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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05 Oct 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, the country’s COVID-19 restrictions have disproportionately impacted communities of color and given the far-right a boost, meanwhile an ex-detective turned whistleblower sat down with CNN to reveal rare details on what he described as a systematic campaign of torture against ethnic Uyghurs in China’s detention camps, and Poland has said it will summon the British ambassador to explain why far-right, anti-Muslim, and antisemitic agitator Rafal Ziemkiewicz was denied entrance to the UK. Our recommended read of the day is by Debasish Roy Chowdhury for TIME on how the ruling-BJP continues polarizing Hindu voters against Muslims, and “spinning ever more outrageous campaigns to demonize Muslims” in order to keep winning elections. This and more below:


05 Oct 2021

Is India Headed for an Anti-Muslim Genocide? | Recommended Read

Baniya is merely the latest face of India’s state-driven Hindu radicalization. In a country where 84% of the population is Hindu, and just 14% Muslim, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved the astonishing feat of creating a deep sense of Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of Muslims via disinformation, hate speech, opening old religious wounds, manipulating a servile media, silencing progressive voices, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. “Hindu khatre mein hain” (Hindus are in danger) is a right-wing refrain that resonates deeply today. As a result, many Hindus have now been persuaded to believe that India’s biggest problem is its Muslims. Before Modi took over in 2014, most citizens thought their chief concerns were poverty, insufficient economic growth and corruption. He rode to power on the promise to fix all that. But as the economy has continued to worsen, and unemployment and poverty have risen under him, the BJP has increasingly fallen back on supremacist politics to deflect attention and evade responsibility. To keep winning elections, it needs to keep polarizing Hindu voters against Muslims, and spinning ever more outrageous campaigns to demonize Muslims. Muslims apparently lust after Hindu women, procreating rapidly with the aim of overtaking the Hindu population and establishing an Islamic state, and necessitating new laws against “love jihad.” Similar regulations against religious conversions and the slaughter of cows, which are sacred to Hindus, have encouraged vigilantism. Muslim hawkers and workers have come under increasing attack from Hindu supremacist groups calling for a boycott of Muslim businesses. Indian social media today is filled with videos of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism calling for the lynching of Muslims—an act so common that it hardly makes news anymore. High-profile Hindu supremacists are seldom booked for hate speech. Muslims routinely face random attacks for such “crimes” as transporting cattle or being in the company of Hindu women. Sometimes, the provocation is simply that somebody is visibly Muslim. As Modi himself has told election rallies, people “creating violence” can be “identified by their clothes.” read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

The dystopic reality of a Hindutva state

In a recent taunt against Muslims, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath railed against “people who say abba jaan”, falsely claiming that earlier governments provided them alone with subsidised rations while depriving others of the same. He wears his hatred of Muslims, his bigotry, intolerance of dissent, and impatience with constitutional niceties as badges of honour. The State he helms has veered dangerously far from the inclusive, free and egalitarian guarantees of the Constitution. He also raged about alleged “shameless” sympathisers of the Taliban in India. The irony — surely unintended — is that his administration mirrors some of the religious intolerance and encouragement of violence that are hallmarks of the Taliban. read the complete article


05 Oct 2021

Racist Calgary mayoral candidate gets 18 months' jail time for violating Ontario judge's hate speech order

Kevin J. Johnston has been sentenced to 18 months behind bars for publicly branding Mohamad Fakih a "terrorist" and a "baby killer" after being ordered to stop defaming the Paramount Fine Foods owner two years ago. The sentence comes after Johnston was charged earlier this year with contempt for continuing to make racist, defamatory statements about Fakih, a Toronto restaurateur and philanthropist, despite an injunction by an Ontario judge in 2019 to stop. At the time, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson ordered Johnston to pay $2.5 million for defamatory comments against Fakih in a series of videos and posts on his website starting in July 2017. Ferguson said in her ruling Johnston exhibited "hate speech at its worst, targeting people solely because of their religion." Justice Fred Myers said Monday that Johnston was not being sentenced for his political views but for six separate acts of contempt against court. Myers sentenced Johnston to three consecutive months per act, to begin after he is legally allowed back in Ontario, starting Jan. 4, 2022. "Mr. Johnston's words are classic hate speech," Myers said. "They draw on tropes to assign negative characteristics based on ugly stereotypes like branding Muslims as terrorists, for example." "If Mr. Johnston does not see himself appealing to a very ugly and increasingly emboldened slice of society, he's the only one," Myers continued. "He says that he's been painted as a bad person by the liberal media … If Mr. Johnston's portrait has been painted, he supplied the paint." read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

