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
17 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: During a recent US congressional briefing, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, said there were early “signs and processes” of genocide in the Indian state of Assam and Indian-administered Kashmir, meanwhile the United Nations has voiced concern at recent incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, fearing inflammatory acts will escalate ahead of elections this year, and in the United States, CAIR is claiming that the Investigative Project on Terrorism targeted African American Muslims and the organizations that worked with them in a multi-year effort. Our recommended read of the day is by Martina Burtscher for Truthout on what life is like for individuals who’ve been released from Guantanamo, noting that many have been deprived of citizenship or residency rights resulting in them unable to get a job, and access health care (including psychological support), education and other vital services. This and more below:

United States

17 Jan 2022

Even After Release, Guantánamo Survivors Live Under Surveillance and in Anguish | Recommended Read

The 741 men who have been released have been almost entirely forgotten by the public. The truth is that the U.S. has largely washed its hands of those it tortured and imprisoned without charge or trial for years on end, outsourcing its responsibility to support the reentry of these men to other countries, usually in the Global South, in some cases with fatal consequences. I work for the only project in the world that is solely dedicated to assisting people formerly imprisoned in Guantánamo to rebuild their lives — a project run by the human rights charity Reprieve. Many of the men we’ve assisted have been dropped by the U.S. into a country they’ve never been to before, where they have no contacts or networks and possibly don’t even speak the language. Our research shows that almost one in three detainees who have been resettled in third countries have not been granted legal status documents. And even those who are granted residency find that rather than receive the support they need, they are stigmatized and kept under surveillance. Often, host countries don’t allow the family of the former detainee to join him or even visit, after families have already been kept apart for so long. In one of the most heart-breaking cases I’ve worked on, the host country refused visit requests from the former detainee’s mother for five years, and by the time they finally acquiesced, she had died, having not seen her son for more than 20 years. Deprived of citizenship or residency rights, people who were previously imprisoned in Guantánamo cannot get a job, access health care (including psychological support), education and other vital services. They may not be able to open a bank account, get a driver’s license, and if living in a country with checkpoints, can’t pass through them. Without this most basic passport to participation in society, they are effectively confined to the shadows. The program that I work for, called “Life After Guantánamo,” tries to help survivors of Guantánamo living in these dire circumstances. Founded by Reprieve in 2009, the program has helped 130 men living in 29 countries. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

“Guantánamo is like a tomb”: the Syrian trying to rebuild his life in Uruguay after spending 12 years in the most controversial prison in the US

Ahjam, of Syrian origin, was sent to Guantanamo in June 2002 after being arrested by Pakistani security forces and delivered to USA. He spent 12 years and six months locked up there, until he was transferred to Uruguay with the approval of an intergovernmental commission in Washington that reviewed his case. He arrived in the South American country along with five other former Guantánamo inmates in december 2014, after a bilateral agreement. But today at 44 years of age, Ahjam is still trying to rebuild his life in Montevideo and measures his words in Spanish to refer to the most controversial prison in the US. “If we are going to talk, we don’t stop for days, because it is a life there. But I can tell you: Guantánamo is like a tomb. The one who is lucky, goes out to walk on Earth again,” says Ahjam in an interview with BBC Mundo. Ahjam argued that was sold by Pakistani forces for a bounty paid by the Americans. By transferring him and five other former Guantánamo inmates to Uruguay, the US government ruled out that they were dangerous. Ahjam says he suffered abuse during “the first four or five months” he was in that jail, such as being deprived of bathrooms or clean clothes. He also described mistreatment by Guantánamo soldiers, for example for leaving a towel in a prohibited place in his cell. When asked if he thinks Guantánamo will one day close, he replies that he at least hopes for a change. “Nothing goes on forever,” he says. “That is what is clear to me. It was clear to me in prison: everything has a beginning and an end point.” read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

