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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09 Jul 2020

Today in Islamophobia: A cop in Toronto is reportedly under investigation for Islamophobic posts. Writing for The New Arab, Bridge Senior Research Fellow Mobashra Tazamal outlines Stephen Miller’s role in the mainstreaming of white nationalism in the U.S. Our recommended read today is by Hikmet Karcic titled “Justifying Genocide: How the Global Far Right Has Embraced Serbia’s Deadly Demonization of Muslims.” This, and more, below:


09 Jul 2020

Justifying Genocide: How the Global Far Right Has Embraced Serbia’s Deadly Demonization of Muslims | Recommended Read

From Bosnia to Breivik: 25 years after Srebrenica, its perpetrators’ heirs are glorifying their genocide. Their claim to have 'saved' the Christian West has made them a model for white nationalist terrorists everywhere. For many years, the Serbian media has pushed the narrative that the 1995 Srebrenica genocide is an international conspiracy aimed at defaming the Serbs. They have enjoyed a constant measure of success. During and right after the war, the Serbian establishment denied there had been a genocide of Bosnian Muslims or that Bosnian Serbs had been perpetrators in that genocide or any of the other mass atrocities committed between 1992 and 1995. Already well-hidden mass graves were dug up and removed to multiple secondary and tertiary locations; the media, academia and Church denied the atrocities and continued to support and defend the Miloševic regime. Over time, the propaganda machinery became more sophisticated and organized. It built on pre-war propaganda that pushed the message to ordinary Serbs that the Ottoman Empire was returning to establish a "green [Muslim] transversal" across the Balkans, and that Bosnia and Herzegovina was filled with bloodthirsty extremists. Now, Serbian terrorism ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’ claimed that the victims of Srebrenica were in fact jihadists. Since the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Bosniak Muslim population have been consistently framed as a hub for extremists, backed up by fabricated links between Bosnian jihadists and almost every one of the world’s recent Islamist-connected terrorist attacks. By denying the genocide, a new counter-narrative has been created: That "whatever happened" between 1992-95 was a legitimate fight against jihadists. The narrative of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an unstable country threatened by jihadists first emerged during the war in the 1990s but has now been co-opted by the wider far-right and has even entered mainstream European thinking. This narrative is also being used within Croatian circles. read the complete article

Recommended Read
09 Jul 2020

Covid-19 in India and Sri Lanka: New Forms of Islamophobia

In recent years, Islamophobia has been on the rise both in India and Sri Lanka. The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Asia has also produced new forms of Islamophobia in New Delhi and Colombo. Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India has singled out the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi as the main vector of the coronavirus, the anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media predates the event. In Sri Lanka, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration has implemented a controversial policy of cremating all Covid-19 victims despite no such guideline from the World Health Organization (WHO). Under Islam, cremating a dead body is deemed as a form of mutilation and hence a violation of burial rites and practices. While governments around the world have played the blame game and typecast one ethnic group or community as the “super spreaders,” the stigmatization of the Muslim community in India and Sri Lanka has become normalized, cutting across different demographics. Hindu and Sinhala chauvinists have brainwashed themselves into thinking that, though their communities constitute a majority, they have been relegated to minority status in their respective countries. Although Hindu nationalists in India were behind the creation of racist hashtags such as ‘corona terrorism’ and ‘corona jihad,’ some Sinhala nationalist groups have also leveraged social media to scapegoat the Muslim community. Pro-government media agencies in both India and Sri Lanka have fueled this anti-Muslim rhetoric through irresponsible and false reporting. The opportunists have weaponized mainstream media and social media platforms against a common ‘enemy.’ read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

UK sanctions against Saudi Arabia and Myanmar are an exercise in saving face

When Boris Johnson was British foreign secretary, for two years, he showed no genuine interest in defending human rights. Quite the opposite. Two human rights calamities took place on his watch and he did not lift a finger to stop either of them. The first was the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, where more than 100,000 are thought to have died. Johnson did nothing to stop the fighting. Instead, he fuelled it. The second great calamity was the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Here Johnson’s conduct was a moral abomination. His junior Foreign Office minister Mark Field defended the regime in Myanmar while the killings were going on. In a shameful speech to the Commons in September 2017, Field castigated the Rohingya for provoking the violence. As for sanctions on the generals who had ordered the massacres, there were none. Johnson’s behaviour was especially culpable because throughout this period the UK was the penholder at the United Nations for both Myanmar and Yemen. This gave Britain a special responsibility – and a unique opportunity - to bring the violence to an end. Johnson did the opposite. read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

COVID-19 the latest threat to safety of Rohingya refugees

Attitudes toward the Rohingya have been hardening in recent weeks, and for reasons over which the refugees have no control: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the lockdowns that necessarily followed, and the economic hardships which subsequently ensued. Malaysia has, unfortunately, made most of the news on this topic. It started with the Malaysian political leaders, including eventually the prime minister, saying that the country could not take any more refugees. But things started getting really ugly when it emerged authorities in one case were planning to expel a group of 269 Rohingya refugees back to sea after they had made landfall — in violation of international law — and depressingly petty when Rohingya child refugees were barred from attending kindergarten over cited fears of COVID-19 transmission risks. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

