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 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Accusations of ‘love jihad’ are impacting interfaith couples in India, as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is denied his request for a Quran, and in China, a new report by Human Rights Watch documents numerous crimes against humanity with a look into China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Ilyas Mohammed on the worldwide spread of far-right ideologies and the danger they pose to the stability and safety of the world’s minority communities. This and more below:


19 Apr 2021

From the US to Singapore, far-right ideologies are spreading

Far-right ideologies have gained a foothold in mainstream western politics because of an existing ecosystem that fosters structural racism. Far-right ideologues can mobilise populations around notions of religious or ethnic victimization, the imminent risk of “violence” from the “Other”, and the desire to bring back a “glorious past”. Far-right ideologies can adapt and mutate, and even appeal to non-white communities that would ordinarily be victimized by them. While the far-right ecosystem once existed on the peripheries of society, social media has irreversibly changed this situation, making such views accessible to anyone with a computer or a smartphone. Popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide socialization for those sympathetic to far-right ideologies and politics, before some move on to platforms where hardcore extremists reside, such as 4chan and 8kun. Far-right extremists have weaponized social media platforms to spread hate and build ecosystems to radicalize and recruit, and even to livestream terrorist violence, as was the case with the Christchurch mosque shootings or the Halle synagogue attack. The Islamophobic discourse has also gained traction in non-western countries, including India, Myanmar, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, China and others. In some cases, such as Myanmar, Islamophobia is structural and violent, while in others, such as South Korea, less overtly noticeable. read the complete article

Our recommended read for the day
20 Apr 2021

Bangladesh calls on Southeast Asia to pressure Myanmar to take back the Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh hopes the Association of South East Asians (ASEAN) will put pressure on Myanmar in the repatriation of the displaced Rohingya to go back to their home country, according to the foreign minister. AK Abdul Momen told CNBC’s “Streets Signs Asia” on Monday Bangladesh has been bearing the burden the Rohingya Muslims, who have been seeking shelter in the South Asian country, after fleeing from the Myanmar army’s genocidal operations in 2017. AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh has been bearing the burden of the Rohingya Muslims, who have been seeking shelter in the South Asian country after a mass exodus due to a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar army in 2017. The Rohingya are a persecuted Muslim minority from Rakhine state in western Myanmar. While there have been large migrations of Rohingya to Bangladesh since the 1970s, none was as quick and massive as the August 2017 exodus. “Around 1.1 million persecuted Rohingyas are now being sheltered in Bangladesh,” Momen told CNBC’s “Streets Signs Asia” on Monday. “Our priority is that these Rohingya persecuted people should go back to their home for a decent living,” he said. read the complete article

20 Apr 2021

Uyghur Australian woman breaks her silence as her husband is sentenced to 25 years in a Chinese jail in Xinjiang

Melbourne woman Mehray Mezensof has been married for five years, but her husband has been absent for most of that time. Instead, he has been in and out of detention centres and concentration camps multiple times in China's far north-western region of Xinjiang. Ms Mezensof has never spoken publicly before, fearing it would make an already perilous situation more dangerous for her husband Mirzat Taher. But she has been pushed to breaking point after receiving devastating news two weeks ago that Mr Taher, an Australian permanent resident, has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for alleged "separatism". "It's ridiculous, my husband would never do something like that," the 26-year-old nurse told 7.30 in an exclusive interview. "This isn't something out of a movie, it is happening." Mr Taher was on alert and the couple wanted to leave Xinjiang as soon as possible. They booked flights to Melbourne for April 12, 2017 but they never made it to the airport. The couple's worst fears were realized on the night of April 10, when police came knocking. "They confiscated my husband's passport and one of the first things they asked was, had my husband travelled overseas," Ms Mezensof recalled. He did not return that night. It was the last time Ms Mezensof saw her husband for more than two years. After being questioned by local police for three days, Mr Taher was taken to a detention centre for 10 months before transferring to a concentration camp. read the complete article

20 Apr 2021

Labor pushes Morrison government to clarify whether it views Xinjiang human rights abuses as genocide

The Morrison government must explain whether it sees human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region as a case of genocide, the federal opposition says. Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, also called on the government to “consider targeted sanctions on foreign companies, officials and other entities known to be directly profiting from Uyghur forced labour and other human rights abuses”. The calls, which come amid a rift in the relationship between China and Australia, reflect the growing bipartisan consensus in Canberra favouring a tougher line against Beijing on human rights concerns. Wong told an audience in Hobart that Australia faced “a risker, more dangerous world” and needed to speak out clearly and consistently in support of human rights. She called for a toughening of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act to impose penalties on businesses that failed to remove risks in their supply chains, arguing that the world had witnessed “a growing number of horrifying reports of forced labour and human rights violations in China and in many other countries”. Labor’s Senate leader cited “a series of credible and distressing reports of forced labour in China, particularly in Xinjiang”. Those accounts, Wong said, were “in addition to reports of mass detentions and other human rights violations of Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and across China.” “All Australians would condemn these reported actions,” she said in an address to the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. read the complete article

