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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25 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a former BJP legislator has been caught boasting on camera about getting at least five Muslims killed in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, meanwhile in the United States, the Edison community is divided after a bulldozer was featured in the India Independence Day parade in town, which many residents and rights advocates see a symbolic attack on Muslims, and lastly, the US State Department issued a report detailing its findings on what it “described as China’s wide-ranging disinformation campaign” in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Julhas Alam for the Associated Press on how hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees are marking the fifth anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, following the Myanmar military’s brutal campaign against the long-persecuted minority community. This and more below:


25 Aug 2022

Rohingya mark 5th anniversary of exodus to Bangladesh | Recommended Read

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees on Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, while the United States, European Union and other Western nations pledged to continue supporting the refugees' pursuit of justice in international courts. Bangladesh is hosting more than 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar over decades, including some 740,000 who crossed the border in August 2017 after the Myanmar military launched a “clearance operation” against them following attacks by a rebel group. The safety situation in Myanmar has worsened since a military takeover last year, and attempts to send them back failed. In March, the United States said the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide after authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by Myanmar’s military in a widespread and systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Rohingya refugees await resolution or return

Five years after the latest and biggest mass exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh, people in the camps say that the limbo they are living in is never ending. They don't see much hope to get their normal lives back. More than 1 million Rohingya currently reside in Bangladesh, but few people would call it home. On a recent day, Hasina Begum asked her father to bring water from the community well because her husband was currently away from the refugee camp. This 23-year-old woman can't do it herself because of her physical inability, that she is trying to conceal with her yellow dupatta — a shawl traditionally worn by women to cover the head and shoulders. When asked the reason for her disability, Begum told DW with tears the story of a day five years back. "They (Myanmar military) hit me with a rod,"Begum said. I was drenched with blood, and they thought I was dead. So they left me there." Five years later, she still has pain in her head and feet. Begum was a victim of a brutal clampdown by Myanmar's military in 2017. The Myanmar military began a sweeping campaign of massacres, rape, and arson in northern Rakhine State on August 25, 2017, following attacks on the border posts by some Rohingya militants. The campaign killed thousands of Rohingya, according to many international organizations, including Doctors Without Borders. At the time of the exodus, the United Nations say more than 745,000 people fled to neighboring Bangladesh. That figure now stands at over a million. Begum and her family now live in a refugee camp. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Rohingya: ‘Kill us, but don’t deport us to Myanmar’

Like hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people - an ethnic minority in Myanmar - Yasmin's parents fled the country in 2017 to escape a campaign of genocide launched by the military. Many fled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India, where they live as refugees. Five years on, Rohingya Muslims - the world's largest stateless population, according to the UN - remain in limbo. Yasmin's father, Rehman, was a businessman in Myanmar. As the military brutally attacked people, he became one of 700,000 Rohingyas who fled in a mass exodus. After walking for days, Rehman and his wife Mahmuda made it to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, an area in south-eastern Bangladesh that is close to its border with Myanmar. Here the couple lived in cramped conditions. Food shortages were common and they lived off rations from charities. The Bangladesh government has been pushing for Rohingya Muslims to return to Myanmar. Thousands of refugees have been moved to a remote island called Bhasan Char, which refugees describe as an "island prison". Rahman felt that leaving Bangladesh would help his child have a better future. And so in 2020, when Yasmin was just a few years old, the family crossed over into neighbouring India. Estimates vary, but refugee organisations believe there are between 10,000 and 40,000 Rohingya refugees in India. Many have been in the country since 2012. For years, the Rohingyas here have lived a modest life attracting little controversy. But after a federal minister tweeted this month that the refugees would be provided with housing, amenities and police protection, their presence in Delhi made fresh headlines. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

UN rights chief hopes to publish Xinjiang report before mandate ends

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday that she is still aiming to release a long-anticipated report on China's treatment of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang by the end of her four-year mandate next week. Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile, has faced severe criticism from civil society for being too soft on China during a visit earlier this year and has since said she will refrain from seeking a second term for personal reasons. The report has been in the works for three years and promised for months but has not been published for unclear reasons. "We are trying very hard to do what I promised," Michelle Bachelet said at a press briefing in Geneva, referring to a pledge to release it before the end of her term on Aug. 31. Asked to elaborate on why it has not been released, she said she needed time to integrate new information from her May visit. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

US State Department issues report on China’s 'efforts to manipulate' public opinion on Xinjiang

