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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23 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Police in India are accused of targeting Muslims in violence probe, as scapegoating of the religious minority continues amidst the COVID crisis. Our recommended read today is by Ishaan Tharoor titled “Trump uses the pandemic to push far-right agenda.” This, and more, below:

United States

23 Apr 2020

Trump uses the pandemic to push far-right agenda | Recommended Read

In the midst of a deadly pandemic — and in the last year of his term — Trump is back to what he seems to know best. On Tuesday, it seemed the White House was on the cusp of issuing an executive order that suspends immigration into the United States for at least the next 60 days. Trump had tweeted his intent to do so Monday night, saying the order was required in “light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy” — what he has previously called the coronavirus — “as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” The move is an unprecedented extension of Trump’s restrictionist agenda. But it remained unclear who exactly would fall afoul of the new directive, especially when international travel has drastically dropped as a result of coronavirus lockdowns. The decision plunged would-be legal immigrants, including foreign relatives of U.S. citizens, students and employees of U.S. companies, into a world of stress and uncertainty. They joined millions of others — including citizens of blacklisted Muslim-majority countries and undocumented people brought to the United States as children whose protections Trump stripped — who have been vilified by the president and had their lives potentially upended by a stroke of his pen. The suspension carries the hallmarks of White House adviser Stephen Miller, the most vociferous anti-immigrant voice in the administration with a long history of association with America’s white-nationalist far right. In recent weeks, Miller has weaponized the public health emergency to revamp a key refugee resettlement office within the administration. Trump, meanwhile, has patted himself on the back for enacting a decree that allowed U.S. authorities to immediately deport would-be asylum seekers on the southern border with Mexico. Trump has a history of pointing fingers at immigrants. His obsession with fortifying the country against people who have entered the country illegally ought not obscure how his administration seems bent on curbing legal migration to the United States, too. Even the government’s coronavirus relief efforts sought to punish immigrant families, withholding stimulus checks to households where one spouse did not have a Social Security number. read the complete article

Recommended Read
23 Apr 2020

Lessons from Post 9/11 America for A Post-COVID Society

In the wake of a national crisis that occurred nearly two decades ago—the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—we led nonprofit organizations that focused on South Asian communities. Then, as now, our country faced a crossroads. Unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, our country waged domestic and international wars on terrorism that continue to have devastating consequences for many. A post-COVID society can look different from post 9/11 America but only if we reject racism, center the needs of the most vulnerable communities, and balance our rapid response posture with long-term strategies that tackle systemic disparities. There’s a thin line between hate violence and state violence. After 9/11, authorities used national security as the reason to arbitrarily detain people, hold closed immigration hearings, require people from Muslim-majority countries to register, and spy on Muslims, South Asians, and Arabs at mosques and restaurants. These same measures could be retooled now to track the locations and behaviors of people, with an emphasis on people from certain racial backgrounds through a national database and cellphone data. Or the current Muslim ban could be extended to limit immigration altogether as the White House indicated just this week. We must vet far-reaching government policies that purport to be in the name of public health through a civil liberties framework. read the complete article

23 Apr 2020

No, Mr. President, Your Immigration Powers Are Not Unlimited

A president has broad powers over immigration under the Constitution and federal laws, but they are not unlimited. At the very least, there must be a reasonable basis for restrictions on immigration. None exists for President Trump’s threat to temporarily ban all immigrant visa admissions to the United States. As with earlier, problematic immigration policies like the entry ban aimed at several predominantly Muslim countries, this proposal started out with a remarkably broad promise by the president: a ban on all immigration. That sweeping rhetoric has a cost of its own. Among other things, it may discourage international students from enrolling in American universities this fall, and otherwise signal “keep out” to visitors who would actually boost the economy. But beyond the rhetorical overkill, there are other problems with this ban. The actual policy proposal is much less than promised by tweet, but even in its whittled down form, it is still unlawful. read the complete article

23 Apr 2020

Immigration Isn’t What’s Killing America. Trump Is.

