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.

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13 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, an academic warns that “Muslim livelihoods are under threat. Calls are being made for genocide of Muslims. It is no longer safe to be Muslim in BJP’s India,” as India’s Supreme Court has issued notice to a northern Himalayan state following a petition that sought to prosecute several Hindu religious leaders for allegedly calling for a “genocide” of Muslims, and in the United States, the Biden administration has approved the release of five men who have been held for years without charge at Guantánamo Bay. Our recommended read of the day is by Michelle Boorstein and Hannah Allam for the Washington Post on the latest information surrounding the revelation that there were spies in CAIR who were passing on confidential information to a known anti-Muslim group. This and more below:

United States

13 Jan 2022

A cryptic email, then a confession: How a Muslim group uncovered moles | Recommended Read

It started with a cryptic August 2019 email with no name and the subject line: “Info you may want.” It took more than a year for the emailer to reappear with something more specific: There is a mole inside your organization. For many U.S. Muslim organizations, surveillance by government and other informants became a regular feature of life in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights group, said the most invasive scrutiny had waned over the past decade. The emails ultimately led CAIR executives to recordings and transcripts that documented what CAIR says is the most extensive known spying on a U.S. Muslim organization in recent memory. Two Muslim activists, CAIR says, had been handing over inside information for years to the D.C.-based Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), which extremism trackers consider an anti-Muslim hate group. The trove of documents and recordings included a 2010 meeting of top U.S. Muslim leaders gaming out responses to hostility toward a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero; a 2015 conversation about stress caused by then-candidate Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric as well as a deadly attack carried out that year by a Muslim couple in San Bernardino, Calif.; and a controversial recording of then-Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) talking about power dynamics in the Middle East. CAIR last month named Romin Iqbal, a longtime Ohio CAIR leader, as one of the informants, and on Wednesday named a second man, Tariq Nelson, 48, who until about a decade ago was an active member of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. This is the first reporting of Nelson’s name, the details of the surveillance, and the perspectives of key people involved, including Nelson, the IPT tipster and the leadership at Dar Al-Hijrah, one of the D.C. region’s largest mosques. CAIR has not commented on Iqbal’s potential motivation. Nelson acknowledged receiving more than $100,000 over three years from IPT, but according to interviews with him and close associates, money was not the sole motivation. In an interview, Nelson said that his early years as a Muslim were spent in some of the more strict interpretations of the faith and that he struggled later to fit in and find his place in more mainstream Islam. He said he rationalized his work for IPT by saying he was trying to convince groups hostile to Islam that his Muslim community was upstanding — while also pocketing the fee for providing what he saw as harmless information. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

U.S. Charities Funneled More Than $105 Million to Anti-Muslim Groups, New Report Finds

A new report revealed that organizations deemed Islamophobic by the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group received more than $105 million in donations from U.S. charities between 2017 and 2019. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a Jan. 11 report titled “Islamophobia in the Mainstream” that it studied the tax records of 50 organizations it had previously identified as the largest funders of anti-Muslim causes, and found that 35 of them were the source of a total of $105 million directed at such groups. CAIR has researched Islamophobia in the U.S. for decades and has been at the forefront of high-profile legal battles involving violations of Muslims’ religious liberties. For the purposes of its research, CAIR identifies organizations as Islamophobic if they support policies that lead to discrimination against Muslims, demean Muslims because of their religion or allege that Islam represents an existential threat to the U.S (or partner with other organizations that do). CAIR’s new report builds upon a longstanding body of research by the organization and other institutions that highlights how money is funneled toward anti-Muslim groups. A series of reports called Fear, Inc., published by the progressive think tank Center for American Progress in 2011 and 2015, were among the first to map out the issue in detail and found that eight charitable foundations spent $57 million between 2001 and 2012 to support the spread of anti-Muslim rhetoric. A 2019 report by CAIR found that the total revenue of anti-Muslim special interest groups surpassed $1.5 billion between 2014 and 2016. Mitchell notes that while 15 of the top 50 charities CAIR identified as giving to Islamophobic groups in 2014-2016 did not do so in 2017-2019, the current number is still “very significant and very concerning.” read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

After 16 years in Guantanamo, will Hambali get a fair trial?

