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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02 Jul 2020

Today in islamophobia: New research indicates Chinese state-sponsored hackers have been using Android malware to spy on Uyghur and Tibetan ethnic minorities for over seven years. US seizes items thought to be made from hair of Uyghur Muslims in Chinese labor camps. Writing for BBC, Shruti Menon explores the human cost of fake news in India. Our recommended read today is by Steven Zhou on the BJP’s brand of Islamophobia, and how it has found an eager partner among the far-right in the West. This, and more, below:


02 Jul 2020

From India, Islamophobia Goes Global | Recommended Read

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has long been criticized for discriminating against India’s estimated 200 million Muslims. Tensions between this large minority and the Hindu nationalists who support Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been mounting in recent years, resulting in worrying laws, dangerous harassment, and deadly mob violence in India. Now, the hostility has moved outside of India’s borders. Thanks to social media and a dedicated diaspora, antagonism toward Muslims by supporters of India’s right-wing, Hindu nationalist government has gone global. And the international spread of domestic prejudices is causing diplomatic ripple effects for India’s allies. In the West, the BJP’s brand of Islamophobia has found an eager partner among the far-right, as recent developments in famously multicultural Canada demonstrate. Some members of Canada’s Indian diaspora echoed such sentiments, tweeting comments about how the prayer call broadcasts are part of an Islamist “strategical campaign through out the world” or that “blaring loudspeakers” can never be “peaceful.” Several of the tweeters have quietly lost their jobs since then, amid pressure from anti-hate groups.. In April, city councils across Canada voted to allow the Islamic call to prayer, the azan, to be broadcasted for a few minutes a day during the holy month of Ramadan. The government hoped to foster a sense of inclusion as mosques and other places of worship were closed for the COVID-19 lockdown. The decision elicited a major backlash, including mass petitions and online hate, with the far-right suggesting “Islamism” had infiltrated Canadian society and politics. A glimpse of this global reach was provided by the EU DisinfoLab last fall in a report detailing a network of over 260 pro-India “fake local media outlets” spanning 65 countries, including throughout the West. The media organizations bear the names of local towns and cities, but none of them has any real connection with the localities they purport to represent, and all feature pro-India and anti-Pakistan content. Every news site was registered by the Srivastava Group, an Indian corporation that last year took right-wing European politicians on a trip to Kashmir, where they met with Modi. Such reach can also be seen in the efforts of Indian expats and Indian Americans in the United States who organized last fall’s “Howdy, Modi!” event in Houston attended by 50,000 people, including U.S. President Donald Trump and other Republican and Democratic politicians. Indian American volunteers did the heavy lifting and funded the event, which turned a meeting between heads of state into a public spectacle. The event was meant to cement Trump-Modi relations as well as to rally the U.S.-based diaspora around the BJP, thus bolstering the prime minister’s popularity back home. read the complete article

Recommended Read
02 Jul 2020

US seizes items thought to be made from hair of Muslims in Chinese labor camps

US federal authorities have seized a shipment of products made from human hair believed to have been taken from Muslims in labor camps in China’s western Xinjiang province. Customs and Border Protection officials said that 13 tons (11.8 metric tonnes) of weaves and other hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in US supply chains,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s office of trade. Rushan Abbas, a Uighur American activist whose sister went missing in China almost two years ago and is believed to be locked in a detention camp, said women who use hair weaves should think about who might be making them. “This is so heartbreaking for us,” she said. “I want people to think about the slavery people are experiencing today. My sister is sitting somewhere being forced to make what, hair pieces?” Wednesday’s shipment was made by Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co Ltd. In May, a similar detention was placed on Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co Ltd, although those weaves were synthetic, not human, the agency said. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Calls for UN to investigate China’s crimes against the Uyghurs continue to mount

World politicians have called for a United Nations probe into a Chinese government birth control campaign targeting Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in China that borders the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The calls come after a new report has found that China is forcing women to be sterilised or fitted with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uyghurs. China has denied the allegations, calling them “baseless”. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group of European, Australian, North American, and Japanese politicians, has called for an independent UN investigation. “The world cannot remain silent in the face of unfolding atrocities”, the group said. According to a UN convention, “imposing measures intended to prevent births” with “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” is considered evidence of genocide. read the complete article