Canadian Muslims have given Justin Trudeau a mandate to eliminate Islamophobia

Following the 2019 federal election, Canada’s Muslim community outlined four priorities that the Liberal government should address immediately: the rise in Islamophobia, Bill 21 in Quebec, Islamophobia’s presence in Canada’s national security regime, and a foreign policy committed to speaking out against human rights violations. Progress has been made, such as the addition of right-wing extremist groups to Canada’s terror lists. The attacks on the Afzaal family in London and on Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside an Etobicoke mosque, on the other hand, underlined the need for stronger action. In reaction to the rise of anti-Muslim hate, the Liberal government convened the July National Action Summit Against Islamophobia shortly before the federal election. Many community organizations submitted recommendations with the expectation that the government would take concrete action. The government listened intently to people’s lived experiences and demands for reform, but only a few first steps were proposed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a strong message: “There’s no question that there is work to be done within government to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia. Because from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to security agencies, institutions should support people, not target them. We hear that.” If anything, the July summit meeting successfully established the mandate of Canada’s newly elected government to combat Islamophobia, giving the Liberal party a second chance to get this right. Systemic Islamophobia in government institutions is among the most serious aspects of anti-Muslim hate. Hatred and violence against Muslims will never be eradicated as long as anti-Muslim sentiment persists inside our agencies and institutions. read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

Quebec City mayoral candidate calls Islam 'a cancer that is slowly growing inside Quebec society'

A candidate for mayor in Quebec City is pointing the finger at a Muslim man running for council, insisting he is an example of the gradual Islamization of Quebec City. Alliance Citoyenne Quebec (ACQ) mayoral candidate Alain Giasson says he thinks Boufeldja Benabdallah, who is running in the Cap-aux-Diamants district, is promoting the Islamization of the provincial capital. In response, Benabdallah points out he has no intention of imposing his religion on anyone. "He does not intend to turn his back to his religion, but neither will he impose his point of view," reads a statement from Benabdallah's campaign. Benabdallah's name on mayoral candidate Marie-Josée Savard's team led Giasson to include the following on his party platform: "Islam is contrary to fundamental Quebec values. Islam is a cancer that is slowly growing inside Quebec society." "The trigger was the fact that the co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec (Benabdallah) is up for election," Giasson told CTV News. "His whole adult life in Quebec City, he has worked very publicly for the Islamization of Quebec. They're taking steps and making decisions that favours the Islamization of Quebec society." Banabdallah says the ACQ leader is mistaken about his point of view, and a complaint is reported to have been lodged with Elections Quebec. read the complete article


05 Oct 2021

Guantanamo bay and the legacy of global “War on Terror”

Since its formation in January 2002, a few months after the September 11 attacks in 2001, a total of 779 detainees have been kept at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Most of them were citizens of different Arab and Muslim majority countries in Asia and Africa but some of them were also US citizens. Most of them were illegally arrested on mere suspicion of their involvement in vaguely defined “terrorist activities” and illegally deported after being tortured first at various local facilities, called the “black sites” similar to Guantanamo. When at Guantanamo Bay, these detainees were tortured again, some of them even sexually abused in an attempt to force them to admit “crimes” or give information with no legal aid available and beyond any possibility of public scrutiny. When some of the hundreds of detainees of the Gitmo tried to use rights provided to them by the American Constitution and the international law and file petitions to US courts seeking proper trial, the courts rejected most of them virtually saying Guantanamo Bay is a lawless territory. The US courts’ reluctance to intervene indicates the typical characteristic of the state and legal system during the so-called global War of Terror. Meanwhile, the popularly elected US congress has guarded and strengthened the US government’s impunity. By allowing Gitmo’s existence US elected officials and citizens have created an all-powerful state that can and has violated all established norms of individual freedom and dignity assured under international human rights laws and long-cherished by themselves. Guantanamo Bay is not an exception though. The George Bush administration created several detention centers and prisons similar to it across the world using the heightened and hysteric popular emotions following the September 11 attacks. For example, following its invasion in 2001 the US created Parwan or Bargam in Afghanistan and after a similar invasion in 2003, Abu Ghraib was created in Iraq. In all of them, hundreds were detained — illegally. Most were tortured to force them to confess their involvement in crimes they likely did not commit or give information which they may not have had. Many other such ‘facilities’ were used as holding centers for the victims of rendition before they were transferred to one of the above mentioned detention centers, including Guantanamo Bay. read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

