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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27 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: New Zealand mosque shooter is sentenced to life in prison for the mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch. Writing for Al Jazeera, Rohingya activist Tun Khin urges the world not to forget the persecuted Muslim minority of Myanmar. Our recommended read today is by Bridge Senior Research Fellow Mobashra Tazamal, on Trump’s revival of the racist conspiracy theory of birtherism. This, and more, below:

United States

27 Aug 2020

Birtherism and Islam: Trump revives a racist conspiracy theory to smear Kamala Harris | Recommended read

As many reflected on the historical significance of Harris's nomination, the Commander-in-Chief wasted no time in employing his racist conspiracy theories, in a sign of what we can expect in the months leading up to November's election. Donald Trump questioned the California Senator's eligibility to hold the position, evoking the Birtherism conspiracy theory he leveled previously at former president, Barack Obama. In both instances, Trump deployed unsubstantiated claims questioning the citizenship status of Black Americans. The Birther conspiracy theory, mainstreamed by Donald Trump in 2012, surfaced during the 2008 elections in chain emails questioning the birthplace of then-presidential candidate, Barack Obama. The unsubstantiated and irrational allegations claimed not only that Obama was born in Kenya, but that he was also a secret Muslim, pointing to his Kenyan Muslim father as proof. At the same time, Birthirism also employed Islamophobia by alleging Obama's secret Muslim identity proved he was a threat and could never be loyal to the country. In a post-9/11 environment, tying the first Black American presidential candidate to Islam tapped into the pervasive racism as well as dangerous levels of anti-Muslim hatred that had taken hold in the country. Birtherism moved from the fringes to the mainstream during the 2012 presidential election, at a time when right-wing media gave considerable airtime to proponents of the theory. But the one who really kicked the movement into overdrive was none other than Donald Trump. read the complete article

Recommended read
27 Aug 2020

Marjorie Taylor Greene shared an anti-Muslim video that portrays Jewish people as trying to destroy Europe through immigration

Less than two years ago, right-wing commentator and Republican House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene shared an anti-refugee video and claimed that “this is what the UN wants all over the world.” The Greene-promoted video features anti-Muslim propaganda, quotes an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier saying that “Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation” and, as one reporter wrote, “implies that Jews are at the heart of a project to destroy Europe as we know it.” The video, which originated on the far-right message board 8chan in 2015, has been celebrated by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Greene is heavily favored to win her race in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. She has expressed support for the violence-linked QAnon conspiracy theory, which the FBI has labeled a potential domestic terror threat. Conspiracy theories researcher Mike Rothschild has written that "anti-Semitism has been part of the fabric of QAnon since the conspiracy theory first launched” in October 2017. Greene has also pushed conspiracy theories about 9/11, the killing of Democratic staffer Seth Rich, the mail bombs sent around the time of the 2018 midterm elections, and Pizzagate. Politico reported in June that Greene posted Facebook videos in which she expressed “racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views,” including stating that “there is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now” and that “you saw after midterm elections what we saw so many Muslims elected.” read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

In the Fatiha, Jacob Blake’s father cried for justice and healing for his son

On Tuesday (Aug. 25), as the father of Jacob Blake spoke to the press, he began with a Muslim prayer from the beginning of the Quran, recited in Arabic, before tearfully reminding the nation and the world that his son matters. Seven verses to match the seven bullets fired at his son. Though those who listened may not have understood the words, they felt the anguish in a father’s voice and the cry for healing and justice. Whether or not Jacob Blake Sr. or Jr. is a Muslim is irrelevant to the situation. What happened to their family is another sign of the systematic dehumanization of Black people in America, and the ever-recurring and unremedied incidents of police brutality. When Jacob Blake Sr. recited the Fatiha for his own son who may never walk again, many were moved by the pain in the recitation of “the cure,” and in it, they heard the cry of generations of Black mothers and fathers. read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

RNC speakers with a past: Allegations of plagiarism, hostility to immigrants, QAnon and anti-Muslim bias

