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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02 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, anti-Muslim hatred is shaping the country’s elections, meanwhile in Turkey, the government has rejected the citizenship applications of some Uyghurs who have been outspoken about the detention of their families in China, citing risks they pose to “national security” and “public order,” and in the United States, Republicans and right-wing media are taking aim at President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, D.C. federal appeals court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, over her advocacy on behalf of detainees imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. Our recommended read of the day is by Choe Sang-Hun for the New York Times on rising Islamophobia and xenophobia in South Korea, as a “mosque dispute has become a flash point, part of a larger phenomenon in which South Koreans have had to confront what it means to live in an increasingly diverse society.” This and more below:

South Korea

02 Mar 2022

How ‘Multiculturalism’ Became a Bad Word in South Korea | Recommended Read

Inside the dimly lit house, young Muslim men knelt and prayed in silence. Outside, their Korean neighbors gathered with angry signs to protest “a den of terrorists” moving into their neighborhood. In a densely populated but otherwise quiet district in Daegu, a city in southeastern South Korea, a highly emotional standoff is underway. Roughly 150 Muslims, mostly students at the nearby Kyungpook National University, started building a mosque in a lot next door to their temporary house of worship about a year ago. When their Korean neighbors found out, they were furious. The mosque would turn the neighborhood of Daehyeon-dong into “an enclave of Muslims and a crime-infested slum,” the Korean neighbors wrote on signs and protest banners. It would bring more “noise” and a “food smell” from an unfamiliar culture, driving out the Korean residents. The Muslim students and their Korean supporters fought back, arguing that they had the right to live and pray in peace in Daegu, one of the most politically conservative cities in South Korea. “There is a difference between protest and harassment,” said Muaz Razaq, 25, a Ph.D. student in computer science who is from Pakistan. “What they were doing was harassment.” The fault line between the two communities here has exposed an uncomfortable truth in South Korea. At a time when the country enjoys more global influence than ever — with consumers around the world eager to dance to its music, drive its cars and buy its smartphones — it is also grappling with a fierce wave of anti-immigrant fervor and Islamophobia. While it has successfully exported its culture abroad, it has been slow to welcome other cultures at home. The mosque dispute has become a flash point, part of a larger phenomenon in which South Koreans have had to confront what it means to live in an increasingly diverse society. Muslims have often borne the brunt of racist misgivings, particularly after the Taliban executed two South Korean missionaries in 2007. The arrival of 500 Yemeni asylum seekers on the island of Jeju in 2018 triggered South Korea’s first series of organized anti-immigrant protests. The government responded to fears that the asylum seekers were harboring terrorists by banning them from leaving the island. read the complete article


02 Mar 2022

Putin’s aggression makes clear the case for an anti-war movement

The former MI6 chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, expressed his regret in 2018 for our security services’ role in Putin’s rise to power, including the time Tony Blair was offered up to the Russians for a photo op in 2000. The following year the former prime minister also drew parallels between Chechnya and the west’s “war on terror”. Putin’s descent into unapologetic authoritarianism didn’t lead Blair to revise his opinions – instead, he urged the west to put aside its displeasure at the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to ally with Putin against “radical Islam”, a plea he repeated in 2018, just three months after the Salisbury poisonings. The anti-war movement fights for a heart in a heartless world. It resists a racist narrative summed up by one US news correspondent – “This isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan … This is a relatively civilised, relatively European city” – by emphasising that the invasion of Ukraine matters because they’re a people under attack, not because they’re Europeans, and that this empathy must be applied more universally. It also calls for a universal application of rules: if we stand against one aggressor, we should stand against them all. Arguing for consistency on international issues is often condemned as “whataboutery”, but at its heart is the belief that all victims of injustice are of equal worth. If we understand Ukrainians’ right to resist occupation, we should extend that courtesy to Palestinians; if we are repelled by the slaughter of children in Ukraine, we should feel equally appalled by the Saudi carpet bombing of kids with western bombs; and we should equally condemn atrocities committed by other anti-western regimes, from the barrel bombs of Syria’s Assad to China’s oppression of the Uygher Muslims. read the complete article

02 Mar 2022

China ordered a Uyghur journalist extradited to Xinjiang. His wife has taken to the Istanbul streets to stop it