What is this move by Trump, really? It’s three things. Deflection, misdirection, and weaponization. It’s a quantum leap, in those three ways, in the growth of American authoritarian-fascism. Let’s take each of those in turn. “Banning immigration” is pure deflection. From what? From a fact so horrific and nightmarish it defies belief. Fifty thousand people and counting have died during this pandemic. And yet 90% of those deaths were needless. They could have been averted with better testing, equipment, supplies, healthcare. That means that about 45,000 people have died needlessly — through sheer negligence, irresponsibility and malice. Whose? I think you know the answer to that question — the Presidency’s, and maybe Congress’s, too. The second thing this “immigration ban” is misdirection. That goes a little deeper than mere deflection. The story goes that the ban is there to give jobs to good, hard-working Americans. Jobs that, by implication, dirty immigrants take. There’s just one problem with all that. The economic woes of of the average American are very, very real — but they have nothing to do with anyone else, especially immigrants. They are self-inflicted disasters, too. read the complete article


23 Apr 2020

India Is Scapegoating Muslims for the Spread of the Coronavirus

That Ambreen Khan was a nurse made little difference to her attackers: She was Muslim, and for the Hindu mob in Punjab, that outweighed all other considerations. As Khan returned home from her hospital shift on April 10, half a dozen men surrounded her car, wielding iron rods and bamboo sticks. Most were neighbors—men she had known for years. Now, they were shouting slurs at her. They pulled Khan from her car, beat her, and molested her. As she begged for mercy, showing them her identity card and permission to move freely, they taunted her. “Go back to Pakistan, and do your duty there,” one man yelled, according to the police report. “I fear for my life here now,” Khan said. “It doesn’t feel like home. It feels like another country.” As the largest minority group in India, Muslims have long faced social, political, and economic marginalization. The gulf between Hindus and Muslims—who make up some 200 million of India’s 1.3 billion citizens—has widened, particularly since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. Attacks against Muslims have sparked repeatedly in recent years; the coronavirus is now adding fuel to the fire. “Many Hindus say Muslims are deliberately attempting to spread coronavirus to wage a holy war or jihad against the majority Hindus,” said Zainab Sikander, a political commentator based in New Delhi. “Such bigotry has not only been normalized but has been encouraged through ruling party propaganda against Muslims.” Muslims have been demonized in India in the past for being sympathetic toward terrorism but the hatred against them was rarely expressed so explicitly. Today, many face discrimination in every aspect of daily life—shunned by coworkers and neighbors, pushed out of jobs or communities because of their religion. Their future looks bleak in India, and most fear speaking in public. “It is like an abusive relationship where you strike a humiliating compromise because there is no way out,” said Iqra Kilji, a Muslim poet from Madhya Pradesh. “The abuser knows you can’t sever the relationship and keeps abusing.” read the complete article

23 Apr 2020

India police accused of targeting Muslims in violence probe

Police in India are being accused of targeting Muslims during investigations into communal violence earlier this year. Dozens of people were arrested during the protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which was enacted in December. Al Jazeera's Elizabeth Puranam reports from the capital, New Delhi. read the complete article

23 Apr 2020

Today's Muslim Is Being Forced to Shed His Identity and Don a 'Nationalist' Avatar

As the vilification of Muslims reaches new heights in India, I find it hard not to think of four Muslim standout characters from Hindi cinema, spread over the last 50 years. Three of them have been with us every day in the India of recent decades, especially since the late 1980s, but such is our blindness that they will still require introductions first. The fourth character is more recent and well-known, perhaps for not representing the ‘identity’ he was born with. For me, he is not just an antithesis to the others, but also a piteous model – a ‘how-to’ tool – on existing in the future in India. These characters have been flitting around in my mind because Muslim stereotyping or stigmatisation has reached its vilest point following the media’s coverage of COVID-19 infections among Tablighi Jamaat members. For several decades, Muslims were typecast by communal propaganda as disruptors of national harmony and as perpetrators of terrorism. While previously Muslims were shunned for the bombs or guns they were supposedly carrying or hiding within flowing robes, now we are being told the virus, seen as a bio-weapon, is present in the breath of every Muslim. Muslims in India are seen as monolithic and not as a diverse community. With assistance from foot soldiers and social media warriors of the Hindu right-wing, all Muslims were pigeonholed as rabid traditionalists and cast in the same mould as jihadis and terrorists. Organisations ranging from the Tablighi Jamaat to the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind were immediately depicted as mere replicas of one another. But more dangerously, the novel coronavirus has finally acquired a religious identity. It provided yet another opportunity to further polarise society on religious lines and consolidate existing majoritarian support. For the Hindu right-wing, this was too good an opportunity to miss out on. It was much later that anyone from the government asked supporters not to communalise the Markaz Nizamuddin incident. Silence has been a convenient political tool for this regime and it was no different this time. read the complete article

