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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24 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Bangladesh, the authorities have resumed moving Rohingya refugees to a remote and flood-prone island, despite criticism from aid groups and claims some are being relocated against their will, meanwhile in New Zealand, an Auckland cafe has fired a manager who sent abusive messages about halal food and the Muslim community to a potential customer on social media, and lastly, the head of the World Uyghur Congress is visiting Ottawa this week to ask the Canadian government to step up efforts to block imports of products made with forced labour in China and to create a refugee stream for Uyghur refugees. Our recommended read of the day is by Nehal Abdalla for Open Democracy on Austria’s Operation Luxor, the government’s anti-Muslim raids that targeted around 70 Austrian Muslims’ homes, and how the state’s anti-Muslim agenda resulted in intelligence services missing vital information about a real terrorist attack. This and more below:


24 Nov 2021

Islamophobic raids hid Austrian government failure to prevent a terror attack | Recommended Read

On 2 November 2020, an ISIS sympathiser launched a mass shooting in Austria’s capital, Vienna. Four people were killed and 23 injured. The attacker was shot dead by the police at the scene. The following week, on 9 November, the government executed Operation Luxor, the largest group of police raids in Austria since World War II. The operation involved around 930 individuals, including police officers, special unit agents and constitutional protection officials. At 5am, the police violently broke into around 70 Muslim homes, awakening the inhabitants to a real-life nightmare. The sight of guns and militarised police personnel, the sound of shattering glass and smashing doors, and the unbridled aggression, left families and children traumatised. During a press conference on the same day, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer framed Operation Luxor as a legitimate and necessary response to the 2 November attack, referring to it as a “successful measure” taken against so-called “political Islam”. The press conference was a masterclass in propaganda: it quickly emerged that Operation Luxor was entirely unrelated to the Vienna attacks. No one targeted by the raids has been so much as charged with an offence, let alone convicted. Despite the seizure of cash, personal belongings and assets, and the freezing of bank accounts, not a single arrest was made, and many cases have been dropped in recent weeks. To this day, no evidence has been presented justifying the highly aggressive and traumatising raids. Among those targeted were well-known and respected Muslim, Austrian figures – activists, academics and other individuals who had previously been vocal about state-sponsored Islamophobia. Some have since spoken out on their experiences, and the problematic and racist nature of the raids. The raids themselves have since been declared unlawful by the Austrian courts. A report by CAGE and ACT-P, published on the one-year anniversary of Operation Luxor, documents the deeply troubling series of events and how they reflected the policies of the Austrian government. The aggressive measures taken by the government masked its own deep failings and incompetence in preventing the attacks of 2 November. In fact, during the year leading up to the attack, the Austrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BVT) had concentrated major resources to prepare for Operation Luxor. This fatal misallocation was responsible for key failures on behalf of the government that allowed the attacker to successfully carry out his mass shooting, as pointed out by Social Democratic Party´s security spokesman Reinhold Einwallner. read the complete article


24 Nov 2021

Sheffield Hallam University professor reveals Uyghur forced labour connections in dozens of global retail brands

The research was led by Laura Murphy, professor of human rights at Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice. The report, Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains, suggests that cotton from the Uyghur Region - the Xinjiang Province in China - may bypass supply standards. Professor Murphy said: “Our report details, link-by-link, how cotton moves from the Uyghur Region through the global clothing supply chain to consumers’ closets. A total of 53 contract garment suppliers in various countries were found to reportedly purchase fabric and yarn from Chinese manufacturers that, according to the authors, use Uyghur Region cotton. The report concludes with recommendations that governments and corporations should put in place mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation to ensure forced labour made goods do not reach consumers. read the complete article

