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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22 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities state that students fighting for their right to wear a hijab in school will not be able to retake the secondary school exams they missed amid heightened protests on the matter, meanwhile in France, as the “2022 French elections draw nearer, its politicians are currently embroiled in a race to the bottom: who can ostracize France’s Muslim population the most,” and in the United Kingdom, a new report into health inequalities among ethnic minorities in the UK reveals that discrimination and religious and cultural insensitivity mean that the healthcare system continues to fail patients of Muslim origin. Our recommended read of the day is by Timothy McLaughlin for The Atlantic on America’s formal declaration stating the Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims, and how the military coup played a central role in bringing about this declaration as it revealed that “within Myanmar, violence carried out against one group can easily be meted out against others.” This and more below:


22 Mar 2022

Why the U.S. Finally Called a Genocide in Myanmar a ‘Genocide’ | Recommended Read

Four years ago, the State Department began an investigation into the Myanmar military’s brutal operation against the country’s Rohingya Muslims the prior year, which had resulted in scores of deaths and hundreds of thousands of Rohingya being pushed into Bangladesh. The report, spanning thousands of pages, was finalized when Mike Pompeo was still secretary of state, and he ultimately opted to call the armed forces’ actions “ethnic cleansing,” a descriptive term not defined by international law. Today, with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a weighty backdrop, his successor, Antony Blinken, went further. Blinken declared that the campaign against the Rohingya fit the definition of the gravest of crimes, uttering a word that human-rights activists had long argued applied to Myanmar: genocide. In the years since, much has changed when it comes to Myanmar. Beijing remains a paramount rival of Washington’s, but Myanmar’s still-fledgling experiment with democracy was swept away a year ago by a military coup; Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate leader who defended the armed forces against charges of genocide, was jailed by that same military; and Russia, one of Yangon’s most prominent international supporters and a key supplier of arms to the Myanmar military, has become reviled by the West over its invasion of Ukraine. Of these factors, the coup is most central. Both within and outside Myanmar, it has highlighted the frailty of hard-won freedoms, prompting soul-searching among both the country’s political elites and the broader population about their support of the military against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities who have been terrorized by the armed forces for decades. Conventional wisdom may suggest that openness is a prerequisite for historic wrongs to be acknowledged. In Myanmar, the opposite has proved true: The military’s repression has forced a change of tack, eroding some of the rampant anti-Rohingya nationalism that was ubiquitous in the country’s politics, and clarifying the choices faced by the Biden administration. Ultimately, the coup brought us here—to a broader realization within Myanmar that violence carried out against one group can easily be meted out against others. read the complete article

22 Mar 2022

Myanmar’s Military Committed Genocide Against Rohingya, U.S. Says

“The day will come when those responsible for these appalling acts will have to answer for them,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which is exhibiting evidence of decades of discrimination and abuse against Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military. The violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State peaked in August 2017 with a campaign of mass rape, burnings and drownings against entire families that killed more than 9,000 people and forced nearly one million to flee the country. It was the eighth time that the United States has issued a formal genocide declaration, committing to supporting international investigations to hold violators accountable and probably prompting additional sanctions or other penalties to isolate Myanmar’s military-led government. Officials who “bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities” will continue to face severe sanctions, Mr. Blinken said. He did not mention any penalties against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who was Myanmar’s de facto leader at the time of the 2017 massacres and had rejected accusations of genocide. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested in a February 2021 coup. Since then, Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, has violently cracked down on civilians across the country, killing at least 1,670 people and detaining more than 12,000. The designation bolsters international charges of genocide that have been brought against the leaders who ordered the atrocities against the Rohingya, some of whom Mr. Blinken said remain in power in Myanmar. read the complete article

22 Mar 2022

Ukraine war shows it’s time to do away with the racist ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory

Picked apart by critics for conceptual and empirical errors, the tragedy of 9/11 breathed new life into his theory of international relations. Huntington was regarded as prophetic. His vision of an “Islam with bloody borders” that would confront the West, fuelled by Muslim extremists, put wind in the sails of the so-called War on Terror, turning western Muslims into suspects, not citizens, and transforming them into societal outcasts. But Huntington also predicted: "If civilization is what counts … the likelihood of violence between Ukrainians and Russians should be low. They are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who have had close relationships with each other for centuries.” Now that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has proved him spectacularly wrong, it’s time to throw out his whole outlook, which has traumatized Muslims the world over. The Clash of Civilizations theory has devastated Muslims for years because it formed the basis of post-9/11 security policies that targeted the supposed enemy of the West — Muslims. We need to shatter the Huntington lens completely, not just remove the portion on Russia and Ukraine. Why does the theory still appeal, despite evidence that it’s wrong? The Clash of Civilizations still has traction because of its emotive, tribal appeal, setting up an us-versus-them scenario that’s helped create anti-Muslim westerners and anti-westerner Muslims. read the complete article

