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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18 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Munira Mirza–whose past comments have downplayed the existence of structural racism– has been appointed to head Britain’s race inequality commission. In India, Delhi police’s charge sheet appears to be based on the premise that the riots– which predominantly killed anti-BJP activists– were planned by anti-CAA protesters. Our recommended read today is by Moustafa Bayoumi titled “Why did Cup Foods call the cops on George Floyd?” This, and more, below:

United States

18 Jun 2020

Why Did Cup Foods Call the Cops on George Floyd? | Recommended Read

Like many grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, Cup Foods is owned and largely staffed by an immigrant Muslim family, and the police call has prompted some to see racist motives. Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the Palestinian-American owner of Cup Foods, the grocery store, was away when a 17-year-old worker made the call. A statement from the store referred to a “state policy that requires stores” to notify the police about counterfeit bills and Mr. Abumayyaleh described the practice as “standard protocol” for businesses. He vowed that his store will no longer do so “until the police stop killing innocent people.” For many small-business owners in low-income neighborhoods, the decision to not call the cops is not so easy. The problem isn’t that you will subject yourself to more crime without the police. It’s that the authorities often force the business owners to operate almost as an arm of the police. If they refuse, they risk being shut down by the city through nuisance abatement laws. Commercial nuisance abatement laws allow municipalities to close businesses where undesirable activity, legal or illegal, is taking place, even if the shopkeepers are unaware of the behavior. Since the 1990s, such statutes have been increasingly deployed as a crime-prevention strategy, but these nuisance-abatement laws often land like a truncheon against immigrant-run business in low-income neighborhoods. Cup Foods, as Minneapolis court records from 2001 show, was also caught in a nuisance abatement case. The immigrant store — be it a grocery, laundromat or deli — occupies a precarious position in the low-income neighborhood. Sociologists call such shopkeepers “middlemen minorities,” ethnic entrepreneurs who operate as intermediaries between low-income clients and the large conglomerates who want to sell them their goods but don’t want to deal with them directly. Nuisance abatement laws have been used similarly nationwide, including at Cup Foods. These laws are part of what is known as “third-party policing,” which transforms immigrant businesses into nodes of surveillance, expands the power of the police and the courts, and drives wedges between vulnerable communities. The facts of third-party policing do not take away from the need for conversations about anti-black racism within Muslim American communities. Although Muslim Americans routinely have to deal with the bigotry of Islamophobia, many have been in denial for far too long about the anti-black racism among the believers. read the complete article

Recommended Read
18 Jun 2020

John Bolton: The Scandal of Trump’s China Policy

After I became Trump’s national security adviser in April 2018, I had the most futile role of all: I wanted to fit China trade policy into a broader strategic framework. We had a good slogan, calling for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region. But a bumper sticker is not a strategy, and we struggled to avoid being sucked into the black hole of U.S.-China trade issues. In Buenos Aires on Dec. 1, at dinner, Xi began by telling Trump how wonderful he was, laying it on thick. Xi read steadily through note cards, doubtless all of it hashed out arduously in advance. Trump ad-libbed, with no one on the U.S. side knowing what he would say from one minute to the next. One highlight came when Xi said he wanted to work with Trump for six more years, and Trump replied that people were saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him. Xi said the U.S. had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly. Beijing’s repression of its Uighur citizens also proceeded apace. Trump asked me at the 2018 White House Christmas dinner why we were considering sanctioning China over its treatment of the Uighurs, a largely Muslim people who live primarily in China’s northwest Xinjiang Province. At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China. read the complete article

18 Jun 2020

‘Ghosts of Sugar Land’: A Journey of Loss

On its face, Ghosts of Sugar Land, the recent documentary short from Pakistani-American filmmaker Bassam Tariq, is a tender record of young Muslim men coming of age in the American suburbs under the shadow of Islamophobia and the War on Terror. The film tells the story of “Mark,” the agreed-upon pseudonym for a young black man from the Houston suburbs who converted to Islam as a teenager and was radicalized online as an adult, leading him to leave the US to join the Islamic State in Syria. Tariq tells Mark’s story through anonymous interviews with his high school friends, a group of South Asian Muslim men who mourn his disappearance and contend with his betrayal of their friendship. In these interviews—filmed in the homes, convenience stores, and backlots of Sugar Land, Texas—Tariq documents a personal suburban history of Muslim America today. Over time, Mark committed himself to Islam much more strongly than his friends did, driving them apart. He posted increasingly conservative views online. The actor Kc Okoro reads Mark’s social media posts in the film, giving voice to a public, online self which is in turns boyish and didactic. “Why is it that I see so many people born into Islam forming opinions and patterns of behavior outside of Islam?” Mark asks in one missive. “Is it out of misinformation? Or do people simply not care about right between wrong?” These posts escalated, and sometimes turned into critiques of American imperialism and the American Muslims who neglected their duties to the Muslim community globally, until one day, Mark’s friends woke up to a Facebook post from him with the location tagged in Turkey. A few days later, there was a new post from their old friend. “I along with several other people ran across the Turkish border,” he wrote. “I am now currently living in the Islamic State [in Syria].” They haven’t seen Mark since. The masks were chosen randomly—according to Tariq, they picked up whatever was available at Party City—but the American pop iconography reminds us of how the film’s subjects wrestle with assimilation. Watching Muslim American men discuss radicalization in Iron Man and Thor masks also brings to mind the way the War on Terror is most present in many Americans’ lives: the Hollywood superhero movie. These are films that narrativize American imperialism as a matter of good (the US) vs. evil (as decided by the US). They often enforce America’s status as a heroic wardog and play out post-9/11 anxieties, both implicitly (shots of the destruction of major American cities) and explicitly (the war in Afghanistan as the backdrop to the Iron Man movies). read the complete article


