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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04 Jun 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, a people’s tribunal begins to decide whether China is guilty of genocide against the Uyghurs community in Xinjiang, as American President Joe Biden expands a Trump-Era Ban on investment in Chinese Firms linked to Chinese state military, and in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees face police brutality during a protest against the lack of access to a visiting U.N. delegation. Our recommended read of the day is by Khyati Y. Joshi on the need for Indian American Hindus to be able to speak freely on the dangers of authoritarianism in India. This and more below:


03 Jun 2021

For Indian American Hindus, loving India doesn’t mean holding back our criticism

Human-made tragedies that occur as a result of allowing such events as the Kumbh Mela to continue are especially hard for diasporic Hindus like me to watch, because Hinduism is so much a part of how we understand our relationship to India. Modi’s rise to power, and his increasingly authoritarian governance (like the wannabe dictator we Americans just kicked out of the White House), means we must critically examine how ethnic pride results in soft-pedaling our criticisms of the Indian government. Having written a book on white Christian privilege in the U.S., I see how Hindus in India are affected by the power of being the majority, even as they do not see that power, common for a dominant group. India used to be better at squaring its diversity with its principles. This is not to hold up India, in any time, as an ideal. Bollywood imagines Sikhs as buffoons, and the history of partition and wars with Pakistan cause Muslim Indians to be viewed as suspect. No decade or election has been completely free of sectarian violence. Modi has been changing the nation’s trajectory, politicizing religion by embracing and governing from Hindutva, an ideology that emphasizes Hinduism as essential to India’s identity and superior to the nation’s other faiths. From a proposed ban on the sale and slaughter of beef cattle, to a new citizenship law that Human Rights Watch calls “inherently discriminatory” against Muslims, Modi and his allies aim to make one religion the law of the land. Modi’s governance is part of an emerging illiberalism around the globe, amid appeals to exclusionary national identity. Because of India’s history of sectarian conflict and political violence, not least the Hindu-Muslim violence associated with Modi’s political beginnings in Gujarat 20 years ago, Modi’s Hindutva flexing doesn’t just go against secular traditions; it fans the flames of violence. Indian American Hindus need to raise our voices in opposition. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
03 Jun 2021

'I’m Scared to Tell You I Saved a Muslim': Hindu Man Who Rescued His Friend in Delhi Riots

After more than a year, North-East Delhi has not yet recovered from the gory riots that have scarred the brotherhood that existed between Hindus and Muslims in the area. With the loss of 53 lives, those left behind have been left with fractured friendships. A few bonds have managed to survive – but under a cloud of secrecy. Late at night on February 24, 2020, Naushad Akhtar, along with his neighbors watched a carnage unfold from their terraces. Akhtar claims that night he saw shops with Muslim names being burnt in the Mandi Gali in Mustafabad. The next morning, they woke up to realize bigger horrors were in store, with even homes being heavily vandalized. When this mob arrived near Gadha Chowk, Akhtar says, “We told our Hindu neighbors, acquaintances that we can tolerate the mobs looting our houses but please ask them to not target our mosques.” Akhtar, who went to hide in the Tayyaba Masjid nearby, says that even when the masjid was being attacked and burnt, he had reached out to his Hindu friends in the area to get rid of the rioters. The next day on February 26, Akhtar explains how after he had escaped the torching of Tayyaba Masjid, and rioters broke into his house, which also ran a two-room Madrasa, his Hindu neighbor Sunil had called him to ask a question. Sunil asked Akhtar whether he could write “Jai Shree Ram” on the main door of Akhtar’s house to save it from rioters. Without a second thought, Akhtar agreed. Sunil says, “After the rioters left late that night, I painted my own name and Jai Shri Ram on Naushad’s door so that rioters stay away.” On being asked why he took this risk, he said, “Naushad is a very dear friend, and he has always been there for me.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 Jun 2021

