Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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21 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: As hostility and violence against Indian Muslims continues, Juan E Mendez, the first United Nations Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007) speaks with Al Jazeera, describing the situation in India as “dangerous” and “deeply disturbing,” meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) made an exceedingly rare public statement, “calling for accelerated efforts by the US government to transfer all of the [Guantanamo Bay] detainees that it deemed eligible for transfer without further delay, and with due respect for their safety and opportunities for reintegration,” and in France, the Senate has voted in favour of an explicit ban on “the wearing of the veil in sports competitions”, triggering an uproar by women’s rights advocates. Our recommended read of the day is by Josh Rogin for the Washington Post on how the upcoming Winter Olympics in China, where the government is committing a genocide against Uyghur Muslims, is “turning all of its partners into atrocity deniers before our eyes.” This and more below:


21 Jan 2022

The Beijing Olympics has become an exercise in genocide denial | Recommended Read

It’s one thing to stay silent about mass atrocities. It’s quite another thing to actively help the oppressors whitewash their crimes. The Winter Olympics beginning next month in China, where the government is committing a genocide against Uyghur Muslims, is turning all of its partners into atrocity deniers before our eyes. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which consistently stands with the Chinese government against anyone who speaks up against its human rights violations, insists that the Games are strictly apolitical. But that has never really been the case. Before the 1936 Berlin Games, African American runner Jesse Owens spoke out against the persecution of minorities inside Germany (while he still faced personal racial discrimination at home). By winning four gold medals, he was later said to have “single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.” This year, the Olympics are again being held in a country where mass atrocities against minorities are ongoing. Elisha Wiesel, the son of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, told me that every person and organization connected to the Beijing Olympics has a responsibility to avoid complicity in Beijing’s efforts to cover up its barbaric treatment of the Uyghurs. He will echo this call in a speech at a United Nations Holocaust remembrance event next week. So far, the corporations don’t seem ashamed at all. Google and Apple put the Chinese government’s flawed app in their app stores without disclosing the risks to users. The Warriors organization distanced itself from Palihapitiya’s comments, but neither he nor the team mentioned the Uyghurs in their subsequent statements. By both action and inaction, they are helping the Chinese government cover up its repression, mainly because it is in their financial interest, said Michael Sobolik, a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. “When your bottom line depends on a genocidal regime, you become a de facto apologist for a genocide,” he said. “The only difference between Chamath, the IOC and companies like Apple is the degree of how brazen they are.” read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

Interview: ‘UNSC should step in to protect Indian minorities’

Dozens of Hindu religious leaders and politicians gathered last month for a meeting in Haridwar, a prominent pilgrimage site for Hindus in the northern Uttarakhand state, where multiple speakers called on the community to arm themselves for a genocide against the Muslim minority. The videos of the meeting went viral on social media, sparking outrage and prompting calls for the arrest of those who openly called for the killings. In the month since, two speakers have been arrested while others roam free as the police say they are investigating the matter. Meanwhile, experts have raised an alarm. During a congressional briefing in the United States, Professor Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, warned in unambiguous words that a “genocide could very well happen in India”. In August last year, Stanton, who has modelled 10 Stages of Genocide, put India on the 8th stage, i.e. persecution of a community. The remaining two stages are extermination and denial. Juan E Mendez is the first United Nations Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007), appointed by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Mendez has termed the situation in India, home to 200 million Muslims, “dangerous” and “deeply disturbing”. Al Jazeera spoke to him about the explicit calls for genocide against the minority and what the international community, including the UN, can do to prevent it. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

Sport is indifferent to the Uyghur genocide: the Warriors investor said the quiet part out loud

The US state department has described the Uyghur human rights issue as a genocide and the largest-scale detention of an ethno-religious community since the second world war. And yet to hear one leading professional sports owner tell it, “nobody cares”. Chamath Palihapitiya, a billionaire investor in the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, used the most recent episode of his All-In podcast to weigh in, dismissing the Uyghur crisis as “a very hard, ugly truth” that’s “below my line”. When his co-host David Sacks countered that the Uyghurs were a great, if not pressing, concern, Palihapitiya dug in: “If you’re asking me do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country? Not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritise them over us.” There’s no doubt Palihapitiya’s comments were callous, selfish and confirmed popular suspicions of how the 1% views the world. But they were also an honest reflection of the NBA’s attitude towards the Uyghur genocide and China more generally. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

French lawmakers officially recognise China’s treatment of Uyghurs as ‘genocide’

