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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03 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Outrage over a Muslim congregation that has sparked a new wave of Covid-19 cases in India takes on an Islamophobic turn. In Germany, a Turkish family receives a “coronavirus-infected” letter. Our recommended read today is by Christian Caryl on the Rohingya who remain uniquely vulnerable to impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. This, and more, below:


03 Apr 2020

One of the world’s most vulnerable groups now finds itself confronting covid-19 | Recommended Read

In the summer and fall of 2017, the Myanmar military launched a campaign of terror against the ethnic group known as the Rohingya, driving some 700,000 of them across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist ruling elite has long discriminated against the Muslim Rohingya, treating them as a nefarious alien presence in the country’s midst even though most have lived there for generations. Periodic waves of persecution had already sent many Rohingya fleeing across the border in the decades before the 2017 atrocities began. Today, 850,000 Rohingya are living in conditions of unimaginable hardship in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Crammed together in tiny makeshift shelters made of bamboo and plastic, many of the refugees already suffer from poor nutrition, compromised immune systems and lung illnesses. Last week, testing revealed a person infected with the coronavirus in the town of Cox’s Bazaar, just a few miles from the camps. Humanitarian groups are sounding the alarm. The International Rescue Committee, a charitable group, has just released a study warning that any covid-19 infections in refugee camps around the world, and particularly those inhabited by the Rohingya, would almost certainly spread far faster than on the notorious Diamond Princess cruise ship. read the complete article

03 Apr 2020

Crowded in Camps, Rohingya Refugees Vulnerable to Virus

Aid workers are bracing for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus in one of the world's largest refugee camps in Bangladesh, with officials warning that containing the disease among more than 1 million tightly packed Rohingya Muslims will be a daunting task. With about 40,000 people per square kilometer (103,600 per square mile) living in plastic shacks side by side, which is more than 40 times the average density of Bangladesh, the refugees are dangerously exposed to the virus. Each shack is barely 10 square meters (107 square feet) and many are overcrowded with up to 12 people. There have been no reported cases of infection in the camps yet, but officials remain concerned. The U.N. is not doing any testing for the virus but sends any suspected cases to a government hospital. read the complete article


03 Apr 2020

Under Modi, India's Press is Not So Free Anymore

The Media One anchorman Vinesh Kunhiraman went on air as usual on March 6, ready to tell the station’s five million viewers in India’s Kerala State about the death anniversary of a beloved comedian and the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic. Just a few minutes into the broadcast, he saw the managing editor rush to the studio floor, gesturing wildly. “I realized something was not right,” Mr. Kunhiraman recalled. The station had been cut off by an order from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government decided to block the channel for 48 hours because it had covered February’s biggest news story — the mob attacks on Muslims in New Delhi that flared into broader unrest — in a way that seemed “critical toward Delhi Police and R.S.S.,” the order said. The R.S.S. is a Hindu-nationalist social movement with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party. “It was shocking the central government took such a decision,” said R. Subhash, an editor at Media One. “It was an attack on the freedom of the press.” Since Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, they say, his government has tried to control the country’s news media, especially the airwaves, like no other prime minister in decades. Mr. Modi has shrewdly cultivated the media to build a cult of personality that portrays him as the nation’s selfless savior. read the complete article

03 Apr 2020

India confronts its first coronavirus ‘super-spreader’ — a Muslim missionary group with more than 400 members infected

The devotees came by the thousands from all corners of India and beyond, converging on a large white complex in a crowded quarter of Delhi to share a message of piety. When they left in the first weeks of March, they unknowingly carried the coronavirus with them. Gatherings last month at the headquarters of a prominent Muslim missionary group are emerging as India’s first “super-spreader” event, complicating efforts to control rising infections in this nation of 1.3 billion people. The outbreak also has provoked a spasm of Islamophobia in India, a Hindu-majority nation that is home to 200 million Muslims. In February, the country witnessed its deadliest sectarian clashes in years after the government’s pursuit of a controversial citizenship law sparked violence. read the complete article

03 Apr 2020

Coronavirus: Islamophobia concerns after India mosque outbreak

Outrage over a Muslim congregation that has sparked a new wave of Covid-19 cases in India has taken an Islamophobic turn. States across India have traced more than 300 positive cases to the weeks-long event. And Islamophobic hashtags have been trending on Twitter since the news first broke on Monday. "Instead of corona quarantine, we should have hate quarantine," says historian Rana Safvi. Even as details about the congregation emerged on national news, #CoronaJihad, #NizamuddinIdiots, #Covid-786 (a number that carries religious meaning for Mulsims), began trending. "We need to be secular. Religious groups should not hold congregations thinking religion is its own act of survival," says sociologist Shiv Visvanathan. Islamophobic memes have also been circulating - one meme, for instance, shows China as the "producer" of the virus, and Muslims as its "distributors". Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a minister in the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, called it a "Talibani crime". Indian television news, which has often been criticised for its divisive rhetoric, flashed headlines such as "Save the country from Corona Jihad" and "Who is the villain of Nizamuddin?" read the complete article


