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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11 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the former head of British counter-terrorism police Mark Rowley, who previously stated that it’s “clumsy thinking” to claim Islamophobia is a form of racism, was named as the new commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, meanwhile in Europe, today marks the 27th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, in which more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska, and in Australia, the media watchdog has dismissed accusations from the Muslim community that Sky News Australia programs hosted by Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi and Paul Murray propagated anti-Islam sentiment. Our recommended read of the day is by Moustafa Bayoumi for The Nation on his visit to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, detailing its history, the tales of torture and Islamophobia at the site, and the long drawn out and complicated nature of the military commissions. This and more below:

United States

11 Jul 2022

Journey to Guantánamo: A Week in America’s Notorious Penal Colony | Recommended Read

If it’s your first visit to Guantánamo as a member of the media, you will be told of the requirement that you must display your media credentials wherever you go. After you arrive on the base, you will notice that the members of the media are the only people wearing anything around their necks, making everyone stare at your chest and repeatedly ask you who you work for. Several days later, when you find yourself searching for something to eat at the naval base’s bowling alley, a man in civilian clothes who looks to be a member of the military will approach you and ask, “Does it make you feel bad that nobody wants to talk to you because of that thing around your neck?” To which you respond, “Are you instructed not to talk to members of the media?” After which he will respond with a half smile, “I’m not saying, but I’m saying.” Even if it’s your first visit to Guantánamo, you will know that since January 11, 2002, the US government has imprisoned some 780 Muslim men and boys here (the youngest prisoner at Guantánamo was 13 years old). You will have read a 2006 study of the first 571 detainees, which found that 86 percent of them were not captured by US troops but were handed over to coalition forces in Afghanistan or Iraq in a cynical exchange for monetary bounties. You will also know that of the 780 total detainees, more than 730 have been released, the vast majority never having been charged with any crime. At the time of your visit, you will read that 38 men remain at Guantánamo (though the number is now 36, as one man, Sufiyan Barhoumi, was recently repatriated to Algeria and another, Assadullah Haroon Gul, was returned to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan). And you will know that of those 38 (now 36), 19 are being detained even though they have been cleared for release by the US government. Your wonder at this fact will be superseded by the knowledge that an additional five men are being kept in indefinite detention because the US government says they are still too dangerous to be released, but the government has not charged any of them with a crime. And you will know that 10 men are currently facing charges in a military commission system established to try “alien unprivileged enemy belligerents,” as the Military Commissions Act of 2009 refers to the men. You’ve come to observe the pretrial-motion hearings for one of these 10 men. The public affairs officer will also boast about the multicultural and multi-faith character of the people working on the base, mentioning a local mosque in passing. You will express some interest in the mosque and ask her how many Muslims live here. She will say she doesn’t know, at which point someone from the media group will quip, “At least 38.” You chuckle at the dark joke and watch as the public affairs officer does not crack even the hint of a smile. Where is the accountability in all of this, you wonder? What justice do these commissions bring? What truths do they hide? You begin to see more clearly the ways that the military commissions are designed not to find truth but, more than anything else, to protect the CIA from disclosure and from the responsibility it has for the unspeakable things it has done. And you begin to wonder about your country, one that seems to wish we’d all forget about the penal colony of Guantánamo Bay, but also one that routinely imprisons people in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in prisons on its own territory. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

The Artwork of Guantánamo Detainees

When Moath al-Alwi found himself in a windowless steel cell in Guantánamo’s Camp 6, he asked his guards for scraps of cardboard. After experiencing years of interrogation and torture, “low-value” detainees like al-Alwi were permitted by authorities during the Obama administration to create art. As the former detainee Mansoor Adayfi describes in his 2021 memoir Don’t Forget Us Here, al-Alwi fashioned the cardboard into a window frame and hung it on his cell wall. He painted it with a view east to Mecca, with “the sun rising over a vast blue sea.” In 2017, I curated an exhibition of artwork given by al-Alwi and other detainees to their lawyers, some of which is reproduced here. Camp authorities reacted by banning any more art from leaving Guantánamo. Al-Alwi, who has spent more than 20 years at Guantánamo without ever being charged with a crime, was cleared for release in January 2022. But he has told his lawyer that he would rather his artwork be released than himself, “because as far as I am concerned, I’m done, my life and my dreams are shattered. But if my artwork is released, it will be the sole witness for posterity.” read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