24 Nov 2021

World Uyghur Congress urges Canada to take refugees, block Chinese imports

The head of the World Uyghur Congress is visiting Ottawa this week to ask the Canadian government to step up efforts to block imports of products made with forced labour in China and to create a refugee stream for Uyghur refugees fleeing Beijing’s repression. Dolkun Isa, president of the umbrella organization for exiled Uyghurs, will meet with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser and is hoping to meet with other decisionmakers during his stay in the nation’s capital, which will include a rally on Parliament Hill with MPs and senators from all major political parties. Mr. Isa was once the subject of a wanted alert, or red notice, by Interpol – a measure that led to criticism the Chinese Communist Party was abusing Interpol to persecute dissidents. This red notice was cancelled in 2018 to much protest from Beijing. He also wants to ask the Canadian government why it took no action after Parliament adopted a motion earlier this year declaring China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities to constitute genocide. The same motion said Canada should urge the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.” read the complete article

24 Nov 2021

Who are we freeing by silencing Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab?

“Scandalous and Indecent” and against “common sense” was what French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal and Marine Le Pen said about the campaign for diversity by the Council of Europe. The campaign called “Freedom in the hijab” aimed to celebrate Europe’s diversity and inclusivity. Oddly enough, the comments made by the French politicians sound rather familiar. Especially if we place them during the height of European colonialism in the 19th century. The debate over the voluntary use of the Hijab by women has taken central stage in recent political discourse. Debates which, despite their false rhetoric, do not necessarily care for the freedom of these women, but have been hijacked by populist parties, such as of Marine Le Pen’s. Through a racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic narrative they instrumentalize the grievances of the French people – whatever they are – to instigate even more popular discontent. However, if you talk to these French politicians, they will keep on arguing that this has much rather to do with the defense of ‘French secular values’ and defending women’s rights. What I do find curious, if not incredibly denouncing of this whole situation, is that Muslim women are neither asked about their experiences wearing the hijab nor about their opinion and will, regarding the use of such. I do not see representatives of Muslim women in the French government making such statements. Instead, I see people who can relate to them very little, justifying their narratives through the weaponization of secularism. Nonetheless as in colonial times, their lives of Muslim women are decided by others, and as a consequence, it is dictated what they must do; if they want to follow the path of the ‘civilized’, of the Western superiority. read the complete article

24 Nov 2021

'I'm Living in Guantanamo 2.0': Former Prisoner Says His Life Is Still Hell After Release

Mansoor Adayfi spent 14 years in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, where he says he was tortured, beaten and force-fed. He was released in 2016. Like many detainees of the notorious facility, he was never actually charged with a crime, though the US accused him of being a recruiter for al-Qaida, which he denies. But he said that, instead of feeling free, the stigma of having been in Guantanamo means he still feels like he's in prison. "I live in Guantanamo 2.0," he told Insider. Many Guantanamo detainees are sent to third countries after their release -- not the U.S. or their home countries. Adayfi, who is from Yemen, was brought to Belgrade, Serbia, after his release. He still lives there. Geographically, he's now far from the naval base in Cuba. But he said the stigma of having been in Guantanamo, where he was known as Detainee 441, means he still can't build a life: "We are living with the stigma of Guantanamo. Guantanamo hasn't left us yet." "Welcome to our life, " he said. "This, our life: It's hell." He said he lives alone, in a one-room apartment, sleeping on the couch. Earlier this year he released a book about his time in Guantanamo, and is now working on another one about life after release. He's also studying for a master's degree, partly supported through fundraisers and NGOs. But he said getting a job, making friends, or forming relationships are impossible. read the complete article


24 Nov 2021

Bangladesh resumes moving Rohingya refugees to flood-prone island

Bangladesh has resumed moving Rohingya refugees to a remote and flood-prone island, authorities said Wednesday, despite criticism from aid groups and claims some are being relocated against their will. Nearly 20,000 members of the stateless minority, who fled neighbouring Myanmar in 2017 after a brutal military crackdown, have already been sent to Bhashan Char island. Bangladesh eventually wants to rehouse 100,000 of its approximately one million Rohingya refugees to the island, moving them from cramped relief camps on the mainland. But hundreds already sent there have since been arrested in coastal towns after fleeing the island, and dozens died in August after a fishing boat carrying escapees capsized. Another 2,000 Rohingya will nonetheless be transferred this week, the country's deputy refugee commissioner Moozzem Hossain told AFP, more than six months after the last group was sent there. read the complete article

