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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29 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: France calls for a UN-led observer mission to evaluate China’s treatment of Uighurs, as Covid-19 outbreak in Xinjiang prompts fears of spread inside internment camps. In the U.S, Ramy becomes the first Muslim-American sitcom to recieve an Emmy nomination. Our recommended read today is by Nadira Kourt on the ongoing violence in Arakan, Myanmar, and the ongoing failure of the international community to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice. This, and more, below:


29 Jul 2020

The Rohingya Genocide and the ICJ: The Role of the International Community | Recommended Read

The words “prevention” and “never again” ring hollow when the world’s most powerful, including the United Nations Security Council, did little as a genocide against the Rohingya was unfolding in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Most governments simply failed to act when action to prevent escalation and respond to atrocities was most needed. The only formal response of the Security Council to the genocide against the Rohingya was the adoption of a November 2017 Presidential Statement – three months after the start of the Myanmar military’s abusive “clearance operations.” Individual governments, meanwhile, were slow to impose sanctions and withdraw support for Myanmar’s military, if they did so at all. State parties to the Genocide Convention were also silent, even after the U.N. Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission issued a 2018 report finding “reasonable grounds to conclude” that Myanmar’s military had committed acts of genocide against the Rohingya, along with other atrocity crimes. While many countries privately recognized that the path to state responsibility for the Rohingya genocide was a lawsuit away, the lack of political courage and the prospect of upsetting an important trading partner – China – meant that no nation dared to initiate legal action at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for more than two years since 2017’s escalation of state violence against the Rohingya. Ultimately, it was the smallest country in mainland Africa – Gambia – that filed a case at the ICJ in November 2019. Gambia accused Myanmar of violating the Genocide Convention and requested the Court to issue provisional measures in order “to protect against further, irreparable harm to the rights of the Rohingya group,” in its application. Two months later, the ICJ ordered Myanmar to prevent genocidal acts generally, to specifically ensure military and police forces do not commit genocidal acts, to preserve all evidence of genocidal acts, and to report back to the court on compliance with these measures. read the complete article

Recommended Read
29 Jul 2020

The Oil Industry Needs To Sacrifice Profits To Help Chinese Uighurs

With a population nearing 1.5 billion people, China is the world’s biggest market, and it has the second largest GDP. China also exerts influence globally with its huge military—with more than two million active duty personnel—and its veto power on the United Nations Security Council. But it is the economic might and the prospect of even more economic influence out of Beijing that keeps much of the world silent on issues like the persecution and ghastly mistreatment of the ethnic minority Uighur Muslims. The global oil trade plays a major part in that. While Saudi Arabia is the the religious center of the Islamic world and the second richest Muslim-majority country (after Indonesia), it and its regional allies will not criticize China. China is a very good oil customer. In fact, in February of 2019, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, actually defended China’s imprisonment of this large Muslim minority group. Bin Salman dressed up China’s atrocities as anti-terror actions, an excuse often used by his own kingdom and others to silence and persecute parts of their own populations. Saudi Arabia backs China for the same reason so many Americans and American corporations do, despite the evidence of vile atrocities. In fact, Saudi Arabia is even more dependent on revenue from China than almost anyone else, and that dependence has become more pronounced in recent years. In 2019, 24% of Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports went to China. Using the average price of Brent oil ($64.28/barrel), Aramco had about $40 billion in revenue from crude oil sales to China. That alone makes up 12% of Aramco's 2019 revenue and does not even include petroleum products sold to China or revenue from Aramco's numerous joint refining and petrochemical ventures with Chinese companies, both in China and in Saudi Arabia. Simply put, China accounts for such a large component of Aramco's revenue, and Aramco provides 60% of the Saudi budget. The Saudi monarchy feels that it cannot risk criticizing Chinese policy, even the persecution of the Uighur Muslims. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

Will Canada stand with Uyghurs—and against 'modern slavery?'

