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.

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10 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, around 5,000 people attended a rally in the state of Maharashtra where speakers promoted anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and called on Hindus to boycott Muslim vendors, meanwhile in the United States, the government has released a Saudi Arabian man detained at Guantánamo Bay for more than two decades without charge or trial, making him the fourth inmate transferred out of the prison in roughly the past month, and in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees who faced decades of persecution in Myanmar and fled to Bangladesh for safety are now coping with new pressures. Our recommended read of the day is by Susan Rinkunas for Jezebel on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his previous work at Guantanamo Bay, where detainees state that DeSantis witnessed the force feedings they endured, a practice described by the U.N. Human Rights Commission as torture.

United States

Ron DeSantis Knew All About the Torture Program When He Worked at Guantánamo | Recommended Read

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) served in the Navy as a lawyer, not as a pilot, as he’d like you to think. And as he appears to be gearing up for a presidential run, his record as a Navy lawyer is coming under increased scrutiny—particularly the time he spent in Guantánamo Bay, the Cuban naval base that the U.S. government used to detain and torture suspected terrorists after 9/11. None of these detainees were charged with any crimes before they were thrown in Gitmo and held (and tortured) for years, many for well over a decade. New stories from McClatchy and The Baffler, plus an interview with a former detainee in Harper’s, detail that DeSantis worked at the facility at a time when prisoners were staging hunger strikes to protest their indefinite detention—one of their few protest tools—and the military was tying them to chairs to force-feed them using tubes through the nose. The U.N. Human Rights Commission called the practice torture. DeSantis was stationed there around that time, serving as a trial counsel (aka prosecutor) in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantánamo for at least six months between March 2006 and January 2007, a Florida news outlet revealed in 2018. The recent accounts show that, as a Navy lawyer, DeSantis would have discussed the detainees’ treatment with them directly. DeSantis not only received complaints about the force-feeding, but also witnessed it, Ahmed Abdel Aziz, a former detainee, told McClatchy. Mansoor Adayfi said that DeSantis had introduced himself by saying, “I’m here to ensure that you are treated humanely,” according to Harper’s. But Adayfi alleged that DeSantis personally observed one of his force-feedings and laughed at him; Adayfi remembers vomiting on him. read the complete article

The symbol of hijab in America’s legal and political world

According to some research estimates, up to seven million Muslims live in the United States. Muslim women are the most likely of any faith to wear the visible symbol of faith identity, namely the hijab, which presents them as visibly Muslim in all public settings. Studying the daily life experience of hijab-wearing Muslim women in America can serve as a case study of America’s socio-political perception and treatment of Muslims and Islam. read the complete article

Biden administration releases Guantánamo inmate, its fourth transfer in a month

A Saudi Arabian man held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for more than two decades without being put on trial has been released by the U.S. military, making him the fourth inmate transferred out of Guantánamo in roughly the past month. This week's release of 48-year-old Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi to Saudi Arabia — and last month's release of two detainees to Pakistan and one to Belize — indicates that the Biden administration is accelerating its efforts to close Guantánamo, or at least reduce its inmate population to only those facing criminal charges. Approximately 780 prisoners have passed through Guantánamo's military prison since 2002, and it currently holds 31 men. Of those, 17 have never been charged and are approved for release, but remain behind bars while the U.S. searches for countries to take them. In some cases, they may be repatriated to their native countries. In others, they may be resettled in new ones. read the complete article


Contemplating Muslim lives in new India

While after the heinous killing of Junaid and Nasir, the condition of Indian Muslims has been discussed all around the country. The current situation has not erupted abruptly. Instead, it has taken its due time to ripe and become a new reality imposed on the Muslims in India. As journalist Alishan Jafri aptly puts it, “For so many young Indian Muslims today, social media feeds have begun looking like a visitors’ diary outside a busy graveyard.” The situation is quite perturbing if one is conscious enough to open their eyes and look at the affairs of our society. Just looking back at a week or two, Muslims have been burnt alive, killed in police custody, stabbed, households dismantled, called terrorists, and have faced open calls for genocide across the country. The saga may seem like a dark storyline, but it is the new realm in which Muslims have to live in the current times. read the complete article

