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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08 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the BJP-led government has served over 60 people notices with charges incorporated under UAPA for their Twitter posts highlighting the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, meanwhile around the globe, Uyghurs in the diaspora are starting to grapple with their trauma as China’s campaign of repression against Uyghurs in Xinjiang continues, and in the United Kingdom, police officers at Heathrow airport stopped and questioned lawyer, academic, and rights activist Dr. Asim Qureshi. Our recommended read of the day is by  for Al Jazeera on a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States today focusing on the FBI’s monitoring and surveillance of Muslim Americans following the September 11th attacks. This and more below:

United States

08 Nov 2021

Muslim monitoring case goes to US Supreme Court. What’s at stake? | Recommended Read

The United States Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case that will determine whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can invoke “state secrets” privilege to avoid a lawsuit over its monitoring of Muslim communities and places of worship in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Plaintiffs in the case, which stems from a lawsuit originally filed in 2011, say the US government has for years used national security to dodge accountability. That has deprived them of a chance to present in court a mountain of evidence they say shows the FBI pursued a “dragnet” surveillance campaign against the Muslim community in Southern California that included secret audio and video recording and was motivated solely by the religion of those monitored. That surveillance came amid a slew of early 2000s US government tactics targeting Muslims in the name of national security that continue to cast a long shadow, even as they remain shrouded in secrecy. “We’ve been feeling violated for the past 15 years now, at least since the time that I found out what the FBI was doing,” said Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, who was an imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, California, when the agency sent a paid informant posing as a convert to monitor his mosque and others in the area beginning in 2006. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

US citizens v FBI: Will the government face charges for illegal surveillance?

On Monday, the US supreme court will hear arguments in a case which could determine whether the US government faces accountability for its mass surveillance of Muslim Americans after 9/11. The nine justices will be asked to decide on whether Muslim US citizens who were subjected to undercover surveillance by a paid informant at their southern California mosque can receive redress through the courts. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik and Yasser Abdel Rahim, the three plaintiffs, argue that they and thousands of other Muslims were targeted because of their religion, and the federal authorities who subjected them to such unconstitutional treatment should answer for that. Lawyers for the government will counter that the case should be dismissed, as litigating it would reveal intelligence about federal anti-terrorism operations that would be harmful to national security. Information on who they were investigating and why, as well as details of the FBI’s sources and methods, should remain confidential on grounds that they are “state secrets”. Ahilan Arulanantham, a human rights lawyer at UCLA who will be arguing FBI v Fazaga for the plaintiffs on Monday, told reporters that the question for the court was simple: “Will the people we represent ever get their day in court? Are the courts open to protect this community’s religious freedoms, or can the government slam the doors shut whenever it claims to be acting in the name of national security?” At the heart of the case is Craig Monteilh, a fitness instructor convicted for fraud, who was taken on by the FBI as an informant five years after 9/11 in “Operation Flex” in which he surveilled mosques in Irvine, California. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

Filmmaker Aizzah Fatima Talks Making the First Muslim-American RomCom

Blending acting with activism, Aizzah Fatimah is resolute in using her film and television work as a conduit to create a new conversation about what it means to be someone of the Muslim faith and culture in America, even more specifically, a modern Muslim American woman. Her film is clearing up a lot of the misconceptions and fear-based prejudice about a religion and a people that are often misunderstood in the west. In this candid discussion, Aizza and I really dig into the stereotypes surrounding Islam and Muslim women, modern day feminism, and what it means to be Americanish. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

Shahana Hanif On Making History As New York City's First Muslim Woman Councilmember

On Nov. 2, Shahana Hanif made history by becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the New York City Council. The Bangladeshi American, who ran on a progressive platform and was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Working Families Party, won a seat in Brooklyn to make history in a city where more than 750,000 Muslims live. Hanif spoke to TIME via Zoom on Thursday about her historic victory, the importance of representation and her identity as a Bangladeshi woman with lupus navigating New York City. What does it mean that we haven’t had South Asian or female Muslim representation on New York’s City Council? What does that reflect? It reflects a history that is deeply rooted in racism and xenophobia. On one hand, I’m surprised that in the city council’s history, we haven’t had anyone. But at the same time, if you look at the history of the United States, should we be this surprised? When candidates run for political office, my community isn’t usually the kind that is being reached out to. But my run really activated so many of our Bangladeshi constituents, including folks who are not typically voters. Twenty years after 9/11, what does it mean to be a Bangladeshi Muslim woman in New York City? You told the AP in a recent interview that when you were 10—in the weeks after the World Trade Center fell—a driver passing by called you and your younger sister “terrorists” while you were walking to the local mosque. Could you speak to the complex relationship that Muslims have with law enforcement post 9/11? What we saw after 9/11 is the expansion of homeland security departments across the U.S. and the creation of ICE and money going into the police departments to expand surveillance. As a result of over policing, I grew up seeing neighbors deported, detained and separated from their families. In our schools—like across CUNY campuses—informants were placed in our Muslim Student Associations. I’ve been living a life under surveillance since the age of 10 but likely even before that. We were being spied on because we were not wanted in the United States. I learned after I graduated from Brooklyn College that one woman, Mel, who I did not know personally but close friends had invited to weddings and parties, was an informant. It was just shocking to know that somebody who had befriended us had been hired by the police department to spy on Muslim students. It shows that some New Yorkers are under state surveillance at all times. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

