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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18 Oct 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, seven former Guantánamo prisoners—and one still held indefinitely at the detention center—have published an open letter asking President Biden to “reverse a Trump-era ruling that art made in the facility belongs to the government, not to the artist who made it,” meanwhile in India, the recommendation to free the men who raped Bilkis Bano was made by an advisory panel appointed by the Gujarat government, led by Narendra Modi’s BJP, and in the United Kingdom, a recent investigation found that the “military failed to prosecute 94% of complaints it received in relation to mistreatment of civilians during the height of the war in Afghanistan.” Our recommended read of the day is by Rana Ayyub for The Washington Post on how anti-Muslim hatred and violence is rising in India, as Hindu nationalists feel empowered and protected under the right-wing government of PM Narendra Modi. This and more below:


The world continues to ignore the radicalization of India | Recommended Read

The court’s decision ended up showing just how polarized India’s religious landscape has become. One of the judges on the panel declared wearing headscarves a matter of personal choice; the other essentially dismissed the problem, saying that the hijab was not “essential” to Islam. But India’s Muslims can’t simply act as if the issue doesn’t exist. Muslim girls in India are fighting — just like their counterparts in Iran — for their fundamental right to dress and live on their own terms. Many Muslim girls were barred from entering school premises or sitting for exams when they insisted on wearing the hijab, which they believe is a fundamental right. These women believe that the general attack on the hijab is merely a pretext — part of the wider assault on every aspect of the Muslim identity. On the streets of India today, Hindu nationalists have been seen brandishing swords and chanting provocative slogans outside mosques. Videos shared on social media of mob attacks on Muslims are far too common. And Muslim students and activists have seen their houses demolished by state officials without due process, clearly as retribution for speaking up against atrocities. The news organization Scroll recently reported that many Muslims are leaving India due to “rising majoritarianism.” read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

Her rapists were sentenced to life in prison. Now they’re free, and she’s in hiding

In reality, they were part of a 2002 Hindu mob who had just been released after serving 14 years of life sentences for one of the most heinous crimes in India’s recent history. Since their release in August – on India’s Independence Day – the men have scattered across the country. But there’s one person who can never escape the repercussions of the attack 20 years ago – Bilkis Bano, who was just 21 years old and pregnant when she was gang-raped by a mob that killed 14 of her family members, including her 3-year-old daughter. The recommendation to free the men was made by an advisory panel appointed by the Gujarat government, led by Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Critics say the decision was tainted by politics, misogyny and religious discrimination, and exposes what they see as the hypocrisy of BJP leaders who claim to support gender equality and women’s rights. Some lawmakers and activists have petitioned the Supreme Court for the men to be rearrested. National president of the BJP’s women’s wing Vanathi Srinivasan said the Gujarat government followed the law. “They were not released for political reasons,” she said, according to PTI. However, in videotaped comments, CK Raulji, a BJP state legislator and member of the panel that recommended the release, suggested caste may have had something to do with it. “They are good people – Brahmins. And Brahmins are known to have good ‘sanskaar’ (morals). It might have been someone’s ill intention to corner and punish them,” he said, independent news site Mojo Story reported. Though the caste system has long been outlawed in India, the traditional system of social hierarchy holds Hindu Brahmins above other castes – and especially above Muslims. read the complete article

United States

18 Oct 2022

Muslims removed from 'no-fly list' after filing lawsuits

Muslims who challenged the constitutionality of the "no-fly list" were removed from it after they sued the government, prompting concerns that the programme wants to evade legal scrutiny. “The government removes people from their secret lists only when they fear that a court might impose restraint on their lawlessness,” Gadeir Abbas, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), told the Washington Post. “If the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has its way, delisting a person will become a kind of cheat code the federal government can use to deny people their day in court.” The no-fly list is a small subset of the US government Terrorist Screening Database, which is also known as the terrorist watchlist. The list is said to contain identifying information of “known or suspected terrorists”. The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains the database. In 2015, the US Justice Department said Americans could find out whether or not their names appear on the list. As part of a lawsuit filed in Oregon by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that the "government’s lack of effective procedures for people to challenge their inclusion on the controversial list was unconstitutional", the Post reported. Since September 11, hundreds of Muslims have been placed on this list. Cair has seen eight such cases of those who were removed from the list once they sued the federal government - making it impossible for the court to hear their concerns. read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

