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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13 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Christchurch mosque gunman decides to represent himself at sentencing. The Muslim Council of Britain calls on Boris Johnson to take disciplinary action against Conservative MP who took part in a panel discussion involving far-right controversialist Katie Hopkins. Our recommended read today is by CJ Werleman on Beijing’s propaganda efforts to cover-up its repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. This, and more, below:


13 Jul 2020

Documents Show Chinese Communist Party Justifying Brutality Against Uyghurs | Recommended Read

In the four years since the CCP criminalised the practice of Islam in Xinjiang – or what the Uyghur know to be East Turkestan – more than three million people have been detained in the largest network of concentration camps seen since the Holocaust, with the rest of the territory transformed into a “virtual prison”. The movement of non-detained Uyghur are tracked by GPS, facial recognition software, iris scans and other forms of hi-tech totalitarian control. At the same time that millions of them are being detained and converted to Communist-atheist ideology, Beijing is flooding the region with millions of Han Chinese migrants to irrevocably change the area’s demography and permanently erase all evidence of Uyghur life. Now, in a series of documents obtained by Byline Times, this newspaper can reveal how Beijing is communicating its propaganda talking points through its embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions to journalists, academics and diplomats around the world. It is important to recall that, when evidence of China’s Muslim concentration camps first emerged, Beijing denied their existence. When the evidence became overwhelming, Beijing then acknowledged they were real, but said that their purpose was “counter-terrorism”. When evidence regarding the size and scope of these detention centres was revealed, Beijing then changed its tune a third time by claiming that they are for “vocational training”. Essentially, the Chinese consulate’s denials boil down to the introductory statement made to the intended recipients of its email – that Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang is required to stamp out “terrorism and violent activities” in the region and, by detaining more than three million Uyghur in concentration camps and subjecting the entire region to mass surveillance programmes, it has successfully ended “terrorism”. read the complete article

Recommended Read
13 Jul 2020

Uighurs reflect on 2009 violence that set off Chinese crackdown

The impetus for the 2009 protests came that June, at a toy factory in the city of Shaoguan, about 2,500 miles from Urumqi. A factory worker posted an unsubstantiated rumor online that Uighur migrant workers had raped Han Chinese women there. Some Han Chinese workers responded by beating Uighur workers in a brutal attack captured on camera. At least two died in the attacks. When the gory video footage spread online, long-simmering ethnic tensions in Xinjiang rose to a boiling point. “It is a very clear depiction of men being hunted down and beaten to death,” said University of Nottingham historian Rian Thum, who researches Islam in China. “The clarity of that video is what made it so powerful in mobilizing people.” Peaceful student-led protests for justice soon turned deadly. Young Uighur men rampaged through the streets on July 5, beating and stabbing Hans and attacking Han businesses. For days afterward, Han mobs armed with sticks and metal bars carried out violent reprisals. Richardson and other experts on the Uighur crisis spoke during a July 2 webinar organized by the Uyghur Human Rights Project and World Uyghur Congress to explore how the 2009 events “paved the way from systematic assimilation to today’s cultural genocide.” “In many ways, that was a pivotal day in terms of ethnic tensions erupting in Xinjiang itself,” said Adrian Zenz, a Washington-based anthropologist whose research helped uncover the vast scale of China’s “reeducation camps” for Uighurs. “No matter who died or who started what . . . that is when the underlying rupture became visible and ethnic relations were changed forever.” read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

