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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
19 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Election Commission of Myanmar’s Rakhine state rejects candidacy of four Rohingyas. In the U.S, far-right activist Laura Loomer wins the GOP primary in Florida. Our recommended read today is by Ali Harb on Bloomberg’s impending appearance in the Democratic National Convention. This, and more, below:

United States

19 Aug 2020

'Slap in the face': Muslims decry Bloomberg's upcoming appearance at Democratic convention | Recommended Read

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg oversaw a surveillance programme targeting the city's Muslim community for almost a decade. This week he will be speaking at the Democratic national convention - an event that has so far focused on pushing back against President Donald Trump's bigotry and divisiveness. Muslim-American activists are decrying the former mayor's scheduled appearance at the party's convention at a time when Democrats are trying to unify their party around Joe Biden, in order to dismantle Trump's policies, including the "Muslim ban". "For me as a Muslim woman, it's a total slap in the face," said Nadia Ahmad, a Muslim-American Democratic delegate. Several civil rights groups have scrutinised and denounced the mayor's record, including his "stop and frisk" programme that targeted communities of colour as well as the scheme to spy on Muslims. Bloomberg was elected mayor shortly after the 9/11 attacks. At the time, the police department under his watch created a "Demographics Unit", which mapped out the Muslim community and deployed undercover agents to monitor mosques, restaurants and community gatherings. Law enforcement officials even infiltrated Muslim student organisations and extended their spying operations to the suburbs in New Jersey. Bloomberg eventually apologised for "stop and frisk", but when asked about spying on Muslims earlier this year, he doubled down on defending the programme, which did not lead to any known terror-related arrests. In February, he told PBS Newshour that spying on Muslims was "the right thing to do". "The people that flew those planes came from the Middle East and some of the imams were urging more of the same," he said. That statement stirred outrage from civil rights groups and some Democrats at the time, with Senator Elizabeth Warren accusing him of defending "bigoted practices". Ahmad, the Muslim-American delegate, told MEE on Tuesday that rewarding Bloomberg with a prime-time spot at the convention, despite his "negative attitudes" towards Muslims, raises questions over Democrats' professed commitment to support Muslim-Americans. read the complete article

Recommended Read
19 Aug 2020

Far-right activist Laura Loomer wins Florida GOP primary

Loomer pulled in front of a crowded field of Republicans to win the nomination in the heavily blue southeast Florida district, according to The Associated Press. She will face off against Rep. Lois Frankel (D), who ran unopposed in 2018 and won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2016. Loomer becomes the Republican nominee in a district that includes President Trump's club in Mar-a-Lago. The president and first lady Melania Trump are registered voters in Palm Beach Country, and both submitted vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday's primary. Trump congratulated Loomer in a tweet late Tuesday, asserting she has "a great chance" in November's general election. The controversial candidate has the endorsements of right-wing figures such as Roger Stone and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). She has been expelled from several social media and other technology platforms in recent years after making anti-Muslim comments. In 2017, she was banned from Uber after she tweeted that “someone needs to create a non Islamic form of @uber or @lyft,” and she has also been banned from platforms such as Twitter, PayPal and GoFundMe. read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Pakistani Americans, a Biden rally and the Modi supporter who organised it

On Friday, Joe Biden's presidential campaign held a rally for Pakistani Americans to mark both Pakistan's Independence Day as well as ramp up support for the Biden-Harris ticket heading into the November election. The "Community fired up for change" event featured former presidential nominee Andrew Yang; Qasim Rashid, Democratic nominee in Virginia's 1st congressional district; Ashley Allison, national coalitions director for the Biden campaign; actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani; and writer Wajahat Ali, among others. Organised by the Biden campaign, the call was mostly an attempt to energise Pakistani-American support for Biden. But during the 90-minute call, there was no discussion of any of Biden's proposed policies, be it local or foreign, nor were there any questions raised on the type of changes that Pakistani Americans can expect from Biden. There was light contemplation on racism in the US following the brutal killing of George Floyd, an outline of President Donald Trump's failures addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, and the importance of representation in American politics. But as the call went on, with panellists repeatedly lauding the Biden campaign for hosting an event in their honour, some participants could not get over the fact that hovering in the background of the call was Amit Jani - an Indian American who has championed Narenda Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister of India. As the Biden campaign's Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) outreach director, Jani has never disavowed his links with Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party. read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Islamic scholar ordered released while appeal is pursued

