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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29 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities have arrested seven Muslim youths for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a cricket match on Sunday, meanwhile legal experts express concern over a new “Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit” released earlier this month by the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), noting that it “fails to take seriously the adverse human rights effects of watchlisting and its potential to exacerbate discrimination against Muslims and others targeted as ‘risky,'” and in Canada, the city of Edmonton has witnessed a rash of physical and verbal attacks, allegedly motivated by hate, the majority against Muslim women in this past year. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannan Adely for on the long-lasting impact of the sweeping arrests and wrongful detentions of Muslim Americans following 9/11, which devastated many families and struck fear within Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities in the country. This and more below:

United States

29 Oct 2021

'He lost everything.' Muslims whose lives were upended by 9/11 detainment want justice | Recommended Read

Umair Anser came home from middle school on Oct. 3, 2001, and found his house in Bayonne torn apart after some 20 federal agents had swept in to question his parents. His father, Anser Mehmood, was one of 1,200 Muslim men detained in the anxious weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Pakistani immigrant believed he would return home after the agents cleared him of any link to terrorism. Instead, he was held at a maximum-security federal detention center in Brooklyn for seven months — four of them in solitary confinement — before his transfer to the Passaic County Jail in Paterson and eventual deportation. When his family was able to visit, they were shocked. “He was in chains,” Anser, now 33, said of his father. “He was treated like a terrorist, and he was confused because he didn’t know what was going on.” The sweeping arrests did not lead to any terrorism convictions but did succeed in striking fear within Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities in the United States. In some cases, families did not know where their loved ones were for weeks. Some detainees were subjected to solitary confinement and reported abuse in jail. Their detentions upended lives and careers and left families without income. Two decades after 9/11, detainees and their families are calling for the government to acknowledge harm and mistreatment. Their advocates — people who fought for their release and launched court battles in their defense — say accountability also means dismantling the powers and policies that allowed for religious and ethnic profiling, unwarranted surveillance and wrongful detentions. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Report: 56% of Muslim Students in California Feel Unsafe in Their Schools

Survey of Islamic Students in California by Council on American-Islamic Relations We found that 56% of respondents felt unsafe, unwelcome, or uncomfortable at school because of their religious identity. A survey of 708 students aged 11 to 18 found that reports of incidents before the start of pandemics and distance learning were even higher, at 47%, but 26% were bullied in the past year. Almost one in four respondents reported that school teachers, managers, or other adults made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims. “Islamic students continue to face high levels of Islamophobia bullying at school,” said Hussum Ayloush, CEO of the California branch of the national organization. “It’s worrisome that almost one of the three female respondents wearing the hijab reported pulling, pulling, or feeling uncomfortable with the hijab.” “As students resume face-to-face learning, the school district needs to take proactive steps in these first months to ensure a state-wide learning environment free of hostility and discrimination against Muslims," He added. Tazheen Nizam, Associate Executive Director CAIR San Diego Branch encourages county school managers and teachers to contact her organization to help fight Islamophobia at school. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Facing Up to the Racist Legacy of America’s Immigration Laws

The searing images of Border Patrol agents on horseback charging at unarmed Haitian men and women shocked many Americans last month, including President Joe Biden. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, “He believes the footage and photos are horrific. They don’t represent who we are as a country.” Many Democrats made the same argument during the Trump administration, condemning a series of harsh anti-immigrant policies, from the Muslim ban to the separation of children from their families, as “not who we are” and “not what America represents.” And yet despite promises made on the campaign trail, the Biden administration has been surprisingly slow to unwind the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration. Mr. Biden has kept the public health law Title 42 in place, which allows for the swift expulsion of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also presided over the lowest number of refugees admitted to the United States since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980 — a total of only 11,445 refugees in the 2021 budget year. The truth is that the mass deportation of nonwhite people and immigration bans based on nationality, religion or race are quintessentially American. From the beginning, the United States was built on the dual foundation of open immigration for whites from Northern Europe and racial subordination and exclusion of enslaved people from Africa, Native Americans and, eventually, immigrants from other parts of the world. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Texas shocked by killing of Muslim motorist who pulled into man’s driveway

