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 Feb 2019

Today in IslamophobiaNat Geo reports that in India, Muslims have been taking care of Jewish synagogues in India for generations. In Belgium, Muslims and Jews say that Belgian animal cruelty laws trammel religious freedom. Reports emerge of the U.S denying thousands of visas in 2018 due to the Muslim ban, even as the ‘dystopian’ crisis in Xinjiang continues. Our recommended read of the day is by Sahar Aziz, who writes on Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and how they have shattered the trope of the “powerless Muslim woman in distress”. This, and more, below:

United States

27 Feb 2019

Opinion | Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib show Muslim women don't need saving | Recommended Read

Not only are Omar and Tlaib shattering the image of the powerless Muslim woman in distress, but they are breaking taboos that have long suppressed all women in the United States. Refusing to be instrumentalised by superficial notions of diversity that exoticise and infantilise minority women, Tlaib and Omar vocally challenge the power structure. A case in point is Tlaib's reference to President Donald Trump as a m********* at a bar after her confirmation. Her words triggered tens of media stories despite more pressing issues like a government shutdown. The disproportionate attention evinced the depth of our society's infantilisation of Muslim women. Male politicians curse and they are just engaging in "locker room talk". But when women curse, they are dishonourable - a tripe framing used to silence women around the world. When Omar responded "AIPAC" to a question on Twitter about whomshe "thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel", her tweet triggered a common anti-Muslim trope - the anti-Semite. Alongside the oppressed Muslim woman, Islamophobia perpetuates a stereotype that Muslims are inherently violent and anti-Semitic. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
27 Feb 2019

Opinion | The Essential Black Muslim Reading List

Presently, Black Muslims make up about a fifth of the American Muslim population. About half of those Black Muslims are converts to Islam. Black Muslims are not lost in history, even if their history has been disregarded. Understanding Black Muslims in the U.S. is essential not only to understanding America’s Islamophobia but to understanding pop culture, racial capitalism, surveillance, and more. read the complete article

27 Feb 2019

U.S. denied tens of thousands more visas in 2018 due to travel ban

The U.S. State Department refused more than 37,000 visa applications in 2018 due to the Trump administration's travel ban, up from less than 1,000 the previous year when the ban had not fully taken effect, according to agency data released on Tuesday. The data released Tuesday was the first comprehensive look at the human impact of Republican President Donald Trump's ban, imposed shortly after he took office and initially blocked by federal courts. The ban has especially affected people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, countries where the number of visas issued slid 80 percent in 2018 from 2016, the last year without a travel ban. The figures released on Tuesday show the government denied 15,384 applications for immigrant visas - given to those who want to live permanently in the United States - due to the "2017 Executive Order on Immigration." A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that term referred to the travel ban policy. In addition, 21,645 applications for non-immigrant visas - given to people coming for short-term visits for business, tourism or other reasons - were denied due to the ban. read the complete article


27 Feb 2019

Opinion | Why Does No One Care That China Is Ethnically Cleansing Uyghar Muslims?

The scale and intent of China’s repressive measures against the Uyghur people bears all the hallmarks of the 20th century’s worst pogroms, including the construction of a network of concentration camps, which have been identified by satellite imagery, and forcibly house upwards of 2 million Uyghur Muslims for such “crimes” as praying, fasting, attending a mosque, speaking native tongue, wearing the hijab, having a full beard or carrying the Qur’an. Accounts of torture, murder, executions, and forced disappearances are as harrowing as they are widespread. Last month, a leaked database painted a clear picture of exactly how draconian and dystopian China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims has become during the past year or two, with GDI Foundation, a non-profit that advocates an open Internet, revealing Chinese authorities have implemented a “Muslim tracker,” one that currently locates the movement of 2.5 million Muslims in Xinjiang using facial software recognition. read the complete article


27 Feb 2019

Rohingya crisis: UN investigates its 'dysfunctional' conduct in Myanmar

The UN has launched an inquiry into its conduct in Myanmar over the past decade, where it has been accused of ignoring warning signs of escalating violence prior to an alleged genocide of the Rohingya minority. UN sources have confirmed to the Guardian that the initially hesitant UN secretary general, António Guterres, decided to proceed with the investigation after a “build-up in pressure” within the organisation. There have been multiple calls for a full inquiry into UN operations in Myanmar in recent years, which were described as “glaringly dysfunctional”in a memo written months before the military-led crackdown on the Rohingya in Rakhine state in August 2017. The violence, described by the UN as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide, included the killing of thousands of people, women and children raped, villages razed and forced more than 700,000 to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Marzuki Darusman, the chair of the UN fact-finding Mission on Myanmar, said late last year there was an “ongoing genocide” in Rakhine. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Feb 2019