Every day is a protest for Buzainuer Wubuli, 28, and her three young children. Her husband, Idris Hasan (Yidiresi Aishan), is a journalist, computer engineer and activist. He is one of the thousands of Uyghurs living abroad being sought out by Chinese authorities in an attempt to bring them back to Xinjiang. “It is this feeling that we Uyghurs cannot escape China wherever we go,” said Buzainuer Wubuli (Zeynure Obul). “Uyghurs in our homeland are being disappeared in prisons and camps. Outside the country, Uyghurs are not allowed to live in peace anywhere.” For the past 10 years Wubuli’’s husband has faced constant harassment and detention by Turkish authorities — further evidence of China’s reach in Turkey, according to Wubuli — pushing him to finally leave the country with a plan for his family to follow. He was unaware that China had issued a red notice for him and was arrested in July 2021 while in transit in Casablanca. Today Idris Hasan is being held in a Moroccan prison. Following international outcry, Interpol canceled the red notice for Hasan. However, Moroccan authorities decided to follow through with Hasan’s deportation in light of a recently signed extradition treaty with China. Hasan would be the first Chinese national extradited under the treaty that was signed in early 2021. The UN Committee Against Torture has pressured Moroccan authorities to pause the extradition while it reviews Hasan’s case, a process that could take weeks, months, even years. read the complete article

02 Mar 2022

Turkey rejected Uyghur citizenship applications over "national security" risks

The Turkish government has rejected the citizenship applications of some Uyghurs who have been outspoken about the detention of their families in China, citing risks they pose to "national security" and "public order," according to interviews and documents reviewed by Axios. Why it matters: Turkey has been an important refuge for Uyghurs, who have faced repressive policies in China for years. But Ankara's growing economic and security ties with Beijing have led to fears among some Uyghurs that they're no longer safe in Turkey. The denial of citizenship for some Uyghurs in Turkey fits a broader pattern of China's growing ability to extend repression beyond its own borders, Elise Anderson, a senior program officer at the D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Axios. Chinese government authorities are "surveilling, tracking and hunting down Uyghurs, and in some cases, have succeeded in sending them back to the People's Republic of China," Anderson said. read the complete article

United States

02 Mar 2022

Letter from Abigail Disney on film Jihad Rehab

To my colleagues in the documentary community: On February 23, I addressed a personal email to a group of Muslim and MENA filmmakers that had expressed concern about a film I executive-produced, Jihad Rehab. I sent it privately because apologies are not a performance and that when harm is done, it is, first and foremost, important to apologize with sincerity. On February 25 a representative of the group contacted me and asked me to publish the contents of the letter because they and others felt that it served as a model for how to address a moment of deep cultural division and pain such as the one we find ourselves in today. "First and foremost, I am truly sorry. A film I executive produced, Jihad Rehab, has landed like a truckload of hate on people whom I sincerely love and respect. I know that it could not matter less how it was intended to land, it created deep and unnecessary pain and for that, I take responsibility and apologize." read the complete article

02 Mar 2022

National Muslim group applauds firing of Milwaukee assistant city attorney who worked for anti-Islamic groups and praised Putin

The nation's largest Muslim civil rights group on Tuesday applauded the firing of a Milwaukee assistant city attorney who had previously worked for anti-Islamic "hate groups." City Attorney Tearman Spencer fired attorney Jennifer DeMaster on Monday, days after the Journal Sentinel reported that she appeared on Russia Today TV backing Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions leading up to his country's invasion of Ukraine. Russia Today, registered as a foreign agent, is owned and controlled by the state of Russia. However, the termination notice did not provide details about why she was fired. Instead, the notice to the city's Department of Employee Relations cited only "Job performance. Poor fit." The Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, on Tuesday called the decision "'welcome, but long overdue." "Given Ms. DeMaster's past support for efforts to enshrine anti-Muslim bigotry into law, the city should have investigated whether she could fairly uphold the law for all Milwaukee residents," CAIR Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement. "The city's failure to do so sent a message that the constitutional rights of American Muslims were not important to city officials." read the complete article

