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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25 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Rohingya fleeing to Malaysia speak of dozens perishing during a tortuous four-month voyage and their bodies being thrown in the sea.  In the U.S, the State Department says white supremacist terror is on the rise; even as Representative Steve Green of Minnesota says Antifa wants to “police Minneapolis under Muslim rule.” Our recommended read today is by Matilda Boseley on a spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, and how the Australian media are “unfairly stigmatising the Muslim community” for the spread of the virus. This, and more, below:


25 Jun 2020

Reports Melbourne coronavirus cluster originated at Eid party could stoke Islamophobia, Muslim leaders say | Recommended Read

Muslim community leaders say they are terrified that unconfirmed news reports claiming one on Melbourne’s coronavirus clusters originated at a family Eid celebration could create a new wave of anti-Islamic sentiment. “I’m really concerned, I’m thinking ‘here we go again’, scapegoating, marginalising, unfairly stigmatising the Muslim community,” said Adel Salman, the vice-president of the Islamic Council of Victoria. “It just plays into the same narrative that Muslims are untrustworthy, that they aren’t like us, that they flout our rules, that they don’t have Australia’s interests at heart … Either they are a threat because they want to kill us and attack us or they are a threat because they are propagating the virus. It’s the same narrative. The report in the Australian newspaper stated that the Coburg extended family cluster originated from a large family Eid celebration, an important Islamic holiday held at the end of Ramadan. The only source cited in the article was a receptionist at the Pakenham Medical Clinic, who confirmed a female patient who attended the clinic on 10 June, and later tested positive for Covid-19, was believed to have contracted it at the family gathering. Guardian Australia spoke to three receptionists at the clinic. One said they were told about the Eid connection by the health department, one that it was “what [she] heard around the office” and the other that she believed the department had not confirmed the source and that the patient had told the doctor the information. read the complete article

Recommended Read


25 Jun 2020

Rohingya say dozens perished in months-long voyage to Malaysia

Survivors from a boat crammed with more than 300 Rohingya refugees have recounted to Malaysian authorities how dozens had perished during a tortuous four-month voyage and their bodies thrown in the sea. The head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) described the ordeal suffered by Rohingya whose damaged boat had made land on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on June 8, with 269 people on board. He also recounted how the Rohingya had been transferred from a larger "motherboat" to a smaller vessel half-way through a voyage that began close to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border back in February. "I was told that around 300-plus were transferred" to the boat that reached Malaysia, MMEA Director-General Mohd Zubil Bin Mat Som told a news conference on Wednesday. "But some died at sea. They were thrown overboard," he said, later telling Reuters that those that perished had fallen sick, without elaborating further. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

UN chief: Major UN achievement at 75 is no big power war

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the biggest accomplishment of the United Nations as it approaches its 75th anniversary is the long period since World War II that the most important powers didn’t fight against each other and nuclear war was avoided. He says its biggest failing has been its inability to avoid the proliferation of medium and small conflicts. The U.N. chief has spoken repeatedly about the rise of populism triggering increasing threats to multilateralism. He has often denounced what he calls a “groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance,” including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Following the global anger after the May 25 death of George Floyd by a white police officer who kept a knee on his neck in Minneapolis, Guterres ordered a year-long study of racism within the United Nations and stressed again that racism is a global problem. He said people everywhere must be engaged to understand its legacy “and to learn from the mistakes of the past and to promote social cohesion in our societies.” read the complete article

United States

25 Jun 2020

Man convicted in train killings sentenced to life in prison

A judge has sentenced Jeremy Christian to spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally stabbing two people during his racist rant on a light-rail train in Portland, Oregon. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht sentenced Christian to two life sentences after listening to statements from Christian’s victims or victims’ relatives Tuesday and Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, died from knife wounds to the neck, and Micah Fletcher survived after Christian also stabbed him in the neck on May 26, 2017. Christian boarded the train during the evening commute and began shouting racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic slurs at the two young Black women, prosecutors said. One was an immigrant from Somalia and wore a Muslim headscarf. Some witnesses said Christian in his outburst made a slicing motion across his neck and mentioned decapitating people. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Scoop: USAID staff call out acting administrator for defending aides with anti-LGBT+ pasts

