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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08 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Myanmar’s military allegedly kills civilians, including children, in indiscriminate air attacks in the country’s western Rakhine and Chin states. Exiled Uighurs bring submit evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing Chinese leaders of genocide and crimes against humanity. Our recommended read today is by Bridge Senior Research Fellow Nena Beecham on COVID-19, and how it is revealing deep-seated inequities within our social institutions. This, and more, below:

United States

08 Jul 2020

COVID-19 Racial Disparities are One of Many Outcomes of Structural Racism | Recommended Read

As opposed to earlier calls of being a societal equalizer, COVID-19 has revealed deep-seated inequities within our social institutions and reinforced what many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) have long known about structural racism, particularly in health, employment, and housing. The racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 that are currently playing out are only one feature of a system of larger, historical structures that have ignored the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of BIPOC communities. Black communities across the nation have been at the forefront of harm caused by COVID-19. In a June 2020 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that institutional racism has “contribute[d] to the disproportional impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Black community.” According to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll, “31 percent of black adults say they know someone firsthand who has been killed by the virus, compared with 17 percent of adults who are Hispanic and 9 percent who are white.” Current numbers for Black COVID-19-related deaths are nearly double the percentage of Black Americans in the U.S. population. The COVID Racial Data Tracker reports that Black Americans represent 23% of COVID-19-related deaths where race is known, despite representing only 13% of the population. According to a further May 2020 study completed by the Foundation for AIDS Research and several other organizations, counties across the U.S. with a disproportionate number of African American residents – Black populations of 13 percent or greater – “accounted for 52 percent of diagnoses and 58 percent of coronavirus deaths nationally.” Racial disparities in cases of and deaths related to COVID-19 are closely tied to class, essential jobs, and who has the privilege of working from home. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “a disproportionately high share of black and Hispanic workers cannot telecommute.” In particular, Latinos constitute a noteworthy portion of “the ‘essential’ workforce of grocery store staff, restaurant workers, caretakers, cleaners and delivery workers, and are putting themselves at the frontlines of the pandemic.” A significant portion of essential jobs are also “low-paid ones, where paid leave isn’t an option, let alone the offer of employer-subsidized health insurance.” read the complete article

Recommended Read
08 Jul 2020

Muslim woman files discrimination charge after she says a Target Starbucks barista wrote 'ISIS' on her cup

A Muslim woman has filed a discrimination charge against Target after she said she received a drink from a Target Starbucks barista with "ISIS" written on the cup instead of her name at one of the retail corporation's Minnesota locations. Aishah, who asked to be identified only by her first name out of fear for her safety, is being represented by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), which filed a charge to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Monday. The 19-year-old, who wears a hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women, told CNN she felt singled out for her religious beliefs after seeing "ISIS" -- the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist group known for its radical beliefs and violence -- on her cup. It's unclear if ISIS was written in all caps on the cup. "The moment I saw it, I was overwhelmed with a lot of emotions," Aishah said. "I felt belittled and so humiliated. This is a word that shatters the Muslim reputation all over the world. I cannot believe that in this day and age, something like this can be considered acceptable. It isn't okay." read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

Fewer medical graduates from Muslim countries entering US under Trump

The number of medical graduates coming from Muslim-majority countries to become doctors in the US has fallen by 15 percent since Donald Trump became president, exacerbating shortages in America's physician workforce, a new study has found. The study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) on Monday, noted that the Trump administration's "Muslim ban", upheld through various iterations, played a part in discouraging international medical graduates (IMGs) from applying to practise medicine in the US. read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

Islamophobia: It's Worse Than You Think!

"At 14 years old, I learned that membership in the United States is not permanent,” Nazita Lajevardi, Ph.D., J.D., wrote in Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia (Cambridge University Press, 2020). In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, this daughter of Iranian immigrants saw Muslim women remove their hijabs and Muslim families put American flag stickers on their cars. “My community immediately camouflaged as they waited for the heightened scrutiny on us to dissipate,” she wrote. In the months and years that followed, the spotlight on Muslim Americans intensified with the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and President George W. Bush’s declaration of the “Axis of Evil.” While Lajevardi and her friends worried about prom and college applications, they overheard their parents whisper about buying property abroad and moving to escape “the rising tide of harassment and discrimination. We heard … and we understood that despite having felt ‘at home,’ we were never really welcome.” Since then, the stigmatism of Muslims has grown in America with the implementation of numerous surveillance programs targeting Muslim communities, the rise of ISIS, the prolonged detention of Middle Eastern citizens in the U.S., the pervasive anti-Muslim rhetoric of candidates in the 2016 and 2018 campaign seasons, and President Donald Trump’s travel ban on majority Muslim countries, she wrote. In an interview last week, the Michigan State University assistant professor explained how her research has validated the anxieties she felt growing up as a Muslim American. “The totality of the evidence suggests that the exclusion I was sensing is in fact real and that it is far more pervasive than I had thought.” read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

