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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26 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Rohingya politicians are excluded from running in Myanmar’s upcoming elections. Facebook’s Indian executive Ankhi Das apologises to Muslim employees in the company for sharing a post on her Facebook page which called Muslims in India a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter.” In the U.S, Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who expressed support of the QAnon conspiracy theory and authored online posts reflecting racist and anti-Muslim views, says she plans to be at the White House when President Trump accepts the Republican nomination. Our recommended read today is by Sara Robinson and Meg Satterthwaite on the Trump administration’s attacks on human rights institutions in the region. This, and more, below:

United States

26 Aug 2020

Two Regional Human Rights Tribunals Forge Ahead Despite Trump’s Attacks on International Institutions | Recommended Read

As many Just Security authors have rightly noted, Trump’s recent executive order authorizing sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) represents an unprecedented attack on that judicial institution simply for investigating possible U.S. crimes committed in States that have accepted ICC jurisdiction. In the face of these attacks, the work of regional human rights institutions to hold the United States and its partners accountable for abuses committed as part of the “global war on terror” are more important than ever. Regional bodies have crucial opportunities in the coming months to address the violations imposed upon men subjected to the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program. A global enterprise of kidnappings, torture, and incommunicado detention, this system was inflicted upon hundreds of Muslim men and their families between 2002 and 2008. Last month, the Inter-American Commission took an historic step in a case brought by four survivors of the extraordinary rendition program. Represented by the ACLU and the New York University Global Justice Clinic (where we work), these men exemplify the breadth of the program: They were held in eight different facilities across Afghanistan, Jordan, Gambia, Pakistan, Morocco, and the U.S., and they were subjected to countless instances of torture and ill-treatment. In a decision that has just been made public, the tribunal determined that these four survivors of U.S. forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture would have their experiences acknowledged and their legal claims considered by the Inter-American Commission. More than nine years after their federal case ended, the Inter-American Commission has done what no other tribunal would do: It has agreed to hear the merits of the case. These petitioners join a small circle of other victims and survivors of U.S. counterterrorism abuses whose cases have advanced before the Inter-American Commission. In a recent decision summarized in a post last month on Just Security, the Inter-American Commission found the U.S. liable for the torture and refoulement of Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian national who was formerly detained at the U.S. naval prison at Guantánamo Bay. The Inter-American Commission has also accepted the case of Khaled El Masri, a German citizen who was abducted in Macedonia and tortured for months in a CIA black site in Afghanistan. El Masri, who is represented by the ACLU, is awaiting a hearing on the merits of his case. Taken together, these cases represent an important opportunity for the survivors of U.S. torture to finally have their voices heard and their suffering recognized. To this day, the U.S. government has not apologized for or even acknowledged the torture and ill-treatment it inflicted upon these individuals. read the complete article

Recommended Read
26 Aug 2020

‘If You Get In Trouble I’ll Pardon You’: Ex-DHS Official Miles Taylor Says Trump Promised Protection For Illegal Policies

Miles Taylor, a former senior official in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, is out with yet another stunning allegation against the president: that he offered pardons to staffers who broke the law while implementing his “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Taylor also accused Trump of wanting to “exploit” DHS for “his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda,” and of wanting to “go further” than his family separation policy to discourage migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. Taylor claims that, during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in April 2019, Trump told DHS senior leadership “we should not let anybody else into the United States” despite officials telling him it is illegal to deny entry to refugee-seekers, declaring “the bins are full.” Taylor was a national security advisor for the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans before serving in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019. He was Nielsen’s chief from February 2019 until his departure in November 2019. Following his exit, he joined Google to work on government affairs and national security issues – a move condemned by Democrats at the time due to Taylor’s role in Trump’s Muslim ban and family separation policy. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Naturalization Ceremony at R.N.C. Stands at Odds With Trump’s Stance on Immigration

