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 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, blatant calls for armed violence against Muslims are made at a three-day conference attended by influential religious leaders with close ties to PM Modi’s governing party, and even some BJP party members themselves, meanwhile in China, the CCP has replaced its chief in the Xinjiang province, Chen Quanguo, who was sanctioned by the US over alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in the region, and in the United States, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which seeks to ban goods wholly or partially produced in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Khaled A. Beydoun for The New Arab on how the recent CAIR-Ohio informant episode reveals “the most nefarious dimension of Islamophobic surveillance: the informant industrial complex,” and notes how “a motley crew of Muslims with influence and leadership positions have sold their status for state incentive.” This and more below:

United States

27 Dec 2021

How the recent CAIR spy scandal unveils an Islamophobic Informant Industrial Complex in US surveillance | Recommended Read

If anything, the past twenty years revealed that surveillance – the enterprise of monitoring people on account of their ethnic or spiritual identity – is the touchstone of structural Islamophobia. The system whereby the state conflates Muslim identity with "terror suspects" and justifies strident measures of policing that violate foundational constitutional safeguards. Recent events reveal the most nefarious dimension of Islamophobic surveillance: the informant industrial complex. This is both state strategy, but more ominously, an industry whereby members of the Muslim American population trade on their access and identity for incentives offered by the state. Capitalizing on the established cottage industry of native informants, the informant industrial complex finds institutionalization and order through the development of post-9/11 counter-terror law and policy that feeds off of infiltration. And namely, infiltration by way of co-opting elements of the community that can do the state's bidding from within. Iqbal is no unique case. Unfortunately, a motley crew of Muslims with influence and leadership positions have sold their status for state incentive – in ways that facilitated surveillance on the domestic front and aggression against Muslim populations abroad. While 20 years of the War on Terror has, soberingly, curated an expectation for native informants to serve the interests of government – it is especially alarming that the informant industrial complex would stretch its tentacles into CAIR, the leading Muslim American civil rights organization. read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

As Hindu Extremists Call for Killing of Muslims, India’s Leaders Keep Silent

Hundreds of right-wing Hindu activists and monks rose in unison at a conference this week to take an oath: They would turn India, constitutionally a secular republic, into a Hindu nation, even if doing so required dying and killing. “If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win and make India a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a group that espouses militant Hindu nationalism, referring to the country’s Muslims. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.” Even by the standards of the rising anti-Muslim fury in India, the three-day conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi, produced the most blatant and alarming call for violence in recent years. The crowded auditorium, where right-wing Hindu monks called for other Hindus to arm themselves and kill Muslims, included influential religious leaders with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party, and even some members of the party. Videos of the event have spread widely on social media in India this week. Yet Mr. Modi has maintained a characteristic silence that analysts say can be interpreted by his most extreme supporters as a tacit signal of protection. The police, who readily jail rights activists and comedians on charges lacking evidence, have been slow to take action. Even opposition political groups have been restrained in their response, an indication of the degree to which right-wing Hindu nationalism has gripped the country since Mr. Modi came to office in 2014. read the complete article

27 Dec 2021

Anti-Muslim venom

Evidence that Hindu extremism, particularly of the anti-Muslim variety, is flourishing in India under Narendra Modi’s rule is plentiful. Whether it is lynchings of Muslims over suspected cow slaughter, disenfranchisement of the community through discriminatory citizenship laws or communal statements made by those in power, hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric has very much become part of mainstream discourse in India. And there are enough examples of this toxic rhetoric transforming into violent action against the community. One recent event in the state of Uttarakhand illustrates how the forces of hate are free to preach in today’s India, often egged on by officials. The meeting was a jamboree of some of the leading lights of Hindutva, where the extremists of the Sangh Parivar threatened violence without inhibition. The statements emanating from this conclave are absolutely chilling for Muslims, as well as the country’s other religious minorities. A general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha issued a recruiting call for “100 soldiers who can kill 20 lakh of them [Muslims]” while one swami called for a Myanmar-like anti-Muslim pogrom in India. But Muslims were not the only target at this hate fest. One participant said he wished he had killed former Sikh prime minister Manmohan Singh, while another boasted he had asked hotels in his area not to host Christmas celebrations. read the complete article

