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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
10 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the “fake auctions that were shared widely on social media are just the latest examples of how technology is being used – often with ease, speed and little expense – to put women at risk through online abuse, theft of privacy or sexual exploitation,” meanwhile Lithuania has paid more than $110,000 to Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo detainee known as the “forever prisoner”, in compensation for having allowed the CIA to hold him at a secret site where he was subjected to forms of torture, and lastly a new report finds that HSBC holds more than £2m worth of shares in a subsidiary of a China paramilitary organization that has been accused of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Hikmet Karcic for Haaretz on how “Europe’s nativist, anti-Muslim far right is affirming its grim alliance with Bosnia’s belligerent Serb nationalists, joining endorsements from Russia and China.” This and more below:


10 Jan 2022

Europe’s Far Right Joins Russia and China Backing Bosnia’s Serb Secessionists | Recommended Read

Thirty years later, Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the country’s tripartite presidency, is calling for the secession of the country’s Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska. Over the last decade, Dodik has become widely known for his anti-Bosniak rhetoric, genocide denial, and political posturing. Backed by Serbia and with support from the Russian Federation, Dodik has been able to position himself as a key destabilizer in the region. In addition, he has cultivated increasingly close ties to far-right nativist leaders in Europe. In recent months, Dodik’s threatening and hateful rhetoric have intensified, resulting in the worst political crisis in the country since of the end of the war. He has recently announced that the Bosnian Serbs will withdraw from state institutions and rebuild the Bosnian Serb Army— the military force responsible for the siege of Sarajevo and the genocide in Srebrenica, as well as mass graves, detention centers, and rape camps that characterized the Bosnian War. With these threats, Dodik has crossed a red line. Such actions could quickly ignite conflict in the entire region, endangering the peace and stability that has been painstakingly built over the last 30 years. With the European Union more divided and incapacitated than ever, and United States preoccupied with China, Bosnia and Herzegovina is once again relegated to the periphery. Recently another far-right nativist leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, started mingling in the crisis. Orban announced that Hungary will block any moves by the EU to sanction Dodik and stated that Hungary will provide €100 million in aid to the Bosnian Serb entity. The reason for this? The answer lies in a speech by Orban in Budapest, tweeted out by his spokesman Zoltán Kovác. When asked about Bosnia, Orban replied: "The challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims." Unsurprisingly, Dodik has longstanding ties with other far right European politicians known for their hostility towards Muslims, from Austria’s Freedom Party to France’s Marine Le Pen. Several of Le Pen's party representatives are attending an event Sunday in the Republika Srpska capital, Banja Luka, commemorating 30 years since the entity’s founding – in effect, celebrating the result of the Bosnian Serbs’ ethnic cleansing and genocide. Joining them will be the Russian ambassador and the Chinese deputy ambassador. In a tweet both ironic and revealing, one of the French far right officials stated they were attending to show their commitment to "peace" and "respect for the identities of peoples." read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Bosnian Serbs hold nationalist celebration despite ban, sanctions

Bosnian Serbs have held public celebrations to mark their autonomous Serb Republic’s national holiday, defying a top court’s ban of the commemoration and US sanctions slapped on their leader Milorad Dodik this week. The January 9 holiday commemorates the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It ignited a devastating, nearly four-year-long war which led to some 100,000 people being killed. The date also coincides with a Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday, and it was this religious component that led Bosnia’s Constitutional Court to declare the holiday illegal as it discriminated against the region’s Muslim Bosniak and Catholic Croat communities. Taking part in the parade on Sunday were more than 800 armed police officers, including members of anti-terrorist units, gendarmerie and cavalry, who marched alongside students, war veterans and athletes through the streets of the region’s largest city Banja Luka. Crowds of onlookers and those marching waved Serb red, blue and white flags. The members of a special police unit sang songs referring to the Serb Republic as the state of Christian heritage. Al Jazeera’s Liljana Smiljanic, reporting from Banja Luka, Bosnia, said while for the Serbs the date was a “sacred” one, it meant something completely different for Bosniaks. “They [Bosnian Serbs] say it [January 9 holiday] guarantees liberty for them, and the best conditions to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand for Bosniaks … it is the start of the war horrors that they endured during the 90s, and later on war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica,” she added. The parade and other ceremonies were attended by the top officials of neighbouring Serbia, including Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic. Russian and Chinese diplomats in Bosnia and several officials of France’s far-right National Rally party were also present. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