23 Apr 2020

Coronavirus Lockdown VIII: Why India's Muslims need assistance, not isolation

The 40-day socio-economic lockdown is more likely to knock the bottom out of Indian economy largely dependent on informal establishments and informal workforce. If 93% of the total workforce is informal, as the Economic Survey of 2018-19 said, this would mean a proportionate population is dependent on their income which is hit hard due to lockdown, enfeebling demand even further. While the plight of these segments of the informal economy has attracted public attention, however inadequate or ineffective, there is one more group that is equally vulnerable but remains completely below the radar, the Muslims. The Muslims are the largest minority community with a 12.7% share of the population, relying far more on the informal economy than any other socio-religious or religious groups, including the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), as official data demonstrates and yet, their plight remains unnoticed and unaddressed. What both the above graphs mean is that the Muslims are worse off in the labour market than any other socio-religious or religious group. That makes them more vulnerable than the rest. Prof. Amitabh Kundu of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who headed this committee, explains, in rural areas, the Muslim women's participation in the workforce is very low (lowest among all socio-religious and religious groups), most Muslims are landless and depend on crafts and trade. In urban areas, they depend on self-employment (carpenters, masons, etc.) and very few of them are in government jobs or employed in large industries or high-skilled organised sector jobs. Recently, several instances of religious discrimination and further marginalisation of the Muslims have come to notice. These instances may seem disparate and isolated ones confined to some states, but the grave danger they pose to India's growth and development prospects is huge, nevertheless. read the complete article


23 Apr 2020

Amid Its Covid-19 Crisis, China Was Still Hacking Uighurs’ iPhones

From as early as December of last year and continuing through March, Chinese hackers used so-called "watering hole" attacks to plant malware on the iPhones of Uighurs, according to new findings from the security firm Volexity. To do so, a hacker group that Volexity calls Evil Eye compromised popular Uighur websites, including the news and education site Uyghur Academy and the Uighur Times news outlet. Visiting those sites on an iPhone would automatically infect the device with sophisticated spyware designed to gain access to its data, particularly messaging applications. That indiscriminate web-based hacking campaign is remarkable not just because it occurred during the peak of China's novel coronavirus crisis, but also because it began just months after Volexity and Google publicly revealed that the same Evil Eye group was hacking smartphones via those same websites, using a rare collection of previously unknown iOS software vulnerabilities—also known as zero-day vulnerabilities—that shocked the cybersecurity world. The security research group Citizen Lab found that the same zero-day vulnerabilities were also being used to target Tibetan victims, which Volexity sees as a suggestion that the hackers were likely carrying out domestic surveillance on behalf of the Chinese government. The country has faced international criticism over its treatment of both ethnic groups, with a growing focus in recent years on the reported suppression of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of western China. The fact that the hackers so quickly retooled and launched a new spy campaign in late 2019 and early 2020 seems to suggest just how determined China's state-sponsored hackers are to keep tabs on Uighurs' communications, says Volexity founder Steven Adair. read the complete article


23 Apr 2020

UK government urged to ban import of Chinese cotton ‘made using Uighur Muslim forced labour'

The UK government is being urged to ban the import of cotton sourced from the Chinese province of Xinjiang, a region where Uighur Muslims are being put to work in factories in conditions that amount to forced labour. A 60-page document submitted to HMRC by lawyers and a rights group on Wednesday amounts to “overwhelming and credible evidence concerning the scale and gravity of the forced labour regime in Xinjiang”, its authors said. Named in the submission were some the UK’s best-known brands, including H&M, Ikea, Muji and Uniqlo, known to have used Xinjiang cotton in their products in the past year. Some have done so openly - Uniqlo boasted in an advertisement that cotton from the province, used in its shirts, was “famous for its superb quality”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Apr 2020 Edition


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