The US State Department issued a report on Wednesday detailing its findings on what it described as China's wide-ranging disinformation campaign related to the country's Xinjiang region. It claims that China "actively attempts to manipulate and dominate global discourse on Xinjiang and to discredit independent sources reporting ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity conducted against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." The report addresses the Chinese government's messaging tactics, its efforts to drown out critical narratives, its work to manipulate narratives of support (commonly known as astroturfing), doctored images, silencing dissent through trolling and cyberbullying, and manipulation of the narrative of the region. It delves into the country's numerous media tactics in getting its message out. These include rebutting and denying criticism from independent media sources; amplifying positive stories to distract from the country’s genocide and other crimes against humanity; and using the tactic of "whataboutism" and making false equivalencies to distract from criticism of government policies. Key messengers of China's disinformation campaign, according to the report, are diplomatic officials, who make use of social media to spread their messaging. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Salman Rushdie Was Once on the Left. What Happened?

It was therefore of little surprise that when the ayatollah called for Rushdie’s head on Valentine’s Day 1989, his supporters included the leading lights of the British left, among them the playwright Harold Pinter and former Labour leader Michael Foot. People like Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist-feminist writer Lynne Segal and the American Marxist Mike Marqusee formed Voices for Rushdie, an umbrella organisation to express solidarity with Rushdie, defend his civil liberties and demand his protection. The front page of the leftwing newspaper Labour Briefing demanded “unequivocal solidarity with Rushdie”, while radical bookshops around the country jointly committed to stocking his book. As openDemocracy co-founder Anthony Barnett recently argued, 1989 was a year of epochal change for the left, facing as it was a new world defined by globalising capitalism and the end of Soviet communism. The so-called Rushdie affair contributed to this recalibration: age-old commitments to civil liberties and secularism were restated, with calls for the repeal of blasphemy laws, the separation of church and state and an end to state aid for religious schools. New groups formed by Black and Asian writers, scholars and activists emerged to express solidarity with Rushdie; the voices of feminist women of colour, organised around Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism, were amplified, bringing greater attention to the unique oppressions of fundamentalist religion and uniting feminists across ethnic and religious lines. Alongside the left’s support for Rushdie’s freedom of speech and its refusal of extremist religion was an equally firm condemnation of racism and Islamophobia, in particular the weaponisation of the Rushdie affair for reactionary ends. While Women Against Fundamentalism fiercely opposed the oppression of women by reactionary fundamentalism, they equally challenged the racist opportunism of the National Front, who briefly sought to hijack pro-Rushdie counter-protests; Voices for Rushdie sought to challenge the tendency to treat the Muslim communities of Britain as monolithic, disloyal and prone to extremism. Yet while Voices for Rushdie rejected attempts to turn the controversy into what they called “a crude ‘eastern vs western’ conflict”, for many this was exactly what happened. For some British Muslims, the controversy collapsed historic divisions between communities based on national or regional origin in favour of a common Muslim identity. Meanwhile, as the controversy encouraged public discourse about the meaning of “British” or “western” values, however ahistorical or problematic, British national identity became increasingly defined against an Islamic other, deepening public perceptions of division between Britain’s Muslim and non-Muslim population. The left ultimately failed to avoid this toxic bifurcation infecting public political discourse, and often found itself increasingly, and absurdly, accused of siding with reactionary Islamism over western liberalism. read the complete article

United States

25 Aug 2022

Despite its failings, the global war on terror grinds on

Earlier this August, the White House announced the killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri via a CIA drone attack. This was met with near universal praise in Congress, in the foreign policy establishment and from our international allies. But for some, including many people of faith, killing is never something to celebrate. The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Quaker lobbying organization I lead and the oldest religious lobby in Washington, is among those that do not support killing as a response to killing. We oppose acts of terrorism and war. We believe in responding to violence with more effective and less costly approaches grounded in civilian rule of law. These alone can break cycles of violence rather than feed them. The president withdrew ground troops from Afghanistan but made clear that air and drone strikes would remain an option for dealing with “any resurgent terrorist challenge emerging or emanating from Afghanistan.” Rather than ending our forever wars, the Biden administration has continued to conduct lethal operations in Afghanistan — employing the euphemistic term “over the horizon” strikes. And it has continued to prioritize and promote a militarized approach to counterterrorism around the world. American forces remain in Syria and Iraq, and the president recently sent a military contingent of 500 back to Somalia. The brutal facts cannot be ignored. From 2018 to 2020, the United States conducted militarized counterterrorism operations in 85 countries worldwide, including air and drone strikes in at least seven. This was up from 80 countries in the prior two years. These strikes take place on a routine basis with limited oversight by Congress and little public knowledge. The American people cannot weigh in on matters of war — for or against — if they do not know when, where or if they are taking place. What’s worse, Congress has done little to find out — or to share what it knows. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Laura Loomer Loses GOP Primary, Opportunity to Vie for Most Racist Congressperson

