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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03 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Poland, reports are surfacing of Polish nationalists attacking African, south Asian and Middle Eastern people who have crossed the border after fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, meanwhile in France, the country’s highest court has decided to uphold a ban on barristers wearing the hijab and other religious symbols in courtrooms in the north of the country, and in India, it’s been two years since the deadly anti-Muslim Delhi riots and the perpetrators have still not been brought to justice. Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye on the war in Ukraine and how “two standards have been applied by the West: Rush to help Ukraine against the foreign invader, but no mercy missions to Yemen, Gaza, Syria or Myanmar for that matter.” This and more below:


03 Mar 2022

Let's call out the West's bias over Ukraine for what it is - blatant racism | Recommended Read

"The United Kingdom," announced Oppenheim, "stands with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s unprovoked attack on freedom and democracy." The hypocrisy is grotesque even for those accustomed to the notorious duplicity of the British diplomatic service. Oppenheim may carry the title of British ambassador to Yemen, but he actually is not in Yemen at all. He’s based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where his main task – judging by his active social media account – is to echo Saudi talking points in its vicious and brutal war on the Yemeni people. Of course, the British ambassador is right to condemn Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. But it cannot be forgotten that Britain is a core part of Saudi Arabia’s illegal and barbaric killing machine in neighbouring Yemen. Two standards have been applied. Rush to help Ukraine against the foreign invader. Leave Yemenis to rot. Of course the situation in Ukraine is grotesque. It’s not just diplomats who have applied these double standards. Ever since Vladimir Putin made his move almost a week ago media commentators have been making it explicitly clear that white Europeans in Ukraine matter while others don’t. Hence the reporter from the legendary United States CBS news service who explained that: "This is not Iraq or Syria, this is a civilized and European country." On Monday, Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development ( USAID), descended on the Polish border on a mission to help Ukrainian refugees. Writer Sarah Lazare has noted that "when Power in her role as a UN ambassador actually had the power to help stop the war on Yemen, by publicly breaking with her boss and encouraging meaningful action at the United Nations, she did nothing. Instead she embraced a policy of silence  -  and shielded the US-Saudi coalition from meaningful international scrutiny as it dropped bombs on homes, schools, hospitals and funerals." Power was US ambassador to the United Nations when the Yemen war flared up in 2015. I don’t recall any mercy missions from Power to Yemen. Or to Gaza, or Syria, or Myanmar for that matter. read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

Russia-Ukraine war: UK government won't say if it will use Syria law to deter fighters

The UK government has declined to comment on whether it will use a new law created in response to security concerns over British nationals travelling to Syria and Iraq to deter people from going to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. The so-called "designated area offence", introduced in 2019, makes it illegal for British nationals or residents to travel to regions or countries where the home secretary has assessed their presence could pose a security risk to the UK. According to government guidance, the law is intended to prevent British nationals from engaging in "terrorist-related activity", and from "travelling abroad to take part in or help sustain future foreign conflicts". Middle East Eye asked the Home Office whether it was considering making Ukraine a designated area amid complaints of "mixed messaging" over the issue of British nationals travelling to the country, and concerns over the involvement of far-right groups in the escalating conflict. But a Home Office spokesperson told MEE the issue of British nationals travelling to Ukraine was a matter for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The FCDO told MEE that British nationals travelling to Ukraine did so at their own risk, and said it advised against all travel to Ukraine. Fahad Ansari, an immigration lawyer who specialises in helping people who have been stripped of their British citizenship, said ministers' comments that appeared to encourage people to join the fight in Ukraine flew in the face of existing government policy on foreign fighters. “For over 20 years, British Muslims who have travelled to war zones to help occupied people fight invading forces or oppressive regimes have been targeted by the authorities. If not stripped of their citizenship while abroad, they have been prosecuted for terrorism on return," Ansari told MEE. "And what explains the double standards when it comes to British people feeling the pain of the oppressed in Ukraine and British Muslims empathising with their oppressed co-religionists abroad?""Would British Muslims who travel to Ukraine to fight Russian forces be treated as heroes or terrorists on return? Why is there a difference? read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

They Called Ukraine Home. But They Faced Violence and Racism When They Tried to Flee

