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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05 Apr 2021

Today in Islamophobia: The Uyghur American Association discusses newly leveled sanctions against China due to violations of human rights, as the confirmation of Tennessee textbook commission appointee Laurie Cardoza-Moore brings her Islamophobic past to the public spotlight, and in Denmark, a plan to cap ‘non western’ residents to 30 percent within the next 10 years draws concern from the International Community. Our recommended read today is by Center Associate Farid Hafez on France and Austria’s recent political actions targeting Muslims living in their countries. This and more below:


04 Apr 2021

Opinion | Are France and Austria Fighting a War on 'Political Islam' – or a War on Muslims?

In fact, both Austria and France are paving the way to restricting the lives of their Muslim citizens. They justify their actions in the name of fighting a nebulous "political Islam" and "Islamic separatism." But what they’re really attacking is the long-held principle of the fundamental equality of all their citizens. After 9/11, Austria's political elite used their Muslim population as an example to the world of the "good domesticated Muslims." No clash of civilizations there. But this apparently harmonious climate changed over time, especially with the rise of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, or FPÖ, whose characterization of Islam as a menace to Austrian society has slowly but surely won dominance in the national discourse, way beyond the far-right fringe from which it emerged. This was part of a longer-term ÖVP strategy of compounding suspicions about what it called "political Islam," but seemed more like plain "Islam." Under the pretext of combatting "political Islam," the ÖVP and its coalition ally from 2017-2019, the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, or FPÖ, had already closed mosques and banned the hijab in state elementary schools. But for Kurz’s ÖVP, the fight against "political Islam" seems to have become a core ideological pillar of the party. Even amid the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the ÖVP opened what it called a "European lighthouse project," the Documentation Center of Political Islam, a monitoring center that maps and surveils Muslim NGOs. In the wake of the shooting both France and Austria wanted to demonstrate a strong hand against violence. But rather than pinpoint violent Muslim individuals and groups, they cracked down on Muslim civil society figures and anti-racism campaigners. It seems obvious that these initiatives did not hurt violent Muslim individuals at all, but were aimed at maiming civil society and anti-racist voices that stood up against a creeping, repressive politics. read the complete article

Our recommended read for the day
03 Apr 2021

Uyghur American Association Discusses Sanctions Against China

The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union have all leveled sanctions on China due to their treatment of Uyghurs, which includes detention camps, forced labor, sterilizations and abortions, which a 2020 State Department report has called genocide. China denies the allegations, despite personal testimonies, extensive reporting and, indeed, satellite footage of Uyghur detention camps in China. Kuzzat Altay is president of the Uyghur American Association, and many of his family members in China have experience in the prison camps. He joins us now from Northern Virginia. Mr. Altay, thanks so much for being with us. ALTAY: My goal was staying away from politics because we suffered a lot as a kid. In 2005, I left China, you know, because I was arrested by Chinese intelligence, threatening me to kill me. So I went to Turkey in 2005 and came to the United States in 2008 as a refugee. My goal was American dream. I want to build a life that - you know, I can just have a normal life, a normal person that would have - wake up in the morning, go to work and just hang out with your family. That was my life. Unfortunately, China did not allow that. In 2018, my father sent me a message through WeChat saying, son, they're taking me. So he was just gone for two years. I did not know he was alive or not. And I started advocating. I spoke up for two years. After I was elected as the president of Uyghur American Association, in January 2020, the Global Times, the Chinese state media, somebody sent me a Twitter message that was a video of my father reading a script, denouncing me and saying that China - how China was treating him so well, that he was so happy under China. And if I don't stop what I'm doing against Chinese Communist Party, you know, he doesn't have a son like me. So I was suffering for my father for two years, didn't know he was alive. Now, the first time I see him is on a state TV denouncing me. So after a few months, he started talking to me. His leg was broken because Chinese guardian was pushing him or something. And with the broken leg, the guardians force him to stand up with the broken leg. So he said, you know, I want to die. It was so painful. So he told me that, you know, after two years of being in the prison, he was so-called graduated from the educational camp, and he got a tailor certificate when he was (unintelligible). The last time I was talking to him, he was crying on the phone, and he said, son, I just want to die outside. I don't want to die inside the camp. And that was the last word I heard from him. And it is just heartbreaking. read the complete article

02 Apr 2021

Myanmar refuses to accept Rohingya girl deported by India: Report

Myanmar has refused to accept a 14-year-old Rohingya girl deported by India, an Indian media report said, as the United Nations refugee agency and rights groups criticised New Delhi for the move. The girl was taken to a border town in northeastern India’s Manipur state on Thursday for deportation, police officials said, but the authorities in coup-hit Myanmar refused to accept her. The report added that the girl will be sent back to the neighboring state of Assam, where she had been sheltering for more than a year while her family lived as refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya, forced to flee Myanmar following a military crackdown the UN said was carried out with “genocidal intent”, have lived in India and neighboring Bangladesh for years. But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government regards them as a security threat and has started detaining them. read the complete article