19 Apr 2021

The Reorientations of Edward Said

“Professor of Terror” was the headline on the cover of the August, 1989, issue of Commentary. Inside, an article described Edward Said, then a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, as a mouthpiece for Palestinian terrorists and a confidant of Yasir Arafat. “Eduardo Said” was how he was referred to in the F.B.I.’s two-hundred-and-thirty-eight-page file on him—perhaps on the assumption that a terrorist was likely to have a Latin name. V. S. Naipaul willfully mispronounced “Said” to rhyme with “head,” and asserted that he was “an Egyptian who got lost in the world.” Said, an Arab Christian who was frequently taken to be Muslim, recognized the great risks of being misidentified and misunderstood. In “Orientalism” (1978), the book that made him famous, he set out to answer the question of, as he wrote in the introduction, “what one really is.” The question was pressing for a man who was, simultaneously, a literary theorist, a classical pianist, a music critic, arguably New York’s most famous public intellectual after Hannah Arendt and Susan Sontag, and America’s most prominent advocate for Palestinian rights. In “Orientalism,” published two decades into a conventional academic career, Said unexpectedly described himself as an “Oriental subject” and implicated almost the entire Western canon, from Dante to Marx, in the systematic degradation of the Orient. “Orientalism” proved to be perhaps the most influential scholarly book of the late twentieth century; its arguments helped expand the fields of anti-colonial and post-colonial studies. Said, however, evidently came to feel that “theory” was “dangerous” to students, and derided the “jaw-shattering jargonistic postmodernisms” of scholars like Jacques Derrida, whom he considered “a dandy fooling around.” Toward the end of his life, the alleged professor of terror collaborated with the conductor Daniel Barenboim to set up an orchestra of Arab and Israeli musicians, angering many Palestinians, including members of Said’s family, who supported a campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israel. While his handsome face appeared on the T-shirts and posters of left-wing street protesters worldwide, Said maintained a taste for Rolex watches, Burberry suits, and Jermyn Street shoes right up to his death, from leukemia, in 2003. Brennan shows how much Said initially was, as he once confessed, a “creature of an American and even a kind of upper-class wasp education,” distanced from the “uniquely punishing destiny” of an Arab Palestinian in the West. Glenn Gould recitals in Boston appear to have registered more with him than the earthquakes of the post-colonial world, such as the Great Leap Forward or the anti-French insurgency in Algeria. The Egyptian Revolution erupted soon after Said left for the U.S., and a mob of protesters burned down his father’s stationery shop. Within a decade, the family had moved to Lebanon. Yet these events seem to have had less influence on Said than the political currents of his new country did. Brennan writes, “Entering the United States at the height of the Cold War would color Said’s feelings about the country for the rest of his life.” Alfred Kazin, writing in his journals in 1955, already worried that intellectuals had found in America a new “orthodoxy”—the idea of the country as “world-spirit and world hope.” This consensus was bolstered by a professionalization of intellectual life. Jobs in universities, media, publishing, and think tanks offered former bohemians and penurious toilers money and social status. Said began his career at precisely this moment, when many upwardly mobile American intellectuals became, in his later, unforgiving analysis, “champions of the strong.” read the complete article

United States

20 Apr 2021

US: Trump urges Biden to reinstate travel ban on Muslim countries

Former US President Donald Trump has urged his successor Joe Biden to reinstate the travel ban on certain Muslim countries in order to keep the country safe from radical Islamic terrorism. If Joe Biden wants to keep our country safe from radical Islamic terrorism, he should reinstitute the foreign country travel ban and all of the vetting requirements on those seeking admission that go with it, along with the refugee restrictions I successfully put in place, Trump said in a statement on Monday. Terrorists operate all over the world and recruit online. To keep terrorism and extremism out of our country, we need to have smart, commonsense rules in place so we don't repeat the many immigration mistakes made by Europe and the USA prior to Trump', said the former US president. read the complete article

19 Apr 2021

5 recommendations as Biden works to dismantle discriminatory immigration policies

