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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06 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, critics argue that the “Biden administration’s counterterrorism agenda largely ignores the glaring reality that those criminalized by the existing legal structures for combating domestic terrorism have almost exclusively been Black, indigenous and people of colour, especially Muslims,” meanwhile researchers in Germany have found traces of Xinjiang cotton in shirts and T-shirts made by Adidas, Puma and Hugo Boss, and lastly Indian journalist, Rana Ayyub, writes for The Economist warning about the violence journalists face as “the burden of bearing witness and speaking truth to power comes at great personal risk for journalists in many countries around the world.” Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Rizwaan Sabir for TRT World who argues that Muslims who criticize counterterrorism law and policies are not “enabling terrorism,” as claimed by former UK PM David Cameron, instead Muslims are “resisting a cruel, unjust and counterproductive set of practices – as is our right in a democratic society – and holding the government to account for its excesses and violence.”  This and more below:

United Kingdom

06 May 2022

No, Muslims critical of Prevent are not ‘enabling terrorism’ | Recommended Read

It was the spring of 2008 and I was a postgraduate student at the University of Nottingham. I was researching Al Qaeda for my dissertation and upcoming PhD and downloaded a publicly available document called ‘the Al Qaeda Training Manual’ from the US Department of Justice website. The same document could have been loaned through the library or purchased from high-street bookshops. A staff member discovered the document, the university reported it to counterterrorism police, and I was arrested, detained and interrogated in solitary confinement for six days in a Nottingham prison. One of the officers accused me of using my studies to conceal my true motive for possessing the document: terrorism. It was clear to me that my race and religion is what was fuelling the suspicion. In fact, my academic supervisor told me that one of the detectives on the case said to him this would not be happening if the Al Qaeda training manual was held by a “blonde, Swedish, PhD Student at Oxford University”. I was eventually released without charge. But the police continued to assume I had ulterior motives. I was prompted to reflect on my traumatising experiences after reading ‘Delegitimising counter-terrorism: the activist campaign to demonise prevent’ – a recent report by the neo-conservative British think tank, Policy Exchange. The report singles out Muslim organisations and individuals critical of counterterrorism policies, especially the Prevent de-radicalisation strategy, as being engaged in a concerted and sinister campaign to undermine the national security of Britain. When Muslims criticise counterterrorism law and policies such as Prevent, we are not "enabling terrorism”. We are resisting a cruel, unjust and counterproductive set of practices - as is our right in a democratic society - and holding the government to account for its excesses and violence. And we are not only doing it for ourselves. As history testifies, many of the techniques used to surveil and discipline the rights and lives of Muslims and racialised communities are oftentimes extended to more privileged communities too. read the complete article

United States

06 May 2022

'All of These Guys Belong in Prison': CIA Torture Described in Vivid Detail by Psychologist

The New York Times reports James E. Mitchell told a military judge during a pretrial hearing at Guantánamo that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—a Saudi national facing possible execution for allegedly masterminding the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen—broke quickly under torture and became so obedient that he would crawl into a cramped confinement box before guards ordered him to do so. Initially, guards had to force al-Nashiri into the box. But according to Mitchell, the prisoner "liked being in the box" and would "get in and close it himself." Annie W. Morgan, a former Air Force defense attorney who is a member of al-Nashiri's legal team, told the Times that when she heard Mitchell's testimony, "I got the image of crate-training a dog and became nauseous." "That was the goal of the program, to create a sense of learned helplessness and to become completely dependent upon and submissive to his captors," she added, referencing a tactic taught in U.S. torture programs and documents dating back to the 1950s. Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst who advocates Guantánamo's closure, tweeted, "Imagine the hell Mr. Nashiri experienced outside of that box that made him prefer being inside it." The psychologist's testimony is meant to shed light on abuse that may have been recorded on scores of videotapes documenting detainee torture that were later destroyed at the behest of then-CIA counterterrorism chief Jose Rodriguez, who claimed in his memoir that Haspel drafted the 2005 cable ordering the move. Mitchell—who along with fellow psychologist John "Bruce" Jessen was paid $81 million by the CIA to develop and supervise an interrogation regimen for terrorism suspects—described how the diminutive al-Nashiri was so scrawny that guards stopped subjecting him to the interrupted drowning torture commonly called waterboarding for fear the prisoner might be seriously hurt. read the complete article