Hambali, who is now 57, has spent the last 16 years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and was described by former US President George W Bush as “one of the world’s most lethal terrorists”. Twenty years since the first detainees were sent to Guantanamo, Hambali remains one of 39 men still held there. “Hambali is a combatant in the war on terrorism in the government’s view and, as such, can be prosecuted for war crimes.” In court documents seen by Al Jazeera, these war crimes relate to the 2002 Bali bombings, which targeted people enjoying a night out in the buzzing Kuta district of the island, and a 2003 attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, in which 12 people were killed. Hundreds were injured in both Jakarta and Bali. Hambali will stand trial with two Malaysians and alleged “accomplices” – Mohammed Nazir bin Lep and Mohammed Farik bin Amin – but some question whether they will be able to get a fair hearing. Detainees such as Hambali, have not only been denied the legal rights and due process that would have been afforded them by the constitution in a trial on US soil, but also the rights in the Geneva Conventions given to those being tried for war crimes. Hambali, through his lawyers, has alleged that he was brutally tortured following his arrest in Thailand in 2003, after which he says he was transferred to a secret detention camp run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and tortured as part of the agency’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program (RDI) which is sometimes referred to as the “torture programme”. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

20 years after he built it, this general wants Guantanamo closed. But he's 'not confident' it ever will be

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General Michael Lehnert says he's losing hope that the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp — which opened 20 years ago this month — will ever be fully shut down. Lehnert, who supervised the initial construction of the prison and served as its first commandant, has been calling for the prison to be closed for years. Can we go back 20 years to when you received the orders to create this prison camp for these detainees. What did you think at that time? I think I felt that somebody needed to find a place to secure what we were calling at that time enemy prisoners of war. There were no facilities in Afghanistan to hold them. But at the same time as I began seeing the detainees arrive, I became less confident that they represented an intelligence treasure trove. And additionally, I think the administration's decision to step away from the Geneva Conventions and treat them as intelligence assets, as opposed to prisoners of war, was unfortunate. Why do you think it's so difficult for various presidents to close this facility? Is there no political will to do so? I think that there's a realpolitik assessment as to whether or not the juice is going to be worth the squeeze. You know, on this 20th anniversary I've done four interviews, and only one was from a U.S. news outlet. So it almost appears that the other countries are more interested in closing Guantanamo than we are. And that's a shame. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

Biden Administration Approves 5 More Guantánamo Releases

A U.S. government review panel has approved the release of five men who have been held for years without charge at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a flurry of decisions released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, but they are unlikely to be freed soon as the Biden administration works to find nations to take them. The disclosure came on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the wartime prison, and President Barack Obama’s last special envoy on the task, Lee Wolosky, used the occasion to urge the White House to shut down the operation. Those recommended for transfer included three Yemenis, Moath al-Alwi, Zuhail al-Sharabi and Omar al-Rammah, and a Kenyan, Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu. All are in their 40s. None of them were ever charged with war crimes and instead were held as “law of war” detainees, the U.S. term for prisoners of the war on terrorism. The Defense Department also released an order approving the transfer, with security measures, of Guled Hassan Duran, 47, of Somalia. His lawyers had earlier disclosed that he had been approved, making him the first detainee who was brought to Guantánamo Bay from a C.I.A. black site to be recommended for release. Mr. Alwi, whom the review board deemed a low-level trainee with no leadership role in Al Qaeda or the Taliban, may be the best known of the five prisoners because of replicas of sailing ships he fashioned from objects in his prison cellblock. The models were the focal point of a show in New York on Guantánamo art, and the subject of an opinion documentary that imagined how he made them. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

CAIR National releases new evidence on spies paid by Investigative Project on Terrorism

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' national office revealed more information on Wednesday afternoon about two people who came forward to say they were involved in a plan to spy on American Muslims for the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Yesterday, CAIR said, further investigation showed that IPT spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to surveil and spy on Muslim organizations and leaders. "The aim of Steven Emerson and the Islamophobes is to prevent the Muslim community and in particular CAIR from gaining prominence and influence in the society," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said. The original tip that there was an IPT mole within CAIR, which turned out to be Iqbal, came from an anonymous former IPT staff member, CAIR officials said on Wednesday. That individual released a statement through CAIR. It said, in part: "My original motivation in working for IPT was the terrorism perpetrated against the United States on September 11, but much of the work we did was not related to terrorism nor to the United States. I came to realize that IPT's main concern was not protecting our national from legitimate threats, but protecting a foreign government — Israel — from legitimate criticism. We were essentially being used as an Israel lobbying organization. Demonizing people who simply have opinions we may not agree with has become sport, yet I was doing it as part of my job." One of the people who actively spied on the American Muslim community for IPT was Tariq Nelson, 48, a Muslim who had been involved in volunteer leadership at a Washington, D.C.-area mosque. After Iqbal was outed, Nelson came forward to confess and apologize, CAIR said on Wednesday. read the complete article