Controversial laws in Texas that can effectively allow homeowners to kill people coming on to their property are to be thrown into the spotlight after the shocking case of a Moroccan man who was shot dead after pulling over in the driveway of a San Antonio-area house, possibly because he was lost. Adil Dghoughi, 31, was killed earlier this month by the homeowner Terry Turner, who has been charged with murder. Turner’s lawyers say they will defend their client under the rubric of Texas’s stand-your-ground law and castle doctrine that allows homeowners to use deadly force against someone on their property if theactions are seen as immediately necessary. Dghoughi, a Muslim who immigrated to the US in 2013 and studied finance, had borrowed the Audi of his girlfriend, Sarah Todd, after a barbecue in Converse, a town just outside San Antonio. On the way back home, he stopped and pulled over in Turner’s neighborhood in Martindale, a city about 30 miles south of San Antonio. Dghoughi’s family and girlfriend believe he was possibly lost in an unfamiliar town and was checking for directions. According to the affidavit provided to a Texas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), it was 3.30am when Turner got up to use the bathroom and noticed a car parked in his driveway. Turner, documents say, retrieved his gun, and when he came outside, the car Dghoughi was driving had its headlights on and was reversing out of the driveway. Turner shot Dghoughi through the car window as he was leaving, and the bullet hit his hand and his head. Turner then called 911 and said: “I just killed a guy." read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Guantanamo prisoner gives court first account of abuse at CIA 'black sites'

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner who went through the brutal U.S. government interrogation program after the 9/11 attacks described it openly for the first time Thursday, saying he was left terrified and hallucinating from techniques that the CIA long sought to keep secret. Majid Khan, a former resident of the Baltimore suburbs who became an Al Qaeda courier, told jurors considering his sentence for war crimes how he was subjected to days of painful abuse in the clandestine CIA facilities known as “black sites,” as interrogators pressed him for information. It was the first time any of the so-called high value detainees held at the U.S. base in Cuba have been able to testify about what the U.S has euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation” but has been widely condemned as torture. “I thought I was going to die,” he said. Khan spoke of being suspended naked from a ceiling beam for long periods, doused repeatedly with ice water to keep him awake for days. He described having his head held under water to the point of near drowning, only to have water poured into his nose and mouth when the interrogators let him up. He was beaten, given forced enemas, sexually assaulted and starved in overseas prisons whose locations were not disclosed. “I would beg them to stop and swear to them that I didn’t know anything,” he said. “If I had intelligence to give I would have given it already but I didn’t have anything to give.” Khan, reading from a 39-page statement, spoke on the first day in what is expected to be a two-day sentencing hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba. A panel of military officers selected by a Pentagon legal official known as a convening authority can sentence Khan to between 25 and 40 years in prison, but he will serve far less because of his extensive cooperation with U.S. authorities. read the complete article


29 Oct 2021

Watchlisting the World: Digital Security Infrastructures, Informal Law, and the “Global War on Terror”

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), an informal global governance body created in 2011 by the United States and Turkey, with 28 other members, to establish security policy guidelines and recommendations, adopted its Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit earlier this month. The toolkit is a “best practice” document to assist states to build and implement watchlists and databases of “known and suspected terrorists” (KSTs) and “foreign terrorist fighters” (FTFs). The initiative arose in response to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017), which requires states to develop watchlists or databases (at para. 13), and the GCTF’s own desire “to follow up on these developments and … further expand the guidelines” for watchlisting to assist states in their implementation efforts (Toolkit, page. 6). The toolkit initiative was co-led by the United States and the U.N. Office of Counterterrorism, drawing from virtual workshops undertaken in 2020-21 with invited representatives from states and regional and international organizations, academia, and civil society. Unfortunately, the toolkit is a particularly troubling example of informal international lawmaking and purportedly pre-emptive security governance. It does not question or even outline a need for watchlists in the absolute, let alone a globalized infrastructure. It fails to take seriously the adverse human rights effects of watchlisting and its potential to exacerbate discrimination against Muslims and others targeted as “risky.” It lays the groundwork for a globally interconnected watchlisting infrastructure using biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics to spot “unknown” terrorists, but ignores the complexities that AI governance poses. And it uncritically exports the flawed U.S. watchlisting system as a standard for the rest of the world to follow, without recognition of its serious problems. Furthermore, the process by which this toolkit was produced through the GCTF was extremely problematic. The United States and the U.N. Office of Counterterrorism ultimately ignored critical insights and suggestions that had been made by human rights bodies, civil society organizations (CSOs), academics, and states throughout the toolkit construction process. Instead, they produced a document very much shaped in their own image yet presented as the fruit of global consensus. This toolkit shows how informal governance forums like the GCTF allow powerful states to set global standards on highly contentious security issues with little debate, reproducing hegemonic power relations. And it offers a troubling blueprint for an expansive global watchlisting architecture that will likely further harm people, erode human rights protections, deepen algorithmic injustices, and expand discrimination in the so-called global war on terror. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Afghanistan: the west needs to stop seeing women as in need of ‘saving’

