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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26 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the government review board has cleared Khalid Ahmed Qasim for release; he’s been imprisoned for over 20 years without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay, meanwhile in China, a new report finds that the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a state-run paramilitary group in Xinjiang, is “more deeply involved in the regional government’s repressive policies towards Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities than previously understood,” and in Canada, the trial of Nathaniel Veltman, who faces terror-related murder charges in the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., will be held in a different city. Our recommended read of the day is by Oishika Neogi for Al Jazeera on how the ‘love jihad’ conspiracy theory in India is impacting inter-faith couples, as their private lives have become political tools. This and more below:


26 Jul 2022

How a ‘love jihad’ case was manufactured in India’s Uttar Pradesh | Recommended Read

In June last year, authorities in the district of Muzaffarnagar in north India’s Uttar Pradesh state arrested a 22-year-old Muslim man on charges of fraud, sexual assault and forced religious conversion. Officials claimed the complainant was Amandeep Kaur, a 24-year-old Sikh woman from the man’s neighbourhood. Constituting nearly 1.7 percent of its population, India is home to the largest number of Sikhs in the world. Despite repeated attempts by Hindu supremacist groups to club the community under a wider Hindu umbrella, the Sikhs maintain they are an independent religion. “It was a case of love; they turned it into something called ‘love jihad’,” Kaur told Al Jazeera as she locked the doors of the small house she shared with her parents. “Love jihad” is a term used by the Hindu political and religious right to describe an alleged phenomenon where Muslim men lure Hindu women into marrying them and converting to Islam. Hindu groups claim, without evidence, it is a conspiracy of an organised racket. A year after her relationship with Usman Qureshi became a public spectacle, Kaur today fears unknown faces – the media or anybody offering to “help”. But she reiterates she is not a victim – Qureshi was her consensual partner for more than two years. read the complete article

United States

26 Jul 2022

9/11 — The First Great Ideological Clash of the 21st Century

Two emotions summed up the mood in the US immediately following the attacks on 9/11: anger, and the desire for revenge. The American people, and Bush in particular, wanted to act quickly to demonstrate that you don’t attack the US like that and get away with it. He summoned his war council to Camp David on 15th September to come up with a plan on how to strike al-Qaeda, and made some fairly significant decisions and statements off the back of it. Firstly, this wasn’t going to be about fighting a single group, or a single country. This was a War on Terror. Secondly, President Bush was very clear in an announcement to anyone who would listen; you’re either with us, or you’re against us. There was a palpable shift in mood in Western countries after 9/11. The buoyant optimism of the late 1990s was replaced by suspicion, tension and distrust. People no longer felt safe in their home cities, and regressive media narratives pushed a wave of Islamophobia which drove wedges between neighbours and communities. A regular cadence of al-Qaeda attacks throughout the mid-2000s, including the 2004 Madrid train bombings and 2005 London bombings, made sure that tensions remained high and the threat remained real. The US government was caught up in the post-9/11 hysteria and set out on a dangerous path of programmes that would undermine central American values of life and liberty, and even the rule of law itself. One of the side effects of the rapid sweep through Afghanistan was that the US was now in possession of a huge number of prisoners of war and they needed to be put somewhere. Keeping them in Afghanistan was off the cards; the Americans at the time were trying to limit their footprint, so building and operating a series of prisons wasn’t an option. The other option was the US itself, but the government weren’t prepared to deal with the inevitable public outcry if a huge number of terrorists and Taliban combatants were imported onto America’s shores. Enter Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay is a small strip of land in the southeast of Cuba that the US government has held a perpetual lease on since the end of the Spanish and American war in the 1800s. It is a place where the rule of law is non-existent; often referred to as “the legal equivalent of outer space.” Bush’s administration figured that this would be the perfect place to hold their prisoners as there were no limits on how long people could be held without conviction or even a legal requirement to give them a fair trial at all. They could simply be dumped there and left. The problem is that this approach completely flew in the face of the application of the Geneva Convention and international law. America went into Afghanistan on a wave of international support; a just mission against an unprovoked aggressor that had resorted to the barbaric targetting of innocent civilians. By operating Guantanamo and failing to offer prisoners the right to a fair and public hearing, the US were in direct violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and lost any leg to stand on claiming that it was the side of the moral good fighting an immoral evil. It wasn’t just America’s enemies that suffered from this ignorance of the law, but US citizens too. A huge surveillance effort aimed at addressing shortfalls prior to 9/11 was turned on the American people themselves with the goal of identifying the next threat before it could eventualise. The NSA, under the Stellar Wind programme, carried out an extensive programme of warrantless wiretapping and metadata analysis from phone calls and emails in complete contradiction to the Fourth Amendment. In parallel, the Patriot Act was introduced which allowed law enforcement to go into people’s homes without the owner’s knowledge or permission and snoop around. The Bush administration was willing to go after terrorists using whatever method they could, even at the cost of American citizens’ liberty. read the complete article

