy combatants” indefinitely without trial, outside the Geneva Conventions protecting prisoners of war. In response, American attorneys launched numerous lawsuits over habeas corpus, human rights and due process. But long before the United States held detainees on the base, Cuban workers recognized the base’s strained relationship with the law. Indeed, the base’s legal history is rooted in Cuban history. Cuban workers repeatedly petitioned the U.S. government to recognize their rights on the base. It was only after the United States stopped depending on Cuban workers that it could reimagine the base as a refugee camp in the 1990s, and then a detention center in the fight against terrorism. Yet, many of the problems with its use as a detention center echoed the problems exposed by Cuban workers. And these problems remain today. The history of the base goes back to the Spanish-American War in 1898. The 1903 Lease Agreement gave Cuba “ultimate sovereignty” and the United States “complete jurisdiction and control” over the 45 square miles that would become the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay. This set up a clear legal contradiction. The main reason the United States chose to create a prison camp in Guantánamo Bay was because it could simultaneously hold the detainees outside the United States and not be constrained by a host country. So long as this remains true, there is a risk of the United States using the base to hold others. read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Mississippi Zoning Board That Warned ‘If You Let Them Build It, They Will Come’ Is Ordered to Allow Construction of Mosque

In a big win for Muslim families, a federal court has ordered officials to allow the construction of a mosque in Horn Lake, Mississippi. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Muslim builders in November 2021 alleging that Horn Lake officials unlawfully denied zoning approval for a proposed mosque due to illegal anti-Muslim bias. Now, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills of the Northern District of Mississippi, a George W. Bush appointee, has officially ordered a consent decree that resolves the lawsuit. The complaint explained that the builders sought to construct what would become the only mosque in a city that has thirteen churches, and the only mosque in a county that has 132 churches. Muslim plaintiffs Riyadh Elkhayyat and Maher Abuirshaid must travel out of state to worship. Despite presenting a site plan that “met or exceeded” all requirements, Horn Lake’s Planning Commission denied approval. On appeal, the Board of Aldermen affirmed the denial, and according to plaintiffs, “claimed that the proposed mosque would create traffic and violate local noise ordinances,” despite having no supportive evidence. The lawsuit alleged that the Board of Aldermen made clear that their denial was based on anti-Muslim sentiment. "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.” In making his motion to reject the mosque’s proposed site plan, Jones ominously warned his fellow Board members, '[I]f you let them build it, they will come. So I think we need to stop it before it gets here.'" read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Hate crime investigation sought into Iowa mosque vandalism

A national Muslim civil rights group is calling for state and federal hate crime investigations into the vandalism last week of a northeastern Iowa mosque captured on the building’s security cameras. The video shows what appears to be a middle-aged woman vandalizing the Al-Noor Islamic Community Center in Waterloo on the evening of Dec. 28, the Courier reported. The video shows the woman first using snow to draw crosses — a widely recognized Christian symbol — on the mosque’s windows before graduating to scrawling profanities aimed at Islam and Muslims on the mosque’s walls using some type of oil-based substance. On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling for local, state and federal authorities to launch their own hate crime investigations into the vandalism. read the complete article


06 Jan 2022

Islamophobia in India: Humiliation of Muslims has become 'a part of the political landscape'

Indian police have made arrests and launched an investigation into an online app that shared pictures of scores of prominent Muslim women for a fake online auction in a case of apparent hatred toward the minority community. And this comes right on the heels of a police probe investigating influential Hindu religious leaders calling for violence and even ethnic cleansing: "the arming of Hindus against Muslims, the need to teach them lessons." Dr. Subir Sinha, Senior Lecturer at SOAS University of London, joins France 24 to discuss how deeply entrenched Islamophobia has become in the cultural and political fabric of Indian society. He asserts that Islamophobic acts are now occurring in India with "a sickening regularity." These latest incidents are simply a reflection of "targeted communally charged harassment and misogyny that has just been rampant for the past few years." read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Three arrested in India for online harassment of Muslim women

Indian police said on Wednesday they had arrested three people involved in an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual "auction" in an apparent case of communal harassment. Pictures of dozens of women had been used without their consent and doctored to create an open source app called 'Bulli Bai' - a derogatory term to describe Muslim women - on the GitHub platform before it was taken down. Police in the western city of Mumbai, which is investigating the case, said they had arrested three people, two 21-year-old men and an 18-year-old woman. "We are investigating whether this was a part of a larger conspiracy," Mumbai's Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale told reporters. Among those targeted were several Indian Muslim journalists, including Ismat Ara who filed and then shared on social media a police complaint that said the app was "clearly aimed at insulting Muslim women". read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Bulli Bai app: Fourth man held over auction of Muslim women