Burgess Owens, a Republican congressional candidate in Utah, plagiarized numerous passages in his 2018 book, "Why I Stand: From Freedom to the Killing Fields of Socialism," according to an analysis by Media Matters. The Utah Democratic Party has called for Owens' removal from the lineup, with Chairman Jeff Merchant saying, "People who cheat are not the type of leaders we need or want." Conservative Trump critic Bill Kristol tweeted Tuesday, "Will the RNC disinvite the plagiarist scheduled to speak tomorrow night?" Sheryl Atkins, a Republican former Utah lawmaker, also called for the convention to boot Owens because of his ties to QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that idolizes President Donald Trump and talks about the arrest and execution of his enemies. Owens appeared on a YouTube show affiliated with the movement this year. He also tweeted congratulations to a Colorado congressional candidate who praised QAnon after she won her primary. Also set to speak Wednesday night was Clarence Henderson, a conservative civil rights activist who participated in the Greensboro, North Carolina, lunch counter sit-ins in 1960. Henderson appeared on a well-known QAnon podcast last year, where he made anti-Muslim and anti-transgender comments during a lengthy interview. He has shared similar messages on social media, where he has warned about the "Islamic domination of the West" and shared anti-LGBTQ articles. read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

Fact check: 'Sharia patrol force' won't roam Minneapolis if police force is dismantled

Viral posts on social media claim that once the police are gone, other groups plan to take over patrolling the city’s streets. “A Muslim group in Minneapolis said that it intends to begin patrolling the streets with a Sharia patrol force once the city eliminates its police department,” reads the Facebook post, a screenshot from an Instagram post that appears to have been deleted. “Anyone who didn’t see this coming is an ignorant fool!” The origin of this claim can be traced back to comments Minnesota state Rep. Steve Green, a Republican, made at a county board meeting in June. At the meeting, Green said antifa and Muslim organizations plan to “police Minneapolis under Muslim rule,” according to the Park Rapids Enterprise, which first reported the statements. His comments were made during a conversation about defunding the police and whether there was an alternative plan for public safety. “What you’re looking at, in my humble opinion, is communism moving into Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Green was quoted as saying. Four days after Green made those statements, conservative magazine FrontPageMag picked up the story, but took an editorial spin, evaluating what self-policing would look like in the city. The magazine wrote that “Sharia patrols” have popped up in Germany, Britain and New York, insinuating that this is what would happen in Minneapolis with self-policing. It referenced New York's "MCP," or Muslim Community Patrol, which is "decked out in uniforms that strong resemble New York Police Department uniforms, and drives cars carefully designed to look like NYPD cars, to enforce 'fundamentals of the Sharia.'" FrontPage Magazine, a conservative news site, is described by Media Bias/Fact Check as having an extreme right bias, promoting "conspiracy theories regarding Islam as well as propaganda that only reports negatively on Islam." read the complete article


27 Aug 2020

The world cannot forget the Rohingya

This week marks exactly three years since the Myanmar military poured into Rakhine State and launched a vicious operation against the Rohingya people. Over the course of a few weeks, thousands of women, men and children were killed, mutilated and raped, whole villages were burned to the ground, and hundreds of thousands fled into neighbouring Bangladesh. Even for us Rohingya, who have been oppressed and rendered stateless in our home country for decades, the savagery of the violence in 2017 was unprecedented. Today, our plight has mostly disappeared from the headlines in international media, but our people are still suffering. We need the world's help more than ever to end the genocide against us in Myanmar. Close to a million Rohingya continue to live as refugees in Bangladesh, mainly in the southeastern district of Cox's Bazar. Bangladesh has generously welcomed and hosted people who fled for their lives, but an overcrowded refugee camp is no place for a life of dignity. A whole generation of Rohingya children is growing up in deplorable conditions, with little access to education, or hope for the future. What the refugees want the most is to return home to Myanmar, but that is simply not possible today. The 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State live in an open-air prison. Every aspect of their lives is controlled by the state: To leave one's village to attend school, to make a living or to go to a hospital usually requires special permission or a well-placed bribe. read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