03 Apr 2020

Turkish family receives racist 'coronavirus-infected' letter as Islamophobia grows in Germany

Turkish family in the northern German city of Hamburg received a letter allegedly containing the coronavirus, with a message by the sender saying that they hope the family contracts the virus. The incident came just after German police announced they don't believe the perpetrator of the terrorist attacks in Hanau was a far-right extremist. Önder Koca received the letter Tuesday from an unidentified sender. “I have a surprise for you. I have coronavirus and I coughed on this letter and licked it several times. I will not leave the world alone,” the sender said, adding that their final mission was to leave a foreigner-free Germany for their children and grandchildren. “Die, die slowly. Leave Germany to the Germans. I wish bad things to happen to you, I hope the virus spreads among your family,” the anonymous sender said. The letters ends by saying, “greetings to victory and Hitler.” read the complete article


03 Apr 2020

International Children's Book Day: Books by Muslim authors every child should be reading

A story cuts across politics and culture, and can bring light to underrepresented voices, be they black and minority ethnic (BAME) characters and, in recent times, Muslims. There has been a real move towards representation and diversity not only in characters but in authors in the UK, and nowhere else is this more keenly seen than in an explosion of Muslim authors, and stories with Muslim and Arab main characters. The growth of Muslim writers and stories is, in part, a response to the rise in Islamophobia in the UK, and to combat damaging stereotypes about Muslims. But there's also a simpler reason: Children want to read stories where they can see themselves – and Muslim characters are part of this diversity. As it's International Children's Book Day, here's a list – which is by no means exhaustive – of books by Muslim or Middle Eastern authors that children should jump on. read the complete article

03 Apr 2020

Asians will become the new Muslims — how coronavirus will change our world like 9/11

Coronavirus is our 9/11 moment. Things will never go back to the way they were. Surveillance systems will never be the same, and public places will constantly remind us of it. Masks, hand sanitisers, temperature guns, disinfectant sprays, contact tracing, scrutiny of travel history and geo-tagging – this will become part of our post-pandemic world. Old twentieth-century notions of privacy were hit hard after 9/11 terror attacks. It will get another punch after coronavirus pandemic and medical surveillance. After the 9/11 attack, airport security was amped up and surveillance technologies were redefined. Over the years, it became normal for people to be patted up and down during security checks. Moreover, Muslim travellers had to carry the additional baggage of being harassed by security personnel just by the courtesy of their last names. People wearing turbans were also not spared of the airport security’s wrath. It introduced the concept of terror watch lists, which gave governments unprecedented power to surveil on people. All over the world, countries joined hands to protect their citizens and unleashed the war on terror. The 9/11 attacks also brought a cultural shift. Film stars with a macho image heavily capitalised on it, taking on roles where they defeated terrorists. Countries reasserted their boundaries and the identities attached to those. A year down the line, we should possibly get used to a temperature gun pointed at our face each time we would enter a shopping complex, movie theatre or even an airport. Health care workers in hazmat suits seem to be a close everyday reality. Contact tracing will also give the government the right and the insight into who you meet and when. Technology will only make tracking each citizen easier and smoother. Many democracies will also claim sweeping powers over their citizens under the garb of coronavirus surveillance. read the complete article


03 Apr 2020

Xinjiang: Can We Call it Genocide

Following the deadly September 11th attacks in the U.S., the Chinese government adopted the language of fighting “terrorism,” applying it to their decades-long colonial project targeting Uighur Muslims. In 2017, this escalated to the establishment of a network of concentration camps, where detainees have been subjected to psychological and physical torture, political indoctrination, and forced to renounce their faith. China has defended these camps as necessary to root out “extremist Islamic ideology,” where signs of extremism include praying, growing beards, eating halal meat, giving up smoking, and having a Quran. Recent reports estimate that up to three million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims have been detained in these camps, and that some are being transferred to forced labor camps across the country to produce goods for the international market. To bring the public’s attention to the crisis in East Turkestan, a conference, Surveillance & Repression of Muslim Minorities: Xinjiang & Beyond, on March 7, 2020, at SOAS, University of London tackled the question of whether China’s alarming actions against the Uighurs can be called genocide. The overwhelming conclusion was that, yes, what is happening to the Uighurs can be categorized as cultural genocide. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Apr 2020 Edition


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