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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06 Apr 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Kazakhstan, China’s campaign in Xinjiang takes a toll on the nearly 1.6 million Kazakhs in the region, as Colorado’s first Muslim Lawmaker speaks on her experience as a first generation Palestinian immigrant, and in France, the French senate votes against the public wearing of items of clothing “deemed to be religious” worn by women under the age of 18. Our recommended read today is by Amy Qin on China’s attempts to counter international backlash with a musical aimed at defending policies aimed at ethnic Uyghur minorities. This and more below:


05 Apr 2021

China Tries to Counter Xinjiang Backlash With … a Musical?

Welcome to “The Wings of Songs,” a state-backed musical that is the latest addition to China’s propaganda campaign to defend its policies in Xinjiang. The campaign has intensified in recent weeks as Western politicians and rights groups have accused Beijing of subjecting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang to forced labor and genocide. The film, which debuted in Chinese cinemas last week, offers a glimpse of the alternate vision of Xinjiang that China’s ruling Communist Party is pushing to audiences at home and abroad. Far from being oppressed, the musical seems to say, the Uyghurs and other minorities are singing and dancing happily in colorful dress, a flashy take on a tired Chinese stereotype about the region’s minorities that Uyghur rights activists quickly denounced. “The notion that Uyghurs can sing and dance so therefore there is no genocide — that’s just not going to work,” said Nury Turkel, a Uyghur-American lawyer and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington. “Genocide can take place in any beautiful place.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United States

05 Apr 2021

Rutgers, Audrey Truschke and The Encounter With Hindutva Fascism

The last few weeks saw a major controversy erupt at Rutgers University that has made the reality of Hindutva fascism rapidly emerging as a major source of anti-Muslim bigotry in the West more apparent than ever. At issue is a campaign of vilification and intimidation launched against Dr. Audrey Truschke, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers. One of the few living historians who reads pre-modern Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi, Prof. Truschke is also a leading authority on South Asian cultural and intellectual history. The campaign, ostensibly launched by a Hindu student body at Rutgers to complain about Truschke’s “Hinduphobia”, has the full backing of Hindu nationalist organizations who operate essentially as front organizations of Hindutva in the US. While the case against Truschke is sought to be made on the basis of this perceived “Hinduphobia,” the real reason for demonizing Dr. Truschke goes much deeper and has to do with her commitment to pursue scholarship without fear or favor. read the complete article

05 Apr 2021

‘Not A Box To Be Checked’: Colorado’s 1st Muslim Lawmaker Aims To Influence Policy And Help Tackle Health Care

Witnessing her father proudly display his faith and sense of leadership in the context of the legislature is partly what led her to call the very same building her workplace. In November, Jodeh was elected to represent House District 41, which covers Aurora. In doing so, she became the first Muslim lawmaker in state history. She felt some satisfaction as she delivered the opening prayer herself this January — as a fully sworn-in member of the legislature. A first-generation American, Jodeh’s parents were immigrants from Palestine who helped found the Colorado Muslim Society in the 1960s — the first mosque in the state. It remains the largest mosque in the Rocky Mountain region. Growing up, Jodeh spent many hours at the mosque — on evenings, weekends and holidays. “I am proud to continue to attend that mosque,” she said. It also happens to be in her district. The message from her parents was to aim high. They “set the expectation that there is no ceiling and as Muslims and as immigrants and refugees, we have an obligation to contribute positively to our community,” she said. “Being an elected official is one way of doing that.” Society at large hasn’t always given the same encouraging message. “There are realities that I grew up with and that many people of color, brown, black, indigenous communities, immigrants, and refugees, marginalized communities are all facing. And for me that often translated into Islamophobic hate speech or actions.” read the complete article

05 Apr 2021

Republican congressman condemned over Islamophobic tweet to Ilhan Omar

A Republican congressman responded to Ilhan Omar’s expression of grief about the attack at the US Capitol on Friday by comparing it to the 9/11 attacks. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, tweeted: “Heartbroken to learn another [police officer] was killed while protecting the Capitol. My thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family and the entire Capitol police force. The death toll would have been worse if the assailant had an AR-15 [assault rifle] instead of a knife.” In response, Congressman Greg Murphy of North Carolina wrote: “Would have been worse if they had been flying planes into the buildings also.” Omar, who came to the US from Somalia as a child, is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Murphy was widely rebuked. “You just invoked Sept 11 to attack a Muslim member of Congress,” wrote the North Carolina state senator Jeff Jackson, a Democrat. “I knew you a little when you were in the state legislature. This is well beneath you. It doesn’t matter how strongly you disagree with her on policy, you should represent our state better than this.” Robert S McCaw, director of government affairs for the Council on Islamic Relations (Cair), said Murphy’s tweet was “disrespectful to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, to their families and to the countless Muslim and other minority hate crime victims who were targeted in the wake of 9/11. His bigoted comments only serve to perpetuate the climate of hate that we are witnessing nationwide.” read the complete article


05 Apr 2021

France To Ban the Hijab for Women Under the Age Of 18

Switzerland’s citizens and government voted for a ban on the burqa and niqab weeks ago. Following suite, the French senate has voted against items of clothing deemed to be “religious,” including the hijab, to be worn by women under the age of 18 in public. The French senate voted for the “prohibition in the public space of any conspicuous religious sign by minors and of any dress or clothing which would signify an interiorization of women over men,” on March 30th 2021. Moreover, Muslim women with children, who do wear the hijab, will not be permitted to accompany their child on any school outings, and modest swimwear, such as burkinis, will also be banned at public pools. The strict laws, which are a part of the “Separatism Bill,” have not yet been passed as they will need to be confirmed by the National Assembly to come into effect. The niqab has been banned in French public schools since 2004, and if the new law to ban hijabs passes, it would mean that the legal age to wear one is the same as the legal age to purchase alcohol. In response to the French current affairs, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad tweeted, “This is what happens when you normalize anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim hate speech, bias, discrimination, and hate crimes— Islamophobia written into law. May Allah protect our sisters.” read the complete article


05 Apr 2021

Has Kazakhstan Failed Xinjiang’s Ethnic Kazakhs?