"You cannot rely on the West"

Twenty years ago, U.S. troops marched into Afghanistan to crush the Taliban. The Islamists gave refuge to the terrorist militia al-Qaida, which attacked the United States in September 2001. Now the Taliban are celebrating their victory in Afghanistan. Why did the Americans withdraw so surprisingly? H.A. Hellyer: The hasty withdrawal was not a surprise. Many apparently believed that the political leaders of the United States, Germany or Britain would sincerely care for the people who would be left behind in Afghanistan after their troops were withdrawn. But that assumption was questionable. President Emmanuel Macron made this very clear: when the U.S. troops began to withdraw, he said that we had to prevent refugees from Afghanistan from coming to Europe. Surely he would not have said that if these people were white Christians. Hungarian President Viktor Orban was even worse. It's not that all Western politicians are monsters. But irrespective of rhetoric, their priorities were never going to be about the people of Afghanistan. Hellyer: The idea that one is in a "war on terror" can easily be manipulated by actors who use it to justify their own actions. Terrorist groups spread the myth that the West wants to fight all Muslims and Islam itself, and that every real Muslim must join them in order to defend Islam. The term "war on terror" is also problematic for another reason. There are rulers who use state terror to act against their own people and who are ignored in this categorisation – on the contrary, they use the label of "war on terror" to justify their own oppression and repression, which can then feed into, iornically, the recruitment strategies of non-state terrorist actors. read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

A Far-Right Writer Was Refused Entry to the UK and Poland Is Freaking Out

Poland has said it will summon the British ambassador to explain why controversial far-right agitator Rafal Ziemkiewicz was denied entrance to the UK, sparking a furious response from his nationalist supporters. That’s included a wave of abusive online messages, some of them explicitly Islamophobic, targeting British MP Rupa Huq, who had previously spoken out against a proposed UK speaking tour by Ziemkiewicz in 2018. Huq shared some of the abusive messages on Twitter on Monday, one of which showed a crude racist caricature of a naked man praying, with Huq’s name written on his backside. The man at the centre of the row is Rafal Ziemkiewicz, a far-right journalist and writer who campaigners have accused of pushing anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and homophobic views. Last year, Poland's Human Rights Ombudsman accused Ziemkiewicz of anti-Semitism after he stated on public television that Jews had cooperated with Germans during the Holocaust. On Saturday, Ziemkiewicz was detained at Heathrow airport while travelling with his wife and daughter, who is studying at Oxford University. He was subsequently denied entry and flew back to Warsaw. According to a Home Office letter, posted on Twitter by Huq, Ziemkiewicz was refused permission to enter “due to [his] conduct and views which are at odds with British values and likely to cause offence.” read the complete article


05 Oct 2021

Pandemic policing in ‘multicultural’ Australia

In April-May 2020, Australia’s Muslim community spent the month of Ramadan, the most holy and social in the Islamic calendar, confined in their homes, as mosques were closed and large social gatherings were banned. But a rise in infection numbers in June, and the news that a small cluster of Muslim households had been affected by the new outbreak, resulted in the community being scapegoated and targeted. Shortly after, on July 4, nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were put under immediate lockdown. Residents of these towers, mostly of migrant and refugee backgrounds, were left without food, medicine and access to fresh air for days. The lockdown was lifted at eight of the nine towers after five days, but residents of the remaining tower, where infection rates were highest, were detained for another nine days. The ombudsman of the state of Victoria later described the state’s handling of the Melbourne housing tower lockdowns as a breach of human rights. But the state government disagreed and refused to apologise. Throughout the rest of the year, Victorian state officials continued to suggest minority communities are primary spreaders of COVID-19. read the complete article

