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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28 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: International pressure grows on India over arbitrary detentions. In Australia, Muslim women cook free meals for struggling families during Melbourne’s second lockdown. Our recommended read today is by Adom Getachew titled “Colonialism Made the Modern World. Let’s Remake It.” This, and more, below:


28 Jul 2020

Colonialism Made the Modern World. Let’s Remake It. | Recommended Read

In the past few years, decolonization has gained new political currency — inside the borders of the old colonial powers. Indigenous movements have reclaimed the mantle of “decolonization” in protests like those at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline. Students from South Africa to Britain have marched under its banner to challenge Eurocentric curriculums. Museums such as the Natural History Museum in New York and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels have been compelled to confront their representation of colonized African and Indigenous peoples. But what is “decolonization?” What the word means and what it requires have been contested for a century. After World War I, European colonial administrators viewed decolonization as the process in which they would allow their imperial charges to graduate to independence by modeling themselves on European states. But in the mid-20th century, anticolonial activists and intellectuals demanded immediate independence and refused to model their societies on the terms set by imperialists. Between 1945 and 1975, as struggles for independence were won in Africa and Asia, United Nations membership grew from 51 to 144 countries. In that period, decolonization was primarily political and economic. As more colonies gained independence, however, cultural decolonization became more significant. European political and economic domination coincided with a Eurocentrism that valorized European civilization as the apex of human achievement. Indigenous cultural traditions and systems of knowledge were denigrated as backward and uncivilized. The colonized were treated as people without history. The struggle against this has been especially central in settler colonies in which the displacement of Indigenous institutions was most violent. Laying a flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the statue of King Leopold or hauling the Colston statue into the sea, where thousands of enslaved women and men lost their lives, tears apart the blinders and boundaries between past and present, metropole and colony. Insisting on the presence of the past, the protests reveal Europe’s romance with itself, unmasking its political and economic achievements as the product of enslavement and colonial exploitation. This historical reckoning is only the first step. Acknowledging that colonial history shapes the current inequalities and hierarchies that structure the world sets the stage for the next one: reparations and restitution. read the complete article

Recommended Read
28 Jul 2020

Claims China’s Uyghur people face genocide cannot be ignored – Christine Jardine MP

Genocide is the increasingly compelling conclusion to be drawn from what evidence we have – including drone footage of the mass movement of prisoners and the seizure of 13 tonnes of human hair by US authorities – about the plight of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority, writes Christine Jardine MP. Former prisoners have spoken of physical and psychological torture. Entire families have disappeared. Human rights organisations report forced sterilisation of Uyghur women. The same BBC programme with the footage of the hordes of prisoners carried the harrowing account of a woman who had been sterilised. And US customs authorities recently seized 13 tonnes of human hair, believed to be from the Uyghur minority. The evidence of persecution, brutal suppression, is mounting. Genocide is the increasingly compelling conclusion. But what is the international community doing to scrutinise and hold the Chinese Communist Party to account for this emerging atrocity? read the complete article

28 Jul 2020

Turkey accused of deporting Uighurs back to China via third countries

Turkey has been accused of deporting Uighur Muslims back to China via third countries that neighbour the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands are said to be held in concentration camps. Uighur Muslims who spoke to the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper said they feared their relatives had been taken to Tajikistan before they were extradited to China. The relatives of Almuzi Kuwanhan, a 59-year-old mother of two who fled to Turkey, fear she has been taken back to China. Her family told the Sunday Telegraph that Kuwanhan had been detained in Izmir deportation centre before she was taken to Tajikistan, a country she has no ties to. Ankara denies that it has deported Uighur Muslims to China, but activists fear that Turkey has sent them back via third countries such as Tajikistan, where it is easier for Beijing to secure their extradition. Fears over Kuwanhan's fate comes as Istanbul's Uighur community continues to live on edge after Middle East Eye reported that Turkey had threatened to deport Uighur refugees back to China. read the complete article

United States

28 Jul 2020

Married Couple Affected By Muslim Travel Ban, Pandemic Constraints

Travel restrictions in this pandemic have kept thousands of couples apart around the world. One of them is an Indian-American math teacher and a Syrian-Kurdish web developer. They haven't seen each other in six months. And this is not the first ban they have faced. Aysha Shedbalkar and Rezan Al Ibrahim met four years ago at a refugee camp in northern Greece. She was spending her school breaks volunteering at the camp. He was stranded there with his mom and brothers. He loved her kindness. She admired his sense of joy. They got engaged in January 2017, the same month President Trump banned citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. AL IBRAHIM: The law shouldn't do this. The law should protect people who want to be together. Like, we are not doing a crime or something, so the law will be against that. You're just separating people from each other, you know? SHEDBALKAR: We were devastated. That dream that I had of having my husband and maybe some kids and a house and, like, all this stuff were, like, inside of a coffin. And that - the last nail had been nailed into that coffin. SHEDBALKAR: When COVID happened, I think a lot of people felt in some way how we have been feeling for almost four years of our life, you know? read the complete article