‘Uyghurs are so bad’: Chinese dinner table politics in Xinjiang

A middle-aged Uyghur couple greeted them effusively in heavily accented Chinese. The food was steaming on a low table that had been set on a platform. It was a meal that must have cost the family a considerable amount, given their economic status as rural farmers. Lu Yin told me, “They presented us with polu, the good kind with the leg of lamb.” She and the other three Han visitors took off their shoes and climbed up onto the raised platform. As they began eating, the Uyghur hosts immediately began talking about “reeducation” centers. “They said in those places the guards say, ‘Who provides your daily bread?’ The answer is, ‘Xi Jinping! If you don’t answer this way then you don’t get fed!’” The turn in the conversation and the banality with which the couple spoke shocked Lu Yin. What was even more startling was that none of her relatives or their Han colleagues challenged what they said. They did not attempt to explain away the violence of the camp system. There was no discussion of job training or free education. Lu Yin said, “Nobody questioned this, the Uyghur family spoke about the violence of the camps in incredibly matter-of-fact ways.” In fact, her family members responded to this discussion of internment camps by using clichés about “social stability” and defeating the three evil forces of “separatism, extremism, and terrorism.” Lu Yin was stunned. She said, “Everyone was talking in slogans.” As she observed the scene and listened to what they were saying, she realized that the slogans were not just in the spoken words. “Inside the house, there were slogans pasted everywhere,” she said. Her relatives, the Uyghur hosts, their home, and their village had been inundated with “reeducation.” “No one interrupted the Uyghurs while they were speaking. No one contradicted what they said. When there was a gap in conversation, the refrain was ‘Uyghurs are so bad!’ The Uyghur husband and wife said in response, ‘Yes. Uyghurs are so bad.’” As they drove away from the Uyghur home, Lu Yin’s aunt began to repeat some of the things that had been discussed over dinner. “Over and over she said, ‘Uyghurs are so bad. Uyghurs are so bad. Islam is bad. The Hui are bad too.’” The others in the SUV joined in, affirming the same lines. read the complete article


13 Jul 2020

UK sought to exclude Muslim nations from conference on Srebrenica response

The British government attempted to exclude a number of Muslim countries from an international conference that was called following the capture of the Bosnian Muslim town of Srebrenica 25 years ago, recently declassified papers show. Around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered over a period off 11 days, after Dutch UN peacekeepers abandoned the town on 11 July 1995, in the last act of genocide in Europe. While the killings were in progress, the British government was deeply anxious that its peacekeeping forces in the country should not be drawn into an armed confrontation with the Bosnian Serb forces who were perpetrating it, the released documents show. Attempts were made to prevent both Jordan and Turkey from attending a conference in London that was intended to find a solution, despite both countries having provided significant numbers of troops to the United Nations peacekeeping force in the region. But London was also sensitive to accusations from Muslim countries that Western nations were standing by and taking no action to protect defenceless civilians. On 16 July, around mid-way through the massacre, British Prime Minister John Major received a memo from Edward Oakden, his private secretary for foreign affairs, which included the warning: "We must not allow ourselves to be seen as responsible for 'the defeat of Bosnia' (implications for our trading position etc in the Arab world)." read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

Trump will continue to punish China for its horrifying anti-Uighur campaign

Last week, President Trump imposed Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against Politburo member Chen Quanguo, the party secretary for the Xinjiang region, who has presided over the anti-Uighur campaign. Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a business advisory for U.S. companies with supply-chain exposure to entities engaged in the CCP’s use of forced labor and other human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The president has also imposed export restrictions against 21 Chinese government entities and 16 Chinese companies complicit in China’s campaign of repression, population control, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs and other minorities. More than 1 million CCP cadres, most of them men, reportedly live in Uighur homes while the household’s adult males are in detention. Children as young as 2 years old are taken from their homes and raised in party-run orphanages. Mosques are under constant surveillance and are being either “Sinicized” — made subordinate to Chinese culture — or destroyed at the party’s direction. The CCP is even reinterpreting Islam’s sacred book, the Koran, to align with its worldview. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

How Settler Colonial States Use Incarceration as a Tool of Dehumanization During the COVID Crisis