United States

02 Jul 2020

‘What I’ve been saying all along’: Officer suing SJPD for Islamophobia weighs in on new racism scandal

The surfacing of racist and anti-Muslim Facebook posts by active and retired San Jose police officers this past weekend was not by itself a shock to Officer Nabil Haidar. What surprised him was the near-immediate condemnation by public leaders including the police chief. Haidar, who is currently on medical leave, said he remembered thinking: Where was that when he objected to his own anti-Muslim harassment in the same police department? “This is what I have been saying all along,” he said in an interview. Instead, the department “refused to believe me, (and) only enabled and empowered this online racism and Islamophobia.” The Lebanese-American officer sued the department in 2018, alleging he was the target of anti-Muslim remarks and insults that escalated after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He asserts that the discriminatory comments associated him with ISIS, the Taliban and car bombings, and that he was referred to with slurs including “suicide bomber,” “bin Laden,” and “sleeper cell.” In his lawsuit, which is still making its way through Santa Clara County Superior Court, he calls particular attention to a November 2017 police briefing, when a captain was recognizing veterans in the room and a sergeant allegedly stated, “Captain, you forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran. He was with ISIS for two years.” “The officers who harassed me are still walking the streets,” Haidar said. “What’s the difference between them and what is happening now?” read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Tennessee Voices, Episode 58: Sabina Mohyuddin, executive director, American Muslim Advisory Council

As an American Muslim woman, daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants and a native Nashvillian, Sabina Mohyuddin has often confronted people who "other-ize" her and other Muslims as foreign or dangerous. Today, she is the executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, where she is working to advocate for the civil rights of and increase civic engagement among Muslim citizens in Tennessee who have faced attacks ranging from arson at a mosque to proposed anti-Sharia legislation that targeted Muslims based on a false notion about their religion. Among the things she is working on is to advance anti-hate advocacy, encourage fellow Muslims to be counted in the U.S. census, and urge citizens to register in and vote in 2020. She learned from pushing back successfully against the anti-Sharia bill a decade ago that fighting for one's civil rights and dignity is a continuing struggle. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Ms Marvel: Trailblazing Muslim superhero goes gaming

Marvel's Avengers are assembling once again, not on the big screen, but for a blockbuster video game. It features many of the superheroes you might expect, including Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. But they are joined by a new addition: Kamala Khan. The Muslim-American teenager of Pakistani heritage, who has shape-shifting abilities, is the latest character to adopt the Ms Marvel moniker. When the game's publisher Square Enix announced that Marvel Avengers would include Kamala Khan as one of its main playable characters and make her central to the plot, it garnered praise from both fans and industry insiders. "I first heard of Ms Marvel from the comics a few years ago," says Maria Afsar, a 25-year-old gamer. "I immediately thought it was so cool when read her background was like mine, being Pakistani, Muslim and a girl. "When I saw the announcement she is going to be in the game and one of the main characters, I just thought I've literally been waiting for something like this my whole life. I saw nothing like this when I was younger." read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Revere police make arrest in vandalism to Muslim woman's car

The person police say is responsible for spray painting swastikas on all four sides of a Muslim woman’s car in a Boston suburb last month has been arrested. In addition to the swastikas, the words “white power” were spray painted on the street near the car on June 11, police said. Jason Pagliuca, 38, of Revere, was arrested Tuesday and charged with defacement of property and and property damage for the purpose of intimidation, Revere police announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

