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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20 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Muslims report being segregated; denied care in hospitals. A new oral history project in the U.S aims to preserve stories of black Muslim seniors. For Sri Lankan Muslims the Easter bombing anniversary marks one year of scapegoating and persecution. Our recommended read today is by Khaled Beydoun titled “Between virus and violence: the horror of being Muslim in India.” This, and more, below:


20 Apr 2020

Between virus and violence: The horror of being Muslim in India | Recommended Read

Modi's meeting with Trump in late February displayed all the grandiose pageantry of two egomaniacs, and incited the ongoing Delhi riots to reach an ever higher fever pitch. Buoyed by the meeting of the world's two leading Islamophobe-in-Chiefs, mobs of Hindutva extremists stormed Delhi neighbourhoods populated by Muslims, and proceeded to burn down homes, destroy and desecrate mosques, and kill Muslims and those who sought to protect them. Modi, in the form of state-sponsored Islamophobia and the mob violence his policies and proclamations embolden, spread this pandemic of violence that gripped India, most tightly in its capital city, strategically over the course of years. The banner of "Hindutva nationalism," which holds India to be the home exclusively for Hindus, was rapidly infecting the nation's majority Hindu population, and in turn, exposing its 201 million Muslims to unspeakable horror. It seemed that Indian Islamophobia, and the climax of vigilante violence that gripped Delhi for weeks, had reached its limit, but was soon to be superseded by a new turn of events. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the headlines, and the novel virus claimed the lives of thousands, Hindutva leaders saw an opportunity to further justify their persecution of Indian Muslims: blame its spread in India on Muslims. From 1-15 March, Tablighi Jamaat - a Muslim missionary organisation - held its annual conference in New Delhi. The gathering, attended by Muslims from around the world, met at Tablighi's Markaz headquarters in the south Delhi neighbourhood of Nizamuddin. The event had been planned months in advance, and converged with growing concern within India about the domestic spread of the coronavirus. The state had not yet issued a lockdown, and Tablighi Jamaat – and religious gatherings from other faith groups – continued without interruption. However, the ire of the popular media - and the extremist mobs that ripped through the city that hosted the Muslim conference - found a convenient scapegoat for the domestic spread of Covid-19: Muslims. Not just the organisers of the Tablighi conference, and the 2,000 attendees, but the whole of the Muslim population in India. All 201 million Muslims, in an instant, were singled out and scapegoated as disseminators of the novel virus in India. read the complete article

Recommended Read
20 Apr 2020

India's treatment of Muslims amid coronavirus is almost 'genocidal,' activist Arundhati Roy claims

Political activist Arundhati Roy accused the Indian government on Friday of exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to inflame tensions between Hindus and Muslims. She told DW that this alleged strategy on the part of the Hindu nationalist government would "dovetail with this illness to create something which the world should really keep its eyes on," adding that "the situation is approaching genocidal." "This crisis of hatred against Muslims," she continued, "comes on the back of a massacre in Delhi, which was the result of people protesting against the anti-Muslim citizenship law. Under the cover of COVID-19 the government is moving to arrest young students, to fight cases against lawyers, against senior editors, against activists and intellectuals. Some of them have recently been put in jail." read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Meerut hospital demands negative Covid-19 result to admit Muslim patients, UP police launch probe

On Friday, Meerut’s Valentis Hospital published an advertisement in a Hindi daily, saying that it will not accept new Muslim patients unless they or their caretakers submit negative test results for COVID-19, according to The Wire. “Several patients are not following safety guidelines [like using masks] and are also misbehaving with hospital staff,” the hospital said. “For the safety of the hospital’s staff and patients, the administration requests all new Muslim patients and one of their caretakers to get tested for Covid-19 and visit the hospital only if their reports are negative.” “It is due to the ignorance of some Muslim brothers that everyone will have to suffer for some,” the the advertisement added. “But this is in larger public interest and also in the interest of Muslim brothers.” The hospital claimed that it does not discriminate among its patients and has treated several Muslims in the past. The hospital said that it will admit patients who need urgent medical attention but their swab samples will be sent for Covid-19 tests to the Meerut Medical College. The patients are required to pay Rs 4,500 for the test. The hospital said that Muslim doctors, paramedics, judges, police personnel, teachers and those who don’t live in densely populated areas will be exempted from the rule. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

