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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08 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the Biden administration has released Mohammad Ahmad al-Qahtani to a mental health facility in Saudi Arabia, after imprisoning him without charge at Guantanamo Bay for 20 years, meanwhile in India, an international human rights organization finds that the country has the hallmarks of genocide targeting Muslims, from state-level classification, dehumanization and now the open call for mass killings, and in France, far-right candidate Eric Zemmour has gone through a “sharp drop in popularity after making several unsavoury comments on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Our recommended read of the day is by Khaled Beydoun for the Washington Post on the role of race, religion, and interests in shaping geopolitics and how this explains the difference in the west’s response to the Ukrainian struggle and the ongoing quests for self-determination in Muslim-majority lands. This and more below:


08 Mar 2022

The world of inconsistencies between Ukraine, the Middle East and beyond | Recommended Read

There’s no doubt the governments and commentators rooting for Ukrainians and campaigning for the isolation of Vladimir Putin have been on the right side of history — this time. Similar struggles have been unfolding for decades in Palestine, Yemen, Kashmir and other regions. Different theaters, indeed, with distinct dynamics. Yet, the resistance and brutal toll of external military intervention have rendered dramatically different treatments from Western governments — and radically contrary coverage from media outlets. Palestinians, Yemenis and Kashmiris have long embodied the very struggle put forward by the Ukrainian people. They, too, put their very lives on the line against global (and regional) superpowers, some wielding rocks and other makeshift weapons to protect their land, loved ones and way of life — a trilogy of motivations that world leaders have invoked as part of their solidarity to Ukrainian resistance. But what explains the world of difference between the Ukrainian struggle and the ongoing quests for self-determination in Muslim-majority lands? Within the realm of geopolitics, race, religion, and interests still matter. The three are deeply entwined, particularly in relation to the Middle East and the Muslim world, where a protracted war on terrorism renders anybody Arab, Brown or Muslim as a putative terrorist, notwithstanding the righteousness of their struggle or the unhinged imperialism of their opponents. The public’s ideal of freedom fighter and terrorist is intensely racial, which enables the seeing of lay Ukrainians taking arms and throwing molotov cocktails as heroes and Muslims engaged in the very same acts, in pursuit of the same self-determination, as extremists. The racialization of Islam as the enemy of Western civilization has defined Western geopolitical interests over the past several decades. The world has rushed to welcome White Ukrainian refugees, yet has brutally tried to stop the waves of refugees coming from Africa, Central America, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar. read the complete article

08 Mar 2022

Russia-Ukraine war: These European politicians welcome Ukrainian refugees - but not Muslim ones

The UN’s high commissioner for refugees called the situation the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Several European countries have welcomed those fleeing, including over one million in Poland, 180,00 in Hungary, 128,000 in Slovakia, 83,000 in Moldova, and 79,000 in Romania. Right-wing and populist politicians in Europe have used this opportunity to draw a distinction between Ukrainian refugees and those from elsewhere - namely the Middle East and Muslim countries. Spanish congressman and leader of the right-wing Vox party Santiago Abascal said that his country should welcome Ukrainian refugees, but not Muslims. “Anyone can tell the difference between them [Ukranian refugees] and the invasion of young military-aged men of Muslim origin who have launched themselves against European borders in an attempt to destabilise and colonise it,” he told parliament last week. Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, President Rumen Radev fed into racist stereotypes about refugees from outside of Europe being linked to terrorism and criminality. “These are not the refugees we are used to… these people are Europeans,” he told journalists, referring to Ukrainians. “These people are intelligent, they are educated people... This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists." “In other words,” he added, "there is not a single European country now that is afraid of the current wave of refugees.” read the complete article

08 Mar 2022

Amazon suppliers linked to forced labor in China, watchdog group says

Amazon has continued to work with companies in China accused of using forced labor despite public warnings about their work practices, according to a report published Monday by a nonprofit watchdog group. The report from the Tech Transparency Project, a research group that is run by the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability and is often critical of large tech companies, found that Amazon’s public list of suppliers includes five companies previously linked by journalists and think tank researchers to “labor transfer” programs in China. The suppliers help produce Amazon-branded devices and products sold under house labels like Amazon Basics. The report also warned that some of Amazon’s third-party sellers may be offering products made using labor from the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, such as cotton imports that are already the subject of U.S. sanctions. read the complete article