06 May 2022

How US domestic terrorism policy perpetuates Islamophobia

The US has no domestic terrorism statute - and existing tools to prosecute homegrown terrorism have rarely focused on the threat posed by white extremists. In June 2021, the Biden administration released its “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism”. This apparent prioritisation of the issue came as white supremacist violence was occupying a more central place in the public imagination and the political landscape, both due to the Capitol insurrection and violent clashes in cities across the country during the Trump administration. A shift in media coverage was certainly part of the explanation, but this new policy focus was also rooted in a distinctly changing reality. As white nationalist rhetoric has gained steam in mainstream political discourse, extremist violence can no longer be swept under the rug by diverting attention towards the threat of so-called Islamic terrorism. But the Biden administration’s agenda largely ignores the glaring reality that those criminalised by the existing legal structures for combating domestic terrorism have almost exclusively been Black, indigenous and people of colour, especially Muslims. Biden benefits from the perceived newness of both the threat of domestic extremism and efforts to combat it. This administration has centred the tumultuous political environment of the Trump years, and especially the rise of violence from his supporters in groups such as the Proud Boys. It was during the Obama administration, however, that the US launched its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme to facilitate domestic counterterrorism efforts. While the growing threat posed by white supremacist ideology was largely ignored - despite the fact that its growth has been credibly attributed to a backlash stemming from Obama’s election - CVE has been devastating for Muslim communities. In his strategy document, Biden seemingly acknowledges this, stating: “This is the domestic terrorism threat America faces today - one with the distinctive imprint of today’s digital age as well as longstanding roots in domestic terrorism challenges throughout our country’s history. Tackling that threat comprehensively and persistently demands appreciating both its historical lineage and its distinctively modern form.” Biden had an opportunity here to speak to the historical roots of white terrorism, going back to slavery and Jim Crow. Instead, he seemingly aimed to promote the perception that the historical threat has been replaced with something new and different. White supremacist violence is a threat that has been with us from the founding of the country, and in that sense, Biden was right to invoke history - but his committed attempts to link this particular threat to the Trump era, and his obscure language, point to an unwillingness to address the issue for what it is. read the complete article

06 May 2022

Portland police seek suspect in fire, possible bias crime at Muslim Community Center

Portland police on Wednesday released photos and video of a suspect in a fire set at the Muslim Community Center of Portland and said they were investigating it as an arson and possible bias crime. A surveillance camera caught a man dressed in a blue hooded sweatshirt pouring something on the back of the center’s building on North Vancouver Avenue and then lighting it on fire at 6:48 p.m. Tuesday, police said in a statement. When the fire didn’t take hold, the suspect tried a second time, police said. “Fortunately, there was only minor damage,” according to the police statement. The center is oldest Islamic community in Oregon, founded in 1973, according to its website. The fire at the Muslim Community Center came a day after the feast of Eid al-Fitr celebrated at the end of the monthlong Ramadan fast. read the complete article

06 May 2022

Mayoral candidate Lopez vows to reverse Chicago’s anti-Arab and anti-Muslim policies

Mayoral candidate Raymond Lopez Wednesday denounced Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s targeting of the Arab and Muslim community as “disgusting and tasteless,” and vowed to launch a probe into her actions which has cost hundreds of job losses and millions in income and tax revenue. Lopez added that his administration would restore the community’s festivals and cultural presence in America’s second largest city. Last June, a task force of inspectors and police forcibly closed more than 150 Arab- and Muslim-owned businesses in what critics called a misguided effort by Lightfoot to crack down on street-gang violence. Because most of the stores are open 24 hours a day, street-gang members would often run into them in the middle of the night to escape police when violence took place. Lopez, the only Hispanic who has announced his candidacy in the February 28, 2023 Chicago election, made these comments during a live radio interview on “The Ray Hanania Show” which broadcasts live on the US Arab Radio Network and is sponsored by Arab News. read the complete article

06 May 2022

After controversies, Georgetown Law students call for culture shift

Georgetown Law has been under a microscope since last year, when two instructors were recorded discussing the way Black students performed in class — comments that were later called “reprehensible” by the school’s leadership. In the months since, student groups have called on officials to confront “deeply embedded” problems after a professor used an anti-Asian slur in class, and Muslim students have accused a longtime professor of Islamophobia. Georgetown Law officials acknowledged the string of recent incidents and described existing and upcoming initiatives designed to support students, including the expansion of the office of equity and inclusion, anti-bias training and inclusive pedagogy workshops for faculty. The Georgetown Law Students for Justice in Palestine, which hosted El-Kurd on campus, defended the activist and pointed to his spot on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2021. The conflict over his presence on campus, however, has exposed larger issues around the way students understand anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and members have called on the law school community to “reflect on their biases.” That month, members of the Muslim Law Students’ Association began circulating a letter that accused Susan Deller Ross, a professor and director of the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, of “Islamophobic and racist behavior.” Students allege Ross has discriminated against them based on their race and religion, and accused her of assigning “culturally tone deaf” coursework that perpetuates stereotypes about Muslims and Africans. In a collection of anonymous testimonials compiled by the MLSA, one student described an incident in which a classmate referred to Muslims as “backward people” and Ross did not offer a correction. Another student said they felt “humiliated” after Ross asked “a White student to ‘translate’ a technical concept I was relating to her.” read the complete article


