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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12 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: The mosque shooter in Norway has been given the maximum sentence, which carries a minimum of 21 years, and can be extended indefinitely. India denies visas to members of a US government panel seeking to review its religious freedom, saying foreign agencies have no standing to assess the constitutional rights of citizens. Our recommended read today is by Daniela Bezzi interviewing writer and activist Arundhati Roy, who says Indian Muslims are facing a “genocidal climate” amid the pandemic. This, and more, below:




12 Jun 2020

Arundhati Roy: Indian Muslims facing ‘genocidal climate’ amid pandemic | Recommended Read

As the lockdown lifts, we asked the acclaimed writer Arundhati Roy, who has been an outspoken critic of Narendra Modi’s government, what kind of India will emerge from under lockdown. The Indian government acted fairly quickly to impose a lockdown. Has it worked? Arundhati Roy: The lockdown has been disastrous. India is the only country where the numbers climbed sharply through the lockdown and just when the graph is the steepest the lockdown has been relaxed. So we have a double disaster. An economic wreckage as well as a raging pandemic. The COVID-19 numbers have been and continue to be, in my opinion a bit unreliable not only in India, but everywhere. The only thing we know for sure is that both lockdown and social distancing cannot be applicable in India, if we think of the tens of millions living in the slums. Take for example Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia in the heart of Mumbai: almost one million people in two square kilometers, one toilet for several hundred people, what does quarantine or social distancing mean in such conditions? Add to all this, the Modi Government’s overt Islamophobia, amplified by a shameless, irresponsible mainstream media – that overtly blamed Muslims for being spreaders of disease. You have whole TV shows dedicated to “COVID jihad” etc... All this came off the back of the unconstitutional dismantling of Kashmir’s special status (leading to a 10 month on-and-off lockdown and internet seige of 6 million people in the Kashmir valley – a mass human rights violation by any standards), the new anti-Muslim citizenship law, and the pogrom against Muslims in North East Delhi in which the Delhi Police were seen actively participating. Young Muslims, students and activists are being arrested every day for being “conspirators” in the massacre. While ruling party politicians who actually came out on the streets calling for “traitors” to be shot, remain in positions of power and high visibility. read the complete article

Recommended Read
12 Jun 2020

Political value of a Communist CM’s daughter marrying a Muslim — Priceless for India’s Right

Now that the Ladakh stand-off is on its way to being resolved and the death of the pregnant elephant from Kerala has been demystified, India’s Right-wing has gone back to its favourite game — blame the Muslim. The latest opportunity came with the announcement of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter Veena T.’s engagement with Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) national president Muhammad Riyas. As soon as the reports came out, the Hindutva Right-wing went into a tizzy. It was a double bonus because Veena is the daughter of a Leftist politician from Kerala, a state the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been eyeing for a long time. In a deplorable replay of the Hadiya marriage episode that reached the Supreme Court, Veena, too, is being vilified for choosing the person she wants to marry. While Riyas is being targeted for his choice of food and his protest against the Narendra Modi government’s beef ban. From conversion to the so-called ‘love jihad’ to beef eating, the mostly nameless and faceless members of the Hindutva gang on social media are using every tool they can against the couple. In the past, even Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor were not spared the ‘love jihad’ nonsense. Now, the gang has found its new target in Veena and Riyas. read the complete article


12 Jun 2020

Norway mosque shooter given maximum sentence

A mosque shooter in Norway has been given the maximum sentence, which carries a minimum of 21 years, and can be extended indefinitely. His attack on his Chinese step sister and on the mosque were racially motivated, as he subscribes to neo-Nazi groups. read the complete article

