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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13 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: At least three people dead in southern India’s Bengaluru city after protesters clash with police over a provocative social media post about the Prophet Muhammad. In Montenegro, Bosnian Muslims wake up to houses vandalised with graffiti openly celebrating Serbian war criminals. Our recommended read today is by Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes titled “We Face the Specter of Genocide in Xinjiang.” This, and more, below:


13 Aug 2020

We Face the Specter of Genocide in Xinjiang | Opinion | Recommended Read

"Genocide" is a word that should only be used with great caution in the world of international relations and human rights. If genocide is recognized and verified, it imposes an unconditional moral obligation to intervene to stop the extermination of the victimized group. We are correct to preserve a narrow definition of the term, and to apply it only in cases that reach the threshold of horror it signifies; otherwise, the term will lose its meaning. But by the same token, we must seek and face the bitter truth when evidence of genocide appears. We owe it to the millions of ghosts from the last century—victims not only of genocide, but of denial, appeasement, bureaucratic dithering, prejudice and indifference. Even more, we owe it to people at risk today, like the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, China. Make no mistake, free and democratic nations today face a moral test the likes of which have not been seen since the onset of Nazi Germany's (largely successful) effort to exterminate Europe's Jews. While no government has declared a genocide in Xinjiang, documentary evidence has become irrefutable that all of these things are happening to the Uyghur population. At the very least, it is certain that we are witnessing a genocide in the making, and it is our highest responsibility to prevent it from developing into a mass slaughter. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination describes Xinjiang as "a massive internment camp shrouded in secrecy, a 'no rights' zone, while members of the Xinjiang Uyghur minority, along with others who were identified as Muslim, were being treated as enemies of the state based on nothing more than their ethno-religious identity." Yet when China's human rights record was last examined by the UN, only a handful of states challenged the Chinese delegation's official characterization of the Uyghur detention camps as "vocational educational and training centers"—a tactic apparently inspired by the Nazi regime's cynical charades. read the complete article

Recommended Read
13 Aug 2020

The Panopticon Is Already Here

Xi’s pronouncements on AI have a sinister edge. Artificial intelligence has applications in nearly every human domain, from the instant translation of spoken language to early viral-outbreak detection. But Xi also wants to use AI’s awesome analytical powers to push China to the cutting edge of surveillance. He wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify potential dissenters in real time. China’s government has a history of using major historical events to introduce and embed surveillance measures. In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Chinese security services achieved a new level of control over the country’s internet. During China’s coronavirus outbreak, Xi’s government leaned hard on private companies in possession of sensitive personal data. Any emergency data-sharing arrangements made behind closed doors during the pandemic could become permanent. China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place. Xi’s government hopes to soon achieve full video coverage of key public areas. Much of the footage collected by China’s cameras is parsed by algorithms for security threats of one kind or another. In the near future, every person who enters a public space could be identified, instantly, by AI matching them to an ocean of personal data, including their every text communication, and their body’s one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema. In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources—travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases—to predict political resistance before it happens. China’s government could soon achieve an unprecedented political stranglehold on more than 1 billion people. A crude version of such a system is already in operation in China’s northwestern territory of Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been imprisoned, the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the fall of the Third Reich. Once Xi perfects this system in Xinjiang, no technological limitations will prevent him from extending AI surveillance across China. He could also export it beyond the country’s borders, entrenching the power of a whole generation of autocrats. The emergence of an AI-powered authoritarian bloc led by China could warp the geopolitics of this century. It could prevent billions of people, across large swaths of the globe, from ever securing any measure of political freedom. And whatever the pretensions of American policy makers, only China’s citizens can stop it. I’d come to Beijing to look for some sign that they might. read the complete article