20 years in, what's next for Guantanamo Bay and the 39 prisoners still there

The U.S. military court and prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tend to be forgotten places. Last week was the 20th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving there. They were suspected terrorists rounded up after the September 11 attacks. And last week, the Biden administration cleared another five prisoners for release. At this point, roughly half the 39 men there have been determined safe to be let go but are still being held. That's because the U.S. must find countries to take them, and the Trump administration eliminated the government office that used to negotiate those deals. But last summer, the Biden administration did release one prisoner to Morocco. So I asked Karen Greenberg, who directs Fordham University Law School's Center on National Security and writes often about Guantanamo, if that indicates to her that behind-the-scenes work is going on to send prisoners home. KAREN GREENBERG: You know, this is something I ask myself all the time. And with my rose-colored glasses always like, yes, please let us know that there are things going on quietly behind the scenes. I certainly hope that there's a plan to actually get these people transferred and released out sooner rather than later. Reasons for closing it are it violates American law. It violates military law. And it violates international law. We do not hold people in indefinite detention, particularly once a war is over. I would say another reason for not keeping it open is that the idea that the federal courts can't try these terrorists is such a vulnerability. And the basic reason that we haven't been able to try these in federal courts at Guantanamo is the fact that these individuals were tortured and that the evidence that we presented would be tortured, that witness testimony would be tortured and that the defense is constantly bringing legitimate claims about what the torture has done to the evidence, to their clients and to the entire context of the military commissions. And so I think that, in a way, we have turned a page with Biden. And we can now put these cases to rest and begin to move on. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

African American Muslims among those targeted by anti-Muslim group

A Muslim American civil rights advocacy group is claiming the Investigative Project on Terrorism targeted African American Muslims and the organizations that worked with them in a multi-year effort. The Council on American Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights group, is currently conducting an ongoing internal investigation over claims it was spied on by the D.C.-based Investigative Project on Terrorism. Last month, CAIR said its longtime officer of a Ohio chapter of the organization, Romin Iqbal, had admitted to providing information to IPT in an incident that CAIR described as “spying.” In a press conference on Wednesday (Jan. 12), CAIR revealed a second IPT informant, Tariq Nelson of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, one of the D.C. region’s largest mosques. In a Jan. 11 statement, Nelson said he accepted $3,000 a month from IPT to provide information on Muslim Americans from 2008 to 2012. Nelson admitted he agreed to undertake the work for largely financial reasons, having personally been hit by the 2008 economic recession. Nelson, an African American Muslim, said he was approached directly by Steve Emerson, the founder of IPT, to provide information on CAIR activities. CAIR said Keith Ellison, one of America’s most prominent African American Muslims, was a “main target” of IPT efforts. Nelson said he provided IPT with an audio recording of then-Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in 2010. That recording later emerged during Ellison’s campaign to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. CAIR also shared screenshots of what it said was a leaked internal email that showed an interest in efforts to discredit the Muslim Alliance of North America, a leading African American Muslim organization. The authenticity of those screenshots could not be verified. read the complete article


17 Jan 2022

India's Hindu extremists are calling for genocide against Muslims. Why is little being done to stop them?

Analysts say the Hindu Mahasabha is at the tip of a broader trend in India which has seen an alarming rise in support for extremist Hindu nationalist groups since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power nearly eight years ago. Although these groups aren't directly associated with Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his own Hindu nationalist agenda, and the lack of repercussions for these groups' previous vitriolic comments, has given them tacit support, making them even more brazen, analysts say. Analysts fear this rise poses a serious danger to minorities, especially Muslims -- and worry it may only get worse as several Indian states head to the polls in the coming months. "What makes the Hindu Mahasabha dangerous," said Gilles Verniers, an assistant professor of political science at Ashoka University near India's capital, New Delhi, "is that they have been waiting for a moment like this in decades." Founded in 1907 during British rule at a time of growing conflict between Muslims and Hindus in the country, the Hindu Mahasabha is one of India's oldest political organizations. The group didn't support British rule, but it didn't back India's freedom movement either, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was particularly tolerant of Muslims. Even now, some members of the group worship his assassin, Nathuram Godse. The Hindu Mahasabha's vision, according to the group's official website, is to declare India the "National Home of the Hindus." The website says if it takes power, it will not hesitate to "force" the migration of India's Muslims to neighboring Pakistan and vows to reform the country's education system to align it with their version of Hinduism. With its controversial campaigns and ideology, Hindu Mahasabha has always been a marginal political force. The last time the group had a presence in Parliament was in 1991. But according to Verniers, their "strength is not to be measured in electoral terms." And in the past eight years since Modi came to power, they appear to have expanded in numbers and influence based on the size and frequency of their meetings, he said. While the group does not publicly disclose how many members it has, Verniers said they are "comfortably in the tens of thousands." read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