US state Maryland gives Muslim students the legal right to wear hijab in sport

The US state of Maryland has passed a law that will protect the rights of hijab-wearing female athletes and others with faith-related head coverings to play sports, without concerns of exclusion. The bill, called the Inclusive Attire Act, which took about two months to go through the political process, allows student athletes to wear their traditional head coverings while playing sport. The move has been warmly welcomed by Muslim activists. "Our take is very simple. Students should be able to compete," Zainab Chaudry, director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Maryland, told The New Arab. Chaudry says the bill, which took effect last Friday, was inspired by a case that CAIR handled in Maryland wherein they represented a high school basketball player who was benched for wanting to wear her hijab. Until now, there had been case-by-case religious exemptions. What the Inclusive Attire Act does is codify the right to compete in school sports while wearing religious headwear. She noted that Illinois, one of only a handful of states that has enacted a similar law, has a bill that specifically focuses on hijabs, whereas they wanted Maryland’s bill to include all faiths. Chaudry hopes that with more publicity, people will become more aware of the precedent and see other states follow Maryland's lead. This bill comes at a time when there is growing awareness of the discrimination faced by marginalised groups over their appearance. read the complete article


11 Jul 2022

Asmeta v France: France ban on female Muslim lawyers wearing hijab in court goes to European Court of Human Rights

Sarah Asmeta, a French-born and fully qualified lawyer who chooses to wear the hijab (a headscarf worn by Muslim women) has lodged her case at the European Court of Human Rights after the French Cour de Cassation (the highest court of appeal in France) rejected her appeal on 2 March 2022, endorsing a ban by the Lille Bar Council that prohibits French lawyers wearing the hijab or other markers of faith in court. The Cour de Cassation said the ban was necessary to ensure the ‘independence of lawyers’, the ‘equality of citizens’, and the ‘right to a fair trial’. Mrs Asmeta holds an undergraduate degree and multiple masters’ degrees. She has also worked at the International Criminal Court. The effect of the Cour de Cassation’s ruling is that she is effectively prevented from practising in her chosen area of criminal law, and is limited to practise in cases or areas of law that do not require her to represent clients in court, causing both financial and professional detriment to her career in law. If Mrs Asmeta were to appear in court wearing the hijab to represent her own clients she would be suspended, and ultimately, disbarred. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

How Leaders Can Better Support Muslim Women at Work

Although diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a priority for companies over the last several years, faith affiliation is often left out of the wider conversation. Muslims, in particular, face a plethora of challenges at work given their unique faith-related needs that make it difficult to adapt to the values and orientation of the dominant work culture. Religion is often an uncomfortable topic to broach, but faith is an integral part of identity — avoiding or denying it prevents people from bringing their authentic selves to work. Many Muslims struggle to belong, often hiding facets of their identity related to their appearance, affiliation, association, and advocacy. Muslim women are more likely to be economically disadvantaged than other social groups in the UK, are three times as likely to be unemployed and looking for a job as non-Muslim women in the west, and often experience greater career impediments. In my career, I often encounter people who find it surprising to see me own my space and often refer to my faith when talking about my achievements, as if my merits are an exception to my religious identity. It’s time for companies to include faith in their DEI efforts. Here are five strategies for leaders to support Muslim women at work. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

Srebrenica women honored for highlighting 1995 massacre

They were the ones who lived in a world in which their husbands, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews were massacred. They were the ones who fought to make sure that world would neither deny nor forget the truth of what happened in Srebrenica. As thousands converge on the eastern Bosnian town to commemorate the 27th anniversary Monday of Europe’s only acknowledged genocide since World War II, the crucial role women have played in forging a global understanding of the 1995 massacre also is getting recognized. A permanent photo exhibition of portraits of the women of Srebrenica opened Saturday in a memorial center dedicated to the massacre's more than 8,000 victims. The center in Potocari, just outside the town, is set to host an international conference of women discussing how they found strength to fight for justice after being driven from their homes and witnessing their loved ones being taken away to be killed. “After I survived the genocide in which my most beloved child and my husband were killed, it was the injustice of their killers, their refusal to acknowledge what they did and to repent, that pushed me to fight for truth and justice,” said Munira Subasic. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