13 Aug 2020

New Delhi accused of ‘hate-mongering’ over virus

Muslim groups and political analysts have accused the Indian government of double standards after a Hindu temple in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh said over 700 of its members had tested positive for coronavirus. The accusation follows claims that the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), a Muslim missionary group, were “super spreaders” after a New Delhi gathering in March. “Our political class has accepted the hegemony of Hindu majoritarianism uncritically, and that has been the guiding principle in dealing with this health crisis. Taking an anti-Muslim stance characterizes the new normal,” said Hilal Ahmad of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a New Delhi-based think tank. The Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati said on Sunday that three people had died from the disease, including a head priest. “Of the 743 infected, about 402 people have recovered, while 338 people are undergoing treatment in care facilities,” said Anil Kumar Singhal, the temple’s executive officer. The temple reopened after months of lockdown on June 11 following “requests from devotees,” he added, while entry was monitored through “strict measures.” However, despite the prominent temple becoming a disease hotspot, there has been no public uproar, as was the case when the TJ was accused of spreading the disease earlier this year. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

Deadly clashes in India's Bengaluru over Facebook post on Prophet

At least three people have died in southern India's Bengaluru city after protesters clashed with police over a provocative social media post about the Prophet Muhammad, police have told Reuters news agency. The Facebook post offensive to Muslims sparked protests in India's tech hub on Tuesday night in which a police station was attacked, and a politician's house and vehicles were torched. "The situation is under control," Bengaluru City Police said on Twitter, adding that police fired live ammunition to disperse the crowd after using tear gas and batons. "Despite elders of the community trying to pacify the crowd, the mob burnt vehicles on the road, they attacked the police station," Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said. Pant said the person responsible for the offensive post had been arrested. It gave the first name of the accused man as Naveen, and said he is the nephew of Congress politician R Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, whose house was attacked and burned in the violence. The post, which reportedly involved the Prophet Mohammed, has since been deleted. Facebook did not immediately comment on the issue. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

The Hindu temples built by Muslims in pre-colonial India

As India battles the rise of Hindu nationalism, primarily led by Prime Minister Narenda Modi, the legacy of its Muslim rulers have also come under attack. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken to removing the names and contributions of Muslim kings from school textbooks, roads and landmarks. Hindu nationalist groups, like the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), despise the Mughal Empire and its Muslim predecessors, perceiving them as invasive forces that 'occupied' what were once a cluster of princely states, now known as India, for several centuries. The ruling BJP has almost always peddled and milked that distorted narrative for political gains. In order to use it as an advantageous political tool, Hindu fanatics and rightwing organisations have successfuly pushed a doctrine among Hindus that Muslims rulers were temple destroyers. A deeper look into pre-colonial India, however, reveals that Muslim rulers had in fact historically built several places of worship for Hindus. They not only contributed to the construction of India's significant Hindu temples, but also oversaw the maintenance of Hindu pilgrimage centres such as Ayodhya, Mathura and Vrindavan. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

Letter to a Muslim Friend in 'New India'

I am writing to you because of something you said in a Facebook post recently. You said, “They have now truly succeeded in making us, as Muslims, feel unwanted.” Those words cut me to the quick. I want you to know that you are as much a citizen of this country as I am. You are as Indian as I am. I should not even have to spell it out like this, but so much has been said over the past six years that I feel I must. I know how difficult it must be for you to have pejoratives thrown at you all the time – “mullah”, “beneficiaries of appeasement”, “Pakistani”, “jihadi” and “Babar ki aulaad”. Words are real things. They can bless or curse, build or destroy, save or damn. I am a teacher and I tell schoolchildren this all the time. On a different level, every day in the classroom I see what being unwanted looks like. Children are ostracised and bullied by their peers, often for no other reason than their refusal to go along with the ‘in crowd’ that mocks and punishes by isolating those who are perceived to be ‘weaker’ in some way or simply different. The main difference between the children I teach and the generation that produced them, it seems to me, is that the children better understand when they have gone wrong. Once it dawns on them how much they have hurt one of their classmates, they feel ashamed for having bullied them and called them names. They apologise and reach out to those they have wounded. They begin to treat each other like human beings again. I cannot say the same for many of their parents, though, especially when it comes to those who are religiously or culturally different from them. Perhaps it is because they are older, more set in their ways, and have had decades of exposure to subterranean wellsprings of bigotry. What I do want to tell you, though, is that while there are many who are lustily cheering the birth of a new majoritarian India, there are also many whose sane voices have simply been drowned out by a media that has lost its moral moorings. Just because you cannot see these peace-loving citizens does not mean they are not there. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Aug 2020

Are We Witnessing the Fall of Far-Right Figurehead 'Tommy Robinson'?

