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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25 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: A new survey in the United Kingdom finds 23.2% of people from upper and lower middle-class social groups harbor prejudiced views about Islamic beliefs compared with 18.4% of people questioned from working-class groups, meanwhile British PM Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry into claims by former minister Nusrat Ghani that she was fired from his government because of her faith, and an imam appointed by PM Johnson’s government to draw up a definition of Islamophobia says he has received no “meaningful engagement” from ministers in years. Lastly, there are growing calls to boycott the Beijing olympics due to China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Nesrine Malik for the Guardian on Tory Islamophobia and how nothing changes after every revelation of anti-Muslim racism in the party, which Malik argues normalizes Islamophobia in the party. This and more below:

United Kingdom

25 Jan 2022

The ugly truth about Tory Islamophobia: forget the assurances, it will happen again | Recommended Read

This is a brief window in which Johnson feels fragile and the Tory-supporting press feels comfortable criticising its man. This means the allegation has the potential to become something that has consequences. It’s a remote possibility, but the fact that it’s on the cards at all seems like a blessing in a country where allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative party are regularly dismissed, minimised or ignored. The dossier of incidents grows year by year. There was the Singh investigation, which was condemned as a whitewash; the quiet reinstatements of Tory councillors suspended after posting vile comments about Muslims, Arabs, and Asians; and the government’s rejection in 2019 of a working definition of Islamophobia adopted by the major opposition parties. Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign, Johnson’s comments on Muslim women, and their careers since then (as well as Crosby’s, who was knighted in 2016), are only a handful of examples of the shocking passes the party has given for Islamophobia in recent years. Every time this makes the news, Muslims in the party, and Muslim members of the public, issue a cry of distress. If they’re lucky, this gets them a sceptical and combative hearing in the media before the news cycle moves on. With every occasion on which nothing changes, Tory Islamophobia is normalised a little bit more; when the next story comes round, it feels slightly less shocking. That applies both to the public and to the victims themselves. But it will happen again. Because the painful truth about Tory Islamophobia is that it is endorsed by too many voters for it to be a political issue that could really hurt the party; polling from 2019 showed that more than half of Conservative party members believe that Islam is a threat to British values. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

Middle-class Britons more likely to be biased about Islam, finds survey

In one of the most detailed surveys conducted on Islamophobia and other forms of racism in modern Britain, data showed 23.2% of people from upper and lower middle-class social groups harbour prejudiced views about Islamic beliefs compared with 18.4% of people questioned from working-class groups. The survey, carried out in conjunction with YouGov, found the British public is almost three times more likely to hold prejudiced views of Islam than they are of other religions, with 21.1% of British people wrongly believing Islam teaches its followers that the Qur’an must be read “totally literally”. “It’s the people from an upper and middle class background, who presumably are university educated, who feel more confident in their judgments but [are] also more likely to make an incorrect judgment,” said Dr Stephen Jones, the report’s lead author. “It’s almost like because they’re more educated, they’re also more miseducated, because that’s the way Islam is presented in our society.” The findings, presented in a report entitled The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain, were based on interviews with a sample of 1,667 people between 20 and 21 July 2021. The survey found more than one in four people, and nearly half of Conservative and Leave voters, hold conspiratorial views about Sharia “no-go areas”, while Muslims are the UK’s second “least liked” group, after Gypsy and Irish Travellers, with 25.9% of the British public feeling negatively towards Muslims. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

The Guardian view on Tory Islamophobia: the rot starts at the top

The prime minister’s decision to order a Cabinet Office investigation into allegations of Islamophobia by the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani is welcome. But as Mr Johnson braces for a tumultuous week in which Sue Gray’s report on “partygate” could conceivably bring him down, it will partly have been motivated by a desire to kick this latest crisis into the long grass. Given the importance of the issues raised by Ms Ghani, their significance must not be lost in the chaos of an administration incapable of focusing on anything bar its own survival. It will be for the inquiry to establish exactly what took place. But that the Conservative party has a long-running problem with Islamophobia is beyond question. Ms Ghani’s decision to go public, after almost two years of anguished silence, should be the catalyst for a robust process of self-examination at all levels of the party – one equivalent to that undertaken on antisemitism by the Labour party. The vocal solidarity expressed by Mr Javid and the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, suggests that a more diverse generation of senior Tories may be better positioned to drive through the cultural transformation that is so badly required. British Muslims will not hold their breath, but change cannot come soon enough. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani row: Imam appointed to define Islamophobia has had ‘no meaningful engagement’ from ministers

