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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30 Apr 2020

Today in Islamophobia: BJP softens stance toward Muslims after an international outcry against Islamophobia in the country. In the U.S, a man is charged with hate crime in suspected arson at an Islamic center. Our recommended read today is on Iranians, first separated by Trump’s Muslim Ban and now, by the COVID-19 pandemic. This, and more, below:

United States

30 Apr 2020

First the Mulim Ban, Now Coronavirus- Iranian Families Seperated by one Trump Order After Another | Recommended Read

THE SHAMELIS ARE an extraordinarily tight-knit Iranian family. Forty-year-old Amin, the eldest of five brothers, first arrived in California in 2003, and was followed slowly but surely by his parents and siblings. All of them, that is, except for Masoud, who for a decade now has been trying to join the rest of his family in the United States. The situation had been looking hopeful, until the global coronavirus pandemic and a couple strokes of the U.S. president’s pen blew it all up. With new immigration restrictions just announced by Donald Trump in response to the spread of the coronavirus, the family now find themselves facing ever-mounting hurdles to their simple goal of being all together again. These cascading legal obstacles mean that even if tomorrow Masoud is issued a waiver under the travel ban, or wins his legal case challenging it, the other two presidential orders will block him from receiving an immigrant visa or traveling to the United States. And that’s setting aside the difficulty of leaving Iran in the first place. “They have the [original] travel ban. They have the actual borders closed between Turkey and Iran. They have the Covid-19 ban that came out last month. And now they have this one. So this is a fourth barrier,” said Curtis Morrison, an attorney representing the family in the federal case. read the complete article

Recommended Read
30 Apr 2020

Islam in New York and Coronavirus

A Friday story in The Blaze claimed, "This is not the first time that New York officials have appeared to give preferential treatment to Muslims in the state over Christians and Jews." I looked into this, and there seems to be no basis for suggesting that de Blasio is preferring Muslims over Christians and Jews. The Ramadan meal program seems to be part of a general program that distributes free meals, including normal meals for people who have no religious dietary preferences, kosher meals for those who prefer kosher, and halal meals for those who prefer halal. The plan is to distribute 25 million free meals in April and May, apparently, so it's not that odd that 2% of those would be halal, especially since Muslims make up an estimated 9% of New York's population. Nor is there any Establishment Clause barrier to the government offering people food that is compatible with their religious preferences. Just as a cafeteria at a public university or a workplace that has many Jewish or Muslim students or employees might have kosher or halal options, or state-run liquor stores can stock kosher wines, so public free meal programs can have kosher or halal options (which of course anybody will be able to eat). As to the threats of shuttering houses of worship that remained open in defiance of the New York City closure order, I've seen no indication that mosques would have been treated any differently. As I understand de Blasio's threat, it was in response to specific talk of some churches and synagogues defying the closure orders; perhaps it was an overreaction, but I don't think there was any suggestion that New York City mosques would be treated differently. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

Man Charged With Hate Crime in Suspected Arson at Islamic Center

Nicholas Proffitt pleaded guilty to a hate crime after throwing rocks at the Islamic center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 2009. Eleven years later he returned to set the building on fire, the police say. This is the second time Mr. Proffitt has been charged with a hate crime, according to court documents. In 2009, Mr. Proffitt threw rocks at the center, Dr. Sheikh said. Mr. Proffitt pleaded guilty to two charges of property damage motivated by discrimination and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to court documents. “I was very surprised it was him because last time he said he was drunk and was very sorry and that he didn’t mean to do it,” Mr. Malik said. “Now he definitely has anti-Muslim sentiment.” “We thought that Covid-19 was our biggest problem,” Dr. Ahmad Sheikh, 44, an endocrinologist who has worshiped at the center, said on Tuesday. “This happened a few minutes before our fast started.” The Police Department said in a Facebook post that Mr. Proffitt was motivated to set the fire on Friday by “the religion of the people who worship at the Islamic Center.” No one was injured in the fire, but the damage was enough to cause the city to condemn the building, the police said. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