Yaxley-Lennon, a former British National Party (BNP) member, would go on to dominate the British far-right for the following decade. He’s been wined and dined at the House of Lords, invited to address the US Congress, frequently appeared on British TV, been invited to Russia to give a speech after being backed by the country’s foreign ministry and made a small fortune through soliciting donations and book sales. First as the leader of the EDL, then as a vlogger, he was capable of pulling thousands of his supporters onto the streets for often violent protests. But the days of Yaxley-Lennon dominating the British far-right appear to be over, and his political career is on the wane. A recent protest backed by Yaxley-Lennon saw only a couple of hundred people show up for an event. It has been a steep decline since his peak in the summer of 2018. After his Twitter account – which had 431,000 followers – was banned, Robinson’s team organised a protest called “Day for Freedom”. This was supported by a number of prominent hard-right figures, such as former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, then-UKIP leader Gerard Batten, and then-Breitbart News’ London Editor-in-Chief, Raheem Kassam. Donations were flooding in from supporters, bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds. When Yaxley-Lennon was jailed for disrupting a trial at Leeds Crown Court later that summer, these figures all backed him once again. Joe Mulhall, senior researcher for anti-racist charity Hope Not Hate, told VICE News: “The deplatforming of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has had a huge impact on his ability to spread his hateful politics. Hundreds of thousands of fewer people now see his content every month, which is a huge step forward. It also played into the severely reduced numbers we have seen at pro-Lennon events since.” The deplatforming and changes in who surrounded him was happening at a time when Yaxley-Lennon’s behaviour was becoming more erratic, with people close to him at the time describing him to VICE News as a self-sabotaging mess. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

Where Do I Fit In As A Black British Muslim Woman?

"You're a dirty Afghan," the white boy in my class spat at me. I was only 13 years old when I heard these words. At the time I was at an inner-city comprehensive in north London and wearing a hijab. It had been a standard-issue teenage altercation with a classmate over what I felt had been a misuse of my scented glitter gel pens. Why was my race suddenly being attacked? I am Black, British and I am a Muslim. Throughout my entire life, I have experienced a double helping of racism: both Islamophobia and anti-Blackness. Now you know that I am not from Afghanistan. But because of my hijab the young boy saw me only as Muslim. He did not make the connection that I was, or could be, from Africa. I’ve lived with this my whole life: being misplaced, pigeonholed and forced to confront belonging – or rather a lack of it – almost daily. As a 26-year-old Black British Muslim woman I now see that we are hugely underrepresented in mainstream media and culture. I still don’t feel accepted by many parts of British society. Black British Muslims have been part of the fabric of British society for centuries. Shakespeare’s Othello, for instance, is thought to be a comment on relationships with Black Muslims who arrived from north Africa to live in Elizabethan England. Today, Britain’s Black Muslims comprise 10.1% of the country's total Muslim population. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

