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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18 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., Senator Dick Durbin calls on the Biden administration to address the ongoing violations at Guantanamo that were recently documented by a UN special Rapporteur, meanwhile in Italy, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) released a report last week profiling 13 far-right hate and extremist groups in Italy, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party Brothers of Italy, and lastly, the recent detention and subsequent deportation of CAGE Director Muhammad Rabbani by French authorities has ignited a fierce debate surrounding freedom of speech, civil liberties, and allegations of Islamophobic persecution. Our recommended read of the day is by Andreas Krieg for Middle East Eye on how the “Emirati crusade against the Muslim Brotherhood’ resembles a 21st-century version of McCarthyism, spreading fear-based narratives about an alleged conspiratorial network of Muslim Brothers who are out to seize Europe.” This and more below:


Abu Dhabi Secrets: How the UAE exports its smear campaign across Europe | Recommended Read

Revelations from a leak of more than 78,000 documents recently made headlines across Europe. What these documents revealed reads like the plot of a cheap spy novel: A Swiss private intelligence company working on behalf of a Gulf monarchy launched a large-scale attack on European citizens, civil society groups and companies in 18 countries. The Islamist bogeyman that Abu Dhabi has created is no longer just a tool to counter violent extremism (a field known as CVE). The Emirati crusade against the “Muslim Brotherhood” resembles a 21st-century version of McCarthyism, spreading fear-based narratives about an alleged conspiratorial network of Muslim Brothers who are out to seize Europe. The Brotherhood has become a broad-brush, catch-all label to vilify, delegitimise and ostracise individuals, organisations and even companies. The fact that many on the list compiled by the Swiss firm, Alp Services, on behalf of Abu Dhabi are not even Muslim exposes the hollowness of the concept. But it has worked. This weaponised narrative recycles very old bigotries, staggeringly reminiscent of those found in a 1913 Orientalist article entitled “The Menace of Pan-Islamism”, which warned of an Islamist conspiracy. When Alp Services disseminated its inaccurate list of “Muslim Brotherhood”-affiliated individuals and organisations to its network of journalists and policymakers, the move played on the cognitive wiring of Europeans. read the complete article

All women and girls should be allowed play soccer - regardless of their religion

Here in Canada in 2007, 11-year-old Asmahan Mansour was set to enter a tournament match in Laval, Que., when a referee barred her from the soccer pitch for wearing a hijab. There had been no issues in previous games; this ref insisted on following a memo from the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) forbidding all religious headgear. Asmahan’s teammates, their parents, and coach rallied in her support by forfeiting the match and withdrawing from the tournament in protest – as did four other Ottawa-based teams. Unfortunately, women and girls are denied the opportunity to play the beautiful game elsewhere in the world. Afghanistan comes to mind. And France, where since 2016, the French Football Federation (FFF) has banned any player, coach or referee from wearing the hijab – contrary to FIFA rules. The FFF insists it is in keeping with the official French policy of laïcité, which restricts religious expression in the public sphere. To paraphrase a memorable Seinfeld character, the FFF has declared “No soccer for you!” to hijabi footballers. This policy has had a painful impact on many aspiring French Muslim female soccer players, who have faced a choice between the sport they love and their faith. The ban is even more galling given that France is the only European country that excludes hijabis from playing in most competitive domestic sports, and it is unclear whether foreign players with hijabs will be allowed to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Why is France denying Olympic opportunities for its own hijab-clad athletes? read the complete article

Detention of Cage director in Paris sparks controversy over freedom of speech and civil liberties

The recent detention and subsequent deportation of Muhammad Rabbani, the director of the campaign group Cage, by French authorities has ignited a fierce debate surrounding freedom of speech, civil liberties, and allegations of Islamophobic persecution. Rabbani’s ban from entering France and subsequent treatment have raised concerns about government overreach and the stifling of dissenting voices. The French interior ministry justified the ban by citing a document from October 2022, stating that Rabbani’s presence posed a serious threat to public order and internal security due to the heightened terrorist threat. The ban was issued shortly after Rabbani criticized the French government for its treatment of the Muslim community and accused it of participating in religious persecution. France accused Rabbani and Cage of being part of a radical Islamist movement and spreading slanderous words about Islamophobic persecution and mass surveillance by Western governments. read the complete article

United States

Felony sex assault charges added against Muslim CT lawmaker's suspected attacker

A prosecutor added felony charges, including attempted sexual assault, Monday against a man accused of attacking Connecticut's first Muslim state representative after a prayer service, but did not file hate crime allegations demanded by the lawmaker's supporters. The case of Andrey Desmond, 30, went before a judge in Hartford Superior Court, where supporters of state Rep. Maryam Khan, including local imams, also gathered. "It continues to be a mystery to me why the state isn’t bringing bias crimes in this type of incident," said Farhan Memon, chairman of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Having this charged as a bias crime sends a message out to the rest of the population that this is going to be something that’s dealt with seriously." She has accused Hartford police of downplaying the assault and called for a federal investigation of the department’s handling of violent crimes, especially against women. read the complete article

