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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18 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: The Indian government restores 4G internet services in two districts of Kashmir on a “trial basis,” more than a year after it was suspended. Speaking to Salon, Ramy Youssef talks about homophobia and anti-Blackness in American media. Our recommended read today is by Matthew Smith on Facebook, which has rejected a request to help with the Rohingya genocide investigation. This, and more, below:


18 Aug 2020

Facebook Wanted to Be a Force for Good in Myanmar. Now It Is Rejecting a Request to Help With a Genocide Investigation | Recommended Read

Just when it seemed like Facebook’s controversies might have peaked, the company now appears to be obstructing a genocide investigation, and it’s using U.S. law to do it. The West African nation The Gambia is seeking to hold Myanmar accountable for charges of genocide against the Rohingya people, an ethnic and religious minority. In 2016 and 2017, Myanmar soldiers and their civilian proxies massacred Rohingya men, women and children, raped women and girls and razed villages, forcing more than 800,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Facebook’s role in these atrocities isn’t news. In 2018, Facebook acknowledged it was used to “foment division and incite offline violence” in Myanmar, where the social media platform is so ubiquitous it’s often synonymous with the internet. An independent report commissioned by the company documented the same, as did independent fact-finders appointed by the U.N. To its credit, Facebook preserved the data and content it took down, and the company committed to cleaning up its act. “We know we need to do more to ensure we are a force for good in Myanmar,” a company representative said in an official statement in 2018. Now, two years later, the company is doing exactly the opposite. In June, The Gambia filed an application in U.S. federal court seeking information from Facebook that would help it hold Myanmar accountable at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Specifically, The Gambia is seeking documents and communications from Myanmar military officials as well as information from hundreds of other pages and accounts that Facebook took down and preserved. The Gambia is also seeking documents related to Facebook’s internal investigations into the matter as well as a deposition of a relevant Facebook executive. All of this information could help to prove Myanmar’s genocidal intent. Earlier this month, the company filed its opposition to The Gambia’s application. Facebook said the request is “extraordinarily broad,” as well as “unduly intrusive or burdensome.” Calling on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reject the application, the social media giant says The Gambia fails to “identify accounts with sufficient specificity.” The Gambia was actually quite specific, going so far as to name 17 officials, two military units and dozens of pages and accounts. read the complete article

Recommended Read
18 Aug 2020

Spirit or reason? Muslim public intellectuals in the German and European far right

When Dutch and German far-right party members Joram van Klaveren (Party for Freedom) and Arthur Wagner (Alternative for Germany) recently announced their conversion to Islam, their stories were carried around the world by international news outlets. How can it be, the underlying question in most news stories went, that politicians in a movement that mobilises against the Islamisation of Europe can convert to the very religion their parties claim to contest? While their stories made for ideal teaser headlines in an ever-turning news cycle, they were also quickly left behind in the bin of exotic, marginal cases unfit for broader debate. In reality, these two far-right European converts to Islam are only the tip of the iceberg, a phenomenon that reveals the surprising ways in which Islam and Muslims are being incorporated into the far right and its white identity politics in Europe. Over the past two decades a number of conservative and far-right white Europeans have turned towards not away from Islam – a trend that has not even spared Hungary and its far-right party, Jobbik. At the same time, a significant number of born Muslims have joined the European far right, a movement that as a bloc campaigns against the Islamisation of Europe. Since the early 2000s, Muslim figures in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France, and Germany have come to play a significant role in the movement as public intellectuals who shape the far right’s message. Of them, some are converts to Islam, some are practicing born Muslims, and others are non-practicing or ex-Muslims. In northern Europe, the Scandinavian countries have been central in developing a transnational far-right ideology that envisions the continent as the pinnacle of a liberal modernity which must be defended against a regressive, illiberal Islam. Figures like the Iraq-born writer and poet Walid al-Kubaisi in Norway or the Christian convert of Somali-background Mona Walters in Sweden have emerged as key figures in the construction of Islam as a barbarian totalitarian other to a civilised Europe. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks of 9/11, Islam is commonly seen as a threat to a German way of life that represents European modernity. Islam has predominantly come to be seen not as a source of spiritual renewal but as a barbarian other invading a Europe that has become too tolerant. Nevertheless, the competing visions of “Islam as threat” and “Islam as renewal” continue to feed into the rival visions of German national identity as an embodiment of modernity on the one hand and as a spiritual alternative to western modernity on the other. Since 9/11, more Germans have converted to Islam and sought to create a German experience of Islam. Their current numbers are estimated at around 100,000. Today, these competing narratives of threat and renewal feed into how the German far right envisions German identity in relation to Islam: it claims on the one hand to defend and embody a liberal, progressive and modern Europe and on the other hand yearns for a traditionalist spiritual re-rooting. Since its foundation in 2013, the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and its surrounding far-right milieus have oscillated between these opposing visions of German identity and whether Islam should be seen as an “other to” or an “enhancer of” it. read the complete article