Eid al Adha: Ummah before the nation state

As Eid al Adha draws near and politicians will once again be invited to our prayers and festivals, it is the sincere wish of so many Muslims that Muslims in positions of influence reflect on who religious celebrations are for and whose agenda is being served. For this year’s Ramadan demonstrated to me how common-sense ideas and scripts about the ‘moderate’ Muslim— so powerfully sedimented over two decades of the war on terror— continue to seduce many of those in positions of leadership in Muslim community organisations and mosques when it comes to our religious celebrations. For personal reasons, I was required to make an exception to my rule of not attending iftars in which law enforcement is present. As I listened to the president of the mosque committee deliver a speech to a predominantly Muslim audience sprinkled with a few local politicians and a police officer, I felt my heart sink as the president extolled the virtues of Muslim Australians: we are law-abiding, contributors, productive members of the community, ‘proud’ to live in a ‘great multicultural society.’ The lack of acknowledgment that this multicultural society is one constituted by racialised settler minority communities on stolen land was, sadly, unsurprising. Many Muslims continue to be seduced by neoliberal politics of recognition, effacing First Nations sovereignty. Without racial literacy and an understanding of the racial structures and histories on which this country is built, the narrative of Muslims as ‘integrated/safe/moderate/apolitical/grateful’ endures. And it endures because between highly publicised counter-terrorism raids, arrests and trials, or media moral panics about Muslims, or headlines about the persecution and oppression of Muslims perpetrated by Australia’s allies against Muslims around the world, are what French philosopher Michel Foucault called ‘meticulous rituals’ or the ‘micro-physics of power’. This is the stuff that happens at the everyday level, like what to say during speeches at our community celebrations, who to invite, which topics are acceptable to raise, and which should be avoided. These are the cumulative, repetitive, seemingly innocuous practices between the state and Muslim community organisations and leaders which circumscribe relations of power. Why do Muslims feel compelled to seek respect and inclusion through the narrative of integration, safety, not-extremist? To understand violent white supremacy on the domestic front – such as the Christchurch massacre – means understanding how violent state policy on the global front – killing Muslims – has emboldened domestic white supremacists. Islamophobia and racism require globally-oriented analytics and responses. Policies, laws, discourses which circulate by the same politicians breaking bread with us at our religious celebrations, have contributed either directly or indirectly to the local and global conditions of Islamophobia and violence we seek to be protected from. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

This film unravels the fashion industry’s knotted relationship with Islam

Is there a world where religion might actually be deemed modern? Where creativity and creed not only co-exist, but actively bolster each other? A new film from Asmae el Ouariachi, a Dutch-Moroccan stylist, attempts to answer these kinds of questions, travelling through her own experience as a Muslim woman in the fashion industry. “I’ve always struggled to find the balance between being the ‘perfect’ Muslim whilst living in a Western society, where the stereotype of the oppressed Muslim women still exists” she explains. “Even in an industry that campaigns for change, these misrepresentations create misunderstandings of Muslim women and exclude us from doing what so many of us love.” Titled A Place Where We Belong, the film spotlights a group of dancers, designers, and artists, as they speak on the ways in which Islam enriches their creative practice. “All the women that I asked to participate in this film share the same mindset, they’re pushing boundaries and teaching the world about themselves through their work.” Whether that’s via henna, floristry, clothing, or photography, all of el Ouariachi’s interviewees land on the same point: that choice is one of the most powerful tools a woman can exercise. read the complete article


11 Jul 2022

Twitter's case against India is crucial to the internet's future

Twitter is taking on the Indian government, and the stakes are high. The company’s lodging of a lawsuit to dispute overbroad content-blocking orders could mark a pivotal moment for internet speech around the world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been chipping away at free expression online for some time, most notably with the passing of a law last year extending the executive’s censorship powers. Now, the government can demand that news and information providers remove certain material within 36 hours of receiving a request, and it can initiate criminal proceedings against a designated company grievance officer located in the country if these mandates are rebuffed. These threats don’t appear idle: Twitter’s top executive was summoned by police in one state for failing to take down a violent video; armed forces once showed up at the company’s offices as part of an investigation about a matter as anodyne as a tweet having been labeled “manipulated media.” Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that while Twitter has in the past resisted blocking the posts of Indian journalists, activists and politicians, the company acquiesced this month after apparently receiving a noncompliance letter. The firm geographically restricted tweets from writers including Post Opinions contributor Rana Ayyub as well as advocacy organization Freedom House. The decision reflects the difficult position Twitter found itself in: bound by the law wherever it chooses to operate, even when that law doesn’t reflect its values — and with the safety of its employees at stake. Twitter’s next move, similarly, revealed its limited avenues for recourse. The company filed a complaint in court alleging not that the government’s law is itself impermissible but that it is being impermissibly applied. Twitter’s petition argues that the government has tried to smother more tweets than the law authorizes. That’s in line with critics’ claims that the administration has been more interested in scrubbing out dissent and unflattering reporting than in protecting anyone’s safety. The platform also contends that authorities have failed to provide justification for their demands, or to review past takedowns to ensure they remain necessary. The case is, essentially, a test of whether free expression in India will continue to thrive — whether, when an unjust law unjustly applied makes it all but impossible for a company to protect speech, the judiciary will step in to protect it. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

