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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17 Sep 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, participants and organizers of the Uyghur Tribunal are experiencing a targeted campaign of harassment by the Chinese government, while a piece in the Guardian notes that recent commentary around Shamima Begum’s appearance “reinforces the discriminatory sentiment that Muslim women do not belong in western – or here, British – society.” In the United States, a group of 40+ Muslim-American civil rights organizations announced a campaign to boycott Hilton Worldwide over its plans to construct a hotel on the site of a Uyghur mosque bulldozed by authorities in Xinjiang, and lastly Rais Bhuiyan, who was shot in a hate crime 10 days after 9/11, tells his story and how he has dedicated his life to changing hearts. Our recommended read of the day is by Sanya Mansoor for TIME on how the widespread government surveillance following 9/11 impacted the lives of Muslim Americans. This and more below:

United States

17 Sep 2021

‘Who Else Is Spying on Me?’ Muslim Americans Bring the Fight Against Surveillance to the Supreme Court | Recommended Read

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Patriot Act and other government measures vastly expanded the bureau’s authority to surveil Americans, and it reportedly increased its use of informants to record numbers in the decade after the attacks. Of the more than 970 terrorism defendants prosecuted by the DOJ since 9/11, more than one third were caught up in FBI stings; and about 300 of those cases involved the use of informants, according to the Intercept. State and local law enforcement groups also got much more aggressive in their methods post-9/11. In 2018, the New York Police Department settled a lawsuit that accused it of illegally infiltrating student groups and mosques in a program that ran from around 2002 to 2014—an endeavor that the NYPD acknowledged led to no credible intelligence leads. It’s impossible to know the full extent of the post-9/11 surveillance apparatus, in part because many programs remain secret, but civil rights groups say Muslims were unfairly targeted because of their religion. “We were all deemed as suspects until proven innocent,” says Hussam Ayloush, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Los Angeles branch. “We were all deemed as guilty until proven innocent.” read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Op-ed: Islamophobia flared after 9/11 and still rages. But the good news: Muslim Americans feel embraced by many.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, America witnessed a spike of anti-Islamic bigotry and hate. Denounced as security threats by some politicians and media outlets, Muslims were assaulted and their mosques were vandalized. The message was clear: You don’t belong here. That’s the story we heard in multiple accounts last week, as America marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And it’s true, of course. Everyone should know about the ongoing scourge of Islamophobia in America. But here’s something else everybody should know: The vast majority of Muslims feel welcome and valued here. Indeed, they are among the happiest — and the most patriotic — Americans. That wasn’t as widely reported last week, which speaks to another problem in the ways we think about Islam in America. By emphasizing the all-too-real prejudice against Muslims but downplaying their satisfaction and success, we inadvertently reinforce the idea that they don’t belong here. And the only way to resist that is by presenting a more balanced perspective. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Man Dedicates Life to Changing Hearts, 20 years After Near Death

Rais Bhuiyan immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh with a dream to study and build a career in Technology. He moved to Dallas to work at a friend’s convenience store. But four months after that move, on Sept. 21, 2001, just 10 days after the 9/11 attacks, his life and the country changed forever. “And I thought my time was up and ready to die. And it was very, you know, painful, sad moment that I'm dying today. And there is nothing that can be done to save my life,” said Bhuiyan. “And I begged God, that if you give me a chance to live, I would do good things with my life. I would help others. But do not take me today,” said Bhuiyan. Bhuiyan, the lone survivor, was the only person who sued to stop the execution saying his religious beliefs as a Muslim told him to forgive Stroman. Now Bhuiyan’s American dream has changed. He recently quit his full-time job in technology to lead his own non-profit called, World Without Hate. His mission is to end the same cycles of violence and hate in our country. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Actor Riz Ahmed on increasing Muslim representation in Hollywood

Riz Ahmed: Exceptions don't change the rules. Real change comes from not someone having a moment, but by people creating a movement. I know for a fact I'm here because people before me have kind of carved out a path. None of us is getting to the finish line. We all just running a relay race. We all just doing a stretch of the race and we just pass the baton forwards. That's just how it is. Amna Nawaz: New numbers show just how far Hollywood has to go. Ahmed joined forces with the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation, a "NewsHour" funder, and the Pillars Fund, aimed at amplifying Muslim narratives, to back a first-of-its kind study breaking down the 200 top grossing films between 2017 and 2019. Of more than 8, 500 speaking roles, fewer than 2 percent were Muslim, and over 75 percent of those roles were boys or men. Over 90 percent of films had no speaking role for any Muslim character. Riz Ahmed: We got the numbers back and, surprise, surprise, the numbers are terrible. Of I think these 200 movies, Muslims are only 1.6 percent of all speaking characters. And three-quarters of the time, they're either victims of or perpetrators of violence. What does that do when we're fed this image of a group of people? It makes it easier to dehumanize them and destroy their lives. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Post-9/11 surveillance has left a generation of Muslim Americans in a shadow of distrust and fear

