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The USA’s Act of Hypocrisy and Islamophobia in Guantanamo Bay

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Opinion Piece

The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp was born in the wake of the 9/11 attacks under Bush’s administration in 2002. It was to house the “worst of the worst” – suspected terrorists, those who were mostly from Afghanistan, but all were Muslim. With a total number of 780 detainees to have ever been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, today, there are 40 men currently held as “indefinite detainees”.

The torture of these “suspected terrorists” in Guantanamo Bay has been referred to as “enhanced interrogation.” These ‘methods’ include desecrating their Quran (Islamic sacred book), sleep deprivation, and force-feeding during the month of Ramadan. It is a clear indicator that the torture experienced by the detainees is deep-rooted Islamaphobia in the US to dehumanise the Muslim prisoners – disrespecting and using their religion as a means of torture. The US alleges it is to protect national security as an attempt to justify the Islamophobic abuse in the detention base and referring to the prisoners as “detainees” as a superficial act of humanity. 

Constructing terrorism as an inherently Muslim crime, exceptional in its scope and brutality, is what allowed it to exist in this alternate legal structure.

Maha Hilal, “Guantanamo: An enduring symbol of US Islamophobia”

Additionally, the detainees are not referred to as “prisoners” simply because the phrase “prisoners of war” under the Geneva Conventions would mean that they must be provided human living conditions and prohibited torture, as an article by The Globe Post highlights.  

The US can get away with the torture that these Muslim men undergo due to terminology that implies they still comply with the Geneva Conventions. This loophole is so conveniently capable of enabling the inhumane abuse of the detainees, a deliberate tactic. The very location of the detention camp in Cuba, occupied by the USA is a legal justice loophole and human rights dilemma. Guantanamo Bay is a dispute between international human rights law and US court jurisdiction – a separate system of justice where US national law does not apply to prisons outside the mainland. Thus, these loopholes only allow the US to utilise and further their Islamophobic agenda. 

The hypocrisy lies with the US superficially condemning any humanitarian crisis going on in the world – currently as with the Uighur Muslim crisis in Xinjiang. The parallelisms between the two major powers in the world, and the torture of Muslims is jarring and only highlights the act of hypocrisy of the USA. It is a transparent, performative stunt of activism that the USA stands against the torture of the Uighur Muslim minorities in Chinese detention camps while Guantanamo Bay remains open. 

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