Rohingya Genocide: Strengthening the U.N. Response Three Years On

In the three years since Myanmar began perpetrating genocide against the Rohingya, little has been done to ease the suffering of the Rohingya, address the causes of the atrocities, or bring their perpetrators to justice. It is imperative that the United States use its influence on the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on Myanmar to end the violence and prevent similar crimes from happening in the future, which threaten to erode international norms, and with it global security. Today, nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees find themselves in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, and hundreds risk their lives in an attempt to reach other countries in the region. Meanwhile, none of the root causes of genocide in Myanmar have been addressed, including the issues of citizenship and freedom of movement. U.S.-led international action, particularly via the U.N. Security Council, is needed more than ever to address the ongoing impunity for mass atrocities, prevent future violence and restore the rights of this vulnerable community. The response of the United Nations to these unconscionable crimes has been slow, uneven and overall inadequate, particularly at the U.N. Security Council level. The Rosenthal report, formally known as “A Brief and Independent Inquiry into the Involvement of the United Nations in Myanmar from 2010 to 2018,” describes the United Nations’ failure to respond to the escalating situation in Myanmar and notes that due to the “absence of the support of the Security Council … the options of the United Nations to address the challenge in a manner consistent with its values and principles is often rather limited.” read the complete article

New Zealand

27 Aug 2020

New Zealand mosque shooter given life in prison for 'wicked' crimes

A New Zealand judge sentenced white supremacist Brenton Tarrant to life in prison without parole on Thursday for killing 51 Muslim worshippers in the country’s deadliest shooting, saying the sentence was not enough punishment for the “wicked” crimes. It was the first time a court in New Zealand had sentenced a person to prison for the rest of their life. Christchurch High Court Judge Cameron Mander said Tarrant had shown no remorse and that no matter how long he spent in prison it would not be long enough to atone for his crimes. read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

'You should thank Allah I didn't catch you': Powerful moment hero who took on the Christchurch mosque killer with a card machine before smashing the terrorist's car window with his own gun stares him down again in court

Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah rushed towards Tarrant at the Linwood Islamic Centre. Mr Wahabzadah was praying near the mosque entry when the shooting started. He bravely picked up a nearby Eftpos machine and ran outside after Tarrant. Mr Wahabzadah picked up Tarrant's discarded rifle and chased after Tarrant. 'At first I thought it was somebody from the government trying to come for our protection, then this coward (said), "Who the hell are you?", just started swearing at me. I threw the Eftpos machine at his head, then he started shooting at me,' he said. Mr Wahabzadah managed to dive between two cars to avoid the bullets. He then picked up one of Tarrant's discarded rifles and threw it at his car window as he attempted to flee. 'When I smashed the window I could feel in his eyes fear for his own life. He gave me the finger and told me, "I f**king killed all of you",' Mr Wahabzadah told the court. Mr Wahabzadah said Tarrant's bone-chilling words 'hurt a lot' to hear because he wasn't fully aware of the carnage he had caused. He picked up the rifle again and chased Tarrant's car down the street, before being arrested briefly because police through he was the shooter. read the complete article

27 Aug 2020

The Christchurch mosque survivors have to find a way to move on - but New Zealand must not