President Trump sought Tuesday to wrap himself in pro-immigrant sentiment — even though his administration has waged a yearslong assault on the nation’s immigration system — by presiding over a naturalization ceremony at the White House during the second night of the Republican National Convention. Using the majesty of the White House for blatantly political purposes, Mr. Trump appeared during the convention’s second hour as “Hail to the Chief” played and strode to a lectern where five immigrants were waiting to take the oath to become citizens. “Today, America rejoices as we welcome five absolutely incredible new members into our great American family,” he told them in a 10-minute ceremony that had been taped in the afternoon. It was not the first time Mr. Trump has presided over such a ceremony. But the willingness to use the trappings of presidential power during a campaign convention was a stunning departure from the past, in which prior presidents have avoided seeming to blur the lines between official actions and political activity. And Mr. Trump’s explicit claim that he loves and appreciates immigrants stands in stark contrast to his record over the past four years, during which he has repeatedly pursued anti-immigrant policies, often fueled by xenophobic language. The president has largely blocked asylum seekers and refugees fleeing persecution, war and violence. He has built nearly 300 miles of border wall (though without persuading Mexico to pay for it, as he once insisted). He has made it harder for poor people to immigrate to the United States, imposed travel bans on predominantly Muslim countries, and separated migrant children from their parents at the border. At times, he has used racist messaging, condemning “shithole countries” and complaining that people from Haiti “have AIDS.” read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

RNC cancels speaker Mary Ann Mendoza after she promoted QAnon, anti-Semitic conspiracies

An activist who was scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night was abruptly yanked off the program after it was reported that she had shared an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on social media hours ahead of her scheduled appearance. "Do yourself a favor and read this thread," the woman, Mary Ann Mendoza, wrote on Twitter, linking to a string of tweets about a bogus 100-year-old Jewish plot to run the world that managed to add some QAnon conspiracies and touched on everything from the Titanic to Hillary Clinton. Mendoza apologized about an hour before the RNC programming was set to begin, saying: "I retweeted a very long thread earlier without reading every post within the thread. My apologies for not paying attention to the intent of the whole message. That does not reflect my feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever." Mendoza's removal was so abrupt that organizers had already sent out a copy of her prepared remarks, which were supposed to have been under an embargo until her appearance. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh confirmed, "We have removed the scheduled video from the convention lineup, and it will no longer run this week." No reason was given. QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory with a variety of outlandish claims centered on a belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a Democratic and Hollywood elite cabal of child abusers. The FBI said last year that its theories are likely intended to "motivate some domestic extremists," but Trump gave the group a public embrace last week, saying, "I've heard these are people who love our country." He added that he didn't know much about the movement "other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate." read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Marjorie Taylor Greene to attend Trump nomination speech at White House

Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed support of the QAnon conspiracy theory and authored online posts reflecting racist and anti-Muslim views, said Tuesday she plans to be at the White House when President Trump accepts the Republican nomination. "I’m honored and thrilled to be invited to attend President Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday evening at the White House," Greene tweeted. "I’m also equally excited to vote for him again November 3rd, and I’m working hard all over Georgia to help him win." Greene has garnered national attention after Politico unearthed past racist, anti-Semitic and Islamaphobic comments she made, including comparing Democratic donor George Soros to a Nazi, saying the 2018 midterms were like an “Islamic invasion of our government” and asserting that African Americans "are held slaves to the Democratic Party." Though Greene has spoken favorably of the QAnon theory, she later walked back her support after finding "misinformation." The theory posits that Trump and his allies are working together to expose and arrest an underground cabal of global elites who control the government and run child sex-trafficking rings. The president has embraced followers of the conspiracy theory, which the FBI has labeled a potential domestic terror threat, saying he believes they "love our country." The White House has declined to condemn Greene's past statements about Muslims. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Hatemonger' Paints Trump Advisor Stephen Miller As A 'Case Study In Radicalization'

Miller has been seen as a link between the white nationalist agenda and the Trump White House. Journalist Jean Guerrero traces the origins of Miller's anti-immigrant policies in a new book. It's impossible to understand the Trump era, with its unparalleled polarization, without tracing Stephen Miller's journey to the White House. That's what my guest, Jean Guerrero, writes in her new book, "Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, And The White Nationalist Agenda." She describes Miller as the architect of Trump's border and immigration policies, helping Trump, quote, "conjure an invasion of animals to come steal American jobs and spill American blood," unquote. She describes the ideological arc of Miller's life and investigates his ties to right-wing mentors and far-right groups. She adds, many are baffled at how someone so young with so little policy or legal expertise gained so much power, outlasting and overtaking his mentor, Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist. Her book helps show how he did it. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Muslim Americans care more about civil rights than foreign policy, survey claims

