Today in Islamophobia: In India, new government data shows that the Muslim fertility rate has registered the sharpest decline over the past 20 years as compared to that of other religious groups, exposing the “lies popularly peddled by Hindutva propaganda” about increasing Muslim population, meanwhile rights activist and journalist note that the leaked Xinjiang Police Files “should lead capitals around the world to strengthen efforts to hold China accountable,” and lastly, a Rohingya woman deported to Myanmar from Indian-administered Kashmir in March has been reunited with her family in Bangladesh. Our recommended read of the day is part 2 of a 7 part series by Eugene Bingham for Stuff on the Christchurch mosque shooting and how years before the attack, the Islamic Women’s Council had been telling people (the police and the Government) about rising Islamophobia, and how something needed to be done to counter it before it’s too late. This and more below:
We don’t feel safe: when racism makes you feel too scared to leave your home - Chapter 2: Threats and Warnings | Recommended Read
Aliya Danzeisen was at her Waikato home one day when the phone rang late in the evening. Unusual, she thought, as not many people knew her unlisted number. It was the first of three calls she would get that evening from the same person. Each time it got more frightening. The caller told her he was from the local council, that he had seen “a Syrian bush pig” out in the garden of her home, and that, because the animal wasn’t native to New Zealand, they “knew how to get rid of it”. Danzeisen was beside herself. She had not been in New Zealand long, though, for the record, she is not Syrian: she was born in the United States, and came to New Zealand in 2006. She did wear a hijab, including in the large garden out the back of her house, a place of toil and refuge – or so she thought. Of all the threats, of all the harassment, of all the Islamophobic slurs Danzeisen has endured in New Zealand, this incident was not the worst, or the most dangerous. Not by a long way. Around that time, and over the coming years, Muslims across the country, especially women, were being subjected to abuse and violence: shoved and abused, having their hijabs torn off, even being driven at on the footpath. Or, like what happened to an Afghan refugee out shopping in a Dunedin supermarket in August 2014. After reading product labels on the shelves, she turned back to her basket and found a note: she should remove her hijab – New Zealand was a Western country and no place for terrorists and extremists, the note read. Or the vile post to a New Zealand Muslim Facebook page which ended: “You will not win the world, and you will suffer for your affiliations.” Danzeisen’s colleague, Anjum Rahman, remembers 2014 as particularly frightening. “It’s like we weren’t seen as human. Can you imagine sitting in your house too afraid to go out?” But rather than sit in their houses, cowering, Rahman and Danzeisen and other members of the Islamic Women’s Council started to do something about it. They started telling people – the police, the Government. This had to stop: something had to be done. It was the beginning of a relentless attempt to draw attention to the fear and isolation many Muslim women were suffering; an attempt to get help to change attitudes; an attempt to get help to feel safe. read the complete article
A Rohingya woman deported to Myanmar from Indian-administered Kashmir in March has been reunited with her family in Bangladesh. Hasina Begum, 37, was deported from Jammu despite having UN refugee status, leaving her husband and three children behind in Kashmir. She was the first Rohingya refugee to be deported from among 170 who were detained by authorities in the region in March 2021. Begum, who said the Rohingya were treated “worse than criminals” in jail, said she was suddenly summoned by officers on 14 March and taken for a medical examination and Covid test. “The jail authorities did not tell me where they were taking me, despite repeated appeals,” she said. The next day, Begum was handcuffed and, accompanied by eight police officers, taken by train to the north-eastern state of Manipur. “I was crying and pleading with them to tell me where I was being taken but nobody answered me until I was handed over to the Myanmar army on the Moreh-Tamu border crossing,” she said. After 11 days in Covid quarantine, Begum was taken to Ranee, a small hamlet in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which she had left 10 years ago, five months pregnant, after the area was attacked. A Muslim family took her in, but as soon as she arrived, she contacted her husband and told him to sell whatever he could and take the children to Bangladesh. “I knew I could not live like this, away from my family,” said Begum. “One year’s separation from my children seemed like a few decades.” She borrowed 400,000 Kyat (£171) from the family she was living with and crossed the border. Earlier this month, the family were reunited in Cox’s Bazar, in south-east Bangladesh, which is home to almost 1 million Rohingya who have fled a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar army. read the complete article
Looking through the photos of the 2,884 inmates in the Xinjiang Police Files is not for the faint of heart. You scroll – as you would on Instagram – past face after face of a people unjustly detained by the Chinese government for no other reason than that they are Uyghur. It is surreal to have photographic evidence of the victims of Beijing’s genocidal campaign—long known to those of us who work in this field. We have listened to the testimony of survivors and analyzed the satellite imagery of camps uncovered by journalists and experts. We didn’t need convincing. We had no doubt the atrocities were happening. But these photos offer something new. Gazing at those photos, it is impossible to deny the humanity of each and every Uyghur. And it is impossible to deny what the CCP is doing to them today. Beyond providing photographic evidence of their mass internment, the Xinjiang Police Files include speeches of Chinese leaders outlining plans to reeducate and mass-intern Uyghurs. There are PowerPoints providing security protocols, including shoot-to-kill orders to ensure that no one escapes. And there is a detailed analysis of the composition of the political reeducation camp population. The speeches alone are damning, as they show a direct linkage between top leaders in the Chinese government and the atrocities being committed. The speech from Zhao Kezhi, China’s minister of public security, included particularly striking revelations, as it directly implicates Xi Jinping in the mass internment Uyghurs. Leaders around the globe have no excuse for inaction. The information revealed in these files should lead capitals around the world to strengthen efforts to hold China accountable. In, some cases, it already has. read the complete article