China’s brutal repression campaign against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, labeled a genocide by the United States, has also implicated the region’s nearly 1.6 million ethnic Kazakhs. Kazakhstan, which shares a long border with Xinjiang, was an epicenter of activism in the early months and years of the crackdown—many of the first victims who testified on the world stage were ethnic Kazakhs who had witnessed the camps and fled to Kazakhstan. This left Kazakhstan’s government, led by authoritarian strongmen but weak in comparison to China’s Xi Jinping, walking a fine line: heeding its compatriots’ calls to support Kazakhs and fellow Turkic Muslims in China without risking China’s immense economic investments in Kazakhstan. But this economic dependence, now at its strongest point in history thanks to Kazakhstan’s central role in the Belt and Road Initiative, has crippled Kazakhstan’s ability to stand up to China, even when advocating against mistreatment of its own compatriots. While at several points in 2017 and 2018 it appeared that the Kazakh government was willing to take a stand against China’s policies in support of ethnic Kazakhs, the past two years have made clear that that trend is definitively over. Far from the safe haven activists hoped it could become, Kazakhstan is now a hostile place for Xinjiang victims. read the complete article


05 Apr 2021

Death threats, hate speech turn Rohingya activist’s Malaysia home into a prison

Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, a Rohingya Muslim refugee and activist who fled persecution and ethnic strife in Myanmar, has called Malaysia home for nearly three decades. Now, it's more like a prison. Zafar, 51, has not left his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur for nearly a year, after misinformation spread online that he had demanded Malaysian citizenship, triggering a wave of hate speech and death threats against him and his family. "I'm still scared. For a year, I've not set foot outside. I've not seen the earth outside," said the father of three. Zafar has reported the false accusations and online attacks to the police, but to his knowledge, no charges have been filed. He has denied making any demand for citizenship or the same rights as citizens for Rohingya in Malaysia. More than 100,000 Rohingya live in Muslim-majority Malaysia, long seen as friendly to the persecuted minority even though they are not officially recognised as refugees. The welcoming sentiment soured a year ago as people started saying Rohingya were spreading the then surging coronavirus. Hate speech calling for violence against Rohingya and other undocumented migrants spread widely online. A significant portion of the volume targeted Zafar, who heads a prominent Rohingya refugee rights organisation. read the complete article


06 Apr 2021

Between a refugee camp and a silt island: Rohingyas and the question of resettlement

Bangladesh has accommodated more than a million Rohingya refugees at a significant cost to its economy. Nevertheless, it now finds itself subject to international condemnation for relocating some Rohingyas to Bhasan Char — a silt island built up through tidal activity over the last twenty years. Even so, Bangladesh has now relocated 14,032 Rohingyas to Bashan Char in an orderly manner. The UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Mia Seppo, has recognized the Bangladesh government’s investment of USD$350 million to build infrastructure on Bhasan Char, which provides better facilities and infrastructure than those available in the camp at Cox’s Bazar. The move to Bhasan Char is a result of a confluence of factors. The recent military coup has made the repatriation of the Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar almost impossible. Moreover, the devastating fire that broke out in Cox’s Bazar on 22 March 2021, which killed fifteen and left 400 still missing, has graphically demonstrated the precariousness of the living conditions of the Rohingya. They are not safe in the camps or in Myanmar, and without means for ensuring a decent and dignified life for themselves, the Rohingyas’ future seems very bleak. The military junta has written to the Bangladesh government attempting to explain the takeover; it claims that it has “reached out to Rohingyas in Rakhine state, giving Rohingyas confidence for return.” Paradoxically, Bangladesh must welcome this letter, for it consistently has reported to have not received any cooperation from the Myanmar government since the first Rohingya repatriation deal was signed on 23 November 2017. But given the fact that it was the military itself which was the perpetrator of the genocidal actions against the Rohingya in the first place, it is reasonable to suspect that the letter is an attempt to deflect criticism leveled against the coup rather than a good faith attempt to assure Rohingyas or multilateral agencies of a safe return. It is in this context, we believe, that the resettlement of Rohingya to Bhasan Char must be considered. The international condemnation of Bangladesh for their decision to relocate the Rohingya comes despite the international community largely ignoring the plight of both the refugees and Bangladesh — satisfying itself instead with relatively meagre donations, which are themselves drying up due to the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. read the complete article


05 Apr 2021

Restoring Islamic Coins to Reveal the Past

In a newly acquired cache of more than 2,800 coins dating to Islam’s medieval era, the Louvre Abu Dhabi not only has a bounty for its permanent collection, but also signposts on the road map of early Islam, all coated in tarnish, corrosion and the mystery of history. The three-year-old museum is devoting time and resources to study and restore the coins, which are scheduled to go on display in September. It is tracing their origins to better understand their metallic composition as well as how they helped to shape late antiquity, the dawn of the Middle Ages and modern trade across the Muslim world. For coins — or really any artifact unearthed from the ruins of a temple or beneath millenniums of dust and sand — restoration is a delicate and sometimes tedious process. But the Louvre’s founders consider it part of the museum’s mission in the Middle East. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Apr 2021 Edition


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