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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15 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, mobilized American Muslims are wondering who to vote for in the midst of Bernie Sanders pulling his candidacy for President. In India, media sites have been attacking Muslims, endangering the credibility of Journalism in the country. Our recommended read today is on Islamophobia caused by the link being drawn between COVID-19 and Muslims on social media and in the news. This, and more below:


15 Apr 2020

Islamophobia Has No Place in the Fight Against COVID-19 | Recommended Read

From politics to social media, Muslims or anything associated with Islam (whether correctly or not) are dehumanized as objects against which to measure the intensity or severity of all things negative and threatening. Such comparisons reinforce conscious and subconscious biases, and prime society and lawmakers to implement drastic and often repressive measures to address the latest perceived threat ostensibly posed by Muslims or Islam. This cycle is nothing new. It should therefore come as no surprise that in the midst of the current pandemic, there is no shortage of examples of media, hashtags on Twitter, and lawmakers employing Islamophobia to foment panic and division by linking COVID-19 with Muslims and Islam. read the complete article

Recommended Read
15 Apr 2020

The Coronavirus Is Empowering Islamophobes — but Exposing the Idiocy of Islamophobia

Take India, where the spread of the virus has been dubbed a “corona jihad” by supporters of the far-right BJP government; they claim the pandemic is a conspiracy by Muslims to infect and poison Hindus. The government itself has blamed around a third of India’s confirmed Covid-19 cases on a gathering held in Delhi by a conservative Muslim missionary group called the Tablighi Jamaat; one BJP minister called it a “Talibani crime.” Did members of the Tablighi Jamaat behave recklessly? Yes. Do all of India’s 200 million Muslims bear responsibility for their behavior? No. “Virtually overnight,” wrote investigative journalist Rana Ayyub in the Washington Post, “Muslims became the sole culprits responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in India.” Over in my home country, the U.K., counterterrorism police have been “investigating far-right groups accused of trying to use the coronavirus crisis to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment,” according to a recent report in The Guardian. These groups have been assisted by prominent far-right personalities, such as former radio shock jock Katie Hopkins, who suggested that U.K. police should physically assault any Muslims found praying in public, and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, who shared a video allegedly showing British Muslims attending prayers at a “secret mosque” — a video later debunked and dismissed by local law enforcement officials. Here in the United States, too, the far right is mobilizing and trying to exploit the coronavirus to spread hate and violence. In March, the FBI fatally injured Timothy Wilson, an anti-government extremist, who was planning to bomb a Kansas hospital “that was providing critical care during the current coronavirus pandemic.” He had previously planned to attack, among other targets, “Islamic centers.” read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

Why The Pandemic Is The Right Time To Issue An Atrocity Determination For Rohingya

Upwards of 900,000 Burmese Rohingya live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The situation there was already dire. Then, on March 24, the city registered its first case of COVID-19. An epidemic in Cox’s Bazar could be catastrophic. Rohingya refugees have endured tremendous brutality at the hands of the Burmese military. In August 2017, the military’s violent actions resulted in at least 10,000 deaths, the wide-scale rape and sexual abuse of women and girls, and other atrocities. The United Nations believes these attacks may constitute genocide. Now, more hardship for the Rohingya looms on the horizon. In refugee camps, social distancing is a literal impossibility, and access to medical care is limited. Clean water is scarce, making sanitation difficult at best. The Rohingya are, essentially, sitting ducks for the potentially deadly virus. To make matters worse, the Bangladesh government, which has been largely hospitable to the refugees, has restricted their access to the internet and confiscated SIM cards, therefore limiting access to information about the disease. International humanitarian assessments suggest that the mortality rate in Cox’s Bazar will be higher than global averages. Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health is “urg[ing] governments to prepare for the worst possible scenario after scientific modelling shows estimated infections would range from 119-504 in the first 30 days after an initial case, and between 424,798 and 543,647 in 12 months.” read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

USCIRF condemns stigmatisation of Muslims amid COVID-19 pandemic in India

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Monday, expressed its concern over reports of Muslims in India facing discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Condemning the extensive discrimination and fake news peddled against Muslims after the Tablighi Jamaat event became one of the hotspots of coronavirus in the country the USCIRF took to twitter: “USCIRF condemns the continued scapegoating and attacks of Muslims in #India due to false rumors over the spread of #coronavirus, often accompanied by dangerous rhetoric by politicians. This stigmatization can breed further discrimination and violence.” read the complete article

United States

15 Apr 2020

Beyond Bernie: Where Do American Muslim Voters Go From Here?

