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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03 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: U.S announces sanctions on China in response to systemic human rights abuses against predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang. In India, police step up patrols ahead of the construction of a Hindu temple on a bitterly contested site in Ayodhya. Our recommended read today is by Jean Guerrero titled “The Man Who Made Stephen Miller.” This, and more, below:

United States

03 Aug 2020

The Man Who Made Stephen Miller | Recommended Read

David Horowitz, now 81, was a longtime opponent of immigration and the founder of a think tank and a campus freedom-of-speech advocacy group. He saw in Sessions a kindred spirit—a senator who could reawaken a more nationalist fire in the Republican party. The person he emailed it to was a Sessions aide: Stephen Miller. Horowitz, who recalled the episode in an interview and shared the emails with me, had known Miller since the aide was in high school. Horowitz wrote that hope and fear are the two strongest weapons in politics. Barack Obama had used hope to become president. “Fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion,” Horowitz argued, adding that Republicans should appeal to voters’ base instincts. It is perhaps the most compact crystallization of the relationship that propelled Miller, now a senior policy adviser and speechwriter in the Donald Trump administration, to the White House and of the importance that relationship has had in the administration. The friendship between Miller and Horowitz began when Miller—who did not respond to interview requests for the book from which this article was adapted—was in high school and continued throughout his career. Tracing it reveals a source of Miller’s laser focus on immigration restriction, which has over the past few years resulted in a ban on travel from mostly-Muslim countries and a policy that separated families crossing the border into the United States to seek asylum. If you want to understand the language Trump uses to talk about immigrants and his opponents, or the immigration policies he has put into place, often via Miller, you have to also understand David Horowitz, and the formative role he played in Miller’s career and life. read the complete article

Recommended Read
03 Aug 2020

Trump standing by Pentagon nominee under fire for Islamophobic tweets

President Donald Trump still supports retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, his nominee for the Pentagon's top policy job, despite lawmakers abruptly canceling his confirmation hearing Thursday amid "serious questions" about his fitness for the post, including tweets calling former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader." Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in response to questions from a reporter at a White House briefing on Friday, said "The president still supports General Tata." White House officials have discussed the possibility of installing Tata, who has been a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark Esper since earlier this year, in a different position in an acting capacity. This would be allowed under a provision in the Vacancies Reform Act that permits the White House to appoint someone to an acting post as long as the person has been in a senior adviser role at that agency for 90 days before the vacancy occurs. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

El Paso Remembered – A Year Later

A year ago, on Aug. 3, we lost 22 people in El Paso, Texas, after a gunman targeting Mexican nationals opened fire in a shopping center. A 23rd person died months later from his wounds. Shortly before the attack took place, a four-page manifesto appeared online, which was reported by multiple outlets as belonging to the shooter. The manifesto contained white nationalist talking points on “demographic displacement” and “white genocide,” along with references to the anti-Muslim mass shooting in New Zealand in March 2019. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Coronavirus: 'When will this Covid curse be finished?'

Around one million Rohingya Muslims are estimated to live across 34 refugee camps in the area of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh – the world’s largest concentration of refugees. Of those, it’s believed around 40,000 are aged 60 and above, with many suffering chronic health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular problems and respiratory conditions. But what happens when coronavirus forces people to self-isolate, or into lockdown, in such conditions? Medical volunteer Shah Dedar fears it could become "a death valley". read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 Aug 2020

By introducing local lockdowns three hours before Eid, the Government unfairly penalised Muslims

Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to the social media site on July 30 to unveil new restrictions that impact Northern England. In his tweets, Hancock marked out Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire as areas covered by the new lockdown regulations, barely hours before these new guidelines would come into play at midnight. In a matter of minutes, the new announcement made my family and I reconsider all our Eid al-Adha plans, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar. I can’t help but think that if this were Christmas, we wouldn’t be hearing about a surprise change on guidelines with three hours notice. Now, a day later, I’m still in shock and disbelief at the Government’s strategy, but more than anything I’m angry. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the logic behind a local lockdown and with the BAME population being at a greater risk from coronavirus, I see sense in the need to focus efforts on specific areas, but the Government’s impromptu strategy was not only outrageous, but grossly timed. Iqra, 26, lives in Manchester and described the announcement as a ‘farce’ and continues to question why there was no press conference. As three of her family members are at risk, they decided to celebrate indoors as a single household, adding: ‘Announcing three hours before Eid is bad planning at best and discriminatory at worst, considering that the Northern cities locking down have huge Muslim populations’. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