18 Aug 2020

Three years on, Rohingya refugees yet to return to Myanmar

Having fled deadly violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state three years ago, over a million Rohingya refugees still live in sprawling camps in Bangladesh. Despite repatriation attempts, the refugees are yet to return home. read the complete article


United States

18 Aug 2020

Ramy Youssef on highlighting anti-Blackness: "The conversation about race in America is very binary"

For decades Hollywood has demonized and depicted Muslims irresponsibly as terrorists with no concern for the real-world consequences. Rather, Ramy shares a brutally honest — while often funny— depiction of the Muslim community. In this season alone, the show featured numerous intra-Muslim community issues from anti-Black racism by some Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims to the way the LGBTQ community is viewed inside the community. As a Muslim myself, I'm keenly aware of the challenges these issues pose to our community and perhaps by Ramy holding a mirror up to these issues it will hasten change for the better. What I really loved is you brought up something that's uncomfortable inside our community and that's anti-Black racism. Arab, South Asian and Black Muslims, they might all be Muslims to an outsider, but from the inside it's often different. Why did you feel important to approach this topic, in your series? Because I think the conversation about race in America is very binary. It's almost like it's white versus people of color, you know, and everyone's on the same team. And I think when you frame a conversation that way you get so much further from being able to have any sort of real healing. And I think it's really important for us to look at anti-Blackness within our communities. Even within the point you just made, I don't even know that Arabs and South Asians are so much on the same team. I think they'll talk about each other too. But I think very clearly, the bigger issue and the bigger target is the rampant anti-Blackness. And I think that to ignore it would be dangerous. You can't not talk about it when it's obviously going to be an organic thing that we know that our characters are going to come up against and are going to face. We're never trying to protect our characters. We're trying to really actually show their flaws because we feel like that is the most humanizing path that there is. But yeah, when you're showing closets yeah, you got to show them off. read the complete article


18 Aug 2020

What Will It Take for Muslims to ‘Move On’ from August 5?

‘Where do you want me to move on? I am in an abyss,’ said an emotionally charged Asaduddin Owaisi. He was replying to a question by journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on a live TV debate, ‘Shouldn’t the Muslim community ‘move on’ after the Ram Temple?’ To get over any toxic relationship and ‘move on’, one must be able to acknowledge the problem that made it toxic in the first place. ‘Moving on’ also requires one to resolve the original issue and settle it in a way that gets you closure. Can this principle of ‘moving on’ for individuals in the context of personal relationships be applied to people and communities in the political and social arena? Can Indian Muslims move on after the denouement of the Ayodhya dispute, with all the violence and bloodshed it brought? Will the construction of a temple with the Supreme Court’s sanction put an end to their toxic relationship with Hindutva, give Muslims closure and allow them to ‘move on’? As the dust settled over Ayodhya after the August 5 ground-breaking ceremony, there are two clear realities. First, what was celebrated on the day was not just the construction of a Hindu temple but the destruction of a mosque – the mosque that stood in its place for 400 years before it was brought down 27 years ago in broad daylight. Second, the primacy of Hinduism has received official and judicial sanction, something the constitution and freedom struggle never envisaged and had even opposed. This was evident from the Supreme Court’s judgment on Ayodhya – which handed the site to the Hindu litigants (in essence, drawn from the Sangh parivar-led agitation launched in the 1980s) despite acknowledging that the demolition of the mosque was a crime – and then by Narendra Modi himself inaugurating the temple as the prime minister of India. read the complete article

18 Aug 2020

Afraid of Angering BJP, Facebook Ignored Hate Speech Rules for Party's Anti-Muslim Posts: Report

A top Facebook official in India was opposed to applying the social media platform’s hate speech rules to at least one Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”, according to a new report published by The Wall Street Journal. This was despite the fact that the content posted by these individuals or groups had been “flagged internally for promoting violence”. The Wall Street Journal report says that Ankhi Das, who is Facebook’s top public policy executive in India, opposed applying hate speech rules to the BJP’s T. Raja Singh out of fear of ruining the company’s relationship with the ruling party. Singh is the saffron party’s lone MLA in the Telangana assembly and is notorious for making communally provocative statements. “Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country…,” the report said, quoting unnamed current and former company officials. “The current and former Facebook employees said Ms. Das’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Singh is part of a broader pattern of favoritism by Facebook toward Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners,” it added. read the complete article

18 Aug 2020

India restores 4G internet services in two districts of Kashmir

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have ordered the restoration of high-speed 4G internet services in two of the disputed Himalayan region's 20 districts on a "trial basis" from Sunday night, more than a year after they were suspended. "The high-speed mobile data services in the districts of Ganderbal and Udhampur shall be restored forthwith, on a trial basis," a government statement said on Sunday, adding that internet speed would continue to be restricted in other districts. Udhampur, in Hindu-majority Jammu region, and Gerderbal, in Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, have a combined population of 850,000 out of the disputed region's total population of about 12 million. The "trial" will last until September 8, and high-speed internet will be available on postpaid mobile phones only, according to the government order. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Aug 2020 Edition


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