26 Jul 2022

Guantanamo "forever prisoner" Khalid Ahmed Qasim cleared for release after 20 years, hopes for "another life" with his art

A U.S. government review board has cleared one of the longest-held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for release. The Periodic Review Board said in its July 19 "final determination" that there was no longer sufficient cause to keep Khalid Ahmed Qasim imprisoned at the base. After spending more than 20 years at the prison camp, Qasim should be released to an as-yet unspecified country "with a strong rehabilitation and reintegration program," the board said. One of the so-called "forever prisoners" at Guantanamo, Qasim was in his twenties when he arrived in Afghanistan in 2000. It was his very first trip out of his native Yemen. He went, according to statements he and his lawyers have made over the ensuing 20 years, to work providing assistance to people in need. Qasim's lawyers have said that, fearing the worst, he decided to turn himself in, confident that he would be released as he had no involvement in any attacks. Instead, he claims he was brutally interrogated, tortured and coerced into giving a false confession to training with al Qaeda. He was ultimately turned over to U.S. forces, who sent him to Guantanamo Bay in May 2002. Qasim has now spent half of his life there as "prisoner 242." He was never put on trial and never charged with a crime. He claims he spent the first nine years of his incarceration in solitary confinement, and that he was subjected to both physical and mental torture and spent seven years on hunger strike. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 Jul 2022

Black and Muslim people bearing the brunt of discrimination – report

Researchers from the University of Kent and the Belong Network studied survey data on social relations in Britain and focused particularly on the attitudes and experiences of black, Muslim and white respondents. The hard-hitting report, titled Discrimination, Prejudice and Cohesion – Intergroup relations among Black, Muslim and White people in Britain in the context of COVID-19 and beyond, found that 81% of Black British people and 73% of British Muslims reporting that they had experience some form of discrimination in July alone this year. Only 53% of survey participants identifying as white reported incidents of discrimination and were the least likely group to take racism as seriously. Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, called for a greater commitment to stamping out systemic inequalities. “Racism, prejudice and discrimination take a real toll on peoples’ lives. This research shows that even during the pandemic when social distancing rules were still in place, very high percentages of black and Muslim people in Britain were experiencing discrimination,” he said. “Systematic racial discrimination has harmful effects, including on people’s mental health and affects labour market outcomes. As a society, we need to redouble our commitment to tackling discrimination, increasing diversity in public life and proactively tackling the barriers to inclusion for minority communities and under-represented groups.” read the complete article