09 Jul 2020

Srebrenica, 25 years later: Lessons from the massacre that ended the Bosnian conflict and unmasked a genocide

The Srebrenica massacre occurred two years after the United Nations had designated the city to be a “safe area” for civilians fleeing fighting between Bosnian government and separatist Serb forces, during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Some 20,000 refugees and 37,000 residents sheltered in the city, protected by fewer than 500 lightly armed international peacekeepers. After overwhelming the UN troops, Serb forces carried out what was later documented to be a carefully planned act of genocide. Bosnian-Serb soldiers and police rounded up men and boys ages 16 to 60 – nearly all of them innocent civilians – trucked them to killing sites to be shot and buried them in mass graves. Serbian forces bused about 20,000 women and children to the safety of Muslim-held areas – but only after raping many of the women. The atrocity was so heinous, that even the reluctant United States felt compelled to intervene directly in – and finally end – Bosnia’s conflict. Srebrenica is a cautionary tale about what extremist nationalism can lead to. With xenophobia, nationalist parties and ethnic conflict resurgent worldwide, the lessons from Bosnia could not be timelier. read the complete article


09 Jul 2020

Threats and censorship are the price for questioning narratives about Kashmir

On Saturday, I spent five hours at a local police station in New Delhi with my brother filing a complaint of criminal intimidation after I was flooded with rape and death threats online. Users on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — with bios that described them as “nationalists” and “proud Indians" — threatened to burn me alive, rape me in the presence of my family and cut me into pieces. One Instagram message invoked what happened to my friend and fellow journalist, Gauri Lankesh, a critic of Hindu nationalist organizations who was shot dead outside her house in Bangalore in 2017. The abuse came after I shared my opinion about the killing of a civilian in Kashmir. In a tweet, I wrote: “When it comes to Kashmir, there are no humanists, just convenient nationalists.” That was enough to stoke ultranationalist rage, which sees Kashmir not through the prism of humanity but through dangerous, misguided and blind patriotism. read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

This Is What the Modi Sarkar Has Done to Indian Muslims

Times changed. India changed. The demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Gujarat pogrom, rising communal tension, and finally a regime change. All this cast a disturbing shadow on my identity. For the first time in my life I started feeling more and more Muslim. The mirror of privilege to choose an identity had suddenly cracked. With a typical Muslim name, I found it impossible to rent a home in a metropolitan city. On learning my name, people’s expressions would alter, and suspicious glances would be exchanged. Conversations hushed as I entered my office. With passing time, and with limited choice, my identity got established. I was a Muslim. Nothing less and nothing more. As the Modi sarkar took a stronger foothold, the lynching of Muslims started. It disturbed me. My established identity could now bring a sudden and violent end to life. I started to debate less in public. I stopped saying salamwaleikum on receiving a phone call in a public space. I taught my kids to not call me abba while travelling on a train or a bus. I even started tweaking my name. Meat dishes were out of the menu, more so when I travelled. I had never imagined that the privilege of identity could actually turn into a handicap for me. In this new India, being both a Muslim and ‘liberated’ could mean sure trouble. read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

COVID-19 has no religion

Though leaders such as the Chief Ministers of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra appealed to the people not to communalise the virus or blame any religion for it, in the initial days of its spread there was a sustained campaign against Muslims, especially on social media, following the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi in March. The Jamaat congregation emerged as India’s first largest hotspot. This is not to suggest that the Tablighi Jamaat and its organisers were not at fault. But failures at multiple levels, including at the level of the government and the police, were ignored and only the Markaz’s decision to hold the gathering, also a major failure, became the focus. The intensity of that communal campaign, though deeply disturbing, was not entirely surprising, especially given the rise of the Hindu Right and its electoral dominance. It is a fact that many Muslim leaders and organisations unequivocally condemned the Jamaat episode. Many from the community, including well-known industrialists, donated money to the government to tackle the unprecedented health crisis caused by the pandemic. Sadly, while the good deeds of Muslims are seen as exceptions or are ignored, a mistake or fault of any Muslim invariably leads to a backlash against the entire community. Why is this the case? read the complete article

United States

09 Jul 2020

Stephen Miller goes on a mission to make America white again

Aside from Trump's well-documented history of racist and xenophobic statements; where he told four Congresswoman of colour to "go back" to their countries of origin, referred to Haiti and countries in Africa as "sh*thole" countries, and stated he'd like more immigrants from Norway, one only needs to glance over at Trump's longstanding senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller, to understand the motives behind the campaign to dismantle the immigration system. In an administration that is known for a high turnover rate, Miller is one of the very few that has remained a mainstay in Trump's cabinet. It was Miller who co-wrote the original Muslim Ban in 2017 alongside then-chief strategist, Steve Bannon. The senior policy advisor, who's got a particular dislike for Somalia (one of the countries on the Muslim Ban), is also responsible for the drastic reduction in the number of refugees accepted to the United States. This isn't surprising given Miller once said that he "would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil." He was the man behind the appalling family separation policy, and according to an outside White House adviser, "enjoy[ed] seeing those pictures at the border." The list of examples illustrating the White House's assault on immigration is vast. In the last four years, the Trump administration has made dramatic cuts in refugee admissions (which currently stands at the lowest it has ever been since the resettlement plan began in 1980), instituted the Muslim and African ban, ended the Temporary Protection Status for individuals from six different countries, dramatically increased the deportation of immigrants by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and implemented a zero-tolerance policy resulting in at least 2,500 children being forcibly removed and separated from their parents. The majority of these policies target Black people and people of colour, further demonstrating the underlying racism in the administration's effort to reshape the current immigration system. read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

