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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15 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In United Kingdom, dozens of protesters rallied outside the Chinese Embassy in London on Saturday calling for the freedom of Uyghur muslims, meanwhile in Canada, Toronto police have arrested and charged a man in connection with recent vandalism at a North York mosque, while in Austria, a new art exhibit by Asma Aiad seeks to challenge those who conform to the stereotype of a hijabi Muslim woman in Austria, and on Friday, Human Rights Watch accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2020 Winter Olympics of ignoring China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Nadine Naber for Truthout on how the immediate aftermath of 9/11 brought a heavy U.S. state focus on Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., rationalizing an expansion of policing and surveillance activities against them. This and more below:

United States

15 Nov 2021

20 Years After Patriot Act, Surveillance of Arabs and Muslims Is Relentless | Recommended Read

The U.S. is now more than 20 years beyond the Patriot Act of October 2001. The immediate aftermath of 9/11 brought a heavy U.S. state focus on Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., rationalizing an expansion of policing and surveillance activities against them. It also inspired the convergence of shared struggles for liberation out of a growing consensus that we cannot abolish policing without abolishing U.S. militarism and empire building. The “anything goes” context of 9/11 opened up possibilities for expanded forms of policing and surveillance that are unconstitutional. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), also known as “special registration,” put in place by the Department of Justice in 2002, targeted Arabs and Muslims as well as those from the Middle East and South Asia. Overly broad interpretations of “material support” laws denied people — generally Arabs and Muslims — their freedom and even threatened some forms of humanitarian aid. But none of this was entirely new. All this was preceded by President Richard Nixon’s “Operation Boulder,” which law professor Susan M. Akram has described as “perhaps the first concerted US government effort to target Arabs in the US for special investigation with the specific purpose of intimidation, harassment, and to discourage their activism on issues relating to the Middle East.” Ironically, Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 Oklahoma City attack opened the door to the Clinton administration pushing forward a legislative effort allowing the government “to use evidence from secret sources in deportation proceedings for aliens suspected of terrorist involvement. Under the measure, the government would not have to disclose the source of the damaging information to the person whom it is seeking to deport,” The New York Times reported. A white extremist, then, had carried out a deadly bombing, but it was Arabs and Muslims (including Black Arabs and Black Muslims) who faced the prospect of deportation without ever being able to confront their accuser — or even know the identity of those accusing them. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Trump ally Michael Flynn condemned over call for ‘one religion’ in US

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, was widely condemned after calling for the establishment of “one religion” in the US. Religious freedom is enshrined in the first amendment to the US constitution, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Regardless, at a rally staged in San Antonio on Saturday by the Christian “nonprofit news media network” American Faith, Flynn said: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God.” In response, the Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, said: “These people hate the US constitution.” Mark Hertling, a retired general and media commentator, called Flynn, himself a retired general, “an embarrassment to the US army”. “His words are disgusting,” Hertling said. read the complete article


15 Nov 2021

Gamers blast Call of Duty over Islamophobic content

Call of Duty's Middle East branch apologised on Thursday for the Islamophobic content in the franchise's latest 'Vanguard' game, which caused an uproar among gamers who demanded the removal of the "offensive" material. The game, which was released worldwide on November 5, featured a scene with pages of the Quran - the holy Islamic scripture - scattered over the floor and smeared with blood, which brought the leading worldwide games developer under fire with Muslim fans, who called for a global apology. "Call of Duty is made for everyone... there was insensitive content to the Muslim community incorrectly included... and has since been removed... we deeply apologize. We are taking immediate steps internally to address the situation to prevent such occurrences in the future," the franchise's Middle East branch said in a statement. However, fans have called for an apology from Call of Duty and Activision's global departments, stating the incident offended muslims worldwide and not just those in the Middle East. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Human rights must not be forgotten amid China's empty climate change promises

Human rights advocates are concerned that the Chinese government will succeed in creating a tradeoff between climate goals and human rights. But ignoring the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, where millions of Uyghurs live, undermines both goals. In July, more than 40 progressive groups urged President Biden and members of Congress to stop demonizing China because it “risks undermining much-needed climate cooperation.” The Associated Press reported in September on concerns that U.S. officials were stalling the bipartisan, bicameral Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act because it would interfere in climate negotiations. This tradeoff is exactly what the CCP wants to see. It’s a win-win for China, but a lose-lose for the rest of the world. The Uyghur forced labor bill is still stuck. This legislation would ensure that goods made with Uyghur forced labor and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the Uyghur region do not enter the U.S. market. It’s been against the law to import forced-labor goods since 1930, but the bill would ensure that this law is properly enforced. The House passed the bill by a 400-vote margin in the last Congress, and the Senate passed it unanimously in July. So it was a real concern when White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Oct. 6 that she didn't know the White House position on the bill. The administration and Congress cannot allow human rights in China to be a pawn in other negotiations. Doing so would not only ignore more than a decade of empty climate promises by the CCP, but it also undermines critical efforts in the U.S. to fight the climate crisis. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Human Rights Watch accuses sponsors of China Winter Olympics of supporting Uyghur genocide