06 May 2022

Rana Ayyub says we should stop calling journalists “brave”

THE STEREOTYPE of the “brave journalist”, or the “courageous journalist” has been troubling me for a while. To label us “brave” is to fight your battles from our shoulders. The burden of bearing witness and speaking truth to power comes at great personal risk for journalists in many countries around the world. They live a relentless struggle, slapped with lawsuits and criminal cases for sedition, defamation, tax evasion and more. Their lives, and too often the lives of their families, are made miserable. This World Press Freedom Day, consider the toll it takes on them not only to be journalists, but also to be “brave”. Media outlets need to hire more women journalists, we need to see more Muslims, dalits and people of colour on our screens and in our bylines, a diversity that is missing from the media culture. We need to protect our journalists by giving them the best legal support. They also need to be provided with the best mental-health care and therapy. Journalists are the new enemy of the state; we are going through one of the toughest phases in the history of the profession. We document the truth at a time marked both by a voracious demand for news and by the persecution of minorities, genocide and war crimes. We witness savage attacks on minorities in India, Myanmar, China, Palestine or Ukraine even as bumbling editors still frame arguments and narratives through the prism of “‘both sides”. For example attacks on Palestinians, even during Ramadan, are often referred to as “clashes”. Despite one side having grenades thrown at them, and pelting stones in defence, the lens of the mainstream media remains firmly aligned with the oppressor. In India attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists often are reported as “riots” or “clashes”, too. The distinction between oppressor and oppressed can be blurred as convenient. read the complete article

06 May 2022

Xinjiang cotton found in Adidas, Puma and Hugo Boss tops, researchers say

Researchers say they have found traces of Xinjiang cotton in shirts and T-shirts made by Adidas, Puma and Hugo Boss, appearing to contradict the German clothing companies’ promises to revise their supply chains after allegations of widespread forced labour in the Chinese region. Recent reports have suggested more than half a million people from minority ethnic groups such as the Uyghurs have been coerced into picking cotton in Xinjiang, which provides more than 80% of China’s and a fifth of the global production of cotton. The US banned cotton imports from the autonomous region in north-west China last year, a move also debated in the European parliament but not enacted by the European Commission. Nonetheless, several large western clothes brands and fashion brands vowed to no longer use Xinjiang cotton in the light of the revelations. Hugo Boss said that as of October 2021 its new collections “have been verified in line with our global standards again”, and that it “does not tolerate forced labour”. Puma stated in 2020 it had “no direct or indirect business relationship with any manufacturer in Xinjiang”, while Adidas said the same year it had no contractual relationship with any Xinjiang supplier but had instructed its fabric suppliers not to source yarn from the region in the wake of reports about human rights violations. However, researchers at the Agroisolab in Jülich and the Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, both in western Germany, say an isotope analysis has found traces of Xinjiang cotton in Puma and Adidas T-shirts, shirts by Hugo Boss and the German outdoor wear brand Jack Wolfskin, and a pullover by the fashion company Tom Tailor. read the complete article


06 May 2022

Bangladesh detains 450 Rohingya celebrating Eid on Cox’s Bazar beach

Bangladesh police detained at least 450 Rohingya refugees as they celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid on a popular beach, officials said on Thursday. Around 920,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are banned from leaving barbed-wire camps in the southeast where they have been stuck for years. Most fled into Bangladesh after a military offensive in neighboring Myanmar in 2017 that the United States designated in March as genocide. In recent months they say they have faced increased hardship in the camps with Bangladeshi authorities bulldozing about 3,000 of their shops and dozens of private community-run schools. Police spokesman Rafiqul Islam told AFP that officers carried out raids in the town of Cox’s Bazar late Wednesday on the second day of the Eid holidays. They “detained more than 450 Rohingya” at one of the largest beaches in the world, he added. Islam said the raids were part of “security measures” in Cox’s Bazar, the country’s largest resort district which attracts millions of tourists during holiday seasons including Eid al-Fitr. “Rohingyas are involved in various crimes. It is unsafe for our tourists. We have strengthened the security of the city. As tourists visit Cox’s Bazar on Eid al-Fitr, we have stepped up patrols to keep them safe,” he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 May 2022 Edition


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