France's parliament on Thursday denounced a "genocide" by China against its Uyghur Muslim population, in a resolution that risks straining ties between Paris and Beijing two weeks before the Winter Olympics. The non-binding resolution, adopted with 169 votes in favour and just one against, was proposed by the opposition Socialists in the lower house of parliament but also backed by President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party. It reads that the National Assembly "officially recognises the violence perpetrated by the People's Republic of China against the Uyghurs as constituting crimes against humanity and genocide". It also calls on the French government to undertake "the necessary measures within the international community and in its foreign policy towards the People's Republic of China" to protect the minority group in the Xinjiang region. read the complete article


21 Jan 2022

Delhi Police Writes to Clubhouse, Google Over Targeting of Muslim Women in Group Chat

The Delhi police on Wednesday wrote to the Clubhouse app and the search engine Google seeking details about the organiser of the alleged audio group chat in which “obscene comments were made against Muslim women”, official sources said. “The police have also identified some members of the group audio chat, which included men and women from both communities, as part of the investigation,” they said. “Google has been asked to provide information about the Clubhouse application as well as the reason behind hosting it on their play store,” they said. “We have identified five to six suspects as of now who were part of the alleged chat room. Many among them are also based outside Delhi and other states. Suspects include both men and women and all of them are adults,” one of the sources said. Police officials said that as per preliminary investigation, it has emerged that all the suspects were using fake names and operated from fake accounts, and efforts are underway to trace their exact locations and nab them. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

The ‘othering’ of Muslims is triggering mental health issues in India

Being increasingly targeted because of their religious identity has begun to exact a mental toll on many Indian Muslims. For Sania Ahmad, a journalist and activist based in India’s capital New Delhi, the very first day of 2022 turned out to be horrible. She was shocked to find her name on an application, Bulli Bai, where hundreds of outspoken Muslim women were being auctioned online. “To function everyday, and try and live a normal life requires superhuman effort, considering the fact that you are having to deal with hate every single day. It has taken every ounce of strength to stand up, despite knowing that society hates you,” she told TRT World. Such incidents have taken a toll on Ahmad’s mental health. “Mental distress is definitely becoming more acute,” she explained. “We have seen how the fringe and hate towards the Muslim community has become mainstream.” What Ahmad or other Muslim women who have popped up in ‘Sulli Deals’ or ‘Bulli Bai’ feel about their mental health is something that has been on a rise because of the general ‘othering’ of the Muslim community. In a research paper published in the Journal of Health Sciences, it was found that Muslims were at a higher risk of anxiety in India compared to Hindus. The paper also found that factors like age, education, media exposure, and gender are also significantly associated with mental health problems. Pooja Priyamvada, a mental health researcher and suicide prevention activist based in New Delhi, also explained how factors like gender, class, and religion play a major role in determining the mental health of an individual. She believes that mistrust between Hindus and Muslims, together which make up nearly 94 percent of the country’s population, has grown so much now that it can even be felt in personal interactions. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

Karnataka: Hindutva Group Members 'Kill' Muslim Man Hours After Giving Anti-Muslim Speech

Sameer Subhansaab Shahpur (20) and his friend Shamseer Khan Pathan (22), were going to a barber shop on a bike when they were attacked, allegedly by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bajrang Dal on Monday, January 17. The alleged attack came only hours after the accused had delivered anti-Muslim speeches in Karnataka’s Gadag district. Ten to 12 Hindutva workers in Nargund town allegedly stabbed Shahpur in the chest with a knife and hit Pathan in the back with a knife as well as a rod. Shahpur succumbed to his injuries at the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hubli at around 6 am on Tuesday while his friend, Pathan remains there in critical condition. On Wednesday, Nargund Police released a press statement in which they said that “communal conflicts” have been reported in the between Hindus and Muslims for the past two months and that students have been “inciting” each other since. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati: Who is the arrested Hindu priest?

Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the 58-year-old head of the powerful Dasna Devi temple in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), was one of several right-wing Hindu leaders who spoke at an event in Haridwar city, where they openly called for violence against Muslims. Videos of the event travelled swiftly on social media, sparking a flurry of shocked and angry reactions, an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and police complaints from concerned citizens. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition demanding an independent inquiry into the event. Mr Narsinghanand is no stranger to controversy. For months, he has been accused of making deeply offensive remarks against women and minorities. His videos and words reach millions on social media, spawning an army of right-wing followers. He has reportedly called Muslims "demons", threatened to "eliminate" them and said he is striving to create an India "free of Islam". In September, police in UP registered three cases against him for allegedly insulting women after a video of him describing female politicians as mistresses of their male counterparts went viral. Mr Narsinghanand is already facing charges in more than 20 different cases, according to his lawyer, Maa Chetnanand Saraswati, who is also a priest at the Dasna Devi temple. read the complete article

United States

21 Jan 2022

20 years later, can the US close Guantanamo?