United States

12 Jun 2020

‘A very anxious time’: USAID staff fear motives of top aides

The U.S. Agency for International Development is grappling with growing internal turmoil over how it will treat the LGBTQ and Muslim communities, as well as demands for a stronger response to the case of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody. Staffers’ concerns are driven in large part by the recent hiring and promotion at USAID of a handful of political appointees with deeply conservative views and a history of making anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim and even anti-democracy statements. Staff members are urging USAID’s new acting administrator, John Barsa, to take substantive steps to assure them and overseas partners that the agency opposes discrimination on religious, sexual and other grounds. But Barsa has sent mixed signals, insisting he won’t tolerate discrimination but defending his controversial aides. Given the broader context — the coronavirus pandemic, an ongoing reorganization at USAID and the arrival of a new leader — the tensions are palpable, several current and former USAID staffers told POLITICO, nearly all on condition of anonymity. read the complete article

12 Jun 2020

After Barr Ordered FBI to "Identify Criminal Organizers" Activists were Intimidated at Home and at Work

"I've Never had any run-ins with the cops before. I’ve never been to jail and have no criminal record, so when the FBI showed up to my workplace, it scared the piss out of me,” says Katy, a 22-year-old who works for a custodial services company in Cookeville, a small college town in middle Tennessee. “I really thought I was going to lose my job. The whole experience was terrifying.” Moved by the video of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Katy — who requested she only be identified by her first name — and a friend had created a Facebook event for a Black Lives Matter rally in Cookeville’s public square on Saturday, June 6. She soon connected with several other Cookeville locals who wanted to help with planning the event, and enthusiasm grew as word of the rally spread. Katy eventually backed out of the rally — and a group of local high school students took over planning — but she had already gotten the attention of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, or JTTF, a federally coordinated network of local law enforcement officers who work under the direction of the FBI to gather intelligence about terrorist threats. On June 4, agents turned up unannounced at Katy’s work, pulling her off the job and into a large truck in the gravel parking lot to question her about her connections to the upcoming rally and to antifa — the loose anti-fascist movement recently labeled as a terrorist organization by President Donald Trump. Katy had never heard of them. As The Intercept has previously reported, FBI agents have been questioning arrested protesters about their political beliefs, apparently at the behest of U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Barr, following Trump’s repeated false assertions that there is a sophisticated, national network of antifa operatives infiltrating local protests against police brutality to enflame violence, announced that antifa is a domestic terrorist organization on May 31. Barr also directed the JTTF to “identify criminal organizers and instigators,” even though antifa has no organizational structure and the FBI’s own internal assessments don’t support the claim that antifa is somehow weaponizing protests. read the complete article

United Kingdom

12 Jun 2020

Lockdown community spirit could help tackle Islamophobia

Researchers at Newcastle University say the community spirit shown during the Coronavirus crisis could provide a foundation for greater understanding and improved relations between different groups. One example of this, they say, should be a better understanding of the contribution that the Muslim community makes to British society – and this in turn could help tackle Islamophobia. They point to a report ‘Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred in North East England’, published today following research carried out with Muslims across the North East, that highlights the extent and character of Islamophobia across the region and the impact it has on Muslim communities. Among the recommendations made in the report is the need for improved education about Muslims and Islam, including more community projects to build bridges between groups. Public campaigns against Islamophobia and more funding for interfaith work, to improve the understanding about the Muslim community, the report team say, could also help challenge assumptions and misunderstandings. read the complete article

12 Jun 2020

What a Muslim community leader says on toppling of Edward Colston statue

Abdul Raoof Malik, chair of the Easton Jamia Mosque, said the naming of buildings or monuments and statues were not a way to keep history alive, but a mechanism, he said, by which the rich and the powerful are honoured. "Sadly, Edward Colston’s statue and all that is named upon him was indeed named in honour of a dishonourable man," he added. "Whilst history shouldn't be forgotten, those who benefited from the enslavement of individuals do not deserve the honour of a statue, place or a street to be named after them." Mr Malik said he remembered the frenzy when Saddam Hussein's statue was pulled down and how the media around the world talked about empowerment, the end or oppression and a symbolic gesture towards Iraq’s future and freedom. "Well here we have someone who made his fortune through human suffering, oppression, imprisonment, abuse and murder," he continued. "Between 1672 and 1689, his ships are believed to have transported about 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas. read the complete article