Throughout the 2020 primary election season, the “Bernie bro” narrative persisted, even in light of evidence of the gender, ethnic, racial, and religious diversity among Sanders’ supporters and staff. American Muslims, whose ethnic and racial diversity mirrors the broader diversity of the U.S., were a noticeable part of his support base. And while Muslims only make up approximately 1 percent of Americans, Sanders has inspired them to organize for his campaign in unprecedented ways. On Super Tuesday, Muslim Democrats voted for Sanders over Biden, 58.2 percent to 26.8 percent, according to the Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR). From a policy standpoint, widespread American Muslim support for Sanders is not altogether surprising. He voted against the Iraq War, vehemently opposed Trump’s “Muslim ban” for its bigotry, and has acknowledged Palestinians as human beings worthy of dignity, a rarity among U.S. politicians. These issues all matter a great deal to many American Muslims, myself included. But these policies aside, he has also taken consistent measures to rightfully earn “the Muslim vote.” What does the end of Sanders’ campaign signal for American Muslims who have been newly mobilized by its inclusivity? Do we assume our previous position as an overlooked minority-voting bloc that politicians are wary to acknowledge? Should we accept that moderate Democrats will quite possibly never conceive of us as more than either a threat or asset to national security? Is there at least some amusement to be found in the shifting political currency of Muslim women? read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

Muslim Prisoner’s Lawsuit Claiming Pork Hidden in Meals Revived

A former federal prisoner can move forward with his lawsuit alleging Corrections Corp. of America officials fed him and other Muslim detainees pork while claiming it was turkey, the Sixth Circuit said. The plaintiff could have actionable claims, including under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the court said. read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

Our Muslim health forum was zoombombed. I still believe in the good of humanity.

Organized by a Muslim public health organization, it was a forum on mental and physical wellness in the Covid-19 era through the lens of the Islamic faith. Twenty minutes into the webinar, someone interrupted the speaker mid-sentence. I didn’t catch his words. I blinked, stunned. My reaction was mirrored by the presenter. She didn’t catch his words, either. “Sorry. Did someone say something?” No response. She continued, but my focus was gone. I must have initially been in denial about what I heard, because moments later, my mind pieced together what he said: “I hate filthy coloreds.” “I just want to say, f--- Muslims. I want you all to know that I hate you Muslims and I hope you all die.” I peered up at the presenters’ expressions, and I was distraught most by what I did not see. I did not see rage. I did not see horror. I did not see any indication that they were surprised. I saw dejection. They were alarmed, but they were not surprised, and neither was I, considering the record of hate crimes and unjust policies directed towards Muslims since and before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The only difference was that, like much of the rest of our lives right now, this attack took place virtually. read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

US rights group slams Republican candidate's anti-Islam remarks

Rick Phillips, a candidate for the US House of Representatives for Iowa's second district, told a local television station on Monday that Islam was not a faith that is protected by the First Amendment. "They were not talking about anti-Christian beliefs," he said of America's founders. "Now if a person does not 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. "Islam was not apart of the founders' denominational beliefs at the time," he added. In response to his statements, the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Republican leaders to disavow Phillips' "Islamophobic, unconstitutional views" and to "take a strong stand in support of religious diversity and inclusion". Speaking to Iowa's Des Moines Register newspaper, the GOP spokesman for the state, Aaron Britt, also condemned Phillips' comments and said that his beliefs "are not reflective of the views of the Republican Party of Iowa". read the complete article


15 Apr 2020

Covid-19 will decimate the Rohingya refugee camps

After all that they have gone through, the Rohingya are, like the rest of us, facing a killer even deadlier than the Myanmar military: The Covid-19 epidemic. And it won’t do Bangladesh any good to allow Cox’s Bazar to become an epicentre of infectious disease. Two metrics are important in judging the threat of Covid-19: Its infectiousness -- how easily it spreads; and its mortality -- what proportion of those it infects end up dying from the disease. At the moment it is difficult to quantify exactly how infectious this disease is. But we know it transmits not just from droplets from coughs or sneezes, but also from aerosols, ie from people just breathing out normally. In conditions like those the Rohingya are living in, in Cox’s Bazar, containing the disease will be virtually impossible, once it appears. The Rohingya are living in conditions with more than 100,000 people per square mile, with virtually no space to isolate or quarantine anyone. read the complete article


15 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Muslim vendors stopped from selling vegetables in UP, accused of being Tablighi members