'Singled out': Oldham's Muslim community on lockdown controls

Earlier this week people in Oldham were told to stop visiting friends and family to avoid a full local lockdown after the number of coronavirus cases more than quadrupled in a week. Health officials in the Greater Manchester town imposed new restrictions on Tuesday after the confirmed number of cases rose from 26 to 119 in the week to 25 July. The measures were introduced on the eve of Eid al-Adha celebrations and their introduction was caused largely by people “not abiding to social distancing”, Hancock said. But the timing of this lockdown has left residents frustrated. Standing in Oldham town centre, Nawaz pointed towards a pub where groups of people were gathered. “I don’t understand it. This is so bad for us and we cannot see each other, but look, the pubs are open and people are drinking and can go dancing but we can’t see our family. Why?” The retired taxi driver’s thoughts were echoed by Mohammed Miah, 33, who said the Muslim community felt like the targets of the lockdown. “We have been singled out, otherwise why would you announce a lockdown the night before Eid? It’s sending out a certain kind of message,” he said. “I’m just grateful that my mother lives with us, but there will be so many others we will not get to see. They could have given us some notice, even just a few days, but to do it the night before when all the meals were prepared and we had made plans is just not right.” read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

'I smell Islamophobia': British Muslims decry lockdown imposed hours before Eid

The health secretary said that the spread was due to households meeting and not abiding by social distancing. "From midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas," he announced. "We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe." The announcement was met with fierce criticism on social media, with many linking the timing with Eid al-Adha, which began on Friday. One user said that she "smelled Islamophobia" in the decision. Several towns and cities now under lockdown, including Oldham, Bolton and Bradford, have high proportions of Muslims according to the most recent UK census. "It may well be the right decision but the timing is really poor," Furqan Naeem, a community organiser for Citizens UK in Greater Manchester told Middle East Eye. "Thousands of families would have made plans to be with each other, and some probably would have been in bed asleep when the government announced its message late last night," Naeem said. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

Don't blame the Muslims, Matt Hancock. This one's on you

Announcing a local lockdown, 3 hours before it began, for 4.5m people on a social media site whose users are 80% affluent millennials, Mr Hancock said: "The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing." Except the government messaging on social distancing is so chaotic that 86% of Brits have no idea what the rules are any more. The people of Rochdale, Leicester, Blackburn, Burnley, Calderdale, Rossendale, Kirklees, Bradford, Hyndburn, Pendle, and Greater Manchester are more likely to be meeting up with others in non-socially distant situations because that's the nature of the jobs they are more likely to do, and Boris Johnson ordered them all back to work a fortnight ago. Those areas have lower wages, higher occupancy housing, and more manufacturing. More towns, and fewer villages. None of those things are consistent with staying 2metres apart, and a month ago the government told them not to bother so much with that, anyway. The people who live there are also more likely to have health conditions which make them more susceptible, and the government told them to stop shielding yesterday . read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

Craig Whittaker: MP defends saying some Muslims not taking covid seriously

Craig Whittaker said the "vast majority" of those breaking the rules in his constituency were from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Tory peer Baroness Warsi called his comments "divisive nonsense" and Labour said they were "overtly racist". But Mr Whittaker said he would continue to speak out to try and prevent excess deaths in BAME communities. The row came as restrictions on social contacts between households across West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire were re-imposed in response to a rise in infections. The MP told LBC radio there were "sections of the community that are not taking the pandemic seriously". When asked if he was talking about the Muslim community, he replied: "Of course." read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

U.S. Adds Sanctions Over Internment of Muslims in China

The Trump administration announced sanctions Friday on a powerful government entity and two senior officials who have helped manage it, citing systemic human rights abuses against predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in China’s far northwest. The sanctions, imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, name the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an economic and paramilitary organization that plays a central role in the development of the Xinjiang region, and two associated officials, Peng Jiarui and Sun Jinlong. The order is designed to prevent them from accessing American property and the financial system, as well as to ban any economic transactions between them and American companies and citizens. “The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world,” Steven T. Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said in a statement. The sanctions most likely will have little or no practical impact on Mr. Peng, the deputy party secretary and commander of the development group, and Mr. Sun, one of its former political commissars. It was not immediately clear what effect they would have on trade and international commerce done by the group, which oversees some state-run companies that export products such as tomato paste. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