How White Supremacy Returned to Mainstream Politics

The United States is living through a moment of profound and positive change in attitudes toward race, with a large majority of citizens1 coming to grips with the deeply embedded historical legacy of racist structures and ideas. The recent protests and public reaction to George Floyd’s murder are a testament to many individuals’ deep commitment to renewing the founding ideals of the republic. But there is another, more dangerous, side to this debate—one that seeks to rehabilitate toxic political notions of racial superiority, stokes fear of immigrants and minorities to inflame grievances for political ends, and attempts to build a notion of an embattled white majority which has to defend its power by any means necessary. These notions, once the preserve of fringe white nationalist groups, have increasingly infiltrated the mainstream of American political and cultural discussion, with poisonous results. For a starting point, one must look no further than President Donald Trump’s senior adviser for policy and chief speechwriter, Stephen Miller. This report explores the background of these poisonous concepts—reviewing their origins, development, and diffusion—and explores how white supremacist ideas have seeped into America’s mainstream political discourse, with some examples of politicians who traffic in this language. It then discusses ways to combat the spread of white nationalism in U.S. politics. This report is meant to help readers recognize and call out attempts to smuggle white supremacy into everyday politics and to support civic leaders of all political persuasions who stand up to this poison. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Biden criticizes Trump administration appointees with history of Islamophobic and offensive comments

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said this week that two recent Trump administration appointees to the Pentagon and US Agency for International Development "have no business serving in high positions in our government" because of past Islamophobic and offensive comments on social media. "Islam is a faith of peace, and Muslims are a vital part of American history and society. Islamophobia is a pernicious disease. It does not belong in the halls of government," Biden's statement reads. "As President, I will appoint individuals who represent the values of our nation and respect all racial, ethnic and religious communities." Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who was nominated to become the under secretary of defense for policy, has a history of making Islamophobic and inflammatory remarks against prominent Democratic politicians, CNN's KFile reported in June. If confirmed by the Senate, Tata would become the third highest official in the Pentagon overseeing the Defense Department's policy shop, including its national security and defense strategy, nuclear deterrence and missile defense policy, and security cooperation plans and policies. Mark Kevin Lloyd, who was appointed to be a religious freedom adviser to USAID, shared a post in June 2016 calling Islam "a barbaric cult," according to a 2016 Associated Press report. Lloyd also perpetuated a conspiracy theory and said Obama was aiding the Iranian nuclear program as part of his " 'final solution' to the Israel problem," a phrase that evoked the Holocaust, AP reported. Lloyd declined to talk to AP at the time, citing his nondisclosure agreement with the Trump campaign. He was working as a Virginia field director for the Trump presidential campaign at the time. read the complete article


02 Jul 2020

Chinese Android spyware targets minority Muslim group

Chinese state-sponsored hackers have been using Android malware to spy on Uyghur and Tibetan ethnic minority people for seven years, according to new research from security firm Lookout. Lookout's threat intelligence team says four Android surveillance tools, dubbed SilkBean, DoubleAgent, CarbonSteal, and GoldenEagle, were embedded in dozens of apps that would appeal to Uyghurs and, "to a lesser extent," Tibetans. China has been leveraging the tools to collect personal information from victims in 14 mostly majority-Muslim countries, Lookout said. The data is sent back to command-and-control servers managed by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. “These four interconnected malware tools are elements of much larger mAPT (mobile advanced persistent threat) campaigns originating in China, and primarily targeting the Uyghur ethnic minority," said researchers Apurva Kumar, Christoph Hebeisen and Kristin Del Rosso in a blog post. "Activity of these surveillance campaigns has been observed as far back as 2013.” read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

The imprisonment of the ‘model villagers’: Two Uyghur sisters on what it means to lose their family and way of life