Muslim Americans care more about civil rights, health care and education reforms than foreign policy, an online survey by a coalition of national Muslim organisations has claimed. According to the survey, which was held over a period of five months and gathered the opinions of around 1500 respondents from Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian and white Muslim Americans, more than 80 percent of respondents said they felt civil rights issues and policies are the most important to them. The survey, which was conducted in 45 states, also found that over 65 percent of respondents found health care to be a top policy priority. During an online press conference on Tuesday announcing the findings, Mohammed Missouri, the executive director at Jetpac, one of the Muslim organisations that administered the poll, highlighted the fact that foreign policy did not rank as a top priority among any age group. "Although the media and political parties and different advocacy groups have traditionally treated our community as a monolith of single-issue voters on foreign policy, I think this survey shows very clearly that foreign policy isn't the top issue for any generation or age group of the people we surveyed," Missouri said. "I think what it really shows is that Muslims care about a wide range of issues," he continued. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Muslim ICE detainees forced to choose between pork or expired halal meals

The detainees at the Krome detention facility in Miami, Florida, have been forced to eat pork products, as the “religiously compliant or halal meals that ICE has served have been persistently rotten and expired,” advocacy groups Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigration Justice told CNN. There are around several dozen detainees at the facility whose religious beliefs prevent them from eating pork, according to a letter the groups sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement leadership. In the letter, they claimed that issues with halal meats being spoiled has been ongoing for two years, but was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months the facility has been serving meals already pre-made, which has forced the Muslim detainees to choose between eating pork or dishes that include spoiled halal meat. Pork is included in the meals at least three days a week, and Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, told CNN that a chaplin at the facility dismissed multiple requests for help from Muslim detainees, and told them: “It is what it is.” Ms Azmi added: “The detainees are frustrated, rightfully so, that something as simple as being able to get meals that are edible for them and religiously compliant for them are not being attended to. read the complete article


26 Aug 2020

Rohingya: “We would rather die now than be kept here forever"

Exactly three years ago today, Myanmar soldiers, accompanied by local Buddhist militias, launched a wave of attacks on Rohingya villages in the northwest corner of the southeast Asian country. More than a million Rohingya genocide survivors, most fled in the 2017 violence, find themselves dislocated in what has become a never-ending road to justice for the world’s most persecuted religious minority. By the start of December, more than 20,000 Rohingya were dead, alongside thousands more injured and permanently traumatised, according to estimates made by Doctor Without Borders. One study documented 18,000 incidences of rape, 35,000 being thrown into a fire, and 42,000 gunshot wounds. Today, nearly one million Rohingya remain trapped in squalid refugee camps on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, with a further 200,000 trapped in Rakhine State, or what a Rohingya village leader in Myanmar described to me as a “genocide zone,” cornered by Myanmar soldiers on one side and Arakan separatist fighters on the other, with thousands of landmines in between. Rohingya refugees will not return until they are guaranteed security, citizenship, reparations, and an end to discriminatory policies, with the perpetrators of the genocide, brought to justice. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Rohingya politicians excluded from Myanmar's upcoming election

Aspiring politician Abdul Rasheed was born in Myanmar and is one of very few majority-Muslim Rohingya to have Myanmar citizenship. His father was a civil servant. But when the country goes to the polls in November, the businessman will not be able to stand as a candidate because officials accuse him of having foreign roots. Rasheed is among at least a dozen Rohingya with Myanmar citizenship who have applied to be candidates in the November 8 general election, hoping to get into politics under the new democratic government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Six of them had been rejected after officials said they failed to prove their parents were citizens at the time of their birth, a requirement under the election law. read the complete article


26 Aug 2020

US recognition of the Rohingya genocide would reverberate around the globe

The US remains the global prime mover when it comes to issues of human rights and international law, and therefore any action taken by the US reverberates around the world. With this in mind, a group of independent legal and human-rights experts have written an open letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking him to make a determination about the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar and declare what has happened to them a genocide — as it so clearly is. There is every reason for the US to do so. The facts of the matter are incontrovertible: about 1 million Rohingya refugees live in a huge refugee camp just across the border in Bangladesh, near the city of Cox’s Bazaar. The overwhelming majority of them arrived there between the summer of 2016 and the summer of 2017, coinciding with what the armed forces of Myanmar themselves called “clearing operations” carried out against “Rohingya terrorists” — a designation that for the soldiers seems to include hundreds of thousands of civilian women and children caught up in their burning of villages. The situation is already being examined by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the first case of its kind, after Gambia instigated the legal action against Myanmar. The US could, in this situation, seize the initiative and make a determination of genocide. This would not alter the trajectory of the international judicial process, but it might well speed it up so that the Rohingya gain some measure of justice, and perhaps even small steps toward restitution, sooner rather than later. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