'The Entire World Knows Our Name'

Starting in the late 1980s, Myanmar began increasing its military presence in Rakhine, and by August 1991, the number of soldiers in Mawdaung and Buthidaung had more than doubled. According to a UNHCR report, from 1992, the construction of camps and outposts relied largely on conscripted labor, who “worked until they were either too sick or hurt to walk any further.” When the project ended, countless were killed by mines, in cross fire, or by the units they served. A few, including Nasir, managed to escape. “When I think of Rakhine, I remember fear,” Nasir recounts to me. “We never knew when a mob would come and destroy our houses. We didn’t know if our children would make it back home if we sent them to school. I saw an entire generation grow up in an open air prison.” In 1994, Nasir was one of 250,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar to escape forced labor, rape, and religious persecution. His route mirrored the path taken by the Rohingya, who escaped genocide in 2017 — a long, dangerous walk from the townships to the water, followed by a boat journey at the dead of night across the Naf river to Teknaf in Bangladesh. Back then, where the largest refugee camp in the world stands right now, there was only lush forest; and the Rohingya were as unwanted in Bangladesh as they were in Myanmar. Stories of torture at the hands of the border guard were not uncommon. Nasir knew he could not stay in Bangladesh for long. For the next five years, until he received his refugee card, Nasir spent his nights in the Malay jungle, with only a plastic sheet over his head. “We were scared of being arrested, we didn’t even speak the language,” he confesses. Unbeknownst to Nasir, the world was changing. In a post-9/11 world, Islamophobia was being minted, manufactured, and weaponized with devastating consequences for Muslims worldwide. Quickly, the ‘war on terror’ was becoming the rallying cry of a generation. In Myanmar, the junta took notice. Political dissent by the Rohingya became indicative of something more sinister; human rights violations by the military became normalized under the banner of counter-terror efforts. The 969 Movement — launched by firebrand monk Ashin Wirathu in 2001 — began advocating for an apartheid against all Muslims, and the Rohingya in particular. In the Burmese imagination, the Rohingya emerged as Muslims uniquely susceptible to radicalization. The first Rohingya families reached Chicago in 2012, and by 2016, the community had grown to almost 1,500. Today, the city hosts the largest population of Rohingya in the country. When I ask him about Chicago, Samad smiles, “It’s beautiful. Here, for the first time in my life, I opened a bank account, and I got an ID with my name on it. I felt like I had been reborn.” read the complete article

10 Aug 2020


Today, the COVID-19 epidemic has forced Muslims (and practicing believers of other faiths) all over the world to reassess how we might fulfill our spiritual commitments and religious obligations in these unprecedented circumstances. Just a few months ago, during our holy month of Ramadan, the global Muslim community was forced to figure out how to navigate fasting for 30 days without praying inside our mosques or visiting our families. Many of us resorted to holding “Zoom iftars” every night to break our fast while chatting with our friends and families. “It is the dream of every Muslim believer to visit Mecca and do the Hajj,” a 61-year-old Lebanese pilgrim told The New York Times. “But the pandemic came with no warning and took away that dream.” Many Muslims save up their entire life savings to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once before they die, since it can cost upwards of $10,000 for one person to travel the entire path. At the same time that Black Lives Matter protests have swept the United States, the pandemic has bolstered Islamophobia around the world. In India, some right-wing ethno-nationalists have labeled COVID-19 the #CoronaJihad on social media to fuel conspiracy theories about Muslims trying to infect and poison Hindus. The Guardian reported that “Muslims have now seen their businesses across India boycotted, volunteers distributing rations called ‘coronavirus terrorists’, and others accused of spitting in food and infecting water supplies with the virus. Posters have appeared barring Muslims from entering certain neighborhoods” across India as well. In the United Kingdom, counterterrorism police have been “investigating far-right groups accused of trying to use the coronavirus crisis to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment,” according to British journalist Mehdi Hasan. There have also been numerous examples of British Muslims being harassed or attacked, including a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in south London who said she was approached by a man who “got in her face” to cough at her and claimed he had the coronavirus while also hurling racial abuse at her. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

