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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20 Feb 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In France, President Macron panders to far-right groups by vowing to fight “Islamic separatism”, as French Muslim women speak out over their right to wear headscarves. In India, today marks 200 days of Modi’s crippling siege on Kashmir. Our recommended read today is on Mike Bloomberg’s surveillance of Muslim communities in New York City as mayor. This, and more, below:

United States

20 Feb 2020

Mike Bloomberg ran stasi-style police and surveillance operations against Muslim Americans | Recommended Read

As Mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg ran a sweeping surveillance operation against Muslim Americans. This week on Intercepted: As Bloomberg nears a half a billion dollars in paid ads for his presidential campaign, he is intensifying his attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, the red-baiting smears against Sanders are resurfacing as he surges in national polls. New York University professor Nikhil Pal Singh, author of “Race and America’s Long War,” dissects Bloomberg’s record, his “racial terror” tactics in New York City, and what his candidacy says about the state of electoral politics in the U.S. Attorney Diala Shamas of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who fought Bloomberg over his Muslim surveillance program, describes the New York Police Department’s “Demographics Unit” that targeted Muslim Americans and their businesses, houses of worship, and restaurants. Shamas compares the surveillance program to some of the activities of the East German Stasi secret police and says Bloomberg’s use of the program should be seen as an ominous sign of what he might do as president. read the complete article

Recommended Read
20 Feb 2020

Opinion: Trump's Travel Ban Expansion is an attack on Black Muslims-we demand to be heard

In total, nine of the thirteen countries listed on the Muslim Ban are now African, causing many of the continent’s diaspora to refer to it as the #AfricanBan. With this recent expansion, the ban is estimated to affect more than a quarter of Africa’s population. This is not the first time that Trump targeted the Black Diaspora. He seems to particularly pick on the Somali community. During his 2016 presidential campaign, he blamed the increase of crime in Lewiston, Maine (crime did not actually increase) on the large Somali refugee community there. Last October, during a campaign rally in Minnesota, President Trump signaled out Rep. Ilhan Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen and the large Somali community that resides there. In addition, Trump’s public hatred of Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali Congresswoman, is an example of his white supremacist views. He scolded her district for voting for her and infamously told her and another Muslim Congresswoman to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” Being black and Muslim in the U.S. means to be in the crosshairs of white supremacy. We are the targets of both anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-blackness. We’re at the forefront of every protest, every rally, every fight that advocates for the fundamental understanding that all humans deserve equitable rights. Yet our stories are rarely heard. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

Indiana official ‘sorry’ for Islamophobic posts won’t resign

An Indiana councilman whose predecessor resigned after posting Islamophobic comments online says he will not step down after he was also criticized for sharing similar views on Facebook. Roger Stewart, a member of the Kokomo Common Council, was elected last week by the Howard County Republican Party. He replaced Greg Jones, who resigned Jan. 17, after his Islamophobic and homophobic Facebook posts from 2015 came to light. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

Dawson’s Muslim doctor: Three years after being in the national spotlight, he splits time between Minnesota and the UAE

In 2013, Dr. Ayaz Virji moved his family from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he had been working in a large hospital, to Dawson, Minnesota – one of many towns across rural America that was in desperate need of a physician. As the only Muslims in town, however, they also experienced some tension a few years later after the election of President Donald Trump, whose campaign included a proposed moratorium on Muslim immigration into the United States. Virji tells his story in “Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor’s Struggle for Home in Rural America,” which recounts his experience in Dawson and – central to the book – summarizes an interfaith lecture that he and a Lutheran pastor have been presenting in towns across Minnesota and a few other states. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

How Much Cruelty Can Trump Get Away With? Ask Obama.