For Grace Kass, Ukraine was home. Sure, it could be unwelcoming for a Black woman, and she would never get used to its bitterly cold winters, but it’s where she had lived for the past seven years. The 24-year-old, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had come to Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv as an engineering student and stayed on, forging a successful career as a make-up artist. It was Monday evening and she had fled Ukraine overnight, on Feb. 27, the fourth day of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. She made it out just in time: a day after leaving Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, the city was bombarded with Russian rockets that killed dozens of civilians. But when Kass reached Lviv in Ukraine’s west near Poland, joining the heaving crowds desperately trying to board trains for safety, she says she encountered hostility from the Ukrainian military, who were dividing people into two groups: those who were white, and those who were not. “We entered the train last,” Kass says, describing how she and other African women were forced to wait outside as snow was falling, while white women and children were allowed to board before them. She believes her gender is the only reason she was spared being beaten. Groups of Nepalese, Indian and Somalian men described to TIME how they were kicked and beaten with batons by Ukrainian guards who later begrudgingly allowed them to cross over, on foot. Later, when Kass’s train stopped for 17 hours at the Polish border, she says Ukrainian train guards gave out bread and sausages to passengers. But they passed by Kass and her African friends. “By the time it was our turn, they threw us the ends of stale bread,” she says. After spending more than a third of her life in Ukraine, she felt let down. “It was a traumatic experience. read the complete article

United States

03 Mar 2022

Guantanamo: Top Republican lawmakers urge US not to release mentally ill detainee

A group of leading Republican senators have urged US President Joe Biden not to release a mentally ill and tortured Guantanamo detainee who was cleared for transfer last month. "We write with grave concern regarding your administration's reported decision to transfer terrorist Mohammed al-Qahtani from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia," Senators Marco Rubio, Jim Risch, and Jim Inhofe said in a letter to the president sent on Tuesday. "We urge you to immediately reverse this decision as we believe this detainee continues to pose serious threats to U.S. national security." Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik also opposed the release, saying in a statement that the move showed "weakness on the world stage". However, Qahtani was ordered "eligible for transfer" last month and recommended to be transferred back to his home country of Saudi Arabia by the periodic review board, a panel composed of several US national security agencies. The US government suspected him of being a key player in the planning of the 9/11 attacks, and he was sometimes referred to as the "20th hijacker". However in 2008, the charges against him were dismissed "without prejudice" due to the torture he endured while in captivity. "We tortured Qahtani," Susan Crawford, a top judicial official in the Bush administration, said in 2009, according to a Washington Post article. Outside of interrogations, Qahtani was kept in isolation for the first 160 days of his captivity, military records have revealed, and was tortured for at least 48 of the first 54 days he was held. It was also revealed that he was at times chained and forced to stand for prolonged periods, threatened with a military dog, forced to stand naked, forced to urinate on himself and deprived of sleep. He was also waterboarded, beaten, strangled and forced to endure extreme temperatures and stress positions. read the complete article

03 Mar 2022


More than 20 years after September 11, family members of those killed in the 2001 attacks have a message for the U.S. government: Release Afghanistan’s central bank assets before millions of civilians die of starvation. “There is not only a moral imperative in doing this, there is also a national security interest in doing this and preventing Afghanistan from sliding into total collapse,” said Terry Rockefeller, whose sister died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Rockefeller is a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization formed by family members of those killed on 9/11 to oppose the war in Afghanistan. In February, the Biden administration announced that it would split over $7 billion in Afghan assets held in the New York Federal Reserve Bank between a pool for potential settlements for families of 9/11 victims and an ambiguously defined trust fund “for the benefit of the Afghan people.” On Friday, the Treasury Department issued a new general license to allow economic transactions with a suite of Afghan entities, including the country’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, signaling a potential first step toward unfreezing the funds. read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

What Rashida Tlaib Represents

Later that evening, about a dozen other Democrats spoke as well — to question the justice of funneling almost $4 billion a year to a country that was in the midst of bombing civilians. “Do Palestinians have a right to survive?” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, said. “Do we believe that? And, if so, we have a responsibility to that as well.” The speeches were a rare occasion when Palestinian rights have been addressed at such length on the House floor. They were introduced by Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. But the driving message of the session came from Rashida Tlaib, the 45-year-old second-term congresswoman from Detroit, who, according to several people familiar with the discussions, played a significant role in making the speeches happen. “How many Palestinians have to die for their lives to matter?” Tlaib said in her own remarks, fighting back tears. Tlaib is the only Palestinian American now serving in the House of Representatives, and the first with family currently living in the West Bank, whose three million inhabitants’ lives are intimately shaped by American support for Israel. As the May fighting intensified, colleagues approached Tlaib to ask if her family was safe. “It’s a voice that hasn’t been heard before,” Betty McCollum, a Democratic representative from Minnesota, told me. The Palestinian cause has become a significant part of the politics of the American left at the same time that the left has gained a legible footing on the national stage. Tlaib, a democratic socialist who is if anything more outspoken on domestic issues than she is on the Palestinian cause, has found herself at the center of this turn. She appeared in a traditional Palestinian dress made by her mother during her swearing in, sometimes wears a kaffiyeh (symbolically tied to the Palestinian resistance) on the House floor and speaks often about her grandmother in the West Bank. Rebecca Abou-Chedid, a lawyer and longtime Arab American activist, told me that the simple fact of Tlaib’s presence on the Hill means that “we are now actual people to them.” Yet Tlaib is wary of adopting the role of the only Palestinian voice in the room. “I feel like no one wants to see me as anyone but Palestinian,” she told me. “I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I have gone through a lot being the daughter of two immigrants in the United States. I’m also the big sister of 13 younger siblings. I’m also a neighbor in a predominantly Black city.” read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