Ram Temple ceremony: US groups, citizens write to New York mayor, oppose Times Square display

Twenty organisations and several individuals in the United States have collectively written a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, opposing the display of the images of Hindu deity Ram and 3-D portraits of the temple to be constructed in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya at Times Square on August 5, the day of the temple’s foundation-laying ceremony in India. “We write to bring to your attention an Islamophobic billboard set to be projected in Times Square in order to dehumanize Muslim New Yorkers and celebrate human rights abuses against Muslims in India,” the signatories said in their letter. “Our coalition stands opposed to the far-right Hindutva nationalism of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government in India. We are writing to ask you how New York City, a city that claims to have inclusive and egalitarian values, can allow such a brazen celebration of hatred and Islamophobia.” The signatories include Hindus for Human Rights and Coalition Against Fascism in India. The signatories also spoke of the Babri Masjid demolition. “We request that your office take action to prevent an organization called the American Indian Public Affairs Committee from projecting an Islamophobic billboard in Times Square on August 5th, which celebrates the destruction of nearly 425-year-old mosque that led to one of the worst communal violence India witnessed resulting in the death of nearly 3000 people,” they wrote. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Germany: SPD formally expels former Berlin senator Thilo Sarrazin

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have finally managed to expel controversial politician turned author Thilo Sarrazin, who has published a series of books over the last decade bearing little resemblance to the party's stated positions. Sarrazin's books criticizing the lack of Muslim integration in Germany, or the European single currency the euro, or what he perceives as a lack of freedom of expression in modern Germany had long been a thorn in the struggling SPD's side, but levering him out of the party against his wishes had proven an arduous and slow process. On Friday, an arbitration committee upheld a decision by the SPD to expel a former Berlin senator and author accused of spouting Islamophobic and racist rhetoric, following two former attempts and a nearly-decade-long legal battle. After a hearing lasting several hours, the Federal Arbitration Commission rejected former Berlin Finance Senator Thilo Sarrazin's appeal, ensuring that Sarrazin would no longer be a member of the SPD. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

Body Bags and Enemy Lists: How Far-Right Police Officers and Ex-Soldiers Planned for ‘Day X’

Then they would kill them. One member had already bought 30 body bags. More body bags were on an order list, investigators say, along with quicklime, used to decompose organic material. On the surface, those discussing the plan seemed reputable. One was a lawyer and local politician, but with a special hatred of immigrants. Two were active army reservists. Two others were police officers, including Marko Gross, a police sniper and former parachutist who acted as their unofficial leader. The group grew out of a nationwide chat network for soldiers and others with far-right sympathies set up by a member of Germany’s elite special forces, the KSK. Over time, under Mr. Gross’s supervision, they formed a parallel group of their own. Members included a doctor, an engineer, a decorator, a gym owner, even a local fisherman. They called themselves Nordkreuz, or Northern Cross. “Between us, we were a whole village,” recalled Mr. Gross, one of several Nordkreuz members who described to me in various interviews this year how the group came together and began making plans. They denied they had plotted to kill anyone. But investigators and prosecutors, as well an account one member gave to the police — transcripts of which were seen by The New York Times — indicate their planning took a more sinister turn. Germany has belatedly begun dealing with far-right networks that officials now say are far more extensive than they ever understood. The reach of far-right extremists into its armed forces is particularly alarming in a country that has worked to cleanse itself of its Nazi past and the horrors of the Holocaust. In July the government disbanded an entire company infiltrated by extremists in the nation’s special forces. But the Nordkreuz case, which only recently came to trial after being uncovered more than three years ago, shows that the problem of far-right infiltration is neither new nor confined to the KSK, or even the military. Far-right extremism penetrated multiple layers of German society in the years when the authorities underestimated the threat or were reluctant to countenance it fully, officials and lawmakers acknowledge. Now they are struggling to uproot it. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Implications of the Myanmar ICJ and ICC Cases for Non-Rohingya Minorities

