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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14 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Sri Lanka, the government has been carrying out a campaign of harassment targeting the country’s Muslims, including announcing a plan to shut down more than 1,000 Islamic religious schools, meanwhile in China, Chinese athletes participating at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will wear kit made in Xinjiang, where authorities are accused of detaining more than a million Uyghur Muslims in camps and subjecting them to rights abuses including forced labour, and in the United States, a journalist chronicles her two decades worth of research and investigations covering “America’s secretive detention regime,” noting how torture was always a subtext when it came to discussions around the Guantanamo military prison. Our recommended read of the day is by the Economist on how the BJP has done nothing to stop the growing calls for mass violence against Indian Muslims. This and more below:


14 Jan 2022

Hindu bigots are openly urging Indians to murder Muslims | Recommended Read

All Hindus must pick up weapons and conduct a cleanliness drive,” bellowed a Hindu priest at a three-day “religious parliament” in north India last month. Another speaker fired up the large crowd even more crudely: “If a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious.” By “them”, she meant India’s 200m Muslims. Those priests baying for blood are not isolated bigots. Under the Hindu-nationalist government of Narendra Modi, the world’s most populous democracy has seen a growing wave of intolerance. In Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, Muslims have been denied the use of open space to pray because it “offends sentiments”. They have also been denied permission to build mosques. Elsewhere Muslims accused of transporting cattle for slaughter, or of being in possession of beef, are sometimes lynched. Muslim businesses are boycotted. In recent months young Hindu radicals have persecuted high-profile Muslim women by creating apps to “auction” them off. Muslims are not the only target of Hindu chauvinism. In Varanasi, a Hindu temple town, posters warn non-Hindus to stay away. Attacks on Christians, a tiny minority, have risen in recent years. Last week, after Mr Modi, the prime minister, was briefly delayed on an overpass in Sikh-majority Punjab, people associated with his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) warned darkly of a repeat of 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were killed in pogroms after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. In an index of societal discrimination against minorities compiled by Bar Ilan University in Israel, India scores worse than Saudi Arabia and no better than Iran. It is impossible to know the number of hate crimes in the country: independent trackers were shut down in 2017 and 2019, and the government stopped collecting data in 2017. Another reason to worry is the silence of the government. From the prime minister downwards, no senior figure has condemned the drumbeat of incitement. When asked about it by the bbc, one bjp politician ripped off his microphone and stomped off. Academics, bureaucrats and retired army officers have sent anxious pleas to Mr Modi to appeal for calm. Yet only one unimportant official—the vice-president—has spoken up. With big elections due next month, the mood could grow even more fissile. Senior BJP officials stop short of urging people to kill minorities, but they do incite hatred. Yogi Adityanath, the Hindu-nationalist chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state, declared that the vote was about the 80% against the 20%—that is, Hindus against Muslims. read the complete article

United States

14 Jan 2022

CAIR urges US gov’t to probe group accused of ‘spying’ on Muslims

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), on Wednesday urged the FBI and other agencies to probe the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a group the Southern Poverty Law Center says was founded by an “anti-Muslim activist”. Awad accused IPT of surveilling Muslim American mosques and organisations, in coordination with Israeli government officials. Awad’s comments came nearly a month after CAIR’s Ohio chapter announced it had sacked Romin Iqbal, its executive and legal director in the Columbus-Cincinnati area, accusing him of passing confidential information to IPT for years. In an email to Al Jazeera last month, Iqbal’s lawyer declined to comment on the allegations. On Wednesday, CAIR identified a “spy” it said worked with IPT and Emerson to surveil a large mosque in northern Virginia, near Washington, DC. Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR’s deputy director, also reshared emails that the group said showed exchanges between Emerson and Israeli government officials. CAIR has said one screenshot showed an email exchange between Emerson and Israeli government officials who ask him for possible links between Students for Justice in Palestine, a student-led advocacy group active in American universities, and the Palestinian faction Hamas. The screenshot displayed an Israeli government email address. read the complete article

