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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01 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In South Asia, regional analysts are saying the growing communal tensions and violence is “indicative of the rising tide of religious intolerance against minorities” in the region, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, PM Boris Johnson has still not responded to an MP’s November 2020 call for action on Islamophobia in the country, and in the United States, a Muslim woman who claims Ferndale police forced her to remove her hijab for a booking photo in June has filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Our recommended read of the day is by Anjuman Ali for the Washington Post on the Combating International Islamophobia Act (co-sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky), which calls on the U.S. to monitor and combat anti-Muslim racism around the globe. This and more below:

United States

01 Nov 2021

Omar, Schakowsky push bill to combat Islamophobia abroad amid rising concerns about Uyghurs, Rohingya | Recommended Read

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said there is growing support among House Democrats for their bill to monitor and combat Islamophobia globally, including from the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, an issue they argued needs immediate attention from the U.S. government. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), chair of the committee that could take up the bill, is a co-sponsor, along with 35 other Democrats, of the legislation introduced Oct. 21. It has not spurred opposition from any member, Republican or Democrat, the congresswomen said. Calling the bill an important step toward addressing questions of “equity, bias and justice,” Schakowsky said Thursday that “we are focusing our energy on building more support and moving this forward in the House.” The Combating International Islamophobia Act asks the State Department to establish an office headed by a special envoy to be appointed by the secretary of state. The office would record instances of Islamophobia, including violence against and harassment of Muslims and vandalism of their mosques, schools and cemeteries worldwide, in reports created by the State Department. The reports also would highlight propaganda efforts by state and nonstate media “to promote racial hatred or incite acts of violence against Muslim people,” the bill says. Omar and Schakowsky also cited killings and other forms of violence against the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar, and Muslim populations in India and Sri Lanka as other urgent reasons for setting up the envoy position. The envoy would be expected to report on efforts by foreign governments to address anti-Muslim harassment and violence, to enact laws to protect religious freedom for Muslims, and to provide anti-bias education, the bill says. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

U.S. Military Jury Condemns Terrorist’s Torture and Urges Clemency

In a stark rebuke of the torture carried out by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks, seven senior military officers who heard graphic descriptions last week of the brutal treatment of a terrorist while in the agency’s custody wrote a letter calling it “a stain on the moral fiber of America.” The officers, all but one member of an eight-member jury, condemned the U.S. government’s conduct in a clemency letter on behalf of Majid Khan, a suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Qaeda courier. They had been brought to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to sentence Mr. Khan, who had earlier pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. They issued a sentence of 26 years, about the lowest term possible according to the instructions of the court. At the behest of Mr. Khan’s lawyer, they then took the prerogative available in military justice of writing a letter to a senior official who will review the case, urging clemency. Before sentencing, Mr. Khan spent two hours describing in grisly detail the violence that C.I.A. agents and operatives inflicted on him in dungeonlike conditions in prisons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a third country, including sexual abuse and mind-numbing isolation, often in the dark while he was nude and shackled. “Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. Before sentencing, Mr. Khan spent two hours describing in grisly detail the violence that C.I.A. agents and operatives inflicted on him in dungeonlike conditions in prisons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a third country, including sexual abuse and mind-numbing isolation, often in the dark while he was nude and shackled. “Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021


In 2011, I was attending college in New Jersey when the media broke the story about the NYPD’s multistate Muslim mapping and spying program. As the vice president of my school’s Muslim Student Association (MSA), the details of the story deeply troubled me and the other members. We learned that an MSA at another school had all its members flagged as potential terrorists for going paintballing. Another was flagged because its members went white water rafting. In that case, police made sure to send an informant down the river, diligently noting each time a kid prayed. These stories made me wonder how law enforcement viewed me and my friends. Everywhere I looked, my life was filled with what police and the FBI called “radicalization factors” — countless unassuming things about me checked their boxes. Because we were Muslim, we were potential terrorists-in-the-making in the eyes of law enforcement, and we knew it. Like the failed War on Drugs, the War on Terror fueled the criminalization of a certain group of people. Institutionalized Islamophobia has permitted the classification of Islam, a religion, as a threat. In turn, this has allowed a different set of laws, or lack of laws, to govern Muslims’ interactions with police, prosecutors, and the criminal justice system. One example of this criminalization is the Radicalization Theory that was developed by the FBI and NYPD soon after 9/11. The theory, which assumes that Muslims are predisposed to violence, consists of four distinct stages that track a person’s path from a non-terrorist to a terrorist. Soon after the FBI and NYPD pushed the theory with reports in 2006 and 2007, Radicalization Theory was widely accepted by federal, state, and local law enforcement across the U.S. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