As my colleagues Param-Preet Singh and Nadira Kourt laid out in the first two pieces of this forum, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case concerning Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya presents opportunities for Myanmar to finally dismantle the root causes of its longstanding persecution of Rohingya people and the international community to live up to its promise of “Never Again.” In this final forum article, I look at what all the recent international attention paid to Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya means for other ethnic minorities that have suffered atrocities at the hands of Myanmar’s military (the Tatmadaw). In some ways, international attention on the experiences of other ethnic groups in Myanmar is currently at a zenith. The intensifying conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army – an armed group seeking increased autonomy for the multi-ethnic peoples in Rakhine state (referred to by the Arakan Army as “Arakan” state) – and the recent announcement of new military clearance operations by the Tatmadaw in ethnic Rakhine regions, have brought condemnation from American, Australian, British, and Canadian embassies in Myanmar. Of special note is the Tatmadaw’s repeated commission of sexual and gender-based violence against ethnic minority populations. While the specific context of each armed group’s conflict with the Tatmadaw is distinct, the Tatmadaw’s use of rape as a weapon of war has remained a universal tactic. Ethnic women’s organizations have found time and again that widespread sexual violence is part of a deliberate and systematic pattern of targeting women and girls in their communities. Indeed, the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), found that sexual and gender-based violence was a “hallmark of the Tatmadaw’s operations against ethnic minorities in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states” and that “[t]hese violations, for most part perpetrated against ethnic women and girls, were used with the intent to intimidate, terrorise and punish the civilian population and as a tactic of war.” Even Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counselor and de facto leader, decried the targeting of ethnic minorities for sexual violence in 2011, stating that “[r]ape is used in my country as a weapon against those who only want to live in peace, who only want to assert their basic human rights. It is used as a weapon by armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and to divide our country.” read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

India police patrol ahead of construction of temple on bitterly contested site

Police have been ordered onto the streets of an Indian town where Hindu groups will next week begin building a temple on a site contested by Muslims for decades in a dispute that has sparked some of the country’s most bloody communal violence. The Supreme Court of India ruled last year that Hindus, who believe the site in the northern town of Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, be allowed to build a temple there. Hindus say the site was holy for them long before the Muslim Mughals, India’s most prominent Islamic rulers, built the Babri Mosque there in 1528. The court said Muslims be given another plot of land for a mosque. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose ruling Bharatiya Janata Party campaigned for more than three decades for the temple, has been invited to lay the temple’s foundation stone on Aug. 5, officials said. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

A friendship, A Pandemic and a Death Beside the Highway

I saw this photo in May, as it was traveling across Indian social media. News stories filled in some of the details: It was taken on May 15 on the outskirts of Kolaras, a small town in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The two young men were childhood friends: Mohammad Saiyub, a 22-year-old Muslim, and Amrit Kumar, a 24-year-old Dalit, a term for those once known as “untouchables,” people who have suffered the greatest violence and discrimination under the centuries-old Hindu caste system. I came across some details about their lives in the Indian press: The two came from a small village called Devari in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. They had been working in Surat, a city on the west coast, and were making their way home, part of a mass migration that began when the Indian government ordered a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Despite our image-saturated times, the photograph began assuming greater meanings for me. For the past six years, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power, it has seemed as if a veil covering India’s basest impulses has been removed. The ideas of civility, grace and tolerance were replaced by triumphalist displays o prejudice, sexism, hate speech and abuse directed at women, minorities and liberals. This culture of vilification dominates India’s television networks, social media and the immensely popular mobile messaging service WhatsApp. When you do come across acts of kindness and compassion, they seem to be documented and calibrated to serve the gods of exhibitionism and self-promotion. The photograph of Amrit and Saiyub came like a gentle rain from heaven on India’s hate-filled public sphere. The gift of friendship and trust it captured filled me with a certain sadness, as it felt so rare. I felt compelled to find out more about their lives and journeys. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

A Hindu rioter speaks: Delhi violence was “revenge” against Muslims, police gave free reign