Trump’s endless boasting about his invulnerability can certainly be blamed on the dismal swamp of his own psyche, but there’s another at least partial explanation for it—and it lies in the country’s collective failure to hold anyone responsible for crimes committed since 2001 in the “war on terror.” If one administration can get away with confining detainees in coffin-like boxes and torturing them in myriad other ways, why shouldn’t a later one go unpunished for, to take but one example, putting migrant children in cages? In 2009, Barack Obama prepared to enter the Oval Office promising to end the worst excesses of the previous administration’s war on terror. Although he did close the CIA’s detention centers and prohibit torture, he also quickly signaled that no one would be held accountable for the already well-documented practice of torture promoted by the administration of George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney. A week or so before Obama’s inauguration, the president-elect was already assuring ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that, although there would be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law,” on the whole he believed “that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” Not surprisingly, despite the previous administration’s stamp of approval on what were euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a three-year investigation by the Obama Justice Department into CIA interrogation practices came to a whimpering end in August 2012, when Holder announced that the only two remaining torture cases, both of which involved deaths in US custody, would be dropped. Among those Holder presumably chose not to charge were the men responsible for designing and implementing the protocols that led to Rahman’s death, along with tortures like waterboarding and “walling” (the slamming of the back of a prisoner’s head repeatedly into a wall). Thus ended any hope of holding torturers legally accountable in the United States of America, early proof of the kind of impunity that has, in the Trump years, spread elsewhere. Thanks to the cowardice of the Obama administration, no CIA officer or any higher official in the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, no psychologist, no doctor, no one at all has yet been held accountable for the years of torture practiced on a global scale in the war on terror. read the complete article


20 Feb 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron targets Muslims again for ‘separatism’

French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a mayoral election campaign targeting Muslims in his latest move to attract far-right supporters. During the his visit to Mulhouse, in northeastern of France, on Tuesday, he vowed to fight against “political Islam” by accusing Muslims of ‘Islamic separatism’. The leader, who marketed himself as a ‘centrist’ during his 2017 presidential campaign, promised to crack down on the community, which he accused of isolating itself from the rest of the country. He said imams will be trained in France, according to French cultural values. The French government will also withdraw courses to students in Arabic and Turkish. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

‘My body, my choice’ - French Muslim women speak out about headscarves

Arguments over Muslim women wearing headscarves surface fairly regularly in France. As the Muslim community again hit the headlines we speak to the French women who wear the hijab about how it feels to have your clothing made the object of national scrutiny. “Every time, it’s our belonging or exclusion to society that is really being discussed,” said Hania Chalal, a 26-year-old student in Strasbourg, who leads the union Muslim Students in France (Etudiants Musulmans de France, EMF). Paradoxically, Hania’s story is an example of “separatism," but a different kind than the one the President was targeting in Mulhouse. After she decided to permanently wear the headscarf, Hania found herself increasingly sidelined in French society. Not because she wanted to be, but because her headscarf was not wanted there. Soon, Hania will have to choose between her headscarf and her career. She is studying to become a teacher, but all overt religious symbols have been banned from state schools since 2004. “An increasing number of Muslim women are being isolated from French society,” said Nacira Guénif, a French sociologist and anthropologist specialised in questions related to laïcité (the French term for state secularism). read the complete article


20 Feb 2020

Anti-Muslim terror attacks in Germany were a long time in the making

A far-right terrorist is suspected to have gone on a deadly shooting spree just three days after German Muslim groups called for state 'protection' from extremists. A letter of confession found in the home of a suspect in a deadly shooting spree targeting Shisha bars in the western German city of Hanau appears to confirm a far-right motive for the killings. At least nine people are confirmed dead in attacks on two separate locations in the city near the country’s financial hub of Frankfurt. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

Germany shootings: Federal prosecutors take over Hanau investigation — live updates

Attacks at two hookah bars in the city of Hanau left nine people dead and four injured. The suspected perpetrator was later found dead at his home along with the body of his mother. The main suspect allegedly expressed far-right views in a letter of confession. Hesse state interior minister Peter Beuth confirmed the possible right-wing extremist link. "From what we know so far a xenophobic motive is the most likely," he said. A homepage linked to the attacker pointed to right-wing views held by the suspect. The suspect uploaded a video to Youtube in the days before the attack. The man relayed conspiracy theories in a "message to all Americans" in fluent English. The clip was still visible to view on the platform on Thursday morning. read the complete article


20 Feb 2020

Uighur persecution: German politicians condemn China's 'modern slave exploitation machine'

Calling friends or relatives abroad, wearing a headscarf, closing a restaurant during the fasting month of Ramadan are all activities that have doomed thousands of Uighurs from the Karakax district of Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwestern China. A list of prisoners that was leaked to DW and other media partners provides information on the arbitrary criteria used to justify interning members of the Muslim-minority Uighurs in Chinese "reeducation" camps. The German government's commissioner for global religious freedom, Markus Grübel, responded to the revelations with "great concern." "We cannot accept the forced assimilation that the Chinese government exercises on the Uighurs," the Christian Democrat told DW. "People are detained for their beliefs, children are separated from their parents, and the Chinese government monitors all areas of life. Under these circumstances, a humane life can no longer take place." Grübel called for an independent investigation by the United Nations into the situation of the Uighurs. So far, the Chinese government has rejected this. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

