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.

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19 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the Muslim Council of Britain accused British tabloid the Daily Mail of “peddling negative tropes against Muslims” after the tabloid attacked Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt for meeting with their secretary general, Zara Mohammed, meanwhile in the United States, a new study finds that more than 26 percent of Black Muslims and nearly 32 percent of Asian Muslims in NYC experienced or saw a hate crime in the first half of this year, and in India, there’s a rising number of Rohingya refugee children who face an uncertain future as their parents have been imprisoned in detention centers. Our recommended read of the day is by James Griffiths for The Globe and Mail on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the occupied Uyghur homeland, called Xinjiang by the authorities, where he asserted that Uyghurs are “indelibly and historically Chinese,” which experts say could indicate further forced assimilation policies to come. This and more below:


19 Jul 2022

Xi’s visit to Xinjiang shows how China will seek to reshape global views of Uyghur region | Recommended Read

Blanket coverage of Mr. Xi’s trip in Chinese state media in recent days has exposed the outlines of a new propaganda campaign to reframe perceptions of Xinjiang, emphasizing development and “ethnic unity” to drown out international criticism over human-rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. “Our ethnic theories and policies are sound and effective,” Mr. Xi said last week. “We should stay committed to the correct and Chinese way to address ethnic issues.” Since 2014, those policies have involved an intense crackdown on the region’s Uyghur population. Hundreds of thousands of the mostly Muslim minority have passed through re-education camps and Uyghur religion, language and culture have been suppressed in a campaign Canada’s parliament and other international bodies have said amounts to genocide. “We must communicate Xinjiang to the world in a multilevel, comprehensive and multidimensional manner, do a better job in letting the world see Xinjiang with their own eyes,” Mr. Xi said, urging officials to “tell Xinjiang’s stories well.” Part of that involves recasting the region’s ethnic minorities, particularly Uyghurs – a Turkic people with a history of self-rule – as indelibly and historically Chinese, in a way experts said could indicate further forced assimilation policies to come. “Chinese civilization is the foundation of all ethnic cultures in Xinjiang,” Mr. Xi said last week. He said the country “must make full and effective use of historical facts” to prove “that various ethnic groups in Xinjiang have been important members of the big Chinese family in weal and woe.” James Millward, an expert on Chinese ethnic policy at Georgetown University, said that “just a few years ago it was not taught that Uyghurs have been ‘Chinese’ for all time.” “Xi has decreed a new history of Xinjiang, even more Sino-centric than past versions,” he wrote on Twitter after last week’s visit. Mr. Millward predicted a new propaganda campaign emphasizing the “Chinese-ness” of both Xinjiang and its various ethnic groups, to counter accusations of cultural genocide and perceptions of the region as a Han colony. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

China’s Xi, in Xinjiang, signals no change to Uyghur policy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, on a visit this week to the Xinjiang region where his government is widely accused of oppressing predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, showed no signs of backing off policies that have come under harsh criticism from the U.S. and many European countries. Xi stressed the full and faithful implementation of his ruling Communist Party’s approach in the region, highlighting social stability and lasting security as the overarching goals, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday. Under his leadership, authorities have carried out a sweeping crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghur and Kazakh communities following an outburst of deadly separatist violence. While no exact figure has been released, analysts say hundreds of thousands and likely a million or more people have been detained over time. Critics have described the crackdown that placed thousands in prison-like indoctrination camps as cultural genocide. The U.S. and others have placed officials responsible under visa bans for their part in extralegal detentions, separation of families and incarcerating people for studying abroad or having foreign contacts. Xi, on what was described as an “inspection tour” from Tuesday to Friday, said that enhanced efforts should be made to uphold the principle that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation, Xinhua said. While the needs of religious believers should be ensured, they should be united closely to the Communist Party and the government, the official news agency quoted him as saying. He called for educating and guiding people of all ethnic groups to strengthen their identification with the Chinese nation, culture and Communist Party. read the complete article