The west has long had a fascination with “saving” Afghan women – a theme we have seen in many media reports since August when Kabul fell to Taliban forces. It was a narrative which was also front and centre in 2001 when the administration of US president George W Bush launched the “war on terror” and the invasion of Afghanistan, with his wife Laura claiming that “the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. But while it is true that Afghan women faced violent injustices under the Taliban rule, it is important to analyse the misrepresentations that have accompanied this “saviour” narrative. Ironically, this message has found common cause on both sides of the political spectrum, and has even been a rare example of the language of feminism and the language of colonialism coming together to say essentially the same thing. In this way, the Afghan woman has come to represent the opposite of what the west sees as its defining virtues in that she is represented as backward and powerless. The problem with this white saviour narrative is that it is laden with the same orientalist civilising rationales. It’s an age-old fantasy that was used to justify colonial wars – a classic example is Lord Cromer’s condemnation of the way Islam treated women when Britain colonised Egypt in the 19th century. This sort of thinking continues to foster the idea that war can both free Muslim women from their oppressive menfolk and liberate the west from Islamic terrorism. Yet, when women were assaulted by the US-backed Afghan government and Afghan warlords before the Taliban’s takeover, the international community remained silent. And, while the far right often expresses xenophobic and discriminatory positions against Muslims, some groups have been quick to piggyback on the Taliban takeover to promote their own anti-woman and anti-liberal agenda. Within these debates – and for both the far right and fundamentalists – women are represented in several different and important ways. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

Why is Israel labelling Palestinian rights groups ‘terrorists’?

On October 22, Israel designated six prominent civil society and human rights groups in Palestine as “terrorist” organisations. The designation was widely condemned by the international community and rights groups as “unjustified” and “baseless”. Five of the organisations are Palestinian: Addameer Prisoners’ Rights group; Al-Haq rights group; the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC); the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC); and the Bisan Center for Research and Development. The sixth is the Palestine chapter of the Geneva-based Defence for Children International organisation. Some of the organisations conduct critical human rights work – including documenting Israeli human rights abuses, providing legal aid to detainees, conducting local and international advocacy, and working with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations. The designation “authorises Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities,” according to a statement by rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Members of designated “terrorist” organisations can be criminally charged for their membership in or affiliation with the group. On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet described the decision as an “attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation, and should be immediately revoked”. “Counter-terrorism legislation must not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work,” Bachelet said, adding that the groups “face far-reaching consequences as a result of this arbitrary decision, as do the people who fund them and work with them.” read the complete article


29 Oct 2021

Indian police arrest seven for ‘celebrating’ Pakistan cricket win

Indian police have arrested seven Muslim youths for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a cricket match on Sunday. Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a senior Bharatiya Janata party figure, said in a tweet that the three may be charged with sedition, on top of the charges of cyberterrorism and “promoting enmity among groups” that police accused them of after the arrests on Wednesday. Another leading BJP politician, federal cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh, told NDTV news channel that Uttar Pradesh police would take the strictest possible action against anyone for exulting in India’s defeat in Sunday’s T20 World Cup cricket game in Dubai. Three of the youths, Arsheed Yousuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai, are engineering students at Raja Balwant Singh College in Agra and are from Kashmir. They are also accused of posting messages on social media supporting Pakistan. The college has suspended them. The issue of some Indian Muslims cheering and clapping whenever Pakistan defeats India in a cricket match has been a bone of contention for decades. BJP supporters and Hindu nationalists attack such behaviour as disloyalty or treason. Liberals reject this, saying Indians should be free to support whoever they wish in cricket or any other sphere of life, and accuse Hindu extremists of exaggerating accusations in an attempt to smear Muslims. read the complete article

