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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13 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In China, a list detailing the biographical data of over 10,000 imprisoned Uyghurs from southwestern Xinjiang’s Konasheher county has been leaked, helping Uyghurs abroad shed some light on the whereabouts of their missing family members, meanwhile in the United States, the State Department has “outlined plans to boost pressure on China over what it called ‘horrific abuses’ of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,” and lastly London mayor Sadiq Khan warns about the rise of far-right movements in the west, noting that they are a “clear threat to our hard won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal democratic societies for many decades.” Our recommended read of the day is by Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck for CNN on how Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has a history of anti-Muslim statements, including arguing that it’s acceptable to discriminate against Muslims and Islam, and spreading the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim. This and more below:

United States

13 May 2022

Surging GOP candidate Kathy Barnette has long history of bigoted statements against gays and Muslims | Recommended Read

Surging Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has a history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements. In many tweets, Barnette also spread the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim. In one speech uploaded to YouTube in 2015, Barnette forcefully argued it was OK to discriminate against Muslims and compared rejecting Islam to "... rejecting Hitler's or Stalin's worldviews." "You are not a racist if you reject Islam, or if you reject Muslims, because they are not a race of people. They are a particular view. They are people that have a particular view of the world, and we have a right to discriminate against worldviews," she said. "We discriminated against Hitler's Nazi Germany view of the world, right? That was a worldview. That's how he saw the world around him. And we discriminated against it. We rejected it. We rejected Stalin's view ... of the world, right? Because that's a particular view of the world that we don't agree with." "We have the right to discriminate against worldviews because all views are not morally equal," she added. "All views are not equal. So we have the right to reject it. And let me just say offhand, I reject how Muslims see the world." She tweeted in 2015, "There is nothing rational about Islam." In another she wrote, "Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam." In 2019, Barnette attacked Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan for comments she made about Trump, tweeting she was a "MUSLIM" in all capital letters. "Aren't you all so glad you voted in the first 'openly' Palestinian Muslim? (Sarcasm for ya'll who don't get sarcasm)," wrote Barnette. Barnette also frequently shared the conspiracy theory that Obama, who is a Christian, was Muslim. One tweet derided Obama as a "Muslim or from another country." On her radio show and in speeches, Barnette frequently called Obama by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, apparently to imply he was Muslim. "Don't we get it? Obama is a Muslim!" read one tweet in January 2016. "Obama is a Muslim. Doing Muslim like THINGS!" read one 2016 tweet. One 2015 tweet called him "Muslim Obama." read the complete article

13 May 2022

Stop saying saying pro-lifers are just like ISIS – it’s deeply Islamophobic

Regardless of your personal views on abortion, I think most women can understand that the idea of the state having ultimate control over our bodies – even down to the contents of our uteruses – is terrifying. But amongst the feminist takes and the women sharing their own experiences with abortion, the criticism aimed at the fact that a few white men with socially conservative views can change the lives of millions, and those fearful of the slippery slope this signals for minority rights across the western world, I’ve noticed something that has made me uncomfortable and exasperated – but not wholly surprised. I’ve seen countless posts linking the potential overturning of Roe v Wade to Muslims or Muslimness in general, despite the issue having nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the rise of right-wing conservatism and the legacy of Trump. I’ve seen people online likening the situation of American women to those living under the Taliban, and it isn’t the witty hot take people think it is – it’s deeply Islamophobic. Even Trevor Noah, a comedian renowned for talking about racism, made a distasteful joke suggesting that America fought for two decades in Afghanistan only to bring the same laws here – implying that the reason for the overturning of Roe v Wade is because lawmakers were ‘jealous’ of Sharia Law, and that women would have ‘the same abortion rights as women in Afghanistan under the Taliban’. Comparing American pro-life campaigners to ISIS or suggesting that Americans will now be living under ‘Sharia Law’ is downright offensive and flawed. You can support reproductive rights without being anti-Muslim. You can oppose pro-lifers without invoking a non-existent Muslim enemy. read the complete article

13 May 2022

Muslim auto technician claims his work clothes were stuffed with bacon by former boss

