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 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, Fatima Payman has been elected as the first woman to wear a hijab in parliament, with the 27-year-old Muslim Australian stating, “I hope to be an inspiration to many other young Australians, that just because you believe in God, or just because you look different, it shouldn’t prevent you from being involved in such an important institution,” meanwhile in the United States, new regulations on the import of goods from the Xinjiang region of China have come into effect, and lastly, lawyers renewed calls for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into China’s treatment of Uyghurs. Our recommended read of the day is by Arman Khan for VICE on how since “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party gained power and popularity, the number of minorities in civil services has dwindled – and are increasingly not passing the exam.” This and more below:


21 Jun 2022

Inside the Cutthroat Culture of One of the World’s Toughest Exams | Recommended Read

Tens of thousands descend upon this densely-packed neighbourhood from across the country every year to prepare for one of the world’s toughest exams. Many bring their family’s life savings. Many are themselves their family’s life savings. Hopeful families pour everything they earn and own and take loans, so their child can be coached in Rajendra Nagar, and get a chance at India’s golden ticket: becoming a powerful bureaucrat in the world’s largest democracy. This month, 685 Indians out of 500,000 test takers passed the civil services exam after a lifetime of preparing for it. Their chance of succeeding was close to zero. The exam’s success rate is not even 0.2 percent. Broadly divided into three stages – the preliminary, mains and interview – the exam is roughly spread over nine months. The candidate must pass every stage, and their cumulative marks decide whether they make the list of India’s prestigious and powerful new bureaucrats. VICE World News analysed lists of successful exam finalists in the last 15 years and uncovered a disturbing trend. Ever since the rise in India of Hindu nationalism, and the right-wing Hindu ideology of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party gained power and popularity, the number of minorities in civil services has dwindled – and are increasingly not passing the exam. Data analysed by VICE World News suggests this expensive and impossibly multi-layered exam has become even more impenetrable for minorities. Muslims who passed the exam stagnated between 3–5 percent over the past 20 years, even though Muslims make up 15.5 percent of the country’s population, and despite more Muslims sitting for the exams since 2007. The 2021 results released on May 30 revealed the most dismal results for the community in over a decade – no Muslim candidate made it to the top hundred ranks, when usually, at least two to three do. In 2020, out of a total of 761 selected candidates, only 25 were Muslims – just 4 percent – with no Muslim candidate in the top 100 ranks. read the complete article


21 Jun 2022

US ban on imports from China's Xinjiang region takes effect

Tough new US regulations on the import of goods from the Xinjiang region of China have come into effect. Under the rules, firms have to prove imports from the region are not produced using forced labour. US officials have said members of the minority Uyghur community in the region, who are predominantly Muslim, have been detained and made to work. China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is holding Uyghurs in internment camps in Xinjiang. Several imports from the resource-rich region, including cotton and tomatoes, have already been banned from the US. The restrictions will be extended to all imports under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which took effect on Tuesday. In a statement late last week, US lawmakers said the law sends "a clear message that we will no longer remain complicit in the Chinese Communist Party's use of slave labour and egregious crimes against humanity". read the complete article

21 Jun 2022

‘Through our own eyes’: Rohingya refugees stage photography show

A virtual exhibition by ethnic Rohingya photographers has been launched to document life inside Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp, in southern Bangladesh, in an attempt to further understanding of the lives of hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya who were forced to flee Myanmar five years ago. Anra Rohingya (We Are Rohingya) focuses on the subject of identity and features the work of 11 photographers from Rohingyatographer, a magazine produced by a team based in the refugee camp. Described by the United Nations as ‘the most persecuted minority in the world’, nearly a million Rohingya people are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh as a result of a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that is now the subject of a genocide investigation at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Some Rohingya also remain in camps in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, where their movements are restricted and closely monitored. Years of official discrimination provide the impetus for the exhibition’s theme with successive Myanmar leaders – including Aung San Suu Kyi who was overthrown by the generals in the February 2021 coup – refusing to recognise the Rohingya as Myanmar citizens and referring to the group as ‘Bengali’. Sahat Zia Hero, a Rohingya refugee and founder of Rohingyatographer Magazine who curated the exhibition and book, stated in a media release that “we want the world to see the Rohingya refugee community through our own eyes”. “We want people to see us as human beings, just like everyone else and to share our hopes and dreams, our sadness and our grief with others, to make connections.” read the complete article

21 Jun 2022

Lawyers call on intl court to investigate Uyghur treatment

Lawyers on Monday renewed calls for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into China's treatment of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang region as they presented a dossier of evidence to prosecutors. Activists and lawyers accuse Beijing of crimes against humanity and genocide against the groups. China’s ruling Communist Party has vehemently denied all reports of human rights violations and genocide in Xinjiang. Monday's filing is the latest attempt to have the global court open an investigation into widespread allegations of abuse against Uyghurs by Chinese authorities. The group that submitted the evidence said it includes testimony from a witness who escaped from a camp in 2018 and alleges that he and others were tortured and forced to undergo medical procedures including “being injected with unknown substances.” The latest dossier also seeks to support their assertion that ICC prosecutors have jurisdiction despite China not being a member of the court by arguing that Uyghurs and others are being rounded up on the territory of an ICC member state and transferred to China. That assertion seeks to use a precedent set when the court's judges ruled that the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate abuses against Myanmar's Rohingya minority, despite Myanmar not being a member of the court, because thousands of Rohingyas were force to flee to Bangladesh, which is an ICC member. British lawyer Rodney Dixon said evidence presented to the court's prosecutor's office uncovers “a pervasive plan to round up Uyghurs in neighboring countries, including an ICC member State, and elsewhere, to force them back into China.” read the complete article