United States

08 Mar 2022

Supreme Court Says Torture at CIA Black Site Is a “State Secret”

Abu Zubaydah, whom the CIA once mistakenly alleged was a top al-Qaeda leader, was waterboarded 80+ times, subjected to assault in the form of forced rectal exams, and exposed to live burials in coffins for hundreds of hours. Zubaydah sobbed, twitched and hyperventilated. During one waterboarding session, he became completely unresponsive, with bubbles coming out of his mouth. “He became so compliant that he would prepare for waterboarding at the snap of a finger,” Neil Gorsuch wrote in his 30-page dissent in United States v. Zubaydah. On March 3, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court dismissed Zubaydah’s petition requesting the testimony of psychologists James Mitchell and John Jessen, whom the CIA hired to orchestrate his torture at a secret CIA prison (“CIA black site”) in Poland from December 2002 until September 2003. Zubaydah was transferred to other CIA black sites before being sent to Guantánamo in 2006, where he remains today with no charges against him. Zubaydah sought information: (1) to confirm that the CIA black site in question was located in Poland; (2) about his torture there; and (3) about the involvement of Polish officials. First the Trump administration — now the Biden administration — claim that confirming the location of the CIA black site in Poland is a “state secret” that would significantly harm U.S. national security interests. Zubaydah needs Mitchell and Jessen’s testimony to document his treatment from December 2002 to 2003 at the CIA black site in Poland for use in the ongoing Polish criminal investigation of Poles complicit in his torture. Those details have not been publicly documented. read the complete article

08 Mar 2022

Guantanamo Bay detainee allowed to return to Saudi Arabia after 20 years

Mohammad Ahmad al-Qahtani was flown back to Saudi Arabia, to a treatment facility, from the US base in Cuba after a review board including military and intelligence officials concluded he no longer represented a significant threat to US national security, and could be safely released after 20 years in custody. The 46-year-old prisoner has suffered from mental illness, including schizophrenia, since childhood, according to medical examinations and records obtained by his lawyers. The US dropped plans to try him after a Bush administration legal official concluded he had been tortured at Guantánamo. That treatment included beatings, exposure to extreme temperatures and noise, sleep deprivation and extended solitary confinement. An FBI official in 2002 observed al-Qahtani speaking to nonexistent people, hearing voices and crouching in a corner of his cell while covering himself with a sheet for hours at a time. “After two decades without trial in US custody, Mohammed will now receive the psychiatric care he has long needed in Saudi Arabia, with the support of his family,” said Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York who represented al-Qahtani with help from students for over a decade. “Keeping him at Guantánamo, where he was tortured, and then repeatedly attempted suicide, would have been a likely death sentence.” His release leaves 38 prisoners left at the detention center. He is the second released under Joe Biden, who has said he intends to close the facility. read the complete article


08 Mar 2022

How India Is Hurtling Towards a Genocide Against Muslims

The BJP, one of the two main political parties in India, won the 2014 and subsequent elections under a manifesto that unabashedly promoted Hindutva, an ideology driven by Hindu nationalism that seeks to establish an India with Hindi language, Hindu religion for a Hindustan nation as the norm. This supremacist ideology has repeatedly been used to demonise, threaten and target a specific group – the Muslims of India. At Restless Beings, an international human rights organisation, our work has heavily centred around seeking justice and accountability for the survivours of genocide, as well as tackling the root causes of genocide at large. In the past five years alone, we have identified genocide against the Rohingya and against the Tigrayans in Ethiopia. Through our ongoing work in India, we have been able to gain a better insight into the politics which has driven a populist agenda and made the occurrence of genocide more and more likely. The hallmarks are all there – from state-level classification, dehumanisation and now the open call for mass killings. Through our work with the Rohingya, we have been able to identify and document many of the stages of genocide in India and in early February 2022, we issued an early genocide warning in India against Muslims. When a nation moves towards genocide, the agenda of discrimination becomes clearer and more transparent. Policy is one of the clearest ways to detect those charged agendas. It is no coincidence that these three regions are also the ones with the highest population of Muslims in India. The attack on Muslim identity in India is not just confined to the political sphere, but as the stages above show, it is multi-faceted. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Mar 2022