Conservative Islamophobia and the EHRC

Why did the dossier on Conservative Islamophobia not clear the same bar? The Muslim Council of Britain’s submission gives detailed examples of Conservative MPs, councillors and members making eye-wateringly hateful comments and not facing disciplinary action for it. The party leader made vile comments about ‘the burka’ (he meant niqab) which led to a surge in anti-Muslim attacks. There is evidence of denialism at the highest levels of the party. Both the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum and his successor as chairman were hounded for raising concerns. According to a Hope Not Hate/YouGov survey last year, 60 per cent of Conservative party members think ‘Islam is generally a threat to Western civilisation’ while 54 per cent consider it a threat to ‘the British way of life’. In short, the MCB submission shows both the scale of the problem and failures to recognise or deal with it. Still, the EHRC concluded in May that, since the Conservatives had agreed to set up an independent inquiry, ‘it would not be proportionate to initiate our own investigation at this stage.’ The first problem here is the inquiry’s terms of reference, limited only to the Conservatives’ complaints process, which skirts the wider issue of an environment of hostility to Muslims. Next, while the EHRC may indeed need to allow the avenue of an internal inquiry to be exhausted before it opens its own investigation, the upshot is that the Conservatives are being rewarded for ignoring the issue until forced to confront it. But there are deeper issues here, too. Complaints of Conservative Islamophobia did not and could not show up in the same way as was the case with Labour antisemitism. Where are the dozens of whistle-blowers revealing Conservative failures in sworn testimony? Where are the leaks detailing faults in the handling of discrimination complaints? Where are the Muslim Conservatives MPs and members who have raised the issue and been backed by allies in the party? Conservative members are not only fewer in number than Labour members, but older and less likely to post online (the scale of the problem may be even worse than a trawl through Tory social media would suggest). The Jewish Labour Movement has a 100-year history in the party; the Muslim Council of Britain is 23 years old and has been eyed with suspicion by successive governments, including New Labour. read the complete article


13 Aug 2020

US election: Would Biden as president change course on Iran?

Highlighting the stark contrast between the two contenders, Biden says he intends to rescind Trump’s so-called Muslim travel ban on the first day of his presidency. Trump’s ban, applied to Iran and several other Muslim countries, has idenitied his administration as Islamophobic. Biden’s pledge, if fulfilled, would help to restore the damaged image of the US in the Muslim world and beyond. The Democratic platform also calls for a US return to the Iran nuclear deal - an important policy reversal that could heal transatlantic rifts instigated by Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the multilateral agreement two years ago. But before we conclude that there would be a clear policy break from Trump if Biden were to be elected president, it is important to examine the subtle nuances of Biden’s foreign policy positions. Biden’s running mate will also be a factor: On Tuesday, he announced that Senator Kamala Harris would be on the ticket with him. Harris has gone on record lambasting Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, and has also stated that she favours expanding the agreement to cover Iran’s ballistic missiles. She is also a strong supporter of Israel and is likely to back Israel’s hostile policy towards Iran. Another important clue on Biden’s approach towards Iran has come from his chief foreign policy adviser, Tony Blinken, who has articulated a nuanced position on the Iran nuclear deal. Biden’s foreign policy team favours renegotiating the deal to include new restrictions on Iran. But this underestimates the grave Iranian mistrust of the US after it reneged on its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. On the whole, Biden’s platform indicates policy continuity with the Trump administration, which has pinned its hopes on Iran’s return to negotiations under the gun of harsh sanctions imposed under the rubric of a “maximum pressure strategy”. read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

What does Islam say about climate change and climate action?

Many Muslim majority countries bear the brunt of climate change, but their cultural awareness of it and climate action are often staggeringly limited. A movement of "Islamic environmentalism" based on Islamic tradition - rather than imported "white saviour" environmentalism based on first-world political campaigns - can address both. And the post-COVID-19 lull in emissions is an opportunity to fast-track this. It is a movement we sorely need. My home country Turkey, for example, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as temperatures are rising and rainfall is decreasing year on year, causing serious problems with water availability. In Bangladesh, it is estimated that by 2050 one in seven will be displaced by climate change, creating millions of climate refugees. In the Middle East, large areas are likely to become uninhabitable due to heatwaves likely to sweep over the region in the next few decades. However, despite their vulnerability, many Muslim countries are contributing to the problem. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world, is the world's fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and is doing little to curb emissions. Bangladesh and Pakistan are the two most polluted countries in the world, but have taken no serious measures to address pollution. Inaction in the Muslim world persists despite a declaration by Muslim countries in 2015 to play an active role in combatting climate change. You would think that those most affected by climate change would be the most eager to stop it. This is not always the case. Many Muslim countries are reluctant to impose Western concepts of environmentalism, or to bow to pressure from countries which have already gone through industrialisation without having to address pollution or curb emissions. Environmental colonialism is not the answer. read the complete article