United States

21 Jun 2022


At least four detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay have been infected with Covid-19, detainees’ legal teams told The Intercept. It is the first outbreak of Covid within the maximum-security prison. The outbreak occurred in Camp Six, a communal block built in 2006 that houses low-value detainees who have never been charged with any crime. Lawyers said the detainees are now living under tightened restrictions. “We’re worried because there is no clarity about the conditions in which they’re living,” said Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee at the prison, speaking in his capacity as Guantánamo project coordinator for the London-based advocacy group CAGE. “Are they being treated? How bad is their infection? Have they been taken to the hospital? Nine brothers died at Guantanamo — two, I can tell you, died of medical negligence.” The Covid outbreak was confirmed by two sources who spoke to The Intercept — one of whom requested anonymity in order to protect people held at the prison from retaliation — as well as a social media post from the sister of a detainee. According to one source, at least one detainee tested positive more than a week ago. (The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) Adayfi, the former detainee and author of the memoir “Don’t Forget Us Here,” described the camp where the outbreak happened: “Camp Six doesn’t have any windows, except for small slits of light near the high ceilings. You feel like you’re in a deep pit. It’s a building within a building.” Built by a Halliburton subsidiary and initially used for solitary confinement, Camp Six is now used for communal living. Adayfi said once the communal areas are closed, the cells become isolated from each other and communication is only possible by shouting. “It feels like solitary confinement,” he said. “Camp Six is really terrible. Terrible.” “I’m concerned not only because of the Covid, but in general,” said Beth Jacob, an attorney working with Guantánamo detainees, of the general health of her five clients in the prison. Two of the men she represents have fallen ill with Covid, she said. Jacob said the history of brutality faced by Guantánamo detainees could contribute to poor health outcomes. “Their health is bad because of the conditions under which they’ve been held,” she said. “My guys both were held by the CIA, one for a year, one for two years. That was not gentle. It was a long time ago, but it’s still lasting physical damage.” read the complete article


21 Jun 2022

‘I want to normalise hijab wearing’: WA’s newest Labor senator on making history

When Fatima Payman takes her seat in the Senate in July, she will make history as the first woman to wear a hijab in Australia’s parliament. The 27-year-old Muslim Australian, confirmed as Labor’s newest senator from Western Australia on Monday, says she will wear it with pride. “I want to normalise hijab wearing,” Payman tells Guardian Australia. “I hope to be an inspiration to many other young Australians, that just because you believe in God, or just because you look different, it shouldn’t prevent you from being involved in such an important institution. “You can’t be what you can’t see, and if that [parliament] is not reflective of the general Australian public then how can you have complete faith that they can hear your voice, and be your voice in power?” Payman is still pinching herself at being elected, describing her path to becoming an Australian senator as “completely unreal”. Payman makes light of the fact that she will join the Senate at the same time as One Nation senator Pauline Hanson is reelected, who once wore a burqa in the Senate as part of a political stunt calling for a ban on the Muslim dress. “I would like to say I wish Pauline didn’t do it because she has stolen my thunder, I could have been the first one,” Payman says. “But that is OK, maybe I’ll teach her how I wear my hijab.” While Payman is not bothered by the focus on the history-making moment of her Muslim headscarf, she says that her identity will always be “Australian first”, saying she remains amazed at how quickly she adopted her new country after arriving as an eight-year-old. “Yes, I am the first hijab-wearing woman in parliament, but it was my Labor values that carried me here,” she says. “Before I am Afghan, or a migrant or a Muslim, I am an Australian Labor senator, I do really want to emphasise that. I believe that everyone deserves a fair go in life despite where they came from and what they believe in, their sexual orientation, age or ability.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Jun 2022

MAINSTREAMING THE EXTREME: The British Media & Far Right Islamophobia

According to draft extracts of the Prevent review leaked to the Guardian, the government’s counter-terrorism programme has been too heavily focused on right-wing extremism and insufficiently concerned with Islamist extremism. The leaked documents claim that “there has been a ‘double standard’ approach to tackling different forms of extremism, with individuals targeted for expressing mainstream right-wing views because the definition of neo-nazism has expanded too widely, while the focus on Islamist extremism has been too narrow”. They also argue that it has taken a view on right-wing terror which has been “so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, right-wing-leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation”. But as Sir Peter Fahy, the former police lead for Prevent, asked: “How are the police supposed to judge what is mainstream?” As he explained, the police are concerned primarily with the likelihood of people being drawn into violence, not whether their views are mainstream. Given that the review is being undertaken by William Shawcross, whose antipathy to Islam hardly needs stressing, such sentiments are entirely unsurprising. They also need to be seen in the context of the growing assault on the numerous critics of Prevent. This is being spearheaded by Policy Exchange, of which Shawcross is a senior fellow, whose recent report Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism insists that “the biggest terrorist threat still emanates from Islamist, not far-right, extremism” and that “Muslim individuals who may present a security risk are being under-represented in referrals, given that Islamist terrorism is by far the greatest security threat”. As Nafeez Ahmed has already pinpointed the report’s authors’ own imbrication in elements of the far-right, I want here to argue that much “right-leaning commentary” in sections of the national press in Britain goes far beyond the “mildly controversial or provocative” and has long been a key conduit by means of which the idea of “Islamisation”, long associated with far-right extremism, has been enabled to enter mainstream political discourse. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jun 2022 Edition


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