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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24 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a pregnant activist, jailed in the aftermath of the Delhi pogroms, gets bail. In the U.S, anti-Muslim flyers appear in Anne Arundel County. Our recommended read today is by Sean Roberts on the Trump administration, and how it encouraged the mass internment of Uighurs in China. This, and more, below:


24 Jun 2020

China's hidden partner in suppressing the Muslim Uighurs – the US | Recommended Read

Last week, President Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act, the first US legislation to focus on the role of the US in protecting the rights of Uighurs and other indigenous Muslims inside China. On the same day, former national security adviser John Bolton revealed in an excerpt from his book that Trump had allegedly told the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, perhaps as early as 2017 and again in 2019, that he agreed with his policy of placing Muslims in mass internment camps. While contradictory messaging is not new to the Trump administration, these particular mixed messages about Uighurs have a longer history which belies the role that the US has played in stoking the flames of Islamophobia in China. During the 1990s, the Chinese government frequently repressed both populations in the name of combating “separatism”, an excuse for attacking minorities that was not palatable to the international community at the time. The 9/11 attacks and the advent of the global “war on terror” changed that equation for the Uighurs. China shifted its discourse about suppressing Uighur dissent in late 2001, claiming that it was combating an international terrorist threat linked to al-Qaida, a justification that was endorsed by the international community. These negligible threats were exaggerated to justify militaristic police brutality throughout the Xinjiang region of China, especially in its majority Uighur southern villages and cities. With time, this was also met by Uighur-led retaliation against the police and security forces. In 2009, the tension in the region exploded into ethnic riots in its capital city of Urumqi, resulting in the most intense crackdown on suspected Uighur disloyalty yet. Over the next several years, this would lead to an exodus of Uighurs fleeing repression in China and a handful of instances of Uighur violent resistance to the state in 2013 and 2014 that looked a lot like terrorist acts, appearing politically motivated, premeditated, and targeting civilians. By using counterterrorism tactics to violently deal with mostly peaceful calls for self-determination, it drove some Uighurs to mimic the enemy that China had always imagined them to be. The present wholesale attack on Uighur identity has its origins in this tumultuous time. In 2014, China declared a “people’s war on terror” that was in reality nothing less than a war on the Uighurs. They began building an expansive electronic surveillance network to track Uighurs, started beta-testing “re-education” classes for political indoctrination, and criminalised many cultural practices important to Uighur identity as signs of “extremism”. In 2017, this war was put into full motion through the mass internment of large swaths of the Uighur population. China’s ongoing campaign against the Uighurs has always been an effort to neutralise Uighur resistance to China’s full integration of the Uighur homeland into a unified and monocultural Chinese state. It has never been a response to a terrorist threat, real or imagined – but a narrative of Islamist terrorism founded in the US-led “war on terror” has always served as its convenient justification. read the complete article

Recommended Read
24 Jun 2020

Rohingya refugees tell Malaysia how dozens perished during four-month voyage

Survivors from a boat crammed with over 300 Rohingya Muslim refugees told Malaysian authorities that dozens of their people perished and their bodies were thrown in the sea during a tortuous four-month voyage. The Rohingya had risked the perilous sea journey having lost hope of making a better life in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, where many had found sanctuary after fleeing their homes in Myanmar following a military crackdown in 2017. Mainly Muslim Malaysia is home to the second largest number of Rohingya refugees after Bangladesh. But in recent weeks, the Southeast Asian country has turned away at least two boats and detained hundreds of Rohingya and undocumented migrants, amid heightened public anger towards foreigners who have been accused of spreading the coronavirus and burdening state resources. read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

Why does Islamophobia exist in Muslim-majority countries?

Growing Islamophobia is not just a phenomenon in Western Europe, in the Balkans where the continents largest number of Muslims are, it’s also a problem. Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia are three majority Muslim countries in the Balkans that face significant anti-Muslim rhetoric. There is also a large contingent of indigenous Muslims in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro who face everyday challenges while practicing their faith. In 2019, the book “Islamophobia in Muslim Majority Societies” sought to tackle this unusual and seemingly self-contradictory question. “Islamophobia may function differently but, in essence, the phenomenon is connected to the global political context that is very much structured by the post-colonial order and related to contemporary US hegemony in the world,” claim the book’s authors. The US has become one of the central funding sources from which anti-Muslim narratives are spread globally. A 2019 report, “Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network”, found that there are 1,096 organisations responsible for funding 39 groups - to the tune of millions of dollars - in order to spread anti-Muslim sentiment. Much of it has crossed the Atlantic into Europe and consequently into the Balkan countries, where it has mixed with an older form of othering Muslims resulting in an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment. Elites in majority Muslim and “self-Westernised countries” such as the Balkans, viewed the “the regulation of Islam [as] a way of regulating an identity that was regarded as a threat to the Western-like secular nation-state.” read the complete article