A judge on Tuesday ordered an Islamic scholar serving a life sentence for soliciting treason after the Sept. 11 attacks be released from custody while he pursues his appeal. The order from U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria grants release to Ali Al-Timimi in part because of concerns he is susceptible to the coronavirus and in part because of a recent Supreme Court case that could invalidate several counts on which he was convicted back in 2005. Al-Timimi, a Washington D.C., native who obtained a doctorate in computational biology from George Mason University shortly before his arrest, has been imprisoned for the past 15 years, most recently at the Supermax facility in Florence, Colorado. His case has sat in an unusual procedural limbo for more than a decade, and an appellate court has never fully ruled on the validity of his convictions. Jonathan Turley, his appellate lawyer, has argued that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that would have pointed to Al-Timimi’s innocence. In particular, he has alleged that the government used a northern Virginia cleric named Anwar al-Awlaki as an informant, and that al-Awlaki tried unsuccessfully to lure Al-Timimi into illegal conduct as part of a government sting. read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Sally Yates, ousted from DOJ over ‘Muslim ban,’ says Trump has ‘trampled the rule of law’

Sally Yates, who served as acting attorney general at the start of the Trump administration, pilloried the president on Tuesday for what she described as his abuse of the executive branch – particularly her former agency, the Department of Justice. “From the moment President Trump took office, he’s used his position to benefit himself rather than our country,” she said during her speech from Atlanta on the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “He’s trampled the rule of law, tried to weaponize the Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.” Yates, who served as acting attorney general for just 10 days before Trump fired her for refusing to implement his ban on people traveling from several Muslim-majority countries, was one of the first in a long line of career civil servants Trump has dismissed for opposing his policies. read the complete article


19 Aug 2020

Investors pressured to cut ties to Xinjiang

Last week, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, a nonprofit that encourages responsible business practices, published a report advising investors to make sure they have no companies in their portfolios with links to Xinjiang. As many as a million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities are thought to be held in detention camps in the region, and a large-scale forced labor program is also being enforced. “Investors will need to determine whether identified potential or actual harms can be ceased, prevented, or mitigated. Otherwise, steps need to be taken to end business relationships responsibly,” said the Investor Alliance in a recent statement. During the pandemic, China has used forced labor to manufacture personal protective equipment, shipping Uyghur workers in “batches” of hundreds to factories across Xinjiang and eastern China. In June, a Coda Story investigation examined dozens of videos emerging on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, showing large numbers of Uyghurs being transported as part of a labor scheme that Beijing refers to as a “poverty alleviation” initiative. The investigation followed a March report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, titled Uyghurs for Sale, which found that the initiative amounted to forced labor and formed an extension of Xinjiang’s detention program. The ASPI report established links between the labor programs and more than 80 international brands. read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Your face mask — and your T-shirt — might have been made with Uighur forced labor

As Jen Kirby reported for Vox, Chinese state officials have turned Xinjiang, the province where most Uighurs live, into a high-tech police state and implemented mass surveillance programs, in addition to forcibly detaining members of the Muslim ethnic minority group. “Uighurs inside and outside the camps are exploited for cheap labor, forced to manufacture clothing and other products for sale both at home and abroad,” Kirby wrote. In July, a New York Times investigation revealed how some medical-grade face masks that are sold in the US were produced in Chinese factories powered by Uighur labor. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Times reported, only four companies in Xinjiang produced medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE). That number had grown to 51 by the end of June, and at least 17 of those factories rely on the Uighur labor transfer program. Advocacy groups argue that the problem doesn’t begin and end with PPE manufacturers; they say that any company that relies on Uighur workers could be benefiting from forced labor. In March, the nonpartisan think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute published a report detailing how 82 foreign and Chinese companies have direct or indirect ties to the Xinjiang region and beyond based on their supply chain. “The tainted global supply chain that results from these practices means that it is now difficult to guarantee that products manufactured in China are free from forced labour,” the report concludes. read the complete article


19 Aug 2020

Muslim association calls for action after mosque faces sixth vandalism attack

A Toronto mosque has been attacked for the sixth time in three months, and the city’s Muslim community is urgently calling on officials to take the matter more seriously. Since June 1, Toronto police say they have been made aware of “several reports of damage and mischief” at the mosque’s two downtown locations. According to police, the latest incident happened at the Adelaide Street East located on Aug. 16, resulting in broken windows. The Muslims Association of Canada says its Toronto Masjid facilities have now been targeted in six separate incidents since June, resulting in broken windows, break-in attempts and racist graffiti. “The broken windows from the last incident were just fixed and now they are again to be repaired for the third time in a 21 day period,” the association said in a news release on Tuesday. “These incidents are now occurring at a frightening rate and we cannot accept to wait any longer for police action.” read the complete article