She and her sister fear that they may never see their village again. First in 2016, their brother, Ametjan, was imprisoned. Then in 2017, their mother, father, and younger brother were taken to reeducation camps, along with many others from their village. Sometime later, they were given prison sentences of more than 10 years. One of the less discussed aspects of the reeducation system in northwest China is the way that more than 300,000 inhabitants of Xinjiang have been given long prison sentences since 2017. In an effort to hide the extreme abuse of the camp system and cover it with a patina of legality, in 2018 and 2019 many former camp detainees (perhaps the majority of former detainees) were also given long prison sentences as well. Many of these convicts, such as the sisters’ parents and brother, were found guilty of “thought crimes” or “pre-crimes” as a system of immense cruelty descended on their villages. Nursiman and her sister fear that the reason their family members were imprisoned is because they moved to Turkey in 2015. Maybe during long interrogations their relatives had been forced to confess that someday they would like to visit them. Simply desiring to travel to a Muslim-majority country could be construed as the pre-crime of intending to hijrat (伊吉拉特 yījílātè), the action of immigrating to a space where Islamic piety is permitted. This action is now defined by the Chinese state as an act of terrorism. Accepting money from a family member who lives in a Muslim-majority country or attempting to learn Turkish, Arabic, or Urdu is now viewed as a terrorism-related crime. It is likely for these reasons that the sisters’ relatives, the model family of their village, have had their lives taken away from them. The social fabric of the sisters’ village has been deeply damaged. read the complete article

United Kingdom

02 Jul 2020

Hard-hit and fighting back: How British Muslim charities took the lead in the Covid-19 response

In June, data released by the Office for National Statistics showed that from the start of March until May the mortality rate from Covid-19 was highest among Muslims compared to any other religious group. According to the Muslim Council of Britain, 46 percent of the UK's Muslim population reside in ten percent of the poorest local authorities in England. In contrast, only 0.9 percent live in the ten percent most affluent. People of Bangladeshi descent - the second largest Muslim community in the UK – are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than people of white British ethnicity. Despite how hard British Muslims have been hit by the pandemic, the relief response from their community has been among the strongest. The Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), established in 2007, operates as the primary network for British Muslim charities. MCF has described its role as "aiming to collectively build a more accountable, transparent and efficient British Muslim charitable sector". Fadi Itani, the CEO of MCF who spoke to The New Arab, describes how the picture emerging that the UK was only two weeks behind Italy in its trajectory of Covid-19 deaths galvanised his network's mission unlike ever before. In late March, following days of discussion with leaders of the UK's Muslim community, MCF launched a "Campaign for National Solidarity" - a national coalition of Muslim charities and aid groups to respond collectively to the crisis. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Revealed Boris Johnson's Hidden History of Islamophobia

Some aspects of Boris Johnson’s history of Islamophobia are well known – like his 2018 article in which he said that Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letter boxes”. Others are known but not discussed enough. His ties to the far-right activist Steve Bannon, for instance, or the time he and the Vote Leave campaign stirred up fears about Turkey joining the EU during the 2016 Referendum campaign. Some instances of Johnson’s Islamophobia go unnoticed by almost all UK media outlets, such as the recent finding that he wrote of the genocide in Bosnia: “All right, I say, the fate of Srebrenica was appalling. But they weren’t exactly angels, these Muslims.” Adding to this list of his known history of Islamophobia, there are several other findings from Johnson’s personal blog, which reveal that the Prime Minister: - Suggested that mosques have a “cheesy smell from the carpets” and described the Muslim call to prayer as “mosquito drone” - Wrote of Russia: “Whatever you say about the Russians, they have no qualms when it comes to abusing human rights, if that means cracking down on Islam.” -Claimed that 12 serious attacks on Muslims in Britain in the space of four months “does not speak of a climate of vicious Islamophobia”. -Authored a Spectator editorial that singled out Islam. He wrote: “The Koran is particularly vicious in its condemnation of other religions and their practitioners.” read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Mental health may be 'significant factor' in NHS referrals to Prevent

Mental health appears to be a significant factor behind referrals from the NHS to Prevent, the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation programme, a UK-based medical charity says. In an 18-month study, researchers at Medact found that a significant proportion of NHS referrals to Prevent came from mental health trusts or mental health departments. Freedom of information responses from a sample of four mental health trusts showed 89 referrals to Prevent in the two years to March 2019, compared with a combined 90 referrals from 18 non-specialist trusts in the same period. Within the 18 non-specialist trusts, 40 referrals came from mental health departments in the two-year period, compared with 45 combined from all other departments. Five referrals were not classed by department. The report, titled False Positives: the Prevent Counter-Extremism Policy in Healthcare, concluded that mental health patients were disproportionately represented among Prevent referrals. “While further research is urgently needed, it appears that mental health may be a significant factor related to Prevent referral,” the report said. The conclusion echoed research published in the British Medical Journal in 2016, which similarly found that mental health trusts in England recorded much higher levels of referrals. Likewise, counter-terrorism police concluded in 2016 that about 50% of individuals referred to Prevent might have had some kind of mental health condition. read the complete article


