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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21 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Activists urge Canada to recognize Uyghur abuses as genocide, as the U.S. Commerce Department blacklists 11 Chinese companies implicated in human rights violations in Xinjiang. In Austria, the center-right People’s Party (OVP) and Green Party government prepares to institute a controversial surveillance program on Muslims. Our recommended read today is by Omer Kanat titled “When it comes to the Uyghur genocide, the world cannot be a bystander.” This, and more, below:


21 Jul 2020

"When It Comes to the Uyghur Genocide, the World Cannot Be a Bystander" | Recommended Read

The bystander effect has been in full force when it comes to the Chinese state’s repression of the Uyghur people. For the past three years, only a small number of governments have taken any notice at all. Most countries have been silent until now because of China’s political power, generous loans and investment, and strong-arm diplomacy. Some governments even justify inaction by claiming there is no evidence of harm to Uyghurs, and more than 50 of them praised China’s policies last October. Despite Beijing’s clumsy attempts at disinformation, mass internments and imprisonments, enforced disappearances, and coerced labor have been abundantly documented by many independent investigations. Journalists and experts from all over the world have analyzed hundreds of Chinese government documents proving a vast scheme of brutality towards Uyghurs. Researcher Adrian Zenz and the Associated Press recently revealed Chinese government policies designed to reduce the birthrates of Uyghurs through compulsory sterilizations and birth control. The measures aim to reduce the absolute numbers of Uyghurs and accelerate their assimilation into a “Chinese nationality.” While Zenz’s findings are shocking, China’s intent towards Uyghurs has been evident for some time. Use of dehumanizing language to refer to Uyghurs comes from the very top. Xi Jinping compared Islam to a virus-like “contagion” and concluded addressing it would require “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.” In case the message was somehow too opaque, he added that the government must “show absolutely no mercy.” Local authorities have followed Xi’s lead. Kashgar prefecture ordered officials that treatment of Uyghurs should “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.” read the complete article

Recommended Read
21 Jul 2020

Uyghur Video Is Preview of China's Tyrannical Vision for Entire World: Senator

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn has warned that footage from China purportedly showing detained Uyghur prisoners being sent to re-education camps is an example of the kind of high-tech authoritarianism Beijing is using to crush any opposition to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. The drone footage—taken last year—went viral on social media over the weekend, showing what appeared to be hundreds of bound and blindfolded men sat in rows at a Chinese train station, likely in the restive western province in Xinjiang—home to the Muslim minority ethnic groups being persecuted by the CCP. The footage prompted outrage online, as well as among lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among them was Blackburn, who is a prominent critic of the regime in Beijing and has been involved in legislation seeking to punish Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and downgrade U.S. relations with China. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Activists urge Canada to recognize Uyghur abuses as genocide, impose sanctions on Chinese officials

Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler was among the long list of witnesses who detailed China’s treatment of the Uyghurs during a seven-hour hearing before the House of Commons human-rights subcommittee Monday. Mr. Cotler, an international human-rights champion, said Parliament should take global leadership by recognizing the abuses against the Uyghurs in China’s western province of Xinjiang as genocide. He said the world risks failing the Uyghurs through inaction, as it did with the Rwanda genocide in 1994. “What makes that [Rwanda] genocide so unspeakable is that it was preventable. Nobody could say we did not know. We knew but we did not act, just as now with regards to the Uyghurs,” said Mr. Cotler, who serves as chair of the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. “Indifference always means ... coming down on the side of the victimizer and not on the side of the victims.” read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

They were wrongfully detained at Guantanamo for years. Now they want to join their families in Canada

