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.

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13 Apr 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Xinjiang province, the development of energy efficient PV solar cells continues to gain infamy as the most recent example of Uyghur forced labor, as the French Interior Minister calls for even greater security for Muslim places of worship after a recent mosque vandalism, and a new report from the Guardian reveals that anti-immigration activist Tommy Robinson sought to gain the help of wealthy Republican politicians in hopes of securing a visa. Our recommended read of the day is by Faisal Hanif on how fake news is fueling Anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. This and more below:

United Kingdom

12 Apr 2021

How Anonymous & Unverified Information Fuels Anti-Muslim Fake News

In a similar incident, a paramedic who called himself ‘Tom’ alleged on Christo Foufas’ talkRADIO show that he had been denied entry to a Mosque to treat a heart attack patient because he was gay. ‘Tom’ further claimed that he had been threatened with beheadings on the streets of Oldham. This was a hook for the presenter to curate an exchange based on the trope that there are ‘no-go’ areas in Britain populated heavily by Muslims. The caller, who claimed to be a 26-year-old veteran of the North West Ambulance Service, said that his piercings and blue Mohican gave away his sexual preferences and caught the ire of his detractors. The allegation was serious enough to make headlines in two national tabloids, yet it seems as though neither they and nor Foufas made an attempt to verify the source of the claims. After being contacted by the Centre for Media Monitoring, the North West Ambulance service looked over two years worth of call logs and said that the incident, or any of the other allegations, did not happen and no such person fitting the description of ‘Tom’ had worked for them. Yet, this was not enough to humble those behind the interview, with the radio presenter citing the context of alleged death threats towards the Batley school teacher as a valid reason for the caller to hide his identity. This was a part of the justification given by Foufas when he explained his reasoning for awarding 17 minutes of airtime to ‘Tom’. The power of anonymous information targeting Muslims was most infamously seen in the so-called Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham schools in 2014-2015. Accusations against Muslim teachers and governors via an anonymous letter led to an entire media and government campaign against them, which in turn ruined lives and careers. Platforming the anonymous often seems to be an excuse to air spurious generalizations and tropes against individuals, families and communities – alleviating the author and the publication from the burden of proof.This goes to show that, if a particular publication or broadcaster wants something to be true, then it shall be so, even if the claim remains unproven or unverified. This is particularly the case for reporting on Muslims, who are the subject of misinformation and even blatant fabrication. The narrative has been established that Muslims are a unique danger in British society. Therefore, sources of information who confirm this narrative often receive a platform without basic journalistic due diligence. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


12 Apr 2021

When Clean Energy Is Powered by Dirty Labor

In fact, President Joe Biden has made clean energy a pillar of his new $2 trillion infrastructure plan. There’s just one problem: The West has allowed its solar panel industry to be wiped out by cheaper Chinese rivals—and those rivals primarily make key parts of their panels in Xinjiang, whose manufacturing is tainted by the use of forced labor. The West is stuck between dirty energy and dirty labor. But there’s a solution. Climate-wise, the move made sense: How else to incentivize entire countries to go renewable? The suspended anti-dumping penalties made the Chinese products even cheaper in the European Union and, alas, made it harder still for the odd remaining European solar-panel maker to stay in business. In the United States, too, what was left of the domestic solar panel industry was struggling to compete against its cheap Chinese rivals. A troubling reality is, in fact, clouding the sunny outlook of solar energy: It’s dependent on Xinjiang. As Politico recently reported, most PV cells originate in the region that has gained worldwide infamy for Chinese government violations of Uyghurs’ human rights. (China accounts for 71 percent of global PV solar module production.) “Nearly every silicon-based solar module — at least 95 percent of the market — is likely to have some Xinjiang silicon,” Jenny Chase, the head of solar analysis at BloombergNEF, told Politico. Companies and families eager to do their part for the environment are realizing that their solar panels may be the fruit of forced labor. Indeed, Biden’s sunny energy plan could be thwarted by America’s reliance on PV cells of questionable provenance. A recent report by the consultancy Horizon Advisory that raised red flags regarding forced labor in Xinjiang PV cell production caused so much alarm in the United States that key solar-panel makers immediately pledged to cleanse their supply chains of forced labor—though they didn’t specify how. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Merkley, in turn, called on the solar industry to document its reliance on supplies from Xinjiang, and at the end of March, Sens. John Kennedy and Rick Scott introduced a bill that would prevent the U.S. government from buying solar panels “manufactured or assembled by entities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.” Last month, the Uyghurs’ dreadful fate, which includes not just detention in camps but constant surveillance even of those not detained, caused the U.K. government to impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, the Chinese government agency that employs more than a tenth of the region’s population and has funded private firms’ PV cell production. The U.K. joined the United States, Canada, and the EU, which imposed similar sanctions. “The evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang cannot be ignored—including mass detention and surveillance, reports of torture and forced sterilization,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said when introducing the sanctions. Xinjiang products are looking more toxic by the day. read the complete article