18 Jun 2020

Multiple FIRs Later, News 18 TV Anchor Apologises for Remarks on Sufi Saint

After a series of police complaints and FIRs against News 18 India’s managing editor Amish Devgan over his comment about renowned Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, the primetime anchor has apologised on air, claiming he had made an unintentional mistake. “I have full faith in Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti,” said Devgan, in the apology which aired on Wednesday afternoon. “I myself go to Ajmer Sharif for his ziyarat and if my statement has hurt anyone, then I regret it.” On Monday, the news anchor, during a debate on a PIL about the Place of Worship Special Provision Act on his show ‘Aar Par’, had called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi, better known as Khwaja Ghreeb Nawaz, an “attacker” and “looter”. Devgan can be seen referring to the revered sufi as “aakranta Chishti” and “lootere Chishti”. Following that, several police complaints and FIRs were registered against the anchor across the country. In addition to police complaints and FIRs, several Muslim organisations have also condemned the anchor’s remarks. The Darul Uloom Deoband, an Islamic seminary which is often considered an opponent to the Barelvi and Sufi sect of Islam, also issued a press statement condemning the anchor’s choice of words. Deoband also demanded legal action against the channel. read the complete article

18 Jun 2020

Delhi Police Chargesheet Misses Key Fact: Riots Killed the Anti-CAA Protest

Almost all of the Delhi riot cases that the Delhi Police is investigating are based on the premise that the riots were planned by anti-CAA protesters to coincide with US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the third week of February. The assumption is that anti-CAA protesters were looking for publicity and knew that any sort of violence during Trump’s visit would be amplified before an international audience by the international press, and embarrass the Indian government. This hypothesis is the foundation over which the police has based its entire case – building in effect a quintessential ‘house of cards’. All the accusations are based on the presumption that the world had no idea that the Narendra Modi government had passed a law in parliament that openly discriminated against Muslims and which – when combined with the National Register of Citizens or NRC – would create the possibility for the disenfranchisement of millions of Indian Muslims. Conspiracy theories floated by the police in its ‘blank cheque’ FIRs and chargesheets seem to have assumed that protests against the Modi government’s discriminatory citizenship law had not already attracted the world’s attention and that the protesters needed a big publicity stunt. read the complete article

New Zealand

18 Jun 2020

Man who shared image of Christchurch mosque terror attack appeals sentence

Aspine Jarvis Lee McIlroy, 43, was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment in the Christchurch District Court in February. During sentencing, Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said he was not satisfied that a sentence of home detention was appropriate. McIlroy’s appeal was heard in the High Court on Thursday. An image of the Christchurch terror attack – a screenshot from the video recorded by the shooter who killed 51 people at two city mosques last year – was found on McIlroy’s phone in April 2019 when it was examined by the police's digital forensic unit. The 16-minute-long video of the attack and four copies of a manifesto written by the shooter were also found on McIlroy’s phone. He had used an app to edit the original video into smaller files, and sent eight emails containing the files on March 17 last year. McIlroy told a pre-sentence report writer that he holds no anti-Muslim or white supremacist views. He said he thought his associates might like to see the video and he did not give much thought to it when he distributed the footage. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 Jun 2020

'Not again': Academics bemoan Munira Mirza's appointment to head race inequality commission

When Munira Mirza, a special adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was appointed to help set up a commission looking at race inequality in Britain, academic Dr Fatima Rajina thought "not again". Rajina, who focuses on racism and Islamophobia, criticised the Conservative government for its tendency to hire "ethnic minorities who agree with their point of view". "It's reminiscent of the colonial practice of creating a class of racialised people who continue to comply with institutions and structures that are there to diminish and silence communities of colour. "Mirza leading this inquiry is the latest way for this government of telling people how little they care about issues impacting racialised communities." Mirza's past comments, namely the downplaying of the existence of structural racism, has cast doubt on whether the new inequality commission will help address racism in Britain. In previous comments made in 2010, Mirza argued that "the more we seek to measure racism, the more it seems to grow". Former chair of the Conservative Party, Sayeeda Warsi, criticised these comments and told The Guardian: "When people start talking about an issue and calling it out, whether it’s racism or domestic violence, or child abuse, we see a spike in cases being reported because people finally feel they’re being listened to. That doesn’t make the situation worse; it’s the first step to making it better." read the complete article