26 Jul 2022

Forde Report: It's time to listen to those on the margins

The newly released Forde Report, which examines factionalism within the British Labour Party, makes two points abundantly clear. Firstly, calls for “diversity” are superficial if not combined with a rigorous understanding of anti-racism; and secondly, institutions must address their complicity in upholding racist policies and procedures. Details in the report about the racism experienced by the country’s first female Black MP, Diane Abbott, from members of her own party underscore the toxic environment that she and other racialised groups have had to endure. As one contributor told the Forde Inquiry: “Seeing the comments directed towards Diane Abbott … only really confirmed what many of us understand exists - that is a culture that sees Black people and other people of colour in a negative light.” Such revelations will spur racialised communities to think carefully about their future in British politics, and the consequences they must face if they wish to pursue this path. It’s no surprise that many find themselves politically homeless, given the racial hostility experienced both in parliament and in everyday life. Reading that the Labour Party “was in effect operating a hierarchy of racism or of discrimination with other forms of racism and discrimination being ignored” will undermine decades of anti-racist praxis, under which there was no differentiation between racisms experienced. Complicit media outlets can exacerbate the problem. In Britain, the Daily Mail recently continued with its well-documented vilification of Muslims. In a front-page smear, it claimed that a former Tory leadership candidate met with the “boycotted” Muslim Council of Britain - the insinuation being that engaging with Muslim civil society groups damages a politician’s credibility. Diversity only “works” in politics if it poses no real risk to the political establishment - and in the case of Muslim organisations, activists and even elected politicians, only those deemed to be in line with government policy will be welcomed. Within the Labour Party, Islamophobic abuse faced by its own MPs, including Zarah Sultana and Apsana Begum, has been met with silence by senior members. read the complete article

New Zealand

26 Jul 2022

Asma Elbadawi changing rules for Muslim women to wear hijab

How would you feel if you really want to play a professional sport, but can't do so because of the way you dress... It is a reality for Muslim women who want to compete in certain sports that have a ban on the headscarf. But, some of these wahine have been fighting back. Asma Elbadawi is one of 11 women who managed to push the International Basketball Federation to reverse its ban on the hijab in 2019. But that's not the only feather in her hijab... she's an athelete, an Adidas amabassdor, spoken word poet and artist. The Sudanese British coach has been on a speaking tour in New Zealand and talked to our producer Mahvash Ikram about how it all started. read the complete article


26 Jul 2022

Hungarian Jewish Leader Seeks Orban Meeting on 'Mixed Race' Remark

A leading Hungarian Jewish group, citing tragic memories, said on Monday that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had triggered serious concerns when on Saturday he said Hungarians "do not want to become peoples of mixed race." Mazsihisz, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, issued a statement saying its leader Andras Heisler had asked for a meeting with Orban. The Hungarian government was not immediately reachable for comment. More than half a million Hungarian Jews were systematically exterminated during the Nazi Holocaust in World War Two. Today, there are about 75,000 to 100,000 Jews in Hungary, most of them in Budapest. In its statement Mazsihisz said Orban's words "triggered serious concerns within the Jewish community." "Based on our historical experiences and our family stories living with us, it is important to raise our voice against expressions in Hungarian public life that are prone to misunderstanding," the group said. Orban has referred to maintaining "ethnic homogeneity" in previous speeches, taken a hard line on immigration – even erecting a barbed-wire fence on Hungary's southern border – and imposed laws assailed by human rights groups. In a speech on Saturday in Romania, Orban said the international left in western Europe "employs a feint, an ideological ruse: the claim – their claim – that Europe by its very nature is populated by peoples of mixed race." "There is a world in which European peoples are mixed together with those arriving from outside Europe. Now that is a mixed-race world," Orban said. read the complete article