An auto technician in New Jersey is speaking out after he claims that he was the repeated victim of anti-Muslim bias incidents enacted by his boss. "The car engine will blow up or have issues and he would go and say 'oh you blew it up, you Arabs always like to blow things up,'" said alleged hate crime victim Nimer Musa. "In the past he had joked about feeding me bacon bites." Nimer Musa said these were just a few examples of the repeated behavior of hate allegedly spewed by his former manager at work. In an Eyewitness News exclusive interview, the auto technician at a Subaru service center in Union, New Jersey said that was just the beginning. He said a day after he filed a complaint with human resources, his manager was terminated. However, the manager allegedly returned to the workplace last month, a few days after being fired, to collect his personal belongings. That's when Musa said he found bacon stuffed in his work shirt pockets, his pants and his boots. "Bacon fell out of my work shirt," he said. read the complete article

13 May 2022

Al-Qahtani Repatriated to Saudi Arabia Following Judge’s Grant of His Motion for a Mixed Medical Commission

On March 7, the Biden administration transferred Mohammed al-Qahtani—who was initially detained on suspicion that he may have been a would-be 20th Sept. 11 hijacker—to Saudi Arabia. This move came after the Periodic Review Board’s (PRB’s) recommendation on Feb. 4 that al-Qahtani be repatriated to Saudi Arabia after determining that continued “detention of the detainee (was) no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” As conditions of his transfer, the PRB recommended that al-Qahtani participate in a rehabilitation program that includes mental health care and “implementation of a comprehensive set of security measures.” In support of its recommendation, the board cited its confidence in Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program and its ability to monitor the detainee after his completion of the rehabilitation program as well al-Qahtani’s deteriorated mental health condition and unavailability of family support. Al-Qahtani was captured in Afghanistan in January 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay one month later, where he was tortured, according to public statements made by U.S. government officials. According to a medical expert who conducted medical examinations of him beginning in 2015, al-Qahtani was already suffering from severe psychiatric disabilities prior to being detained at Guantanamo Bay, but his mental and physical condition deteriorated further after being tortured. The medical expert concluded that al-Qahtani could not receive effective treatment while in custody at Guantanamo Bay because of his distrust of medical and mental health professionals there and his need for familial support as part of his treatment and therefore that he should be repatriated to Saudi Arabia. The Biden administration has thus far transferred three detainees in pursuing its goal of closing Guantanamo Bay, a rate that some critics have viewed as too slow. Judge Collyer’s opinion and order granting al-Qahtani’s motion for a Mixed Medical Commission has already inspired other detainees to make similar requests, including Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi. So even if al-Qahtani’s own Mixed Medical Commission was mooted by his repatriation, his case may have opened up another avenue for closure advocates to pursue. read the complete article


13 May 2022

The west’s battle against the far right will define this century

For too long, the growth of both violent and non-violent far-right extremism in the west has been downplayed as a series of isolated events or separate national political shifts. Cities and countries around the world need to wake up and recognise that this is an evolving global danger which we must unite against with a concerted international effort. In recent years, we have seen a surge in far-right terrorism in the west, driven mostly by anti-government, anti-Muslim and white supremacist extremists. We have endured a series of deadly attacks in Europe, including in Sweden, Germany, Norway, Croatia, France and Italy, and a number of shootings in America. In the United Kingdom, the security services have disclosed that nearly 30 per cent of terrorist plots being disrupted are linked to far-right extremism. Two attacks that could sadly not be stopped include a van being driven into a group of Muslims outside a London Mosque in 2017, and the murder of my good friend, Jo Cox, who was a serving member of parliament. As well as these violent attacks, we are also seeing a resurgence of extremist views and ideology infiltrating mainstream politics. It’s moving from the fringes to the forefront, with nativist populist parties and politicians gaining strength in the US and across Europe, winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These far-right movements are a clear threat to our hard won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal democratic societies for many decades. They are using the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support: pitting their own citizens against one another, picking on minority groups and the marginalised to manufacture an enemy, and constructing lies to stoke fear and attack the fundamental pillars of a healthy democracy – equality under the law, the freedom of the press and an independent justice system. read the complete article