Facebook meeting with civil rights groups ‘a disappointment,’ ad boycott organizers say

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook leaders met on Tuesday with leaders from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change and Free Press, which are four of the groups that have led the call for what is now a widespread advertiser boycott of Facebook’s platform. In mid-June, they launched the campaign with Sleeping Giants and Common Sense, urging Facebook to do more to stop the spread of hate speech and misinformation. Leaders said the meeting, held via video conference, ran a little over an hour on Tuesday afternoon. “The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Color Of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson during a press conference held via Zoom following the meeting. “They showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance.” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Tuesday morning said he and other leaders planned to ask Facebook to put civil rights leadership inside its C-suite, and ask for regular, independent audits published on how they’re dealing with hate content, among other requests. “We had 10 demands and literally we went through the 10 and we didn’t get commitments or timeframes or clear outcomes,” he said during the press conference following the meeting with Facebook. “We expected specifics, and that’s not what we heard.” read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

Black Americans report hate crimes, violence in wake of George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter gains

Indiana officials are investigating a July Fourth weekend incident in which a white man is accused of yelling about a Black man "get a noose" and pinning him against a tree. This comes after nooses were found hanging in Las Vegas, Portland and Baltimore, a noose was used to target a Black person at work in Nebraska and a Black man at home in Delaware. It follows five Black men found hanging from trees in California, New York, Texas and New Jersey — all ruled as suicides, despite activists' calls for deeper investigations. A range of disturbing incidents have happened since George Floyd's death and subsequent protests against racism and police brutality. In Illinois, a man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly riding his motorcycle into a protest and hitting two people. Authorities say a KKK leader tried to run his car through a group of peaceful protesters in Virginia. Video shows a white man accelerating his car toward a Black woman in a Wisconsin parking lot. When it comes to symbols of faith, gunshots damaged a historically Black church in Kentucky and five white people face hate crime charges for an alleged attack on a Black pastor in Virginia. When it comes to families, a viral video shows a white woman pointing a gun at a Black family in a Michigan parking lot and a Black Muslim woman and her two children allegedly had a gun pulled on them by their neighbor in Washington state. Across the U.S., Black people have reported incidents of alleged hate crimes — criminal offenses motivated by bias. As the Black Lives Matter social justice movement has rallied demonstrators and gained support across racial groups, concerns have arisen about violent backlash targeting people of color, similar to the ones that have played out during previous movements against racism. The incidents have left many Black Americans fearing for their safety. read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

IACHR Condemns Guantánamo Abuses in First “War on Terror” Decision

On May 27, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a long-awaited decision in which it held the United States internationally responsible for the torture and refoulement of Djamel Ameziane, a former Guantánamo detainee. The 70-page merits report marks the first time the IACHR has examined the substance of any complaint related to the “war on terror,” and it is the only decision by any supranational human rights body, to date, to comprehensively assess an individual’s allegations of abuse at Guantánamo. It provides a companion piece to the jurisprudence already developed by other human rights courts and monitoring bodies with regard to (mostly European) States’ responsibilities toward detainees held at Guantánamo and CIA black sites. It also applies the IACHR’s previous criticism and recommendations on Guantánamo, conditions of detention there, detainees’ legal status and access to judicial protection, torture, refoulement, and other abuses carried out in the name of counter-terrorism. The decision is an essential legal and moral vindication for Djamel Ameziane and the 40 people who remain detained at Guantánamo (and at risk, including from COVID-19), although its broader impact remains to be determined. While immediate implementation is unlikely, given the U.S. government’s resistance to human rights oversight, I am hopeful the IACHR’s recommendations will shape public, legal, and political opinion regarding much-needed reforms. On this point, nearly 19 years from 9/11, the decision is a necessary and timely reminder of the war on terror’s dangerous and dominoing consequences in the absence of accountability, from expanded executive power, to the militarization of policing and borders, and increased Islamophobia. The kinds of abuses and impunity it details are why the International Criminal Court is investigating U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, despite attacks by the Trump administration on the Court’s personnel. In this way, the Ameziane decision highlights anew the need for continued, multi-pronged advocacy to remedy (and prevent repetition of) the human rights violations of the war on terror, while providing a welcome tool for that struggle. read the complete article