United States

19 Jul 2022

GAZING EAST | ‘Ms. Marvel’ Broadcasts South Asian, Muslim American Life

The first few moments of Disney’s “Ms. Marvel” had me overcome with emotion. For perhaps the first time I can remember in American film or television, I saw my living room and heard the very same conversations I had growing up in a Pakistani American household. Early in the first episode, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), the teenager soon to become Ms. Marvel, is told by her older brother to say “Bismillah” before she begins her driving test later that day. It instantly stood out to me: it’s a relatively small detail, yet so crucial to getting the portrayal of Muslim Americans on screen right. I cannot remember hearing that word uttered in an American film, despite its centrality and overwhelming importance to Islam — the world’s second largest religion. Its meaning is “in the name of God, the most merciful, most kind,” and is spoken before a Muslim does pretty much anything, from taking a sip of water to beginning any one of the five daily prayers. That’s not to say, however, that I haven’t seen Muslims represented on screen — they just haven’t been represented accurately. Too often, Muslims are portrayed as radical extremists who the vast majority of the world’s Muslims would not even recognize as following Islam. Moreover, Muslims in American films are almost always Middle Eastern in origin, despite making up only around a fifth of the world’s Muslims. But this show portrays Muslims who have rarely been shown on American screens: South Asians. What strikes me about this show is its authenticity. It is an accurate portrayal of both Muslim and South Asian American identities, which is rare in Hollywood. The series is a significant contrast to the oftentimes cringe-inducing representations of South Asians in American film, which are often only projections of what predominantly white writers think brown people are like rather than true windows into the South Asian experience. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

The curious case of the racial Muslim

Legal scholar Sahar Aziz says people who identify as Muslim are often perceived in racial terms, like black and brown people, in white-dominated societies. That makes Muslims on both sides of the Atlantic the subject of similar forms of racism. She also says protecting observant Muslims in Europe may be more difficult than in the United States, where religious observance is more commonplace. In this episode: Sahar Aziz in conversation with the journalist and think tanker Shada Islam. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

Community network survey results reveal Muslims in NYC dealing with racism, threats at early ages

Disturbing new numbers show that anti-Muslim activity appears to be growing in the city. According to the Muslim Community Network, more than 26 percent of Black Muslims and nearly 32 percent of Asian Muslims experienced or saw a hate crime in the first half of this year. And as CBS2's Leah Mishkin reported Monday, the incidents can start as early as elementary school. "It was like really difficult for me," a teenager named Yyra said. She was only 6 years old when another student threatened her because of her race and religion. "He told me that he was going to one day come to my house and he was going to murder me as I was sleeping," Yyra said. In the fourth grade, she said that same student told her his father, who was a cop, would deport her family. "He'd like accuse me of being a terrorist," Yyra said. The Muslim Community Network surveyed 116 city Muslims in 2019 and found that 43.5 percent of 10- to 18-year-old respondents said they experienced or witnessed a hate crime. The Network wants the City Council to reintroduce and pass Resolution 1257, which would allow the Department of Education to introduce religious diversity courses into the curriculum. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

Roe v Wade: Why do Americans wrongly link court ruling to Islam?

Overturning Roe v Wade privileges a particular brand of politically conservative Christianity at the expense of other religious interpretations of reproductive rights, even though abortion debates are often culturally framed through a false binary of secular supporters and religious opponents. Within this binary, Islam in particular has been caricatured as epitomising extremism, especially with respect to restrictions on women and sexual minorities. We have witnessed the re-emergence of this trend in recent weeks with invocations of “sharia law” and the “American Taliban” in criticisms of the court’s decision. Treating Islamic references as synonymous with extreme human rights violations detracts from a deeper reckoning with America’s deeply rooted white Christian nationalism that underpins the dissolution of the protections under Roe v Wade. It also demonstrates how the spectre of Islam continues to haunt public discourse in the United States. Invoking the spectre of Islam in US public discourse to signify something that is un-American, extremist, and illiberal is not limited to any one segment of the population. Celebrities, news pundits, and politicians alike have deployed Islamic references to lament Christian extremism. Those who engage in such comparisons rest on the assumption that these extreme oppressive measures of misogyny are typical characteristics of non-white groups and societies who share some part of American Muslims’ religious and ethnic backgrounds. The flip side of this assumption is that the type of religious extremism that led to overturning Roe v Wade is presented as so anomalous in the white American context that it warrants a foreign reference to help fellow Americans understand the gravity of the stakes. This again diminishes the force of white Christian nationalism and how it threatens democratic institutions of all kinds. read the complete article


19 Jul 2022

80% Hindus": Lucknow Mall Rubbishes Muslim Bias Charge After Namaz Row

Three days after a huge controversy over a video purportedly showing a group of people offering namaz inside the recently inaugurated Lulu Mall in Lucknow, the mall administration has in a statement said that 80 per cent of its employees are Hindus. The clarification comes after allegations that the mall was biased in its employment policy and gave preferential treatment to Muslims. The LuLu Group International, the parent company of the mall, is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.The Lulu Mall Lucknow administration rubbished charges of a Muslim bias, saying it is a completely professional establishment that conducts business without any discrimination. "Our employees are hired on the basis of skills and merit, and not based on caste, class, or religion," it said. It's saddening that some selfish elements are trying to target our establishment, it said, further clarifying that their employees comprise 80 per cent Hindus, and the rest are Muslims, Christians and from various other communities. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