Expert warns of impending ‘genocide’ of Muslims in India

A genocide of Muslims in India could be about to take place, an expert said to have predicted the massacre of the Tutsi in Rwanda years before it took place in 1994, has warned. Gregory Stanton, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, said during a US congressional briefing there were early “signs and processes” of genocide in the Indian state of Assam and Indian-administered Kashmir. “We are warning that genocide could very well happen in India,” Stanton said, speaking on behalf of the non-governmental organisation he launched in 1999 to predict, prevent, stop and seek accountability for the crime. Stanton said genocide was not an event but a process and drew parallels between the policies pursued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government against Rohingya Muslims in 2017. Among the policies he cited were the revocation of the special autonomous status of Indian-administered Kashmir in 2019 – which stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades – and the Citizenship Amendment Act the same year, which granted citizenship to religious minorities but excluded Muslims. Stanton, a former lecturer in genocide studies and prevention at the George Mason University in Virginia, said he feared a similar scenario to Myanmar, where the Rohingya were first legally declared non-citizens and then expelled through violence and genocide. “What we are now facing is a very similar kind of a plot,” he said. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

Muslim women in India horrified to find themselves up for ‘auction’ on racist app

Rehbar, a 27-year-old journalist, is one of about 100 lawyers, activists and other prominent Muslim women in India whose photos appeared on the app, called Bulli Bai, without their consent. The app, whose name is a derogatory Hindi phrase for Muslim women, encouraged users to bid on the women in a fake auction. The app was swiftly taken down, and Rehbar said she deleted her Instagram account and removed her email from Twitter after she found out that her picture had been included. But for many women, the damage had already been done. Rehbar said although she received countless messages of support, there were also unwelcome messages from a number of men. The intent “was to sexually harass, disgrace, humiliate and hate on women for speaking out against the government,” said Rehbar, who is from Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region that is the subject of a territorial dispute between India and neighboring Pakistan. Online harassment is a growing problem in India, researchers say, with women and girls disproportionately affected. A 2020 study of female politicians on Twitter by Amnesty International India found that Muslim women and women from outside the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were greater targets. The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, advocates Hindu nationalism, which envisions a state whose policies elevate the Hindu faith and culture in defiance of India’s secular constitution. Although tensions between India’s Hindus, who make up about 80 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion people, and Muslims, who make up 14 percent, go back hundreds of years, critics say they have intensified under Modi, who took office in 2014. While opposition politicians have condemned the app, the Modi government has been silent. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which includes the Cyber and Information Security Division, did not respond to a request for comment. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

Muslim students wearing hijabs kept out of classrooms for weeks at Indian college

A group of Muslim students from a government college in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have sat outside their classroom for weeks listening to lessons after their principal refused to allow them to wear hijab to class. The four students of the government women’s college in Udupi have been camping outside their classroom since the beginning of the month alleging that they were not being allowed to wear headscarves while in class, Indian media outlets reported. College principal Rudra Gowda was quoted by news agency Press Trust of India as saying that the students were allowed to wear hijab in the school premises, but not inside the classrooms, citing college rules. Earlier, the parents of the four students in a standoff with the college met the authorities but there was no resolution of the issue for over a fortnight, television channel Times Now reported. The principal has said the college will soon call for a meeting with the parents of the women to resolve the issue and explain the rules and regulations of the college, the channel reported. read the complete article