HSBC holding shares in China firm linked to human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims

HSBC holds more than £2m worth of shares in a subsidiary of a China paramilitary organisation that has been accused of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, it has been revealed. The British bank has £2.2 million of shares in Xinjiang Tianye, which is a chemicals and plastics company, for an anonymous client. The firm’s parent company is Xinjiang Tianye Group – a paramilitary and economic organisation that has helped the Chinese government monitor and detain Uyghur Muslims in the northern province of Xinjiang – which is currently under US sanctions. The Sunday Times reports that the firm is under a raft of American sanctions, which make it illegal for US citizens to do transactions or services for Xinjiang Tianye Group. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Airbnb questioned over Xinjiang business amid Uighur ‘genocide’

Two members of the US Congress have raised concerns about home rental firm Airbnb Inc’s business activities in China’s Xinjiang region, where Washington says Beijing is committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic groups. Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative James McGovern, two Democrats who respectively chair and co-chair the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, sent Airbnb a letter (PDF) asking about some of its listings in Xinjiang and other issues. The legislators said they were raising “questions about Airbnb’s commitment to human rights and anti-discrimination in China as it sponsors the Beijing Winter Olympics” that starts next month. “While Airbnb continues to maintain listings in the XUAR, it has not publicly condemned the continuing genocide taking place there, or other egregious, systematic human rights abuses being carried out against ethnic minorities in China,” the letter said, referring to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Lithuania pays Guantánamo ‘forever prisoner’ Abu Zubaydah €100,000 over CIA torture

Lithuania has paid more than $110,000 to Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo detainee known as the “forever prisoner”, in compensation for having allowed the CIA to hold him at a secret site outside Vilnius where he was subjected to forms of torture. Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan six months after 9/11. The CIA and lawyers for the Bush administration attempted to justify his torture by claiming he was a very senior figure in al-Qaida. It emerged that he was not a member of the organisation and he has never been charged with involvement in 9/11. For much of the time since his arrest, Zubaydah has been held incommunicado, at the insistence of the CIA as part of its efforts to prevent details of his torture from becoming public. Lawyers for Zubaydah believe it is highly unlikely that Lithuania would have made the compensation payment without approval from Washington. “The situation is a lot less incommunicado when you pay €100,000 to someone and the whole world knows about it,” Mark Denbeaux, one of Zubaydah’s legal team based in the US, told the Guardian. read the complete article

United States

10 Jan 2022

No escape from Guantánamo

He was 5,500 miles and seven years away from Guantánamo Bay, where he was locked up for more than a decade, but Sliti still felt like a prisoner. He had encountered roadblock after roadblock as he tried to rebuild his life in this Central European country that had agreed to resettle him. Now, he was composing yet another angry missive to the Slovak government, the only recourse for his grievances since the Americans left him here. Sliti arrived at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002, as the facility was rapidly filling with people the U.S. government had apprehended abroad in its new war on terror. Like the vast majority of the 780 men eventually detained there, he was never charged with a crime. When Sliti was released after 12 years, the U.S. sent him to Slovakia, instead of home to Tunisia. By that point, the U.S. government was increasingly sending its former detainees to third countries for resettlement. Though a majority of former Guantánamo detainees were returned to their home countries, about 20 percent have ended up elsewhere. But forging a life in Slovakia has been hard, Sliti said. Stigma, poverty and continuing persecution on top of the years of abuse endured at Guantánamo present formidable obstacles to resettlement, said former detainees and their attorneys. The Americans falsely imprisoned and tortured them, deprived them of any public exoneration, and then abandoned them after their release, the men said. “They destroyed my life,” Sliti, 55, said of the U.S. government. “I am sick now, I am mentally sick. Every day, I get angry with my wife. It’s not good. I am stressed. But America doesn’t care what happens to people after they leave Guantánamo.” read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Biden's low profile on Guantanamo rankles as prison turns 20