Islamophobia inquiry deliberately excluded Muslim Tories, claims ex-MEP

Muslim members of the Conservative party were deliberately excluded from an inquiry into Islamophobia within its ranks, a former Tory MEP has claimed, as he called the complaints procedure “not fit for purpose” and urged Boris Johnson not to pursue an “English nationalist agenda”. Sajjad Karim, who represented north-west England in the European parliament for 15 years until 2019, said the long-awaited report that came out last week and found no evidence of “institutional Islamophobia” was a “whitewash”, and said apologies from the prime minister for any offense he had caused were “insincere”. Speaking to the Guardian’s Politics Weekly podcast, Karim voiced concerns that Conservative central headquarters (CCHQ) would use “sleight of hand” to escape implementing the recommendations made by the inquiry’s Prof Swaran Singh. Johnson’s apology “for any offense taken” when he compared women wearing burqas to letterboxes in 2018 and subsequent admission he would not use the same language as prime minister were described as “mealy mouthed” and “nothing but insulting” by Karim. He said party members including him had “no confidence left that the party internally is willing to actually deal with this issue”. read the complete article

03 Jun 2021

Conservative Pragmatism Knows Islamophobia Helps Win Elections

There are those who believe that the report is a whitewash, despite its conclusion that Islamophobia has become a serious issue, with concerns too easily denied or dismissed. Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi believes that the findings satisfy the thresholds of institutional racism – something she has repeatedly emphasized in what she describes as a “long and lonely campaign” against Islamophobia in her own party. The report itself found no evidence of institutional racism, despite stating that there were issues “from the top… to the bottom” of the party. Others have taken a more hopeful approach, when listing the report’s shortcomings, acknowledging that it “provides a historic opportunity for the party to reset its relationship with Muslim communities”. Johnson’s attitude towards Muslims is not unique given his past comments on black people and homosexuals, but he and other Conservative Party big wigs know full well that a sizable proportion of the voter base hold a special disregard for Muslims. Just two days after the release of the report, the Prime Minister hosted Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – a man who owes much of his political success to cultivating an image of a defender of Christianity against ‘Muslim hoards’. He is by no means alone in gaining electoral success on the back of on anti-Muslim message. All over Europe, opposition to Muslims is a uniting force among the various populist and far-right leaders and parties. Islamophobia has had a distinct power in mainstreaming those once considered to be on the fringe or crackpots. This also appears to be the case in Britain as the Conservative Party has become a one-stop-shop for anti-Muslim racists. As the right increases its demonization of Muslims under the guise of free speech and anti-terror measures, Britain’s Conservative Party has plenty of room to follow, knowing full well that it will have no real consequences at the ballot box. read the complete article

03 Jun 2021

British Muslims didn't need a report to tell us the Conservative Party has a deep rooted problem with Islamophobia

The long-awaited inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party was finally published in late May, and then promptly buried by the bombshells Dominic Cummings dropped in his seven-hour testimony on the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The timing may be a coincidence, but the result is that the reaction to the Conservative Islamophobia report has been lacklustre across the board. However, it is unlikely that the report would have created waves, even in a slow news week. The inquiry was led by Professor Swaran Singh, who has been previously criticized for writing for right-wing publications like Spiked - the editor of whom has been publicly scornful of Islamophobia, branding it "an invented term that is mainly designed to shut down critical discussion about Islam." This claim that the Tories are not institutionally Islamophobic has already been rebutted by high profile Muslim members of the party. It is easy to find records of anti-Muslim language, often dehumanizing language, on every level; from the leadership to the grassroots. The news cycle will likely swiftly move on from the Islamophobia report, as many do not see Islamophobia as a key issue. The fact is, less than 0.5% of journalists in the UK are Muslim. Uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, this demography will shape the views of the public on the relevance of the topic. Another unpleasant fact is that the British media in general tilts towards Islamophobia. A study found that most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative. read the complete article


02 Jun 2021

An Uighur love story, derailed by China’s crackdown

Mehray Mezensof’s husband is one of an estimated million Uighurs imprisoned in China. Several countries accuse China of committing crimes against humanity, including genocide. Starting Friday, a people’s tribunal in the UK will meet to decide if that’s true. read the complete article