Facebook has banned far-right activist Tommy Robinson for spreading Islamophobia

In a blog confirming an earlier story in The Guardian, Facebook said it banned Robinson — real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon— over his anti-Muslim rhetoric. It follows him being barred from Twitter in March 2018. "Tommy Robinson's Facebook Page has repeatedly broken [Facebook's community] standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims," Facebook said. The tech giant added that Robinson had violated policies around "organized hate" although it did not elaborate as to how this differed from his other offences. read the complete article

27 Feb 2019

Opinion | Why Facebook Removing Tommy Robinson's Page Matters

Lennon has been preparing his supporters for several weeks now, ramping up the asks for yet MORE money to help fund his empire and lifestyle, and making all sorts of ludicrous ‘censorship’ claims after he was booted off Twitter and PayPal last year. (It’s funny how all these claims always come with a £ sign attached, isn’t it?) We are talking about a man who has likely made millions from the misery of others – misery he himself has promoted – through this social media channels such as Facebook. The chutzpah of the man is amazing. Who remembers, for example, that Lennon was falsely using Facebook’s charity donate function to collect as much as £100,000 via his page to... fund what, exactly? What “citizen journalist” do you know who threatens and attacks others? Who visits the homes and offices of real journalists, while his supporters attack and intimidate photographers and media at demonstrations? While violence against journalists surges in many parts of the world, “Tommy Robinson” actually goes out of his way to encourage an atmosphere of criminality, mistrust and conspiracy – again, all to seemingly fund one person, and that is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. read the complete article


27 Feb 2019

Jews and Muslims say Belgian animal cruelty law trammels religious freedom

More than 50 religious groups have lodged complaints with the country’s Constitutional Court in the hope of repealing the new legislation, which went into effect New Year’s Day. The court is expected to rule within the next two months. Opponents of the ban say it is not based on science. “It’s a decision that threatens freedom of religion because ritual slaughter is part of our religion,” said Albert Guigui, Brussels’ chief rabbi. “We find it’s unjust and unjustifiable since there’s no proof that ritual slaughter causes more suffering than standard slaughter. On the other hand, pre-stunning is not always effective, causing animals to remain conscious during slaughter.” read the complete article


27 Feb 2019

Opinion | A hijab for Muslim runners? In France, that’s a scandal

This time, the item in question is a hijab for runners, a product that appeared on the website of the sporting goods company Decathlon and was designed to allow observant Muslim women a chance to exercise in public while adhering to traditional codes of modesty. Much like the “burkini” swimsuit in 2016, the runner’s hijab has set off a bitter national debate. “It’s a vision of the woman that I do not share. As a woman, that’s how I live,” Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Tuesday morning on French radio. “All that leads to differentiation bothers me. I would have preferred a French brand not to promote the veil.” While the far-right National Rally (formerly the National Front) called the runner’s hijab a “new intrusion of Islamic communitarianism in public space,” there were notable attacks from nominally left-wing French feminists, as well. Left-wing senator and former women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol shared a statement from France’s International League for Women’s Rights, which decried the new hijab as an item “whose sole purpose is to prolong sexual apartheid.” read the complete article


27 Feb 2019

Meet the Muslim family who looks after a Jewish synagogue in India

Before India gained independence from the British in 1947 there were nearly 5,000 Jews living in Kolkata. The community teemed with Jewish newspapers, schools, and businesses. But uncertainty about the country’s stability under the new government spurred an exodus from India. Many more left when Israel was founded, just one year later. Today, only two dozen Jews live in Kolkata, according to the New York Times, but dedicated Muslim caretakers tend to the three active synagogues and their dwindling congregations. One patriarch, featured in this Short Film Showcase, has been a caretaker for 60 years. He now shares the work with his two sons. Without them, the last vestiges of a Jewish Kolkata could disappear. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Feb 2019 Edition


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