Today in Islamophobia: In France, yet another mosque is defaced by vandals in the city of Bordeaux with Islamophobic graffiti prompting a stern response from local Islamic organizations, as Chinese surveillance company Renwei Electronics recent award for innovation sheds light on the company’s products being used to track imprisoned Uyghur muslims, and in Canada, a ruling on banning of wearing religious symbols in an academic environment faces an appeal by the Canadian government. Our recommended read for today is by Patrick Wintour on a recent vote by British MPs officially naming China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims as genocide. This and more below:
British MPs voted to declare that China is committing genocide against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province. The motion passed on Thursday does not compel the government to act but is likely to mark a further decline in relations with China. The vote, part of a growing movement in western democracies, was hailed by the chair of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez, who said the UK parliament had “shone a light on the egregious abuses the Chinese state commits against the Uyghur people. The free world must be united in holding the Chinese government to account for these abuses.” Senator Mario Rubio, the vice-chair of the US Senate select committee on intelligence, said: “One by one, democratic nations are calling out the Chinese government persecution of the Uyghur people We cannot stand idly by while these horrific abuses continue.” Nusrat Ghani, the author of the motion and a former Conservative minister, said: “The work does not stop here. We cannot continue business as usual with China while these atrocities continue. The government must now act urgently to ensure our supply chains are not tainted by goods made with Uyghur forced labour.” read the complete article
On April 4, the French Senate voted to ban anyone under 18 from wearing the hijab in public. While the controversial amendment is unlikely to pass the National Assembly, the second branch of France’s bicameral legislature, which has already said it’s opposed, the news nevertheless touched a nerve for Muslim women in France and throughout the world who are tired of government attempts to regulate how they dress. Somali Norwegian model Rawdah Mohamed posted a striking selfie with the phrase “Hands Off My Hijab” written on her outstretched palm, and since then hundreds of hijabi women from countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Africa, and Qatar have added their own photos under the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab solidarity. Below Mohamed, a healthcare worker turned model who made her runway debut at Max Mara for Spring 2021, shares her inspiration for the viral selfie and discusses her experience in the fashion and beauty worlds. I am a model, a behavioral analyst with a medical background, and a mother. I use my platform to fight for my rights as an ethnic minority woman. I posted the selfie as I felt the need to humanize the movement. I wanted my oppressors to see my face and the women who look like me. They don't get to hide in their luxurious parliament offices and regulate the female body without a fight. I want my face—and all of our faces—to always be remembered. This ban disproportionately harms the right of women to manifest their freedom of religion. It is devastating. There is risk of marginalization which will also exclude hijabi women from the public spaces, and the ban can also weaponize oppressive and aggressive ideologies that continue to target us. For women this means daily discrimination in workplaces and out in the public. As reported by CCIF (The Collective Against Islamophobia in France) there were 676 registered Islamophobic acts in 2018 and seventy percent of those targeted were women, with fifty-five percent of those acts being committed by institutions. This is a highly dangerous xenophobic and anti- Muslim climate that we must move past together. read the complete article
Ramadan is a month devoted to prayer, charity, and reflection. This year, Muslims in Minnesota have found another way to practice—protesting.
On the first day of Ramadan, Bantley, 55, attended a protest while fasting, and she originally planned to go home in time to break her fast before 8 p.m. “But as I was standing there, I couldn’t get myself to walk away. It was too powerful,” Bantley said. “Eating and drinking at that point wasn’t even on my mind.” That day, Bantley, who works for a public charter school in South Minneapolis, was calling for justice in the police killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man fatally shot in Brooklyn Center. In the nights that followed, Bantley continued to protest through sunset. She told her friends not to invite her over to break their fasts together: This is more important to me. My heart is out on the streets. In Minnesota, Muslims grappled with an especially difficult start to the holy month. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday in the murder of George Floyd, but protests continue for Wright—and for an end to police brutality and systemic racism generally. Muslim community leaders and activists are reflecting on how their faith and activism intersect. Imam Asad Zaman, the executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, has increasingly been talking with his congregation about justice. “Justice is the bedrock of Islam. It’s the blood that floats through the entire body of Islam,” Zaman said. “So Muslims have to be on the side of justice.” read the complete article
Anti-Muslim activist and failed Florida Republican congressional candidate Laura Loomer — whose rhetoric is so extreme she was banned from Facebook and Instagram — recently shared a picture of herself alongside former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, boasting about meeting with the potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate at Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump's Florida private club. "Great meeting Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo," Loomer wrote on Sunday night via Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform recently favored by right-wing extremists. A series of additional posts sent out by Loomer on Tuesday morning suggest that she didn't just encounter Pompeo at the lavish Palm Beach estate, but also met Trump himself. "President Trump and I just had a great conversation. I look forward to sitting down with him at Mar a Lago in the near future," Loomer stated, alongside a picture. read the complete article
