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 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Afghanistan, Afghan nationals who worked with the American government during the U.S. war in Afghanistan plead with the Biden administration for special immigrant visas, as a new report finds that Chinese birth-control policies in Xinjiang province could reduce the Uighur population in the region by up to a third over the next 20 years, and in Austria, a ‘Muslim Map,’ which resulted in attacks against mosques and Muslim associations, is finally pulled from the web after rights groups called for its removal . Our recommended read of the day is by Al Jazeera on Sunday’s anti-Muslim attack in Canada, involving Nathaniel Veltman who drove into and killed four members of Canadian Muslim family. This and more below:


07 Jun 2021

‘Motivated by hate’: Muslim family run over in Canada

Police in the Canadian province of Ontario says a driver intentionally struck a family because they were Muslim, killing four people and seriously injuring a nine-year-old boy in what has been denounced as an “act of unspeakable hatred” and Islamophobia. The victims, all members of the same family, were hit on Sunday evening while waiting to cross a street in the city of London, about 200km (124 miles) southwest of Toronto, Canadian news outlets reported on Monday. Police said the victims were two women aged 77 and 44, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl. A nine-year-old boy was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital. “This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.” The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Holder said it was the worst mass murder his city had ever seen. Sunday’s attack came amid rising concerns about Islamophobic attacks in provinces across Canada and widespread calls for authorities to tackle racism, hate-motivated violence, and the prevalence of far-right groups. A 20-year-old suspect identified as Nathaniel Veltman was arrested, police said in a statement. He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
07 Jun 2021

Neighbours speak out about 'introverted' man charged in alleged anti-Muslim killings

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after a pickup truck struck five members of a family who were out walking Sunday night in northwest London. Police say they were intentionally run down and had no connection to their alleged attacker. Monday night, some neighbors at his apartment building described Veltman as a person who rarely interacts with others from what they’ve seen. One said she’s had arguments with him over “constant noise” from his unit, where he lives alone. “I had a lot of fights with him and had to bang on his door and ask him to stop because I have a four-year-old and it was just constant, even, like, at 3 a.m.,” said the neighbor, Chelsea, who did not want her last name used. Another neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said Veltman had lived at the downtown address for about a year. “He just looked like a nerdy white kid, I guess, who played video games very loud,” she said. read the complete article

United States

06 Jun 2021

Afghans Fearing For Their Lives Plead With Joe Biden For Faster Evacuations

Afghan nationals who risked their lives to work with the U.S. government over the 20-year war are pleading with the Biden administration to get them and their families out of their country before it’s too late. While the Pentagon announced last week that it was considering planning for the evacuation of Afghans who had worked with the U.S. government, a formal plan has not been put in place. That leaves thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. terrified they’ll face retaliatory attacks from the Taliban ― and that the U.S. won’t help them. The U.S. has a special immigrant visa, or SIV, program that allows people who worked as translators and interpreters with the U.S. military or NATO in Iraq and Afghanistan to come to the U.S., at times along with their spouse and unmarried children under 21. The program is considered vital for recognizing their sacrifice and the risk they face in their native country: At least 300 interpreters have been killed in Afghanistan since 2016. “We have a moral obligation and ethical obligation and we have a legal obligation under the SIV program to bring them here,” said Ellen Smith, the executive director of Keeping Our Promise, a resettlement program for Afghan, Iraqi and Kurdish interpreters in New York. “Congress needs to do something, and they need to do it quickly, and they need to do it now. There’s no waiting.” Nearly 26,000 special immigrant visas have been allocated since December 2014, according to the State Department. But more than 18,000 people who have applied for special immigrant visas to the U.S. are still awaiting approval. Advocates and resettlement agencies said that the demand is growing since the Biden announcement, but that wait times are not moving any faster — some applications have taken more than 500 days. read the complete article

07 Jun 2021

Muslim Officials Seek Apology For 'Anti-Muslim Trope' At Debate

Muslim elected officials from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia sent a letter to WJLA and the Democratic Party of Virginia on Monday urging reforms and training to address alleged anti-Muslim bigotry following a question asked by a WJLA moderator during a May 25 debate among the Democratic candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor. The Democratic Party of Virginia partnered with WJLA, a local news station owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, and George Mason University to hold the debate. Based on the elected officials' understanding, Lucas's question may have been approved by others at WJLA and the Democratic Party of Virginia. Lucas's question "injected a bigoted, anti-Muslim trope and conspiracy theory into the heart of what should have been a fair debate on the issues facing Virginians," the letter said. "As an official moderator for the debate, Mr. Lucas raised a concern about Del. Rasoul's support from Muslims who live outside of Virginia and who are excited at the prospect of electing a Muslim to any statewide office for only the second time in American history." read the complete article