03 Jun 2021

Uyghur Exiles Allege Forced Abortions, Torture in China's Xinjiang

Three Uyghurs who fled from China to Turkey have described forced abortions and torture by Chinese authorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region, ahead of giving testimony to a people’s tribunal in London that is investigating if Beijing’s actions against ethnic Uyghurs amount to genocide. The three witnesses include a woman who said she was forced into an abortion at 6 1/2 months pregnant, a former doctor who spoke of draconian birth control policies, and a former detainee who alleged he was “tortured day and night” by Chinese soldiers while he was imprisoned in the remote border region. They spoke to The Associated Press of their experiences before testifying by video link to the independent U.K. tribunal, which is expected to draw dozens of witnesses when it opens four days of hearings on Friday. Semsinur Gafur, a former obstetrician-gynecologist who worked in a village hospital in Xinjiang in the 1990s, said she and other female clinicians used to go from house to house with a mobile ultrasound machine to check if anyone was pregnant. “If a household had more births than allowed, they would raze the home ... They would flatten the house, destroy it,” Gafur said. “This was my life there. It was very distressing. And because I worked in a state hospital, people didn’t trust me. The Uyghur people saw me as a Chinese traitor.” read the complete article

United States

03 Jun 2021

Biden Expands Trump-Era Ban on Investment in Chinese Firms Linked to Military

President Biden issued a new executive order on Thursday barring Americans from investing in Chinese firms that are linked to the country’s military or that sell surveillance technology used to repress dissent or religious minorities, both inside and outside China. The new order expands on an earlier, Trump-era blacklist and brings to 59 the total number of Chinese firms banned from U.S. investment. The move intensifies a commercial and ideological battle between Beijing and Washington, one that Mr. Biden has termed the struggle between “autocracy and democracy.” It comes at a moment when China is both ramping up its ability to spy on its nearly 1.4 billion people — using a mix of facial-recognition cameras and software, phone-scanners and a range of other tools — and exporting that technology to nations around the world. The technology is often sold abroad as part of a package of communications equipment provided by companies like Huawei, or as part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, which aims to expand the country’s trade ties. China has used surveillance technology against Muslim minorities like the Uighurs and dissidents in Hong Kong and in the Chinese diaspora around the globe. read the complete article


03 Jun 2021

Rohingya Muslim refugees ‘injured in protests’ on isolated island during UNHCR visit

Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar, angry at living conditions on a remote Bangladeshi island, suffered baton injuries as they protested against the lack of access to a visiting U.N. team, two of the refugees said. The Rohingya, who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, cannot move off the flood-prone island of Bhasan Char, several hours away from the mainland by sea. A two-member delegation from the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) was joined by Bangladesh foreign ministry officials on Monday on the visit to Bhasan Char, where Bangladesh wants to transfer 100,000 of the more than a million refugees who fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. Two refugees told Reuters by phone that they protested because Bangladesh had blocked them from speaking to the UNHCR delegates. "They only allowed the delegates to meet a few refugees who would not say anything critical against Bangladesh," said Ali, who declined to give his last name for fear of reprisals from authorities. "We wanted to speak to the U.N. officials to tell them about the real situation here," he added. "We don't have work ... how will we earn? And there is also no proper healthcare here." read the complete article


04 Jun 2021

‘Uighur tribunal’ to open in London as China dismisses ‘PR show’

A panel of UK-based lawyers and rights experts investigating the plight of Uighurs in China will begin hearing evidence from witnesses on Friday, as Beijing branded it a “machine producing lies”. The “Uighur Tribunal” says its nine jurors will hear first-hand testimony of alleged crimes in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, including forced sterilization, torture, disappearances and slave labour. The organization, which has no state backing, plans to use the London hearings to issue a verdict on whether Beijing has perpetrated genocide or crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Jun 2021 Edition


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