Truck driver who pulled shocking state Senate upset apologizes for anti-Muslim posts, deletes social media

Edward Durr, the newly elected Republican state senator who shocked New Jersey by knocking off incumbent Senate President Stephen Sweeney, has apologized and deleted his social media accounts after past xenophobic and anti-Muslim messages surfaced. “I’m a passionate guy and I sometimes say things in the heat of the moment,” Durr said in a statement released Friday morning and reported by the New Jersey Globe. “If I said things in the past that hurt anybody’s feelings, I sincerely apologize.” A post from Durr’s Twitter account in September 2019 labeled Islam “a false religion” and its prophet, Muhammad, a “pedophile.” A pair of tweets from Durr’s account in 2017 and 2018 also called U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a “pedophile.” Multiple posts from his Facebook account downplayed the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — one called it “not an insurrection ... (but) an unauthorized entry by undocumented federal employers!” And another Facebook post took a shot at Vice President Kamala Harris, alluding to her gender and race. Durr’s Twitter account and his political Facebook account appear to have been deleted Friday morning. read the complete article


08 Nov 2021

'Slapping UAPA Cases in Aftermath of Tripura Violence Shows Govt's Incompetence'

In connection with the Tripura violence, over 60 people have been served notices with charges incorporated under UAPA for their Twitter posts after violence was reported from certain parts of the state recently. A day after a fact-finding team released a report highlighting anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, two advocates who were a part of the team and had authored the report, Ansar Indori, secretary of the National Confederation of Human Rights, and Mukesh, who works for the Union for Civil Liberties, have been charged under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Both lawyers have also been charged under Sections 120 B, 153 A, 153 B, 469, 471, 503, 504 among others of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which include charges of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity between groups, forgery and provoking breach of peace. The advocates were a part of a four-member fact-finding team that had visited the state on October 29-30 in order to document the tensions in the region following reports of anti-Muslim violence in the state. The report, titled Humanity under attack in Tripura; #Muslim lives matter, documented the vandalisation of at least 12 mosques, nine shops and three houses belonging to Muslim families. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

India hunts 'fake news' spreaders after anti-Muslim attacks

Police in India are seeking the owners of about 100 social media accounts accused of sharing “fake news” after mob attacks on mosques in the north-east of the country. Last month’s violence in Tripura state erupted on the sidelines of a rally for hundreds of followers of a rightwing Hindu nationalist group. The incident appeared to be a revenge attack prompted by the killing of several Hindu worshippers across the border in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. Four mosques were vandalised and several Muslim-owned homes and businesses were ransacked. According to police, people aiming to whip up further violence shared misleading images on social media after the incident. A police report released to media on Saturday identified 102 posts that it said were published by “unknown miscreants” to provoke conflict between “people of differing religious communities”. Local media reports said police had written to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to demand the posts be removed. Many of the offending posts had been removed by Sunday. Those that remained online largely appeared to be highlighting the plight of Muslims targeted in the attacks. read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

In Gurgaon, the Gods Have Fled as Hindutva Leaders Turn Puja Into Anti-Muslim Politics

People clad in saffron are seen sitting and there is a lot of activity taking place. I can see a young man with a saffron flag raised in a militant way, busy with his mobile phone. People seem to be in a great rush. Loudspeakers are blaring a dull musical rendering “Ram Siya Ram… .” The camera captures the face of a small-time BJP leader who has gained notoriety – or, rather, fame in his own parivar – for having provoked violence against Muslims last year in Delhi and being brazen about his anti Muslim hate mongering. These days, the more you abuse Muslims, the higher you rise in Hindutva circles. So, he is the chief guest of the event. In Bihar and parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh the event is called Godhan puja. I saw it being performed in Shahpur Jat too when I moved to Delhi many years ago. It is a very intimate occasion. Men are seldom seen. So, what is happening in Gurgaon? Is it really Govardhan Puja or something else? Why is the name of Ram being loudly invoked on a day which belongs, in other parts of India, to Krishna? As it turns out, there is not even one Krishna devotee who would rise to the occasion. But then the Sector 12A occasion is not a sacred one, I should understand. It is not about Gods. It is about those who use their Gods as their weapons to terrorise others, those they want to dominate and subjugate others. Sector 12A is an enemy post annexed. Until last Friday, Muslims would gather on this spot in the afternoon to offer their customary juma namaz. From today, it ceases to be a space for them. They have been pushed out. From here and from 15 other spots in Gurgaon. Is Govardhan Puja happening there too? This is about 2021. If you start counting from 2017, Muslims have been barred from nearly 70 spots. read the complete article