28 Jul 2020

Candyman Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Faced Pressure to Change His Muslim Name

When Candyman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was first trying to find his break in Hollywood, the actor was asked if he would be willing to change his Muslim name and be credited as Yahya Mateen. He was even asked if he'd be OK with simply being credited as Yahya. These supposed choices, however, were never a feasible option for the actor, who is proud and resolute to represent his heritage and beliefs through his name. "Growing up in a Muslim and a Christian household, I developed a very strong connection to God," Abdul-Mateen II told GQ. He credited this upbringing and openness to other ways of thinking for developing his respectful curiosity regarding other people and their beliefs, all while maintaining steadfast regard for his own heritage -- something he aims to maintain throughout his cinematic career as he now finds success and validation, credited, as he always wished, by his full name. Not only is this choice honoring his father and his family, but it also provides inspiration to people worldwide. Abdul-Mateen II confessed how his name isn't necessarily the "name you'd pick out of a hat" and acknowledged how it's not the traditional name to receive top billing on a movie poster. He argued, however, that this is what allows it to be so inspiring to people: "I get messages all the time saying, 'Thank you brother for representing for us Muslims. I was thinking about changing my name, but now that I see you, I’ll never change it.' read the complete article

28 Jul 2020

Ramy Youssef: ‘Ricky Gervais talks about God so much, he might be Muslim!’

Nuanced, funny and humanising, Youssef’s eponymous TV show, Ramy, gets under the skin of his internal struggles as a young, second-generation Egyptian American, as he navigates what it means to be a good person and a good Muslim. It calls to mind series such as Dave, I May Destroy You or Fleabag – shows based on flawed but likable protagonists, addressing questions of morality for a millennial audience with humour and darkness. As it’s currently tricky to stream in the UK (it is available on Amazon’s StarzPlay channel here), you may not have heard of it. But, with a Golden Globe win earlier this year and season two guest-starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, momentum is building round both the man and the show. Like TV Ramy, real-life Ramy grew up in New Jersey, visiting his grandparents in New York on weekends and spending his summers in Cairo. Real Ramy was into comedy and film-making as a hobby, but it was Laith Nakli (who plays Uncle Naseem in Ramy) who convinced him to seriously pursue acting when they met at a comedy festival more than 10 years ago. At 20, Youssef landed a job on a Nickelodeon sitcom and moved to LA, where he managed to sell Ramy before he even had a standup special out. The focus of the series is not just Ramy himself. Some of the most groundbreaking episodes are when the lens moves away from him and focuses on the other members of his family. Each is viewed with affection, but none are without their own, sometimes infuriating flaws. Ramy’s father defines himself by his work and struggles when he loses his job, while his chauvinistic brother-in-law, Ramy’s uncle Naseem, is a successful businessman. Best of all is his neurotic mother (Succession’s Hiam Abbass) whose unsolicited advice and objectionable opinions are reminiscent of a classic Arab auntie. What is striking is how her character appears in the episodes away from her children, where she is revealed as more than just a mother: complex and conflicted like Ramy himself, with her own sexual desires and frustrations. “I want to look at the way that we stereotype ourselves,” Youssef says. Many of the themes raised in the show are universal, from the differences between generations to what it means to be a man. “How has Ramy been influenced by the way he’s been treated versus the way his sister’s been treated by their mother and father?” asks Youssef. “It’s like he has been babied so much because he’s a boy that it’s prevented him from becoming a man, or even just a version of his potential.” In an age when tribalism groups people according to politics, race and experience, it is refreshing to see such seemingly contradictory yet relatable characters existing even within a nuclear family. The struggle isn’t just about “us” and “them”. As a practising Muslim, Ramy doesn’t simply have to contend with an Islamophobic society; some of his biggest issues are coming to terms with himself and his relationship with his own faith. “I think for every character, very much so for the Ramy character, it’s ‘me versus me’,” he explains. “Whether it be with writers who are in our room or whether it be with people who are in my life, I try to imagine: what are they hiding?” read the complete article


28 Jul 2020

Coronavirus: Muslim women cook free meals for struggling families during Melbourne’s second lockdown

A group of Muslim women has come together to feed Melbourne’s most vulnerable people amid the city’s second Covid-19 lockdown. Lawyers, teachers and healthcare professionals volunteer their time every Friday to cook meals for those struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. Afshan Mantoo, chairperson of Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria Inc. and head of the volunteer group, said she hoped the programme would help change attitudes about Muslim women’s participation in Australian society. “There is a stereotype of women in hijab that they are not doing anything for the community,” Ms Mantoo told SBS Urdu. “When someone takes food, they say, ‘oh! a Muslim woman is doing something’; it feels good.” read the complete article