08 Jul 2020

SHEIN Stopped Selling Prayer Mats as “Decorative” Rugs After Muslim Activists Lobbied Against It

Khadija Rizvi was baffled when she saw fashion brand SHEIN selling look-alikes of the mats she prays on in their “home decor” section. “I scrolled down their website in the rugs section and came across these seven prayer mats sold as ‘tassel trim carpets.’ My response was complete anger,” she told Teen Vogue. Growing up in a Pakistani household, 24-year-old journalism student and activist Rizvi, from England, says prayer mats have always been a sacred place to kneel — so she was outraged when she saw commenters on the website say that they used the rugs on coffee tables and for pet feeding areas. Some of the rugs she saw had the Kaaba on it, a religious symbol with historical significance, which led Rizvi to believe this was “religious appropriation.” “We don’t wear our shoes on it. We put it in a clean place, a place for regular use where we connect with God,” she said. American Muslim fashion influencer and inclusivity activist, Nabela Noor, said Rizvi’s post was shared with her by one of her followers, which prompted her to share the message with millions. “I posted about their actions on my social media platforms, which spread like wildfire,” Noor told Teen Vogue. Two days later, Noor tweeted an apology from SHEIN. She said she reached out to the brand directly and had a conversation with them, asking them to remove the products. read the complete article

08 Jul 2020

Exiled Uighurs bring first-ever ICC claim against China

Two exiled Uighur activist groups have joined forces to submit evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing Chinese leaders of genocide and crimes against humanity, in the first ever attempt to use international law instruments against Beijing. The claims were submitted by UK-based lawyers and the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, outlining how Uighurs were forcibly deported from their homes in Tajikistan and Cambodia to the Chinese province of Xinjiang. "Upon return to China they [Uighurs] have been subjected to crimes together with many other detained Uyghurs including murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, forced birth control and sterilization, and forced marriages," the East Turkistan Government in Exile claims said in a statement. The evidence submitted includes "descriptions of brutal torture through electrocution, humiliation in the form of being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, mandatory insertion of IUD birth control for Uyghur women of child-bearing age", the group claims. As China is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, the ICC does not normally have jurisdiction over cases brought against Beijing. 7) Myanmar air raids 'that killed children amount to war crimes' (Myanmar) Myanmar's military has killed civilians, including children, in indiscriminate air attacks amid worsening conflict in the country's western Rakhine and Chin states, a prominent rights group has said, urging the United Nations Security Council to launch a war crimes investigation. In a report on Wednesday, Amnesty International said it collected new evidence showing Myanmar's military - also known as the Tatmadaw - bombed several villages in Chin state in March and April, killing more than a dozen people. One witness who was interviewed remotely told the group that an air raid in Paletwa Township on March 14 and 15 killed his uncle, his brother and his brother's 16-year-old friend. Two people from another family in the same village cluster said nine people, including a seven-year-old boy, were also killed in the bombardment. "Our family is destroyed," the boy's father told Amnesty. read the complete article

New Zealand

08 Jul 2020

Muslim women's group warned of threat to mosques 'on day of Christchurch attack'

In a submission to a closed-door inquiry into the attack, the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ) said a threat had been made to burn a Quran outside a New Zealand mosque on 15 March 2019. Police initially dismissed reports of the threat until the council insisted it be followed up. While the threat was not made by the man guilty of the attacks, the IWCNZ told the royal commission that increased police presence outside mosques on the day could have slowed down or prevented the attack. In their submission, which has not yet been made public, the group accused the police of failing to "develop a national strategy to deal with threats against Muslims and mosques". IWCNZ had tried to raise awareness about the specific threat posed by far-right groups to the highest levels of the country's government as early as 2015. Their concerns were repeatedly dismissed by authorities, according to their submission. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jul 2020 Edition


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