How the coronavirus outbreak in India was blamed on Muslims

The outbreak of COVID-19 in India has presented yet another opportunity to launch a fresh attack on the Muslim community. Physical, verbal and psychological warfare is being waged against Muslims, pushing further their ostracisation in Indian society. Violent attacks on Muslims perceived to be carriers of the virus have been reported from different parts of the country. There have been reports of meetings in gated communities discussing the prohibition on Muslims being allowed in. Elsewhere, gangs of youth have been manning the entry points of villages to prevent the entry of Muslims. Muslim vendors have also been asked to stop selling on the streets. It all started when news spread that people who had attended a large gathering of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary movement, at its premises in New Delhi had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. People travelled from outside India to attend this event and it is suspected that they may have introduced the virus into the congregation. The Tablighi Jamaat was blamed for organising this event in the middle of March, ignoring the threat of the spread of the virus. Very soon, reports started pouring in from different parts of India suggesting that the largest number of positive cases could be traced back to the event. This became a justification for the government to create a separate column of Tablighi Jamaat-related cases in its daily briefings. It has created an impression that the Muslim movement is the main culprit. Since it is difficult for many to differentiate between Tablighis and other Muslims, all Muslims are now seen as potential carriers of this virus and are therefore shunned and hated. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Muslim Lifestyle Bloggers Are Frustrated With The Hypocrisy Of India’s ‘Influencers’

A few weeks ago, fashion blogger Amena Azeez’s Instagram inbox was flooded with variations of two questions. Why did the Tablighi Jamat deliberately spread the coronavirus? And did she publicly condemn them? Azeez is now used to many of her 42,000 followers demanding that she not discuss politics or condemn atrocities against Muslims. But this was a new low. As Azeez struggled to deal with the barrage of hatred and self-righteousness, the community she thought she was part of—Indian lifestyle, fashion and beauty influencers—went about their normal routines, putting up skincare routines to follow during the lockdown, DIY hair masks and golden hour selfies accompanied by inspirational quotes. Whereas Azeez hoped that the people she thought she belonged with would react to the posts she had put up about the demonising of Muslims during an health emergency, fashion designer and influencer Amber Qureshi decided to deal with it head-on. Instead of waiting for people from her work community to take their cue from subtle messages, she put up Instagram stories exhorting her colleagues to speak up against this persecution. “They all saw my stories, but no one said a single word,” Qureshi said. “I am ashamed of you,” she posted in a story afterwards. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

I am no Zaira Wasim: Babita Phogat after anti-Muslim tweets

Speaking in Hindi, Babita, who also has a Bollywood biopic to her name defended her statements against the Tablighi Jamaat. Commonwealth Games gold medalist wrestler Babita Phogat has been slammed on social media for tweets attacking Muslims over the spread of coronavirus. The wrestler-turned politician stirred controversy on 15 April with her series of tweets criticising Muslims by saying “ignorant Jamaatis.” While another similar tweet, she said, “It might have spread through bats there, in India illiterate pigs are spreading the virus”. She used the hashtag #NizamuddinIdiot. In a video posted to Twitter Friday, she said, she is the “real” Babita Phogat and will continue to stand for her country. “I stand by my tweets, I wrote nothing wrong,” the Commonwealth Gold-medalist told news agency ANI. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

20 Apr 2020

For Sri Lanka's Muslims, the Easter bombing anniversary marks a year of scapegoating and persecution

On 21 April, 2019, as Sri Lanka's 1.5 million Christians celebrated Easter Sunday, bombs ripped through churches and hotels in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa, killing at least 350 and injuring hundreds. When the little known National Towheed Jamaat claimed responsibility for the attacks, Sri Lanka had a choice to make. The government could investigate perpetrators and bring them to justice while ensuring the protection of minority rights, or it could hold the country's 2 million Muslims responsible for a crime they did not commit. The government chose the latter, co-opting its Christian community's pain for a Sinhalese-Buddhist backlash. In the days and weeks after, Sri Lanka enforced internet blackouts and intermittent curfews, arbitrarily arresting Muslims, detaining hundreds without cause, and instituting a ban on burqas. Reports from human rights watchdogs allege that Muslims had often been arrested without any credible evidence of terrorist involvement, for reasons including possessing Qurans, having an expired passport, and in one particularly disconcerting instance, for the pattern on a dress. The pattern, police argued, belonged to Buddhists, not Muslims. Emboldened by Islamophobia from the top, hate splintered. In May, mobs swept through Sri Lanka's north-western province, destroying hundreds of Muslim properties often with active participation from the police. Far from being isolated incidents, these attacks illustrate the normalisation of Islamophobia as statecraft in Sri Lanka. According to a report from the International Crisis Group (ICG), in the months following Easter, Buddhist hardliners attacked more than 200 Muslim houses, businesses, mosques, and Quranic schools. For the most part, these attacks went unpunished. read the complete article