“You can call it self-preservation or revenge, but mainly it was revenge,” a 22-year-old Hindu resident of Karawal Nagar, who said he participated in communal violence in northeast Delhi, said. Over two interviews with The Caravan, the 22-year old described how during the violence in February 2020, he and other Hindu men targeted shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims, destroying these or setting them on fire. He admitted to beating up Muslim men for refusing to say “Jai Shri Ram.” The 22-year-old told The Caravan that the Delhi Police gave Hindu rioters free reign to target Muslims. “They told us to go and attack inside, in the Muslim areas, that they won’t come there … They said, ‘Show us that you’re Hindu,’” he said. He added that a police official told him that the Hindu rioters were being “given a chance,” and that “when we get a message from above, I will stop you. But until then, do what you want.’” The 22-year-old also alleged that he had met a member of the Bajrang Dal, who handed him a rod to use while smashing properties of Muslims. According to him, the Bajrang Dal member also encouraged Hindu men to unite against Muslims, saying that “if you don’t do something now, you will never be able to do anything.” The 22-year-old said that the man from the Bajrang Dal told the mob to unite as Hindus and to discard their political affiliations for the duration of the violence. The 22-year-old said that through the days when the violence was ongoing in Delhi, he received messages and calls on WhatsApp that incited him into attacking Muslims. He said that the messages described, among other things, a heinous attack by Muslims on Hindus, and called for Hindus to be prepared to attack Muslims in the dead of night. The 22-year-old further said that he witnessed a mob of Hindus killing three Muslim men. One among these, he said, was thrown onto a vehicle for refusing to say “Jai Shri Ram.” The mob then set the vehicle on fire, killing the man. The 22-year-old praised the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra, saying that Mishra had “done good work … he has taken the public along with him, he has given many suggestions.” read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

Idea of India wasn’t demolished at Ayodhya. That happened in our ‘liberal’ homes

Actually, a lot of people can claim credit for bringing India to this penultimate step of bhoomi pujan before the grand Ram Mandir is built in Ayodhya — Advani, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and the Congress. But, most importantly, Indian families. Undoubtedly, L.K. Advani not only set the ball rolling but also introduced the new language of Hindutva pride in the early 1990s. He single-handedly dismantled the word ‘secularism’ from India’s aspirational pulpit, and gave it the adjective ‘pseudo’. In every stump speech from the rath, he spoke of the historical Hindu wound and made Babri Masjid a buzzword for hate in Indian living rooms. But Indian family conversations should also be a big claimant for this credit. They kept chipping away at India’s founding ‘narrative template’. This is why scholars erred early on by locating the so-called ‘idea of India’ in saving the Babri Masjid. That idea wasn’t demolished at a religious site, it was taken apart brick by brick in our living rooms. Many in the Indian liberal commentariat have said that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was the biggest blow to Nehruvian ideals. But to invest an old dilapidated mosque with the burden of secularism and an ‘idea of India’ was never going to fly. First, a religious structure can’t be and shouldn’t be a site to preserve secularism. Second, and more importantly, many Hindus, over generations, had been taught to view the mosque as a site of historical humiliation. They acted as ‘mnemonic communities’ (thick-memory communities) self-identifying as wounded. read the complete article

03 Aug 2020

COVID-19 in Narendra Modi’s India: Virulent Politics and Mass Desperation

Unlike Trump or Bolsonaro, Modi did not dismiss the dangers of COVID-19. He imposed the first national lockdown, for 21 days, on March 24, when India had 600 cases and 10 deaths, declaring that the virus would be vanquished in that period. That didn’t happen, of course, but meanwhile, his callous indifference to the travails of ordinary Indians and preference for symbolic gestures over a sustained and substantive public health response transformed the pandemic into a humanitarian crisis. Four months later, India is growing at a faster rate than the US and Brazil, behind which it follows closely in total cases (1.5 million), and deaths (35,000). Further, as a master of manufacturing and using crises as a mode of governance, Modi has exploited the pandemic for repression, political gain, and corporate profiteering. While the workers’ current plight is almost entirely due to the government’s inexcusable incompetence and disregard for the poor, it offers a window into how decades of neoliberal economic policy have combined with the BJP’s politics of Hindu majoritarian nationalism to distribute vulnerabilities along hierarchies of class, caste, and regional and religious identity. Protests sites have been cleared, and legal cases have been prepared against activists of these movements, with hundreds arrested, especially Muslim students, many under draconian national security laws. Like the arrests of leading progressive figures despite concerns about COVID-19 in overcrowded jails, these are part of the government’s ongoing war on dissent. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Controversial Australian comedian, 27, slammed over 'sick joke' about the Christchurch mosque attack and taxi drivers