United States

22 Mar 2022

Guantánamo prosecutors are exploring plea deals in 9/11 case after years of setbacks

More than 20 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the U.S. government is acknowledging that the five men charged with that crime may never face a jury – and may instead receive plea deals. Settlement talks are underway at the U.S. military court in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would allow alleged 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants to plead guilty, avoid the death penalty, and serve life in prison — although some of them may try to negotiate lesser sentences. The discussions taking place between prosecutors and defense attorneys are a tacit admission that Guantánamo's problem-plagued military court, where the 9/11 case has remained in the pre-trial stage for years, is unlikely to be able to take the men to trial, let alone win convictions. From the beginning, the case has been mired in delays, setbacks and inefficiencies. Lawyers are still trying to resolve basic constitutional questions, arguing over what evidence can be admitted, and struggling with frequent personnel turnover, including of judges — all while having to fly back and forth to Cuba for hearings. The pandemic worsened the situation, causing a nearly two-year pause in proceedings. read the complete article

22 Mar 2022

Sim Gill: SBA nominee is the victim of anti-Muslim prejudice

Chances are, you don't know Dilawar Syed. He is an immigrant, an American citizen, a graduate from University of Texas at Austin and the Wharton School of Business. He is a successful businessman having served as both CEO and COO in major corporations. He is also the nominee of President Joe Biden as the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and endorsed by over two hundred business leaders. He is also a Muslim. The recent publication by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sharing perspectives and building trust between the LDS faith and Muslims is something to admire. It speaks to the very best ideals of our nation and in us. This publication could not be more timely. It reminded me about both the urgency and necessity of such conversations. Syed’s nomination for deputy administrator has been struck in confirmation limbo with the unusual reality of Republican members refusing to allow the formation of a quorum. Multiple efforts to decipher their objections have been reduced to his faith and previous support of Muslim advocacy groups encouraging voter and civic participation. If confirmed, Syed would become the highest ranking Muslim appointed in our government. The Republicans’ refusal to take a vote has been followed by passive silence at best and unfounded allegations of anti-Israel bias at worst. This last recrimination feeds into the worst stereotypes assuming that all Muslims are opposed to Jewish Americans and to Israel and being anti-Semitic. This unfounded bias prompted responses from a coalition of Jewish organizations to come to Syed’s defense. They have condemned the attack on Syed’s ethnicity, faith and work on Muslim advocacy as an attack on his character. read the complete article

22 Mar 2022

U.S. Will Restrict Visas For Chinese Officials Involved In Uyghur Repression, Blinken Says

The State Department will impose visa restrictions on Chinese government officials it believes are complicit in the repression of minority groups, dissidents and activists in China or in the U.S., Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, the latest in a series of sanctions and blacklistings that has escalated U.S.-Chinese tensions. The U.S. will use diplomatic and economic means to “promote accountability” for human rights abuses, such as alleged efforts by Chinese officials to “harass, intimidate, surveil and abduct” members of minority groups, including some individuals who had sought shelter in the U.S., Blinken said. Blinken also demanded China not deny the families of Uyghur American activists permission to leave China, which he characterized as a form of “transnational repression.” Though Blinken Monday principally emphasized the repression of Uyghurs, he said visa restrictions would also be directed at officials involved in the persecution of other ethnic and religious minorities, dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and labor organizers either in China or abroad. read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Mar 2022

Trojan Horse Affair: When the targets are Muslims, no one cares about the truth

From Sydney to Birmingham, the Trojan Horse affair resonated so powerfully because the power of Islamophobia is that its lies and violence are packaged and distributed as a seductive transnational epic tale of good versus evil. Translated into multiple languages, Islamophobia is structured around historically honed folk summaries and casts of caricature heroes and villains. Its basic structure is interactive with other contexts and histories, even as the local story it tells is a situated and specific one. The story of Islamophobia is staged in various settings - for example, the “Muslim Grooming Gangs” of Rotherham and Rochdale, the “Muslim gang rapes” in Western Sydney or the “Muslim attackers” in Cologne, Germany, mandating the teaching of “Australian values” or “British values” in schools and so on. It draws on familiar motifs - the veil, bearded men, “Allahu Akbar”, minarets - and infamous villains. Like a classic Choose Your Own Adventure book, the flexibility of the plot allows for the narrator to present the audience with the opportunity to “choose” alternative characters, themes and genres: for violence and gender or forced marriages, turn to page fifty; for horror and Muslim terror attacks, turn to page eighty. There is always the freedom to change scenes: you can pick between race riots on a Sydney beach or a mosque shooting in Quebec, Finsbury Park or Christchurch. In the best-selling genre of the global so-called “War on Terror”, the Trojan Horse Affair was always going to be a blockbuster of a chapter. In the podcast, Hamza Syed and Brian Reed effortlessly expose the plot-holes, the victims and villains, implausible story-lines and hackneyed scripts. Yet for the political establishment, mainstream media and the wider public, the implausible, sensational and far-fetched only made the story more appealing. As Asim Qureshi recently wrote, “one of the things that stands out most [was] how utterly easy it was for the narrative of the enemy within to take hold.” Political and media trafficking in Islamophobia, moral panics about Muslim extremists, securitising and policing Muslim communities in the name of national security, problematising Muslim religiosity and framing Muslim youth through a security agenda— all of this is familiar to us Muslims here in Australia, too. It has become matter-of-fact, routine, common sense. read the complete article