United Kingdom

20 Apr 2020

Coronavirus: ‘Dangerous’ conspiracy theories could spark wave of Islamophobic attacks when lockdown lifts, report warns

Muslims are being targeted using “dangerous” conspiracy theories claiming they are spreading coronavirus by violating lockdown restrictions, a report has warned. Far-right extremists have been circulating old footage to claim that mosques are still open, causing police to be inundated with complaints by duped members of the public. Abusive online posts have called for the demolition of all mosques to “cure” coronavirus, and Muslim women have been the victims of suspected hate crimes in public during the outbreak. A report commissioned by independent members of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group (AMHWG), seen exclusively by The Independent ahead of its release, warned that the claims could lead to a spike in attacks when the lockdown lifts. Co-author Imran Awan, a professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has been used to create ‘others’ of Muslims, blaming them for the spread of the virus. The spread of fake news online is contributing to this extremely worrying trend. “While we haven’t yet seen this translate into physical hate crimes, once social distancing rules are relaxed there are concerns that this could be the case.” read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Rise in Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes as Islamo Wrongly Blamed for Coronavirus

There has been a rise in online anti-Muslim hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic and many Muslims are fearful things could get worse in the run-up to Ramadan, an independent monitoring group has said. It comes as counter-terror police say they are working closely with police forces from across the country to investigate far-right groups who are "exploiting the pandemic" to gain "support for their ideology", with conspiracy theories circulating online about mosques being open despite the lockdown and claims Muslims will be breaking the lockdown during Ramadan. Iman Atta, the director of Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim hate crimes across the U.K., told Newsweek that her organization had noticed a "rise in online anti-Muslim hate incidents" during the coronavirus pandemic. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

The UK needs its minorities now more than ever

Muslim-led charities in the UK, long recognised by parliamentary reports as "the fourth emergency service" are even more important now that the first three are so severely overstretched. The Muslim community has more than stepped up during the coronavirus crisis. Many of those National Health Service (NHS) staff who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have been of immigrant - often Muslim - background, and mosques took the step of closing their doors well in advance of government advice. None of this has prevented far-right figures - as well as some mainstream tabloid journalists - from stigmatising Britain's minorities, especially the Muslim community. The usual peddlers of Islamophobia are continuing to push dangerous conspiracy theories. Tommy Robinson, one of the UK's most notorious online provocateurs, has been quick to seize the opportunity do so. Robinson recently shared a video of Muslim men allegedly flouting social distancing rules by attending a "secret mosque" in Birmingham - fake news which was quickly dismissed by West Midlands police. It is a particularly trying time for Britain's faith communities. Many of them hail from minority backgrounds, and are disproportionately affected by the virus - particularly when it comes to those who need intensive care or lose their lives. read the complete article


20 Apr 2020

Corporate News Coverage of the Pandemic Is Rife With Islamophobia

Every week, we see stories of Muslims facing attacks related to coronavirus, from receiving Islamophobic insults by web conference call intruders to being tasered in supermarkets for wearing a face mask, or facing modern day “apartheid” in India, where patients are being segregated by faith. Unfortunately, the media’s coverage of coronavirus isn’t helping, as it unnecessarily scapegoats Muslims and ties us to terrorism. These misrepresentations increase perceptions of Muslims as aggressive and encourage negative emotions and harmful policies toward them, including the idea that Islam is not compatible with so-called “Western values.” In other words, the media using Muslims as the stock photo for the universally despised coronavirus is not only inaccurate, but it is also downright dangerous to the community. Let us be clear. Religion and race play no role in whether one contracts or transmits the disease, and Muslims are not a foreign virus that must be identified and defeated. Media must be held accountable for their role in promoting Islamophobia, because we know full well that stoking this hatred endangers innocent people regardless of faith. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees stuck at sea, say rights groups