19 Aug 2020

When the Ottoman Empire Threatened Europe — and the World

What sounds foolish today — Turks invading Mexico — did not seem so in 1573. When Spaniards sailed the 13,000 miles from Cadiz to Java, they found Muslims all along the way. Was it really so silly to suspect that Islam had crossed the Pacific too? Today we know that the only Muslims in the Americas were the West African slaves Spain had been importing since 1501, but the conquistadors were never quite sure. Hernan Cortés claimed to have seen over 400 mosques while making war on the Aztecs. In “God’s Shadow,” Alan Mikhail, a leading historian of Ottoman Turkey, makes two claims. The first, and less controversial, is that 16th-century Christians saw everything, including the Americas, through the lens of their struggle against Islam. When Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, the very year that Spain’s rulers destroyed Iberia’s last Muslim kingdom, he assured his royal patrons that his voyages were merely continuations of their anti-Islamic crusade. His aim in getting to Asia was to find the Mongol Grand Khan (widely believed to be pro-Christian) and talk him into a great pincer attack on Jerusalem. Even when Spaniards realized that the lands on the far side of the Atlantic were a New World, not Asia, the habit of seeing it in Turkish terms proved hard to shake. Many conquistadors had cut their teeth killing Turks in the Mediterranean and, after slaughtering Aztecs and Incas, plenty came home to fight the Turks some more. We should not be surprised that so many felt that fighting dark-skinned infidels in America was much the same as fighting them in Europe, Asia or Africa. “God’s Shadow” is full of fine details of this cross-cultural encounter, but its most arresting aspect is Mikhail’s second claim: that “the Ottoman Empire made our modern world.” He calls his book “a revisionist account … demonstrating Islam’s constituent role in forming some of the most fundamental aspects of the history of Europe, the Americas and the United States.” From it, he says, “a bold new world history emerges, one that overturns shibboleths that have held sway for a millennium. Whether politicians, pundits and traditional historians like it or not, the world we inhabit is very much an Ottoman one.” read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Factbox: Three years on, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps

August 25 marks the third anniversary of attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents that triggered military retaliation and led to the exodus from Buddhist-majority Myanmar over following days and weeks of about 730,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh. The Myanmar military responded immediately with a sweeping crackdown in Rohingya areas that forced the 730,000 villagers to flee to Bangladesh where they remain in camps. U.N. investigators later concluded the Myanmar military campaign was executed with “genocidal intent”. Myanmar denies that, saying the army was battling the insurgency. The new arrivals in Bangladesh joined more than 200,000 Rohingya already there, who fled earlier violence, most living camps, straining resources in one of Asia’s poorest regions. Here are some facts about the camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, based on information from the U.N. refugee agency, Bangladesh government and the International Organization for Migration. Most of the 1 million or so Rohingya in Bangladesh live in five camps that cover an area equivalent to one third of Manhattan. About half of the refugees are children, and there are more women in the camps than men. read the complete article

19 Aug 2020

Facebook Withholding Evidence of Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide

The 2017 bloodbath that decimated the ethnic Rohingya population living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state killed almost 25,000 people and was branded “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations. The UK’s then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called it “one of the most shocking humanitarian disasters of our time”. Despite this, Facebook – which was used for a major propaganda campaign to incite the violence – has refused to hand over information to a UN group established to collect evidence of the crimes. The head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar, Nicholas Koumjian, told Reuters that the social media giant had vowed to work with investigators but that it is now withholding material which is “highly relevant and probative of serious international crimes”. His admission came less than a week after Facebook also refused a request for data made by the Gambia, which has filed a lawsuit against Myanmar with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), formally accusing the country of genocide. Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), accused the company of “hiding behind legal acrobatics” and said Facebook is a platform used in Myanmar “to spread hatred and abuse that has fuelled the genocide”. “This is a crucial time when momentum around international justice for crimes against the Rohingya is finally building,” he added. “The evidence Facebook sits on could be crucial to support the many ongoing cases against Myanmar’s military.” read the complete article


19 Aug 2020

Myanmar: Election Commission Rejects Candidacy of Four Rohingya Muslims

The Election Commission of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has been accepting nomination papers from contestants for the general elections slated for November 8, has rejected the candidature of four Rohingyas, aside from another Muslim person due to the citizenship status of their parents. As per section 10 (e) of the country’s Election Law, both parents of the candidate must be Myanmarese citizens at the time of their birth. According to an August 18 Irrawaddy report, the persons whose candidature was rejected by the state election sub-commission wanted to contest the Buthidaung and Sittwe lower house seats and two state assembly seats in the Buthidaung township. The sub-commission’s secretary U Thurein Htut told the newspaper, “They were rejected mainly because their parents and grandparents were not citizens when they were born.” Stating that DHRP would appeal the sub-commission’s decision in the matter, the party’s general secretary U Kyaw Soe Aung accused the Central government led by the National League for Democratic president Aung San Suu Kyi of “discriminating” against them. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Aug 2020 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results