18 Jun 2020

Nazia Amir has hijab ripped off in racist attack by canal in Perdiswell

Nazia Aamir, 47 said her and her two dogs, Benji and Chicago were attacked and almost pushed into the canal by a man who threatened to kill her on Monday evening. The mother-of-two said: "I was taking my two dogs for their evening walk down the canal when a man who was also walking his dog started shouting at me. He said he was going to kill me and my dogs. "I kept my head down and tried to walk past him but he grabbed my hijab and pulled it. It came off and fell to the ground." Mrs Aamir said the man then tried to kick her and her dogs into the canal at Perdiswell whilst shouting extremely abusive racial language. The care assistant for St Stephens added: "I was absolutely terrified, he kicked my dog and tried to force us in to the canal. He only stopped when my big dog started showing his teeth to try and protect me." read the complete article


18 Jun 2020

An essential reading list on Black Muslim history

As worldwide anti-racism protests grow following the police killing of George Floyd in the United States, Black Muslims have begun a process of introspection on issues of discrimination within the wider Islamic world. Although Islam condemned racism some 1,400 years ago, the painful reality for Black Muslims around the world is that prejudice is still very much rampant within their faith communities. To effectively address anti-Black racism, it is vital to understand the legacy and contribution of Black Muslims throughout Islamic history and in the contemporary world. While not an exhaustive list on the role of Black Muslims and Africans in Islam, these books are a good place to start. read the complete article

18 Jun 2020

Trump signs Uyghur human rights bill on same day Bolton alleges he told Xi to proceed with detention camps

President Donald Trump has signed a bill that aims to punish China for its human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim population on the same day his former national security adviser claimed Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping he should proceed in building detainment camps for the group. A White House spokesman said Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 on Wednesday. In an excerpt of his forthcoming book published by The Wall Street Journal, John Bolton wrote Trump discussed the detention camps built by the Chinese government for Uyghurs in western China during a dinner at the G20 last year. "With only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do," Bolton writes. "The National Security Council's top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China." The US State Department estimates that more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups have been detained by the Chinese government in internment camps, where they are reportedly "subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and death." read the complete article

18 Jun 2020

US takes steps to stop China's abuse of Uyghurs — as should other countries

The legislation requires the administration to sanction those identified by blocking their access to any property in the United States and denying them permission to enter the country. It states that U.S. policy toward China should be linked to China’s ending the concentration camps, releasing its political prisoners, ceasing its mass surveillance of citizens, and ending human rights abuses and severe restrictions of religious and cultural practices in Xinjiang. It also requires a series of reports from U.S. government agencies including the State Department and intelligence community on the situation in Xinjiang, as well as efforts to protect ethnic Uyghurs in the U.S. who may be experiencing harassment or intimidation by China. This requirement reminds us that the Chinese government has a history of repressing minority groups in western China, denying them civil, political and religious freedoms, as well as freedom of expression, fair trials and movement rights. By passing the legislation, U.S. lawmakers have shown “true global leadership,” said Uyghur Human Rights Project Executive Director Omer Kanat. He urged the rest of the free world to take note and to take action to end the Chinese government’s atrocities in Xinjiang. The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security in May added nine more Chinese companies to the 28 entities it listed in October 2019 for involvement in human rights abuses against ethnic Muslims, including forced labor to construct China’s high-tech police state or produce products. These are the sort of actions the U.S. should take. According to a study by our organization, Citizen Power Initiatives for China, China has created a “cotton gulag” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The region produces 84 percent of China’s cotton output, and is a primary supplier and exporter of cotton, textiles and apparel products. Xinjiang is also home to a large percentage of China’s prison population and these inmates serve as a slave labor force in cotton production, from cotton field reclamation to planting, harvesting, processing and garment making. read the complete article


18 Jun 2020

Rohingya genocide: Myanmar’s Facebook records case may be watershed moment

The lawyers prosecuting Myanmar for the alleged genocide against the Rohingya are once again breaking new legal ground. The International Court of Justice action by the Gambia was unprecedented, and long overdue, when initiated last year. But the received wisdom is that genocide accountability is particularly difficult because the plaintiff has to prove genocidal intent. And proving intent is taken to be one of the hardest standards to clear in legal proceedings. But in a logical, if unprecedented, move, the Gambian legal team, led by the formidable Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, have asked a US court to force Facebook to hand over the data they have relating to the leading Myanmar army officials who ordered the “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, chief among them Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces. If there is anywhere the prosecution might find records of the thinking that went into the actions by the Myanmar military before and during the operations against the Rohingya, Facebook is going to be the place. In 2017, I wrote about the ways in which Facebook was the principal medium through which anti-Rohingya hatred and propaganda was being stoked up for years, leading to the “clearing operations.” And, while at that time I was referring mainly to the crazed rants of extremist nationalists and Buddhist fundamentalists from Myanmar’s civil society, many senior officials, including the military leadership of the country, also weighed in on the issue on Facebook. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Jun 2020 Edition


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