An internal revolt is escalating at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with groups of employees alleging that recent hires of senior officials with records of anti-LGBT+ and anti-Muslim comments have created a hostile work environment. Driving the news: The employees have requested a meeting with Acting Administrator John Barsa and set out their concerns in a letter to him emailed Monday and obtained by Axios. Among those concerns is that Barsa's lack of consideration for employees who feel targeted is contributing to a toxic climate at the agency. Acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala told Axios on Wednesday: "AA Barsa received this letter on Monday, June 22. He will meet with the Employee Resource Group representatives and plans to continue the conversation on the issues mentioned." Barsa in recent weeks issued statements in support of Pride Month and urged staff to report instances of discrimination, Politico notes. But the administrator’s defense of controversial hires has called his credibility into question with staff now seeking out a meeting. "The use of these words and concepts creates a hostile work environment, undermines our efforts to advance USAID’s critical mission, and is antithetical to USAID’s core values of respect, empowerment and inclusion," their letter reads. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Avoid fanning the flames of inter-religious and inter-racial hatred | Opinion

As scholars of religious studies, and with long experience in studying relations between Muslims and others, we appreciate the steps that The Tennessean has taken. It is more than welcome to see that, as the major newspaper in the state, The Tennessean recognizes its social responsibility to its Muslim as well as to its non-Muslim readership. It needs to avoid giving airtime to poisonous rhetoric that fans the flames of inter-religious and inter-racial hatred. This is particularly the case at a moment when the systematic marginalization of racial, ethnic, and religious groups lies at the center of our national dialogue. First, “Islam” is not a single unified entity, any more than Christianity is. There is no “Islam” that could detonate a nuclear weapon. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which has at its head a single leader who speaks for the whole, there is no head of the Islamic religion. Throughout Islamic history caliphs claimed that role, but since the seventh century they never enjoyed universal acceptance. Thus, the very idea that something vague and amorphous like “Islam” could do something of this nature is preposterous. The idea that Islam is a single entity is a claim made by those who wish to depict Muslims as part of a universal cabal set on destroying the West, with Muslims living in North America as the equivalent of “sleeper cells” ready at any moment to take up the call and perpetrate domestic terrorism. This echoes claims made in past times about alleged anti-Christian plots by Jews. Such anti-Islamic allegations, like anti-Semitic allegations, have no place in our society. The damage done by the ad comes from the fact that it appeared in The Tennessean, and not on a fringe site on the internet. Those who wish to believe such incendiary Islamophobic claims will be heartened to see them in the respectable pages of The Tennessean. For that reason, we welcome the immediate response by the paper and the statements put out by the leaders of its principal editorial and advertising departments. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Countries are using the coronavirus to repress and persecute

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, I have seen credible reports of violence and discrimination across the globe. Autocrats are using COVID-19 as a pretext for repression. Extremist groups are using COVID-19 to advance an agenda of hate, increasing fear of others in order to preserve and increase their own power. Governments have imposed additional restrictions on already marginalized ethnic communities, such as the Roma in Europe. Persons with disabilities around the world have faced further marginalization increased difficulties in accessing information and health care and LGBTI persons have been arrested and harassed. Conspiracy theories have fueled a rise in anti-Semitism in France and Germany and troubling incidents of anti-Muslim rhetoric and activity have been reported in India and Western Europe, along with anti-Shia sentiments in some predominantly Sunni countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Burmese government continues to systematically restrict health care for Rohingya individuals and freedom of movement, preventing them from seeking life-saving help. Pandemics can spawn hostility or discrimination, but they can also birth unity of purpose, compassion, and collective action against a common foe – the disease and its costs. Our daily lives can serve as examples of people from all walks of life working together and supporting each other. Prejudice, xenophobia, and violence are not inevitable and do nothing to protect public health. They will not further governments’ aims in stopping the spread of the virus nor will they protect communities, neighborhoods, families, and individuals. Together, through carefully considered, unified action, we can overcome this pandemic and future challenges. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Anthony Tata should be running a QAnon bulletin board — not the Pentagon policy shop