An imam appointed by the government to draw up a definition of Islamophobia says he has received no “meaningful engagement” from ministers in years. Qari Asim MBE was commissioned to lead an official process in 2019, but told The Independent that the work “didn’t really start”, and letters to ministers as recently as last month have gone unanswered. The intervention came as a row over fresh Islamophobia allegations engulfed the Conservative Party, after MP Nusrat Ghani said she was sacked as a minister because of colleagues’ concerns about her “Muslimness”. Mr Asim said the allegations “once again demonstrate the importance of having a definition of Islamophobia” – something that was commissioned in May 2019. The government is to be questioned about the delay, and its wider efforts to tackle anti-Muslim hatred, in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Afzal Khan, a member of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Muslims, will bring a point of order questioning why Boris Johnson has not properly responded to letters on the subject dating back to November 2020. The Labour MP will say: “The shocking and serious allegations made by [Ms Ghani] remind us that this Conservative government continues to ignore the blatant Islamophobia in its own ranks.” Mr Khan said that in November he was formally promised a response to letters asking what the government was doing to better safeguard British Muslims, but he has received nothing. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

The Conservative Party does nothing to represent Muslim interests

The allegations and subsequent inquiry come at a pivotal time for the Conservative Party, as Boris Johnson faces scrutiny over breaking Covid rules by attending parties during lockdown. Yet it is my opinion that this incident cannot be considered in isolation, and must be seen as part of the context of deep Islamophobia that is prevalent in the party. A YouGov poll conducted in July 2020 for the advocacy group Hope Not Hate found that 47 per cent of Conservative Party members believed that Islam was “a threat to the British way of life” – and 58 per cent held the untrue belief that “there are no-go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter”. Unsurprisingly, 79 per cent of members also denied there was a problem with Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. While the latest inquiry is welcome, there is little evidence to suggest that it will deal with the issue of Tory Islamophobia. In 2019, 15 Conservative councillors suspended over posting racist and Islamophobic content online were quietly reinstated. Boris Johnson referred to Muslim women in a newspaper column as letter boxes and bank robbers. While the YouGov poll found that Tory party members’ attitudes were far worse than those of the general public, Islamophobic views are still widely held. In fact, some 30 per cent of public participants in the same poll thought Islam was a threat to the British way of life – and 37 per cent held the same irrational belief about “no-go Muslim areas”. As a Muslim man, seeing this news is hardly surprising, and like Ghani, I understand what it means for my “Muslimness” to be seen as an impediment to success. I have felt the pressure to look “less Muslim” by having a shorter beard or speaking with a “better accent” to be more accepted or seen as more employable. You are three times more likely to get an interview with an English-sounding name than you are with a Muslim-sounding one, according to research. Muslims are often perceived as potential threats and monitored under the Prevent strategy, the government’s controversial counter-radicalisation program, and Tory Islamophobia reflects this. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

Islamophobia is an 'open secret' in Westminster, Tory peer tells LBC

Baroness Warsi told Iain Dale that she "wasn't shocked" by the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani, who claims she was sacked as a minister due to concerns about her 'Muslimness'. Ms Warsi said: "It's [Islamophobia] an open secret in Westminster. "Many of our colleagues know what has been alleged, and have known that for two years, and nothing has been done about it." She said she has been handing in "case after case after case", with hundreds in total, asking hr Conservative party to "get our house in order". "In the end action only ever happens when media shine a spotlight," she added, claiming victims feel "ostracised" when they step up and say what's happened. Her comments come after Downing Street distanced Boris Johnson from controversial remarks made by Tory MP Michael Fabricant, who told LBC Nusrat Ghani's Islamophobia claim was "lame" as she was not somebody who "is obviously a Muslim". read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

UK gov’t orders probe into fired Muslim ex-minister’s allegations

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry into claims by a Muslim former minister that she was sacked from his government because of her faith, his spokesperson said. The claims by Nusrat Ghani, a former junior transport minister, have stoked fresh controversy for Downing Street as Johnson awaits the findings of a different inquiry into “partygate” revelations. Johnson had initially urged Ghani to file a formal complaint through the Conservative party. But she declined, arguing that the allegation centred on government rather than party work. “The prime minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened,” the spokesperson said, adding that Johnson “takes these claims very seriously”. Ghani welcomed the new probe, which was announced after she held talks with Johnson on Sunday evening. “As I said to the prime minister last night, all I want is for this to be taken seriously and for him to investigate,” she tweeted. The inquiry must look into what she was told both by Downing Street aides and by a Conservative whip in Parliament, the Tory MP added. read the complete article