United States

24 Jun 2020

Test questions about Islamic terrorism lead to lawsuit at Arizona college

A Muslim college student and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Arizona have filed a lawsuit to stop the use of course materials they say falsely teach that the only interpretation of religious texts is that Islam "mandates" terrorism. Mohamed Sabra, a political science major at Scottsdale Community College, says Muslim students' constitutional rights are being violated because they have to disavow their religion and give incorrect answers to test questions in the school's world politics course or be penalized by having their answers marked as wrong. The lawsuit, filed June 2 in U.S. District Court, names as defendants Maricopa County Community College District and SCC Professor Nicholas Damask, who teaches the course. SCC is one of 10 colleges in the district. The suit seeks a declaration that teaching the materials violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says that one religious denomination may not be preferred over another. It also asks for an order that bars teaching the materials unless they are modified so they do not have "the primary effect of disapproving of Islam." read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

What Happened in the Tennessean’s Newsroom After That Islam “Nuclear Detonation” Ad

Subscribers of the Tennessean opened their Sunday papers last weekend to discover a full-page ad that warned a “nuclear device” would detonate in Nashville on July 18, 2020. The ad said it would be set off by “Islam”—not by Muslims, not by a terrorist group, just by “Islam.” The ad, created by a fringe post-apocalyptic Christian organization called the Ministry of Future for America, set off an immediate furor as it traveled online. The Tennessean itself called it “utterly indefensible” and rushed to find out how it had made it into print. By Monday, a sales manager had been fired. On Sunday, David Plazas, the opinion and engagement director at the Tennessean and the USA Today newsrooms in Tennessee, had started a furlough, like many of his colleagues, because of the coronavirus economic slowdown. He was immediately called back to address the crisis. We spoke on Tuesday about how the ad came to be, the paper’s firm response, and the impossible work of local journalism right now. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity. read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

Anti-Muslim flyers found in Anne Arundel County

Printed on a single sheet, each message couldn’t have cost the person behind the letters left at each house in a four-block span of Brooklyn Park more than pennies to produce, but the fear it causes comes at a much greater cost. “When I opened it up to read it, it’s somebody that is trying to attack Muslims, attack their religion, attack everything that’s going on, and it scared me, because of what’s already going on,” said Connie Bates who found one outside her mother’s house. A block away, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, Khalid Mahmood, discovered one in front of his house. “It is dangerous, and it’s making people really hurt from inside,” said Mahmood. The letter questions how the white race is held to task for a history of slavery in a nation, which now accepts Muslims even though the author claims their holiest book, the Quran, supports slavery. “It is considered free speech, but it also is considered a hate-biased incident,” said Marc Limansky of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, “It contains anti-Muslim sentiment and out department will investigate as always any occurrences or incidents involving a bias against a protected group.” read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

Marine From Newark: How I Became 'Just Another Muslim In America'

As a U.S. Marine, Affraz Mohammed thought he was fighting for the basic rights of his fellow citizens. And that's partly why it hurt so much the day he realized he was "just another Muslim in America." Recently, Mohammed – a Newark native whose family still lives in Essex County – reached out to Patch to share his worries about police brutality and racial profiling in the wake of George Floyd's death. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Mohammed began to find that people – including his peers – were looking at him differently. "There has always been anti-Muslim sentiment in this country, but after the attacks of 9/11, Muslims were viewed very differently, even those of us who were serving our country with exemplary service records," he said. And then in August 2002, his future came to a crashing halt, Mohammed recalled. While Mohammed was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, he became the target of an operation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), reported. On Aug. 28, Mohammed met with a fellow Marine to buy a 9 mm handgun that he could carry with a concealed weapon permit. It wasn't anything unusual; Marines "always bought weapons off each other," he said. Although Mohammed wanted a 9 mm, the man persuaded him to buy a semi-automatic AK-47 instead, lowering his price to $160 to seal the deal. "It wasn't until afterward that I understood the weapon I purchased was a fully automatic weapon, not a semiautomatic, and was therefore illegal," Mohammed wrote in a 2019 post for The New York Times Magazine. And that's when the feds moved in for the arrest, he said. "At that moment, I was face down on the ground, handcuffed, surrounded by a half-dozen agents in body armor with their guns drawn," Mohammed wrote. "What I knew in that terrifying moment was that I was being arrested for something serious — and that I was a brown-skinned Muslim with the last name Mohammed." read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