Indian police have arrested the alleged creator of an app that shared photos of more than 100 Muslim women saying they were on "sale". Neeraj Bishnoi, 20, is the fourth person to be held in connection with this case. The app - "Bulli Bai" - was hosted on GitHub, which has since taken it down amid widespread anger and outrage. This was the second attempt in months to harass Muslim women by sharing their images in a fake auction. In July last year, an app and website called "Sulli Deals" created profiles of more than 80 Muslim women - using photos they uploaded online - and described them as "deals of the day". Though the police began an investigation, no-one has been charged yet. Police in at least three states have opened an investigation into the "Bulli Bai" app based on complaints by women who were targeted. A special unit of the Delhi police that deals with cyber crime arrested Mr Bishnoi in the north-eastern state of Assam on Thursday. "He is the main conspirator, and the creator of the app," KPS Malhotra, the deputy commissioner of the cyber crime team, told the BBC. Police also said Mr Bishnoi ran the main Twitter handle that shared images from the app. read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Gurugram offered a dizzy new modernity. For its Muslim middle class, that idea is shrinking

Gurgaon’s cosmopolitanism, fuelled by three decades of economic growth, has turned on its head. Over the past few years, the city’s Hindu residents have gathered on streets and parks — to stop fellow Muslim citizens from offering Friday namaz. Now the disruptions have become a weekly affair, with large gatherings occupying spaces where Muslims used to offer namaz, and filling it with cow dung or performing one of their own rituals. The anti-Muslim hate is widespread, and not just limited to their prayers. “Ubers cancel more often now. Ab pata nahi naam dekh ke ya kuch aur, but pehle se zyada hota hai. It seems like the question has moved from why Muslims need to pray in groups to why they should do anything at all,” says Heena, a 24-year-old design intern, about Uber drivers frequently cancelling ride requests after, she suspects, seeing their names. Those who have lived in the city for years are acutely aware of the change that has set in, a battleground of sorts to ‘test’ the perseverance of the Muslim community. “What has happened in Gurugram seems like an experiment with how far you can go, and get away with it,” says a pilot who has lived in the city for 17 years, requesting anonymity. Muslims were already unable to find houses on rent or purchase one in prime locations because of their religious identity. Now it has spilled over to jobs as well. Students in big, private schools and universities are experiencing it too. “Nowadays, Muslims are really afraid to practice their own religion and even walking on streets wearing a topi (skull cap), especially at night,” says a student who wishes to remain anonymous. Ifham, a 28-year-old architect based in Gurugram who studied in Amity University’s Manesar campus, spoke about a conversation he had with his friends last week. They wondered how “the most normal thing” of them offering namaz twice in their college campus back in the day “would be impossible now”. read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

‘Bulli Bai’ is a direct result of the state’s inaction on ‘Sulli Deals’ & Islamophobia

Even ‘Sulli Deals’ was not the first time that Muslim women were put up for ‘auction’ — the perpetrators believed to be Hindutva affiliates whose aim seems to be to silence outspoken Muslim women with a voice. Such ‘auctions’ have happened at least four times in the last three years; the first time, it was a YouTube channel called ‘Liberal Doge’ in April/May 2021, where Pakistani women were ‘auctioned,’ and when Indian women began to draw attention to it, they too were targeted. The second was ‘Sulli Deals’ in July 2021, which, like the latest ‘Bulli Bai’, uploaded photographs of women and tagged them ‘Your Sulli Deal of the Day’ — the language of e-commerce websites selling products at discounted prices. The third was Clubhouse rooms in November 2021, when the culprits behind Sulli Deals turned to the audio platform after the GitHub platform was taken down. ‘Bulli Bai’ is the latest assault — almost a replica of ‘Sulli Deals’ — and has listed hundreds of women, and also some minors according to reports. “These are gender hate crimes that police need to take action against. But in spite of written complaints, FIRs, and Women’s Commissions reaching out to the police, despite Parliamentarians pulling them up, there is no action. And so there is a brazenness and impunity among those who target Muslim women, and they know there will be no consequences. A couple of months after 'Sulli Deals', since there was no action, these people came back to Twitter with new accounts and again morphed my pictures,” Sania tells TNM. “I was shocked and angry at the fact that nothing had happened since ‘Sulli Deals’, let alone a constructive conclusion to all of this. There was no development in the investigation that we could fall back on,” Delhi-based journalist Ismat Ara, who was also listed on ‘Bulli Bai’, tells TNM. “There was similar outrage, FIRs were filed, there were reassurances from the police and from the authorities, the issue was taken till Parliament, letters were written to the Home Minister — all of this has happened before.” But in terms of legal action or a strong message against such misogynistic and Islamophobic attacks, nothing has happened. read the complete article