United States

02 Apr 2021

Tennessee textbook commission appointee criticized as anti-Muslim

Tennessee lawmakers are moving to confirm the nomination of activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who made national news by opposing a Middle Tennessee mosque project, to the Tennessee Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. Members of the Republican-dominated Senate Education Committee voted 7-1 Wednesday for Cardoza-Moore, who was nominated to the post by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. With the nomination already clearing major House panels, that sets the stage for final floor votes. Cardoza-Moore, a Franklin resident, garnered national attention when she spearheaded efforts opposing the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro in 2010 and 2011. During her Senate appearance, Cardoza-Moore was introduced by Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who said, "Laurie prays for a day when parents in the Volunteer State can send their children to school with the knowledge they are receiving a wholesome, accurate, unbiased American education." After her appointment by Sexton in November, the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned her nomination, saying "This individual should not be anywhere near the selection of textbooks in Tennessee or any state. She clearly has anti-Muslim views that inevitably would negatively impact any textbook selection." read the complete article

02 Apr 2021

Hindu right-wing groups in US got $833,000 of federal COVID fund

Five organizations with ties to Hindu supremacist and religious groups have received COVID-19 relief funding amounting to $833,000, according to data released by the United States’ Small Business Administration (SBA), a federal agency that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs. Massachusetts-based Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) received more than $150,000 under PPP and a further $21,430 under EIDLA and DAL programs. VHPA’s Indian counterpart, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), was designated as a religious militant organization by the World Factbook of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for years. VHP is an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a far-right Hindu nationalist organization formed in 1925 along the lines of hardline nationalist groups in Europe, which aims to create an ethnic Hindu-majority state in India. For decades, VHP has campaigned to turn India into a Hindu nation and stands accused of orchestrating numerous attacks on Muslims and Christians in hundreds of riots in various parts of the country. read the complete article

03 Apr 2021

The death of a former Guantanamo prisoner exposes how the US controls the life and death of its captives

That was just the beginning of Lutfi bin Ali's ordeal in Kazakhstan. He was placed under the care of the local chapter of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Kazak Red Crescent Society which was responsible for providing healthcare, food stipends, language classes, and transport. Like other former prisoners, he was kept in the dark about the terms of his resettlement agreement between the United States and therefore was unaware of what they meant for him in practical terms. While in Kazakhstan, he was isolated, made to feel unwelcome, and was provided with very little support in obtaining services such as medical treatment. "At least in Guantanamo there were people to talk to. Here I have nobody," Lutfi told the Guardian in 2016. read the complete article

The United Kingdom

02 Apr 2021

Batley cartoon row: Media on a mission to provoke Boris Johnson's culture war

Under the pitiless gaze of an ignorant and often bigoted media, yet another moral panic is being drummed up against British Muslims. Unscrupulous ministers score cheap political points. Fractures in our already troubled society widen. Worst of all, complex issues are being reduced to a simplistic analysis that does an injustice to our common humanity. This is another of the culture wars that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson loves to provoke. The winners are fanatics on either side. It was dangerous, irresponsible and wholly wrong to publish the name of the Batley teacher who showed his class images of the Prophet Muhammad - and criminal to threaten him. Meanwhile, this largely fabricated controversy plays into the hands of the far-right movements and think tanks which have poured so much time, effort and intellectual resource into the argument that there are irreconcilable tensions between the West and Islam. read the complete article

03 Apr 2021

Revealed: How Conservatives sat on report into racism within Tory Party

The party acknowledged that it had received the review, set up by Boris Johnson as he apologized for Islamophobia, but would say only that it would be published “in due course”. Labour has called on the party chair, Amanda Milling, to commit to immediate release of the review, carried out by social psychiatry expert Swaran Singh, while victims of alleged racism have raised concerns that they were ignored by the inquiry. The government has faced criticism this week for a string of issues with its official race review which was accused of glorifying slavery, while several experts cited in the document said they had never submitted evidence. Now Tories who have made high-profile allegations of racism have told The Independent they were shunned by Swaran Singh’s team, while another protested that only written evidence was accepted. read the complete article

03 Apr 2021

The death of a former Guantanamo prisoner exposes how the US controls the life and death of its captives

That was just the beginning of Lutfi bin Ali's ordeal in Kazakhstan. He was placed under the care of the local chapter of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Kazak Red Crescent Society which was responsible for providing healthcare, food stipends, language classes, and transport. Like other former prisoners, he was kept in the dark about the terms of his resettlement agreement between the United States and therefore was unaware of what they meant for him in practical terms. While in Kazakhstan, he was isolated, made to feel unwelcome, and was provided with very little support in obtaining services such as medical treatment. "At least in Guantanamo there were people to talk to. Here I have nobody," Lutfi told the Guardian in 2016. read the complete article