Vandals cause estimated $100K of damage to Indian restaurant

Vandals damaged the interior furnishings of of an Indian restaurant in downtown Santa Fe and spray-painted racist comments on walls and art objects in the building. Cost of the damage to the India Palace was estimated at $100,000, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The damage included smashing a buffet and overturning tables and chairs. The comments included “white supremacist stuff” and remarks such as “go back to your country," said Cameron Brown, an associate of restaurant owner Bajit Singh and Singh's son, Baljot Singh. The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the vandalism as “”disturbing hate attack." The incident “once again demonstrates that growing white supremacy, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism target every minority community and must be challenged by people of all races, faiths and backgrounds,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. read the complete article

24 Jun 2020

Portland MAX Stabbing Victims Call Out Racist System During Sentencing Hearing

Only about a half-hour into his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Jeremy Christian was escorted out of the courtroom for an outburst. Christian was convicted of stabbing and killing two men and injuring a third on a MAX light rail train in Portland in 2017. After a four-week trial earlier this year, a jury found him guilty on 12 counts, including murder and attempted murder, as well as assault and hate crimes. “I should’ve killed you, b*tch,” Christian yelled at Demetria Hester, a Black woman he assaulted a night prior to the MAX stabbings, before being escorted out of the room by Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies Tuesday. Hester was one of about 15 people slated to give victim impact statements Tuesday ahead of Christian’s sentencing. In her statement, Hester recalled the assault as well as the wider implications of white supremacy and violence against people of color. Christian was convicted of intimidation, or a hate crime, against Hester as well as three Black girls: Destinee Mangum, Walia Mohamed and Zayda Allen. Hester also addressed Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht, who has overseen Christian’s trial. She listed examples of Albrecht allowing Christian to remain in the court and make outbursts in the past, as well as scheduling Christian’s trial for a later date than victims’ families members and survivors had requested. “All of these are examples of absolute abuse of power,” Hester said. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Jun 2020

Former officer claims racism forced her out of Met police

A former officer for the Metropolitan police has lodged two claims with an employment tribunal against the force, citing a hostile and “racist” work environment that forced her to resign. The Pakistani Muslim woman, who has requested not to be named, claims she was forced to resign from her role as an inspector superintendent in January 2020. At that time, she was the most senior female BAME and Muslim officer in the Metropolitan police. In the two tribunal claims seen by the Guardian, she describes the force as a toxic workplace in which BAME staff of all ranks are subjected to unfavourable discriminatory treatment, including being blocked from promotion, undermined, not supported, harassed and bullied. She alleges white peers were routinely favoured for promotions, and offered career support, over BAME colleagues. Her claim seeks compensation for injury to feelings and injury to health, loss of earnings and pension losses. The former employee was also one of those who reported a drawing of a swastika at a police station to senior staff in 2019. In her complaint, she claims that after she and others raised concerns over the swastika, senior staff at the Met tried to silence them and failed to investigate the drawing. No action was taken over the Nazi symbol. In March this year, a 21-year-old Met police officer from the Edmonton department was arrested on suspicion of being a member of a banned group linked to rightwing terrorism. read the complete article


24 Jun 2020

Jailed pregnant Indian activist gets bail in Delhi violence case

A court in India has granted bail to Safoora Zargar, a 27-year-old student activist who was jailed in April in a case related to the religious violence in capital New Delhi earlier this year. A New Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to Zargar on the condition that she does not involve herself in activities that could hamper the investigation. She has also been directed to not leave the capital city. Zargar's imprisonment, despite her pregnancy and amid the coronavirus pandemic, had caused widespread outrage, with activists and lawyers across India calling for her release on humanitarian grounds. She was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2019 (UAPA), a stringent anti-terror law rights groups have labelled "draconian". Police accuse her of being a key "conspirator" in the February violence that erupted in northeast Delhi during nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). At least 53 people were killed, mostly Muslims, in the worst violence in the capital since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jun 2020 Edition


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