For years, they fought to be released from Guantanamo Bay, where they were wrongfully detained. Now they’re pleading with the Canadian government to let them come here to reunite with their families. “When our children see planes in the sky, they ask me, is my dad on that airplane, when is he going to come to Canada?” says Melike Aierken, whose husband, Ayub Mohammed, has been stuck for 14 years in Albania, where he was sent after being released from Guantanamo Bay. Aierken is speaking by phone from Montreal. Her husband, Mohammed, is speaking through an interpreter from Albania. “I thought there would be opportunities for me in Albania once I graduated from university, but there isn’t,” he says. “Once my first child was born, I just couldn’t see a future for my children in Albania. This is the reason I want to go to Canada.” Mohammed was among 22 Uighur detainees who spent years in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after being kidnapped in Pakistan three months after 9/11. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Hindutva groups in the US are calling out anti-Black racism – but support bigotry in India

As protests against the George Floyd killing gripped America in recent weeks, there was an outpouring of messages of solidarity with Black Lives Matter. One such message caught my particular attention for its brazenness: it was a post by the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, the US arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, whose very raison d’être is hatred for India’s religious minorities. I have no doubt that there are members of the HSS who genuinely wanted to reach out to Black America – a task that we Indian Americans as a whole have failed to pay much attention to until now. However, a message against anti-Black Racism coming from an organisation whose parent has normalised anti-Muslim bigotry in India, including mob lynchings, was a bit too much for me to stomach. It made me wonder just how much American-born members of Hindu Nationalist organisations such as HSS, Hindu American Foundation and Hindu Students Council know about the ideological roots of their own organisations. Savarkar’s 1944 comment on how Muslims in a Hindu Rashtra would be treated just as “negroes” were treated in America wasn’t his first foray into the subject. In his seminal essay, Hindutva, written in 1923, he had unhesitatingly equated Hindu Nationalism with White Nationalism: read the complete article

United States

21 Jul 2020

U.S. adds 11 companies to economic blacklist over China's treatment of Uighurs

The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday added 11 Chinese companies implicated in what it called human rights violations in connection with China’s treatment of its Uighurs in Xinjiang in western China to the U.S. economic blacklist. The department said the companies were involved in using forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups. They include numerous textile companies and two firms the government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. Blacklisted firms cannot buy components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval. It was the third group of companies and institutions in China added to the U.S. blacklist, after two rounds in which the Trump administration cited 37 entities it said were involved in China’s repression in Xinjiang. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Democrat Joe Biden snags support of prominent Muslim Americans

Several prominent Muslim American elected officials endorsed Joe Biden for president in a letter organised by Emgage Action before an online summit on Monday that featured the presumptive Democratic nominee. Among those signing the letter are Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Indiana Congressman Andre Carson, all Democrats. The pro-Biden letter from Muslim American elected officials decried a number of President Donald Trump's domestic and international policies, including his administration's ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim countries and his pullout from the Iran nuclear deal. The Muslim American officials also praised Biden's agenda for their communities. Among other goals, Biden has pledged to rescind the Trump administration's travel ban affecting Muslims "on day one" if he's elected, a pledge he repeated in his address to the summit on Monday. Biden told the summit that no group has felt the sting of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric more than Muslim-Americans. "Muslim communities were the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on Black and brown communities in this country with his vile Muslim ban," Biden said. "That fight was the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure and insults, and attacks against Muslim American communities." Biden told the group he would seek out Muslims to serve in his administration and work with Congress to pass new legislation abolishing religious and racial profiling by authorities. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

The White House is pushing a conspiracy theorist fired from the NSC for a top Pentagon position

Rich Higgins, a former aide who says he was fired from the National Security Council in 2017 for sending a conspiratorial memo, is currently being considered to serve as chief of staff to retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, the White House's nominee for the under secretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon. A source familiar with the internal discussions told CNN the White House has pushed the Pentagon to hire Higgins and he is under consideration to be chief of staff for Tata, if Tata is confirmed by the Senate. Foreign Policy and the Washington Post first reported on the push to hire Higgins. Higgins, who served in the Army and later in the Pentagon as a career official in the Bush and Obama administrations, according to his biography, was fired from the NSC in 2017 after authoring a memo claiming that a "deep state" band of officials and movements were opposing President Donald Trump. He defined the opposition as the media, Islamists, Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, the United Nations and cultural Marxists leading a coordinated effort to delegitimize and subvert the President. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Texas GOP ousts chairman, picks tea party firebrand Allen West to lead in 2020 elections