Two vegetable vendors in Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh were allegedly misbehaved with and stopped from selling their goods by a group of people who accused them of being members of the Tablighi Jamaat and of spreading the coronavirus, PTI reported. The sect is linked to a religious congregation held in Nizamuddin in Delhi last month, which later emerged as an infection hotspot. In a written complaint, the vendors said they had gone to small villages to sell vegetables on Saturday, when a group of men urged people to stop purchasing anything from them because they are Muslims. “Over 100 people came to buy [the vegetables] in the 15 minutes we were there,” Mohammad Shamim, one of the vendors, told NDTV. “About 10-15 people had already bought from us. Then some other people came and said: ‘these people are Muslims don’t buy from them’.” Shamim said the men accused him and other vendors of having links with the Tablighi Jamaat. “The vegetables we had sold were returned to us. For two days we have not stepped out,” he added. read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

Indian media is waging a holy war against Muslims. It acts like hyenas

The one thing Indian media is not doing is journalism. In fact, very few people are doing journalism today. Channels from Zee News, Aaj Tak to Network18 like to add the word ‘jihad’ to everything. Corona jihad or zameen jihad, love jihad, arthik jihad, and whatnot. But if anyone is waging a holy war today, it is Indian media’s jihad against Indian Muslims and Islam. The year 2014 was a watershed moment in India. Not just because Narendra Modi became the prime minister with an absolute majority but because the Indian media, as it functioned until then, metamorphosed from a pigeon — a messenger of truth and facts — to a hyena, one that serves its own interest fuelled by an insatiable greed that drives it to devour its prey alive, sometimes ripping it apart, while it sniggers. Today’s news media, especially the prime time debates, is brutal, almost barbaric, with little to no regard for ethics and morality. Journalism is now endangered and what’s masquerading in its name is business — with open display of bigotry and hate against Muslims and other minorities. It not only builds its viewership base by hook or crook to more advertising money but it also doubles up as a PR firm, serving the interest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to show it as the saviour of India. And what’s the flavour of the season in the Indian media’s bid to do the bidding for the BJP? An extra large scoop of Islamophobia with some sprinkling on top — Tablighi Jamaat conspiracy theories (from spitting to shitting), a dash of anti-nationalism reserved for Muslims who are called more Pakistani than Indian, a huge dollop of ISIS connection (especially in the land of Malayalis), and a generous serving of demonisation through constant use of rhetorics like jihad, halala, triple talaq, beef eaters, and anything that a devious mind can conjure (‘Muslims in India are deliberately spreading the coronavirus’). read the complete article

15 Apr 2020

The Rise of a Hindu Vigilante in the Age of WhatsApp and Modi

Together with a crew of his fellow militants, Premi bound Reyaz’s hands behind his back and paraded him through the most crowded market street in Shamli. A large mob formed, smartphones at the ready, as Premi beat the man into semiconsciousness and flogged him with a belt for more than an hour. “Cow killer! Cow killer! Cow killer!” Premi shouted like a man possessed. Before long, the mob overflowed the banks of the physical marketplace, as videos of Premi’s public torture of Reyaz went viral on WhatsApp and YouTube. Fearing that Premi was about to rekindle more of the same, the government of Uttar Pradesh—which was then controlled by a democratic socialist party—moved to act. District authorities arrested Premi and invoked a law called the National Security Act, which allows state governments to preemptively detain people who pose a threat to the public order.For months, Premi sat in jail. But now, with a radiogram from Delhi, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s central government was stepping in. As it happens, the street fighters of the Bajrang Dal share a parent organization with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. Both militia and political front were spawned by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing paramilitary volunteer organization that advances the cause of Hindutva—an ideology that aims to refashion India into a state for Hindus. The radiogram declared that the Home Ministry was “pleased to revoke” the state government’s decision to detain Premi, and that the young vigilante “may be released forthwith from the jail unless he is required to be kept in jail for any other case.” As soon as Premi accessed his Facebook account, thousands of messages started downloading, along with thousands of notifications and requests. He wanted to read the messages, but there were too many. Before he could do anything, the phone froze. He had to switch it off completely. Later, he found the same crush of mentions and messages on WhatsApp and Twitter, a platform he had barely ever touched. It took him a few days to scroll through it all and to process the scope and character of his new fame. His thrashing of Reyaz had been national news in India, and on social media, Premi found, most people seemed to have defended him. And now the Modi government’s decision to free him had brought him back to the national spotlight. Overnight, Premi realized, he had become a household name among the Hindu middle classes of Uttar Pradesh, and many of them shared his convictions: that Hindus were under threat, that Muslims were unrelenting in their conspiracies to turn India into an Islamic state. His new fans seemed hungry for more. “That was my introduction to the power of social media,” Premi says. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Apr 2020 Edition


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