Human Rights Watch Friday accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2020 Winter Olympics of ignoring China’s crimes against humanity in its far western region of Xinjiang, thus “squandering the opportunity” to pressure China to address its “appalling human rights record.” Coca-Cola, Intel, and Airbnb are among the 13 Olympic Partners who were accused by name of ignoring China’s genocide against the ethnic Uyghurs and members of Muslim minority groups, as well as the repression of free speech in Hong Kong. At least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang since 2017, according to U.N. rights experts. China denies accusations of abuse of Uyghurs and states the camps are vocational training facilities aiming to combat religious extremism. Human Rights Watch asserted that Olympic Partners should have pressed China’s government and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) on China’s human rights violations. Human Rights Watch wrote letters to sponsors, asking the sponsors to confirm whether they had “conducted human rights due diligence for the 2022 Beijing Olympics” and to explain what work was done to ensure the supply chain does not “contribute to human rights violations.” read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Dozens protest for Uyghur Muslims outside Chinese embassy in London

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Chinese Embassy in London on Saturday calling for the freedom of Uyghur muslims, forcing the official building to take down its flag, according to eyewitnesses. The protest was organised by Islam21C - a project set up to provide digital representation for British muslims - with support from over 50 Muslim organisations. Protesters took to the streets and social media using the hashtag #Stand4Uyghurs to demand the shutdown of China's concentration camps, which experts estimate over one million muslims have been incarcerated in, in a Beijing crackdown against those practising Islam in Xinjiang. "We are here to show our solidarity as part of the Muslim Ummah... and fulfil our Islamic obligation towards oppressed Muslims in China," one protester Shabih Hasan told The New Arab. "We want to send a message to the Muslim Rulers around the world to come to the aid of Uyghurs and put pressure on the Chinese government to change [their course of actions]," Hasan continued. "There was a lot of raw emotions and strong feeling [of solidarity for the] suffering of our Uyghur brothers & sisters [at the demonstration]," another protester Mohamed Asif told The New Arab. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Polish Muslim leader helps feed migrants and soldiers

Maciej Szczęsnowicz cried when he saw migrants at the border for the first time, hungry and exhausted from the ordeal of being stuck while trying to enter from Belarus The chairman of the local Muslim community in the eastern Polish village of Bohoniki, Szczęsnowicz saw people so tired they could no longer stand, so hungry that they picked mushrooms from the ground to eat and when given an apple, ate the seeds. But what hurt him the most was hearing the sounds of their suffering. “It’s the sound of the crying and screaming of the children," he said. "It’s the worst thing.” As Poland has seen migrants from the Middle East crossing from Belarus into an area of forests and swamps, Szczęsnowicz has gotten to work helping to collect clothing and prepare food for them. A large number of migrants appeared this week at Poland's border, intensifying a political standoff between the European Union and Belarus. With a buildup of forces on the border, Szczęsnowicz is also helping to feed soldiers and other service people protecting the country. The AP visited him on Saturday in a restaurant where he and other volunteers were preparing a large pot of steaming chicken and vegetable soup. It was destined for soldiers and other guards on the border, but he hopes that some also makes its way to the migrants. While the border zone is off-limits due a state of emergency in force since early September, his delivery of soup to the border has given him access others do not have — and a view of the suffering of the people just across razor wire fences in Belarus. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Tory MP paid £300,000 by private equity firm that invests in spy tech for China

A Tory MP has been paid £300,000 by a private equity firm that invests in a spy technology company used by the China government against Uyghur Muslims. North East Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller has been paid £20,000 a month since January 2020 to work as an advisory director for Investcorp Securities. The Sunday Mirror reported today that Investcorp bankrolled a Hong Kong firm that has been contracted by Xi Jinping’s government to track the country’s oppressed Uyghur Muslim minority. Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime claims that its technology can monitor and identify Uyghur Muslims using facial recognition. In a 2019 patent for its AI technology, SenseTime said “it is possible to divide the ethnicities … according to Han, non-Han and unknown, or according to Han, Uyghur, non-Han, non-Uyghur, and unknown”. Despite his position, Fuller was previously a part of a Westminster committee that called for sanctions on UK firms that used supply chains linked to Xinjiang. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