Last December, the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Rights of Immigrants Committee, in strategic partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, convened a group of interdisciplinary experts to discuss policy responses to the last four years of restrictive, exclusionary and discriminatory immigration measures. The event was part of a two-day Social Justice Policy Summit addressing the most pressing civil rights and social justice issues. Here are several recommendations to help us turn the page on immigration and write a new chapter for our nation. Stop pitting racial, ethnic and religious communities against each other The previous administration frequently employed an “us v. them” narrative to alienate groups from one another. Representative narratives assert that immigrants are allegedly stealing jobs from African Americans, and Muslims are supposedly victimizing members of the LGBTQ community. Restore independence, impartiality and integrity to immigration courts Immigration judges, who are part of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, give effect to the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act via statutory construction and interpretation. Over the course of the last four years, the Trump administration filled two-thirds of the court’s 520 lifetime positions with judges who have overwhelmingly favored deportation—in 69% of cases as compared to 58% for those hired since the Reagan administration. Dismantle federal programs between local police departments and ICE Increasingly, local police departments are assuming federal immigrant enforcement vis-a-vis 287(g) agreements with ICE. The agreements delegate to local police such federal authority while incentivizing them to make pretextual arrests to identify and detain immigrants. Such abuses compromise community trust in institutions meant to protect them while also undermining public safety. End the extreme vetting initiative The Extreme Vetting Initiative requires screening travelers and immigrants to the U.S. to ensure they will make positive contributions to the national interest. To this end, ICE continuously monitors social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as other content available via the internet—blogs, academic websites, conferences—to identify individuals for deportation or visa denial. Enact the No Ban Act The National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu of California, prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion and the executive’s ability to issue similar bans. read the complete article

19 Apr 2021

There’s a long, global history to today’s anti-Asian bias and violence

In a recent article, two of us, Turkmen and Dionne, examined pandemic-related discrimination in global and historical perspective. We found that in a context of racial inequality, pandemics further marginalize oppressed groups. “Othering” during pandemics is neither new nor unique to the United States. As social scientists define it, othering happens when one group of people — usually a majority group — treats a marginalized group as if something were wrong with them, pointing to perceived “flaws” in the out-group’s appearance, practice or norms. By extension, we consider “pandemic othering” to be such marginalization during a pandemic. After the coronavirus spread from Wuhan, China, to the rest of the world, Chinese people and others of Asian descent were targeted and blamed for the pandemic. Anti-Asian hate crimes surged — in the United States and globally. According to analysis by social scientists Jennifer Lee and Karthick Ramakrishnan using data from a survey conducted by AAPI Data and SurveyMonkey in March 2021, more than 2 million Asian American adults in the country have endured hate crimes or hate incidents since the pandemic began. But we found other marginalized groups also have been attacked and blamed for the pandemic, even when Asian identity isn’t the source of marginalization. For example, in India, the Hindu nationalist government accused an Islamic seminary of spreading the coronavirus by holding a gathering — and anti-Muslim disinformation and violence in India has persisted. In Guangzhou, China, after news media reported that five Nigerians tested positive for the virus, other Africans were kicked out of their housing and forced into quarantine and testing. In Tunisia, refugees and migrants reported being treated as carriers and facing more xenophobic discrimination in accessing health care. read the complete article


19 Apr 2021

France to hold 'national consultation' to define secularism after accusations of Islamophobia

Minister Delegate in Charge of Citizenship Marlene Schiappa announced on Sunday a national consultation to define French "secularism", after months of controversy. Schiappa told French weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche that she will launch it on Tuesday with a "conference between high levels intellectuals of all sensibilities". The minister announced round table talks and working groups on freedom of expression and civic integration, as well as talks with organisations specialised in racism and anti-Semitism. "It's a subject of passion. The idea is to say: let's talk about it together and listen to each other… We want to get out of the stranglehold between the far-right Identitarians on the one hand and on the other the Indigenists [members of an anti-racism and anti-colonialist party] and Europe Ecology - the Greens." "I hope for a respectful debate from which something positive will emerge, and not a new law reducing individual freedoms, as we raise every time we talk about secularism!" MP Sonia Krimi told French media La Croix. This decision comes after the State decided to end the Observatory of Secularism, a consultative commission responsible for advising and assisting the government on anything related to the respect and promotion of secularism on 31 March. Instead, Schiappa talked about "the creation of a high council for secularism to enlighten the government" in the frame of the "anti-separatism" bill. This would aim at strengthening oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs to ensure "respect for French values". The bill, as voted in the Senate on 12 April, includes preventing mothers from wearing the veil during school outings. Tensions have risen about what secularism means, especially when it comes to the practice and perception of Islam in France. read the complete article