27 Dec 2021

Haridwar: Police case after outrage in India over anti-Muslim hate speech

Police in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand have launched an investigation after Hindu leaders called for violence against Muslims. Videos from a meeting of Hindu religious leaders showing provocative speeches went viral earlier this week, sparking outrage. The event took place in the holy town of Haridwar between 17 and 19 December. Police said they had not opened a case until Thursday because there had been no official complaints before that. There have been no arrests and the police case names only one man - Waseem Rizvi, a Muslim who says he has converted to Hinduism and is now known as Jitendra Narayan Tyagi. Police said a case had been registered against Mr Tyagi and unnamed "others" under charges of "promoting hatred between religious groups". Social media users, however, have identified many of the speakers in the videos who are important religious leaders often seen in the company of ministers and members from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

Biden signs bill to ban import of China goods made with Uyghur forced labor in Xinjiang

US President Joe Biden Thursday signed into law the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6256), which seeks to ban goods wholly or partially produced in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region connected to the ongoing Uyghur genocide and forced labor in the region. The act stems from the prohibition under section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 against goods made using forced labor. The Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force, established in 2020, was also directed to produce a report within six months, including a strategy for enforcing the Tariff Act to prevent such imports as well as additional measures to trace the origins and supply chains of goods. The report will contain lists of such goods and entities in Xinjiang producing or exporting such goods or working with the Xinjiang government to recruit or transport forced labor. Goods and entities on these lists will be presumed to be banned unless proven otherwise, and the report will guide importers and US Customs and Border Protection in identifying them. By amending section 6(a)(1) of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act enacted in 2020 to include a reference to forced labor, the act enables the imposition of sanctions against any foreign person as required by the report. The act provides humanitarian assistance, including resettlement and advocacy, for those affected by human trafficking in China, especially Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Tibetans. Further, the Act empowers the US to “lead the international community” in addressing the situation in Xinjiang using bilateral diplomatic channels and multilateral institutions. read the complete article

27 Dec 2021

China calls US law on Xinjiang imports ‘economic bullying’

China’s Ministry of Commerce has expressed “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to a United States ban on imports from Xinjiang region. The ministry described the US action as “economic bullying”, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday. US President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation that bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labour. China dismisses accusations of abuses against mostly Muslim Uighur minorities in the northwestern Xinjiang region as lies. The US law came amid mounting tensions, including appeals by activists for a boycott of February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. The law prohibits US businesses from importing goods from Xinjiang unless they can be proven not to have been made by forced labour. read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

From museums to TV, far-right gives Dreyfus affair new meaning in France

The false accusation that a Jewish army captain was a German spy divided France at the time but has long stood as a symbol of the nationalist fervor that swept the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This new effort to memorialize the episode was launched amid fresh fears of far-right success — and a renewed fight over French identity and history. Éric Zemmour, a firebrand TV pundit turned presidential candidate who is himself Jewish, shocked many in the country and beyond by questioning the innocence of the wrongly convicted Alfred Dreyfus, according to local media reports, and by claiming that France’s wartime Vichy regime had “protected” French Jews while handing over foreign ones. Zemmour has said he wants France to be proud of its history. “Our glorious past speaks in favor of our future,” he said in a video announcing his candidacy last month. But the pundit’s revisionism and rapid rise in popularity left mainstream French figures concerned that ideas once consigned to the fringes were increasingly becoming mainstream and that in seeking to relitigate these old battles, a more emboldened far right might once again legitimize the politics of hate and exclusion. The Dreyfus affair was a seminal example of European antisemitism and a harbinger for the wave of hatred that would spread across the continent in the next half-century. Questioning his innocence has long been a red line on both the mainstream French left and right. Zemmour is seeking to defeat Macron next April and win the presidency by pledging to “save” the country from its supposed decline, speaking directly to nostalgic right-wing voters. A press officer for Zemmour did not respond to a request for comment. The parallels between the Dreyfus era and modern France are not lost on Philippe Oriol, the director of the museum in Médan, who spoke to NBC News after a small number of Covid-restricted ticket holders had taken in the museum’s multimedia exhibition during a recent visit. “The question of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, the question of secularism, what democracy is, the republic, the press and the way it acts,” he said, ticking off the debates of that period that are still current today. “It’s absolutely fascinating to see.” “[Zemmour] is on a political line with Charles Maurras,” Oriol said, referring to the French nationalist writer who was a leading voice in the anti-Dreyfusard camp at the beginning of the 20th century. read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

China's Communist Party removes top Xinjiang official sanctioned by US

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CPC), headed by President Xi Jinping, has abruptly replaced its chief in the volatile Xinjiang province, Chen Quanguo, who was sanctioned by the US over alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in the region. Chen no longer serves as Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional Committee of the CPC, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. Ma Xingrui, who was the governor of Guangdong province, has been appointed as new party chief for Xinjiang. The CPC Central Committee has decided to give Chen another appointment, the news agency said in a brief report. Chen has been accused by the US, the UK and the European Union of widespread human rights abuses against Uyghurs, but he is tipped for a promotion, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on the development. read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