You can’t formally measure racism. But if you could, Laura Loomer would have had a solid chance of becoming the most publicly racist Congressman in the last decade if she had won last night. The 29-year-old lost her primary election in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, in a close race with incumbent Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). If she had won last night, she would likely have been headed to Washington D.C. To see Loomer even come this close to Congress is indicative of a shift in the post-Trump GOP. And it’s a bit hard to fathom when you consider that four years ago she was handcuffing herself to Twitter headquarters protesting getting kicked off the app. Loomer hasn’t served in office before. Instead, she is famous for being a conservative activist, and being cartoonishly bigoted. She has a years-long history of raw, unfiltered Islamophobia that possibly reached its zenith when she said, after 50 people were killed in a New Zealand mosque, that: “Nobody cares about [the] Christchurch [shooting]. I especially don’t. I care about my social media accounts and the fact that Americans are being silenced.” (Loomer was bemoaning those kicked off websites like Twitter for being racist.) She did not change her rhetoric to make herself more palatable for Congress during the campaign. Loomer recently shared an article that lamented the “accelerating” of the “erasing” of “America’s white history.” She’s also kept up a public dialogue with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist, who endorsed her. In March, Loomer went on white nationalist Jared Taylor’s podcast. Right Wing Watch has documented her saying things like “I’m a really big supporter of the Christian nationalist movement,” and “I’m going to fight for Christians, I’m going to fight for white people, I’m going to fight for nationalist movements.” read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Edison community divided regarding bulldozer used in Indian Day parade seen by some as Islamophobic

The Edison community is divided after a bulldozer was featured in the India Independence Day parade in town. Many residents and advocates are demanding that someone take responsibility for using the bulldozer, which is seen by some as a symbolic attack on those of the Islamic faith. Advocacy groups have accused the Indian government of so-called “bulldozer justice,” which are said to be illegal demolitions of largely Muslim-owned properties in India. "The symbol of the bulldozer is a clear message of intimidation,” says Dylan Terpstra, of the New Jersey Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says it is intimidation against India’s religious minorities. Most in India are Hindu. Terpstra also says that it shows the parade’s positive message was hijacked. "The entire parade, not just this bulldozer, was about their political view in India and not necessarily all Indian Americans,” Terpstra says. The parade has been celebrated in the community for more than 30 years. The Indian Business Association runs it. This downtown drives the local economy. But the chairman of the group says he is not apologizing. "Why should I feel sorry? We did not do anything wrong,” says Chandrakant Patel. He says this situation is being misrepresented. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Oz's Senate Bid Could Be a Muslim First but Is 'Complicated'

If Dr. Mehmet Oz is elected to the U.S. Senate this fall, he'll be the first Muslim ever to serve in the chamber. It's something he hardly brings up while campaigning, his Democratic opponent isn't raising it and it's barely a topic of conversation in Pennsylvania's Muslim community. Even if Muslims know that Oz — the celebrity heart surgeon best known as the host of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show” — is a fellow Muslim, many may not identify with him culturally or politically. And in any case, Muslims aren't monolithic and won't necessarily vote for a candidate just because they share a religion, Muslims across the state say — he'll have to win them over on the issues just as with all voters. He is also part of a Republican Party that is a political minority among Muslims and is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who earned the enmity of some Muslims for enacting a 2017 ban on travelers coming to the United States from five predominantly Muslim countries. For a Republican Party more accustomed to electing white Christians, Oz’s religion is a strange bedfellow. Some Muslims say they have felt an animosity from the party in the past and Muslim candidates themselves have faced attacks from GOP rivals. In a brief interview, Oz said it is good for the United States’ leadership to show that it can elect Muslims, and it is good for Muslims to see one of their own elected to the U.S. Senate. When it comes to voting, party loyalty will override religion for the vast majority of Muslims, Blankinship said. “Most people would not think of supporting him just because he’s a Muslim,” Blankinship said. “And they would look at what is he saying, what are his politics, what is his position going to be.” read the complete article