Mohammed Zubair: The Indian fact-checker arrested for a tweet

For the past 10 days, India's leading fact-checker and journalist Mohammed Zubair, who recently spotlighted the ruling party spokesperson Nupur Sharma's controversial comments against the Prophet Muhammad, has spent most of his time shuttling between prisons and courts. Since his arrest, he has been moved around by the police in and out of a courtroom in Delhi and then, as newer charges were piled on him, he was taken to a remote town on the India-Nepal border for investigations. Delhi police arrested him on 27 June over a 2018 tweet for "insulting Hindu religious beliefs". Later, they invoked other charges against him that included criminal conspiracy, destroying evidence and receiving foreign funds. Days later, police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh took over his custody. They accused him of using an "offensive term - hatemongers" to describe three Hindu religious leaders who were seen in videos engaging in hate speech, inciting violence against Muslims or threatening to rape Muslim women. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted him a five-day temporary bail in the case after hearing that he was facing death threats. But the 39-year-old will remain in custody until he's granted bail in the original case for which Delhi police have arrested him. A telecoms engineer based in the southern city of Bangalore, Mr Zubair co-founded Alt News in 2017 with former software engineer Pratik Sinha to combat fake news. Over the past five years, the website has played a key role in debunking claims that spread disinformation about religion and caste and unscientific myths. With over 3,000 articles which have been viewed over 60 million times, Alt News has been in the crosshairs of the government pretty much from the time of inception in 2017 - especially because of its focus on fake videos and messages that target India's minority Muslim community. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

Hindu Right Groups Issue 'Warning' to Muslims at Delhi Rally

With saffron flags in hand and chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ reverberating in the air, members of different Hindu right-wing groups marched on the streets of central Delhi on Saturday (July 9). On Saturday, Hindutva groups from across the national capital assembled in Sharma’s support under the “Sankalp March” banner. Their march started from Mandi House and went till Jantar Mantar, where a stage had been prepared for leaders to give speeches. The call for this march had been given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The VHP national president, along with other leaders of the organisation, were present. Men, women and children danced to the tunes of Hindutva anthems. On the stage, while there were attempts to give provocative anti-Muslim speeches, the leaders who had called for the march appeared to intervene and stop them. However, in bites given to the press, this hesitation was no longer visible. Calling Muslims “freeloaders”, Sant Siyaram Saraswati, also a member of the VHP, told The Wire, “These people are unfaithful to the country. When crores of vaccines were being given, when rations are distributed, these people will be the first in line to grab them. And then go on to damage peace and harmony in the country.” read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

On World Population Day, Some Truths Ignored by Targeted Population Control Schemes

Differentials in Hindu-Muslim population growth is a much debated subject in India. In particular, the differentials in Hindu-Muslim total fertility rate (i.e. average number of children per woman) has led to political debates. Although several scholarly works have attempted to demystify myths around Hindu-Muslim population growth differentials, but the half-truths continue to spread. On World Population Day (July 11), this article puts forth new evidence on questions around Hindu-Muslim fertility differentials. It will be worthwhile for readers to look at how many children a Hindu or Muslim woman desire to have rather than the average number of children a woman has. This is because an individual’s preferences to have children have more significant implications for future policy and planning for promoting optimum or sustainable population size. The latest evidence from National Family Health Survey (2019-21) effectively puts an end to the long-debated ‘differential in Hindu-Muslims fertility rates.’ The NFHS-5 report reveals that the difference between Hindu (1.94 children per woman) and Muslim (2.36 children per woman) fertility is only 0.42 children per woman. Muslim women were estimated to have an average of 1.1 more children than Hindu women in 1992, and the gap had shortened to 0.42 by 2021. However, the story is different when we look at the trend rather than point estimates. In the last 20 years, Hindu fertility has dropped by 30% against 35% in Muslims (Figure 1). During the same period, the rate of decline in population growth in Muslims is greater than that in Hindus. This suggests that the trends in Hindu-Muslim fertility rates are on track to absolute convergence, possibly by 2030. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 Jul 2022