Woman sues Ferndale, claims cops forced her to remove hijab for booking photo

A Muslim woman who claims Ferndale police forced her to remove her Islamic headscarf for a booking photo in June has filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Helana Bowe filed the suit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Her lawsuit names the city, Ferndale Police Chief Dennis Emmi, two Ferndale police officers and a police sergeant as defendants. She is seeking damages as well as a court order forbidding the police department from requiring the removal of any and all religious head coverings for booking photos. Bowe is also asking the court to order Ferndale police to never disseminate the photo taken of Bowe without her hijab, remove it from the public record and to adopt nondiscriminatory policies to prevent issues in the future. Her lawsuit comes about a month after the Michigan chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations, or MI-CAIR, held a news conference with Bowe and called on the city to address their allegations. Officials for the group said it would only file a lawsuit against the city if it failed to address the alleged violations of Bowe's civil rights. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

Teacher suspended after allegedly telling Muslim student ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’

A teacher has been suspended after allegedly telling a Muslim student “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”. The unnamed staff member reportedly made the remark to Mohammed Zubi after the 17-year-old asked for more time to complete a homework assignment during a lesson at Ridgefield Memorial High School, in New Jersey. The teenager said he had been left “in shock” by the incident and too “uncomfortable” to go back to school. He told the ABC7: “He responded saying, ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists’, so I look around in shock, there’s people laughing, and there’s other people in shock, and I turn around and ask my friend, ‘Did he really just say that?’ and she said yes. “I don’t want to see anyone, and I’ve been in my room all day – don’t want to see my friends, especially after what that teacher said to me.” Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in New Jersey, said the alleged remark “perpetuates the stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims”. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

ABC News correspondents reflect on 20 years of the war on terror

What began as retaliation for 9/11, the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the war on terror -- so dubbed by then-President George W. Bush -- is now two decades old, with no end in sight. "None of us had ever thought this would be a 20-year war," said Bob Woodruff, an ABC News correspondent. "We didn't think this was going to be a substantially different kind of war." The global counterterrorism effort has proved expensive: 900,000 lives and $8 trillion, according to Brown University's Costs of War project. With the U.S. recently pulling out of Afghanistan, correspondents who've covered the conflict took time to reflect on what they've seen over the last two decades. ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Pierre Thomas, James Longman, Ian Pannell and Bob Woodruff share their thoughts here. First coined by Bush a week after the 9/11 attacks, the term "war on terror" was not one assigned to a single, specific war. "When you heard President Bush talk about, 'You're either with us or against us,' that's what stuck out to me," Raddatz said. "You're with us or against us? What does that really mean? "Is the 'war on terror' against everybody who doesn't help us, who isn't backing whatever it is we do? Is the 'war on terror' against Pakistan? Is the 'war on terror'? What is it exactly? And that was never, never defined clearly." read the complete article


01 Nov 2021

The World Must Condemn China's Genocide of Uyghurs

Enes Kanter, a center for the Boston Celtics, has recently drawn attention after using his social media platforms to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its numerous human rights abuses. In a video posted to Twitter, he spoke of "torture, rape, forced abortions and sterilizations" and other atrocities being carried out against almost 2 million members of China's Uyghur population. China's abuse of Uyghurs is longstanding and calls to mind some of the darkest chapters in human history. The grim reality is that China contains an estimated 260 concentration camps, dedicated to imprisoning, torturing and killing Uyghur Muslims at the behest of the CCP—often without formal charges ever being filed. China's treatment of its Muslim population is one of the most glaring human rights abuses the world has seen. The CCP has targeted Muslims with bans on long beards, headscarves, Islamic-sounding names and religious education for children. Chinese Muslims are also subjected to travel restrictions and profiling at thousands of vehicle checkpoints. Uyghurs are often stopped, while Han Chinese residents are allowed to pass through. Technology has also been deployed to track the minority ethnic group. Uyghurs are required to carry a smartphone wherever they travel. Leaked cables between Chinese officials show that police randomly seize individuals' phones and examine them by hand or by plugging them into a scanner. If religious content or even religious words or phrases are found on a Uyghur's phone, that person can be detained. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