United States

24 Nov 2021

Nida Allam hopes her run for U.S. Congress will inspire the Muslim community

Longtime Congressman David Price, who has represented the Triangle for decades, will retire at the end of his current term. Price’s departure leaves the field wide open to political newcomers like Allam, who hopes her congressional run will inspire her community. Allam is breaking barriers. She is the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina. Allam, who grew up in Wake County, is now running for Congress in NC-06. “It wasn’t just like a spur of the moment decision,” Allam said. “It was something that took a lot of family input of how does this impact us on a personal level? And making sure that they are also OK with that. Because it is a much more public sphere than even being a county commissioner.’ While some may see her identity as a Muslim-American immigrant as a threat, she proudly embraces who she is. “I think it’s definitely a part of my identity that I am very proud of,” Allam said. “It’s who I am also as a politician. Because I’ve learned, as a Muslim, to take care of our neighbors and to make sure that our community members have the resources they need. And that’s what I put into my acts of service of how I lead.” Win or lose, Allam is hoping to be an inspiration to others. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Nov 2021

Spennymoor councillor's 'Muslim attack' post breached standards

A councillor who posted a Facebook message attacking Muslims breached council standards, a committee has found. Pete Molloy, who sits on Spennymoor Town and Durham County councils, also posted a link to a "white supremacist conspiracy theory". Mr Molloy was also found to have "bullied and disrespected" two Spennymoor officers. The ex-British National Party member, now independent, will receive training. Investigating officer Matt Lewin described Mr Molloy's Facebook posts as "on the wrong side of the line" between free criticism and an "attack on all Muslims, a denial of their right to live in this country", according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. One of the posts from 2019 said: "We don't want Muslims here and they don't want us here." read the complete article

New Zealand

24 Nov 2021

Auckland cafe fires manager over anti-Muslim messages

An Auckland cafe has fired a manager who sent abusive messages about halal food and the Muslim community to a potential customer on social media. Screenshots of the exchange show Cocobeans Cafe telling the customer to "go back to your country" and "this country is full of bacon ham [sic] n beers". The Muslim housewife on the receiving end of the messages was shocked. "I was scared, upset anxious - why was this person swearing on me?" she said, asking not to be named for fear of retaliation. She had sent a private message to Cocobeans Cafe's Facebook page on Thursday morning to ask if the cafe was halal. They replied to say the meat was halal but not the premises, which served ham and bacon. The housewife shared the response on a Muslim community group that regularly posts updates on halal restaurants in Auckland. "It's something we as Muslims want to know, you know, whether we can eat at a place or not." That evening, she received a slew of abusive messages. She shared those as well. "I didn't know it would become this huge thing," she said. Cocobeans owner Radhika Naidu said the messages were sent by the cafe manager handling their Facebook account and do not reflect the sentiments of management and staff. The manager was asked to leave shortly after Naidu found out about the incident. read the complete article


24 Nov 2021

Facebook and India’s Paradox of Inclusion

The leak in October of internal documents from the technology giant Facebook has revealed damning details about the company’s practices. The firm, which recently rebranded as Meta, was aware of but ignored the harmful consequences of its social media platforms around the world. Facebook employees were especially alarmed by developments in India, which makes up its single largest market with 340 million users. The memos show that Facebook knew its pages were being used to peddle misinformation and target India’s 172 million Muslims with hate speech and depictions of violence. Facebook’s algorithms steered this content to users even as its monitoring mechanisms failed; it has artificial intelligence algorithms capable of screening content in only five of India’s 22 official languages. The nearly trillion-dollar company chose to do precious little, blaming scanty resources. This scandal has directed deserved attention to Facebook’s operations in its newer markets. But the company’s travails in India reveal a broader truth. The bigotry evident on Facebook is less a product of its algorithms than of changes in Indian society. As more Indians gain access to the public sphere made possible by the Internet and social media companies, they have brought some of their prejudices with them. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Nov 2021 Edition


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