While the Trudeau government is coming under increasing pressure to extricate Canada from commercial supply chains compromised by slave labour in China, a frustrated senior Liberal MP says the Prime Minister’s Office appears to be ignoring mounting evidence that China’s persecuted Uyghur minority, after being rounded up into re-education camps in the northwestern province if Xinjiang, is now being corralled into industrial gulags to satisfy the needs of global corporations. “We simply cannot be a nation that professes what we purport to profess and continue to turn a wilful or negligent blind eye to the evidence of what is clear is going on,” says John McKay, chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. “But sometimes, governments don’t see what’s blindingly obvious.” For two years, McKay has been attempting to push Parliament to adopt a new law, the Modern Slavery Act, which would require corporations doing business in Canada to ensure their supply chains are uncontaminated by forced labour and child labour. The law would provide for fines of up to $250,000 for violators and amend the Customs Tariff to allow the Canadian Border Services Agency to ban slave-labour goods from entering Canada. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

France Calls For UN-Led Observer Mission to Evaluate China's Treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

Days after the United States sanctioned senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party, ally France has called for a United Nations-led observer mission to evaluate the treatment of Uyghurs by China. In a statement issued by the French Foreign Ministery on Tuesday, it called upon the UN to lead a mission to Xinjiang province of China. read the complete article

United States

29 Jul 2020

'Ramy' is the first Muslim American sitcom to receive an Emmy nomination

"Alhamdulillah." Ramy Youssef's response to being nominated on Tuesday for an Emmy Award was to simply thank God. The co-creator and star of Hulu's "Ramy" was nominated for outstanding lead actor and outstanding directing in a comedy series. Co-star Mahershala Ali earned a nod for his season 2 supporting role. "Ramy" becomes the first Muslim American sitcom to score an Emmy nomination. In the show, Ramy Hassan (Youssef), a first-generation Egyptian American, struggles to balance his cultural and religious values alongside his American millennial ways. "Ramy" celebrates the Muslim faith while laying bare a host of community issues. Although "Ramy" focuses on a Muslim American character, the show found a wide audience with millennials of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds who could relate to the character's anxiety over his romantic life, career aspirations and overbearing parents. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

Emmys: Ramy Youssef Thinks Every Network Should Add a Muslim Show

His show, “Ramy” on Hulu, was nominated for three Emmy Awards on Tuesday: Youssef for outstanding lead actor and for directing in a comedy and Mahershala Ali for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy. This isn’t the first time Youssef has been recognized for his semi-autobiographical hit, which follows a Muslim man in New Jersey as he grapples with his faith and the tribulations of adulthood. The 29-year-old Egyptian-American comic, who stars in, writes, produces and directs “Ramy,” won a Golden Globe in January for best lead actor in a comedy. On Tuesday, he talked about the nomination, why awards shows feel like a “weird ancient ritual,” and what’s next for “Ramy.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation. You put your religion center in the story, but you’ve said that you don’t necessarily want to be a stand in for Muslim-Americans. How do you thread that needle? I really thread it by talking about the things that are important to me, and that’s why the show is called “Ramy” — not only things that are important to me, but the things that me and my team can talk about in a thoughtful way. So we cover the things that are organic to our story, that are organic to our characters. And there’s a lot left on the table that needs to be dug in. We just got a third season and we’re excited to dig in to it more. There are so many perspectives that fall under the umbrella of Muslim. So I just personally am very aware of not taking on that responsibility, because I was not elected by the Muslims. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

China’s Muslim Uighurs Are Stuck in U.S. Immigration Limbo

Kalbinur Awut came to the U.S. in 2015 from China’s far west for graduate study. Soon after arriving at the University of Rhode Island, she applied for political asylum. A member of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, she had been harassed in China for wearing headscarves and was briefly detained after she applied to study overseas. When she signed into a website run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this month to check her status, the same old message greeted her, with her wait time the only update: “Your case has been pending with USCIS for 1,796 days, not including delays,” it said. Roughly around the same time, changes in U.S. asylum policies slowed the process for many of those claiming risk in their home countries. As a result, while the Trump administration is targeting China with various Xinjiang-related sanctions, hundreds of Uighurs like Ms. Awut are in U.S. immigration limbo with asylum bids hung up for years. Applicants say that they are grateful the U.S. lets them work while awaiting a decision, but that their options are limited as prospective employers or landlords can be wary about their legal status. Lawyer charges and fees to renew work permits and temporary legal documents like driver’s licenses are a constant worry. Their quasi-legal status also leaves them at risk of deportation. USCIS said its backlog for those seeking asylum, which provides a path to permanent residence and citizenship, was about 340,000 as of last September, the latest figures available, which equates to several years worth of cases. A few hundred Uighurs are in that queue, among Syrians fleeing civil war, Rohingya forced out of Myanmar and Hondurans fearing gang violence, according to lawyers. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