02 Jul 2020

Coronavirus: The human cost of fake news in India

Fake or misleading news can have a real impact on those who find themselves the targets. This has been a particular problem in India during the coronavirus pandemic, where reliable sources of news are frequently drowned out by unverified information online. We've looked back at claims debunked by five Indian fact-checking websites between January and June this year. They fall under four broad headings: Coronavirus outbreak, February's Delhi riots, Citizenship Amendment Act, Claims about the Muslim minority. Of the 1,447 fact-checks on five Indian websites, claims around coronavirus dominated, making up 58% of them. This was largely related to false cures, lockdown rumours and conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus. Our analysis found that misinformation targeting Muslims spiked in the first week of April. This was after several members of an Islamic group called the Tablighi Jamaat, who had attended a religious gathering in Delhi, tested positive. As more members of the group tested positive, false claims about Muslims deliberately spreading the virus became viral. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Modi skips Eid in the line-up of Indian festivals. Act of omission or commission?

The Prime Minister of a nation with 172 million Muslims citizens did not mention the festival of Eid, which is in August, in his address to the nation Tuesday. Narendra Modi rattled off the names of all upcoming festivals such as Guru Purnima, Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Durga Puja, Chhath Puja, and Kati Bihu. This is new India where Muslim festivals can be ignored. But is this an act of omission or commission? Modi, however, is not someone to miss such details. He often extols the fabric of India. He is well aware that his words, or his omissions, will be noted and analysed — and he wants them to be. It was nothing less than a deliberate skip, a design to hurt Muslim sentiments, and invisibilise them. Some will say that he tweets on Eid. But that he does because not doing so would invite direct questioning and international attention. Pick up any of Modi’s addresses, he rarely includes Muslims or Christians. This is a strong signalling to his core constituency that dreams of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The only time Modi notices Muslims is when there is a protest on the streets. He recognises them by their clothes, and then his supporters spread Islamophobia identifying Muslims on the basis of their names, beards and burqas. read the complete article

02 Jul 2020

Covid-19 hasn't stopped the drumbeat of Islamophobia in India

In the last week of February 2020, mobs of Hindu nationalists went on a rampage targeting Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in New Delhi, resulting in the worst communal violence the city had experienced since the 1984 Sikh massacre. Under PM Modi, the country has experienced a vast communal rift, as the leading Hindu nationalist party aims to reconfigure India into a Hindu-only nation, rendering its 200 million Muslim minority population second-class citizens. Coupled with discriminatory policy comes anti-Muslim rhetoric from BJP government officials, who have referred to Muslims as "termites" and "foreigners," painted them as "traitors" who must be deported, and described them as an enemy within. The Covid-19 pandemic arrived in India on the heels of this anti-Muslim violence. While it has been regarded as a great "equalizer," in reality, Covid-19 has exacerbated the ethnic, religious, and class divides across the country. It has revealed the failures of the Modi-led government in tackling the public health crisis. In an effort to shield the stark inequality and suffering that can no longer be ignored from the public eye, mainstream media along with government officials have employed their usual tactics, scapegoating vulnerable communities - in this case, Muslims - by accusing them of spreading the novel coronavirus. As a result of the skewed coverage and proliferation of conspiracy theories on social media, Indian Muslims were again on the receiving end of vitriol and discrimination. In separate incidents, two pregnant Muslim women were denied healthcare due to their religion, resulting in the loss of their unborn babies. Numerous hospitals made headlines for segregating patients based on their religion, and a video of a doctor referring to Muslims with Covid-19 as "terrorists", was shared widely. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Jul 2020 Edition


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