Coronavirus would be 'disastrous' for China's Muslim concentration camp prisoners and the world might never find out, Uighur activist warns

Jewher Ilham—the daughter of jailed Uighur academic Ilham Tohti—said she is deeply concerned by what she described as China's slow response to the coronavirus outbreak, particularly with regards to the western Xinjiang province where the Communist Party is suppressing majority-Muslim minority groups. Up to 3 million people are thought to have been detained in the re-education camps there, which critics argue is part of a cultural genocide against the Muslim minority. Ilham spoke to Newsweek this week from Switzerland, where she was attending the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. She warned conditions at the detention centers—described by some as concentration camps—offered the perfect chance for coronavirus to spread. Former inmates and employees have reported systematic abuse, serious overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions inside the camps, which China maintains are voluntary vocational centers. "If one person—let's say a prison guard or a concentration camp guard—got infected, it could result in thousands, even millions of people getting infected," Ilham said. "And without medical equipment, medical doctors and treatment, it could be disastrous." read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

Huawei is a key player in Beijing’s anti-Muslim, Big Brother horrors

What you may not know about is Chinese tech giant Huawei’s role in the largest detention of an ethnic and religious minority since World War II. The detention centers are hell on earth. Stories of torture flow out steadily. “Fake news,” insists China. But when leaked documents quote President Xi Jinping calling for these minorities to be shown “absolutely no mercy,” and when survivors risk their own safety to show us torture scars and ripped fingernails, I know whom I believe. Activists accuse Huawei of complicity in these horrors. As a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute put it: “Huawei works directly with the Chinese Government’s Public Security Bureau in Xinjiang on a range of projects.” Huawei has tried to deny this, claiming its work in the region is conducted through third parties. Well, if that’s true, someone better tell whoever writes the press ­releases for the Xinjiang government. “Together with the Public Security Bureau,” one 2018 release read, “Huawei will unlock a new era of smart policing and help build a safer, smarter society.” “Smarter security” is a euphemism for invasive data profiling. If you are unfortunate enough to fit the profile — Muslim of a particular origin — you are vulnerable to arrest and detention. The regime tries to justify this blatant profiling as necessary to “re-educate” potential terrorists. Yes, really. There are more than 1 million “suspected terrorists,” who all happen to share the same religion and ethnicity. read the complete article


How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart

For seven decades, India has been held together by its constitution, which promises equality to all. But Narendra Modi’s BJP is remaking the nation into one where some people count as more Indian than others. Founded 94 years ago by men who were besotted with Mussolini’s fascists, the RSS is the holding company of Hindu supremacism: of Hindutva, as it’s called. Given its role and its size, it is difficult to find an analogue for the RSS anywhere in the world. In nearly every faith, the source of conservative theology is its hierarchical, centrally organised clergy; that theology is recast into a project of religious statecraft elsewhere, by other parties. Hinduism, though, has no principal church, no single pontiff, nobody to ordain or rule. The RSS has appointed itself as both the arbiter of theological meaning and the architect of a Hindu nation-state. It has at least 4 million volunteers, who swear oaths of allegiance and take part in quasi-military drills. The word often used to describe the RSS is “paramilitary”. In its near-century of existence, it has been accused of plotting assassinations, stoking riots against minorities and acts of terrorism. The RSS doesn’t, by itself, engage in electoral politics. But among its affiliated groups is the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), the party that has governed India for the past six years, and that has, under the prime minister Narendra Modi, been remaking India into an authoritarian, Hindu nationalist state. read the complete article

20 Feb 2020

200 days of Kashmir siege: A mother's wait for her jailed son

Thursday marks 200 days since the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a crippling security and communications lockdown in the Muslim-majority region, with thousands of Kashmiris locked up as part of the crackdown. Ateeqa Begum has made several rounds of the courts since her son, Faisal Aslam Mir, was detained on August 6 last year, a day after India revoked Kashmir's autonomy. Ateeqa says her son was arrested when he left his home in the Maisuma locality of Srinagar, the region's main city, to buy medicine. Mir, 22, is among hundreds of people in Indian-administered Kashmir detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which has been dubbed "draconian" by Amnesty International. Many of the detainees have been moved to jails across India. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Feb 2020 Edition


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