Structural racism ensures that people in prisons, because of their intersecting class, race, religious or national origins, are presented as not deserving. Mass incarceration is fundamental in societies that strive to dispossess, disappear, and sometimes kill marginalized communities such as the United States, Israel, and Canada. Political orientation also shapes the differentially valued lives of incarcerated people, as those who are imprisoned on the basis of their political activity, involvement, and organizing face a form of dehumanization that constructs them primarily as threats to the state. These include activists belonging to Black Power, Indigenous rights, Palestinian liberation, anti-imperialist, and other movements historically targeted by the carceral state. Organizers, community leaders, medical experts, and family members of people who are incarcerated have been raising their voices to little avail, even as abolitionist demands have risen in the wake of the George Floyd uprising, the massive nationwide protests, and the demands to defund and abolish the police. At the same time, Palestinians have been struggling for the freedom of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, not only because of the humanitarian crisis but as a central political demand necessary for liberation, alongside the end of the occupation, the dismantling of settlements, and the right to return for Palestinian refugees. It is virtually impossible, under the prevailing conditions of confinement in the carceral states we are analyzing, for correctional authorities to adhere to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and UN human rights experts and advocates, on the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of incarceration around the world. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

After Muslim Prayer Rug Gaffe, Online Retailer Shein Stokes Outrage For Selling ‘Swastika Pendant Necklace’

It’s been a week of apologies for online retailer Shein: On Sunday it apologized for selling Muslim prayer mats as decorative rugs and on Friday it apologized for selling what the company called a “Swastika Pendant Necklace,” with both apologies following uproar on social media and calls to boycott the brand. Shein said that the team was “making major internal changes,” including not selling religious items and that “we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice or hatred” before concluding that “we love you and hope you stay with us.” read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

13 Jul 2020

Bosnia marks 25 years since Srebrenica genocide amid pandemic

Bosnian Muslims are marking 25 years since the Srebrenica genocide, the worst atrocity on European soil since the end of the second world war, with the memorial ceremony sharply reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event marks July 11, 1995, the day when Bosnian Serb forces marched into Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave on Serb territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been under the UN protection. After capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days. So far, the remains of nearly 6,900 victims have been found and identified from more than 80 mass graves. Bosnia had been embroiled in an ethnic war pitting the Serbs against Muslim Bosniaks and Croats between 1992 and 1995 that killed some 100,000 people. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

Genocide denial and the reaffirmation of the Serbian nationalist project

The 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, the most horrific crime in Europe since World War II, just passed us. The genocide that led to the death of over 8,000 men and the expulsion of over 25,000 women and children is however widely denied in the current Serbian political and public discourse, which is a blatant expression and the basis for reaffirmation of the expansionist “Greater Serbia” ideology, that already for one-and-half centuries claims territories from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo as part of Serbia. This systematic reaffirmation of Serbian nationalist ideology has taken place under the careful tutelage of the current Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who in the 1990s served in the government of the "Balkan Butcher" Slobodan Milosevic and was one of the leaders of the neo-fascist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by the convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj. Part of Vucic’s political tool-kit is the pro-regime media machinery that insists on genocide denial through historical revisionism, rehabilitation, and promotion of convicted war criminals responsible for the genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Muslim population in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Jul 2020

Muslim Council of Britain demands Boris Johnson take action against Conservative MP who took part in Katie Hopkins panel

The Muslim Council of Britain has called on Boris Johnson to take disciplinary action against a Conservative MP who took part via video in a panel discussion involving far-right controversialist Katie Hopkins. Harrow East MP Bob Blackman did not attend the meeting in Geneva and told The Independent that he did not know Hopkins and controversial blogger David Vance would be taking part. He said he rejected their politics which “has no place in our society”. But the MCB said it was the latest in a string of incidents involving Mr Blackman which it regarded as Islamophobic, including the sharing of a tweet by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – and hosting a meeting in parliament with Hindu nationalist Tapan Ghosh, who has called for controls on the birth rate of Muslims. A spokesperson said that the Conservative Party had taken no action against the MP despite complaints that he was “tacitly if not actively endorsing those who fuel toxic hate against minority communities”. read the complete article

United States

13 Jul 2020

Reza Aslan Reveals How CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Trump ‘Canceled’ Him Over a Tweet