CNN’s KFile team, led by ace Internet sleuth Andrew Kaczynski, has unearthed a long trail of deranged comments from Anthony Tata, many of which he recently deleted from Twitter in an unsuccessful attempt at cleanup. The first CNN story, on June 12, reported that Tata had called Islam the “most oppressive violent religion I know of” and that he had described President Barack Obama as a “terrorist leader” who did more to “help Islamic countries than any president in history.” Tata argued that Obama negotiated the Iranian nuclear deal because he had “Islamic roots” and wanted “to help Iranians and the greater Islamic state crush Israel.” In addition, he lashed out at Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), calling them “violent extremists” and accusing Waters of being a “vicious race baiting racist.” Part II of the Tata chronicles appeared on CNN’s website on June 15. This time, KFile revealed that Tata had called Obama “a manchurian candidate” — i.e., a sleeper agent — for “Hamas & Muslim brotherhood.” In other tweets, Tata accused the Obama administration of “sedition and/or treason” and threatened former CIA director John Brennan: “Might be a good time to pick your poison: firing squad, public hanging, life sentence as prison b*tch, or just suck on your pistol. Your call. #Treason #Sedition #crossfirehurricane #Obamagate.” Part III was published on Tuesday. This time, CNN revealed that Tata had spread conspiracy theories about a “deep state cabal” seeking to undermine President Trump and accused the Obamas of “borderline treasonous” behavior. It isn’t as if Tata misspoke once or twice. There is an extensive record of his making crazy comments that reveal he is better suited to run a QAnon bulletin board than the Pentagon’s policy shop. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

White supremacist terrorism 'on the rise and spreading,' State Dept. says in new report

The threat of racially or ethnically motivated terrorism, especially white supremacist terrorism, is "on the rise and spreading geographically," according to a new report by the State Department, as the threat from ISIS and other radical Islamist terror groups evolves. The annual report, released Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, details by country and terror organization the threats emanating around the world. This year's report put even greater focus on white supremacist terrorism, just weeks after the department designated a white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization for the first time. In 2019, there were several high-profile attacks motivated by the ideology, including the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shooting in March; the El Paso, Texas, shooting in August; and the Halle, Germany, synagogue shooting in October. That kind of "violence (is) both on the rise and spreading geographically, as white supremacist and nativist movements and individuals increasingly target immigrants; Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) individuals; governments; and other perceived enemies," the report said. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Rep. Steve Green says Antifa wants to 'police Minneapolis under Muslim rule'

Last week, a pair of Minnesota representatives, Steve Green (R-Fosston) and Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook), sat down with the Hubbard County Board and launched into a “host of grievances,” according to the Park Rapids Enterprise. The Republicans touched on the feelings of local law enforcement on police reform bills being proposed in the Legislature. Grossell, a former sheriff’s deputy in Clearwater County, has long been an “I’m not from the Twin Cities, but we need more cops in the Twin Cities” kind of guy. It's an interesting stance to take if you’ve ever yelled angrily at police after getting super drunk at the St. Paul Best Western. Which he has. But Green one-upped him, claiming Antifa and Muslim organizations plan to “police Minneapolis under Muslim rule." In a further demonstration of his local expertise, Green said some DFL legislators plan to impose eminent domain on businesses destroyed during the George Floyd protests – in so doing, allowing “communism” to “move into Minneapolis and St. Paul.” Green didn’t respond to interview requests about this Alex Jones Mad Lib theory of his. read the complete article