UK: Former counter-terror chief named head of London Metropolitan Police

The former head of British counter-terrorism police Mark Rowley was named on Friday as the new commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police. The appointment was jointly announced by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who both made the decision. The 57-year-old has served as a police officer for the last 30 years. He previously worked as Britain's head of counter-terrorism police and the deputy commissioner of the Met before leaving in 2018. He has been criticised for his staunch support of the controversial Prevent programme and comments he has previously made about Muslims and ethnic minorities. Following the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand in 2019, Rowley told the BBC that it was "clumsy thinking" to claim Islamophobia is a form of racism. Rowley also told the BBC that the rise in far-right extremism and hate crimes was due to a "lack of integration" by ethnic minorities. In 2018, Middle East Eye revealed that Rowley was courted by officials from the controversial Henry Jackson Society after agreeing to endorse a report on Islamist terrorism by the neo-conservative think tank. The revelation came after Rowley had previously pulled out of the launch of the report in 2017 after facing criticism from Muslim advocacy group Mend and British rights group Cage. read the complete article

11 Jul 2022

UK’s first-ever survey details attacks on mosques, Islamic bodies

About 42 percent of mosques or Islamic institutions in a newly released UK report have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years. The survey, the first of its kind, was jointly carried out by two British Muslim organisations – Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) and Muslim Census. It said that the most common form of attack experienced by mosques and other Islamic institutions was vandalism, followed by burglary or theft (34 percent), with 83 percent being attacked at least once a year. It also suggested that nearly 17 percent of mosques have faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshippers, with one mosque reporting that a religious cleric was stabbed outside the front entrance. Mosques officials described receiving threats of physical violence on popular social media platforms and general abuse. In the report, they have expressed their frustrations and how increased Islamophobia hate crimes are taking toll on their wellbeing. “We have witnessed individuals breaking windows, vandalising worshipers’ vehicles, and spraying racist graffiti on the mosque building,” an unidentified mosque official was quoted by the report as saying. Nearly two-thirds of the 113 mosques who participated in the survey reported that the attacks harmed the wider community, with 9 percent reporting that their mosques or Islamic institutions were targeted frequently, at least every three months. read the complete article


11 Jul 2022

Media watchdog dismisses accusations Sky News propagated hatred towards Muslims

Accusations from the Muslim community that Sky News Australia programs hosted by Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi and Paul Murray propagated anti-Islam sentiment have been dismissed by the media watchdog. The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (Aman) alleged in formal complaints to both Sky News Australia and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) that Sky’s after dark lineup had a willingness to “conflate extremist discourse with Islam” which misled viewers about the nature of the religion. “It erodes our community’s safety and wellbeing while also fuelling far-right movements,” Aman said about three programs broadcast on Foxtel and regional networks Win and Southern Cross Austereo last year. Sky News rejected the allegations and Acma found the incidents did not breach either the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice (governing Foxtel) or the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (governing free-to-air channels Win and SCA). However, after being alerted to anti-Islam comments on Sky News Australia’s Facebook page, Sky apologised and deleted the comments. Acma said the Bolt, Panahi and Murray segments in the complaint did not reach the high threshold of “intense” dislike, “serious” contempt or “severe” ridicule needed to breach the codes. A request to strengthen program standards in light of the finding was declined by Acma, which also rejected complaints about the Facebook comments because online material falls outside the codes. read the complete article


11 Jul 2022

Headscarved woman assaulted in Berlin, others racially abused

In yet another incident of anti-Muslim violence in Germany, a woman wearing a headscarf was physically attacked in the capital Berlin, local media reported Saturday According to the daily Der Tagesspiegel, a 37-year-old attacker tore off the 39-year-old victim's head covering before hitting her head and upper body. The attack took place at a restaurant in the Weissensee district, the daily added. The daily also reported another racist attack in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district earlier Friday where a 52-year-old man racially insulted two women. The attacker was arrested and taken to a clinic for abnormal behavior before being released, the daily said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Jul 2022 Edition


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