08 Nov 2021

‘A Daily Cloud of Suffering’: A Crackdown in China Is Felt Abroad

More than four years since the Chinese government intensified its crackdown in Xinjiang, Uyghurs in the diaspora are starting to grapple with their trauma. To help, a growing coalition of community leaders, professional counselors and volunteers has emerged to respond to what Louisa Greve, director of global advocacy for the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington, called a “slow-motion crisis.” “It’s a daily cloud of suffering hanging over all Uyghurs around the world,” she said. In the United States, the Uyghur Wellness Initiative has built a small network of therapists to work pro bono with the community. In Belgium, a Uyghur activist coordinates online training for women led by counselors who worked with survivors of the Bosnian genocide. In Germany, a group of mental health specialists works with community leaders to tailor government resources to Uyghur needs. “Some people are emotionally numbing themselves, or pretending that nothing has happened,” said Nurgul Sawut, a social worker in Australia who has been organizing group therapy sessions for her fellow Uyghurs. “Rather than let the trauma bury us, we want to try to regenerate it, to turn it into something more meaningful.” read the complete article

08 Nov 2021

Bosnia’s disillusionment with the EU is dangerous

After attending the inauguration of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in Grozny in early October, the former grand mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Cerić, took to Facebook to reflect on his visit. As the leader of Bosnia’s Islamic community for almost two decades, he was known for his headline-generating proclamations, but this post was seen as particularly controversial. Evidently impressed by what he saw in Grozny, Cerić noted how Russia integrated Chechnya after the Chechen wars but “Brussels did not and, it seems, does not want to integrate Bosnia into the European Union”. He went on to advise the EU leadership to “come here to Grozny, in Chechnya, to see and learn how Vladimir Putin works in cooperation with Ramzan Kadyrov”. His words were seen by many as a dramatic about-face for a Muslim community leader who was known for his pro-Western views. In 2006, Cerić famously penned A Declaration of European Muslims emphasising the commitment of European Muslims to European values, and two years later led a Muslim delegation at a high-level meeting of Catholic and Muslim leaders at the Vatican. He also used to publicly emphasise the Western orientation of Bosniak Muslims with his oft-repeated statement: “Our sultan is in Brussels.” Cerić’s statement reflects a growing trend of Euroscepticism among Bosnians, who have traditionally seen EU integration as the only way to resolve all the problems of post-war Bosnia. These attitudes reflect Brussels’ own integration fatigue and inconsistent policies towards the Western Balkans. However, losing hope for EU membership could be a dangerous prospect for Bosnians. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Nov 2021

Heathrow: Police 'rifle through Muslim man's belongings despite saying he was not under suspicion'

A London-based Muslim activist, who runs Cage, an advocacy organisation that has in the past campaigned for the release of British citizens being held without trial at Guantanamo Bay, has complained of being “stopped” by police at London’s Heathrow Airport. On Friday, November 5th, Dr Asim Qureshi said he was questioned by two officers at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, where he said he was delayed for four-and-a-half hours. He was not placed under arrest or detained, and was informed that he was not under any suspicion, but was told that the purpose of the stop was to determine if they should suspect him in any way, Qureshi said. “They remind me that I am obligated to answer their questions, refusing to do so would lead to my arrest,” Qureshi wrote in a tweet. He explained that the officers who had stopped him said they would like to have a “conversation” with him, but he refused, saying a conversation is where “two people have equal power in an exchange” and that it couldn’t be a conversation because he’d be arrested for refusing to respond. Dr Qureshi said he accused the officers of “coercion”, but they attempted to “deny the coercive elements” of what was taking place. read the complete article


08 Nov 2021

Islamophobic attackers target 3 mosques in France

Three mosques were targeted in the latest series of Islamophobic attacks in France, this time taking place in the cities of Montlebon, Pontarlier and Roubaix late Saturday. The attackers had scrawled crosses and anti-Islam writings on the walls of the mosques, which are operated by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in France. France, home to the largest Muslim minority in Europe – estimated at 5 million or more out of a population of 67 million – has seen some of its highest officials stoke the flames of Islamophobia. Critics denounced France President Emmanuel Macron for trying to galvanize far-right citizens to vote for him in the 2022 April presidential elections. Macron's anti-Muslim rhetoric sparked a wave of anti-Muslim feelings among far-right groups. The number of Islamophobic incidents in France rose sharply last year. According to the National Observatory of Islamophobia, there were 235 attacks on Muslims in France in 2020, up from 154 the previous year, a 53% jump. Most of the attacks took place in the Ile-de-France (greater Paris), Rhones-Alpes and Paca regions of the country. Attacks on mosques jumped 35% in the same year. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Nov 2021 Edition


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