United States

13 Aug 2020

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, And The White Nationalist Agenda

On this edition of Your Call, investigative journalist Jean Guerrero discusses her new book Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda. It explores how the 34-year-old became one of the most influential advisors in the White House. He’s crafted Donald Trump’s xenophobic speeches and designed immigration policies to expand the wall, ban Muslims, and separate families. What do you want to know about Stephen Miller? What is his agenda is if Trump is reelected? read the complete article

13 Aug 2020

Anti-Muslim candidate wins Georgia primary, paving way for seat in Congress

A congressional candidate who faced criticism over anti-Muslim rhetoric and her belief in the far-right QAnon conspiracy has won a Republican House primary in Georgia, setting herself on a path to winning a congressional seat this November. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has previously said that Muslims do not belong in government, won 57 percent of the vote in the heavily Republican 14th district of Georgia on Tuesday, defeating neurosurgeon John Cowan. After winning the Republican nomination, Greene also won the favour of US President Donald Trump, who congratulated her and called the small business owner a "future Republican star". Earlier this year, several high-ranking Republicans in the House of Representatives distanced themselves from Greene after Politico uncovered hours of Facebook videos in which she expresses racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views. In one video message, Greene said that the 2018 midterms - which ushered in Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib - were part of "an Islamic invasion of our government" and that "anyone that is a Muslim that believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government." In another video, Greene described countries where aspects of Sharia law were implemented as places where men have sex with "little boys, little girls, multiple women" and "marry their sisters" and "their cousins". Greene has also faced criticism for saying that generations of Black and Hispanic men had not been held back by anything white people had done, but by "being in gangs and dealing drugs". read the complete article


13 Aug 2020

Myanmar bars Rohingya candidate from contesting election

A Rohingya Muslim has been barred from standing in Myanmar's upcoming election, in a decision decried by rights groups as discriminatory and a symptom of the "ongoing genocide" against the persecuted minority. A 2017 military operation drove 750,000 Rohingya out of the country into sprawling refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh, prompting genocide charges at the UN's top court. Myanmar has denied the allegations and justified the military operations as a means of rooting out "terrorists". Another 600,000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar, but most are not regarded as citizens and will have no vote, living in what Amnesty International describes "apartheid" conditions. Three Rohingya-led parties had hoped to field at least a dozen candidates in November's vote, according to regional watchdog Fortify Rights. But Abdul Rasheed, 58, a member of the Democracy and Human Rights Party, told Fortify Rights, which monitors the situation of the Rohingya minority, that he was denied the right to run for office in Myanmar's forthcoming national elections. read the complete article


13 Aug 2020

Bosnians in Montenegro wake up to anti-Muslim graffiti

Bosnian Muslims in Montenegro woke up to find their houses vandalised with graffiti that openly celebrated Serbian war criminals who are known to have ethnically cleansed Muslims. The portraits of Pavle Djurisic and Draza Mihailovic, who were both members of a Serb nationalist paramilitary during World War II called the Chetniks, appeared overnight in the town of Berane. It has a sizeable Muslim population. Both Djurisic and Mihailovic orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Balkans between 1940 and 1945, resulting in the death and displacement of thousands. The local municipal assembly of Berane, controlled by the opposition SNP party, has come out strongly against attempts to sow division in the local community posting on Facebook that the ruling party headed by Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic was behind the graffiti. “Under their hoodies and in the cover of dark in the eve of the elections, there is an attempt to scare our respected Muslim neighbours,” said the statement. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Aug 2020 Edition


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