The United Nations Is Giving the Names of Uyghur Dissidents to China | Opinion

The United Nations, the very institution created to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights," is assisting China in its violent efforts to wipe out the Uyghurs by helping the CCP cover its tracks. These were the findings of a recent report in Le Monde about the efforts of UN human rights officer-turned whistleblower Emma Reilly. Reilly claims that prior to every UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in recent years, China has requested the names of Uyghur and other Chinese dissidents who were scheduled to speak. And despite this being explicitly forbidden by the UN's own rules, the UN, according to Reilly, has made it a practice to share this information with Chinese authorities, who use it to harass the dissidents' families who are still based in China. Reilly says she first discovered the practice in 2013, when China's Geneva delegation requested confirmation that certain "anti-government Chinese separatists" were set to speak at the Human Rights Council. Listed individuals included, among others, Dolkun Isa, current president of the World Uyghur Congress. Le Monde reports that Reilly suggested that the request be rejected, just as the UN had rejected Turkish demands regarding Kurdish activists. But leaked emails appear to show Reilly's superior, Eric Tistounet, head of the Human Rights Council Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), advising staffers that the names be shared with China because the meeting was public, and delaying sharing the names would merely "exacerbate the Chinese mistrust against us." read the complete article


15 Nov 2021

Man arrested, charged with mischief after vandalism of North York mosque

Toronto police have arrested and charged a man in connection with recent vandalism at a North York mosque. Officers caught the suspect shortly after the incident at the Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation (TARIC) Islamic Centre on Nov. 9. According to police, a man was seen on security footage approaching the centre with a large rock in his hands, before 7 p.m. The man then threw the rock through a small window, damaging the window, a wall adjacent and the tile floor, police said. No one was injured. A 50-year-old man was arrested and charged with mischief under $5,000. Insp. Keith Smith, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, condemned the vandalism. He said police are continuing to investigate. "Incidents like these tear up the fabric of society ... the community, of any faith group," Smith told reporters at the mosque on Sunday. "Although there were no physical injuries, I'd suggest there's injuries such as emotional harm, psychological harm." read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Western students stand up for those targeted for being visibly Muslim

Five months after four members of a London Muslim family were run down while out for an evening walk, students at Western University took a few steps on Friday to push back. A few hundred students and supporters took part in the Shalwar Kameez walk against Islamophobia and Racism. Shalwar kameez refers to the traditional loose-fitting clothing worn by many Muslim men and women. Some of the speakers at Friday's walk said the June 6 attack highlighted something they've long known: That being visibly Muslim can turn any follower of Islam into a target. "We are tired of living in fear," said Rubina Malik, a graduate student of Pakistani descent and one of the organizer's of Friday's walk. "Going out for a walk in your shalwar, your turban, your hijab or your skin should never incite looks of disgust, nods of dismissal, words of hate and least of all, death." Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best, a public health researcher who focuses on communities in Canada and the Caribbean, said Muslim women are particularly vulnerable. "We wear our faith on our bodies, so we become prime targets," she said. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

I'm an athlete, and I happen to wear a hijab. Get over it

There are moments when I'm running when I feel out of sorts and completely different from everyone around me. I wear a hijab and you don't see many others wearing them on the track — or in other places on Prince Edward Island. However, there are other times when I forget that I look different from everyone else because I feel so comfortable doing something that makes me feel good about myself. There are a lot of people who genuinely believe that women are oppressed in the Islamic faith. A hijab — a head covering that many Muslim women wear — is perceived by some as symbol of oppression. When I first began wearing my hijab in Grade 8, it was just a religious act. But a few years down the road, it became who I was — a sweet proclamation of my identity in the face of Islamophobia. There are awesome things that come from wearing a hijab — like never having another bad hair day. But in a western society, there are a few setbacks to wearing a hijab. Aside from the prejudice and discrimination I face regularly, I realized that there aren't many athletes who are also hijabis. read the complete article