06 Jan 2022

Tension at Karnataka college as students sport saffron scarves to protest hijab

Tension prevailed at a state-run college in Balagadi village in Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district after a section of students turned up wearing saffron scarves and asked their female Muslim classmates not to wear hijab during classes. The college has around 850 students of which a quarter are Muslim. A faculty member, who did not reveal his name, said the people behind the incident are trying to instigate hatred. College Principal Ananth Murthy told The Indian Express that a meeting with the parents of students has been called to resolve the issue. “With Covid-19 protocols in place, we are unable to hold a meeting but I have written a letter to the deputy commissioner and superintendent of Police seeking permission to hold it on January 10,” he said. At that meeting in 2018, he said, it was decided that no one should come to college wearing a hijab though they could wear a scarf over the head. “But for the past few days, some female students have been coming to college wearing (a hijab).” An officer working in the higher education department said most government-run degree colleges in the state do not have uniforms though the one in Balagadi is an exception. “There is no dress code or policy as such. It was never a concern for anyone but the issue has cropped up in recent years,” he said. In Udupi district, earlier this week, Muslim girls were stopped from entering the government PU college by the principal as they were wearing a hijab. However, they were allowed entry after they approached the deputy commissioner of Udupi Kurma Rao stating that their constitutional rights were being violated. read the complete article

United Kingdom

06 Jan 2022

Tory Islamophobia: Candidate who shared tweet claiming Muslims have ‘nasty culture’ becomes association chair

A Tory general election candidate who shared a message on social media claiming Muslims play the “race card” and have a “nasty culture” is still a member of the party and has become chair of Sevenoaks Conservatives. Linden Kemkaran, who previously stood in Labour-held Bradford East, retweeted a user on Twitter who dismissed Islamophobia as nonsense – describing it as a “crock”. Kemkaran has also previously retweeted users who accused Labour MP Naz Shah, of not being “white enough” to have experienced Bradford’s “no-go areas” and claimed that the prospective MP’s loyalties did not lie in the city. Kemkaran also liked a post labelling Shah a “P**ideshi” who pushes the “doggy-do-do Muslim narrative”. One would think the Tories who claim to have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach towards islamophobia would have suspended such a member, yet Kemkaran not only remains a member of the party but has also become chair of Sevenoaks Tories. read the complete article


06 Jan 2022

Meet the ‘New’ Uyghurs: China's ominous media manipulation to fool the world about its 're-education campaign'

A grandiose plan by Beijing to manipulate world opinion over its treatment of the Uyghurs has been underway since 2017 when its campaign to reign in its most "troublesome" minority kicked off in earnest. China's ambitious project to "media wash" its role in the genocide of more than 10 million people in its far North-Western province has been picked up by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) whose recent exposé Meet the ‘New’ Uyghurs traces the role of Chinese state media in convincing an international audience that the once-feared "terrorist extremists" have been politically cleansed and their region is once again open for business. Most of the hundreds of thousands who were corralled into so-called "re-education" camps have been reformed at great expense by the government, and those considered too dangerous to be let loose are now safely tucked away indefinitely. The Uyghur ancient culture and religion have been sanitised and the population is now onboard with the rollout of compulsory Mandarin. The half a million or so children removed from their homes while parents languished in detention, will grow up away from the pernicious influence of families and draconian birth control measures ensure a significant reduction in births into the future. The authors of the report have identified the flagship Chinese Communist Party (CCP) international broadcaster, China Global Television Network, CGTN, as key in creating the illusion that all is well in Xinjiang amid a parallel international universe of mounting evidence that all is not at all well. Text by text analysis of CGTN's media output from 2017 to 2020 has uncovered a deliberate CCP strategy to manipulate a worldwide public into accepting that those they initially billed as "wild extremists" have been tamed and sanitised through re-education and their region is now a safe space for tourism and all forms of business engagement. read the complete article


06 Jan 2022

France may spread Islamophobia at rotating helm of EU: Experts

France has assumed the rotating European Union presidency for the next six months, however, with the country's anti-radicalism bill having already created an uncomfortable climate for France's Muslims, experts worry Paris may attempt to impose its anti-Muslim views on the bloc as a whole. “There are already examples where you can see the interference of the French government on a European level when it comes to the existence of Muslims and Muslim visibility,” Farid Hafez, a visiting professor of International Relations at Williams College and nonresident scholar at Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative told Daily Sabah. Listing instances of the French government going against the European Commission, Hafez recalled that European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli was attacked by French ministers for meeting with representatives from a Muslim youth organization that was participating in a campaign organized by the Council of Europe. He also pointed to the civil rights group Alliance Citoyenne, which actively defended Muslim women's rights but lost its funding. “Therefore, I think, France will impose its views on Europe. The question is how much other European countries allow the French government to influence how Muslims are seen and positioned in the European Union." read the complete article


06 Jan 2022

Bill 21 'authorizes interference by the state in religion,' says federal antisemitism envoy Irwin Cotler

Canada's special envoy on combating antisemitism, former justice minister Irwin Cotler, joins Power & Politics to discuss Quebec's Bill 21. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Jan 2022 Edition


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