A Million Votes: Why Biden Is Making Unprecedented Efforts to Court Muslim Americans

Biden’s campaign is currently doing “the most substantial outreach that the Muslim community has ever received from a presidential nominee,” said Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and one of the leading experts on Muslim public opinion in the United States. “I don’t think there’s even been a party nominee that has done this level of outreach,” Mogahed told Haaretz in a phone interview. A person who advised several presidential campaigns on Muslim outreach, and who asked not to be named in order to discuss internal campaign information, seconded that. “Hillary Clinton never did something like this, and neither did Barack Obama or John Kerry,” the former adviser said. The fact Biden is doing more to win support in the Muslim community than previous Democratic presidential nominees is somewhat surprising – both Clinton and Obama were considered more to the left of Biden, who has a long track record as a centrist and moderate Democrat. In this year’s Democratic primary, the candidate who seemed to energize and inspire the Muslim community most was progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, not Biden. Mogahed thinks Biden’s approach to the Muslim community is a testament to the community’s growing electoral importance. The United States is home to some 3.5 million Muslims – just over 1 percent of the population. Though this makes Muslims one of the smallest faith groups in America, they’re concentrated in several important swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. In all of these states, 1 percent of the population could be enough to swing the election – and thus determine the identity of the next president. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

Will the No Ban Act become another dead bill in Mitch McConnell's 'legislative graveyard'?

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed the No Ban Act, which would repeal Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" and limit the president from imposing future restrictions based on religion. With 233 in favour and 183 against, the passage of the bill in the Democrat-controlled House sent a strong message about the party's stance on immigration, but it now faces a transfer to the Republican-controlled Senate, leading many to call the vote largely symbolic. Mitch McConnell, who has been the Senate Majority Leader since 2015, has refused to even allow debate on hundreds of bills passed by the Democrat-led House. As of February, 395 bills were being blocked by Senator McConnell, gaining him the nickname "Grim Reaper" from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has called his desk a "legislative graveyard". Meanwhile, McConnell has accused House Democrats of purposely passing partisan legislation. Lawmakers have objected to McConnell's refusal, saying the legislation should at least be brought up for debate, whether or not the Republican-controlled Senate plans to pass them. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

Netflix's Searing Docuseries Immigration Nation Is the Most Important TV Show You'll See in 2020

A young father in handcuffs and chains breaks down crying as he recalls how his 3-year-old son grasped onto his leg when ICE separated them. “Where,” he demands, “are the good Americans?” These are just a few of the vignettes that have been haunting me since I watched Immigration Nation, an explosive documentary that comes to Netflix on Aug. 3. Trophy co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz’s six-part series offers a complex, 360-degree view of the American immigration system, combining in-depth research, empathetic storytelling and bold investigative journalism into a uniquely urgent humanitarian appeal. The project has already made national headlines thanks to pushback from ICE and the President. The New York Times recently reported that the Trump administration tried to block the filmmakers’ use of some footage, threatened legal action against their production company and “fought mightily to keep [the series] from being released until after the 2020 election.” Clusiau and Schwarz’s attorney told the paper that ICE’s intimidation tactics were even more aggressive. The government was probably right to be worried. As damning for the executive branch as it is illuminating for civilians, Immigration Nation is easily the most important TV show of the year. It’s these human portraits that allow Clusiau and Schwarz to highlight so many aspects of this decades-old, newly intensified humanitarian crisis in the space of just six hours. (A few glaring omissions, such as the Trump administration travel ban that opponents dubbed a “Muslim ban” because of the restrictions it placed on refugees, immigrants and visitors from several nations with large Muslim populations, suggest room for a sequel.) A docuseries that could have fallen into the Cops trap of trading rare access for a sympathetic portrayal of state power, as ICE must originally have hoped, thus turns out to be a sort of anti-Cops. Rather than a battle between good vs. evil, or white hats vs. “bad hombres,” Immigration Nation makes a compelling case that what’s happening at our southern border is a test of American empathy. And as it stands, we’re failing. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

After Being Called Out For Racism, What Comes Next?