United Kingdom

19 Apr 2021

No 10 race report tries to normalize white supremacy, say UN experts

The report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published at the end of March, concluded that while racism and racial injustice still existed, geography, family influence, socioeconomic background, culture and religion all had a greater impact on life chances. The report said it did not find evidence of institutional racism in the areas it examined, such as policing and health. In a statement, the the UN working group of experts on people of African descent said: “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent.” The experts criticized the report’s focus on family structure to explain racial disparities, describing it as “a tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK”. It said the report failed to provide any persuasive evidence for claims there was no institutional racism in the UK and instead cited dubious evidence. The UN body called on the government to reject the report and urged it to ensure the “accurate reflection of historical facts”, adding: “The distortion and falsification of [these] historic facts may license further racism, the promotion of negative racial stereotypes, and racial discrimination.” read the complete article


19 Apr 2021

China’s treatment of Uighurs is ‘crimes against humanity’: Report

China is committing crimes against humanity in its treatment of the Uighur ethnic minority and other Turkic Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang, with Beijing responsible for “policies of mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution, among other offenses”, Human Rights Watch has said in a new report. The 53-page report, titled Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots documented a “range of abuses” that also include enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, separation of families, forced returns to China, forced labour, sexual violence and violations of reproductive rights. The report, which was authored with the help of Stanford Law School’s Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic noted that while Beijing’s oppression of Turkic Muslims is “not a new phenomenon”, it has reached “unprecedented levels”. As many as a million people have been detained in 300 to 400 facilities, including “political education” camps, pretrial detention centres and prisons, the report said. Meanwhile, children whose parents have been detained are sometimes placed in state institutions. Since 2017, when Beijing intensified its crackdown, arrests in Xinjiang accounted for 21 percent of all arrests in China, despite the region accounting for just 1.5 percent of the population, the report said. Arrests in the region increased by 306 percent in the last five years as compared to the first five years. Since 2017, the Chinese government has also “used various pretexts to damage or destroy” two-thirds of mosques in the region. read the complete article


19 Apr 2021

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny denied access to a Quran in prison

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is threatening to sue Russian authorities over access to Islam’s holy book.“I realized that my development as a Christian also requires studying the Quran,” Navalny said in an Instagram post by his team on Tuesday. Navalny, who has been called “ the man Vladimir Putin fears most,” was ordered by a Russian court to serve a two and a half year prison term for violating the terms of his probation in February after a 2014 sentence for embezzlement. Navlany is serving his sentence at a penal labor colony near Moscow. In response to his treatment, he has also launched a hunger strike. His lawyers and representatives said he is suffering from weight loss and fatigue while in prison. “They won’t give me my Quran. And it’s infuriating,” read the statement from the anti-corruption activist, lawyer and leader of the Russia of the Future Party. “When I was jailed, I made a list of ways I wanted to improve myself that I will try to complete in jail. One of the points was to deeply study and understand the Quran,” he said. Navalny added that his goal was to become “the Quran champion” among Russia’s non-Muslim politicians. Navalny, who said he has previously read the Quran, has made a number of comments critical of Russian Muslims and Muslim immigrants to Russia. His post, timed to coincide with the start of Ramadan, may be designed to appeal to this important demographic in Russia. “It is clear that this Islamophobe is trying to use the Holy Scriptures for his own political purposes and will definitely use quotes for provocations, as they have long learned to do in Europe,” wrote Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic in a post on his Telegram channel. He added, “On behalf of the Muslims of Russia, I appeal to the employees of the colony where the provocateur is being held: do not let the prisoner serving a fair sentence sow sectarian strife!” read the complete article


19 Apr 2021

In BJP’s India, Love Means Hindus Never Marry Out of their Religion

In 2020, Sidhant*, a Hindu man, and his girlfriend, a Muslim woman, decided to marry. They had been in a relationship for five years and neither of their families had opposed the relationship. But when the woman sought permission from her family to marry Sidhant, it was refused. Her family was afraid to be caught in a situation in which someone could accuse their daughter of honey-trapping Sidhant to make him accept Islam. They were terrified of being accused of ‘love jihad’. As laws begin to dictate the parameters of choosing one’s marital partner, there is little social space left for love that blooms beyond caste and religion. In November 2020, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet cleared a draft ordinance against forceful inter-faith conversion, including conversion after marriage, following which other BJP ruled states, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, either passed bills against what they call ‘love jihad’ or displayed intentions of formulating such laws. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said recently that Indian society should learn to accept intercaste and interfaith marriages. As a term, ‘love jihad’ was initially used to explain the case of identity forgery that happened with Tara Sahdev, the national-level air rifle shooter in 2014, when she had alleged that her husband Raqibul Hassan alias Ranjit Kohli had pressured her to change her religion. But it was instantly adopted by Hindutva organisations to harass interfaith couples, particularly Hindu-Muslim couples, on the grounds that the Hindu partner is often ‘forced’ to convert to Islam, which is seen as a ploy to increase India’s Muslim population. Even the relationship of Hadiya, who had chosen of her own volition to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim, was labelled ‘love jihad’. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Apr 2021 Edition


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