Advocates for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center were optimistic when President Joe Biden took office. And they were relieved this summer after the U.S. released a prisoner for the first time in years. Many are now increasingly impatient. In the months since that release, there have been few signs of progress in closing the notorious offshore prison on the U.S. base in Cuba. That has led to increased skepticism about Biden’s approach as the administration completes its first year and the detention center reaches a milestone Tuesday — the 20th anniversary of the first prisoners' arrival. “President Biden has stated his intention to close Guantanamo as a matter of policy but has not taken substantial steps toward closure,” said Wells Dixon, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has long taken a leading role in challenging the indefinite confinement without charge at the base. Without a more concerted effort, those who want the center to close fear a repeat of what happened under President Barack Obama Obama made closing Guantanamo a signature issue from his first days in office, but managed only to shrink it in the face of political opposition in Congress. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Former House Staffer Opens Up About How Conservative Media Ruined His Life

Imran Awan thought he was living the American dream. As a teenager in Pakistan, Awan spent money he received during the Muslim holiday of Eid on an application for the United States’ green card lottery and won. After immigrating with his family to northern Virginia, Awan built his life from almost nothing to become a shared IT employee for dozens of House Democrats, eventually landing similar jobs in the House for three family members and a friend. But early in the Trump era, Awan found himself hounded by House Republicans, the Justice Department, and the conservative media. Thanks to conspiracy theories propagated in right-wing media outlets, Awan was turned from a total unknown into an arch-villain, accused of spying for Pakistan, extortion, and even murder. Seeking to deflect attention from the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Trump demanded prosecutors look into Awan, dubbing him “the Pakistani Fraudster.” “We just had everything going for us,” Awan told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview in March 2021. “Until that happened.” After an exhaustive FBI investigation, Awan ultimately pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of making false statements to obtain a loan related to rental properties. His plea deal, which came with no prison time, included an unusual condition: a statement from prosecutors saying they had found no evidence tying Awan to all the other, far more serious crimes that conservative media outlets had accused him of. Awan talked for the first time about how his life and the lives of his family and friends were destroyed by stories in the conservative media, led by a reporter for the right-wing Daily Caller. The attacks were often tinged with Islamophobia and racism—one anti-Muslim blogger claimed Awan ran a “Muslim spy ring.” Awan, who has returned to Pakistan, thinks he made an easy target for Republican conspiracy theorists because he was a Muslim immigrant. “If I was a white guy, with all due respect, nothing would have happened,” Awan said. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Biden sets the stage for the next Muslim ban

Five years ago this month, on Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order he labeled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” Known as the “Muslim ban,” the order – with its misspellings and misstatements of facts and law – was enacted under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which essentially gives a president unilateral authority to ban certain classes of foreign nationals. The Muslim ban triggered global outrage as thousands of Americans rushed to the airports to support international travelers. Democrats, including then-candidate Joe Biden, urged limits on the president’s power to unilaterally enact travel bans. Fast forward five years, and even though the Muslim ban is no more, the basis for it – Section 212(f) – remains unchecked. Like his predecessor, Biden has leaned in on using Section 212(f) to enact his own travel bans with minimal checks or consultation with Congress. Originally enacted in 1952, Section 212(f) provides the president with authority to suspend from entry “any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States” whose entry would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” As potent and open-ended as the statute is, few presidents bothered using Section 212(f) until President Trump. Referring to Section 212(f) as his “magical authority” to restrict immigration, Trump turned to it in the first week of his presidency to institute the Muslim ban that he had promised as a candidate. Although lower courts rejected the Muslim ban as discriminatory, the Supreme Court upheld the ban in Trump v. Hawaii. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Islamophobic remarks by members of Congress betray American values

In early December, a group of 50 Muslim Capitol Hill staffers wrote a letter calling on House leadership to categorically reject “incendiary rhetoric” in the workplace. More than 350 additional staffers signed the letter as well. Imagine having to go to work every day knowing that, because of your religion, the people you have to sit across the table from and work with hate you, fear you and question your commitment and loyalty. Imagine passing your colleagues in the hallways at work who you know spread lies about you, demonize and denigrate your faith and vilify your community. And imagine, in the face of all this, having no recourse, no human resources department to which you can address your grievances, no bosses committed to addressing your fears and concerns and remedying the hostile environment they oversee. No one should have to tolerate it. Yet these are the experiences of Muslim staffers and representatives who go to work on Capitol Hill every day, according to the open letter and three staffers I spoke to. Islamophobia is nothing new in America. In fact, it’s nothing new in U.S. Congress or in our politics. As trends over the past few years have shown, Muslims, their places of work and organizations are still the focus of mass surveillance and bigotry. Pew Research Center has pointed out that in surveys measuring how warmly Americans view religious groups, they put Muslims at the bottom with atheists. In September, Pew reported that "views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarized along political lines,” with Republicans more likely to associate Islam with violence. When the House discussed an anti-Islamophobia bill in response to Boebert’s comments, the debate only fueled more anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate from some GOP members. The question is, what allows Republicans like Bachmann, Myrick, Boebert and others to keep pushing sinister and disgusting lies that Muslim Americans in government are working on behalf of terrorist organizations to advance extremist ideologies? If those whom we elect to uphold and represent our values are spewing hate and bigotry, then what does that say about our values and our society when this goes unpunished? read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Who’s spying on Muslim communities?