Australian comedian Isaac Butterfield, 27, has been slammed for a stand-up joke. Butterfield joked about the deaths of 51 people 2019 Christchurch terror attack. Brenton Tarrant, from NSW, stormed into two mosques with guns in March 2019. The saddest thing about Islamic deaths was loss of so many taxi drivers, he said. Butterfield's humour - which is often dark - came under fire from Islamic leaders. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Muslim Association Calls for Action Following Mosque Vandalism

A national Muslim association is calling for action after it says two of its Toronto mosques were vandalized repeatedly, including a pair of incidents in the lead-up to a major holiday. The Muslim Association of Canada is asking police and elected officials for help after it says two of its facilities were targeted in five separate incidents over the past two months. In a statement Thursday, the association says two of the incidents occurred at the same location on the same day this week, just as Muslims were preparing to mark Eid al-Adha. A spokeswoman for Toronto police says the force is aware of four reports of mischief at the two mosques, dating back to June 1. Const. Caroline de Kloet says the reports have been investigated and "none of them are believed to be hate motivated." However, she also says one man was arrested for an incident that happened on Wednesday in which a brick was allegedly thrown through the mosque's window. The Muslim group said it wants police to further investigate what it called "Islamophobic acts" and hold the perpetrators accountable. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

China Advertises Marriages To Uyghur Women To Attract Han Men Into Xinjiang

China has started the forced marriage game by advertising marriages to Uyghur women and girls to attract men into the Xinjiang or East Turkistan region of China, according to a report published in the Daily Citizen - Focus on the Family. "This is government-sponsored mass rape," Rushan Abbas, head of Campaign for Uyghurs, was quoted as saying in an interview. As part of the Beijing government's "Pair Up and Become Family" campaign, Han Chinese members of the Communist Party go and live with Uyghur families for a period of time, The Daily Citizen reported. While the campaign is portrayed as a means to develop deeper cultural ties and familial bonds, in reality, it's a way to keep an eye on the Uyghur families and report to the authorities if Chinese practices are not followed by the families. Citing an estimate, The Daily Citizen said that about a million Han men and women have participated in these surveillance efforts. It is the Uyghur women who suffer the most in these situations. Abbas said, "The Uyghur women are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Their husbands are sent to prisons or forced labour facilities or concentration camps." Besides the forced marriages, the young Uyghur women are also reportedly sold to Chinese men for marriage. read the complete article


03 Aug 2020

Burqa ban, face mask laws frustrate Dutch Muslims

"It is really difficult wearing the burqa. People just see you as the enemy. It makes me feel totally alone, pushed in a corner," she says. It's unfair, Emarah says, frustration evident in her voice. "I am being discriminated against only because I want to practice my religion, for my choice." On August 1 it will be one year since the Dutch government approved a controversial law prohibiting clothing that "completely covers the face." It followed similar, albeit stricter, bans in France and Belgium. The Dutch ban prohibited such clothing from being worn in public transport or in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and government buildings. Unlike in France and Belgium, the burqa is still permitted to be worn in the streets. Public safety was the main reason given by the government for the ban, a process initiated 14 years ago by Geert Wilders, leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom. The penalty for refusing to remove a face covering is a fine of between €150 and €450 ($177 and $529). "Reactions in public have become more aggressive than ever before," says Emarah, despite the fact it is still legal to wear the burqa on the streets. Prior to the ban she would experience violence, she says. "When I was in the supermarket, people would hit me with a shopping cart on my ankles to get me to move away." But she says that levels of aggression have escalated significantly: "A man even tried to hit me with his car." Emarah and other women wearing a niqab or burqa see an irony in the new COVID-19 rules in the Netherlands, which made face masks mandatory on public transport. Women, it seems, are now punished for both wearing and for not wearing face coverings, depending on their purpose. "It is totally contradictory," argues Emarah, who thinks it's wrong that public health is deemed to be an acceptable reason for covering a face, but religious belief is not. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Aug 2020 Edition


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