17 Jan 2022

UN raises concerns over hate speech in Bosnia, Serbia

The United Nations has voiced concern at recent incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, fearing inflammatory acts will escalate ahead of elections this year. Bosnian Serbs celebrated their national day on Sunday, marking the creation of the Republika Srpska (RS) – Bosnia’s Serb entity that was declared three decades ago. It was one of the events seen as putting the country on the path to the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, which killed approximately 100,000 people and forced two million others from their homes. In a statement on Friday, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the UN was “deeply concerned” by incidents that saw individuals “glorify atrocity crimes and convicted war criminals, target certain communities with hate speech, and, in some cases, directly incite violence”. Liz Throssell said people had chanted the name of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic during torchlight processions, sung nationalistic songs calling for the takeover of locations in the former Yugoslavia and in one incident, individuals fired shots in the air outside a mosque. Local media and victims’ associations highlighted that in Foca on Saturday several hundred people attended a fireworks display organised by Red Star Belgrade football supporters at which a large portrait of Mladic was unveiled on a building. The former Bosnian Serb general was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes in Bosnia, in particular for the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

China touts support from Gulf states for Uyghur treatment

China said Friday it gained support on issues including the treatment of Uyghur Muslims from a number of Persian Gulf states following talks between their foreign ministers at which they agreed to upgrade relations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the ministers and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf expressed firm support for China’s “legitimate positions on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and human rights.” He said they “expressed opposition to interference in China’s internal affairs and politicization of human rights issues.” They also rejected the “politicization of sports and reaffirmed their support” for China’s hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics that open on Feb. 4, he said. China is accused of detaining more than a million Turkic Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region as part of a campaign to wipe out their traditional culture, language and beliefs. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

The U.S. government is boycotting the Beijing Olympics over human rights. Coke and Airbnb are still on board.

Late last year, human rights activists stood outside the White House for 57 hours urging the United States to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. A few weeks later, they got their wish. Convincing the corporate world to follow suit has proved much harder. For two years, campaigners representing the people of Hong Kong, Tibet and China’s Xinjiang region have been pushing U.S. and Western companies to either drop their sponsorships and broadcasts of the Games, which start Feb. 4, or to publicly condemn the repression Chinese authorities have carried out in those regions. But activists say the risk of offending the rulers of the world’s second-biggest economy has caused the companies to stick with their deals and stay mum on China’s human rights abuses, despite a U.S. State Department determination that China is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority. Over 200 groups worldwide have taken part in the effort, writing letters, organizing petitions and staging protests outside corporate offices to highlight the repression Chinese authorities have carried out against Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers. read the complete article


17 Jan 2022

Fearing 'second-hand victimization,' some newcomers may not reach out to women's shelters: advocate

A lack of cultural understanding in Manitoba's women's shelters is endangering some newcomer women and their children, who may feel they have no choice but to remain in violent households rather than seek help, a concerned advocate says. Safe spaces that provide shelter and resources for women escaping domestic abuse are even more essential now, as research has shown a rise in the frequency and severity of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. "As the mosaic population of Manitoba is changing, there is a great need to also change the way we offer services… which is not done at this time," said Zita Somakoko, who heads the advocacy group Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence. She gave the example of a mother and her son who ate nothing but bread and water for a week because a shelter didn't accommodate their religious dietary needs. In another case, a man was allowed to enter the living quarters of a group of Muslim women who had already removed their hijabs — which many Muslim women wear to maintain modesty and privacy from men they aren't related to. In yet another instance, Somakoko said she had to personally appeal to the executive director of a shelter that was about to evict a woman who had come there to escape violence. The shelter had taken the woman's hesitancy to discuss divorcing her abusive husband as proof that she had made the whole thing up. "That woman reached out because she said, 'they are treating us like I don't know what, it's horrible what is happening here,'" Somakoko said. But "for many cultures, divorce is not something that is easily tackled." She immediately set about trying to convince the shelter that the woman's need for help was urgent. read the complete article

17 Jan 2022

Poll suggests support for Bill 21 provision may have dropped in Quebec

A new poll suggests support may have slipped for a key element of Quebec's secularism law, known as Bill 21. A web panel survey carried out by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies earlier this month found 55 per cent of Quebecers are in favour of banning religious symbols being worn by public school teachers. That appears to be a drop from the results of a previous Leger survey published in September that found 64 per cent of Quebecers were in favour of Bill 21, which applies to civil servants in positions of authority including judges, teachers, and police officers. Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the seeming shift in public opinion could be tied to recent debate on the issue, including the case of an elementary school teacher in western Quebec who was removed from her teaching position in December because her hijab contravenes the law. The incident prompted calls for the federal government to intervene in court challenges against the law and spurred the mayors of several large cities to pledge their support to the legal battle to overturn it. read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Jan 2022

Islamophobia Plagues Our Education, Politics, and Media. Why Is Nothing Changing?