'Excluded, humiliated and degraded’: Case of Quebec teacher removed for wearing hijab is ‘disturbing’ for all Canadians

After a teacher in Chelsea, Quebec was told she had to be removed from her role for wearing a hijab, Canadians are expressing concern and outrage. Fatemeh Anvari was told she had to move to a position outside the elementary school classroom she had been working in due to Bill 21, a Quebec secularism law that bars some civil servants from wearing religious symbols — like Anvari’s hijab. Since her removal, there has been increased outcry from citizens and politicians. Hundreds gathered in protest on Tuesday in Chelsea, expressing support for Anvari. Meanwhile, Members of Parliament, Senators, and city councillors have been expressing their condemnation of the law. While members of the Canadian Muslim community are frustrated by the news, they are less surprised. "It’s shocking that Canadians are looking at this incident and are surprised by it. This is exactly what we’ve been saying since Bill 21 had been passed. We’ve been saying what the drastic effects of it could be, and sadly now we’re seeing them," said Fatema Abdalla, Communications Coordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). The law, known as Bill 21, is officially titled “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” and it bars certain civil servants, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols in an effort to impose state secularism. Abdalla said the NCCM has been fighting Bill 21 “since the day it was passed,” and has been engaged in an ongoing legal challenge of the bill since 2019. In collaboration with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), they have been challenging the constitutionality of the bill. Alongside this, the groups were pushing for a temporary suspension of the law until it was reviewed by the courts. However, this request was denied, and the appeals process is ongoing. read the complete article

New Zealand

27 Dec 2021

New Zealand media coverage on Muslims mostly use negative language - study

The Muslim community was the focus of intense media coverage after the 15 March terror attack, including the positive response from non-Muslims wanting to reach out and offer support to those directly affected. But data science senior lecturer Giulio Dalla Riva said an algorithm used to analyse recent articles found most involved negative words such as sad, angry, upset and fearful. "The news veers towards the sad stories rather than reporting everything that happens. It is like a painter not having all the colours available." By way of comparison, he said stories involving the Christian community were quite different. "Stories about the Christian communities on average are neutral; there are some sad stories and some positive stories, a nice and wide palette of emotions." While he was keen not to speak on behalf of Muslims, he did think it was important that media reflected the full diversity of stories involving them, not just the sad ones. He also found that after three months of widespread coverage, the frequency of stories about Muslims fell away to levels seen before the terror attacks. read the complete article


27 Dec 2021

Worldly, Charming, and Quietly Equipping a Brutal Military

Three years ago, the Kyaw Thaung family partied at the Pegu Club. The venerable Burmese-Irish clan had restored the teak-lined establishment to its 19th-century glory, evoking the days when gin-sipping colonialists ruled. The Pegu Club project befitted the family’s East-meets-West positioning and the optimism of a country newly engaging with the world. As Myanmar’s military dictators ended decades of isolationism, the Kyaw Thaungs seemed to embody the perfect mix: an august family with a long history of charitable giving that was committed to the kind of business reforms needed to coax a corrupt, closed country into the global economy. But the main source of the family fortune, purported vaguely to be from property and import-export companies, was concealed behind a facade. For all their efforts to differentiate themselves from the drug lords and business cronies who dominated Myanmar’s economy, the Kyaw Thaungs were quietly equipping one of the world’s most brutal militaries. Their partnership with the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, deepened even as its generals committed ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims. And it continued into this year, when the army staged a coup and seized full power of the country, killing more than 1,300 civilians so far, in the estimate of a monitoring group. U Jonathan Kyaw Thaung, the scion, was the public face of the family. As he chased Tatmadaw contracts, he hobnobbed with the family of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the military chief who orchestrated the coup. He met with the Myanmar air force commander at the 2015 Paris Air Show, where the military leader checked out Pakistani fighter jets that ended up in the Tatmadaw’s arsenal. A Kyaw Thaung family business bid to help supply the military with spare parts for Russian attack helicopters that have been used to strafe civilian populations resistant to the coup. An investigation of the Kyaw Thaung family by The New York Times — based on interviews with dozens of former company employees, business associates, military insiders and family members, as well as thousands of pages of corporate filings, contracts, tenders and other financial documents — exposes a vast web of military procurement that was strategically hidden from the public. The family, best known for its charitable foundation, was profiting from its close ties to the Tatmadaw and helping the military avoid scrutiny by Western governments. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Dec 2021 Edition


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