26 Jul 2022

Norwegians pay tribute to victims of 2011 far-right terrorist attacks

Progressive sections in Norway paid tributes to the victims of the far-right terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utoya on their 11th anniversary. On July 22, 2011, a far-right terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, detonated a car bomb in Oslo and opened fire at a summer camp organized by the Workers Youth League (AUF) in Utoya. Around 69 people were killed at the Utoya camp alone. A total of 77 people were killed in both the incidents, making it the deadliest attack in the country since World War II. On Friday, July 22, major political parties including the Labor Party, Red Party (Rodt), Socialist Left Party (SV), and Communist Party of Norway (NKP), as well as youth groups like the Workers Youth League (AUF), Rodt Ungdom, and Young Communists in Norway (UngKom), among others, paid tributes to the victims of the attacks and resolved to fight neo-Nazi activities and hate crimes in the country. Breivik, a far-right sympathizer who described himself as a ‘Templar’ against Islam and Marxism, carried out the deadly attacks in Oslo and Utoya after a long period of panning. Following the attacks, left-wing sections in Norway had pointed out that Islamophobes like Breivik were not on the radar of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), as racism and Islamophobia had already become ‘a normal affair’ for the state and the mainstream political parties. The criminal trial of Breivik began in 2012 in Oslo. He was sentenced to confinement for approximately 21 years, the maximum penalty in Norway. read the complete article


26 Jul 2022

Trial of man charged in killing of Muslim family in London, Ont., to be held in different city

The trial of a man facing terror-related murder charges in the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., will be held in a different city. Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance ruled Monday that a change of venue is warranted in the case of Nathaniel Veltman. The reasons for that decision, as well as the evidence and arguments presented in court, cannot be disclosed due to a publication ban. The new location has not yet been determined, but proceeding, anticipated to take 12 weeks, is scheduled set to begin on Sept. 5, 2023 Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, is accused of deliberately hitting the family with his truck as they were out for a walk on the evening of June 6, 2021. Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed. The couple's nine-year-old son was seriously hurt. The deaths of the Afzaal family sent waves of shock, grief and fear across the country, and spurred ongoing calls for measures to combat Islamophobia. read the complete article


26 Jul 2022

Report: Xinjiang paramilitary group has "central role" in genocide

A Chinese state-run paramilitary group in Xinjiang is more deeply involved in the regional government's repressive policies towards Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities than previously understood, a new report found. Why it matters: The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) manages large swaths of the region's agriculture and industry and holds shares in thousands of companies — meaning its products are connected to supply chains throughout the world. The group is already sanctioned by the U.S. government. What they found: The report lays out how the XPCC is responsible for systematic forced migration, forced labor, mass internment, land expropriation, repressive policing and religious persecution targeting Uyghurs in Xinjiang. "The XPCC has operationalized these programs in the last five years to create a reign of terror," says the report, published Tuesday by the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University in the U.K. The group was "dispatched by the top levels of the party-state to act as a military and industrial force to suppress Uyghur dissent" and "plays a critical and central role" in the genocide now underway in Xinjiang. read the complete article


26 Jul 2022

‘The largest incarceration of a minority group since the Holocaust’: Canada must take action to stop the genocide of Uyghurs in China

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing mass atrocity crimes and grave human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang/East Turkestan. The surveillance is so pervasive that the region has been described as essentially an open-air prison. Arbitrary detentions number in the millions, making it the largest incarceration of a minority group since the Holocaust. Physical and sexual torture are widespread, both inside and outside the concentration camps. Medical crimes include measures to restrict births within the group, such as forced sterilization of Uyghur women and girls. Uyghur forced labour is pervasive, and there is evidence that it taints the supply chains of dozens of multinational corporations, including Nike and Zara. Transnational repression and intimidation of Uyghurs outside of China by the CCP is commonplace, and includes efforts to detain and deport Uyghurs back to China. These are just a handful of examples. Independent, credible bodies like the Uyghur Tribunal chaired by Geoffrey Nice have found that the crimes committed against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the region constitute genocide, pursuant to the definition contained in the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. The United States Congress and government have agreed, and so too have numerous parliaments, including those of Canada, the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. Over 150 countries, including Canada, have ratified the Genocide Convention. By doing so, these countries have agreed to take action to prevent and to punish genocide. What is happening to the Uyghurs is a genocide, and these countries are obligated to act. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jul 2022 Edition


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