Muslim countries are not only silent but also complicit in China's crimes against the Uyghurs

Blind to the mounting "tidal wave" of evidence concerning atrocities against the Uyghurs, crimes that many Western democracies have assessed as genocide, Muslim nations continue not only to turn a blind eye to the suffering of their fellow believers but lavish praise on their persecutors. Giving evidence to the recent Uyghur Genocide Tribunal in London, Uyghur Muslim, Abdul Hakim Idris, husband of Rushan Abbas, Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs, accused China of wielding its economic might to buy the silence of predominantly Islamic nations, and those nations of capitulating without a struggle. Refusing to criticise Beijing for widely publicised mass incarcerations, disappearances and its onslaught against religion and culture, Muslim leaders are colluding with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) illusion that crackdowns against Uyghurs are mainly to do with fighting extremism. Playing the terrorism card is convenient, maintains Idris because these leaders avoid having to alienate a wealthy and powerful benefactor and one to whom they are beholden. Author of Menace, an account of "China's colonisation of the Islamic world" Idris claims that tactics used by the CCP to woo the Islamic world include using the Chinese Islamic Association (CIA) to do its dirty work. Led by politically correct Imams who dare not speak against their own government, the CIA hold press conferences and seminars in Muslim countries and use their own Hajj pilgrims to smokescreen the troubles at home. Foreign government officials and civil society leaders are feted in Xinjiang, enjoy choreographed mosque visits, and hear from released "vocational training school" graduates, whose lives have ostensibly been transformed by the experience. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

The U.S. Admitted Zero Uyghur Refugees Last Year. Here's Why

Both the Biden and Trump Administrations repeatedly condemned China’s persecution of Uyghurs and formally declared the country’s treatment of the mostly Muslim minority group a genocide. The Trump Administration passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, imposing sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses against Uyghurs, and the Biden Administration recently designated Uyghurs a priority group for refugee resettlement. But all that, it turns out, has been mostly talk. The United States has admitted a grand total of zero Uyghur refugees in the past two fiscal years. In FY2019, only one Chinese national was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee; it is unclear if that individual was a member of the Uyghur minority, which mostly live in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang. Experts say the main reason for the lack of Uyghur refugees is logistical: it’s next to impossible for Uyghurs in China, most of whom are under extraordinary state surveillance, to access refugee resettlement systems. When Uyghurs do manage to escape to a foreign country, those countries face immense pressure from China to return would-be refugees. But others argue that U.S. lawmakers, by embracing rhetoric like genocide without providing more effective humanitarian assistance, put themselves in a moral bind. “Why would you want to make a lot of noise about increasing the allowance for refugees when that just might be a meaningless gesture that maybe leads China to be even tougher in the way it treats Uyghurs at home?” says Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and director of research in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

Hindu-Muslim violence crosses border from Bangladesh to India

The incident on the morning of 13 October set off some of the worst anti-Hindu attacks in years and left seven people dead. The violence seeped over the border into the neighbouring Indian state of Tripura, where more than a dozen retaliatory rallies by rightwing Hindu group Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and others escalated into violence and anti-Muslim attacks. Muslim residents were terrorised, Muslim shops were torched, and at least 16 mosques were vandalised – of which four were set alight – in violence that began on 21 October and continued into last week. VHP spokesman Vinod Bansal claimed reports of violence were “fake news” spread by “jihadists” and said it had only arranged peaceful rallies. But witnesses saw upwards of 3,000 people, many carrying sticks, iron rods, swords and cans of kerosene or petrol, marching through districts across Tripura last week, attacking Muslim homes and businesses. Saffron flags, the symbols of Hindu nationalism, were planted on several mosques, and pork – which is forbidden in Islam – was placed outside another. The subcontinent has a long history of communal tensions and violence, from the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 to the violent 1971 war which led to the formation of Bangladesh. However, regional analysts say the latest incidents are indicative of the rising tide of religious intolerance against minorities in south Asia, evident across India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. read the complete article

