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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18 Feb 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Michael Bloomberg apologizes for “stop and frisk” but fails to acknowledge the impact of surveillance programs on Muslim communities in New York. In India, amidst ongoing protests against anti-Muslim legislation, activists express concern over the use of facial recognition technology by the police. Our recommended read today is by William Yang and Sandra Petersmann on the detainment of 311 Uighurs in China, and how the state is using techno security to surveil civilians at a massive scale. This, and more below:


18 Feb 2020

Exclusive: China's systematic tracking, arrests of Uighurs exposed in new Xinjiang leak | Recommended Read

The leak provides information on why people are detained, while revealing that Chinese authorities are using high-tech surveillance and sheer manpower to keep track of identities, locations and habits of individual Uighur Muslims. The list of detainees records the fate of 311 people who were sent off to "re-education" for the most innocuous things: growing a beard, fasting, or applying for a passport. All of them were put in internment camps in 2017 and 2018. The document also lists hundreds of other people connected to them, including children. Although three listed people are suspected to be members of an Islamist organization, above all, the document shows that any expression of Islamic religious piety potentially amounts to a crime. One case outlined in the new leak is of a man who grew "a long beard," and whose wife had "covered her face with a veil." Based on this profile, Chinese authorities concluded, without much elaboration, that the couple had been "infected with religious and extremist ideas." The man was sent to a camp. And so was one of his teenage sons. However, the top cause for arrest of Uighurs from Karakax County was violating China's official birth control policy by having too many babies. According to family planning law, Uighurs and other minorities in urban areas are allowed two children, whereas Uighurs in rural areas are allowed three. And the numbers clearly show that considerably more men than women were interned for violating this family planning law. The disparity could indicate that the Chinese government considers Uighur men as the primary threat to its control over Xinjiang. "I think in terms of Islamophobia, men in general, especially young men, are always the targets and seen as potential terrorists," Xinjiang expert Darren Byler of the University of Colorado told DW. "My feeling is that the government wants to weaken or diminish the Uighur population as a way of reducing the threat perception." read the complete article

Recommended Read
18 Feb 2020

How China Tracked Detainees and Their Families

The leaked document, a 137-page spreadsheet, outlines information that the authorities in Karakax County (also spelled Qaraqash) in southwestern Xinjiang have gathered on its residents. It includes the names and government identification numbers of more than 300 people held in indoctrination camps and information on hundreds of their relatives and neighbors. Even children as young as 16 were closely monitored for signs of what Beijing considered to be wayward thinking. The document, one of numerous files kept on the more than one million people who have been detained in the camps, shows the range of behaviors that the authorities see as problematic that would be normal elsewhere, such as giving up alcohol, wanting to go on a religious pilgrimage or attending a funeral. In Ms. Memettohti’s case, her sisters were flagged for praying regularly and participating in routine religious ceremonies. The spreadsheet adds to a growing body of evidence on these detentions. Reports on other leaked government documents last year by The New York Times and a group of outlets led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed the coercive nature of the crackdown and detailed the tight controls placed on detainees in the indoctrination camps. read the complete article

18 Feb 2020

Watched, judged, detained

The document reveals for the first time the system used by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to justify the indefinite detention on trivial grounds of not only Mamattohti’s family but hundreds -- and possibly millions -- of other citizens in heavily fortified internment centers across Xinjiang. It is the third major leak of sensitive Chinese government documents in as many months, and together the information paints an increasingly alarming picture of what appears to be a strategic campaign by Beijing to strip Muslim-majority Uyghurs of their cultural and religious identity and suppress behavior considered to be unpatriotic. The Chinese government has claimed it is running a mass deradicalization program targeting potential extremists, but these official records, verified by a team of experts, show people can be sent to a detention facility for simply “wearing a veil” or growing “a long beard.” For Mamattohti’s sister, 34-year-old Patem, the crime for which she was detained, according to the document, was a “violation of family planning policy,” or put simply, having too many children. Under the countrywide policy, which rarely if ever is cause for imprisonment, rural families in Xinjiang are limited to three children. Patem had four. read the complete article


18 Feb 2020

Shaheen Bagh’s Women Have Transformed Who Speaks For India’s Muslims, Says NYU Anthropologist

For Dina M. Siddiqi, a professor of anthropology at New York University, the women of Shaheen Bagh have changed who speaks for Muslims in India. “What has really been undermined is going to the usual guys about what Muslims think in India and what they prioritise,” said Siddiqi, an expert in gender and feminism in South Asia. “I think that has really gone. These women are very eloquent about what they think should be done and what they want.” The women of Shaheen Bagh — Muslim women who challenged the Narendra Modi government and Parliament over a problematic citizenship law — have passed into folklore for galvanising lakhs of people who oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Hundreds of women have sat on a public road in a locality called Shaheen Bagh in south Delhi, demanding lawmakers to repeal the CAA, which critics say makes religion the basis of granting Indian citizenship. This unprecedented sit-in has also triggered commentary about the empowerment of Muslim women in India. What that means and will these two months on the frontline wrought any change for them were among the questions that HuffPost India asked Professor Siddiqi, who has family roots in Bangladesh, and who visited Shaheen Bagh in January. While pointing out that there cannot be one voice that speaks for a community as diverse as Indian Muslims, and there is “no one Muslim woman’s voice in India,” she said that future voices will no longer be the monopoly of religious men and politicians, who, more often than not, are picked by their political masters to do their bidding. read the complete article