05 Apr 2021

Daughter of murdered Muslim man calls for official Islamophobia definition

The daughter of a Muslim man who was murdered by a white supremacist as he walked home from evening prayers at a Birmingham mosque is launching a campaign calling for the government to adopt an official definition of Islamophobia. Mohammed Saleem, 82, was murdered in April 2013 by Pavlo Lapshyn, who later planted three bombs outside mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton. Saleem’s daughter Maz Saleem is launching a campaign called #IAmMohammedSaleem to highlight Islamophobic hate crimes and put pressure on the government. She is urging people to post short videos and testimonies on social media throughout the month of April speaking out against Islamophobia. read the complete article


02 Apr 2021

Denmark: Plan to further limit ‘non-Western’ residents draws ire

Passed in 2018, the regulations are part of a national scheme – “One Denmark without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030″ – and under them, the number of “non-Westerners” in disadvantaged neighborhoods is capped at 50 percent. The government recently proposed reducing the limit to 30 percent within the next 10 years. According to Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek, too many non-Western foreigners in one area “increases the risk of an emergence of religious and cultural parallel societies”. In a recent meeting hosted on Facebook, Bek said: “We need to get better at spreading cultures so that not all perpetrators of violence live together and reinforce the norms they have been accustomed to.” Critics say the move risks minorities being evicted and further discriminated against. On April 6, the parliament will debate the existing legislation after a petition by civil society calling for it to be repealed received 50,000 signatures. read the complete article


03 Apr 2021

China launches musical in bid to counter Uyghur abuse allegations

A new state-produced musical set in Xinjiang inspired by the Hollywood blockbuster “La La Land” has hit China’s cinemas, portraying a rural idyll of ethnic cohesion devoid of repression, mass surveillance and even the Islam of its majority Uyghur population. China is on an elaborate PR offensive to rebrand the north-western region where the United States and other western nationals and human rights groups say genocide has been inflicted on the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. As allegations of slavery and forced labour inside Xinjiang’s cotton industry have drawn renewed global attention, including big brands like Nike saying they would no longer source materials from the region, inside China, Beijing has been curating a very different narrative for the troubled region. Rap songs, photo exhibitions and a musical – “The Wings of Songs” – are leading the cultural reframing of the region, while a legion of celebrities have seemingly unprompted leapt to the defense of Xinjiang’s tarnished textile industry. read the complete article

04 Apr 2021

 Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

That summer, Sabit and her mother returned to Kuytun, to settle her father’s affairs. Friends had warned her not to go: rumors had been circulating of an escalating crackdown on the indigenous peoples of Xinjiang—of Kazakh traders being disappeared at the border. But Sabit had made an uneventful trip there less than a month earlier, and she wanted to be by her mother’s side. For two weeks, they met with family and visited ancestors’ graves. The trip, she later recalled, “was full of tears and sadness.” On July 15th, Sabit and her mother drove to Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport, for a flight back to Kazakhstan. They arrived in the middle of the night, and the building was nearly empty. At customs, an officer inspected her mother’s passport and cleared her to go. But when Sabit handed over her documents he stopped, looked at her, and then took her passport into a back office. “Don’t worry,” Sabit assured her mother, explaining that the delay was most likely another bureaucratic annoyance. Minutes later, the officer returned with an Uyghur official, who told Sabit to sit on a bench. “You cannot leave,” he said. “You can discuss between yourselves whether your mother will go or stay.” read the complete article


05 Apr 2021

As France Votes To Ban The Hijab For Under 18s, Muslim Content Creators Share Their Own Stories of Islamophobia and Racism

With the French senate having voted to ban the wearing of the hijab in public for anyone under the age of 18, as part of the controversial separatism bill, content creators and social media fans are taking to Twitter and Instagram to share their anger, frustrations and to share their own stories of racism, islamophobia and hate. 27-year-old Somali influencer Rawdah Mohamed shared her own experiences of facing hate and racism in a recent Instagram post, as she calls on others to share their own stories within the comments. “I want to take this opportunity to share the real people that will be effected by this ban and the impact it will have on Muslim Women. I refuse to let this pass down without speaking up, it is the very least we can do for ourselves and each other. We are not alone. Please share your stories,” writes the Norway-Based content creator. read the complete article


02 Apr 2021

Fire kills 3 in market near Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

A fire has destroyed more than 20 shops in a makeshift market near a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, killing at least three people, police and witnesses said. Local police chief Ahmed Sanjur Morshed on Friday said they recovered the bodies from the debris after it took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control. Several other people were injured in the blaze, the second deadly fire in less than two weeks. The fire broke out early on Friday when residents of the sprawling Kutupalong camp – home to more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar – were asleep. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Apr 2021 Edition


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