Three days after George Floyd was killed by police, a series of anti-Black, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ social media posts from Wadi's daughter, Lianne Wadi, dating back to 2012 and 2016, came to light. Wadi fired his daughter as director of catering within hours of the posts resurfacing, saying the behavior wouldn't be tolerated at the business. But in the midst of mass protests against police brutality and systemic anti-Black racism, the reaction from the public was swift. Holy Land was evicted from one location over the posts, where it had a butcher store and deli. It has lost millions of dollars in contracts for its renowned hummus, closed its factory and two other Holy Land locations and laid off at least 46 people, mostly immigrants and people of color, in the face of a boycott campaign. The incident also opened deep wounds in Minneapolis' ethnically and racially diverse Muslim communities about anti-Blackness. This, in addition to the call to police that led to George Floyd's death coming from a Palestinian Muslim-owned corner store, has become emblematic of the way systemic racism goes beyond the halls of power and seeps into businesses owned by non-Black people of color. Now, Majdi Wadi is trying to save the business and his family's reputation. He says he's also determined to make amends for his daughter's posts and learn to be an ally fighting anti-Blackness going forward. To figure out how to do that, Wadi called on the most prominent African American Muslim leader in Minneapolis: Imam Makram El-Amin. read the complete article


29 Jul 2020

Indian PM to attend temple groundbreaking at disputed site: Trust

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a groundbreaking ceremony next month for a Hindu temple on a disputed site in northern India where a 16th-century mosque was torn down by a Hindu mob in 1992, according to the trust overseeing the temple's construction. The ceremony is set for August 5, a date organisers said was astrologically auspicious for Hindus but that also marks a year since New Delhi revoked the semi-autonomous status of its only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir. The symbolism was impossible to miss for both supporters and opponents of Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The right-wing party's manifesto had for decades included pledges to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its autonomy and to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram where the Mughal-era Babri Mosque once stood, a site in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state that devotees believe to be Ram's birthplace. read the complete article


29 Jul 2020

Concentration camps and forced labor: China’s repression of the Uighurs, explained

Jewher’s father was targeted by the Chinese government for his advocacy of Uighur rights. But in recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has arbitrarily detained between 1 million and 3 million other Uighurs in so-called “reeducation centers” and forced them to undergo psychological indoctrination programs, such as studying communist propaganda and giving thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese officials have also reportedly used waterboarding and other forms of torture, including sexual abuse, as part of the indoctrination process. It is the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II. The concentration camps are the most extreme example of China’s inhumane policies against the Uighurs, but even those outside the camps are subject to repressive policies. China has used mass surveillance to turn Xinjiang into a high-tech police state. Another recent investigation found evidence that Chinese authorities subjected Uighur women to mass sterilization, forcing them to take birth control or have abortions and putting them in camps if they resist. Some have argued this attempt to control the Uighur population meets the United Nations’ definition of genocide. The Chinese government, however, claims that the camps are merely vocational and training centers, and that they’re teaching people job skills. It has justified the oppression in Xinjiang as an attempt to clamp down on terrorism and extremism emanating from the Uighur separatist movement. read the complete article

29 Jul 2020

Covid-19 outbreak in Xinjiang prompts fears of spread inside China's camps

Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in the Xinjiang region has sparked fears the outbreak could reach the secretive internment camps where China is believed to have detained more than a million Muslim minority people. On Monday, Chinese health authorities reported 68 new cases of Covid-19, including 57 in the far western region of Xinjiang, bringing the area’s reported total to 235. After a reported five-month streak of no infections in Xinjiang, the outbreak that began almost two weeks ago has appeared to take hold in the capital city of Urumqi, and spread to Kashgar about 300km away. The region is home to China’s program of mass incarceration of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims, which has drawn international condemnation and accusations that the detention, abuse, surveillance and restrictions on religious and cultural beliefs amount to cultural genocide. The accusations are strenuously denied by Beijing despite growing evidence and international pressure. It claims its policies are to counter terrorism, but the camps are kept secret from the public and international inspectors. Last week, Urumqi went into “war-time” mode, with parts of the city designated medium or high risk. Some public transport and most flights were suspended, and mass testing began for all residents. District authorities also “strengthened [housing] compound management”, which included disinfection of public areas and restrictions on people visiting other households. Group activities were suspended, and all residents urged against travel out of the city. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Jul 2020 Edition


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