Survivors, family members, fathers, daughters, best friends bared their wounds for the country, and the world, to see. One after another, they read searingly honest accounts of what they had lived through, both on the Friday of 15 March, but in every moment since. Each story deserved its own space, its own courtroom, its own country to mourn alongside. Every name deserved to be known, etched into the consciousness of our present moment, heralded for unimaginable bravery and eloquence. As a journalist covering an event I too am still grieving. I interrogated my role as a professional witness. Why was I watching these families navigate such irreparable pain? What value could I possibly offer through words or video that could ease suffering or calm an inflamed heart? The truth was little I could offer seemed adequate, and many times I feel a kind of guilt by omission, like a bystander at an accident that doesn’t call the ambulance in time. I felt this guilt when I arrived in Christchurch in the days following the attack. I felt torn between wanting to grieve with my community, to cry with them and volunteer my body, and my obligations to my employer who expected interviews and articles. An intruder on my own people. I recognised this type of guilt, because I saw it in others around me. I found it waiting at the airport when I returned to New Zealand one year on. The country I expected to find transformed by adversity, one that had learned how to grieve and heal, wasn’t there. Conversations about Christchurch felt leaden, uncomfortable. Whenever I mentioned it, I was met with silence. We do not get to praise the victims and then walk away. We have work to do. That work was started in the weeks following 15 March, when conversations had begun about the roots of racism and xenophobia, about the narratives we accepted about Muslims and other communities, and the history of white supremacy in New Zealand. Let’s roll up our sleeves and pick up where we left off, do the ugly but necessary work we have avoided for too long. It would be a grave mistake to see the horrific acts of terror perpetrated by Brenton Tarrant as isolated and unique. We have already seen a spike in far-right attacks around the world, from the deadly Hanau shooting of a Shisha cafe in Germany, to the Bærum mosque shooting in Norway. Both the UK and the US have reported record highs in far-right activity, fuelled by an international network of groups trying to legitimise their imagined grievances. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

27 Aug 2020

Defiant Ratko Mladic dismisses UN court as child of the West

A defiant Ratko Mladic dismissed the U.N. court hearing his appeal against convictions for crimes including genocide as a "child of the Western powers," as a two-day hearing wrapped up Wednesday with the former Bosnian Serb military chief jabbing his finger at the courtroom and saying his indictment had "gone down the drain." Mladic was given 10 minutes at the end of the hearing to make a personal statement before judges retired to decide whether to uphold or overturn his 2017 convictions and life sentence for masterminding atrocities throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian War. Their decision in the case of one of the highest profile suspects will go a long way to deciding the legacy of a U.N. tribunal that convicted dozens of war criminals from the bloody conflict. Mladic and his political master, Radovan Karadzic, were both convicted by a U.N. war crimes tribunal of genocide and other offenses for their roles in the forcible removal of Bosnian Muslims civilians and the massacre of more than 8,000 men and boys from Srebrenica. Karadzic's convictions were upheld on appeal last year. "Mladic was key to the success of this operation," Baig said. "Not only was he present, giving orders supervising and directing, he also played a critical and high level role in keeping the international community from stopping these massacres." He also was convicted of involvement in crimes including the deadly siege of Sarajevo, and brutal campaigns to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of territory claimed by Bosnian Serbs. Prosecutors called on the appeals judges to overturn Mladic's acquittal on a genocide charge linked to the "ethnic cleansing" campaigns. read the complete article


27 Aug 2020

Non-Muslims who live close to Muslims are less likely to be Islamophobic, study show

Our new study finds non-Muslim Australians living in areas with high numbers of Muslims are less Islamophobic than the general populations of Sydney and Melbourne. This suggests living side-by-side could be an antidote to Islamophobia. Australians typically know very little about Muslims and their faith. As a result, they tend to lump together this vastly diverse group as backward, gender-oppressive and violent. The “religious visibility” of some Muslims exacerbates this issue. We see Muslim women wearing hijabs or face veils, and quickly - as well as wrongly - conclude all Muslims are traditional and far too serious about their religion for our modern and secular standards. Just like any other large population group, Muslims come from a variety of ethno-cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. As sociologist Riaz Hassan noted in 2018, 37% of Australian Muslims are born here, and the rest come from 183 different countries. Our study examined Islamophobia in the top ten Muslim suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, in comparison with the rest of the two metropolitan areas. The proportion of Muslim residents in the selected areas ranged from 59% in Lakemba, NSW, to 30% in Dandenong, Victoria, according to census data. Our study found non-Muslims living in Muslim areas were less Islamophobic than the general populations of Sydney and Melbourne, scoring 2.31 compared to 2.80. This adds evidence to the “contact theory”, which states that usually, but not always, contact between people of different backgrounds reduces inter-group prejudice. read the complete article