The Volunteers Helping Muslim Medical Workers Break Fast During Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, which began last Friday, Muslims embark on a daily fast from sunrise to sunset. While the majority of the Muslims are forced to celebrate at home with the closures of mosques and large gatherings banned, essential workers like medical professionals are fasting all while providing critical care for patients. A volunteer group called On Call Halal, launched last monthby 31-year-old entrepreneur Kaitlin Abdelrahman, is aiming to provide dozens of Muslim health workers in the area with free meals to begin and break their fasts during Ramadan. The meals come from Muslim-owned restaurants that serve halal food, which is prepared through the requirements of the Islamic faith. The idea occurred to Abdelrahman after several of her friends who were medical workers mentioned that their already long working hours nearly doubled after the coronavirus outbreak. Many of those health care providers did not have time to find a meal to break their fasts during their hectic shifts. Some workers did not have a proper meal until hours after the sun went down. read the complete article


30 Apr 2020

India softens toward Muslims after Islamophobia outcry

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for unity and religious harmony after an international outcry over increasing Islamophobia in the country. The Muslim outreach attempts began after influential figures in the Arab world objected to the government blaming an event organized by the religious missionary group the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) for “contributing to a 30 percent rise in the coronavirus cases” in India. On Sunday the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s paternal organization and masthead of Hindu rightwing nationalism, called upon people to “come together and fight the menace of coronavirus jointly.” “All 130 crore Indians are our family,” said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. “We are one. We should not blame the entire community for the mistake of a few individuals. People who are more mature in both communities should come forward and start a dialogue to remove prejudices among people’s minds.” Blaming TJ placed New Delhi’s carefully cultivated relationship with the Middle East under the microscope after the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly disapproved of hate speech by Indian nationals accusing the missionary group of deliberately exacerbating the pandemic. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

India should be placed on religious freedom blacklist, US panel says

The US commission on international religious freedom recommends but does not set policy, and there is virtually no chance the state department will follow its lead on India, an increasingly close US ally. In an annual report, the bipartisan panel said that India should join the ranks of “countries of particular concern” that would be subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records. “In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault,” the report said. It called on the US to impose punitive measures, including visa bans, on Indian officials believed responsible and grant funding to civil society groups that monitor hate speech. The commission said that Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, which won a convincing election victory last year, “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity, and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence”. It pointed to comments by the home minister, Amit Shah, who referred to mostly Muslim migrants as “termites”, and to a citizenship law that has triggered nationwide protests. It also highlighted the revocation of the autonomy of Kashmir, which was India’s only Muslim-majority state, and allegations that Delhi police turned a blind eye to mobs who attacked Muslim neighborhoods in February this year. The Indian government, which has long been irritated by the commission’s comments, quickly rejected the report. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

The pandemic and rising Islamophobia mar Ramadan in India

Ramadan in India, which began April 25 in the country, has been marred by the rising Islamophobia following accusations that a surge in infections was tied to a three-day meeting in March in New Delhi of an Islamic missionary group, the Tablighi Jamaat. Some leaders of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party labeled the meeting as “corona terrorism.” As a result, many Muslims have faced renewed stigma, threats and the boycotting of vendors who venture into Hindu-dominated neighborhoods. The lockdown in India, the world’s most draconian, has multiplied their troubles. India’s 200 million Muslims, 14% of the population, are the largest minority group in the Hindu-majority nation, but they are also the poorest. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