Conservative firebrand and former Florida congressman Allen West will lead the Texas Republican Party into the 2020 election, after ousting the previous chairman early Monday during a convention marred by technical difficulties. The retired Army lieutenant colonel was propelled into Congress for a single term amid a tea party wave in 2010, but he lost his reelection bid in a costly race in which he spent $17 million. The Democrat who defeated him called him a right-wing extremist and spent less than a quarter of that. During a short-lived exploration of a congressional bid in Dallas last year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called him a “certified wacko,” noting that he had called Social Security “21st century slavery,” claimed he had a higher security clearance than the president, and had used his time in Congress to argue that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to the faith. One of two Black House Republicans at the time, he called President Barack Obama a “low-level Socialist agitator” and called Obama supporters “a threat to the gene pool.” He also claimed that as many as 81 House Democrats were members of the Communist Party but never offered evidence or named names. read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Factbox: Trump and Biden take sharply different paths on immigration

U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to crack down on illegal immigration and reshape legal immigration was at the heart of the Republican’s winning 2016 campaign and has remained at the forefront of his White House agenda. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, promises to rescind many of those policies and advance his own agenda if he wins the Nov. 3 election. Here is a look at some of their immigration stances. Trump signed an order banning entry to immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a move Biden and other critics said discriminated against Muslims. A federal court blocked the initial ban, but in 2018 the Supreme Court upheld an amended version that has since been expanded to other countries. Biden has promised to rescind the bans, calling them an abuse of power “designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants.” read the complete article

21 Jul 2020

Biden makes bid for Muslim voters at virtual summit: ‘I want to earn your vote’

In an address to Muslim voters, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to “earn” their communities’ support and, if elected to the Oval Office, sign hate crime legislation, appoint Muslim staffers and, on his first day in office, repeal the Muslim travel ban. “I want to work in partnership with you to make sure your voices are included in the decision-making process as we work to rebuild our nation,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said at a virtual event organized by Emgage Action, a Muslim PAC. The Million Muslim Vote Summit was organized by the political arm of the Muslim civic advocacy group Emgage as part of a campaign to have one million Muslim voters cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential elections. Emgage Action endorsed Biden in April, after Sen. Bernie Sanders — the group’s original endorsee — ended his campaign. “We’re putting our trust in you,” Khurrum Wahid, chairperson for Emgage Action's board, told Biden. “We have a swing state strategy and we will deliver for you Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. We will activate large groups of voters in Texas and Arizona. We will turn out one million votes nationally. We’re going to ask everyone we know to ‘vote Joe’ on November 3rd.” read the complete article


21 Jul 2020

Muslim group fears Australia is importing rightwing extremist content via Facebook

A major Muslim advocacy group has expressed concern that Australia is importing rightwing extremist content from Britain, the US and Europe through social media platforms, and says it has identified what appears to be “inauthentic behaviour” between a network of pages in Australia that links to white supremacist content overseas. The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network has used a submission to the Senate inquiry into foreign interference through social media to warn that rising extremism undermines security, social cohesion and, ultimately, democracy. The group points out that 12 micro-parties with discriminatory anti-Muslim policies ran at the last federal election – “the largest number of groups that we have recorded”. Earlier this year, the Muslim advocacy network, which was set up after the massacre against Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, working with Birchgrove Legal, a Sydney law firm, asked Facebook to overhaul its moderation policies. The network says in its submission that unpublished research from Victoria University in 2018 studied more than 41,000 posts in far-right Facebook groups and identified radicalising discourse. Based on the study, the network conducted “an investigation of Facebook’s efficacy in enforcing its own hate policy standards”. It says it wanted to test whether extremist voices were still active after Christchurch. It says its investigation of the groups it was able to identify “revealed they were still very active” and in the course of this work, “we have identified what appears to be inauthentic behaviour between a network of pages in Australia, that links to right wing extremism and white supremacist content overseas”. read the complete article