‘Shamefully Cruel’: A Curator Speaks Out as Guantánamo Detainees Petition to Keep the U.S. Government From Taking Their Art

Seven former Guantánamo prisoners—and one still held indefinitely at the Cuba-based detention center due to legal entanglements—have published an open letter asking U.S. president Joe Biden to reverse a Trump-era ruling that art made in the facility belongs to the government, not to the artist who made it. Barack Obama made art supplies and classes part of prison life in 2010, allowing detainees to create art (despite failing in his campaign promise to close the controversial center on Cuba’s coast). “No longer did we have to hide our writings, paintings, poems, and songs—which had meant hiding parts of ourselves,” their letter reads. “Art was our way to heal ourselves, to escape the feeling of being imprisoned and free ourselves, just for a little while.” In October 2017, John Jay College professor Erin Thompson curated “Ode to the Sea,” a show of artworks made by Guantánamo detainees. At the time, she told the Guardian that the show was a way of “showing that indefinite detention harms detainees and the people working in the prison.” Over 30 works were available for purchase through detainees’ lawyers. Some observers responded with outrage to that show, seeing it as celebrating potential terrorists; others argued creative expression was a human right. In November 2017, the Department of Defense chimed in and made all art in the prison a prisoner too. Nothing could leave. “I was horrified,” Thompson recalled in an email to Artnet News following the new letter’s publication. “The artists were happy that they had finally gotten an opportunity to show American audiences they were human beings, not the monsters the authorities had claimed. Suddenly, that door to communication was slammed shut.” read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

Fighting Guantanamo: On Challenging the Illegal Treatment of Prisoners Captured in the American War on Terror

Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now. In this episode, Andrew is joined by Lisa Hajjar, author of The War in Court:Inside the Long Fight against Torture. read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

The Biden Drone Playbook: The Elusive Promise of Restrained Counterterrorism

In an anonymously sourced article that has all the markings of an officially sanctioned story, the New York Times’ Charlie Savage reports that President Joe Biden has recently approved a new policy on counterterrorism direct action (i.e., drone strikes and commando raids) that appears to largely roll back the Trump-era policies to the 2013 Obama administration standards. The return to more restrictive standards is welcome and overdue, especially in light of Biden’s campaign commitments to end the Forever War. And in many ways, the Obama-era guidance is better suited to contemporary conflicts than the counterterrorism campaign for which it was written. Yet the new policy leaves much necessary business undone. How the administration interprets key legal and policy concepts around direct action compared to international allies remains hotly disputed. The faithful execution of the policy by the military – particularly how it seeks to prevent civilian casualties and how it investigates civilian casualty incidents – requires much more work. The transparency agenda is stalled, and much of the “war on terror” remains shrouded in secrecy. And more must be done to actually institutionalize the administration’s policies so as to prevent the next administration from merely rolling back the new standards. read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

Colorado 3rd Congressional District: Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert

GOP incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert, whose support of the 2nd amendment and Trump-like social media presence propelled her into the House of Representatives two years ago, is running for reelection as a no-compromises conservative. From vowing to carry her handgun on Capitol Hill to Islamophobic comments about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, to heckling the president during the State of the Union, Boebert’s controversial actions have rapidly made her the highest profile member of Colorado’s congressional delegation. She goes into her first reelection campaign in a strong position: an incumbent with national name recognition and just under $2 million in campaign cash on hand in the last six weeks before the election. Boebert easily beat back a primary challenge from Republican state Sen. Don Coram, and now faces Democrat Adam Frisch in the general election to represent the 3rd congressional district. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 Oct 2022

Was Justice a Victim of the War in Afghanistan?

The ‘War on Terror’ was promised to deliver democracy against tyranny – a two-decade-long response to 9/11. But what happens if, infighting for it, the democratic process itself became a victim? This question has been raised in a recent investigation into the UK’s military actions in Afghanistan – one that raises major concerns. Could a failure to impose the rule of law following allegations of abuses by British troops have undermined the very mission they were sent to accomplish? The revelation is that the UK military failed to prosecute 94% of complaints it received in relation to mistreatment of civilians during the height of fighting in Afghanistan. The analysis, undertaken by the London-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), goes to the heart of whether democracy could ever have been exported down the barrel of a gun. During the vicious combat that defined the war in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, there were 115 cases where the Royal Military Police (RMP) were made aware of substantial allegations that Afghan civilians had been allegedly mistreated by British troops. These were 115 accusations that were serious enough to merit an investigation, at least. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request, however, shows that the vast majority of these cases were dismissed out of hand. read the complete article