'Weaponized' Facebook Fails to Protect Civil Rights, Audit Says

Facebook Inc's decisions to allow controversial posts by President Donald Trump established a "terrible precedent" that could allow the platform to be "weaponized to suppress voting," an external civil rights audit found on Wednesday. The report, which Facebook commissioned two years ago, said the social network has not done enough to protect users from discrimination, falsehoods and incitement to violence, adding to pressure on the company in the midst of an advertiser boycott. The findings come as more than 900 advertisers, including major brands such as Coca-Cola Co and Unilever Plc, have joined a boycott started by major U.S. civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, to pressure Facebook to take concrete steps to block hate speech. read the complete article

09 Jul 2020

ICE's international student ban is a politicized pandemic response that hurts America

The pandemic response had been unendingly politicized, whether in the science-free debates over mask-wearing or in how it’s been used to scapegoat and punish those we deem unwanted “foreigners,” including Chinese people, immigrants or, now, all international students, too. International students, of course, have been in the administration’s crosshairs since the president took office, targeted by everything from the attempts to impose a blanket ban on visas from Muslim countries, to proposed elimination or reductions of certain scholarly visas, to individual deportation orders imposed over a judge’s orders. Now they are being used once again by the Trump administration — this time, to strong arm schools and universities to re-open despite the potential risks to students, faculty and staff. 9) As racial issues move to forefront, Supreme Court shuttles them to back burner (United States) The leading example was the June 18 DACA ruling, in which President Trump’s attempt to cancel Barack Obama’s 2012 program allowing young undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States was blocked by a 5-4 majority, on the grounds that the administration had failed to explain its reasons. In the lead opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts — joined by three of the court’s more liberal justices — said Trump’s past denigration of Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “drug dealers” was irrelevant to the case. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed, saying the insults showed an immigration viewpoint that was a “keystone of President Trump’s campaign and a policy priority of his administration” and should be considered by courts reviewing any renewed attempt to repeal DACA. It was reminiscent of Roberts’ 5-4 ruling in June 2018 upholding Trump’s ban on most U.S. travel from a group of predominantly Muslim countries. In rejecting a claim of religious discrimination, Roberts discounted Trump’s campaign pledge to ban all immigration by Muslims, his assertion that “Islam hates us” and his reference to his initial 2017 order as a “Muslim ban.” “The issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements” but only whether the president’s broad authority over national security authorized travel restrictions that did not explicitly refer to religion, the chief justice said. “Race has steered our immigration policy going way back,” and a majority of the court is “just not ready to deal with that,” said Richard Boswell, a law professor at UC Hastings in San Francisco. “The way they see it, it’s a political issue that should be resolved at the ballot box.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

09 Jul 2020

Neo-Nazis telling followers to ‘deliberately infect’ Jews and Muslims with coronavirus, report warns

Neo-Nazis have encouraged followers to “deliberately infect” Jews and Muslims with coronavirus as extremists exploit the pandemic, a report has warned. Research by the Commission for Countering Extremism said groups of all kinds had been seeking to “breed hate” and spread conspiracy theories feeding into their worldview. “We have heard reports of British far-right activists and neo-Nazi groups promoting anti-minority narratives by encouraging users to deliberately infect groups, including Jewish communities; and of Islamists propagating anti-democratic and anti-western narratives, claiming that Covid-19 is divine punishment from Allah on the west for their alleged ‘degeneracy’,” said a report published on Thursday. The Independent has seen numerous posts on far-right social media channels celebrating reports of disproportionately high black and ethnic minority deaths from coronavirus in the UK. The Commission for Countering Extremism warned that extreme right-wing politicians and websites had capitalised on the pandemic to “push forward their anti-immigrant and populist message”, normalising intolerance and hatred towards ethnic, racial or religious communities. read the complete article


09 Jul 2020

Toronto-Area Cop Under Investigation for Alleged Islamophobic Posts

Const. Michael Vertolli, a 19-year-veteran of the force, allegedly posted about a dozen videos and articles that painted a bigoted picture of Muslims, according to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which filed a complaint about Vertolli to Peel police. Vertolli also appeared to have shared other links that antagonize Black Lives Matter and left-leaning activists. Screenshots from 2016 and 2017 posts on Vertolli’s personal Facebook page show that Vertolli allegedly posted a number of links with titles including “Civilization Jihad is Here,” or “SHOCKING video of Radical Islam in Canadian school.” All push Islamophobic ideas that Muslims, due to their religious beliefs, are a threat to peace and women. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Jul 2020 Edition


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