21 Jul 2020

Rohingya face ‘cruel’ caning sentence in Malaysia as hostility to refugees grows

A group of Rohingya refugees who survived a treacherous journey at sea now face caning and seven months in jail after they were convicted under the immigration act in Malaysia, where activists have warned of an alarming rise in xenophobia and inhumane treatment of the migrants. Hundreds of arrests and a sharp rise in hate speech have shocked refugees and migrants who had seen Malaysia as a welcoming country, particularly for Muslims, despite not being signed up to the 1951 refugee convention. Over recent months, Malaysia has been widely condemned for turning away boats carrying Rohingya refugees fleeing desperate conditions in camps in Bangladesh. Some boats were allowed to dock, but the hundreds of refugees onboard are understood to remain in detention, according to Amnesty International. A group of 31 Rohingya men who disembarked from a boat in April have since been convicted under the Immigration Act, and sentenced to seven months in prison, while at least 20 have been sentenced to three strokes of the cane. Nine women are also facing seven months in prison, while 14 children have been charged and are facing jail terms. read the complete article


21 Jul 2020

Austria to launch Muslim profiling scheme

The center-right People's Party (OVP) and Green Party government in Austria is preparing to institute a controversial surveillance program on Muslims in the country in a supposed bid to fight against so-called "political Islam." The OVP announced that a planned documentation center would be established for "combating anti-Semitism, racism and religion-motivated extremism" and would only carry out suspicionless surveillance on elements of "political Islam." The announcement drew much criticism from academics, rights groups and coalition partner Green Party lawmakers. With these centers, the government, which plans to observe all Muslim associations, mosques and cultural activities, will decide which institutions to cooperate with. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, political scientist from Georgetown University, Farid Hafez said Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz was known to cite supposedly academic research in a bid to bolster his political goals. Hafez said the center would conduct "scientific" studies to serve his government. Warning that the government intentionally avoided sufficiently grounding its concept of "political Islam" to make it a more useful tool against Muslims, he noted that previous mosque closures and headscarf bans had also been associated with political Islam. With this logic, any institution, person or religious activity could be associated with political Islam and subjected to various restrictions and obstacles, added Hafez. read the complete article

United Kingdom

21 Jul 2020

Shamima Begum: What does it mean to be British?

When news broke last week that Shamima Begum won an appeal to be allowed to return to Britain to fight her case, it left me with a question: where does Shamima Begum belong? Bangladesh has washed its hands of her and Britain has taken every possible step to keep her outside the country. It was during The Times interview that the British public’s disdain turned on her. She was interviewed again after giving birth to her third child; the cameras were hovering over her face and her new-born baby in her lap. Everyone dissected every ounce of her humanity. She has been framed as someone who should have been grateful for her life in the UK - a life she should never have thrown away. During the second interview, we met a 19-year-old Shamima. The discussions ever since have revolved around her lack of loyalty to the UK, affirming that she deserved to have her citizenship revoked. Another factor to consider in how Begum has been constructed as someone who was fully aware of what she was doing. This is interesting because Muslim women have been (re)presented as oppressed and incapable of looking out for themselves. However, suddenly in the case of Begum, who was 15 when she left for Syria, she allegedly had full autonomy and knew exactly what she was getting herself involved in. Begum's case shows clearly how frail citizenship status is in the UK. This pattern of otherness that targets certain UK citizens, despite them having spent most or all their lives in the UK, came to the fore during the Windrush scandal in 2018 where British citizens, almost all of African-Caribbean descent, were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Stripping citizenship became a tool weaponised by the state, in the majority of cases, against racialised groups. It illustrates how quickly a person can be designated as "the other" because, in truth, that is what one always was in the eyes of the state, just floating around on the margins waiting to be expelled, to be made stateless. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jul 2020 Edition


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