Wayne attorney nominated as state court judge would add to growing Muslim representation

Nadia Kahf, a family law attorney from Wayne, is poised to become one of just a handful of Muslim women to serve as a state Superior Court judge in New Jersey, after Gov. Phil Murphy nominated her earlier this week. Kahf, part of a diverse slate of 15 nominees announced Monday, would serve in Passaic County if confirmed by state legislators. "I'm overwhelmed and very happy and very honored as well," said Kahf, 50, in an interview. "I'm happy the bench is going to reflect the residents of New Jersey and that we are moving toward that." At her law practice in Haledon, Kahf specializes in family law and has worked on immigration cases. Since 2003, she has served on the board of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, and she is the chairwoman. Kahf would be the first hijab-wearing state judge, but not the first Muslim. Two Muslim women, Sharifa Salaam and Kalimah Ahmad, serve as Superior Court judges in Essex and Hudson counties, respectively. Judge Sohail Mohammed serves in Passaic County. Hany Mawla, a former Superior Court judge, now presides in the Appellate Division. read the complete article


03 Mar 2022

CAGE scathing report finds French government’s Islamophobia reaches threshold of ‘Persecution’ under international law

Today, CAGE has launched a landmark report in Paris highlighting the unprecedented crackdown on Muslims in France under the sweeping ‘Systematic Obstruction’ powers. The report comes four years after the commencement of the anti-Muslim policies. The analysis demonstrates how the measures amounts to a Persecution of Muslims in France, as defined in international law. Authored by French legal jurist and CAGE researcher Rayan Freschi, with a foreword by Professor François Burgat, the report entitled “”We are beginning to spread Terror”: The state-sponsored persecution of Muslims in France”, published in both English and French, covers in detail the unprecedented crackdown on Islam and Muslims in France under the Presidency of Emmanuel Macron. The report highlights: The ‘Systematic Obstruction’ policy – largely unknown outside the country, and scarcely understood inside it – on its four year anniversary of being introduced. This policy amounts to a Persecution of Muslims in France, in line with the international law definition of the term. The nature of the persecution in French society. How state Islamophobia is institutionalised through an infrastructure of enforcement and mass surveillance. France’s attempts to internationalise its model of repression through its leadership of the EU. The report calls for the repeal of Islamophobic policies such as the Systematic obstruction policy, ‘Anti-Separatism Law’, the Imams Charter, as well as the 2004 Law on religious signs in schools and the 2010 Niqab ban. It goes further to call for the establishment of an independent body to investigate the Systematic Obstruction measures, and provide reparations for damages and losses incurred by establishments and individuals as a result of such measures. read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

French top court sets precedent banning Muslim lawyers wearing the hijab

France's highest court has decided to uphold a ban on barristers wearing the hijab and other religious symbols in courtrooms in the north of the country. Wednesday's ruling was the first of its kind that would set a precedent for the rest of the country. Display of religious symbols is an emotive subject in France and the court's decision may stir a nationwide debate over so-called core Republican values of secularism and identity ahead of April's presidential election. The case was brought by Sarah Asmeta, a 30-year-old hijab-wearing French-Syrian lawyer, who challenged a rule set by the Bar Council of Lille that bans religious markers in its courtrooms on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In its ruling, the Court of Cassation said the ban was "necessary and appropriate, on the one hand to preserve the independence of the lawyer and, on the other, to guarantee the right to a fair trial." Banning the wearing of religious symbols "does not constitute discrimination," it added. read the complete article


03 Mar 2022

Delhi riots: For Muslim teens who were shot, no justice in sight

Two boys, Mohammed Sameer and Mohammed Saif, were shot in 2020, during deadly riots in the Indian capital territory of Delhi. They were 15 and 16 years old, two of the hundreds of victims of Delhi’s worst anti-Muslim violence in more than 30 years.Two years on, their lives are at a standstill and nobody has been brought to justice for shooting them. Sameer is paralysed from the waist down while Saif struggles to stand on his feet after several rounds of surgery. In that week of deadly violence in India’s capital, GTBH’s emergency ward alone admitted 298 injured, 28 of whom were minors. A total of 372 people were admitted to hospital with injuries. However, there has been no official record of the nature or severity of these injuries. Some have undergone extensive treatment over the past two years, and some remain with disabilities today. The violence was triggered after Hindu right-wing groups linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked sit-in protesters demonstrating against a controversial citizenship law. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which blocks naturalisation for Muslim immigrants, is seen as fundamentally discriminatory by the United Nations. Muslims feared that the CAA, coupled with the proposed national register of citizens, would lead to their disenfranchisement. Nearly 2 million people face statelessness after they were excluded from a citizenship register published in 2019 in the northeast state of Assam. Many of them are Muslims, whom the BJP has labelled as Bangladeshis. As a result, the passing of the CAA in December 2019 spurred protests led by Muslims – who make up nearly 15 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion people – across the country. The ruling BJP leaders and their supporters called the anti-CAA protesters anti-nationals and warned them to stop the sit-ins in Southeast and Northeast Delhi – areas with significant Muslim populations. According to official records, 53 people were killed, most of them Muslims, hundreds were injured, shops and homes were destroyed, and thousands of people were displaced. read the complete article

