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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14 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Sri Lanka ignores Muslim protests, forces cremation for coronavirus victims. Writing for Slate, William Saleta highlights Trump’s new Press Secretary’s record of condoning racism and Islamophobia. Our recommended read today is on India, where coronavirus conspiracy theories are making Muslims the target of increased hate. This, and more, below:


14 Apr 2020

Coronavirus conspiracy theories targeting Muslims spread in India | Recommended Read

The men who beat Mehboob Ali did so without mercy. Dragging him to a field in the village of Harewali, on the fringes of north-west Delhi, the group hit him with sticks and shoes until he bled from his nose and ears. Ali was a Muslim, recently returned home from a religious gathering, and the Hindu mob was quite certain he was part of a so-called Islamic conspiracy to spread coronavirus to Hindus nationwide. His attackers believed the devout 22-year-old must be punished before he carried out “corona jihad”. The allegations were entirely false, but according to video footage and his family, the men who beat Ali on 5 April were in little doubt of his guilt, demanding: “Tell us who else is behind this conspiracy.” Ali was then taken to a nearby Hindu temple and told to renounce Islam and convert to Hinduism before they would allow him to go to hospital. Five days after the attack Ali’s family was still in fear of also being accused of spreading the virus. “If we file a police case, the Hindus will not let us live in the village,” said one family member, who asked not to be named. Police confirmed that due to his attendance at a Muslim convention in Bhopal a few weeks back, Ali was being held in the isolation ward of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital in Delhi as a “corona suspect”, though he had no symptoms. The attack on Ali is symptomatic of the growing demonisation of India’s Muslim community, who are being accused, without any basis, of conducting a malevolent campaign to spread Covid-19 to the Hindu majority. read the complete article

14 Apr 2020

The Coronavirus Has Morphed Into an Anti-Muslim Virus

The years since Narendra Modi was voted to power in Delhi midsummer in 2014 have been even harder. Vitriolic hate speech against Muslims by people holding the highest elected office became a routine part of social life. Large sections of the media, especially in Hindi and many Indian languages, became willing partners in this customary everyday hate-mongering. Muslims were systematically expelled from relevance and even participation in electoral politics. And intensely brutal, videotaped lynching of innocent people in numerous hate attacks around the country burned into the consciousness of India’s Muslims. From the early days of the shock lockdown, people across the country were glued to their televisions and smartphones for news of the virus and its spread. The official briefings quickly shifted to depicting the Tablighi gathering as the epicentre and central cause of the virus spreading across India. The Delhi government in its briefings, for instance, referred to these as the ‘Markaz Masjid’ cases. There were obvious statistical biases in all of this, as pointed out by Shoaib Daniyal in Scroll, because whereas more than 25,000 Jamaat members and their contacts were traced and tested, the participants in other large religious and political gatherings held around the same time, including those patronised and attended by senior leaders of the ruling party, including the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, were not aggressively pursued or tested to even a fraction of the degree to which the Tablighi participants were. The flames of hate against Muslims then spread and engulfed the entire country aided by the dedicated trolls of social media, including members of the infamous BJP IT Cell. A flood of cynically fake hate videos was unleashed on the internet, depicting Muslims deliberately smearing vegetables and fruits with their saliva, spitting into food served in restaurants, and coughing into the faces of other people, all with the malevolent intent of infecting non-Muslims. Others showed Muslims refusing to get tested, and of Muslim men gathering for prayer in mosques, claiming that these were filmed during the lockdown, that worshippers insisting on breaking lockdown rules learning no lessons from the lethal Tablighi Jamaat gathering. Hashtags like #CoronaJihad, #BioJihad and #TablighiJamaatVirus began to circulate and trend. The consequences were immediate, terrifying and deadly, and continue to mount. read the complete article

14 Apr 2020

The Most Dangerous Place for a Muslim During the COVID-19 Pandemic is India

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a pretext to continue what the recent anti-Muslim pogrom in New Delhi started, a militant Hindu nationalistic vilification of the country’s Muslim minority. Viral fake videos are proving deadlier and pose a greater threat to India’s 200 million Muslims (11 percent of the world’s Muslim population) than the COVID-19 virus itself, with the Narendra Modi government playing a willing hand in stoking communal polarization to further its Hindu nationalist agenda in a time of national crisis. For Muslims, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated what the recent anti-Muslim pogrom in New Delhi started, and provided yet another raison d’être for the country’s militant Hindu nationalists to abuse and denigrate them. It started when 10 Indonesian nationals, all of whom Muslim, tested positive for the virus on March 19, roughly 10 days after attending an annual gathering held by Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group, in Nizamuddin. Hindu nationalist groups and individuals aligned with the government seized on the group’s meeting to falsely hold Muslims solely responsible for spreading the deadly virus throughout the country, the hashtags #CoronaJihad and #BioJihad were shared almost instantly across social media platforms hundreds of thousands of times. “Islamophobia has been transposed onto the coronavirus issue,” Amir Ali, an assistant professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, told Time. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Apr 2020