In the past decade, we’ve seen anti-Asian and anti-Muslim sentiments propagated by a range of factors: the Brexit debate; a media that gives 357% more coverage of terrorism where the perpetrators happen to be Muslim; and government prevarication over the definition of Islamophobia. Muslims have been subject to discrimination for generations and continue to reel from its modern-day impact. Despite Islamophobia playing out in politics, education, media and the workplace, very little seems to be shifting – why? In her new book, Tangled in Terror, author, podcaster and poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, 27, says Islamophobia is not a new concept, predating 9/11 and, in the UK, the events of 7/7, by decades, even centuries. “Discourse about Muslims being associated with patriarchy and illiberal norms have been part of the British imaginary for not just the last 20 years but since British imperialism and British colonialism,” she tells HuffPost UK. “The image of Muslims as barbarians, as outsiders is present in the 1800s and even earlier than that, some historians would argue.” Manzoor-Khan believes any productive conversation about Islamophobia has been hijacked by the pressure to name examples or give definitions of it. In her book, she explains that she is more interested in its effects – what Islamophobia actually does to Muslims – and particularly how a preoccupation with convincing people of the reality of Islamophobia distracts from the stealth harm happening to Muslims and other racialised people. “Islamophobia in Britain has become a tool to distract us from the real, serious violence that we face on a systemic scale,” she tells HuffPost UK. How does Islamophobia impact her personally? “This is such a tricky question, because we often reduce Islamophobia to simply slurs and microaggressions,” says Manzoor-Khan. “So if you can’t say ‘somebody tried to rip my hijab off’ or ‘somebody spat at me and called me a terrorist’, then it’s almost seen as Islamophobia has barely impacted you. But the reality is that Islamophobia has affected me at every level of everything. As soon as I stand on the street, in any institution that I go into, I’m visibly Muslim, and I’m associated with all of those caricatures.” read the complete article


17 Jan 2022

Hearings On Rohingya Genocide Case Set for February at World Court

Representatives of Myanmar’s junta are expected to challenge the jurisdiction of the World Court to hear allegations the country committed genocide against its Rohingya minority in a fresh round of hearings from February 21, the attorney general of Gambia, which brought the case, told Reuters on Friday. “A hybrid hearing (is) set to commence on the 21st of February, 2022,” Gambian Attorney General Dawda Jallow said. He added that Aung San Suu Kyi, who led Myanmar’s defence at the first public hearings in 2019 but has since been deposed by the military, had been formally replaced as its top representative in the case. A hybrid hearing is a procedure where some of the participants are present in person and others participate online due to COVID-19 measures. More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military-led crackdown in 2017, and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh. UN investigators concluded that the military campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”. read the complete article


17 Jan 2022

Grandstanding fears as Norwegian mass killer seeks parole

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik goes to court, Tuesday, after 10 years behind bars, claiming he is no longer a danger to society and attempting to get an early release from his 21-year sentence. The far right terrorist has shown no remorse since slaying 77 people in a bomb and gun massacre in 2011, and families of victims and survivors fear he will grandstand his extreme views during the hearing, which experts say is unlikely to deliver him an early release. Randi Rosenqvist, the psychiatrist who has followed up Breivik since his 2012 jailing, says “I can say that I do not detect great changes in Breivik’s functioning,” since his criminal trial when he bragged about the scale of his slaughter, or his 2016 human rights case, when he raised his hand in a Nazi salute. “In principle and practice someone seeking parole would have to show remorse, and to show that they understand why such acts cannot be repeated,” she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jan 2022 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results