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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14 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Switzerland, the “government has sent a draft law to parliament, seeking to fine people who violate a national ban on face coverings up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,000),” meanwhile in India, a mob of more than 200 people “ransacked a mosque in Bhora Kalan village in Gurgaon, assaulting Muslims who were praying inside and threatened to expel them from the village,” and in Europe, the bloc’s top court said “companies can ban headscarfs as long as it is a general prohibition that does not discriminate against employees.” Our recommended read of the day is by Jasmine Liu for Hyperallergic on an open letter by former and current Guantanamo detainees calling on President Biden to “end a Trump-era restriction that bars artwork from leaving the military prison.” This and more below:

United States

14 Oct 2022

Guantánamo Detainees Ask Biden to Free Their Art | Recommended Read

In an open letter published today, eight former and current detainees of Guantánamo are petitioning President Joe Biden to end a Trump-era restriction that bars artwork from leaving the prison. The complete letter, written by Mansoor Adayfi, Sabri Al-Qurashi, Ghaleb Al-Bihani, Moazzam Begg, Boumedien, Djamel Ameziane, Sami al-Hajj, and Ahmed Errachidi, is appended at the end of the article. In 2010, prisoners were provided with an art class — a hard-won product of negotiations that they had undertaken with camp administrators and a minor concession in the midst of President Obama’s failure to close the prison for good as promised. While some were already producing art with the rudimentary materials that they had access to, like walls, food containers, and toilet paper, the art class provided them with paper, pens, and paints and allowed them to create art out in the open. “No longer did we have to hide our writings, paintings, poems, and songs — which had meant hiding parts of ourselves. No longer were we punished for painting or singing,” they write in their letter. “We could reveal parts of ourselves that were missing.” In 2017, an exhibition at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice titled Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantánamo, curated by Erin Thompson, Paige Laino, and Charles Shields, showcased over 30 paintings and sculptures made by people currently and formerly imprisoned at Guantánamo and procured by their lawyers. (An expanded version of the exhibition, curated by Thompson, was most recently on view at the Catamount Arts Center.) Soon after the show went up, however, the Pentagon declared that all art made at Guantánamo was government property and could no longer leave the premises of the prison. Furthermore, it could be destroyed at the military’s discretion. In their letter, the detainees — most of whom have been freed, with al-Alwi and Rabbani cleared for release — are asking Biden to reverse the Pentagon’s censorship and destruction of Guantánamo art. “This art belongs to the artists,” today’s letter reads. “Its importance to them cannot be overstated.” read the complete article

14 Oct 2022

Russian Torture and American (Selective) Memory

A recent account of Russian torture caught my eye. During the counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine liberated Balakliya, where they discovered what a Ukrainian official described as a “torture camp” fashioned from a police station. One former prisoner, who told the BBC he had been detained at the station for more than 40 days, described how the Russians used electricity in their interrogations. “They made me hold two wires. There was an electric generator. The faster it went, the higher the voltage. They said, ‘if you let it go, you are finished.’ Then they started asking questions. They said I was lying, and they started spinning it even more and the voltage increased.” Another prisoner told the BBC “she regularly heard screams from other cells.” It seems there really is nothing new under the sun: He was suspended from hooks, with his feet resting on the side of a large cylindrical drum attached to wires and a battery . . . When Mr. Habib did not give the answers his interrogators wanted, they threw a switch and a jolt of electricity went through the drum . . . The action of Mr. Habib “dancing” on the drum forced it to rotate, and his feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall . . . This ingenious cruelty lasted until Mr. Habib finally fainted. This is part of what my former client, Mamdouh Habib, described the first time I visited him at Guantánamo. Habib, who is Australian, had been one of the four petitioners in Rasul v. Bush (2004), in which the Supreme Court held that he and the other Guantánamo prisoners could challenge their detention in federal court. When I met him a few months after the decision, he told me the United States had rendered him from Pakistan to Egypt in 2002, where he was subjected to spectacular tortures, including this creative use of electricity. Another involved nudity and a German Shepherd dog. Naturally, Habib confessed. Or more properly, he signed blank pages, which the Egyptians helpfully annotated with a laundry list of supposed sins against the United States. Habib, they said, confessed to a leadership role in al-Qaeda and a prominent part in the 9/11 attacks. I wrote up what Habib told me of his rendition and torture, got it cleared by the Department of Justice, and promptly emailed it to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote a front-page article describing his mistreatment, from which this snippet is taken. That article appeared in January 2005, the same day former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales testified at his confirmation hearings to become Attorney General in the Bush White House. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin held up the Post article and asked Gonzales whether Habib’s rendition to torture had been illegal. Gonzales assured him that Habib’s account, if true, violated U.S. law. A few days later, I got a call from the Australian embassy telling me Habib would be released. A few weeks after that, I accompanied him on a flight from Guantánamo to Sydney on a sleek Gulfstream jet chartered by the Australian government. I am the only lawyer who has been allowed to accompany a client home from Guantánamo. He was never charged and has been free ever since. The United States no longer maintains he had any connection to al-Qaeda or 9/11, and has never condescended to defend its role in his torture. read the complete article