25 Aug 2022

Indian politician boasts about getting Muslims killed – on camera

A former legislator from India’s ruling party has been caught on boasting on camera about getting at least five Muslims killed in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. “We have killed five of them so far, be it in Lalwandi, be it Behror … I have given a free hand to the workers, kill those ****** behind cow slaughter,” Gyan Dev Ahuja, a politician belonging to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is seen saying in a video now viral in India. “We will get you acquitted, we will get you out on bail too,” he said, purportedly referring to the mob lynchings and killings related to alleged cow slaughter in his area. Indian media reports earlier this week said Ahuja has been charged with promoting religious hatred and enmity, and was interrogated by police in Rajasthan on Monday. Between 2013 and 2018, Ahuja was a legislator from Ramgarh in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, which saw a series of mob lynchings and killings of Muslims by Hindu mobs. On Monday, Indian news website The Quint reported that at least three such deaths happened in Alwar in 2017 and 2018 over allegations of slaughtering cows, which Hindus consider holy. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

As India turns 75, Muslim girls are suing to wear the hijab — and protect secularism

In early February, parents of all the Muslim students at Shifa's public high school in southwest India were called into a meeting. The principal told them their daughters could no longer wear the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, in class. They'd have to remove it or stay home from school. "We were shocked because they'd never mentioned any rule like that before, and we'd even asked about it when we enrolled her two years ago," recalls Shifa's aunt Malika, 27, who goes by one name and attended the principal's conference that day. "After two years of COVID lockdown, and then just two months after the school reopened, this new rule came."The principal told them it was part of a new dress code after lots of Muslim girls returned to in-person classes wearing headscarves, which they hadn't worn before the pandemic. More than one in six Indians is Muslim. They're the biggest minority in this Hindu-majority country. Shifa comes from a devout Muslim family in Udupi, a district along India's Malabar coast in the southern state of Karnataka. She's worn a hijab for several years — since well before the COVID lockdown — and wants to keep doing so. "I want to wear my hijab and get an education," she says, her soft voice gaining volume. "I don't want to have to choose." With that resolve, the day after the principal's meeting Shifa tried to enter the Government Pre-University College for Girls as usual, wearing her navy-blue headscarf. But when she was told by school administrators to take it off or be banned from school, she refused to do so — and she hired a lawyer. This month, India is celebrating 75 years since the end of British colonial rule and the birth of its democracy — which was envisioned by its founders, including Mahatma Gandhi, as a secular, diverse republic with equal rights for all. India's economy and population have exploded since then. Its character has changed too. Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalists have been in power. Critics say they've been whittling away protections for minorities, and ultimately taking aim at the secularism enshrined in India's constitution. Among the obstacles they face is a group of teenage Muslim girls — including Ayesha Shifa — who've taken their fight to wear the hijab all the way to India's Supreme Court. A ruling, expected soon, could redefine what secularism means in the world's biggest democracy. read the complete article

25 Aug 2022

Religion based violence in India

August 22nd is the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. It is a day designated by the U.N. for member states to reflect on their efforts to combat intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on religion or belief. The day is a direct response to the ever-growing issue of violence based on religion, including in their most severe manifestations, international crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocides. Indian Muslims are one of the largest Muslim population blocs in the world (estimates range from 140-190 million). They also form the largest minority in India (10–14%). They are threatened today by the rise of militant Hindutva, or ‘Hindu nationalism’. Under Modi’s rule, India has turned into a majoritarian state where religious minorities, including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and others, are being persecuted. The anti-Muslim and anti-minority policies of the Modi government are detrimental to India as well. Human Rights Watch report highlighted that BJP has been increasingly harassing, arresting, and prosecuting rights defenders, activists, journalists, students, academics, and others critical of the government or its policies. Such intolerant policies are inevitably leading to rising instability and chaos at every level in India. ‘Majoritarianism’ is the correct term to describe the Hindutva mindset. Hindu Nationalists believe that only Hindus should have rights as they own the nation, and this is justified because they form the majority. Nehru was to the point when he defined Hindutva as ‘fascism; Hindu style’. Hindutva Icon Savarkar & Golwalker had repeatedly raised anti-Muslim slogans to the extent where Savarkar called raping Muslim Women one of the tools to seek revenge. Whereas Golwalker & Mahasabha raised issues like Cow Slaughter and Love Jihad against Muslims in the 1920s which are becoming more prominent in recent days as an excuse to lynch Muslims. Hindutva was re-awakened in the mid-1980s led by L.K. Advani. Advani was a refugee politician, and an RSS member, originally from Karachi (now in Pakistan). The RSS(formerly known as Hindu Mahasabha), which had been sidelined after their role in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, began to sense the possibility of reviving their dream of a Hindu supremacist nation run along Hitler’s model. The RSS had by then created a political front, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Aug 2022 Edition


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