Almost 800 prisoners passed through its gates since 2002; now 39 remain. Until when? Ever since January 2002, the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has become synonymous for many with abuse of prisoners and disregard for the rule of law. Of its 39 remaining prisoners, 18 are cleared for release, but waiting for a country to take them. Is there hope that this jail will be shut down under US President Joe Biden? Host Steve Clemons asks lawyer John Bellinger III, one of the top legal advisers to the White House and State Department during the establishment of “Gitmo” in the Bush administration; and Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

A Rare Public Wake-Up Call from the ICRC on Guantanamo Transfers

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) made an exceedingly rare public statement on Jan. 18, “calling for accelerated efforts by the US government to transfer all of the [Guantanamo Bay] detainees that it deemed eligible for transfer without further delay, and with due respect for their safety and opportunities for reintegration.” The statement begins by expressing the ICRC is “gravely concerned” – serious language in the diplomatic sphere – “that the remaining people held at Guantanamo Bay have been behind bars for so many years with little or no clarity as to what will happen to them,” noting that some were “deemed eligible for transfer” more than a decade ago. ICRC delegations began visiting the Guantanamo detention facility in January 2002, shortly after it opened. For 20 years, it has been meeting privately with detainees who consent to do so, addressing concerns to U.S. authorities, and facilitating communication between detainees and their families. Crucially, the ICRC’s communications with detainees are confidential, as are its communications with governments that hold them. That’s what enables the organization to maintain trust on all sides of an armed conflict, in situations all over the globe, in order to further its humanitarian mission. It’s also what makes Tuesday’s statement publicly calling on the U.S. government to take action exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented. read the complete article


21 Jan 2022

France votes to ban Muslim women from playing sports with headscarves

France moves closer to barring Muslim women from playing sports in a major setback for human rights in the country. The French Senate has voted to ban conspicuous religious symbols in sports, a move primarily aimed at the country's Muslim women - some of whom may play sports with a headscarf. According to right-wing politicians who voted for the decision, the move targeting the country's Muslim women was taken in the interest of so-called religious neutrality. "This measure aims to suppress all forms of Muslim subjectivity regarding faith and worship, culture and political expression," says Maria De Cartena, a human rights defender in France. In a rare move, the controversial decision was opposed by Emmanuel Macron's government, which has presided over some of the restrictive clampdowns on Muslims in recent years. Approved by 160 votes to 143 in the upper house of parliament on Tuesday, the decision is a demonstration that Islamophobia is institutionalised," added De Cartena, speaking to TRT World. read the complete article

21 Jan 2022

France: Women's rights advocates outraged after Senate votes to ban hijab in sports

French legislators have voted in favour of an explicit ban on "the wearing of the veil in sports competitions", triggering an uproar by women's rights advocates. The lawmakers on Tuesday amended proposed legislation that proposed the prohibition of "the conspicuous wearing of religious signs" while taking part in events and competitions organised by the sports federations. The amendment, proposed by the right-wing group Les Republicains, added the reference to the headscarf (hijab) that many Muslim women choose to wear in public, arguing that headscarves can put the safety of athletes at risk, and that neutrality is required in sports. It was approved by 160 Senate members and rejected by 143. The French government voted against the amendment. France already triggered outrage since an amendment last year to the controversial "separatism bill" that banned girls under the age of 18 from wearing hijab in public spaces. The bill titled "Strengthening the respect of the principles of the Republic” drew criticism on social media and saw the beginning of the “hands off my hijab” campaign. The French football federation already bans women from wearing the hijab in official matches, and headscarves are prohibited in schools and government buildings. read the complete article


21 Jan 2022

Norwegian mass killer Breivik has not reformed, must stay in jail, prosecution says

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who in 2011 killed 77 people and maimed dozens more, has not reformed during his time in prison and should be kept behind bars, a state prosecutor told his parole hearing on Thursday. "He has demonstrated no empathy or genuine regret," Prosecutor Hulda Karlsdottir said in closing remarks at the end of three days in court. "He continues to glorify his own role." Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo and then gunned down 69 more, most of them teenagers, in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity. Having earlier described the murders to the court, the prosecution on Thursday provided a detailed account of the cases of 33 survivors who were shot, many of whom were hit multiple times and injured for life. Breivik's assurances that he will no longer commit violence are simply not credible, Karlsdottir said. "This is a PR stunt," she told the court, referring to the hearing, at the start of which on Tuesday Breivik gave a straight-arm Nazi salute as he entered the courtroom. Breivik, 42, is serving Norway's maximum sentence of 21 years, which can be extended indefinitely if he is deemed a continued threat to society. He is entitled to apply for parole, and said he hopes to be released eventually. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jan 2022 Edition


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