12 Jun 2020

Bangladesh urged to lift Rohingya internet ban as Covid-19 rumours swirl

Rohingya leaders have urged Bangladesh to lift an internet ban imposed on a million refugees in the city of Cox’s Bazar, warning that rumours and panic over Covid-19 is deterring people from getting tested. Limits on communication are exacerbating already dire conditions for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who live in cramped bamboo huts with as many as eight family members to a room, and are dependent on communal taps and toilets. In some areas, basics such as soap are lacking. Aid agencies in the city in south-east Bangladesh, 20 miles from the border with Myanmar, have warned repeatedly that the virus could thrive in the camps and that medical facilities would be unable to cope. As of 10 June, 35 refugees have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization, while three have died. In total, 30 are in quarantine, though it is feared that there are more undetected cases. The outbreak has coincided with flu season, adding to confusion over symptoms, but community members say that people are avoiding going to clinics because they are worried about being moved to isolation facilities. Last week, two people fled quarantine because they believed they would be sent to centres far from their families, according to reports. read the complete article


12 Jun 2020

US has no evidence China releasing Uighurs - ambassador

"We have no evidence that they’ve been released, and even if they were released, they’re released into a virtual police state that China has created," Brownback told reporters at the State Department. His remarks came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom that discusses the status of religious freedom in every country. "It is a horrific situation, and our big concern here is that this is the future of what oppression’s going to look like, is what it looks like for the Uighurs when they get out of the prison camps," he said. Even if released, said the ambassador, the Uighurs are going to face "cameras and identification" and "oppression" when they want to practice their faith. "In many of these places, you’re fine if you want to do anything – you want to get an education, fine. You want to work, fine. You’re – anything – but if you want to practice your faith, it’s a no go. "And if you do, there will be consequences for you and anybody else that pings you on your cell phone. These are the things that is the virtual police state that we’re very concerned about it being the future of – beyond Xinjiang," he added. read the complete article

12 Jun 2020

India denies visas to US panel on religious freedom

India has turned down a travel request for members of a US government panel seeking to review its religious freedom, saying foreign agencies had no standing to assess the constitutional rights of citizens. The visa snub to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday came as the US Congress released its own religious freedom report while a top Trump administration official said he was "very concerned" about the South Asian country's situation. India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the government firmly repudiated the surveys of the USCIRF, which had little knowledge of the rights of Indian citizens, describing it as biased and prejudiced. read the complete article

12 Jun 2020

Trump and Duterte Show Why UN Must Reassess Embrace of Counterterrorism

As Donald Trump seized on others’ branding of nonviolent protesters in the United States as “terrorists,” lawmakers in the Philippines approved President Rodrigo Duterte’s draconian Anti-Terrorism Act that similarly asserts a dangerous, overbroad definition of what constitutes terrorism. Here were two leaders, separated by an ocean, using the same abusive counterterrorism playbook in a way that has become so common over the past two decades: legislate or brand your political opposition “terrorists,” delegitimize their grievances, and simultaneously legitimize a heavy-handed, militarized response. We see – yet again – the significant drawbacks of embracing a “counterterrorism” agenda that is so often weaponized against pluralism, fundamental freedoms, and any form of dissent. Such cases are fresh examples of how counterterrorism is undermining democracy and human rights around the world. It is a powerful illustration of why the United Nations and its member states should be questioning counterterrorism practices rather than embracing and encouraging them. A report released last week by the U.K. peacebuilding organization Saferworld, documents how the counterterror agenda has been spreading rapidly throughout the United Nations system over the past few years, despite growing evidence that the war on terror is making the world neither safer nor more secure. In fact, the embrace of counterterrorism by the U.N. is already having a harmful impact on the institution itself, and could lead to a number of dangerous threats in the future. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Jun 2020 Edition


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