On the evening of June 3, 2017, a van barreled into a crowd of pedestrians on London Bridge before its passengers emerged, stabbing onlookers in nearby Borough Market. Before their blood was even dry, or the culprits’ identities revealed, President Donald Trump tweeted, “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” That Trump was using an in-progress terrorist attack as justification for his so-called “Muslim Ban,” which he described as “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign, did not sit well with Reza Aslan, a leading religious scholar and one of the most prominent Muslim voices in media. So, the CNN pundit and host fired off a tweet: “This piece of shit is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He’s an embarrassment to humankind.” He was immediately inundated with emails, texts, and missed calls from producers, CNN execs, and even liberal-celeb acquaintances chastising him for the move. #FireReza and #CNNisISIS began trending on Twitter, as a right-wing mob called for his ouster. At the network’s urging, he issued a diplomatic apology—which they accepted. All seemed fine. And then four days later, without warning, he received notice that his highly rated travel series, Believer, which saw Aslan immerse himself in different religions (from a Hawaiian death cult to getting audited by Scientologists), had been canceled by CNN honcho Jeff Zucker. The move struck Aslan and his crew as odd given the show’s popularity, his public apology, and the fact they were set to begin shooting Season 2 in days. Most curious of all was how the man who dropped the hammer, Zucker, is a longtime friend of Trump’s who, as president of NBC Entertainment, breathed life into the real estate mogul’s dying empire with The Apprentice. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

Hate groups cashed in on pandemic relief before millions of Americans protested for social change

The Center for Media and Democracy was the first to report on the loans, which went to six nonprofits for a total of somewhere between $2,350,000 and $5,700,000. (The SBA has only disclosed loan amounts in ranges — not exact sums.) The groups will not need to repay the government if they put the money towards payroll and other operational expenses. The organizations include the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy; two anti-immigrant hate groups, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform; and three organizations designated as anti-LGBTQ hate groups, the American Family Association (AFA), Liberty Counsel and the Pacific Justice Institute. The largest loan went to the American Family Association, which was allotted between $1 million and $2 million to support 124 jobs. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

White Supremacists Blamed for ‘Largest Share’ of Recent Terrorism Fatalities in U.S.

Violence motivated by white nationalism or hostility towards Muslim immigrants has emerged as a deadlier threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorism, statistics compiled by the latest annual report of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) suggest. Anti-Muslim extremists and adherents of nationalist white supremacy ideology accounted for the largest share of fatal terrorist attacks in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019, according to the GTD report, presented at a webinar Thursday. “[There was] a sharp increase in racially and ethnically motivated terrorist attacks, many of which were motivated by white supremacy, xenophobia and anti-immigrant beliefs,” GTD program manager Erin Miller told the webinar. In the 2015-2019 period, U.S. white nationalist groups were held responsible for 34 separate attacks, resulting in 64 deaths. Anti-Muslim extremists were linked to 32 attacks resulting in five deaths. read the complete article


13 Jul 2020

Let’s talk about how Tablighi Jamaat turned Covid hate against Muslims around

Within days, a state of panic had set in as reports of Covid-19 deaths and positive cases started coming in from various parts of the country. By early April, private television news channels had begun insisting that over 30 per cent of the corona-positive cases had the “Tablighi Virus.” Political factors were at play too. The country was already in ferment over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. Shaheen Bagh and its women protesters were making international headlines and the February 2020 riots in Delhi had deepened the sectarian divide, exacerbating religious tensions. It was in this situation that the Tablighi Jamaat held its congregation. According to data shared by Equality Labs (a digital human rights group) with TIME magazine, the hashtag ‘Corona Jihad’ appeared nearly 300,000 times. Those members of the Tablighi Jamaat who had tested positive for the virus, and have since been cured, came forward in huge numbers to donate their blood plasma — containing anti-viral antibodies — and helped cure many affected people. Eid ul-Fitr 2020 saw the largest ever participation of women in family prayers. That prompted Najmul Huda, the IPS officer, to say “thanks” to the virus for bringing gender equality to every Muslim home. “May it get institutionalised. Corona, I can’t really say thank you to you, but it’s thanks to you,” he wrote. There were other positives too. Charity acted as a great succor as appeals were issued to channelise Ramadan and Eid shopping for the needy. Maulana Naeem Ur Rahman Siddiqui, secretary of the Islamic Centre of India, claims that zakat — or charity — saw a rise of over 50 per cent as compared to the previous year. Not to forget, the redemption and acknowledgement that came after all those days of hate. If the members of the Tablighi Jamaat were guilty of ignorance in the initial phase of the pandemic, they turned adversity they had wrought upon themselves into opportunity in the form of penance. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