12 Apr 2021

Tommy Robinson asked wealthy US backers to help him claim asylum

The anti-immigration activist Tommy Robinson asked wealthy American backers to help him claim asylum in the US, the Guardian has learned, while his team approached the Republican senator Ted Cruz’s office about securing a visa. Court documents released in the US show the English Defense League founder discussed moving his family to Texas in 2019, where he would earn money by speaking at venues “including evangelical churches”. Such was the influence of Robinson’s supporters that they asked advisers to Cruz, the Republican former presidential candidate, for legal advice on securing an extended visa for “someone who needs protection”. The documents show the Middle East Forum was central to Robinson’s efforts to obtain a visa. Barbounis told her boss, Daniel Pipes, in January 2019 that “Cruz’s guy called Tommy yesterday and said they were discussing it next week”. Cruz’s office said it had no records of helping Robinson secure a visa. Pipes replied that “we need a patron in the USG [US government]” and suggested enlisting Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman. Barbounis replied that Gosar was “willing but didn’t have enough recognition with the embassy” and that she had contacted Sebastian Gorka, previously an adviser to the then president, Donald Trump, who had “said he would pass it along. Nothing materialized.” read the complete article


12 Apr 2021

AI companies are enabling genocide in China

Like most Chinese citizens, the Uyghurs have long been under constant high-tech surveillance that tracks, analyzes and records their every move and scours their personal communications for evidence of dissent. Compounding this culture of surveillance is the evolution of artificial intelligence from a novelty designed to win games of chess against humans into a science now capable of facial recognition and individual profiling. The Uyghurs have lived in China since the 9th century, yet their persecution has been driven by 21st-century technology. Beijing has vowed to lead the world in AI, and its documented use in the identification and detention of Uyghurs shows that the regime is getting there quickly. The implications of this campaign are dire. A new study from the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy offers “clear and convincing” evidence that the repression of Uyghurs goes beyond detention and political indoctrination to ethnic cleansing, not only through death in “internment camps” but also by means of forced abortions and mass sterilization. The most alarming known application of AI in the Uyghurs’ home region of Xinjiang is so-called predictive policing, a disturbing marriage of dogmatic ideology, advanced technology and utter disregard for due process and the rule of law. Predictive policing is not a purely Chinese phenomenon, but an increasingly global one. At its heart is a belief that AI has the potential to make our cities and communities safer by identifying social trends that enable early intervention by law enforcement. But that is not how predictive policing works in practice, and especially not in China. read the complete article

12 Apr 2021

Why China’s attempts to stifle foreign media criticism are likely to fail

This reporting is having real world consequences for China’s image abroad. It is inviting pushback from an international community that is mobilizing against Chinese overreach. Beijing will not be insensitive to the risks of brand damage to China’s reputation, or risks of sanctions. The Biden administration’s canvassing of a potential boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China will have got Beijing’s attention. If countries, led by the United States, stay away this would represent a significant loss of face. Senior Chinese officials and Uyghurs appeared via video during Cheng’s embassy briefing to refute media accounts of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region as “Western lies”, “fabrications” and the work of “anti-China forces”. In its propaganda offensive, China has not been averse to using the “fake news” label, popularized by former US President Donald Trump to assail its critics. Cheng’s press conference was part of a larger, global campaign against unfavorable reporting in which Beijing has resorted to a combination of bluster and in some cases reprisals against journalists who have cut too close to the bone. Cheng’s propaganda exercise should therefore be seen as part of a global campaign to stifle what China regards as unfair and damaging criticism of its policies at home and abroad under paramount leader Xi Jinping. If this Canberra media event was designed to dampen negative reporting in the Australian media, however, the campaign is unlikely to work for the simple reason there is little, or no, sign of Beijing reversing its antagonistic behavior towards Western media. read the complete article

United States

12 Apr 2021

Woman Goes on Anti-Muslim Rant in Fort Lauderdale Walgreens

Nahla Ebaid and her husband and friends were on vacation in South Florida on March 31 when Luba Bozanich started hurling insults in the checkout line. "God, you’re ugly, no wonder people hate you," Bozanich is heard saying in the video. "I’m getting away from the Muslim." Ebaid pulled out her phone and started recording. The video has since gone viral. "I was shocked, it’s disgusting," Ebaid said. "She was aggressive and she started insulting my clothes my hijab, my friends, my religion." The video goes on to show Bozanich calling police, telling the dispatchers that she was the one being threatened. Police say this all started when Bozanich refused to put on a face mask even after employees asked her to do so. read the complete article


12 Apr 2021

France: Minister calls for security at mosques after attack

France’s interior minister has called for greater security for Muslim places of worship after vandals defaced the walls of a mosque days before the start of Ramadan. The graffiti included tags insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, references to restarting the Crusades and a call for Catholicism to be made the state religion. The prosecutor’s office in Rennes has launched an investigation. Addressing reporters during a visit to the site, Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin denounced the vandalism and expressed “solidarity” with France’s 5.7 million Muslims. He said he has asked French police and the gendarmerie, which is responsible for policing smaller towns rural areas, to “strengthen vigilance around Muslim places of worship … at the dawn of Ramadan”. The holy month of Ramadan is set to commence on Tuesday, in line with the sighting of the new moon. But there are mounting fears for the safety of French Muslims during the annual observance, during which Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset, amid a spate of ostensibly Islamophobic incidents in recent days. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Apr 2021 Edition


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