13 Jan 2022

Majoritarian violence is slowly tearing India apart

On the last day of 2021, for example, a leading national daily ran an overtly Islamophobic ad which was funded by the government of Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state. Just a few weeks earlier, several far-right Hindu leaders openly called for genocide against Muslims at a three-day religious summit held in northern India’s Haridwar city. Also in December, India’s far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi made connections between Muslim figures from India’s distant history and current-day “terrorism and religious extremism” in two of his public speeches, implying that India’s Muslims should be held responsible and punished for the alleged crimes committed by their “ancestors”. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who belongs to the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), declared that the state’s upcoming assembly election can be described as “80 versus 20 percent”, not so subtly hinting that he perceives the state elections as a battle between the Hindus, who make up 80 percent of the state’s population, and the 20 percent Muslim minority. The anti-Muslim propaganda perpetrated by India’s elected and unelected leaders in 2021 has also been supported by the country’s brazenly Islamophobic media, as well as anti-Muslim laws and policies passed or proposed in many states. Muslims in India have been feeling under threat since the Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2014. But in the past year, hostility towards this community became even more overt. Today, far-right Hindu nationalists, with the support and at times encouragement of the government and local authorities, are making it clear to Muslims that they are no longer seen as equal citizens in their own country. Their dietary habits and religious rituals are being attacked and even criminalised. Muslim women are being humiliated and harassed just because they are Muslim. Muslim livelihoods are under threat. Calls are being made for genocide of Muslims. It is no longer safe to be Muslim in BJP’s India. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

These Muslim Women Were Fetishized for Their Faith and ‘Auctioned’ Online

When Nadia discovered that she had been put up for a fake auction online, she felt an onslaught of many emotions, except shock. “It would be surprising to me if you told me that such apps or markets don’t exist,” Nadia, whose name has been changed due to safety concerns, told VICE World News. As a female Muslim journalist from Indian administered Kashmir, Nadia experiences constant discrimination and harassment both online and in her daily life. “If you try to understand my intersectionality, you will see the levels of harassment I face and how I have just grown immune to it,” said Nadia. “We have been victims for a very long time of this fetishization and vengeful lust stemming from hate and we have been aware of this since our childhood.” In India, the exoticization and fetishization of Muslim women as sexual objects is peddled by Hindu extremists as a way to humiliate and control the country’s 204 million Muslim population, who comprise 15 percent of the total population of over 1.4 billion. The app known as the “Bulli Bai” commodified outspoken and influential Muslim women like Nadia by posting their photos as though they were being auctioned for virtual sale, along with a link to their social media accounts. Although the auction wasn’t real, its purpose was to sexually obectify and degrade Muslim women, many of whom have spoken out against rising trends of Hindu-nationalism and anti-Muslim hatred under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government. For decades, gendered violence against Muslim Kashmiri women has been characteristic of the conflict in Hindu-majority India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir. But the problem exists elsewhere in the country. Police have linked the creators of both apps to the online alt-right group “Trads” that derives inspiration from neo-Nazi online movements. Trads, which stands for traditionalists, promote genocidal rhetoric against Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs and other minorities in India. For Indian Muslim women who are regularly harassed online, the possibility of Islamophobic physical violence is a real and present danger. Recent data shows a surge in Islamophobic crimes. An independent hate crime tracker documented over 400 hate crimes against Muslims in India in the last four years. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

India’s top court intervenes in hate speeches against Muslims

India’s Supreme Court has issued notice to a northern Himalayan state following a petition that sought to prosecute several Hindu religious leaders for allegedly calling for a “genocide” of Muslims at a closed-door meeting last month. Three Supreme Court judges on Wednesday said they were notifying the Uttarakhand state government that they will investigate the case next week. According to a police complaint, the religious leaders called on Hindus to arm themselves to kill Muslims during a meeting in the northern holy town of Haridwar, in Uttarakhand, in December. The police said they were questioning suspects over the hate speech, but no arrests have been made. The petition filed by retired Judge Anjana Prakash stated that the speeches made at the Hindu religious leaders’ congregation “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens,” according to Bar & Bench, an online portal for Indian legal news. read the complete article

13 Jan 2022

UN official says app targeting Muslim women form of hate speech, must be condemned

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, Wednesday condemned the surfacing of a hate app on which doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded for “auction” and said such incidents need to be prosecuted as soon as they occur. In a tweet Tuesday evening, Varennes said, “Minority Muslim women in India are harassed and ‘sold’ in social media apps, #SulliDeals, a form of hate speech, must be condemned and prosecuted as soon as they occur. All Human Rights of minorities need to be fully and equally protected.” This comes after last week the Delhi Police arrested 26-year-old Aumkareshwar Thakur from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Thakur is believed to be the creator of the hate app which surfaced in July last year in which hundreds of Muslim women, including journalists and activists, were put up for “auction”. This was the first arrest made in the case. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Jan 2022

Is Islam fundamentally incompatible with Britishness?