With Parents In Detention Centers, Rohingya Children In India Face Uncertain Future

On March 6, 2021, Noora and Haleema’s parents — Mohammed Ibrahim, 45, and Sajida Begum, 33 — were sent from Jammu’s Kiryani Talab Camp to a jail that had been turned into a detention center in Hiranagar, a town in the Kathua district of Jammu-Kashmir. At least 40,000 Rohingya refugees live in refugee camps in Jammu, Hyderabad and New Delhi, according to the United Nations refugee agency. They fled persecution in Myanmar by crossing the border into India. Unlike many other nations, India did not sign the agreement of the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and has no national refugee protection policy. However, in 2021 the Supreme Court of India blocked an order to deport Rohingyas back to Myanmar, where they have faced a series of ongoing persecutions and killings by the military. While Rohingyas — a Muslim and ethnic minority from Buddhist Myanmar’s Rakhine state — have experienced persecution for decades, a new wave of attacks erupted in 2012, which further intensified in 2015, soon after the southeast Asian country held its first democratic elections in 25 years. Persecution reached an unprecedented level in 2017, prompting the United Nations to call the crisis a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” During a hearing on March 26, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued on behalf of the central government that Rohingyas are not refugees but “illegal immigrants.” Mehta added that the government was verifying their nationality with Myanmar. “We are always in touch with Myanmar and if they confirm … then they can be deported,” Mehta said. India has defended its crackdown on Rohingya refugees by claiming that because it is not a member of the 1951 U.N. convention that outlines refugees' rights, the nation has no legal responsibility to protect them. The Hindu-first Bharatiya Janata Party ruling India and organizations supporting the BJP have campaigned on promises to deport Rohingya Muslims. read the complete article

United Kingdom

19 Jul 2022

Muslim Council of Britain condemns Daily Mail for 'peddling negative tropes' in leadership contest

The Muslim Council of Britain has accused British tabloid the Daily Mail of "peddling negative tropes against Muslims" after the British tabloid attacked Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt for meeting with their secretary general, Zara Mohammed. "It is sad to see how this Islamophobia is now weaponised in the Conservative Party leadership contest by unnamed sources and their friends in the British print media. They put their narrow divisive agenda ahead of national interests or the common good," Mohammed said in a statement released Monday. Daily Mail political correspondent Claire Ellicott accused Mordaunt of 'breaking a government boycott' of the community group, which represents more than 500 Muslim organisations, when she met with Mohammed last year. read the complete article

19 Jul 2022

The story behind the Daily Mail’s attack on Penny Mordaunt

In February 2021 Mordaunt tweeted positively about a meeting she had as paymaster-general with Zara Mohammed, who had just become secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK’s biggest umbrella organisation of Muslim groups: “Great to have met with @ZaraM01 today, to wish her every success and hear more about her plans. Look forward to working with her and her team.” The Sun and others reported at the time that Mordaunt was “slapped down” by No 10 for this, quoting government sources briefing about a longstanding policy of “non-engagement” with the group. The Labour government did indeed cut ties with it in 2009, accusing its then deputy of condoning attacks on British troops. This suspension was understood to have been lifted the following year. I interviewed Mohammed last April a couple of months after the row, and asked her about the meeting with Mordaunt. She was very complimentary about the little-known minister, who has unexpectedly taken second place in the Tory leadership race. “It was a really positive meeting. We shared work on women, inequalities, championing more women in leadership, we shared some of our work at the MCB and she shared some of the things she’s been doing,” she told me. “It was a really positive and welcome step. And she seemed really open about working with the MCB as well. So I think it was just disappointing that unfortunately after the meeting, everybody else got really upset about it, everybody else was saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible – look at these two women meeting, they shouldn’t be meeting.’ Mohammed acknowledged the government’s “policy” of non-engagement, describing it as “disappointing” and saying it didn’t “make any sense” to her. “I think I represent a new leadership… I think the government needs to grow up and get a move on.” She invited the government to work with her organisation, which she said was “a no-brainer for both of us”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Jul 2022 Edition


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