07 Jun 2021

US high court to hear ‘state secrets’ case on Muslim surveillance

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a lawsuit can go forward in which a group of Muslim residents of California allege the FBI targeted them for surveillance because of their religion. It is the second case the court has accepted for the fall involving a government claim of “state secrets”, the idea that the government can block the release of information it claims would harm national security if disclosed. In the other state secrets case, the justices have accepted they will decide whether a Palestinian man captured after the September 11 attacks and held at the prison on the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can get access to information the government classifies as state secrets. Often, the privilege is invoked in civil suits. These cases are dropped when a plaintiff is barred from access to privileged information, which is usually required for the case to continue. The case the court accepted on Monday involves three Muslim residents of Southern California who say that from 2006 to 2007 the FBI paid a confidential informant to covertly gather information about Muslims in Orange County, California, based solely on their religion. A district court dismissed the case after the federal government invoked the state secrets privilege. The court agreed that continuing the case would “greatly risk disclosure of secret information”. But an appeals court reversed the decision. The San Francisco appeals court ruled that state secrets privileges do not outweigh the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Bloomberg news agency reported. That law lets a judge review the disputed information in a closed-door hearing to decide whether the surveillance was warranted. read the complete article


07 Jun 2021

Chinese birth-control policy could cut millions of Uyghur births, report finds

Chinese birth-control policies could reduce the ethnic minority population in southern Xinjiang by up to a third over the next 20 years, according to new analysis by a German researcher. The analysis concluded that regional policies could cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million minority births in that time. China has been accused by some Western nations of genocide in Xinjiang, partly through forced birth-control measures. China denies the allegations, saying birth-rate declines have other causes. The new study, by researcher Adrian Zenz, is the first such peer-reviewed academic paper on the long-term population impact of China's crackdown on the Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang. read the complete article

07 Jun 2021

China spread disinformation videos on Uyghur Muslims two years ago. YouTube let them stay up.

In the YouTube video, Ipargul Obul smiles shyly in bright red lipstick, her hair carefully coiffed. “Under the influence of extremist ideas, I used to think that women must wear long dresses and cover their faces,” Obul says. “But, after receiving training here, I’ve realized that women are beautiful and will look even better with makeup.” That training, she says, came at the Hotan County Vocational Education and Training Center, a detention facility for Uyghurs, most of them – like Obul – Muslim. In the video, she says she was taught to be a hairdresser there. Obul is featured in a five-part YouTube series with Chinese government connections, provided to USA TODAY by the research collective Bellingcat. Experts said it is unethical for YouTube to allow such propaganda on its platform, saying it promotes the abuse of Uyghurs and subjects viewers to false information. YouTube said the videos do not violate its community guidelines. In a statement, the company explained that false information alone is not enough to warrant removal of videos from its site unless it includes hate speech or harassment or incites violence. However, after USA TODAY sought comment from the company running the YouTube channel, Nikita Asia, it took the videos down late last week. University of Colorado professor Darren Byler, a Xinjiang expert, disagrees with YouTube’s assessment that the videos do not promote violence. Along with other experts interviewed, Byler describes them as an obvious attempt to counter the human rights abuses in Xinjiang, a territory in northwest China that is home to several ethnic minority groups, including the Uyghurs. The Silk Road trade route linking China to the Middle East once traversed it. “By allowing (the video series) to circulate on YouTube, it's promoting a kind of state violence that, by not naming it as such, is allowing it to circulate as normal news,” Byler said. read the complete article


07 Jun 2021

AUSTRIAN GOVERNMENT PULLS CONTROVERSIAL 'Muslim Map' After Far-Right Attacks on Mosques

Integration Minister Susanne Raab launched the online National Map of Islam last month. The map listed the names and locations of more than 620 mosques, associations, and officials and their possible connections abroad. Human rights activists have accused the map of representing “Nazi-style policy of charting Muslims” with a “blacklisting policy.” The map’s publication followed last year’s Operation Luxor, where police raided the family homes of Muslims, including children’s bedrooms, under the umbrella of “counter-terrorism.” NGOs accused the police of traumatizing children during the raids which the organization CAGE called “ideological and Islamophobic.” Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer attended the raids. No arrests were made and no one was charged. The map’s publication has led to attacks against mosques and Muslim associations by neo-fascists, according to Nura Al-Izzedin, spokesperson for Austria based child rights group, ACT-P. “The ‘Islam map’ has given neo-Nazis the green light for Islamophobic attacks,” Al-Izzedin explained, adding “it must be abolished.” The Islamic Religious Community in Austria agreed, saying the map “exposes Muslim citizens to a massive security risk.” Vienna’s Al Hidaya Mosque came under attack after the map went online. A spokesperson explained how “since the launch of the so called ‘Islam Map’, several other mosques, including ours were targeted by neo-fascist groups. The community feel threatened that this announcement by the Government has given the green light to far-right racists to target religious institutions.” “I cannot imagine a similar register of names and organizations being produced for other faith groups,” he added. read the complete article