13 May 2022

What happened when Biden met Uyghur Americans persecuted by China

This was Biden’s first meeting with Uyghur American community representatives since becoming president, and it was not planned as anything more than quick handshakes. But when Ziba Murat started talking, Biden stopped his rounds and listened, Murat told me in an interview. Biden appeared visibly saddened when she told him about how Chinese authorities had arrested and disappeared her mother four years ago on spurious “terrorism” charges, five days after her mother’s sister had publicly criticized the Chinese government in Washington. “I said, ‘I’m an American citizen, and my mother is in a concentration camp,' ” Murat said." And he stopped. And he looked at me, and I could see him getting emotional. And then he said, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ ” Uyghur American lawyer Nury Turkel told me that Biden then patiently listened to his own story. Turkel was born in a Xinjiang reeducation camp during Mao’s cultural revolution and went on to become an American citizen and a U.S. government official serving on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a journey chronicled in his memoir, “No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs.” Beijing has been retaliating against Turkel’s family because of his human rights advocacy in the United States. China won’t let his mother leave the country; he hasn’t seen her since 2004. His father died last month, before they could be reunited. Adding insult to injury, Beijing sanctioned Turkel and other members of the commission last year. “I was moved and impressed by his empathy. ... I sensed the humanity of the man,” Turkel said of Biden. “Much like Putin’s Russia, regimes like the one in Beijing like to silence vocal critics through intimidation and abuse of their loved ones.” Biden’s empathy and sensitivity are a welcome contrast to the demeanor of his predecessor, who reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that his mass internment of Uyghur Muslims was “exactly the right thing to do.” But empathy goes only so far. The Biden administration must do more to address the problem of Americans targeted by Beijing’s long arm of transnational repression. read the complete article

13 May 2022

Biden Raises Pressure Over China’s ‘Horrific’ Uyghur Abuses

The US State Department outlined plans to boost pressure on China over what it called “horrific abuses” of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region, an issue that is becoming one of the biggest points of tension between the world’s two biggest economies. In a report to Congress marked “sensitive but unclassified,” the department explained how the US would raise its concerns about the treatment of the predominately Muslim Uyghurs, who face what the administration has called a campaign of “genocide,” a charge Beijing has repeatedly denied. This would be done in meetings with other nations, multilateral institutions such as the G7, and the private sector. “The US government will fully leverage its authorities and resources to combat forced labor in Xinjiang,” the report said. It also sought to counter “intrusive surveillance, forced population control measures, separation of children from families, mass detention, torture, coercive ethnic and religious assimilation.” The State Department report shows a recognition that the US alone can’t exert enough economic pressure on China to force changes to its Xinjiang policies, according to Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China Studies at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, who has conducted extensive research on Xinjiang. “The report outlines a strategy that is far ahead of what I have seen from other nations,” Zenz said. “If this is implemented, it represents a clear step up from previous efforts.” The report says the US will seek to identify companies or other entities that may benefit from forced labor in Xinjiang, without naming any entities. The US, according to the report, will work with companies to conduct “supply chain due diligence to prevent the importation of goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor in Xinjiang into the United States.” read the complete article

13 May 2022

The Experiment Podcast: Teenage Life After Genocide

At 19 years old, Aséna Tahir Izgil feels wise beyond her years. She is Uyghur, an ethnic minority persecuted in China, and few of her people have escaped to bear witness. After narrowly securing refuge in the United States, Aséna’s now tasked with adjusting to life in a new country and fitting in with her teenage peers. This week on The Experiment, Aséna shares her family’s story of fleeing to the U.S., navigating newfound freedom, and raising her baby brother away from the shadows of a genocide. read the complete article