Anger as right-wing UK voices suggest Ramadan virus spread

Andrew Pierce, a journalist for the Daily Mail tabloid, tweeted on Sunday: "If families gather for holy month of Ramadan will there be a huge spike in Covid cases. Doctors are very worried." His tweet was met with anger by academics, journalists and activists alike who accused him of raising unsubstantiated claims. An article published by The Times on the same day evoked similar sentiments, after it, too, suggested an increase in coronavirus cases due to a predicted increase in gatherings during Ramadan - despite social distancing regulations - leading with the headline, "Experts fear a spike in UK coronavirus cases during Ramadan". Among those critical of this rhetoric was Miqdaad Versi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain. Speaking to Al Jazeera English, he said it was of paramount importance "to guard against far-right rhetoric" which scapegoated Muslims as a "threat to the rest of society". "We've witnessed these through a number of false stories peddled from the start of the pandemic, such as all mosques being kept open, Muslims secretly congregating - and even that Muslims were going to gather together in the month of Ramadan, all against government guidance," said Versi. Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim attacks, reported dozens of incidents in March, where far-right groups were supposedly spreading conspiracy theories blaming Muslims for the COVID-19 pandemic. The group have also had to debunk numerous social media posts spreading fake news. Among them was a tweet alleging some Muslims in Wembley, northwest London, were ignoring social distancing regulations by praying on the road. read the complete article

United States

14 Apr 2020

Trump’s New Press Secretary Is an Apologist for Explicit Racism

Last week he appointed Kayleigh McEnany, his campaign’s spokeswoman, as the new White House press secretary. McEnany has a long record of defending Trump’s smears. She has joked about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, lied about him golfing after a terrorist murder, and claimed that when Trump said “Grab ’em by the pussy,” his preface—“they let you do it”—“implies consent.” But McEnany’s most remarkable performance came in 2016, when then-candidate Trump denounced U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel—who was presiding over a fraud case against Trump University—as “Mexican.” To protect Trump, McEnany insisted that even overt racism wasn’t racist. Her appointment as press secretary shows how low the White House is willing to go. It’s not bigotry if it applies only to noncitizens. During their debates about Curiel, CNN’s panelists occasionally compared Trump’s attacks on the judge to his threats against Muslims. McEnany defended these threats, extending her apologism to religious discrimination. When one panelist, Marc Lamont Hill, criticized Trump’s 2015 proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” McEnany rebuked him. She noted that it was only a “temporary ban on non-U.S. citizen Muslims.” It’s not bigotry if you also distrust some white people. After McEnany defended the proposed Muslim ban, Trump took it a step further. He said he might have the same problem with a Muslim judge that he was having with Curiel. When John Dickerson of CBS asked Trump whether he worried that “a Muslim judge … wouldn’t be able to treat you fairly,” Trump replied, “Yes, that would be possible, absolutely.” This answer was fine, McEnany reasoned, because Trump would also have said that “a white liberal judge could be biased” against him. Like other Republicans, McEnany decided it was more important to stick with Trump than to renounce him, even after he flaunted his ethnic resentments. And Republicans are still with him, despite further racist outbursts. But McEnany goes further. She redefines bigotry so that even flagrant attacks—banning Muslims, disqualifying Latino judges, impugning the patriotism of Chinese Americans—can be excused. If you’re willing to defend such things, it hardly matters whether you call yourself a bigot. read the complete article

14 Apr 2020

Republican in Iowa's 2nd District primary calls for Islam's religious status to be revoked

A Republican candidate for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, whose platform calls for redefining Islam as "militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination," drew fire Monday for saying he doesn't believe Islam is protected under the First Amendment. Pella Republican Rick Phillips told Quad Cities television station WHBF that he believes the founding fathers were specifically talking about Christianity and its denominations when they established the freedom of religion outlined in the Bill of Rights. "They were not talking about anti-Christian beliefs," he said. "Now, if a person doesn't want to believe in Christ, that's their business. But to say that this First Amendment right includes all religions in the world, I think, is erroneous." Reached by the Des Moines Register Monday afternoon, Phillips said he has spent time personally studying Islam and believes that when a Muslim swears the oath to the Constitution using the Quran, that negates the constitutional law because they are "sworn to turn this country into an Islamic country." read the complete article

Sri Lanka

14 Apr 2020

Sri Lanka ignores Muslim protests, forces cremation for coronavirus victims

The World Health Organization says either cremation or burial are appropriate means to deal with victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Sri Lanka insists on only one. Authorities in Sri Lanka are cremating the bodies of Muslim victims of the Covid-19 pandemic despite protests from members of the community. As of Sunday the South Asian nation had registered seven deaths from the coronavirus, of which three were Muslims. Despite Islamic tradition requiring burial for Muslims, officials on the island state cremated all those who died. read the complete article


14 Apr 2020

Yesterday, Jews were demonised for spreading disease. Today, it's Muslims

When the Black Plague ravaged Europe in the middle of the 14th Century, killing roughly 50 percent of those infected and one-third of the continent's population at the time, rumours spread that Jewish people were poisoning wells to spread the disease. It ultimately led to the massacre of thousands of Jews in several waves of anti-Semitic pogroms, leaving entire predominately Jewish villages wiped out. Six hundred years later, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party characterised typhus as the Jewish plague, which became the rationale for the delousing baths, a "camouflage for the gas chambers." In the age of a viral pandemic, specifically Covid-19, Muslims have replaced Jews as the world's most scapegoated religious minority. It's a clear demonstration of how anti-Semitism and Islamophobia remain inextricably tied, and also emphasises how the coronavirus crisis is not only a health issue but also one that poses an existential threat to social cohesion, given it's weaponised to exacerbate long-standing hatreds – but particularly against Muslims. Pretty much wherever you find persecuted Muslim minorities, you find Covid-19 related conspiracies and fake news stories being weaponised to further their persecution, which has been the case in Israel, India, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Apr 2020 Edition


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