07 Jun 2021

Church slams Austria’s ‘Islam Map’

The Austrian Catholic church became the latest religious group to criticize a government-backed, online map of hundreds of Muslim organization which sparked violence against the Muslim minority. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the head of the Austrian Catholic church, wrote in an op-ed Friday that it was “dangerous to give the impression that one of the religious community is under general suspicion”, and asked why one of the country’s many religious communities was singled out. Umit Vural, head of the Islamic Religious Community of Austria, described the map as a “massive security threat” to Muslims, while the Muslim Youth Austria organization said several Muslims had already been attacked and a mosque has been defaced since that map went online in late May. read the complete article


07 Jun 2021

France: Government dissolves embattled advisory organization on secularism

The French government announced on Friday that it was closing down a public secularism watchdog long at odds with right-leaning politicians over diverging interpretations of French secularism in a time of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. The Observatory of Laicite was created in 2013 under then-President Francois Hollande and led by Jean-Louis Bianco, a former Socialist Party MP tasked with advising the government and providing training to state employees and non-governmental associations across the country on laicite - the French conception of secularism - as defined under a 1905 law. Its mandate was most recently renewed in 2017 for a period of five years. Laicite is defined by French law as the separation between the state and religious institutions, but increasingly, some political figures and commentators have reinterpreted it as the need to separate religion from the public sphere, with a particular focus on the visible tenets of the Muslim faith. The Observatory’s general rapporteur, Nicolas Cadene, had reportedly been in the crosshairs of Marlene Schiappa, minister delegate in charge of citizenship, since at least October. Schiappa, one source told French magazine Le Point at the time, had long been unhappy with Cadene’s public positions denouncing Islamophobia, with one source saying that the rapporteur “seems more preoccupied by the fight against the stigmatization of Muslims than by the defense of laicite”. Schiappa first announced the creation of a High Council of Laicite in late March, as French MPs were debating the controversial so-called anti-separatism bill, which has yet to pass into law. The new interministerial committee will be composed exclusively of ministers, as opposed to the Observatory, which is currently composed of MPs from the majority and the opposition, high-level civil servants, and experts on the issue of secularism. read the complete article


07 Jun 2021

India is facing an epidemic of misinformation alongside covid-19

At a time when the country reels from the compounded effects of this devastating pandemic, social media abounds with falsehoods: unscientific claims that cow urine can prevent covid-19, baseless allegations that Muslims spread the virus and unsubstantiated narratives that Western media is making up death tolls, among others. Social media groups have morphed into havens of misinformation. Covid-19 misinformation in India appears to fall primarily into two categories: fake miracle cures, and conspiracy theories about the origin and spread of the virus. conspiracy theories, including narratives that scapegoat minorities, can increase malice between social groups, paving the way for further polarization and violence. Humans are also inherently vulnerable to misinformation. We tend to seek out information that reinforces our preferences, argue against information that contradicts those preferences and find information that fits our preexisting beliefs more convincing than information that opposes our worldview. This means that strong partisans in India may be more likely to believe stories that benefit their party, even if those stories are false. It also suggests that the desire to further political causes can lead to perceptions that any information not in line with those causes must be wrong. This inherent tendency makes the misinformation problem a particularly difficult one to address and solve. read the complete article


07 Jun 2021

Rohingya on Bangladesh island feel trapped, fear monsoons: HRW

Rohingya refugees moved to a Bangladesh island fear they will be exposed to terrible conditions during the upcoming monsoon season, and are struggling with “inadequate” health and education facilities, a Human Rights Watch report said. About 18,800 refugees have been moved from the Cox’s Bazar region – where approximately 850,000 people live in squalid and cramped conditions after fleeing Myanmar – to the low-lying silt island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal. Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, the director of Bhashan Char project, has assured that the island has enough preparation to tackle the monsoon and tidal surge. Chowdhury also said that all the Rohingya refugees who have come to live in Bhashan Char have done so willingly. “They are not being forced to come here.” But Human Rights Watch said, after interviewing 167 refugees, that they had been moved “without full, informed consent” and prevented from returning to the mainland. The refugees also spoke of a shortage of health facilities and education for their children, the 58-page report said. Others feared the monsoon season starting in June could expose them to high winds and flooding on the island. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jun 2021 Edition


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