28 Jul 2020

Concentration Camps. Police State and Now Forced Birth Control: How China is Committing Genocide Against Uighur Muslims

China’s decades-long repression of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang (referred to by many Uighurs as East Turkestan) drastically increased in its brutality and reach in 2017. Since then, Beijing has transformed the region into a police state equipped with advanced technology aimed at documenting and tracking every aspect of Muslims’ lives in the region. Coupled with facial recognition software, mandatory surveillance apps on their phones, and even collection of DNA samples, Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang are also facing the “largest mass incarceration of an ethnic-religious minority since the second world war.” Those detained in camps endure psychological and physical torture is routine; the remaining population lives under constant watch and fear. Their every move, whether it be physical or virtual, is monitored and tracked, and they are unable to communicate with their loved ones who live abroad. Journalists who enter the region to investigate are followed by government officials, thus making it very difficult to obtain direct information. However, through the activism and bravery of Uighur Muslims abroad, and analysis by academics and other experts, we’ve been able to get a picture of what is occurring in Xinjiang. The most recent analysis by Dr. Adrian Zenz demonstrates the lengths the CCP is going to in its effort to eradicate the Uighur Muslim peoples. In light of the revelations made by Dr. Zenz, along with growing evidence coming from personal stories and experiences of Uighurs and leaked government documents on the activities in the region, many are rightfully concluding that the CCP’s ultimate goal in Xinjiang is the genocide of the Uighurs. read the complete article


28 Jul 2020

Malaysia finds Rohingya feared drowned hiding on island

Twenty-six Rohingya refugees, who had been feared drowned while trying to swim ashore close to the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi, have been found alive, hiding in the vegetation on a nearby islet, a senior coastguard official said on Monday. Malaysia does not recognise refugee status, but the country is a common destination for the mostly Muslim Rohingya, hundreds of thousands of whom live in densely populated camps in Bangladesh after escaping a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. Late on Saturday, one Rohingya man swam ashore from a small boat off Langkawi's west coast. Officials had feared the rest of the group had drowned while trying to reach the beach, but they were later discovered on another small island just off the coast. "They were found hiding in the bushes," Mohd Zubil Mat Som, director-general of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in a text message to Reuters news agency. Authorities have detained the refugees. read the complete article


28 Jul 2020

For Myanmar's Elections to Be Free and Fair Rohingya Must Get the Right to Vote

The Rohingya are an ethnic and religious minority, mostly Muslim, indigenous to western Myanmar; and today, far more live outside the country than inside. The reason for this is summed up in a word: genocide. In October 2016 and August 2017, the Myanmar military responded to nascent Rohingya militancy with full-scale attacks on civilians, forcing more than 800,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. They have no hope of safely returning to Myanmar anytime soon, and this creates new but surmountable logistical challenges for the 2020 elections. Rohingya-led refugee groups have already said they want the government to facilitate voting from the camps in Bangladesh. One of these organizations, called the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), has urged Myanmar to set up voter registration and polling in collaboration with the Bangladesh authorities. Many other Rohingya have since reiterated the request. Some in Myanmar dismiss this option out-of-hand, calling it unfeasible. But this is a cop-out. In 2004, some 850,000 Afghan refugees voted in their country’s first presidential election from camps in Pakistan and Iran and through absentee ballots. In that case, concerned governments and international humanitarian organizations did their part to ensure refugees could exercise their right to vote. Myanmar and its bilateral partners could do the same. read the complete article


28 Jul 2020

International pressure grows on India over arbitrary detentions

Pressure is growing on the Indian government to release a number of political activists and students - a couple of whom have since contracted COVID-19 - who are currently being held under a draconian anti-terror law in what human rights advocates say are politically motivated attempts to stifle dissent. A number of politically active students - including a pregnant woman - have been detained amid the pandemic in which India has become one of the worst hit. Charges have been filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against the students for their alleged role in the Delhi riots in February. Nearly 60 people - mostly Muslims - were killed, thousands were injured, and homes, businesses and mosques were destroyed by Hindu men in some of the worst communal violence the country has seen in decades. The nearly week-long riots hit the capital city as Prime Minister Modi hosted US President Donald Trump during his high-profile visit to the country. Delhi police have accused the students of conspiracy to incite communal violence, and those jailed include Jamia Millia Islamia University students, Meeran Haider and pregnant student activist Safoora Zargar, who has since been granted bail on humanitarian grounds. Other jailed students include Sharjeel Imam, formerly from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), on charges of sedition following his political speeches, while a number of others have been charged. Imam has since tested positive for COVID-19 in jail. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Jul 2020 Edition


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