The federal government invested nearly $8 trillion in the wars that followed 9/11, according to an analysis by the Costs of War project at Brown University released this month. About $1.1 billion of that has been spent on preventing terrorism at home. Counterterrorism efforts in the U.S. have taken various forms since then: new government agencies, surveillance programs and the loosening of longstanding law enforcement guidelines that made it easier to carry out intelligence investigations on citizens without the same level of evidence, often resulting in the profiling of Muslim Americans on the basis of religion or country of national origin in violation of protections provided by the constitution. read the complete article


17 Sep 2021

9/11 attacks: Why the 'war on terror' has no clear ending

Twenty years ago, when the neologism war on terror was coined, it implied that terror was something that could be targeted, fought and defeated. But in reality, terror was a worldwide problem that under-represented parties have resorted to for ages in their struggle for agency. The Bush administration could have more aptly declared a “war on Osama bin Laden”, or even a “war on OBL” to fit into the three-word formula. Better yet, he could have launched a “war on al-Qaeda”. Yet, it was clear that such a broad name was intentional. There were those in the Bush administration who wanted to target not just al-Qaeda, but Iraq and Iran - and the war on terror gave them free rein to justify any military action in the name of seeking out terrorists, wherever they may be. Once the administration had created the villain of the Axis of Evil, it was compelled to act against it. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Hacks, threats and propaganda: how China tried to discredit the Uyghur Tribunal

The pressure exerted on Otarbay to stop him from testifying is part of a wide-ranging campaign by the Chinese and — by proxy — the Kazakh governments to undermine the Uyghur Tribunal in London, and denounce any international attempt to establish the truth about the crushing system of detention and surveillance inflicted on Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities. “China continued its attack to harass the witnesses who agreed to give evidence,” said Hamid Sabi, the tribunal’s counsel, during closing remarks on Monday. He described how, following pressure by the Chinese government, two witnesses withdrew their statements. Organizers of the tribunal also told me that the host venue, Church House, had been put under pressure not to hold the event. Tribunal staff also experienced a number of suspicious attempts to hack into their digital security. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

Muslim groups boycott Hilton over planned hotel on Uighur mosque

A group of more than 40 Muslim-American civil rights organisations in the United States announced on Thursday a campaign to boycott Hilton Worldwide over what they said is the corporation’s plan to construct a hotel on the site of a Uighur mosque bulldozed by authorities in China’s Xinjiang region. Speaking at a news conference held in front of the Hilton headquarters in Virginia, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organisation at the forefront of the initiative, said they had been “negotiating indirectly” with the hotel group appealing them to cancel the construction plan, but that talks had gone “to no avail”. read the complete article

17 Sep 2021

'Wall of the Disappeared': U.S.-backed Uyghur exhibit opens in Geneva

A U.S.-backed Uyghur photo exhibit of dozens of people who are missing or alleged to be held in Chinese-run camps in Xinjiang, China opened in Switzerland on Thursday amid high tensions over human rights between Beijing and Washington. The "Wall of the Disappeared" which also features interviews with camp survivors about alleged forced sterilisation stands outside the United Nations in Geneva where a month-long session of the Human Rights Council opened this week. "It was important for us to bring faces to represent the statistics," said Zumretay Arkin whose uncle is featured in the exhibit. "It's easier to forget about numbers but if people see faces, we hope they will grasp the urgency of the situation." read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Sep 2021

Shamima Begum, regardless of her new image, remains the UK’s responsibility

Begum is now demanding the opportunity to prove her innocence and has renounced her support for IS. For some, this notably includes her “new look”. When she appeared without her hijab and abaya, her interviewers on Good Morning Britain questioned her need to “look western” in an attempt to reflect an internal transformation. There are two troubling assumptions here. First: whether or not her change in appearance is a public relations stunt, Islamic dress should never be construed as a marker or measure of radicalism. While IS mandated that all women within its territory should wear the full burqa, this does not, in any way, mean that all women who choose to wear the burqa are aligned with IS or support other extremist groups. These garments are items of religious dress, not an IS uniform. Second, this comment normalises a “western” appearance as being without a hijab or other signifier of Islamic faith. It reinforces the discriminatory sentiment that Muslim women do not belong in western – or here, British – society. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Sep 2021 Edition


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