14 Jan 2022

How to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility

The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), a partner of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, has released a package of policy recommendations focused on shuttering the Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) detention facility. “The arrival of the first detainees to Guantánamo on January 11, 2002, ushered in one of the darkest and most ignominious chapters in U.S. history,” says Finkelstein. “Yet 20 years and roughly eight billion dollars later, we still have not achieved justice for the victims of 9/11, and we have tarnished the moral authority of the nation and distorted the rule of law. The CERL Working Group draws together some of the greatest experts in national security law and the law of armed conflict in the country. Its nuanced recommendations provide a path by which the Biden administration can realize its stated goal of closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and restoring integrity to U.S. detainee treatment and policy.” Of the 13 recommendations, nine call for action from the executive branch and four from Congress. read the complete article

14 Jan 2022

Guantánamo Isn’t Ancient History. It Has Become a “Forever Prison.”

As a young lawyer, I first traveled to Guantánamo in 2006 to represent three Uyghurs, including a child, held without charge or trial. I have returned many times in each year since, and represented dozens of other detained men, from Somaliland to Baltimore, in federal courts, military commissions and administrative hearings. I’ve seen about everything there is to see when it comes to challenging unlawful detentions at Guantánamo. This notorious military installation has changed since the first planeload of men arrived from Afghanistan a generation ago, but the lawlessness from which it originated and the human suffering it has caused endure. As Sen. Dick Durbin remarked recently, Guantánamo is “where due process goes to die.” My first trip to “the Island” was profoundly disorienting and disturbing. After a rough flight to the naval station on a charter plane so decrepit it had to stop midway from Fort Lauderdale to be serviced at a seemingly abandoned airstrip in the Bahamas, my co-counsel, our interpreter and I were met by a phalanx of U.S. servicemembers with guns and K-9s. Throughout the next few days, we were searched repeatedly, had our client meetings interrupted for no apparent reason except to disrupt our work and were escorted everywhere like wayward children. This was years after our clients arrived at Guantánamo, but during the height of the “war on terror.” This was the time of shackled men in orange jumpsuits, clients showing up to meetings bearing signs of physical abuse, and denigration of Islam including desecration of the Quran. It was also a time of excessive secrecy. We did not know who was detained at Guantánamo; men were called by internment serial numbers, not their names. We learned who was held, bit by bit, when our clients showed up to meetings with lists of other men in nearby cells who wanted lawyers to challenge their indefinite detention or call their families to say they were alive. Back then, the U.S. considered all detainees hard-core “terrorists” who would kill if they had the opportunity, and detainee lawyers were not welcome at Guantánamo. We were the enemy. read the complete article

14 Jan 2022

GUANTÁNAMO NOTEBOOK: I Spent 20 Years Covering America’s Secretive Detention Regime. Torture Was Always the Subtext.

I would spend the next two decades learning those prisoners’ names and covering the story of America’s not-so-secret terrorism detention complex. It started as a research challenge: to uncover the secrets of what some have called the “American Gulag.” Later, as hundreds more nameless “enemy combatants” were brought to the remote U.S. naval base on the south coast of Cuba, I followed the story through the brief wax and long wane of the Guantánamo news cycle. I wanted to know who was detained and why — and when the “war on terror” would end. I collected boxes of files and spreadsheets of data, building a trove of Guantánamo research as I moved to new jobs and new cities. Along the way, I encountered other reporters and researchers with similar habits and disparate methods, all seeking to understand what was going on down there. It wasn’t until the spring of 2006 that the Pentagon released an official list of detainees’ names. (The list is no longer even available on the .mil website, but it is safe in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.) By that time, I had taken a research position at the New York Times, where I joined reporters in obsessively tracking the flights of the CIA’s secret rendition jets to and from black sites around the globe. We focused on connecting the Guantánamo detainee names with military tribunal documents released following Freedom of Information Act litigation by human rights lawyers and news organizations. Months of work by newsroom engineers produced the innovative interactive database known as the Guantánamo Docket, launched in 2007 and still online. The database, recently updated by Times reporter Carol Rosenberg, now has an extended list of contributors spanning its nearly 15 years of existence. At NPR, where I had by then joined a new investigative team, I worked with criminal justice reporter Carrie Johnson to expose another secretive prison system right here in the U.S., where convicted terrorists, mostly Muslim, were segregated in facilities known as Communications Management Units. Our editors dubbed these prisons “Guantánamo North.” We could not visit the facilities, but we met with prisoners who had been released, including one man at his home in Washington, D.C. When the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the torture regime was released in December 2014, my Intercept colleagues and I mined the text and footnotes to map the black sites and looked for the CIA detainees who didn’t get to Guantánamo. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