03 Mar 2022

Banning the Hijab Targets Muslim Women

The first time Nidha Parveen realized that her choice to wear the hijab could be a point of contention was when she moved to New Delhi to attend university. Having been brought up and schooled in the southern state of Kerala, where Muslims make up more than a quarter of the population, she was not used to being interrogated about her reasons for covering her head. “I could feel the othering on a day-to-day basis,” she tells The Nation. “In the beginning I used to answer the questions, but at a certain point I stopped, because I understood that they wanted me to say that it was a form of oppression.” Parveen, who claims that her hijab was once pulled off by one of her classmates, describes the hostility toward Muslims in Narendra Modi’s India as part of a concerted push toward Hindu majoritarianism. “We, the Muslims, the oppressed in India, have to take on the burden of peace; we have to take on the burden of secularism, and we have to take on the burden of uniformity,” she says. “To integrate ourselves we have to deny the fundamentals of our culture and religion, and we have to adopt the common representation of the ideal citizen.” This burden to conform has been placed in sharp focus by the row that erupted in the state of Karnataka. On New Year’s Day, six female students at a college in Udupi held a press conference alleging that they had been barred from attending classes on account of their hijabs. As a result, Karnataka became the stage for a series of protests, which were met by counter-demonstrations by Hindu students and activists. On February 5, in a move that was widely condemned by Muslims, the BJP-led government of the state issued an order banning clothes that could disturb “law and order.” When this decree was challenged, the High Court issued an interim order restraining students from wearing religious clothing in the classroom, which led in some instances to the forcible removal of the hijab from some Muslim girls and women. In the view of writer and social activist Farah Naqvi, this amounted to public humiliation. “Little girls going to school are being made to take off the headscarves they grew up with in full public view; they are being forced into what they are subjectively experiencing as a disrobing before gleeful audiences. It’s a painful sight, no matter which God you worship.” read the complete article


03 Mar 2022

People of colour fleeing Ukraine attacked by Polish nationalists

Police in Poland have warned that fake reports of violent crimes being committed by people fleeing Ukraine are circulating on social media after Polish nationalists attacked and abused groups of African, south Asian and Middle Eastern people who had crossed the border last night. Attackers dressed in black sought out groups of non-white refugees, mainly students who had just arrived in Poland at Przemyśl train station from cities in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. According to the police, three Indians were beaten up by a group of five men, leaving one of them hospitalised. “Around 7pm, these men started to shout and yell against groups of African and Middle Eastern refugees who were outside the train station,” two Polish journalists from the press agency OKO, who first reported the incident, told the Guardian. “They yelled at them: ‘Go back to the train station! Go back to your country.’” “I was with my friends, buying something to eat outside,” said Sara, 22, from Egypt, a student in Ukraine. “These men came and started to harass a group of men from Nigeria. They wouldn’t let an African boy go inside a place to eat some food. Then they came towards us and yelled: ‘Go back to your country.’” Following the incident, police in Poland warned that groups linked to the far right are already spreading false information about alleged crimes committed by people from Africa and the Middle East fleeing war in Ukraine. read the complete article


03 Mar 2022

Profile: Who are Ukraine’s far-right Azov regiment?

On Monday, Ukraine’s national guard tweeted a video showing Azov fighters coating their bullets in pig fat to be used allegedly against Muslim Chechens – allies of Russia – deployed in their country. Azov has also been involved in training civilians through military exercises in the run-up to Russia’s invasion. Azov is a far-right all-volunteer infantry military unit whose members – estimated at 900 – are ultra-nationalists and accused of harbouring neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology. The unit was initially formed as a volunteer group in May 2014 out of the ultra-nationalist Patriot of Ukraine gang, and the neo-Nazi Social National Assembly (SNA) group. Both groups engaged in xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideals and physically assaulted migrants, the Roma community and people opposing their views. As a battalion, the group fought on the front lines against pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, the eastern region of Ukraine. Just before launching the invasion, Putin recognised the independence of two rebel-held regions from Donbas. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Mar 2022 Edition


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