'I'm Muslim but my work colleagues still thought it would be funny to make jokes about pouring vodka in my lemonade'
MyLondon spoke to East Londoner Taz Latif, 33, about her experiences as a Bangladeshi Muslim woman while working in a White, male-dominated industries, including finance and tech. She said: “I have a vivid memory of when I was 21 and went through an assessment at a graduate recruitment firm and did so well, they didn’t even put me out to clients, they wanted to hire me themselves. Offer letter signed, they called me about onboarding and asked if I’d relocate, since the offices were in Chiswick and I was based in East London. When I said the hour and fifteen commute was fine, they stated they were worried with the team nights out, that I would find the commute too tiring. “I don’t drink, so that won’t be a problem,” was met with “Oh, you don’t drink? That’s a big part of our culture here, so…let me get back to you.” The next day, the job offer was retracted, with no explanation. "The role I eventually landed was for a financial firm in London. I used to reluctantly go to the pub with colleagues after work due to the pressure, to show face with my manager with a lemonade in my hand. I hated being in the pub though, I hated how colleagues became boisterous when they got drunk and as a Muslim, it was really uncomfortable. You wouldn’t keep taking a vegan colleague to a steakhouse where they couldn’t eat anything! Often, I’d go for 20 minutes and leave." She recalls an atheist, White colleague questioning her religion quite aggressively on multiple occasions. He once asked, "You’re forbidden to drink alcohol, so when you spray perfume and inhale a small percentage of perfume, which contains alcohol, will your God damn you to hell? Because that's ridiculous." He would often refer to religious people as ‘brainwashed’ and ‘blind’, says Taz. Although the 33-year-old has been open to discussing her faith and identity in the workplace, comments like this felt derogatory and when compounded with other micro-aggressions. read the complete article
When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s health ministry released the findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 5) this month, it raised several eyebrows. The data showed that the Muslim fertility rate has registered the sharpest decline over the past 20 years as compared to that of other religious groups, including Hindus. The fertility rate among Muslims has dropped to 2.3 in 2019-20 from a high of 4.4 in 1992-93. Fertility rate is the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime. This recently released data exposes the lies popularly peddled by Hindutva propaganda that the Muslim population in India will exceed that of the majority Hindus and that Muslims have more kids than Hindus. Earlier this month, Yati Narsinghanand, a radical Hindu priest, called upon Hindus to give birth to more children. “Otherwise they [Hindus] will be swamped by the Muslims by 2029,” he said, adding that there is a “real possibility that by 2029 India would have a Muslim prime minister and states would have Muslim chief ministers.” Former Chief Election Commissioner Dr S.Y. Quraishi has rubbished these claims in his recent book “The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India.” Speaking to The Diplomat, Quraishi pointed out that “Anti-Muslim rhetoric gives the impression that the fertility rate of Muslims is highly disproportionate. But the NFHS-5 has incontrovertibly disproved that.” In fact, NFHS data shows that there is a 0.3 point gap between the fertility rate of Hindus and Muslims i.e. a difference of less than one child. read the complete article
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently on the government’s use of the state secrets doctrine in an opinion that will make it easier for intelligence agencies to evade accountability in future individual rights cases. In U.S. v. Zubaydah, government torture policy and state secrets converge. A torture victim requested information related to his treatment at a CIA “black site,” and the government blocked that request, citing national security interests. Seven members of the Court joined parts of an opinion siding with the government, with only Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch dissenting. The case has implications for other torture-related cases and for government accountability more broadly as it expands state secrecy powers based on a doctrine that was already overbroad, and suspect in its origins. The Zubaydah case is procedurally unusual. Abu Zubaydah is currently detained at Guantanamo, but the history of his confinement and treatment at numerous sites over the past two decades is well-known. The government has admitted to waterboarding him and subjecting him to other forms of torture, and the 2014 Senate Report on Torture refers specifically to Zubaydah at numerous points. Moreover, former President Obama conceded that Zubaydah was tortured. In the course of seeking a tribunal that would hear his claims, Zubaydah asked the Polish government to investigate criminally the interrogations that took place at a CIA black site in Poland, Stare Kiejkuty. Since much of the supporting evidence was located in the United States, Zubaydah had to petition a US District Court for an order compelling its production. Federal law allows for such a petition, but when it was filed, the US government objected, citing the state secrets doctrine. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court and the Court ruled for the first time in years on the scope and application of the doctrine. read the complete article
Australia's first two Muslim federal ministers have been sworn in. What does this mean for the country?
The swearing-in of Anne Aly and Ed Husic as the first Muslim ministers in Australia’s history marks a pivotal moment in achieving better representation of the nation’s diversity at the table of government decision-makers, according to community leaders. The pair were sworn into the federal ministry at Government House on Wednesday by Governor-General David Hurley, both holding a copy of the Quran during the ceremony. Mr Husic becomes the first male of the Muslim faith to serve in the cabinet, taking on the portfolio as the Minister for Industry and Science. Ms Aly also becomes the first woman of the faith to serve on the frontbench, taking on the outer ministry portfolio of Minister for Early Childhood Education and the Minister for Youth. President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) Rateb Jneid has sent letters to both Mr Husic and Ms Aly to congratulate them on their recognition. read the complete article