15 Nov 2021

India was partially a ‘Muslim nation’ under Congress rule, claims BJP

Keeping up its attack on the Congress over the opposition party’s criticism of Hindutva, the BJP claimed on Saturday that India was partially a “Muslim nation” when it was in power as sharia provisions were then part of the legal system and measures were taken to give them primacy even over Supreme Court judgment. BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi alleged that the violence in Maharashtra over the “false” news of mosques being targeted in Tripura, disinformation campaign in social media and Congress leaders’ comments attacking Hindutva were part of a larger conspiracy against Hinduism. Attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, he wondered if the opposition leader was training his party workers in Maharashtra in defaming Hindutva and driving an organised campaign to stoke communal discord and violence. It was during his speech via video conferencing to Congress workers at a training camp in the state that Gandhi had sought to draw a distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva, and had attacked the latter. The BJP has been on the offensive after Congress leader Salman Khurshid compared Hindutva, a term associated with the RSS-BJP ideology, with terrorist Islamist organisations. Trivedi said the Congress symbolises politics of appeasement and spreads hate against Hinduism and causes riots. read the complete article

15 Nov 2021

Before Assam Elections, Facebook Was Warned of Inflammatory Content But Lacked Key Hate Speech Tool

In public announcements and testimonies to governments, Facebook regularly boasts of how the overwhelming majority of hate speech on its platform is taken down by automated systems. “97% of hate speech taken down from Facebook was spotted by our automated systems before any human flagged it, up from 94% in the previous quarter and 80.5% in late 2019,” the company said last year. What the company is silent about is that the company’s AI tools simply don’t do much for different languages around the world, mostly due to a lack of what it calls ‘hate-speech classifiers’ for local languages. Leaked internal corporate documents reviewed by The Wire show how Facebook’s staffers and outside researchers flagged the lack of a hate speech classifier in the Assamese language multiple times in the run-up to the 2021 assembly elections in the north-eastern state. Furthermore, documents show the company started work on developing a “demotion” process for key hate words in Assamese only in 2020. The Wire has learned that for problematic content in the Assamese language, Facebook depends only on in-house and contracted staffers that review it, as well as external fact-checkers. read the complete article


15 Nov 2021

'This is not a headscarf' — the objectification of Muslim women in Austria

Asma Aiad's artwork is informed by her Muslim identity. An Austrian artist and activist who has devoted herself to the fight against Islamophobia and racism, hijab-wearing Asma seeks to challenge those who conform to the stereotype of a hijabi Muslim woman in Austria. Instead of explaining, she asks questions, like what is a headscarf and what is not? Who defines it? How does a hijabi woman see the headscarf? And how do others in Austrian society view it? “I took pictures of women wearing things on their heads which look like headscarves but in reality, they are not headscarves,” she explains. “When you see it, you think it’s not a headscarf, but when you forbid wearing a headscarf in Austria maybe we can go around with things like these. Would it still be forbidden? Or would it be okay?” Explaining to TRT World the rationale behind her latest exhibition - “This is not a headscarf,” which is inspired by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte’s well-known “The Treachery of Images” - Aiad asked: “If it’s okay, why is this okay and a headscarf is not okay?” With her work, she highlights the objectification of Muslim women, who face daily challenges simply for wearing the headscarf. They are often pre-judged and misinterpreted as societal elements impose biases on their customs and dictate how they should act. Aiad challenges this narrative on behalf of all Muslim women. But Aiad says right now the issue is not just about Muslim women wearing headscarves, but the broader idea of Muslims being active in society. It’s particularly relevant in the aftermath of the raids that took place last year amid the “political Islam” narrative constructed by the government. read the complete article


15 Nov 2021

Chinese firm transfers thousands of Uyghurs from Xinjiang to other areas for work

A Chinese company has reportedly sent more than 3,000 Uyghur workers including minors from the Xinjiang region to factories in other parts of the country to 'work', an investigation report informed. Radio Free Asia began the investigation after an advertisement circulated on Chinese apps 'Weibo' and 'WeChat' informed that more than 2,000 Uyghurs -- aged 16 to 30, with good Mandarin Chinese skills, and vocational school degrees are 'available' to work for two years at sites throughout the country. The advertisement was from a Chinese recruitment company which send labour in different parts of the country. After contacting the company, a woman who answered said the ad was posted by her 'job-placement' company in Sichuan province's Liangxian prefecture and informed that the company has sent thousands of workers from Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) to two different locations in China, as reported by Radio Free Asia. "All of them are from Kashgar -- Uyghurs," she said, referring to the oasis city in southern Xinjiang with a population of more than 7,00,000. The Uyghurs were transferred in June to two locations in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. The employee also informed that about 30 per cent of the workers transferred from Kashgar to Nanjing were between the ages of 16 and 18. Meanwhile, many of the Uyghurs were also transferred to what Beijing refers as 'education camps'. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Nov 2021 Edition


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