‘Don’t Be Seen Here Again’: Another BJP MLA Harasses Muslim Vendor

Another BJP leader launched a communal attack on a Muslim vegetable vendor in Uttar Pradesh, during the COVID-19 lockdown in India. The MLA in question, Brij Bhushan Sharan, is seen harassing the vendor and a young boy outside his residence. The MLA, from Charkhari in UP’s Mahoba district, was seen coercing the vegetable seller and the young boy to reveal their religious identities, as per ANI. He continues to badger him about his name after which, the vendor replies, “Rajkumar.” The MLA did not stop there and said, “Sahi bolo nahi to maar maar kay theek kar doonga tumhay (Tell me your name correctly, or I will beat you up).” The vendor was accompanied by a minor. The MLA then proceeds to ask him what the vendor’s real name was. He said, “Beta tu bata, nahi toh tera papa jayega (Tell us, or we will put your father in jail).” The minor then says, “Aziz-ur-Rahman”, post which the MLA said, “Sa**a jhoot bol raha tha Musalmaan hokay (You were lying about being a Muslim).” This comes a few days after another BJP MLA, from Barhaj constituency in Deoria district, Suresh Tewari, was seen in a video clip, telling people not to buy vegetables from Muslim vendors. The party issued a show-cause notice against him, seeking reply within a week, PTI reported quoting sources. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

Why Arabs are speaking out against Islamophobia in India

In the past couple of weeks, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Kuwait government, a royal princess of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as a number of Arab activists have called out Islamophobic hate speech by Indians seen to be accusing the country's Muslims of spreading the novel coronavirus. A barrage of tweets and statements from individuals and institutions in the Gulf expressing their outrage over the hateful social media posts forced the Indian government to respond, including a Twitter post by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he stressed that "COVID-19 does not see race [or] religion". Following the Jamaat issue, a wave of Islamophobic posts was unleashed on social media by right-wing Hindus, some of them employed in Gulf countries. Dubai-based Indian, Saurabh Upadhyay, asked Muslims to "accept they were the source of the pandemic" and called for the death of Jamaat members, describing them as "terrorists". He deleted his tweets after social media users in the Gulf and India called him out. Princess Hend al-Qassimi, a member of the UAE royal family, warned "openly racist and discriminatory" Indians in the Gulf that they "will be fined and made to leave" the country. In the past month, at least six Hindus working in the Gulf region have lost their jobs or have been charged for their social media posts. read the complete article

30 Apr 2020

Hope To Save Lives, Fight Islamophobia: Tablighi Jamaat Member Who Donated Plasma For COVID-19 Patients

On 20 April, Tabrez Khan, a sock manufacturer and a member of the ultra-orthodox Tablighi Jamaat sect, who had recently recovered from the novel coronavirus, donated his plasma in the hope that it would save the life of someone else infected with the deadly virus. The 36-year-old resident of Jahangirpuri says that he called the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in Vasant Kunj soon after hearing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speak of “plasma therapy” as a possible way of treating critically ill patients and appeal to those who have recovered to donate. Khan says a doctor at the ILBS told him that he was the first person to have donated his plasma in Delhi. After giving a blow-by-blow account of how he had donated his plasma, from the ambulance picking him up to the medical staff cheering at the end 35-minute long procedure, Khan said that he wanted to “unburden his heart” that was heavy from the grief of the Islamophobia that is running parallel to the coronavirus pandemic in India. “So many reporters have called and asked me about the plasma therapy that I have my answers memorised, but no one is asking about the pain I’m feeling as an Indian, a Muslim, and member of the Jamaat. I don’t want to hide who I am or be shamed any longer,” Khan said in an interview with HuffPost India. “I don’t think about whether my plasma will go to a Hindu or Muslim. I plan to donate plasma for the second time. I hope that it will save someone’s life and fight this hate that is sowed deeper and deeper, every day,” he said. Tablighi Jamaat officials told HuffPost India that 72 members had given plasma at the quarantine centre at Narela and 14 in Sultanpuri, all of them breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramzan for the procedure. Khan, who joined the Tablighi Jamaat in 2015, has been scarred by the media’s depiction of the Tablighi Jamaat as a primitive cult of intolerant bearded men. Khan says his motivation for joining the Jamaat was to instil discipline in his life. He is married to a Hindu woman named Kusum, is a cashier for the local Hindu temple, helps organise the Ram Leela in his community, and practices yoga. When he returned home, Khan said that his previously warm Hindu neighbours would no longer respond to his ‘Ram Ram’ greeting. The local chemist and grocery store owner told him to get his basic provisions elsewhere. “They said please go to some other store. We cannot give you anything here,” he said. “For someone like me, who loves his country, his fellow citizens and his community, this hate is as crushing as the coronavirus,” he said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