How European views on China are hardening in the wake of Covid-19

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a think tank, has studied how perceptions of China have evolved since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. It found that European publics have markedly cooled on the Asian giant during the coronavirus crisis. In France, 62 per cent say their opinion worsened this year, while just 6 per cent say it improved. In Germany, 48 per cent say their view has deteriorated – the same percentage as in Europe as a whole. According to Oertel, the coronavirus crisis has now “catapulted” China to the top of public discourse in Europe and there is an increasing domestic will to apply sanctions. Because the EU is China’s largest trading partner, it also has more leverage over Beijing than is commonly accepted, she says. Peter Irwin, an official at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a group advocating for the rights of Uighurs in China, says that his organisation has been increasingly successful in lobbying EU member states to take a harder line on China because the attitudes of European publics are shifting. “I have seen this shift take place in real time.” Irwin cites a 2018 report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, according to which the incarceration of up to two million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of so-called “re-education camps” is credible as a turning point in perceptions of China. “I think there is pressure for Western governments to do something.” European companies, too, are being pressured to divest from Xinjiang. Although Xinjiang’s economy is relatively small when compared to the economy of China as a whole, some industries in China would be vulnerable to the pressure of international divestment. Around a quarter of the world’s cotton supply is sourced from Xinjiang, for instance. read the complete article


26 Aug 2020

Policy Options in Response to Crimes Against Humanity and Potential Genocide in Xinjiang

Violence and persecution in China against the Uyghur Muslim minority has drawn important attention recently, including on these pages. As the evidence of abuses continues to mount, the Trump Administration has issued a robust, and unprecedented, set of sanctions. Given China’s burgeoning global influence, it is easy to assume that there are no other effective levers when it comes to human rights issues, be it the persecution of the Uyghurs or the crackdown in Hong Kong. Such a fatalistic attitude is understandable, but misplaced. Indeed, there are a number of distinct and cumulative actions the United States, its partners and allies, and other members of the international community can undertake—alone and in concert with each other—to address this human rights tragedy and pressure China to reverse course. This post collects some of these ideas in one place, with a focus on how the United States and others within the international community can mount a robust response to confirmed persecution against the Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang. This playbook, with adaptations, is equally relevant to events in Hong Kong and can be deployed against other human rights abusing states around the world. read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

China Locks Down Xinjiang to Fight Covid-19, Angering Residents

First came the notices that Chinese officials had declared a “wartime” state. Then the authorities started going door to door, sealing off apartments and warning residents to stay inside. The Chinese government in recent weeks has imposed a sweeping lockdown across the Xinjiang region in western China, penning in millions of people as part of what officials describe as an effort to fight a resurgence of the coronavirus. But with the outbreak in Xinjiang seemingly under control and the restrictions still in place more than a month after the outbreak there began, many residents are lashing out and accusing the government of acting too harshly. The lockdown, which according to government notices has affected at least four million people, has revived concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has spent years perfecting a system of mass surveillance and control in Xinjiang and has long imposed draconian social rules on the region’s largely Muslim ethnic minority groups, who make up about half the population of 25 million. On social media sites, Xinjiang residents have in recent days circulated videos showing residents handcuffed to metal posts, purportedly for violating quarantine rules. Some residents have said that the authorities have forced them to drink traditional Chinese medicine, despite doubts about its efficacy against the virus. Another widely circulated video showed residents in Urumqi, a city of 3.5 million and the capital of Xinjiang, yelling from their homes in despair. “Is this a prison or cage?” one user wrote on Weibo, a popular social media service. “Is this prevention or suppression?” read the complete article