America's largest Muslim civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR says it has identified two spies sending information and recordings to an anti-Muslim organisation, the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The revelation of moles within the Muslim community has raised the question as to whether other communities are also being spied on without any justification. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Hindus Raise The Red Flag Over Islamophobic Bill At The Capitol

The Hindu-Muslim conflict that has been a part of the landscape of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has now expanded to the U.S. and the battle has now engulfed the corridors of the Capitol Hill. The Combating International Islamophobia Act would establish a special envoy office at the U.S. State Department to monitor and combat international Islamophobia. During the act's floor debate the Biden-Harris Administration issued a statement of administration policy that "supports passage of H.R. 5665, the Combating International Islamophobia Act." CAIR also welcomed Senator Cory Booker’s introduction of a U.S. Senate companion to the Combating International Islamophobia Act. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Dec. 14, 2021 applauded the U.S. House of Representatives 219-212 vote to approve Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky’s Combating International Islamophobia Act (H.R. 5665). Hindu groups in the U.S. have started a campaign to oppose the Bill S.3384 "Combating International Islamophobia Act" This Act can be used to target organizations within the United States that support legitimate Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain organizations globally says Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT). It can also be used to target Hindu. Sikh, Buddhist and Jain organizations and individuals working in different parts of the world. This act can be used to legitimize child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and will more certainly be used to discriminate against non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries, HinduPACT says. The HinduPACT Legislative Action Team has drafted a campaign letter to be sent to the senators. The letter is titled, “Amend Senate Islamophobia Act S3384 to Protect Civil Liberties Globally. read the complete article


10 Jan 2022

Prominent Muslim women made to feel like 'cattle' as Islamophobic app 'auctions' them off

Amin, who works as the social media convenor for India's Congress Party, was one of more than 100 influential Muslim women featured on "Bulli Bai" — an app hosted on GitHub, which has since been taken down. "Bulli Bai" is a phrase that combines vulgar slang for the word "penis" in southern India with a word common in northern India meaning "maid," according to Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Indian fact-checking website Alt News, per CNN. "Bulli Bai" featured stolen images of exclusively Muslim women and offered them for "sale" in fake auctions. Users "offered their price" for the women by sharing their profiles to Twitter in quote tweets, Amin said. "The commentary was very sexual in nature, extremely explicit," she explained. "They were also very classist and Islamophobic." Indian police have arrested four people in connection with the app, BBC News reported. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

‘Auction’ of India’s Muslim women shows tech weaponised for abuse

Six months ago, pilot Hana Khan saw her picture on an app that appeared to be “auctioning” dozens of Muslim women in India. The app was quickly taken down, no one was charged, and the issue shelved – until a similar app popped up on New Year’s Day. Khan was not on the new app called Bulli Bai – a slur for Muslim women – that was hawking activists, journalists, an actor, politicians and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as maids. Amid growing outrage, the app was taken down, and four suspects were arrested last week. The fake auctions that were shared widely on social media are just the latest examples of how technology is being used – often with ease, speed and little expense – to put women at risk through online abuse, theft of privacy or sexual exploitation. For Muslim women in India who are often abused online, it is an everyday risk, even as they use social media to call out hatred and discrimination against their minority community. Advances in technology have heightened risks for women across the world, be it trolling or doxxing with their personal details revealed, surveillance cameras, location tracking, or deepfake pornographic videos featuring doctored images. Deepfakes – or artificial, intelligence-generated, synthetic media – are used to create pornography, with apps that let users strip clothes off women or replace images of their faces in explicit videos. Digital abuse of women is pervasive because “everybody has a device and a digital presence,” said Adam Dodge, the chief executive of EndTAB, a United States-based nonprofit tackling tech-enabled abuse. “The violence has become easier to perpetrate, as you can get at somebody anywhere in the world. The order of magnitude of harm is also greater because you can upload something and show it to the world in a matter of seconds,” he said. read the complete article