02 Mar 2022

Republicans attack Ketanji Brown Jackson for being right about Guantanamo

Even before President Biden had officially nominated D.C. federal appeals court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republicans and right-wing media had already taken aim at her record as a criminal defense attorney. More specifically, groups opposing Jackson’s nomination have zeroed in on Jackson’s advocacy on behalf of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay. In every respect, the attacks are nonsense. As for those she defended, when Biden nominated Jackson to the D.C. Court of Appeals, some Republicans criticized her for representing Khi Ali Gul, a former prisoner at Guantánamo Bay. Conservative media outlets have since touted the government’s allegations against Gul: that he led a terrorism cell in Afghanistan, hosted a gathering at his home to plan a terrorist attack and once met with Osama bin Laden. But because there was no trial to adjudicate those claims, we don’t know how reliable they are. Though Gul provided names and contact information of witnesses he said would clear his name, the U.S. government never attempted to contact them. Instead, Gul was detained at Gitmo for 12 years. For nearly all of that time he was confined to his cell 23 hours per day. In 2014, he was repatriated to Afghanistan after the Pentagon determined he was a “low” threat to the United States. Six federal agencies signed off on his release. There’s no evidence he has engaged in terrorism since. Aside from Jackson’s representation of detainees, the Daily Caller, the Free Beacon, and the RNC have also attacked her for alleging torture, breaches of attorney-client privilege, and other prosecutorial misconduct at Guantánamo. They’ve pointed to Bush administration-era court rulings and reports by the Pentagon, the Justice Department and other agencies to portray Jackson as some conspiracy-spouting radical. But subsequent reports, leaks and testimonials show Jackson was right. In 2007, the Guantánamo chief of prosecutors resigned, alleging the Pentagon had set up a rigged system all but guaranteed to prevent acquittals. In 2017, the head of the defense counsel at the prison — a Marine Corps general — was himself imprisoned for 21 days for defending the right of detainees to confer with their attorneys without government surveillance. As for evidence of torture, according to a 2008 report by the DOJ Inspector General, FBI agents repeatedly warned that the CIA was torturing terrorism suspects, including sexually humiliating them and “short-shackling them to the floor for many hours in extreme heat or cold.” The treatment of detainees was so bad, agents started a “war crimes file” to document abuses for later prosecution, though they were later ordered to shut it down. read the complete article


02 Mar 2022

Anti-Muslim Hatred Is Shaping India’s Elections

India’s state of Uttar Pradesh is known for two things: Its size — with 230 million citizens, the population is larger than Brazil’s — and its poverty, as the second-poorest state; annual income is around half the national average. But since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, it has also made global headlines for a darker superlative: crimes targeted against Muslims. Those only worsened when, three years later, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in UP, and with it, Yogi Adityanath — a saffron-robed Hindu monk-turned-chief minister with his own private militia. UP is now the incubator for some of Modi’s most pointed policies targeting India’s Muslim minority, who make up 14% of India’s 1.4 billion citizens. From laws targeting “love jihad” — a reference to an alleged conspiracy of Muslim men luring Hindu women into marriage for conversion — that criminalize inter-religious marriages, to raids on the homes of Muslims who protested against the federal government’s controversial religion-based citizenship law, sectarianism is the new normal in UP. So-called cow vigilantes punish and sometimes kill people suspected of eating beef or killing cattle. (Hindus consider cows sacred.) This rising tide of religious polarization in the world’s largest democracy — and with it the tacit, if not open, support of Modi’s party — has not gone unnoticed. From statements in the U.K.’s House of Lords about the human rights situation to a report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom last year recommending that India should be designated a “country of particular concern” for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations,” the world is waking up to the reality of today’s India. read the complete article

02 Mar 2022

Is India’s row over hijabs about optics – or opportunity?

Since December, a handful of Muslim teenage girls have been protesting outside their classroom in the coastal town of Udipi, in Karnataka state. They have not been permitted back inside as they insist on wearing their hijab, something local authorities say is against uniform policy. The row has spread to other towns in the state and legal notices were filed, leading the state High Court to issue a temporary ban on religious clothing until it makes a final decision. At issue is an apparent new uniform policy which outlaws head coverings and other religious garments, although it is important to note that the hijab has not actually been banned. The current debate revolves primarily around whether the hijab is a necessary part of what it means to be Muslim. The story is being presented as a kind of inflection point in the ongoing sectarian tensions in India, however I’d argue that, as multi-layered and confusing as it is, the episode isn’t particularly a turning point at all – rather, it’s just another way to send a clear message to Muslims that they occupy a subordinate status, along with all the other behaviour that supports this (such as ongoing violent attacks against Muslims). In particular, the hijab row in Karnataka has been linked to state elections that are underway in Uttar Pradesh. It is clear to most India watchers that the Bharatiya Janata Party is working steadily to make inroads into state politics – which operates vastly differently to national-level politics – and is considered to be leveraging the religious tensions in Uttar Pradesh. However there is no real evidence that there has been any impact. Uttar Pradesh anyway has its own deep religious divisions. It doesn’t need anyone else’s. Flirting with hijab or burqa bans has long been a favoured tactic of Western liberal governments who want to tap into some populist anti-migrant sentiment among voters. It is not really about banning the garment – did anyone really think France would get away with abolishing the burkini? – but sending a message to a minority group that they are not respected nor wanted. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Mar 2022 Edition


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