America's most wanted: How anti-Muslim bigotry led to the wrongful conviction of Mohammed Hamoud

In 2000, Mohammed Yousef Hamoud - one of the most wanted ‘terrorists’ in the United States - was arrested while living in Charlotte, North Carolina, based on allegations that he sent a $3,500 check to the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, an allegation for which no actual evidence was presented. Based on testimony from a single questionable witness, an American prosecutor accused Hamoud of leading a Hezbollah cell in Charlotte, and declared him to be one of the most dangerous ‘terrorists’ in the world. The prosecutor, Ken Bell, who acknowledged that a successful prosecution of Hamoud would be the “case of a lifetime” for advancing his own career, successfully garnered a sentence of 155 years in prison for Hamoud. The jury voted to convict Hamoud amid the anti-Muslim bigotry and paranoia that swept through the United States following the September 11 attacks. Below is an interview conducted by The Cradle with Mohammed Yousef Hamoud, after he was released from a US maximum security prison two months ago from serving a 27-year sentence on charges of providing “material support” to a terrorist organization. The Cradle: Do you feel that where you are from, and your religion, was a factor during your trial? Hamoud: Definitely. At the time, most of the American people did not know the difference between Muslims. They did not know the difference between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda. To them, my name is Mohammad, and I am from the Middle East [West Asia], so I’ve got to be a follower of Bin Laden. And the prosecutor did a great job insinuating to the jury, although indirectly, that I was guilty. The way he structured security in the court, and the way he brought me from the jail to the court, no one could think of me as an innocent person. read the complete article

Biden Must Act on Landmark UN Special Rapporteur Guantanamo Report

For the first time in the checkered 21-year history of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the United States recently allowed a United Nations special rapporteur to visit the detention center and meet with detainees. Such transparency is key to acknowledging our nation’s mistakes, and to righting a wrong that was not of this Administration’s making. Indeed, it is this openness that separates free democracies from autocracies and dictatorships. But it is what the Biden administration does next on Guantanamo that matters most. Following her visit to Guantanamo, the special rapporteur found that the legacy of torture and arbitrary detention combined with the current structural conditions at Guantanamo constitute “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” and “may also meet the legal threshold for torture.” Deficiencies in the conditions at Guantanamo include insufficient access to counsel, lack of communication with family, inadequate medical treatment, and denial of due process and fair trials. These findings should be a wakeup call for the Biden administration. Though they are not responsible for the decision to discard human rights and the rule of law in the difficult months after 9/11, the administration has the power and the responsibility to make it right. Their failure to do so would be their own. read the complete article

Trump's vision on executive authority is growing more organized and ambitious

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s taste for autocracy is well known. But a new report suggests that if he returned to the White House, his agenda to consolidate power would be far more aggressive and well organized than the last time around — thanks in part to even wider buy-in from the remains of the GOP establishment. The New York Times published an article Monday that found that Trump and his allies are buzzing with ways he could use a radical interpretation of “unitary executive theory” to amass unprecedented power as president. That theory contends that the president holds total control of the executive branch, and it rejects constraints on presidential power such as Justice Department independence and congressional regulations on executive branch agencies. There are two particularly noteworthy takeaways from this report. One is that this level of planning suggests that a second Trump term could do a lot more damage than the first in degrading democracy. The second noteworthy point is that this effort seems to have the potential to bleed well beyond Trump. Project 2025 isn’t designed only for Trump, but for any Republican who could win the White House. And it’s backed by the Heritage Foundation, an establishment right-wing think tank that has had tremendous influence over conservative politics since the Reagan era. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Muslim billionaire to convert iconic London landmark into mosque

Billionaire Asif Aziz has obtained permission to convert a part of London’s iconic Trocadero building into a mosque and Islamic center. The 56-year-old Malawian property tycoon bought the famous landmark for over £220 million ($287.7 million) in 2005 and canceled plans to convert it into a 1,000-capacity mosque in 2020 after complaints from far-right groups and some residents. But in May 2023, he obtained permission to build a 390-capacity mosque, which will be named “Piccadilly Prayer Space.” The mosque is expected to be inaugurated within a few months, reports said. Aziz’s foundation wants the mosque to serve tourists and Muslims working in the area. read the complete article


New report: Far-Right hate and extremist groups in Italy

Last week the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) released a report profiling 13 far-right hate and extremist groups in Italy, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party Brothers of Italy: Far-Right Hate and Extremist Groups, Italy. Eleven of the 13 groups profiled are both anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+, a frightening reflection of how much anti-LGBTQ+ and racist and nationalist anti-immigrant hate have infected mainstream politics in Italy, similar to what is happening in the United States. Five of the groups that GPAHE profiled are political parties, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Muslim) and Lega per Salvini Premier (Anti-Woman, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Roma, Anti-Muslim), also represented in parliament. As we’ve seen in the U.S. and in other countries, it’s troubling that major political parties in Italy are spreading the same hateful and polarizing messages as more hardcore groups. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Jul 2023 Edition


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