10 Jan 2022

Sulli Deals: Police arrest man for making app to auction Muslim women

Police in India have arrested a man suspected of creating an app that put up photos of more than 80 Muslim women for "sale" online last year. The open source app - Sulli Deals - had been hosted on web platform GitHub in July 2021. The 25-year-old was arrested days after a similar app - Bulli Bai - uploaded photos of more than 100 Muslim women. Four students, including a 21-year-old student who allegedly created the second app, were arrested. In both cases, there was no actual sale, but the purpose was to degrade and humiliate Muslim women, many of whom have been outspoken about the rising tide of Hindu nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Sulli" is a derogatory Hindi slang term right-wing Hindu trolls use for Muslim women, and "bulli" is also pejorative. After the Bulli Bai app generated outrage online, one of the women who had filed a police complaint in July alleged that police in the capital Delhi had not taken any action yet. On Sunday, police arrested Aumkareshwar Thakur from Indore city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Police told BBC Marathi that Mr Thakur's name came up while Neeraj Bishnoi, the alleged creator of the Bulli Bai app, was being questioned. read the complete article


10 Jan 2022

Once Europe’s liberal hope, Macron is now prey to France’s toxic populism

It’s as though French planners and architects, in their embrace of modernity, lost touch with what it means to be human. It has been an important trigger for a toxic brew of Islamophobia and wider cultural despair. The political consequences, now playing themselves out, will ricochet around Europe and the west. The presidential elections this spring will be dominated by the right, overtly mouthing implacable opposition to immigration that even Nigel Farage, who shares similar sentiments, dares not use so openly in Britain. French socialism has collapsed before the onslaught, while the mainstream right candidate – Valérie Pécresse – is compelled to shore up her position by echoing the same tropes. The pace is being set by presidential candidate and TV celebrity Éric Zemmour, who burst on to the scene last autumn. He is a hardline Islamophobe who argues that France is about to be overrun by Islam, dignified as “the great replacement”. He is joined by the longstanding representative of the nativist right, Marine Le Pen, who has been saying similar things, echoing her father, for years. Extraordinarily, together they command just over 30% of opinion poll support. President Emmanuel Macron, seen only five years ago as representing a new, self-confident majoritarian blend of liberal social democracy and liberal conservatism, is only just ahead of them both, polling around 24%. It is hardly a ringing endorsement of his years in office or his aim to transcend left and right. French Muslims, for their part, are disproportionately crowded into the soulless concrete jungles of the banlieues – marginalised, segregated and isolated into what the former prime minister Manuel Valls called “territorial, social and ethical apartheid”. Add to the mix the fallout from the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East and there is the perfect recipe for a dark, vicious circle of marginalisation that is feeding Muslim extremism. Macron has found himself impossibly squeezed. No extra powers to deport, to investigate, to arrest, to attempt to assimilate before this evident threat are enough for the Islamophobes. Speeches proclaiming faith in republican western values seem beside the point. And all against a wider sense that France is in decline. It is potent material for ideologues. read the complete article


10 Jan 2022

Fire destroys hundreds of homes in Bangladesh Rohingya refugee camp

A fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, destroying hundreds of homes, according to officials and witnesses, though there were no immediate reports of casualties. The blaze hit Camp 16 in Cox's Bazar, a border district where than a million Rohingya refugees live, with most having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. Mohammed Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control. The cause of the blaze has not been established, he added. "Everything is gone. Many are without homes," said Abu Taher, a Rohingya refugee. Another blaze tore through a Covid-19 treatment center for refugees in another refugee camp in the district last Sunday, causing no casualties. A devastating fire last March swept through the world's biggest refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar, killing at least 15 refugees and burned down more than 10,000 shanties. Estimates of the number of Rohingya refugees living in Cox's Bazar range from 800,000 to more than 900,000, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children. Most of the refugees have fled from persecution in neighboring Myanmar. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Jan 2022 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results