Narendra Modi Is Not Creating the India That Returning Indians Will Want to Live in

The Indian middle class and elites, which have in millions been rushing to study and settle in Western countries over the last 30 years, are suddenly finding their fortunes reversed. The US government has now ruled that foreign students enrolled in universities offering fully online courses this fall will have to return to their countries. Around 202,000 Indian students were enrolled in the US in 2018-19 and this kind of a measure wreaks havoc on many education plans, finances and working futures. The BJP is interested in both these constituencies and has cultivated them; both are bombarded with polarising anti-Muslim rhetoric and tropes of muscular nationalism via TV and social media, but with one difference. Those abroad can access the Indian public sphere on their own terms, they get to have the option of another experiential life, of material comfort, rule of law and individual freedom and tune into India when they please, while those at home are stuck with the bigotry, inefficiency and the daily political circus. The two worlds never really meet, notwithstanding breezy holiday trips to India. The diaspora will not choose to exchange their lives for India, even if the prime minister asks them to return (as he did at the Madison Square Garden in 2014). Nationalism is longing for home after longing to get away. COVID-19 is now threatening to give nationalism a permanent address. The Indian middle class is staring at the prospect of being cooped up at home in greater numbers. It will then have a chance to properly assess the quality of the vikas that Modi has delivered. One of the great successes of the Modi government is that it has stalled the revolution of rising expectations; citizens freely blamed the Congress for governance failures but now dare not openly ask the Central government as to why their lives are not getting better. The BJP has managed to manufacture consent with a combination of brute institutional force and propaganda; globalisation has also helped its cause by providing an escape route for affluent sections, who could leave India after seeing prospects dim in the public sector. That option is now being radically downsized by the virus. read the complete article

13 Jul 2020

In India, merely saying 'Black Lives Matter' is not enough

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests which led to growing calls for abolishing the police and demilitarising communities in the United States, people around the world started to have serious discussions about racism and police brutality in their own countries. In India, however, with the exception of some spaces, the support for the movement has remained superficial, with no real engagement with the underlying issues. While Indian celebrities were quick to provide lip service in support of the protests, they did little to examine the effect of militarism (of which police brutality is a part) in their own country. If they were to look closely, they would see that militarism in India is spreading increasingly and surreptitiously, without any check or much uproar. Broadly understood, militarism is the gradual spread of militaristic values into civilian life. Left unchecked, it paves the way for militaristic values such as violence, surveillance and control to become primary tools in the state's handling of internal conflict and dissent. It is closely intertwined with nationalism and patriarchy and involves setting up masculine ideals of service to the nation, based on aggression and the willingness to commit violent acts, as the basis of ideal citizenship. Overt police and military brutality, especially against marginalised groups, has long been rampant in India. But recent moves by the state signal an attempt to covertly extend military forms of control in the civilian sphere. Indeed, as seen in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, militarism is increasingly becoming the Indian state's go-to approach in handling crisis situations. This calls for urgent scrutiny. read the complete article

New Zealand

Christchurch mosque gunman will represent himself at sentencing

Tarrant's decision to represent himself will not affect the sentencing hearing set to begin on August 24 and expected to run for three days, Judge Cameron Mander said. The judge approved Tarrant's request in a pre-trial video call after he was satisfied that Tarrant understood his rights to have legal representation and that he wished to waive those rights. Tarrant's lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, said there was no "conflict or relationship breakdown" between them and Tarrant, and that the request was consistent with his rights. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jul 2020 Edition


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