26 Aug 2020

Facebook's Ankhi Das Apologised For Sharing Anti-Muslim Post: Report

Facebook India executive Ankhi Das apologised to Muslim employees in the company for sharing a post on her Facebook page which called Muslims in India a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter”, Buzzfeed’s Pranav Dixit reported. The post had been written by a former police officer in response to the anti-CAA protests and had been shared by Das on her page in 2019 In the internal message written by Das to employees, she said, “The intent of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam... It was to reflect my deep belief in celebrating feminism and civic participation. I value all perspectives I have heard over the past days about how the post was received and as a result I have deleted the post. I genuinely regret any hurt it may have caused, including to my Muslim colleagues in the company,” Buzzfeed reported. Several employees responded to Das’s message. One wrote: “As a company, we now need to do an honest reflection of hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims on our platform. In a market where public figures like T. Raja Singh engage in blatant hate speech, as well as incites violence, against the Muslim community, we need to do more to protect the vulnerable.” Facebook and Ankhi Das, who is the company’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia, faced criticism after a Wall Street Journal report said she opposed applying hate-speech rules to some Hindu nationalist individuals and groups, including a BJP’s T. Raja Singh who had called Muslims traitors in Facebook posts. read the complete article

New Zealand

26 Aug 2020

'He made us stronger': Christchurch shooting victims strike defiant note at sentencing

As the gunman, a self-professed white supremacist, lifted his weapon in the prayer room of Al Noor to fire on a group of worshipers huddled together as they tried to get through a single exit door in the corner of the room, Naeem Rashid, 51, a teacher, ran at the killer. “He worked hard to be part of a civilised society that is developed by like-minded people,” the statement from Naeem, his wife, said. Her husband had taught students from different backgrounds and religions, she added. “He never discriminated against any race or religion so it is hard to understand why the terrorist chose any reason to kill him and so many other people.” On Tuesday, Naeem stood composed and resolute alongside a police liaison officer who read her statement. She is one dozens bereaved or hurt in Tarrant’s attack to catalogue in court the devastating effects of his actions on them. After they have had their say – a process expected to take until Thursday – the judge will decide whether the gunman should ever leave jail. If not, he would be the first person in New Zealand sentenced to life without parole. “Since my husband and son passed away I have never had a proper normal sleep. I don’t think I ever will. That is why his punishment should continue forever,” Naeem’s statement read. She added that no one had stopped the Australian man from visiting the mosque. “He was greeted with ‘Hello, brother’ when he entered.” Monday’s police statement recounted how Rashid, a “supportive, kind, considerate” man who has taught his sons to ride bikes, was shot at point blank range as he threw himself at Tarrant, 29, sending the gunman down on one knee. The statement reads simply: “Mr Rashid’s actions allowed a number of other worshippers to escape.” 2) Trump administration weighs accusing China of ‘genocide’ over Uighurs (International) The United States is weighing formally labeling China’s brutal repression of ethnic Muslim minority Uighurs a “genocide,” two Trump administration officials said. Activists and lawmakers have been pushing for the genocide designation in recent months, but mere consideration of the possibility by the U.S. government could further damage badly frayed ties between Beijing and Washington. It also comes in the heat of the 2020 presidential campaign, in which the two sides have jousted over which candidate would be tougher on China. A spokesperson for Joe Biden noted that the former vice president supports the label — a factor that could influence President Donald Trump’s calculations. The internal administration discussions are still at the early stages, involving working level officials at the State Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, according to the administration officials who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity. If there’s not enough consensus to use the term genocide, the administration could instead accuse the Chinese leadership of other atrocities, such as “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.” read the complete article

26 Aug 2020

Christchurch mosque attack sentencing: Victim's son describes Brenton Tarrant as trash who should be buried in a landfill

Haji Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, 71, was shot dead at Al Noor Mosque on March 15 last year. The retired engineer and father-of-five fled his homeland Afghanistan during its war with Russia and brought his young family to New Zealand in 1979. Today, his son Ahad Nabi, wearing an NZ Warriors rugby league jersey, stood in the High Court at Christchurch during the third day of sentencing and stared down the gunman before reading his victim impact statement. "I do not forgive you for what you have done. While you are in prison you will come to reality that you are now in hell – and only the fire awaits you." Ahad didn't mince his words when he directed his words at Tarrant in the dock. "A peasant like you will never change the human race. Your wish is to make this world a racist cult of one colour but you'll never succeed." He said Tarrant was "scum of the world" and should never be freed. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Aug 2020 Edition


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