22 Mar 2022

'A lack of culturally sensitive care': Muslim women face stark inequalities in the UK's healthcare system

Discrimination and religious and cultural insensitivity mean that the healthcare system continues to fail patients of Muslim origin, according to a new report into health inequalities among ethnic minorities in the UK. The report by the independent watchdog, the NHS Race and Health Observatory (NHSRHO) which mainly focused on maternity care and mental health, found “overwhelming evidence of ethnic health inequality through the lens of racism.” According to the review, there was a widespread failure to accommodate important religious and cultural differences including diet, concepts of modesty and touch restriction, and alcohol intake restrictions. Racial and religious discrimination also meant patients of ethnic backgrounds were facing poorer health outcomes. Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, who wrote the report told The New Arab, “Few data exist that are specific to health inequalities for Muslim communities." Part of the issue here is that the Muslim community is not homogeneous – religion and belief cut across geography, race and ethnicity, sex and other characteristics. However, there is emerging research outlining the consequences of “Islamophobia” for the physical and mental health and health care of Muslim communities. Maternity care is a time when many women are at their most vulnerable, yet many Muslim women felt they faced stereotyping and Arab women in particular described how they felt their Muslim clothing put them at risk of discrimination. There was also often a clash between healthcare information and practices and cultural practices. This creates a vicious circle where a lack of trust within Muslim communities is creating poorer access and engagement with services. The report also highlighted the intersectionality of poverty and race which has been a particular area of concern as women living in the most deprived areas – which often have a sizable Muslim community – are three times as likely to die in childbirth. read the complete article


22 Mar 2022

No retakes for Muslim students who missed exams during India hijab protests

The Indian students fighting for their right to wear a hijab in school will not be able to retake the secondary school exams they missed amid heightened protests on the matter. Protesting students in Karnataka in southern India could not write some secondary school exams, known as the pre-university course in the state in February and March, either because they were not allowed inside the school for wearing a hijab or because they boycotted the tests to protest against the rules. Though the government had earlier hinted that the students would be allowed to retake these exams, it has now decided not to do so, according to local media reports. Karnataka education minister BC Nagesh said it would be impossible to provide a second opportunity for these protesting students, according to The Times of India. “If we allow the students who boycotted the practicals for not being allowed to wear hijab to the exam even after the high court gave its interim order, then another student will come citing some other reason and seek a second chance,” he said. read the complete article


22 Mar 2022

Caught between the right and a hard place: French Muslims are cannon-fodder in electoral ‘reign of terror’

As the 2022 French elections draw nearer, its politicians are currently embroiled in a race to the bottom: who can ostracize France’s Muslim population the most. The logic behind their playbook is tried and tested on the European stage. One of the focal topics of April’s general election is immigration and while discussing it, the main talking point quickly becomes that of assimilation, which in turn leads to a discussion of ‘values’ and unreasonable citizens. In the French context, the unreasonable citizen almost invariably refers to Muslims or people of African or Arab descent. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, President Emmanuel Macron’s biggest threat comes from a resurgent, multidimensional right. And not to be out-done, or lose grip of this increasing voter base, centre-right candidate Macron has employed a slew of tactics to pander to the bloc. Prompted by the gruesome murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty in October 2020 by Abdoullakh Anzorov, Macron has fast-tracked a number of measures which, while purporting to support “republican values”, has instead laid a legislative base for the collective punishment of France’s Muslim community. The Anti-Separatism Bill passed on 27 August 2021 is of particular note but is by no means alone in effect. Yet, it would seem that even draconian laws have failed to quench the thirst of Macron’s Islamophobic rivals. Not content with his overtures, presidential candidates Valérie Pécresse and Eric Zemmour have instead chosen to invoke a more genocidal tone in their campaign rallies through the promotion of the “Great Replacement Theory” – a theory which has now seeped into the mainstream consciousness. With the combined votes for French right-wing candidates currently polling at 70-75 percent, how did we get here? How is it that Phillipe Marlière, Professor of French and European Studies at UCL, can call Islamophobe and presidential candidate Eric Zemmour a “creature of the French establishment?" Does this shift to the right have its roots in France’s revolutionary history and colonial experience? And what does this all mean for France’s Muslim community who are bombarded with hate, restricted from practice and fearful of their futures? read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Mar 2022 Edition


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