01 Nov 2021

Planet Facebook

It seems obvious to say that that Facebook is too big. That’s true, but companies like Apple and Amazon are bigger, with more wealth and more employees. What the Facebook Papers show is that it is scale, even more so than size, that makes Facebook so dangerous. Consider India, home to more than a billion people and Facebook’s largest market. Among the many damning revelations in the Facebook Papers was that it was moderating content in only a handful of the subcontinent’s 22 official languages. That stark lack of capacity contributed to the growing tide of anti-Muslim violence under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And even that modicum of oversight was late in coming. Until 2018, Facebook had no tools to detect hate speech in Hindi, and nothing in Bengali until 2020. Just to be clear, those are, respectively, the third and seventh most spoken languages on earth. It’s hard to decide if it is the hubris or the neglect that is more staggering. That’s just one country. When you consider the fact that Facebook is the de facto internet in many parts of the globe, its role becomes as absurd as it is dangerous. Perusing the litany of revelations in the leaked documents, it starts to dawn on you just how completely, utterly weird it is that a private company on America’s west coast should be involved in social unrest and communal prejudice in India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Britain. Language is only part of the problem, however. As reported by Rest of World, Facebook also cowed to the hard-right concerns of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party and its fascist RSS wing. Posts by the latter, which compared Muslims to pigs and spread misinformation about the Quran, were not flagged due to “political sensitivities.” Moreover, the surge in recent years in conspiracy theories about “love jihad” — the idea that Muslims convert Hindu women through interfaith marriage — often went unchecked on the platform simply due to a lack of sufficient investment. read the complete article

United Kingdom

01 Nov 2021

‘Unacceptable’: Boris Johnson ignores MP’s Islamophobia concerns for a year

Boris Johnson has not responded to an MP’s call for action on Islamophobia for a year, it can be revealed. Afzal Khan, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, wrote to the prime minister in November 2020 warning of rising hate crime and questioning “the inaction of this government in tackling the issue”. An official guide says that government departments should respond to correspondence from MPs within 20 working days, but Mr Khan has not received a reply. The delay will be formally raised in the House of Commons on Monday, which marks the beginning of Islamophobia Awareness Month. Mr Khan will call the lack of response “shocking and wholly unacceptable” and urge the prime minister to make a statement to MPs on Islamophobia. His 2020 letter, seen by The Independent, accused the government of reinforcing “disgraceful racism” towards Muslims with actions during the coronavirus pandemic, including a sudden regional lockdown on the eve of Eid al-Adha. “It contributed to a deeply concerning, and false, far-right narrative that British Muslims are ‘spreading corona’,” Mr Khan added. “As prime minister it is your duty to protect and safeguard all communities. However, I am disappointed, if not surprised, at the inaction of this government in tackling the issue of Islamophobia, which is clearly growing.” read the complete article


01 Nov 2021

Tripura Anti-Muslim Violence: How Social Media Was Used to Mobilize Mobs

A spell of violence had gripped Tripura in the third week of October, with homes and places of worship belonging to Muslims being targeted. The pretext for the violence is said to have been the attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh which the state shares a border with. Hindus were attacked, houses were burnt and temples were vandalized in Bangladesh over the desecration of a Hindu deity and the Quran, during Durga puja. There were protests across the country, including Tripura where right-wing groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Jagran Manch led the rallies. There were instances of protestors clashing with police personnel over being denied permission for the rally. This was followed by a spell of violence where Muslim settlements were attacked, at least 15 mosques were allegedly burnt or vandalized and shops owned by Muslims were set on fire, according to Maktoob Media. This article will look at how social media was used to mobilise mobs in Tripura. The Quint studied the social media profiles and WhatsApp groups of some local right-wing leaders who were present in the rallies in Udaipur. Most of the posts put up by these leaders primarily aimed at the notion ‘Hindus are in danger and we need to do something about it.’ Some posts tried to invoke the 'Hindu pride', by saying something along the lines of ‘If you are a true Hindu then you must act now’. The posts also talked about leaving political differences aside because 'being Hindu is above all'. While others talked about the 'safety of Hindus in Tripura' by claiming “if Hindus can be attacked in Bangladesh, how long is it before Hindus can’t protect their homes in Tripura either, against Islamic Jihad?” read the complete article


01 Nov 2021

Chinese tomato companies questioned by undercover CBC journalists over forced Uyghur labour

CBC Marketplace's Asha Tomlinson and Eric Szeto posed as tomato brokers to get access to Chinese tomato companies and asked them questions about the use of Uyghur labour in their workforce. In Xinjiang, a remote area of western China, Uyghurs are subjected to mass detention, surveillance and torture by the Chinese government. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Nov 2021 Edition


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