14 Oct 2022


Islamophobia is the aversion, hostility, and violence against Muslims. This prejudice involves exclusions, restrictions, discriminations, and any type of opinion or action that threatens the liberty and rights of these people. Very frequently, their religion is used as an excuse for prejudice, but the hostility comes from an animosity towards race, culture, and ethnicity. According to a research made by Gallup, Muslims don't feel respected by western countries. 48% of Muslim Americans stated that they experienced some type of racial or religious discrimination. On the other hand, 61% of Americans that state having a great deal of prejudice have none to little knowledge towards the religion. With the research and history, we are able to see that the discrimination against this group rose after 9/11, an attack made but the Islamic extremist network called Al-Qaeda, and with the internet. At the same time the internet helped this growth, it also served as a way for members of this community to speak and disseminate knowledge, helping to reduce some of the prejudice. As social media became the more efficient way to reach a large number of people, some Muslim influencers started to show their lives and educate people. Her Campus Cásper Líbero chose some of them, so you can learn more! read the complete article


14 Oct 2022

India's top court split on school ban on Muslim headscarves

Two judges on India's top court on Thursday differed over a ban on the wearing of the hijab, a headscarf used by Muslim women, in educational institutions and referred the sensitive issue to a larger bench of three or more judges to settle. Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued a split ruling after hearing petitions filed by a group of Muslims against a high court’s judgment in Karnataka state. The state court had refused to stay a government order issued in February that banned people from wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges. Karnataka State Education Minister B.C. Nagesh said Thursday the ban on wearing the hijab in educational institutions in the state would continue until the top court settled the issue of whether the Muslim headscarf is an essential religious practice in Islam. read the complete article

14 Oct 2022

Hindu mob vandalises Mosque in Gurgaon, Muslim men, women attacked

A mob of more than 200 people ransacked a mosque in Bhora Kalan village in Gurgaon, assaulting Muslims who were praying inside and threatened to expel them from the village. Though the anti-Muslim violence happened in Bhora Kalan village Wednesday night, no arrests were reported till Thursday evening. Police have registered an FIR in the incident. According to a complaint filed by Subedar Najar Mohammad, Bhora Kalan village has only four houses of Muslim families. “The ruckus began Wednesday morning, when a mob comprising about 200 people reportedly led by Rajesh Chauhan alias Babu, Anil Bhadoria, and Sanjay Vyas surrounded the mosque and entered the prayer hall where they threatened the namazis with expulsion from the village,” Mohammad said. “In the night again, when we were praying inside the prayer hall in the mosque, the mob came and assaulted the namazis and even locked the prayer hall. They also threatened to kill us,” read his complaint. “We built a small mosque in our village area in 2013 since there were no mosques at that time. Hindu society has objected since then and tried to create disruption. Every day we are threatened and asked to leave the village. When Muslims from other villages come to offer Namaz once a week, i.e., Friday, the Hindu community obstruct them and create chaos,” Shakeel, a local Muslim resident said to Maktoob. read the complete article

14 Oct 2022

Indian Muslims not part of global ‘umma’. It’s an illusion created by India’s foreign policy