Historically, the Muslim-British relationship has not been one of abiding animosity, but varied from conviviality to antagonism. Further, Britain has benefitted from Muslim migration. Despite this, the figure of the Muslim is still widely viewed as an obstacle to Britishness and Islamophobia is normalised. The UK, an Anglocentric political project encompassing England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, is based on a notion of Britishness that defines itself in relation to an “Other”. While various national, religious and linguistic and political identities exist across the four states, the idea of Britishness deflects such internal differences. The accommodation of multiple identities within Britishness is possible because Britishness is understood in relation to an “Other”. That is, the “Other” deflects internal differences to highlight what Britishness is not. Over time, the Other has varied from the French, to Catholicism, and (from the 18th century) the colonised. The dominant narrative of the colonised has been racist. Here the colonised are represented as vulgar, ignorant and inferior; colonised peoples stand in stark contrast to Britishness. In other words, Britishness comes to be understood in opposition to the tropes of the colonised. In Britain, representations of the figure of the Muslim have been constructed through theological interpretation, science and popular culture. In service of imperialism, Christian Britain represented itself as a civilisational saviour juxtaposed against “barbaric” Muslims who required religious education. Christian churches supported the representation of Muslims as the infidel Other, who needed to be engaged in a civilising mission. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

13 Jan 2022

Serb anti-Muslim rhetoric destabilizes Bosnia-Herzegovina: OSCE

Inflammatory rhetoric is leading to a spread in hate incidents in Bosnia-Herzegovina, rights and security watchdog the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Wednesday, as unresolved rivalries among its three ethnic groups stoke fears of a new conflict. A spate of security incidents occurred across Bosnia-Herzegovina's Serb Republic in the recent days, with Serb nationalists encouraged by their leader's rhetoric provoking their Muslim neighbors. Shots were fired near mosques during prayers and nationalist songs glorifying convicted war criminals were sung during street celebrations around the Orthodox Christian Christmas and Sunday's banned holiday of the autonomous Serb Republic. "The growing use of inflammatory, divisive rhetoric by some officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including in recent days in Republika Srpska, is contributing to the proliferation of such incidents," the OSCE mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina said in a statement. "The mission cautions against any and all acts that carry the potential to incite conflict and lead to the destabilization of peace and security in Bosnia," it added. Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik, who has been pushing for the secession of the Serb Republic from Bosnia-Herzegovina and its integration with Serbia, has been using ethnic slurs against Muslim Bosniaks, degrading them to a religious group without ethnic identity and ascribing them the "colonial mentality." read the complete article


13 Jan 2022

Balaclavas Are Trendy, but for Some Muslim Women It’s More Complicated

When Sagal Jama, a student and content creator in Toronto, noticed that balaclavas were becoming a popular winter accessory, she was ecstatic. “As the seasons change and trends also change, I feel like I have to force my outfits to the conditions of wearing a hijab and my level of modesty,” she said. She would often have to make adjustments when trying to style trends that didn’t always work with her hijab, but with the balaclava she was able to comfortably participate, simply “purchasing the item and slipping it on the way it is.” Ms. Jama, 21, bought five balaclavas, and she posted videos and photos of herself wearing them on her Instagram and TikTok accounts. But she realized that the trend also brought with it some serious issues. “You can take off a balaclava and abandon the trend, but race, religion and gender are things that somebody can’t just wake up and abandon,” she said. “People are able to wear a balaclava and be perceived as trendy or cool, but a hijab can be seen as a symbol of oppression or political.” The balaclava resembles a hijab, a religious head scarf worn by Muslim women. Head scarves are typically worn to maintain modesty or serve as religious symbols, but can hold different meanings depending on the wearer. Wearing a hijab is often a deeply personal experience. Head scarves are also found in other religions and cultures. And while people wearing balaclavas today are perceived as fashionable, Muslim women wearing hijabs are often discriminated against or are viewed as backward. With the balaclava trend today, and as modest fashion becomes more a part of mainstream fashion, Ms. Bucar added, “Muslim women who cover their heads continue to face discrimination and harassment. Popularity of a garment hasn’t eradicated gendered Islamophobia.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jan 2022 Edition


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