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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24 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, British Muslim Labour MP Apsana Begum said that she had been signed off sick after being subjected to a “sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse and harassment,” meanwhile in the United States, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention act went into effect, with the aim being to “cripple China’s ability to profit from the forced labor of Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities,” and in India, a genre of anti-Muslim music known as Hindutva pop, has spread like wildfire, with right-wing Hindu nationalists using the Islamophobic lyrics to send an unequivocal message to India’s minority communities: ‘Leave India’. Our recommended read of the day is by Mansoor Adayfi for the Middle East Monitor on the recently released classified pictures of Guantanamo Bay, and the response from formerly detained individuals at the military prison, with one stating “It is one thing to destroy a man, his family and his future… it’s another to then release sanitized and misleading images to the world to cover up the evil of what you did.” This and more below:

United States

24 Jun 2022

'It's time the US released pictures of Guantanamo's children, the waterboarding, the blood-stained walls of cells where prisoners were killed' | Recommended Read

Over the last 20 years, Guantanamo has represented many different things to the world. It is not only the site of one of the most infamous prisons in the 'War on Terror' but joins the ranks of Alcatraz and Robben Island as one of the most notorious in history. Outside observers may know it as a symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial; for me however, it was my home for 14 years. Every inch and crevice of the Camp has seared itself into my mind, the images of that brutal reality will forever remain firmly embedded in my mind's eye. That's why I looked on with interest as a series of secret, never-before-released photos of the original detainees arriving at the detention camp were published. The images, posted by the New York Times Sunday, show scenes of men in shackles, blindfolds, and ear protectors as they arrived at Guantanamo in 2002. Most of what was done to us there was kept safely out of the glare of the public eye, and the NYT points out that the only images ever leaked from the prison were put out by WikiLeaks in 2011. One of the first things I did was to share the NYT article with a WhatsApp group I share with former Guantanamo prisoners, asking if they could identify with what they saw in the photos. I knew already it would be triggering, but I needed to hear and know what they thought. The majority reacted the same way I did, and some could not even look, let alone comment. The trauma was too fresh. What were the reactions? The sentiments ranged from: "I wish I was treated like that", to "Is this a sick joke?". We then spoke about the things that really happened and how they happened. We also floated what the real narrative would sound like, if it were ever to be reported: "We kidnapped them, abused them, tortured them, set their life on fire, released them without charge or trial. Now we are going to sugarcoat what we did to them and use photos to lie to the world." read the complete article

24 Jun 2022

U.S. Repatriates Afghan Whose Guantánamo Detention Was Unlawful

The United States on Friday complied with a federal court order and released a former Afghan militiaman from detention in Guantánamo Bay, in a case that reflects the changing political realities of Afghanistan. Assadullah Haroon Gul, who is in his 40s, was held for 15 years at the military prison under the name Haroon al-Afghani and was never charged with any war crimes. A U.S. Air Force plane carrying Mr. Haroon departed from Guantánamo Bay on Thursday and delivered him to Qatar, which has long served as go-between on United States interests with the Taliban. Qatari officials then handed Mr. Haroon over to Taliban government representatives in Doha, according to a senior U.S. official. The transfer reduced to 36 the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, 20 of whom could be released if the State Department finds nations to receive them. One other prisoner at Guantánamo, like Mr. Haroon, does not require the defense secretary’s approval to leave but currently has no place to go. Mr. Haroon was born to an Afghan family that fled to a refugee camp in Pakistan during a civil war, according to court filings. He is married and has a daughter, who was born after he was captured. They live in Afghanistan. A brother and his mother live in Peshawar, Pakistan. Last year, Tara J. Plochocki, one of Mr. Haroon’s lawyers, described her client as “desperate to get home” to make sure his daughter gets an education. The Taliban barred women and girls from going to school the last time they were in power. Mr. Haroon’s lawyers say that he rose above his circumstances to study economics at a college in Peshawar and gained fluency in five languages — the fifth being English, which he learned from his American captors. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Jun 2022

Muslim Labour MP Apsana Begum signed off sick after 'misogynistic abuse and harassment'

A British Muslim Labour MP said Wednesday that she had been signed off sick after being subjected to a "sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse and harassment". Apsana Begum, MP for the Poplar and Limehouse constituency in east London, said she was signed off sick by her doctor earlier this month because the abuse she had received had a "significant effect" on her mental and physical health. "It is hard to have to take time off from my work representing the constituency in which I grew up and live," Begum said in a statement released Wednesday. Begum said the abuse had been "particularly painful and difficult… as a survivor of domestic abuse". She did not specify who had been targeting her. Begum – Britain's first hijab-wearing MP – was elected to parliament in 2019. She is a fierce critic of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and is staunchly pro-Palestine. read the complete article