Muslim man beaten to death by Hindu nationalists in Bihar

A Muslim man, Naseeb Qureshi (47), was beaten to death by a group of Hindu nationalists in Chhapra, Bihar on Tuesday. The assailants claimed that the Muslim man was carrying beef. The incident took place in Rasulpur of Chhapra, and the deceased was from the Hasanpura area of Siwan. Firoz Qureshi, who was with Naseeb Qureshi at the time, said to Maktoob that they were on their way home when they were attacked by a group of 10-15 people, including the sarpanch of Jogia village. Naseeb Qureshi was brutally beaten with sticks and sharp weapons, and Firoz managed to escape and went to the police station to ask about his uncle’s whereabouts. However, he was misbehaved with and asked to leave the police station. Later, he found out that his uncle’s body was in Daroda Hospital, which was later referred to Siwan Sadar Hospital.Naseeb Qureshi died on the way to Patna. Firoz said he visited the police station to inquire about his uncle’s location. “However, the behavior of the authorities was inappropriate, and they asked me to leave,” he said. “When I asked again, I was subjected to verbal abuse, including a threatening comment: “Those individuals did not harm you; you deserve to be harmed’,” Firoz Qureshi said to Maktoob. read the complete article

Police crackdown on underage marriage in India leaves families in despair

At least 2,700 people, mostly men, have been arrested since late January for such marriages across the poorest districts in the Indian border state of Assam, according to its chief minister. The actions led to scenes of wailing women. Police used batons and tear gas against female protesters. Several people killed themselves, according to local reports. Critics say the state government is exploiting the already waning practice of underage marriage to sow fear for political ends. Underage marriage, they say, while problematic, is mostly a consequence of poverty, and imprisoning individuals will not solve it. “I married him out of my free will. … [Now] there is no point in living if he continues to be jailed,” said a 19-year-old woman searching for her husband and cradling her baby outside Assam’s remote Matia detention center. “I don’t know why the government is punishing us. Is it because we are Muslims?” Some critics allege that Sarma is exploiting religion for political gain. “He wants to be seen as the savior of Hindus and the biggest enemy of Muslims. This he knows is going to help him create a fan base beyond Assam borders,” said Sherman Ali Ahmed, an independent legislator in Assam. But Sarma has said in a tweet, “The arrests in Assam [are] not done after verifying their religious affiliations.” read the complete article

How ‘love jihad’ rallies are spreading hate against Muslims in Maharashtra

On a Sunday afternoon, the cricket ground in Nevali village in Thane was awash with saffron. Around 5,000 people had trooped in from nearby villages and town, many of them for a glimpse of a swami from Ratnagiri, who sat on a grand chair onstage. But the purpose of the rally, organised by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, a collective of several Hindutva outfits in Maharashtra, soon became evident. Speaker after speaker took to the stage at the rally held on March 5 to make speeches against Muslims. “What is the need for mosques on Shivaji’s land? Why are Hindus silent when their land is encroached?” asked Swami Bharatanand Maharaj, from Hindu Shakti Peeth in Palghar. “Through love jihad and land jihad, they are capturing us and our religious places.” “Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory peddled by Hindu supremacist groups that claims that there is an plot by Muslim men to seduce Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam. Similarly, “land jihad” proponents accuse Muslims of waging a campaign to encroach on public land and property owned by Hindus. Among the speakers at the event was T Raja Singh, a suspended Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Telangana with a history of making incendiary communal speeches. “I urge Hindus to leave secularism, and fight for a Hindu nation,” Singh said, as members of the BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena looked on. He said Maharashtra Chief Minister Shinde should learn from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and buy 100 bulldozers to raze houses and structures of “traitors”, a reference to Muslims. read the complete article


The Rohingya endure crisis after crisis

Last weekend, a fire ripped through a stretch of one the world’s largest and most cramped refugee camps. Though no deaths were reported, the blaze incinerated more than 2,000 shelters and left more than 12,000 Rohingya people homeless, half of whom are children, according to local Bangladeshi officials. It was just the latest misery to befall a community already coping with years of dispossession, deprivation and statelessness. Close to a million Rohingya live in squalid camps in Bangladesh, across the border from their native villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. For many, return to those homes is impossible — Myanmar’s authorities do not want the Rohingya back, while its armed forces or vigilante militias may have already razed those villages to the ground. Landmines dot the fields and roads of large swaths of Rakhine, while the Rohingya who remain still face harassment, abuse and arbitrary arrest by local authorities. The bulk of the Rohingya exodus came in 2017, in the wake of a hideous campaign of slaughter, rape and destruction that was eventually designated a genocide by the United States and which forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee across the riverine border with Bangladesh, where earlier waves of Rohingya refugees had journeyed. For years, Myanmar’s state viewed the Rohingya as ethnic Bengali interlopers with no rightful claim to citizenship — no matter that the community has a rich and deep history in the country. Now, while still grappling with the traumas exacted upon them in Myanmar, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are coping with new pressures. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Mar 2023 Edition


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