18 Oct 2022

Islamophobia and the liberation of living in the margins

British Muslims often see an uglier face to society. While bigotry and prejudice are in themselves violent and irrational positions, this is intensified for Muslims, who are often considered willingly and actively foreign; some people believe we assume the role of ‘other’ and undesirable by choice, and therefore anti-Muslim views are given a hue of legitimacy and validity. And this is before any additional stereotypes borne from orientalism and a nebulous War on Terror project themselves onto the empty signifier of the Muslim identity. The conceptual Muslim will take on the colour of prevailing social anxieties, serving as a scapegoat from the discomfort of more challenging questions regarding their values and norms. The Muslim as terrorist trope serves to deflect from the existential crisis facing Western imperialism. The Muslim as stateless distracts from questions of citizenship, identity and belonging at a time where public disquiet around national borders and identity is most frantic. For those of us that are forced into the role of this contrived ‘other’, the development of that image in our consciousness is a slow and drawn out process. We come to a gradual realisation that our sense of self is incongruous to outside perceptions of us, and that reckoning between what we are and how we are perceived can initially be unsettling. The recent announcement that John Cleese has joined the rabidly right-wing GB News reminds me once again how social and cultural shifts make seismic impacts on our sense of belonging and identity. While this news might be sobering to some lovers of Monty Python, for minority ethnicity groups for whom these media narratives debate their very right to exist, it always feels more personal. read the complete article


18 Oct 2022

‘Isolated Incident’ examines anti-Muslim hate

The opening pages of Mariam Pirbhai’s novel start off with what has become sadly all too familiar — an attack on a mosque. A mosque in the Greater Toronto Area is plastered with hate graffiti, a threatening letter is left by vandals, and the attack becomes another isolated incident. But a central character, Kashif Siddiqui, calls it what it is — a hate crime. “Isolated Incident” is Pirbhai’s first novel and her second work of fiction in which she explores how incidents of hate accumulate and become a pattern of violence. It also shows what it’s like for a community to experience that kind of religious intolerance in their everyday lives. “Everything, however minor, is part of this larger sort of culture, of this larger form of anti-Muslim sentiment,” said Pirbhai, a Wilfrid Laurier University English and film professor, in an interview this week. When examples of hate occur such as graffiti on mosques, the one event becomes an incident and the injustice is downplayed, she said. “We simply relegate things to an isolated incident affecting a minor community,” said Pirbhai, 52, who wanted to write a novel because Canadian Muslims are under-represented in Canadian literature. Pirbhai said she was inspired to write the novel after the shooting massacre in Quebec five years ago. read the complete article


18 Oct 2022

The Right to Choose

It’s hard to think of a more glaring visual indicator of being Muslim. If there is ever any Islamophobia around, I am its obvious walking target. There is no more blatant evidence of my beliefs than my hijab — and I could not be more proud of my continual choice, morning after morning, to put it on. I am used to the questions tied to my choice. I grew up in the South, where I was no stranger to the well-meaning “Aren’t you hot in that?” and “If your parents are making you wear it, you can take it off while they’re not here.” I’m lucky that these comments have never fazed me, and I know exactly why: My hijab has always been my choice. It is hard to convey the gravity of privilege that allows me to say that. I live in a country that has never, at least legally, asked me to take it off — see: France’s anti-separatism bill banning students from wearing hijab. Conversely, the U.S. has also never asked me to put it on — see: Iran’s hijab laws and morality police, under which, most recently, Mahsa Amini was detained and died in custody. Amini’s death has sparked global outrage over the past month, from women burning their headscarves during feverish protests in Iran, to women an ocean away in Boston, cutting their hair on the Harvard Bridge in a show of solidarity. Western government officials have released statements and sanctions. Amini’s death and the resulting outrage have flooded all kinds of media outlets, from our personal social media feeds to global newspapers.I find it incredibly inspiring to see the outpouring of support against this clear transgression of rights. I was personally touched by the number of peers that I saw being so vocal on the issue on social media and beyond. That is, until I came across some of them sharing the hashtag #freedomfromhijab. Statements like these are counterintuitive. What are we truly fighting against — the hijab, or restrictions on one’s right to choose? read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Oct 2022 Edition


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