24 Jun 2022

'Breaking barriers, confusing racists' - first female leader of Muslim Council of Britain visits city

There's an Islamophobic trope that suggests Muslim women are oppressed and submissive, held back by the faith's menfolk. Zara Mohammed, the first female leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, hopes her appointment will help diminish further that insulting stereotype. At the age of 29 she has risen to the top role in the MCB, the country's largest and most diverse umbrella body for Muslim organisations. She is the first female ever to hold the post of Secretary-General, voted in by a male dominated electorate of imams, mosque and community leaders across the country. This week she is visiting mosques, schools and communities across Birmingham and Walsall as part of a listening exercise to understand the concerns and issues that are affecting people most. She included visits to Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre in Small Heath, the Bahu Trust and the Al-Mahdi Institute. She took time out to speak to BirminghamLive about the issues raised with her. Top of the priority list locally was the impact of the cost of living crisis on already struggling families in deprived areas. The legacy of the Trojan Horse affair - allegations claiming there was an Islamic plot to take over city schools - was still having a profound impact locally, she said. Ms Mohammed doubled down on earlier calls by the Muslim Council of Britain for a public inquiry into the incidents that unfolded in 2014. read the complete article

24 Jun 2022

‘They will butcher our stories’: how British TV is failing Muslims

There is no glass ceiling stopping those of ethnic minority and Muslim backgrounds from entering the world of TV. It’s more of a concrete ceiling, given how difficult, painful – and sometimes ultimately futile – bursting through it can feel. Increasingly, there are examples of Muslim creatives who are helping television to shun offensive and outright harmful narratives in favour of exciting, multifaceted Muslim stories. In the US, shows such as Ramy and Ms Marvel have given Muslim talent the space to tell stories that are unflinchingly authentic. In the UK, comedy is making particularly impressive advancements, with groundbreaking shows such as Guz Khan’s Man Like Mobeen and Channel 4’s Bafta-winning smash hit We Are Lady Parts – which has been renewed for a second series. But in terms of UK drama’s approach to Muslim stories, there is still a long way to go. When ITV’s Honour dramatised the real-life honour killing of Banaz Mahmod, it told the story from the perspective of the white, female detective investigating the case rather than the woman at its heart. Too often, this is the kind of narrative that dramas opt for when depicting Muslims: ones with an air of criminality, such as the Rochdale grooming scandal. During the trial of Darren Osborne, the terrorist who drove his van into Muslim worshippers outside Finsbury Park mosque in north London, it was revealed that the BBC drama Three Girls’ portrayal of the Rochdale child abuse sex ring is what led him to become “obsessed” with Muslims. “When people ask for Muslim stories, in my experience, they tend to look for those that fit their limited preconceptions,” says Faisal A Qureshi, a screenwriter and producer who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years. In 2005, he tried writing a thriller for the BBC with an Asian female lead, only to be frustrated by small-minded conceptions about how Muslims should be portrayed on TV. “During the script development session, they basically said we should make this about honour killings. I just went no and the project died. We wouldn’t have been having that conversation if I made the character a white woman.” There has been improvement in the years since. Themes around terrorism, radicalisation and honour killings are falling out of favour, but preconceived notions of what a Muslim narrative should look like still linger. read the complete article


24 Jun 2022

Biden is under pressure to go soft on China’s genocide

The Biden administration faces a crucial test of its willingness to confront the genocide in China. This week, a new U.S. law meant to cripple China’s ability to profit from the forced labor of Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities went into effect. The question is whether President Biden will fully implement it — or squander America’s best and perhaps last chance to end our complicity in these atrocities. Congress passed and Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act last December. It bans imports of any products connected to forced-labor practices in China’s northwest Xinjiang region, part of what the Biden administration has determined to be an ongoing genocide. Several officials, congressional staffers and experts have told me that some administration figures and business interests are fighting against strict implementation of the law. Those opposed are the same interests that fought long and hard to thwart its passage, as detailed in a new seven-part investigation released by the Dispatch. They are not about to stop now. “The implementation will be contested, just as everything Xinjiang-related was contested last year,” said Michael Sobolik, a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. “The mechanics are different, but the battle remains the same: climate interests pitted against human rights concerns.” China doesn’t allow independent auditing of Xinjiang factories and denies all accusations of abusing Uyghurs. This is contradicted by mountains of evidence showing that the Chinese government has systematically imprisoned millions of Uyghurs and other minorities, compelled tens of thousands of them into forced labor, separated families, quashed their religious and cultural freedom, and used forced sterilization, all in service of their genocidal aims. To be sure, if the law were enforced as written, there would be short-term disruptions to several industries, involving everything from cotton to electric vehicles. But that’s the whole point. Unless businesses are compelled to scrub their supply chains of products made with forced labor, they won’t act. That’s why Congress stepped in. read the complete article