30 Apr 2020

Trevor Phillips role ‘undermines Covid-19 BAME inquiry’

The appointment of Trevor Phillips to an inquiry into why black, Asian and minority ethnic people are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19 has undermined its credibility among those it is seeking to serve, according to two leading BAME campaigners. Phillips, who previously chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was selected despite being suspended from the Labour party last month for alleged Islamophobia, including a reference to UK Muslims as being “a nation within a nation”. The first four UK doctors with Covid-19 known to have died were all Muslim. Writing in the Guardian, Sayeeda Warsi, who has long campaigned against Islamophobia in the Conservative party which she formerly chaired, and Simon Woolley, the director of Operation Black Vote, write: “The biggest challenge for the review will be credibility. Public Health England has given Trevor Phillips and his company, Webber Phillips, a prominent role. Yet a growing number of BAME groups and individuals are struggling to find the trust and confidence in him that is needed for this review to be taken seriously.” read the complete article


30 Apr 2020

Princess Hind Al Qassimi: 'I Pray For an India Without Hate and Islamophobia'

To be able to live in union with people so different from your race, religion and region was an epiphany. I slipped into my new glass slippers like Cinderella rushing to a ball. A sense of liberation that I thoroughly recommend for everyone to try once, to simply live a day without bias or hate. It beats whatever rush adrenaline can give you, and I admit I was hooked and I am addicted to love. There is an unbreakable bond between Emiratis and Indians that others may not understand. We grew up with more Indians around us as children in our homes than Arabs, so a certain affinity and undeniable connection exists in our DNA. Our daily language has borrowed words and customs familiar with our own. It is a shock for those of us who were familiar with India to see a rise in animosity, Islamophobia and a regular bloodbath happening, and now a pandemic that is called the ‘Qurano-Virus’. I feel that I brought back the essence of peace with me from that giant lotus hall. Don’t these successful so-called powerful millionaires know that hate speech is the prelude to genocide? Nazism wasn’t born in a day. It was allowed to grow like a weed that went wild because people chose to look the other side and it thrived on that specific weakness called silence. Hate is being preached openly in India against Muslims, in a nation of 182 million Muslims. BJP [India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party] and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] leader Rajeshwar Singh, have, in an example of intimidation and hate speech, said that “Muslims and Christians will be wiped out of India by December 31, 2021”. read the complete article


30 Apr 2020

Amazon buying heat-sensing cameras from Chinese firm blacklisted by US over alleged Uighur muslim treatment

Amazon has reportedly bought heat-sensing cameras to detect possible coronavirus infections among its workforce from a Chinese firm blacklisted by the US. Zhejiang Dahua Technology Company is said to have helped China detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. Reuters reports that the company shopped 1,500 cameras to Amazon this month in a deal valued at close to $10m. One third of the cameras are destined for Amazon locations in the US. Dahua, one of the largest manufacturers of surveillance cameras in the world, disputes its designation as a blacklisted company saying that it lacks “any factual basis.” In a statement, the company said it is committed “to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19” through technology that detects “abnormal elevated skin temperature — with high accuracy.” Thermal cameras made by Dahua have been used in hospitals, airports, train stations, government offices and factories during the pandemic. IBM has also placed an order for 100 units, and Chrysler ordered 10, a source told Reuters. The company also makes white-label security cameras on behalf of other brands. The Trump administration blacklisted Dahua and seven other technology firms for acting against US foreign policy interests, saying that they were “implicated” in “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Apr 2020 Edition


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