05 Oct 2021

Australia’s far right gets COVID anti-lockdown protest booster

Recent anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne have exposed the rise of the far-right movement over fears stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, and continuing lockdown measures. The most recent — and arguably most violent — protests were sparked by the state government’s decision to suspend work on building sites for two weeks and make vaccination mandatory for construction workers. The protests have focused attention once again on the far right in Australia, two years after an Australian white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people. Condemnation of the September rallies was widespread, with Labor Member of Parliament Bill Shorten publicly dismissing the protesters largely as “hard-right man-baby Nazis”. But Roose — who has previously advised governments about such groups — says such stereotypes are simplistic and misleading. He says for Australia to combat the far right, people need to understand what it is, and that such groups are more than just “jackboots and swastikas” even if they have previously held public displays of Nazi symbolism and salutes. “The far right is a lot more nuanced. It has evolved and taken new shapes and morphed into something far more sophisticated than that stereotype,” he said. “The far right has its vocabulary. It has far-right discourse. It’s anti-Semitic. It’s racist. It’s anti-Muslim. It’s primarily anti-women.” read the complete article


05 Oct 2021

'Some are just psychopaths': Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs

The ex-detective turned whistleblower asked to be identified only as Jiang, to protect his family members who remain in China. In a three-hour interview with CNN, conducted in Europe where he is now in exile, Jiang revealed rare details on what he described as a systematic campaign of torture against ethnic Uyghurs in the region's detention camp system, claims China has denied for years. "Kick them, beat them (until they're) bruised and swollen," Jiang said, recalling how he and his colleagues used to interrogate detainees in police detention centers. "Until they kneel on the floor crying." During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process -- including men, women and children as young as 14. The methods included shackling people to a metal or wooden "tiger chair" -- chairs designed to immobilize suspects -- hanging people from the ceiling, sexual violence, electrocutions, and waterboarding. Inmates were often forced to stay awake for days, and denied food and water, he said. "Everyone uses different methods. Some even use a wrecking bar, or iron chains with locks," Jiang said. "Police would step on the suspect's face and tell him to confess." The suspects were accused of terror offenses, said Jiang, but he believes that "none" of the hundreds of prisoners he was involved in arresting had committed a crime. "They are ordinary people," he said. read the complete article

South Korea

05 Oct 2021

[Us and Them] Islamophobia emerges in Korea

Muneer Ahmad, 47, who has run Islamic Book Center in Yongsan, Seoul, has rarely experienced hatred or discrimination because of his religion or religious clothing in his 20 years in South Korea. Most of the time he encounters reasonable Koreans. Several more Muslims studying or working here said that Koreans are quite tolerant of other religions. They are rarely offended, angered or hurt in their daily lives due to discrimination against their faith. When looking more closely, however, Koreans -- generally exposed to Christian-dominated American media and culture -- still have a psychological bias against Islam widely followed in the Middle East. The most potent images of Arab and Islam for Koreans are “terrorism, war, conflict and danger,” based on a survey released by professor Kim Su-wan of Arabic Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. The survey was released in 2016, but the perception has not changed much for many Koreans. Kim Jae-han, 30, who converted to Islam from Catholicism about two years ago, has never been verbally attacked because of his religion. But he is puzzled whenever he sees malicious comments about Muslims online. “On the internet, I see many swear words and they say Islam is evil and a terrorist group. Honestly, I don’t know why there’s such a big difference (between online and in person).” A couple more Korean Muslims declined to be interviewed, saying they and their families had suffered from hate comments online after previous interviews with local media. In many articles related to Islam outside Korea, few comments are found. But in articles related to Islam within Korean society, such as the construction of a mosque in Daegu or Yemen refugee issues on Jeju Island, there are many comments -- and most of them are negative. read the complete article

United States

05 Oct 2021

Muslims recall questionable detentions that followed 9/11

Around New York City in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, as an eerie quiet settled over ground zero, South Asian and Arab men started vanishing. Soon, more than 1,000 were arrested in sweeps across the metropolitan area and nationwide. Most were charged only with overstaying visas and deported back to their home countries. But before that happened, many were held in detention for months, with little outside contact, especially with their families. Others would live with a different anxiety, forced to sign what was effectively a Muslim registry with no idea what might follow. While the remembrances and memorials of 9/11′s 20th anniversary slip into the past, hundreds of Muslim men and their families face difficult 20-year anniversaries of their own. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Oct 2021 Edition


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