14 Jan 2022

Discrimination and harassment haunt Sri Lanka's Muslims

Activists say that the arrest of Mr Hizbullah is part of ongoing harassment of the minority community in recent years. Ethnic fault lines run deep in Sri Lanka, where Muslims constitute less than 10% of the country's 22 million people, who are predominantly Sinhalese Buddhists. Rights groups point out that there had been anti-Muslim riots, targeting houses and businesses, by the ethnic Sinhalese mob even before the Easter Sunday attacks took place. The Easter Sunday bombings were a watershed moment. Weeks after the attacks, Muslim properties and mosques were vandalised by Sinhalese mobs and hate speech became virulent on social media. The Muslim community was demonised and there were calls by Sinhalese hardliners to boycott Muslim shops. During the pandemic, the government initially did not allow the bodies of Covid victims from the minority Muslim and Christian communities to be buried. Several bodies were forcibly cremated, despite experts saying that bodies could be buried with proper safety measures. The cremation of bodies is forbidden in Islam. Officials at that time argued that the burials could contaminate ground water. After an uproar from the minorities and rights groups, the government last year finally allotted a designated space in eastern Sri Lanka for Covid victims to be buried. The government last year also came with a proposal to ban the wearing of burqas and all other forms of face coverings citing national security concerns. A minister said "it was a sign of religious extremism that came about recently". And there was a plan announced to shut down more than 1,000 Islamic religious schools, which the government said were flouting national education policy. read the complete article


14 Jan 2022

Beijing Winter Olympics: Chinese athletes to wear kit from ‘slave labour’ Xinjiang region

Chinese athletes participating at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will wear kit made in China’s Xinjiang region, where authorities are accused of detaining more than a million Uyghur Muslims in camps and subjecting them to rights abuses including forced labour. A factory in Habahe county in Xijnjiang has delivered 2,000 pieces of kit to Beijing, including gloves, ear protectors, and ski suits, according to the South Morning China Post. Human rights advocates say detainees in Xinjiang are forced to work in local farms and factories, and that the global textile industry is tainted by their slave labour. A high Chinese official said providing Chinese athletes with their gear from Xinjiang reflects “the quality of raw materials in the region”. He added that the uniforms were “Xinjiang’s contribution to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics”. read the complete article


14 Jan 2022

Iraq war: Secret memo reveals Bush-Blair plans to topple Saddam Hussein

George W Bush told Tony Blair he did not know who would replace Saddam Hussein in Iraq when they toppled him and that he “did not much care”, according to an explosive top secret account of the meeting seen by Middle East Eye. The former US president was blithe about the consequences of launching an invasion at a crucial meeting with the British prime minister at his Texas ranch in 2002, almost a year before the war was launched. “He didn’t know who would take Saddam’s place if and when we toppled him. But he didn’t much care. He was working on the assumption that anyone would be an improvement,” the British memo, written by Blair's top foreign policy adviser at the time, reads. The memo also reveals how as early as April 2002, more than eight months before United Nations weapons inspectors went into Iraq, Blair was aware that they might have to “adjust their approach” should Saddam give them free rein. This is believed to be the first reference to a strategy which ended with the creation of the infamous “dodgy dossier” of concocted intelligence making the case for war, key details of which were later admitted to be false. The memo hardens the central findings of the public inquiry into the war led by John Chilcot which concluded in 2016 that the UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been explored, that Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam, and that Bush ignored advice on post-war planning. It was written by David Manning, Blair’s top foreign policy adviser, one day after the meeting at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Saturday 6 April 2002. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jan 2022 Edition


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