The family of a Syrian schoolboy who was filmed being attacked in a Huddersfield playground had to flee the town after the far-right campaigner Tommy Robinson aired “entirely distorted anti-Muslim” claims about him, a court has been told. The founder of the English Defence League (EDL) – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – is being sued by the family of Jamal Hijazi after he “peddled false and defamatory lies” online about the teenager. The two came face to face at the high court on the first day of the libel trial as the student was cross-examined by Robinson, who is representing himself. He was told by Mr Justice Nicklin that the burden of proving the claims rested with him. In written evidence, Jamal said he felt ashamed and depressed after Robinson’s videos went viral and that his family had been the target of threats and intimidating behaviour. They told a support worker in November 2018 that they wanted to leave Huddersfield and were relocated in early 2019. “By this point, it was unsafe to even walk to the local shops without receiving verbal abuse with a very real risk of that escalating to physical abuse,” he stated. Catrin Evans QC, representing Jamal, told the court that Robinson’s comments “turned Jamal into the aggressor, and the bully into a righteous white knight”. Until his Facebook presence had been closed down, she said Robinson had used it to “stir up, among other things, anti-Muslim sentiment” and that his videos about Jamal were picked up and reported on by the national media. Jamal also outlined some of the bullying he had faced at Almondbury school in Huddersfield, including being threatened with a knife and subjected to racist language. read the complete article
Damien Ryan, who worked as a teacher at Saint Pius X Catholic High School in Rotherham, said Muslims "deserve no lands" and "deserve no countries" in a series of tirades which he posted on his Twitter and on a YouTube channel named The Ryan Review. Ryan, 50, said Islam was a "hateful bigoted fascist ideology" before labelling transgenderism as "bull****". He also made homophobic slurs criticizing gay marriage. Ryan taught English in a secondary school in Wath and was employed between May 2016 and August 2018. A professional conduct panel found Ryan guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute. The panel said he showed some remorse, but ultimately the decision was made to hand him a lifetime teaching ban, which he can appeal in December 2022. read the complete article
Muslims worshippers in the French city Bordeaux woke up yesterday to discover a mosque construction site defaced with Islamophobic graffiti. The Muslim Association of Talence announced the attack on their official Facebook page calling the messages "racist, hateful and Islamophobic." Messages on the entrance read "stop with your mosques" and other offensive slurs. In a message on social media, the President of the mosque, Mohamed Boultam, said, "Seeing these inscriptions and these drawings on a place of worship is very difficult to overcome. Especially since it is a place of passage, with families and children. It is unacceptable." Boultam has said that the mosque will make an official complaint and that they had been in contact with the police following Wednesday's attack. read the complete article
The Quebec Superior Court ruling declared Tuesday that Bill 21, the provincial law banning teachers from wearing religious symbols at work, interfered with minority language education rights protected by the Constitution. But the Quebec government has signaled it will appeal the decision, effectively freezing it from having any effect until the case is heard again at a higher court, which could take at least a year. Other than the exemption for English schools, the Superior Court decision largely left Bill 21 intact. But that exemption sparked outrage in nationalist circles, prompting concerns the judge was allowing the anglophone community to disobey laws passed by Quebec's National Assembly. On Wednesday, the legislature unanimously passed a motion saying its laws "apply everywhere in Quebec." In carving out the exception for Anglo schools, Justice Marc-André Blanchard highlighted the importance these schools place on "celebrating religious and ethnic diversity." This diversity, he said, represented an asset to both students and other teachers, and was an integral part of the anglophone community's culture. Elsewhere in the decision, Blanchard noted the effects of the religious symbols ban would be felt in particular by Muslim women who wear the hijab. Bill 21 violated both their religious freedoms and freedom of expression, Blanchard said. But, he added, because the government invoked the notwithstanding clause, those violations can't be used as grounds for invalidating the law. With no prospect of relief from the ban in the near future, many Muslim teachers are now being forced to confront, yet again, feeling excluded from Quebec social life. Maha Kassef, who wears a hijab and teaches at a French elementary school on Montreal's West Island, was able to keep her job after the law passed in 2019 because of a grandfather clause. But she can't be promoted or work anywhere else in the province without being forced to remove her headscarf. read the complete article
This Company Monitors Prisoners In Xinjiang. It Won An “Innovation” Award At An Event Sponsored By Amazon.
With an Amazon logo behind him and luminaries from Shanghai’s booming venture capital scene in front of him, the executive onstage delivered his pitch. His company, Renwei Electronics, helps authorities in China track prisoners and detainees — alerting guards to their movements and even fitting them with heart rate monitors. Renwei deploys its “smart prison” system in China’s Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million Muslim minorities have been locked up. Yet this did not interfere with the warm welcome for Renwei at an event cohosted by an Amazon-backed “joint innovation center” in November. Event organizers gave Renwei’s executive a platform to deliver an “investor road show”–style speech to some of China’s most prestigious investors. And Renwei received a “product innovation award” recognizing it as one of six “outstanding entrepreneurial companies.” Amazon shut down its e-commerce business in China in 2019, but other parts of its sprawling empire still work with Chinese customers, including its highly profitable cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services. AWS runs the joint innovation center with local Shanghai government and business organizations. The center boosts startups by providing them with AWS cloud resources and tech support, and by helping them acquire talent and comply with government regulations, according to an ad for the event. It’s unclear what benefits, if any, that Renwei and other companies that won awards received. The center’s website emphasizes that the companies it supports also benefit from Amazon’s resources and reputation. Renwei’s technology has been used in prisons across China, including at Zhongjiazhuang Prison, located near the city of Shihezi. The prison is administered by the powerful Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary and governmental organization that the US placed sanctions on last year, citing its ties to human rights abuses in the region. read the complete article