I went to one of the schools named in the Trojan Horse scandal

I went to Park View School in Birmingham between 2005 and 2010. The teachers named in the podcast? I was taught by them. I knew Steve and Sue Packer. I have spoken to Tahir Alam, and have a personal relationship with him. Listening to that podcast was like existing in a Twilight Zone episode; my past came to life. I got through all eight episodes in a day, my mouth agape as I absorbed the theories about who might have written the letter and what for, and the impact it had on the way this country treats Muslims. Since then, I have thought long and hard about my education at Park View School. I recall our PE classes being segregated by gender – but I also remember that happening at primary school and for other schools in the area. I remember praying at lunchtime, but that was always optional and often, I wouldn’t. I remember our lunch hour being shortened for Ramadan, something we all appreciated. We were a school filled with Muslims, and valued how this was taken into consideration. What I remember most, though, is the quality of the education I was given, being pushed to do better, and my classmates and I being told over and over again that we mattered. It wasn’t important that our fathers and mothers were immigrants from Pakistan, that they worked as taxi drivers or in corner shops or restaurants. We were going to transcend British ideas of what Muslims could be. Surrounded by that kind of positivity empowered me; I never felt like there was anything I couldn’t accomplish. For a while, I even harboured ideas about going to Oxford, simply because the teachers at Park View made me feel like I could. read the complete article


08 Mar 2022

Artist's anti-Islamophobia web project aims to gather letters to Afzaal family

Police have described the June 6, 2021, killing as a hate-motivated attack, one carried out against three generations of a visibly Muslim family out for a walk together on a sunny Sunday evening. The emotions that continue to come in response to that killing are raw, everything from anger to profound sorrow, guilt and disbelief. It's an entire range of emotions and Toronto artist Asim Hussain has created a place where they can all be shared, by anyone. His website is a place where stories can be shared in a bid to foster a cross-cultural understanding that he hopes will undermine the growth of anti-Muslim hate. "My focus is outreach and there has to be mechanisms for people to get to know each other. I think art is a beautiful bridge to help people meet each other," he said. The website, first launched in the days after the June 6 attack, is simple. Anyone, regardless of faith, can post their stories about Islamophobia to the site through a simple web form and read the posts of others who've done the same. The postings can be anonymous or include as much detail as the poster wants. The submissions can also be broken down into categories. Hussain, who uses the name @StudentAsim for his professional work, also created a special letters of remembrance day for victims of the Jan. 29, 2017, Quebec City Mosque shootings. read the complete article


08 Mar 2022

France's anti-Muslim presidential candidate Zemmour wants 'zero Ukrainian refugees', continues to defend Putin

France's far-right candidate Eric Zemmour has gone through a sharp drop in popularity after making several unsavoury comments on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and repeatedly displaying sympathy and admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Ukrainian refugees don't want to come, they want to stay close to home," Zemmour said on Wednesday, a few days after saying that France was already "swamped" by immigration and that Ukrainian refugees should stay in Poland. Although Zemmour condemned the invasion of Ukraine, he has continued to blame the West for refusing to listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin's security concerns. "Putin is guilty, but it is NATO’s expansionism that is responsible for the war," Zemmour told the French RTL radio on Monday. Zemmour is one among three of the five leading candidates who strongly criticised NATO prior to the invasion, deeming it useless. The far-right polemist, who had been trying to garner support with anti-Muslim and xenophobic rhetoric, even said that if elected, he planned to pull France out of NATO's military command. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Mar 2022 Edition


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