25 Jun 2020

Being Muslim means you're never safe from China

For Muslims from China, traveling abroad can put friends and family at home at risk. In December 2015, Abduhaliq Aziz, a young Muslim from the ancient city of Kashgar, moved to Cairo to study at the renowned Al-Azhar University. Shortly thereafter, Chinese authorities retaliated by detaining Aziz’s parents. Several years after Ablikim Yusuf, a Uyghur Muslim, moved to Pakistan for work, he received a message over WeChat: his brother was in a reeducation camp. Last summer, Qatari authorities nearly deported Yusuf to China while he was transiting through Doha airport; only public outrage and U.S. diplomacy allowed him to settle in Virginia. At least Aziz and Yusuf are free. Millions of Muslims back in China aren’t so fortunate. Since 2017, the Chinese government has detained an estimated 1.8 million Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Muslims in concentration camps across the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Leaked government documents show that many of these individuals were targeted because of their religious practices, such as growing a beard or wearing a veil, not because they posed a security risk. As part of this sinification campaign, nearly half a million Muslim children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools, where they are taught to obey the party and reject Islam. The Chinese government’s persecution of its Muslim population is unique not just because of its scale and ruthlessness, but also because of the lengths to which it goes to pursue Muslims outside its borders. The government has submitted extradition requests to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, and other countries for Muslims who fled China. In 2017, Egyptian authorities rounded up dozens of Uyghur students and deported them to China. When it can’t seize individuals who have fled abroad, the government often detains their families back in China. In a particularly cruel move, in 2018 Dr. Gulshan Abbas was disappeared in an attempt to silence her sister, Rushan Abbas, an outspoken Uyghur-American activist based in Virginia. read the complete article


25 Jun 2020

Indians who made Covid ‘Muslim virus’ after Tablighi Jamaat are cheering Odisha’s Rath Yatra

On 23 June, visuals of devotees swirling around Odisha’s famous Jagannath Puri temple flooded social media, causing one to momentarily forget that India is still in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic. A day earlier, the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land, gave permission for the annual Rath Yatra in Odisha to be held, but with certain restrictions. The petition against the Rath Yatra taking place this year, filed by Odisha-based NGO Odisha Vikas Parishad (OVP), had cited the example of the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, which made the news for becoming Delhi’s Covid hotspot and adding to the spurt of cases in the country. Interestingly, a servitor of the Jagannath Temple has already tested positive for coronavirus. From the looks of footage from Odisha’s Jagannath Rath Yatra, we are probably looking at ‘Tablighi Jamaat 2.0’. But clearly, the media and those who spewed hate against all Muslims oddly don’t care much about the health of those at the temple. The Tablighi Jamaat Markaz was soon called the biggest Covid hotspot, not just in India, but in South Asia. Accusations against the non-political global Sunni Islamic missionary organisation flew thick and fast, with abuses targeted directly at the Muslim community. Muslims in India are a highly fragmented community, made up of various sects and sub-sects, and Tablighi Jamaat represented one small fraction. Yet, Muslims as a whole were vilified for their “irresponsibility” and “dangerous” actions for weeks to come. From being maligned by both Hindi and English news anchors on a daily basis, to propaganda and false rumours about Muslim vegetable vendors spitting on vegetables to intentionally spread Covid-19 — the coronavirus had suddenly become a ‘Muslim virus’. read the complete article

25 Jun 2020

Modi's India should be on the US's religious freedom blacklist

On June 10, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report which documents major instances of violations of religious freedom across the world. The report's 27-page chapter on India is a scathing indictment of the sharp decline in religious freedom in the South Asian country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's watch. Noting that there have been reports of "religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice and speak about their religious beliefs", the report heavily criticises the Indian government's policies and actions that result in the erosion of religious freedoms of India's minority communities. In April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal body that advises the US president and Congress, released its annual report. In the report, USCIRF called for India to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for "engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations". The federal body also recommended the imposition of "targeted sanctions" on Indian officials and agencies "responsible for severe violations of religious freedom in India". A CPC designation would confirm India's status as one the world's worst offenders of religious freedom, alongside Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and China. It would amplify international pressure on India to take the necessary precautions to stop religious violence and discrimination. Moreover, it would allow the Trump administration to show that it is serious about countering religious discrimination, even when the perpetrator is an allied government. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jun 2020 Edition


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