25 Jan 2022

For sale: CIA ‘black site’ where terror suspects were tortured in Lithuania

A menacing steel barn outside the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius where CIA terror suspects were once held in solitary confinement, subjected to constant light and high-intensity noise, is soon to go on the market. The government’s real estate fund, which handles assets no longer needed by the state, said on Monday it was preparing to sell the notorious former “black site”, known as Project No 2 or Detention Site Violet, for an as-yet unknown price. Part of Washington’s secret “extraordinary rendition” programme – in which suspected Islamist militants from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq were captured and held in jails outside the US – the 10-room building served as a detention centre in 2005 and 2006. In its windowless and soundproofed rooms, “one could do whatever one wanted”, Arvydas Anusauskas, who led a Lithuanian parliamentary investigation into the site in 2010, told Reuters. “What exactly was going on there, we did not determine.” The European court of human rights heard in 2018 that prisoners at the site, used as a training facility by Lithuania’s intelligence service from 2007 until 2018, were shaved on arrival and blindfolded or hooded, with their legs shackled. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

Enough Complicity With Genocide. It's Time to Boycott China | Opinion

The evidence is clear, public, and overwhelming: An estimated one million Uyghurs are in concentration camps, treated as little more than chattel, and enslaved. Both men and women endure systematic physical and sexual abuse, including rape and torture. Young men remain absent from the streets of Urumqi, and women are sterilized and forced to marry men from the dominant Han Chinese ethnic group. Even Uyghurs abroad and in the United States are threatened and intimidated by authorities in China, who practically hold their kin hostage to prevent them from speaking out. This is the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the Second World War, and we now bear witness to the attempted destruction of an entire people. What, then, have we in the so-called "Free World" done? The products of Uyghur slave labor are openly advertised in places like Japan. As 800 year-old mosques are destroyed and Uyghur graveyards are bulldozed and paved over, Hiltons and Tesla dealerships are built in their place. A powerful corner of American finance pours hundreds of billions of dollars into both the XUAR and China in general. Most genocides are only recognized after the fact, and it's discouraging that now, while we have the chance to intervene, we ignore the truth, taking only half measures as an entire people faces destruction. We believe the answer now lies in divestment: a bottom-up, grassroots movement of the politically conscious. Beginning with students, young people, and everyday citizens, we are calling for the divestment of university endowments from companies that are complicit in the Uyghur genocide. And with the help of public officials, we seek direct divestment of public pension funds from any companies complicit in the oppression of Uyghurs or the Chinese Communist Party's human rights abuses. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

‘A genocide against our people’: Australian Uyghur leader calls for athlete boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Uyghur community leader Adam Turan says it “hurts” that Australian athletes are still taking part in the Winter Olympics “in a country where they’re carrying out a genocide against our people”. His voice adds to global criticism of China’s human rights record ahead of February’s games in Beijing. “While our people suffer in camps and in prison we can’t enjoy the game even if we want to. It hurts. It’s in a country where they are carrying out a genocide against our people.” Up to a million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority living in or near Xinjiang, are being held in camps that have been described as “concentration camps”. The Chinese Communist party refers to them as “re-education camps”. Australian athletes will compete in the games, although officials will not travel to China under the diplomatic boycott. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said in December it was “not surprising” officials would not attend, but that athletes would and that he keeps sport and politics separate. The Score4Rights campaign, launched in December, is calling for former Olympians and Olympic candidates to post pictures and videos of themselves holding a C-shape into the sky. The action, imitating moonlight and the letter “C”, represents “hope for change” the campaign says, and aims to “initiate action for the victims, most of whom do not have the freedom or chance to raise their voices”. read the complete article

United States

25 Jan 2022

Guantanamo's "forever prisoners"

Hollander says that Guantanamo illustrates that the U.S. is a country that is "not one that respects the rule of law", labelling it a "disastrous situation". This applies not only to the 13 detainees who are being held without charges and have been awaiting their release for years but also to alleged perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, the so-called "forever prisoners", who are also still awaiting trial 20 years after the attacks. This lack of rule of law was no accident but rather a goal of the U.S. administration under President George W. Bush at the time, according to Amnesty International's Guantanamo expert Daphne Eviatar. "The Bush administration set up an offshore prison specifically to get around the rules of the United States legal system," says Eviatar. She denounced extensive human rights abuses at Guantanamo in an Amnesty report that documents the indefinite detention of detainees without charge, as well as the torturing of inmates. While there is no publicly available proof to back this up, Eviatar did say that various investigations, including one by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, have already documented the brutal torture of dozens of men at Guantanamo. Anthony Natale, who is defending accused al-Qaida operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in court, speaks candidly about his disappointment with Guantanamo: "We're ashamed that everything that made this country one that we could say was a free country, that had equal justice for all, has abandoned all of that." 11 January 2022 marked a grim anniversary for the Guantanamo detention centre and raised the question as to why the camp is still allowed to exist today, despite the obvious violations of human rights and the rule of law that occur here – and above all, given that the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan is over and its troops have withdrawn. This was the justification for the detention centre's existence in the first place. Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International says she is optimistic about the future. "But as that number gets smaller and smaller, it will become more and more clear and how irrational it is, how absurd it is," she adds. What is also clear is that apart from the well-known moral reasons, one prisoner at Guantanamo costs U.S. taxpayers $13 million a year. read the complete article