24 Jun 2022

Ms Marvel has reminded me how grateful I am for my Muslim friends

Like many Muslims I know, my last three Wednesday evenings have involved watching the latest episode of Ms Marvel, revelling in the joy of seeing our voice, faith and culture celebrated so unapologetically on screen. While no representation is perfect, there’s so many things I’ve loved about the series so far – the inside jokes and the untranslated Urdu, the refreshing portrayal of Islam and the oh-so-accurate depiction of gossiping aunties. But perhaps my favourite part of all has been watching the friendship between Kamala and Nakia: the beauty of it, the realness of it. How relatable it is. Anyone who’s ever been a minority in a room will tell you that seeing someone like you in a sea of hostile faces feels like finding an oasis in the desert. And many of us can attest to the way being the odd ones out can cement a friendship in a millisecond that is every bit as strong as ones forged over years. Friendships with people like us is something we don’t talk about enough. Perhaps it’s unfashionable to talk about this, but to minorities like me, having a friendship group made up of people who share your heritage, worldview, and understanding is a safe space comparable to therapy. Just like in Ms Marvel, when Kamala instinctively translates ‘ammi’ for Kamran who softly reminds her that he knows what that means, or the scene where Kamala and Nakia rush to perform wudu from the same tap. There’s a rare, blissful relief in not having to explain what that water vessel next to the toilet is or that you can’t see the movie at that time because it clashes with maghrib prayer. read the complete article


24 Jun 2022

Hindutva pop: The rise of India’s hate music scene

“Saffron will reach every household, the rule of Ram [Hindu lord] will re-emerge” — these are the introductory lyrics of one of the songs that has gained popularity in recent months in India. The two minute song, available on YouTube, calls for the ‘saffronisation’ of India, a political ideology advocating Hindu supremacy over other ethnic and religious minorities, and is sung by a 40-year-old Ved Vyas. This genre of anti-Muslim music, known as Hindutva pop, has spread like wildfire in India. People with affiliation to the right-wing government use Islamophobic lyrics to send an unequivocal message to India’s minority communities: ‘Leave India’. Inspired by prejudice for Islam, hate-music in India mainly emerged after Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power by winning the parliamentary elections in 2014. Islamophobic songs are not confined to those advocating for the saffronisation of India. Dozens of soundtracks sung by popular singers inclined towards right-wing ideology openly call for the exodus of Muslims and issue threats to the minority community, who make up just 14 percent of the India’s population. read the complete article

New Zealand

24 Jun 2022

Book review: How to Be a Bad Muslim

March 15, 2019, was a rupture for so many people in New Zealand, but initially and most importantly, and most enduringly, for the Muslim community. “All of my conversations in New Zealand return inevitably to Christchurch,” Mohamed Hassan writes near the end of his book of essays, How to Be a Bad Muslim. “It is like a glitch in time. A rupture in the VHS film that keeps replaying a loop of a memory.” Hassan, a poet and journalist who was born in Cairo, and migrated to New Zealand at the age of 8, was living and working in Istanbul when he heard about Christchurch. He flew back as a reporter, but joined the large group of Muslim volunteers who helped with the burial of 51 people in four days. “Fifty-one holes dug six feet deep, aligned side by side in five rows,” he writes. “I imagine they needed an Excel spreadsheet just to figure out the logistics of who would go where. Whose body had been released by the coroner first, washed and wrapped in cotton and readied for the journey.” Hassan has a rare perspective, and not just the obvious one of a young Muslim writer at a time when the rest of New Zealand needed to hear from the community – and it still needs to – but because of the duality of his professions. He is both a journalist and a poet, and his poetry collection, National Anthem, was a book awards finalist. That combination means these 19 personal essays are engaging, beautifully written and light on their feet. The rupture of March 15 is the subject of at least three of them, and in the background of many others. The burials are described in a piece called “Two Funerals”. The nihilistic online culture that radicalised the Christchurch gunman is outlined in “Subscribe to PewDiePie” which, in a confronting move, opens the collection and takes its title from an in-joke shared on white supremacist forums. But the third of the specifically Christchurch-oriented essays does something else, which connects with an overall hopefulness that underpins the book. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jun 2022 Edition


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