18 Feb 2020

Protesters in India object to facial recognition expansion

Activists in the Indian capital of New Delhi are expressing concern over the use of facial recognition by the police amid intensifying protests over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protesters are reportedly anxious about the lack of regulation around facial recognition and its possible role in the crackdown on the protest movement. They point to the fact that the government didn't acknowledge it was using the technology for this purpose until a national newspaper, The Indian Express, first broke the news in December. "I do not know what they are going to do with my data," Rachita Taneja, a Delhi-based activist who created an online cartoon about cheap ways for protesters to hide their faces, told Reuters. "We need to protect ourselves, given how this government cracks down." Modi's government is currently seeking bids from companies to help set up a National Automated Facial Recognition System. It would match photos captured from CCTV with existing databases, with policing a key potential use for such technology. Critics equate the project with the far larger-scale surveillance system in China. read the complete article


18 Feb 2020

Kashmiri and Palestinian activists stand against Indian envoy at Harvard

The protesters gathered at Harvard Square in front of Aldridge Hall, where Indian envoy Sandeep Chakravorty was speaking, and set up banners reading "Stand With Kashmir" and "Settler-colonialism is barbarity". Chakravorty is the Indian consul general in New York. He came under heavy criticism after he made comments urging Kashmiri Pandits, an ethnic group of Kashmiri Hindus, to create settlements on land owned by Kashmiri Muslims and compared that process to Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank. "It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it," Chakravorty told Kashmiri Pandits and Indian nationals at a private event in New York City in November. Israeli settlements in the West Bank have long been deemed illegal under international law. On 5 August, the Indian government placed more than seven million people in Kashmir under a communication blackout and went on to illegally abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, effectively ending the state's semi-autonomous status. read the complete article

United States

18 Feb 2020

‘The People v. John Bolton': Protestors rally against Bolton’s record outside his Duke talk

Flyers promoting the protest labeled it “The People vs. John Bolton” and invited those “concerned about American imperialism, militarism and war” to participate. “Concerned students and community members oppose the Spring 2020 legitimation of American warmongering by Duke University,” the flyer read. Bolton worked at the Project for the New American Century, an organization that supported the Iraq War. Bolton was also previously the chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a reportedly anti-Muslim organization warning its followers of a “Great White Death.” These positions have led Bolton to be criticized as a neoconservative and a white supremacist. On the back of the flyers were quotes from Bolton himself, including “[President Barack Obama] is a Muslim king of a Muslim country,” and from others about him, such as George W. Bush’s claim that he “doesn’t consider [Bolton] credible.” Several members of the crowd held posters, some reading “No bombs, no bullets, no Bolton” and “You belong in a cell in the Hague.” The group continued with shouts of “no more endless wars” and “from Kashmir to Palestine, occupation is a crime,” before the first organizer spoke. read the complete article

18 Feb 2020

Bloomberg Apologized for Stop-and-Frisk. Why Won’t He Say Sorry to Muslims for Spying on Them?

In 2016, Republican presidential candidates were openly fantasizing about surveilling and spying on Muslims. Yet just a few years earlier, in the nation’s biggest city, a Republican mayor had succeeded in going beyond mere rhetoric: Michael Bloomberg oversaw the mass warrantless, suspicionless surveillance of Muslim New Yorkers, as the New York Police Department “mapped” where they prayed, ate, studied, and worked. Today, the billionaire media mogul is polling third in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and has secured endorsements from dozens of high-profile Democratic mayors and members of Congress. I cannot help but ask: Have these elected Democrats lost their minds? Have Democratic voters in, say, Florida, where Bloomberg is now leading in the polls, taken leave of their senses? In recent weeks, much has been made of Bloomberg’s support for racist and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, which targeted and terrorized African American New Yorkers. Much less has been made of his support for racist and unconstitutional surveillance practices, which targeted and terrorized Muslim New Yorkers. Why is that? How to explain the shameful silence? Could it be because Islamophobia, as I have pointed out before, still isn’t taken seriously by the mainstream media, as well as many liberals and Democrats? Or is it maybe because billionaire Bloomberg has paid prominent liberal groups to turn a blind eye to his Islamophobic record? There has been no apology, no regret, no contrition whatsoever from the former mayor turned presidential candidate for his role in what has been described by civil rights activists as “one of the most chilling campaigns against religious liberty in modern American history.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Feb 2020 Edition


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