27 Aug 2020

YouTube Hatemongers Are India’s New Stars

The country, with more than 500 million active Internet users, is the largest single market for popular applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The country has already witnessed dozens of horrific lynchings, many of them occurring due to rumors spread on social media. Facebook is facing a public-relations crisis thanks to turning a blind eye to hate speech. Now a new genre of video rants threatens to stoke further hate and anger. They have followings ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions, and a list of targets that ranges from influencers in Pakistan to rival right-wingers to critics of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But their favorite targets are women, and their abuse-filled rants are full of threats of harassment and sexual violence. These videos are circulated on a range of platforms, but it’s YouTube that encourages this content most and has handed out accolades to the creators of violent rants. One of the two YouTubers arrested for the threats, a 26-year-old man named Shubham Mishra with close to 300,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, was awarded a Silver Creator Award last year by YouTube. The ecosystem of abusive influencers is an extension of the hate and xenophobia that has flourished under the right-wing Hindu government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi. Hate crimes have spiked under the party’s rule, while the government has put Jammu and Kashmir under a crippling lockdown and repeatedly targeted Muslims elsewhere. Shakuntala Banaji, a professor in media, culture, and social change at the London School of Economics, said the rise of abusive content has been closely linked to the BJP’s ascent. “All media content has to be positioned in the context of the societies in which it is produced and circulates. In India, it has a nasty history from the 1990s, when quasi-fascist leaders from the BJP would make mix tapes of their inflammatory anti-Muslim speeches,” Banaji told Foreign Policy, adding that during the anti-Muslim rioting that occurred in Gujarat in 2002 under Modi’s watch as the state’s chief minister, right-wing Hindu leaders circulated videos encouraging and celebrating the murder and rape of Muslims. The BJP itself has relied on disinformation to create narratives that suit it—from posting mischievously clipped videos to attack critics of the government to making communally charged allegations using misleading audio clips. These WhatsApp groups have been used to fan anger and hatred whenever it needs to set an agenda. For instance, when the Modi government approved a new citizenship law blocking Muslim refugees from neighboring countries Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, WhatsApp groups run by BJP sympathizers as well as party workers were flooded with Islamophobic disinformation. Messages said that the law and the citizenship exercise that was to follow it were ways to “kick Muslims out of India” and as a tool to “halve the country’s Muslim population, without doing anything.” read the complete article

Content Warning
27 Aug 2020

From COVID-19 To Delhi Riots - Choosing Scapegoats

As widely reported, it is the Bombay high court (Aurangabad bench) which observed the “big propaganda” by the media, noted the “persecution” and said that social and religious tolerance is a necessity for unity and integrity in India “made compulsory by our Constitution.” This, as it quashed FIRs against 29 foreigners and 6 Indians who visited the Nizamuddin Markaz in March. The men, under different FIRs, were being blamed for spreading COVID-19 in India. Killing two birds with one stone or ek teer do nishane – take your pick. Every language has a metaphor for this, because it happens. In good ways, like visiting a sick aunt and getting the grocery shopping done in the same trip. In bad ways, like helping the government escape blame for its mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis and docking the Muslim Tablighi. And it is not just India. Take, for example, the economic meltdown in the UK. The immigrants are neither straining the economy nor Britain’s public services, and many studies demonstrate this. But yes, blame them for all of Britain’s economic woes. Because you do not like them, anyway. Scapegoating is singling out a person or group for the wrong-doing of others. Scapegoats are not random. They are chosen. Carefully selected targets, for the irrational hostility attached to them. They are more vulnerable, easily persecuted, and can be blamed for a whole host of things. Funnelling blame for all problems onto another group of people, while being part of hate groups that support finger-pointing, makes you feel strong. Like you belong. This is the adult equivalent of the school-yard mob. In this case, the mob is the political government. Again, not my words. The Bombay high court said it: “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats. (Emphasis added)” The choice of word in the judgment is clear – chosen. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Aug 2020 Edition


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