The Hindu nationalist movement has never shied away from overtly expressing the nature of the potential threat arising from Indian Muslims acting in concert with forces emanating from across the broader Islamic neighbourhood. Post 9/11 and the global war on Islamic extremism, this perception has also been periodically fuelled by certain sections of the Indian media as well as the national security establishment. This pan Islamic threat is implicated in political discourses varying from separatism and terrorism to communal violence and demographic challenges. The BJP has skilfully employed this image of Indian Muslims, as privileging their extraterritorial loyalties to the global Muslim community (‘umma’) to their loyalty to the Indian nation, to drive its project of Hindu consolidation. Its success draws partly from the fact that these concerns have a long history and are deeply rooted in the Indian psyche. But this globalised image of Indian Muslims is not sociologically rooted: a function of the lived reality of Indian Muslims. A rich strand of sociological literature on Indian Muslims has consistently highlighted the prevalence of a bewildering diversities of Muslim communities. Many scholars have argued that it is impossible to even discuss Indian Muslims or Indian Islam in the singular because of these remarkable divergences in both religious aspects (observances, sects, practices) as well as socio-cultural dimensions (caste, class, language, culture). There is also scant evidence of a widespread identification with the interests and concerns of a globalised ‘umma’. The argument of certain observers of Indian foreign policy that Indian Muslims exert an organised force in the formulation of foreign policy choices is at the very least unsubstantiated by hard evidence. The surveys of electoral behaviour of Indian Muslims do not furnish any indication of foreign policy priorities playing a distinct role in the electoral choices of Muslims as compared to other communities. Similarly, the voting record of Muslim legislators in Parliament have not been marked by any significant break with the foreign policy positions of their respective parties. read the complete article


14 Oct 2022

Fact-checkers say social media companies’ inaction on multilingual fake news fuels racism, threatens democracy

Multilingual fact-checkers are fighting back against misinformation spreading via social media platforms in the lead-up to this year’s midterm elections. But as false narratives continue to thrive online despite their efforts, these groups are now calling on top social media platforms to do more in combating misinformation in languages other than English. Viet Fact Check, one of the few multilingual groups that debunk false information, has observed an uptick in falsehoods targeting Vietnamese American communities online. “There’s definitely a hyper-targeting of messaging,” said Viet Fact Check co-founder Nick Nguyen. “This is where a lack of English-language fluency can make populations vulnerable.” “The pervasive spread of mis- and disinformation exacerbates partisan disagreement, erodes trust in our democracy, stifles or prevents voter participation, and has tremendous consequences on health outcomes such as personal decisions around getting vaccinated,” read a statement on the Desifacts website. “In South Asian communities, misinformation has fueled Islamophobia and racism against other communities of color.” read the complete article

14 Oct 2022

General headscarf ban at work is OK, Europe's top court says

EU companies can ban headscarfs as long as it is a general prohibition that does not discriminate against employees, Europe's top court said on Thursday, the latest ruling on an issue that has divided Europe for years. The case concerned a Muslim woman who was told she could not wear a headscarf when she applied to do a six-week work traineeship at a Belgian company. The firm said it has a neutrality rule, meaning no head covering is allowed on its premises, whether a cap, beanie or scarf. The woman took her grievance to a Belgian court, which subsequently sought advice from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). "The internal rule of an undertaking prohibiting the visible wearing of religious, philosophical or spiritual signs does not constitute direct discrimination if it is applied to all workers in a general and undifferentiated way," judges said. The CJEU last year said that EU companies could ban employees from wearing a headscarf under certain conditions, if they needed to do so to project an image of neutrality to customers. read the complete article


14 Oct 2022

Switzerland proposes $1,000 fines for breaking ‘burqa ban’

The Swiss government has sent a draft law to parliament, seeking to fine people who violate a national ban on face coverings up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,000). The draft law, which was sent on Wednesday, follows last year’s referendum on banning face coverings. The proposed ban, also known as the “burqa ban”, was supported by 51.2 percent of voters, but was criticised at the time as Islamophobic and sexist. After consultations, the cabinet watered down calls to anchor the ban in the criminal code and fine offenders up to 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000). “The ban on covering faces aims to ensure public safety and order. Punishment is not the priority,” it said in a statement. The initiative to ban facial coverings was launched by the Egerkinger Komitee, a group including politicians of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, which says it organises “resistance against the claims to power of political Islam in Switzerland”. The bill does not name burqas or niqabs, but prohibits people from concealing their faces in public spaces like public transportation, restaurants or walking in the street, specifying that the eyes, nose and mouth must be visible. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Oct 2022 Edition


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