Hundreds more Rohingya refugees remain stuck at sea, rights groups have warned, just one day after it emerged that dozens of people died onboard a boat that was refused entry to Malaysia and left adrift for two months. On Friday, Malaysia’s air force confirmed it had denied entry to a second boat carrying about 200 Rohingya people, claiming it had done so to prevent further spread of the coronavirus within the country, which remains under lockdown. Researchers believe other boats are likely to also be stuck at sea, packed with refugees who are attempting to escape desperate and squalid conditions in the city of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Refugee camps on the border of Bangladesh grew to be some of the biggest in the world following a brutal military crackdown in 2017 that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar. Amnesty International said it had received information about as many as five boats spotted off the coasts of Malaysia and southern Thailand in recent days, believed to be carrying hundreds of people. It is feared that the refugees could remain trapped at sea and unable to disembark as countries cite the spread of Covid-19 as a justification for turning boats back. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Islamophobia is rising in India, says Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

Calling on the Indian government to take steps to protect Muslim minorities who are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India. “[We] urge the Indian Govt to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia in India and protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under international Human Rights law,” said a tweet issued by OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (OIC-IPHRC) on Sunday. read the complete article

United States

20 Apr 2020

Trump: Social distancing norms should be same for Easter, Ramadan

US President Donald Trump has been accused of stoking Islamophobia after raising questions about social distancing in mosques during the holy month of Ramadan. Trump said on Saturday there "could be a difference" in how authorities and politicians enforce coronavirus lockdown measures during the upcoming Ramadan compared with how Christians were treated during the Easter holiday. The president made the comments when asked about a tweet by conservative writer Paul Sperry, which Trump had retweeted, that suggested Muslims could get preferential treatment. "Let's see if authorities enforce the social-distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan (April 23-May 23) like they did churches during Easter," Sperry wrote, echoing a theme that has circulated in right-wing circles on Twitter. "I would say that there could be a difference," Trump said during his daily coronavirus news conference. "And we'll have to see what will happen. Because I've seen a great disparity in this country," he said echoing far-right sentiments on Twitter. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

University Muslim Life Program’s online Jummah service disrupted by Islamophobic ‘zoombombers’

The University Muslim Life Program’s weekly prayer service was interrupted on Friday, April 17 by “zoombombers” who crashed the meeting with offensive slurs and pornographic images. The 1 p.m. service proceeded as usual for its first half. But soon, multiple attendees began to make disruptive noises. While to some the noises were indiscernible, Fawaz Ahmad ’22, Muslim Student Association president and co-host of the meeting, recognized them as racial and Islamophobic slurs. The zoombombers also played a song featured in anti-Muslim memes about ISIS, according to Ahmad. To combat the attack, Ahmad muted the accounts, but the hijackers managed to un-mute themselves. He then switched the meeting’s settings to a forced mute, which caused the zoombombers to move to the chat feature, where they began writing slurs. Ahmad soon turned off the chat feature as well. Undeterred, the hijackers then displayed pornographic material through their video icons. Imam Sohaib Sultan’s video feed was set as participants’ main screen, but viewers using the gallery view might have been forced to see the images. read the complete article

20 Apr 2020

Oral history project preserves stories of black Muslim seniors amid pandemic

As the coronavirus outbreak takes a disproportionately deadly toll on seniors and African Americans, a new oral history initiative aims to train black Muslim youth to document their elderly community members’ stories. The Wisdom of the Elders Project is a “long-overdue” effort to capture black Muslim seniors’ “past, present and uncertain future” before it is too late, coordinator Asha Noor said. “Our mission is to disrupt the narratives which say our elders are disposable or a burden, rather than what they are, which is carriers of our truth and protectors of our legacy,” Noor said. Under the auspices of the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition, organizers will train black Muslim youth to conduct interviews with elders in their communities about “how they have had to be resilient in the past, how they overcame certain challenges, and what we can learn from them in this moment,” Noor said. The coalition, led by Kameelah Rashad of the Muslim Wellness Foundation and Margari Hill of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, was formed in late March to bring together black Muslim activists, healthcare and social service providers, faith leaders, scholars and creatives to support vulnerable communities during the pandemic. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Apr 2020 Edition


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