25 Jan 2022

Guantanamo Bay: Twenty Years Later

Having been present at the creation of Guantanamo in January 2002, when I was National Security Council legal adviser, and having spent countless hours over the next seven years in interagency discussions on Guantanamo-related issues, I see this anniversary as an opportunity for me to reflect on the facility’s legacy, to urge the Defense Department to conduct a comprehensive review of the lessons learned from the creation and operation of Guantanamo (if one has not been conducted already), and to reiterate to Biden administration officials that the legal rules applicable to the detention of terror suspects captured outside the United States still need to be clarified. As longtime Lawfare readers know, I have publicly argued on this site and elsewhere since 2009 that Guantanamo should be closed and the remaining detainees transferred to detention facilities in the United States or elsewhere—and I continue to believe that now. Guantanamo remains a blot on the reputation of the United States as a nation dedicated to the rule of law, and it has undoubtedly served as a recruiting tool for terrorists. Detainees who are still being prosecuted in military commissions or who have not been cleared for release still need to be held in a secure military or civilian prison, but it does not need to be at Guantanamo. In any event, 20 years later, it is important for the Biden administration not simply to try to close Guantanamo during Biden’s presidency but also to identify where operational mistakes were made in the early days of Guantanamo so that they are not repeated. Obviously, a principal lesson is that the United States should ensure that all detainees in U.S. custody are treated humanely and not subject to torture or abuse. Before proceeding further, I should note that I made many of these same recommendations while still serving in government. I began to advocate for the closure of Guantanamo as early as 2004, while I was still serving as National Security Council legal adviser. It had become apparent to me that, even if there was some military necessity to open Guantanamo in 2002, the facility had outlived any initial utility and was causing more harm than good to U.S. national security. read the complete article


25 Jan 2022

The Killing Fields Further Details of China’s Uyghur Concentration Camps Emerge

A trove of leaked CCP documents from 2014 also include a speech by Xi Jinping to Government officials in Xinjiang – a territory in north-west China – in which he urges them to use the “organs of dictatorship” against the Uyghur minority, and show them “absolutely no mercy,” as reported by the New York Times two years ago. In the years since, hundreds of Uyghur concentration camp survivors have come forward to shed light on the horrors that have been and continue to be inflicted upon millions of detainees. They tell of torture, rape, starvation, forced sterilisation, forced abortion, forced family separations, forced organ harvesting, and killings. Now, newly-published testimony from a well-respected Uyghur scholar, who survived his detainment and fled to Europe, sheds light on what the human rights magazine Bitter Winter has dubbed the “Xinjiang’s Killing Fields”. The testimony is published in the newly-released book China Log: Annihilation Strategies of the CCP in the World’s Largest Surveillance State, co-authored by Alexandra Cavelius, a journalist and human rights activist, and Sayragul Sauytbay, a former Kazakh detainee who escaped Xinjiang and told the world that the CCP’s “goal is to destroy everyone” within the concentration camps. The authors do not disclose the scholar’s identity, writing that they agreed to talk “only after some convincing by politically influential Uyghurs,” but remains “afraid of reprisals from the Chinese Government… and afraid it would put their children’s lives in mortal danger back home”. read the complete article


25 Jan 2022

Bulli Bai App: When Misogyny Collides with Online Anonymity and Religious Bigotry

The year 2022 began on a torrid note with the news that profiles of several Muslim women had been surreptitiously created on an app called Bulli Bai hosted on Git Hub for the purposes of putting the women up for ‘auction’. This was not the first instance when Muslim women were targeted through this online mechanism. In May 2021, a large number of Muslim women were first ‘auctioned’ on a YouTube channel run by the username “Liberal Doge”. Close on its heels, in July 2021, several Muslim women had similarly found their profiles created and put up for ‘auction’ via an app called Sulli Deals. Though a police complaint was filed, and a First Information Report (FIR) was registered in the case of Sulli Deals, there was scant progress made in the matter except the application being blocked for access. A lack of arrests by law enforcement agencies in the Sulli Deals case quite likely emboldened the perpetrators and resulted in the creation of the Bulli Bai app. It was only in the aftermath of arrests in the Bulli Bai case that a solitary arrest was made in the Sulli Deals case. There are traumatic accounts that indicate the harrowing experiences of the victims/survivors of this vile online attack as well as equally distressing accounts from their family members. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jan 2022 Edition


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