29 Oct 2021

The Indian Government is Fuelling Anti-Hindu Violence in Bangladesh

Muslims in the north-eastern Indian state of Tripura, which shares a border with Bangladesh, have been under attack from radicalised Hindu nationalists for seven consecutive days, resulting in the fiery destruction of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses and homes, along with the displacement of hundreds of families. Several Muslim women filed police complaints, alleging that they had been sexually assaulted by right-wing Hindu men. The violence erupted after right-wing groups, including militant Hindutva organisations Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), held a series of rallies across the state last Tuesday to protest against recent attacks on the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh. Whereas attacks against Hindus by Muslims in Bangladesh have received around-the-clock coverage from mainstream Indian media outlets, along with statements of condemnation from the country’s political leaders, the past week’s non-stop violence against Muslims by Hindus in Tripura has been completely ignored – thus affirming suspicions that anti-Muslim violence enjoys the tacit approval of the Indian Government. This is particularly the case because Narendra Modi’s BJP administration has the power to stop and prevent these attacks against Muslims in Tripura but has not. The violence comes barely three weeks after Indian security forces carried out a violent forced eviction drive against Muslim migrants in nearby Assam, whom members of the Indian Government – including the Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah – stigmatise as ‘foreign invaders’ and ‘Bengalis’. Indian National Congress, the country’s key opposition party, has condemned the Government’s inaction and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, tweeting: “After Assam and Mizoram, now Tripura burns with violence and hate. The BJP is failing the people of the north-east… we urge the Government to take action.” read the complete article


29 Oct 2021

Why are Muslim women in Edmonton being attacked? Details reveal a complicated history

In the past year, Edmonton has witnessed a rash of physical and verbal attacks, allegedly motivated by hate, the majority against Muslim women. Something about Edmonton’s history, mixed with its physical and psychic makeup, brought these attackers and these victims together in the midst of a global health crisis, with tragic and terrifying results. In the past year, Edmonton has witnessed a rash of hate attacks, most of them targeting Muslim women. In a span of six months, at least nine attacks were reported to police, seven of which resulted in criminal charges. They happened in parking lots, on the road, on the transit system and along pathways. After a particularly shocking assault in St. Albert, hundreds rallied in Edmonton’s Churchill Square to condemn the violence. Newly-elected mayor Amarjeet Sohi says the problem is his “top priority.” In all but two of the cases that resulted in charges, the accused people were homeless or of no fixed address. The three defendants in those cases are Indigenous and were dealing with mental health issues, addictions, and — in at least two cases — the traumatic legacies of residential schools. Something about Edmonton’s history, mixed with its physical and psychic makeup, brought these attackers and these victims together in the midst of a global pandemic, with tragic and terrifying results. read the complete article


29 Oct 2021

'I've been spat at.' The terrifying reality for Muslim women in Australia.

"I applied for a job with two exact same resumés, but changed one with the name Mohamed to an Anglo-Saxon name ... I got a callback and interview with the Anglo-Saxon name ..." These are the words of a consultation participant interviewed for the Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims Report 2021 by the Australian Human Rights Commission. These sentiments along with the countless others documented echo the incidents that have been reported to us at the Islamophobia Register Australia since I founded the organisation in 2014. I remember logging into my emails on a daily basis and seeing a barrage of reports come through. In the case of physical incidents - the vast majority of the victims were women. Women just like me - who once upon a time, wore a headscarf and were visibly Muslim. Women who would be targeted even if they were in the presence of their children. In fact, the most heartbreaking experiences I’d hear about would be from mothers who were particularly concerned about their children witnessing the incidents and not knowing how to process it. Imagine growing up in the climate of the ‘war on terror’, seeing your community plastered negatively all over the news on a regular basis, your mother verbally abused and told to ‘go back to where she came from’ and your father racially profiled because of the length of his facial hair. I’d read incidents of them being spat on while they walked through Central train station in Sydney or verbally harassed whilst holidaying at The Entrance in the Central Coast or abused whilst waiting in line at their local Coles in Northern Queensland. While women who were physically assaulted (and there’s many of these unfortunately) saw the rationale in reporting the attacks to authorities, women who were verbally abused, targeted, spat on, mistreated and encountered discriminatory practices were most likely to ignore the regular micro-aggressions as they were so insidious and so much more common. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Oct 2021 Edition


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