13 May 2022

Russian court sentences Crimean Muslims to jail: Activist

A Russian military court has sentenced five Muslim men from annexed Crimea to up to 14 years in jail for their alleged membership in an “Islamist” organisation, a community figure told Al Jazeera. Thursday’s decision appears to continue Moscow’s perennial pressure on Crimean Tatars, a Muslim minority that once dominated the Black Sea peninsula and fiercely resisted the 2014 annexation. Dozens of Tatar men are awaiting trial or have been sentenced – and almost 200 children have been left “fatherless”, community leaders say. The men were accused of being members of Hizb-ut Tahrir, an organisation that advocates for a peaceful restoration of a Muslim Caliphate. It freely operates in Ukraine but is banned in Russia as an “extremist” group. Saliyeva said that the Kremlin specifically instructs courts not to release official information on the sentencing – while defendants await trial for years. “Russian media outlets don’t write about it, and the court doesn’t release [the information] that is handed to lawyers,” the mother-of-four told Al Jazeera. Her husband, Seyran Saliev, a tour guide and amateur wrestler, was arrested in 2017 and has been kept in a pretrial detention centre along with 22 other Muslim men. They face up to 20 years in jail for the alleged membership of a “terrorist organisation”. read the complete article


13 May 2022

As violence and threats grow, India’s Muslims fear the worst

How does one talk of the disintegration of the world’s most populous democracy without surrendering to an exhausting pessimism? How does one remain objective about a story that involves one’s lived experience, persecution and humiliation? How does one write about their love for their nation when any attempt to highlight the fascism unleashed against their people is viewed as discrediting the nation on the global stage? India — a country of nearly 1.4 billion considered by many around the world as an example of coexistence, pluralism and diversity — is engulfed in a fire of Hindu supremacy. The situation has become so fraught that Gregory Stanton, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, has warned India could be on the cusp of a genocide against Muslim citizens. Stanton predicted the massacre of the Tutsi community in Rwanda before it took place in 1994. But where is the response from the international community? A world that is quick to express outrage over other dictatorships and demagogues is dragging its feet on calling out the decline of India into a majoritarian abyss. read the complete article

13 May 2022

‘Perpetual Violence’: India’s Dangerous New Pattern of Communal Tensions

The authorities sent bulldozers to the small city in central India within 24 hours of clashes between Hindus and Muslims that turned into a mob-fueled rampage. The Hindus said stones had been thrown from the direction of the mosque, where Muslims were breaking the Ramadan fast. The Muslims said the Hindu procession had moved toward them with provocative chants. Before any official investigation or court ruling, the home minister of the state, Madhya Pradesh, appeared to fault the Muslims and ordered demolitions — the same swift, one-sided punishments imposed in two other states over recent clashes. “The houses from where the stones were pelted, we will turn those houses into piles of stone,” said Narottam Mishra, the home minister. The communal tensions in Khargone, New Delhi and Gujarat — and the demolitions that followed in each — are part of a worrisome new pattern, according to analysts, activists and former civil servants. The recent violence, the most widespread communal tensions in recent years, played out across several states, multiple clashes with the same characteristics and one-sided punishments. And they are rooted in the rhetoric of right-wing groups at the national level that are targeting Muslims through provocation, a campaign emboldened by the silence of the country’s top leaders. The concern, say analysts, activists, and former civil servants, is that the clashes will become more frequent, pushing the nation into a cycle of violence and instability. read the complete article


13 May 2022

China database reveals the thousands detained in Xinjiang

A leaked list of thousands of detained Uyghurs has helped Nursimangul Abdureshid shed some light on the whereabouts of her missing family members, who have disappeared in China's sweeping crackdown on Xinjiang. Researchers estimate over one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are being held in a secretive network of detention centres and prisons, ostensibly as part of an anti-terrorism campaign after a series of attacks. Yet information on the crackdown in Xinjiang region -- and those who have been ensnared by it -- is closely guarded by China's Communist authorities. The previously unreported database, which has been seen by AFP, lists over 10,000 imprisoned Uyghurs from southwestern Xinjiang's Konasheher county -- including over 100 from Abdureshid's village. Her parents' location remains a mystery, as well as that of an older brother who is also believed to be detained. Abdureshid recognised the names of seven other villagers on the list of detainees -- all small business owners or farm workers who she says would not have links to terrorism. "When I search this list I just feel like I can't breathe," she said. The leaked list details each prisoner's name, birthdate, ethnicity, ID number, charge, address, sentence length, and prison. read the complete article


13 May 2022

How colonialism has shaped France’s relationship with the headscarf

France has been passing anti-hijab legislation for the last 33 years, but the country’s complex relationship with Muslim women and headscarves has a much longer history. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 May 2022 Edition


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