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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08 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Fear stops the Rohingya from getting tested as the coronavirus hits the largest refugee camp in the world. Leaked documents reveal that across Europe, exiled Uighurs report surveillance by the Chinese state and threats of harm to their relatives in Xinjiang if they speak up about Chinese repression at home. Twitter and Reddit join 40 major social media organizations in telling a federal court that the State Department’s policy requiring visa applicants to register their social media handles violates the First Amendment. Our recommended read today is by Nesrine Malik on racism in America, and how it’s not the exception, but the norm. This, and more, below:

United States

08 Jun 2020

Racism in America is not the exception – it's the norm | Recommended Read

For black and minority ethnic people, the country has always been the America of an immune police force, white supremacy and a legal system that protects only those who can afford it. The Trump administration is simply suspending convention, ditching the pretence of pious protocol and ritual that has always been central to the survival of the “not in America” myth. This has always been America, what’s different is that it no longer feels the need to hide its true nature. Since Donald Trump became president, non-Americans have taken to drawing tongue-in-cheek comparisons between America and Arab dictatorships – its fetishising of the military, its president’s clumsy and vulgar stabs at religiosity, its centuries-old ethnic tension erupting in clashes – but even these jokes now wear thin. Because since George Floyd’s death, since the government and institutions of sanctioned violence have bared their teeth, the US’s flattering view of itself has taken such a battering that jokes are no longer needed to do the job. Those clutching their pearls at assaults on the media and police brutality hold dear the belief that America’s inherent virtue will prevail, even as police officers hammer it with batons on mobile phone footage. American exceptionalism is the proverbial cockroach weathering a nuclear attack – it survives everything. It survives school shootings, the suspension of due process in Guantánamo Bay, and the torture and killing of millions of innocent civilians from Vietnam to Iraq. It is at this moment surviving despite the US having the highest coronavirus death toll in the world. read the complete article

Recommended Read
08 Jun 2020

The Protesters

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf ― who was known as Chris Jackson before he converted to Islam in 1991 and later changed his name ― was a talented shooter who in 1994 had a free throw percentage of 95.6, the second-highest in NBA history. But it wasn’t his near-perfect free throws that drew him into the spotlight. In 1996, over the course of several games, the Denver Nuggets player chose to either sit quietly or wait inside the locker room during the national anthem. There was a host of issues that led to Abdul-Rauf’s protest. He said mostly that the flag, to him, had become “a symbol of oppression” that contradicted his Muslim beliefs. His actions went largely unnoticed until a reporter asked why he was seated. When the news of his protest spread, Abdul-Rauf’s position was met with swift punishment from the NBA and the American people. The NBA suspended him for one game and he subsequently lost over $30,000 in wages until he agreed to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Commentators fiercely debated Abdul-Rauf’s views, questioned his patriotism, and scolded him for being ungrateful. Like many activists before and after him, Abdul-Rauf paid a stiff price for sticking by his principles. There were no hashtags or social media campaigns ― for or against him ― but he had more enemies than supporters. Abdul-Rauf moved on to play abroad before he retired in 2011. Over 20 years later, he doesn’t regret a thing. HuffPost spoke to Abdul-Rauf from his Atlanta home about George Floyd’s death, the anti-racism protests and how his Muslim faith continues to keep him grounded. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

How To Limit A President’s Power Over Immigration

Since becoming president, Donald Trump has used the previously obscure authority in 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act more than any previous president and in ways critics view as dangerous. He may use this authority again in the new future to block the entry of foreign-born scientists and engineers on H-1B visas. “President Trump has also employed § 212(f) to impose restrictions that are broader than those most commonly imposed by his predecessors,” noted a recent analysis from the Congressional Research Service. “These broader restrictions include . . . the entry of categories of nationals of seven countries and on the entry of aliens as immigrants from an additional six countries; a suspension of the entry of immigrants who lack health insurance; and, most recently, the suspension of the entry of most immigrants for 60 days during the economic recovery from Covid-19.” To better understand this previously little-noticed provision of U.S. immigration law, and how the courts and Congress might limit a president’s use of it, I interviewed Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University and author of the new book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

I'm a Black American Muslim. After the killing of George Floyd, I hope that my community will speak out against injustices faced by Black people

As a Black American Muslim woman, I was anxious to learn how my fellow American Muslims would react to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. I've experienced racism from the larger American Muslim community, and I've also seen that some members have been slow to speak out about the protection of Black lives. Over the past few weeks, I've seen things that have given me hope, including prominent organizations and leaders speaking out about the injustice. Even after the news cycle shifts, I hope Muslims in America never again shy away from protecting Black lives. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

How Floyd Case Could Finally Unite Blacks and Muslims

Despite the Muslim and African-American communities both being minority groups, and the fact that nearly one third of the Muslim American community is black, there’s been a history of tension or mistrust between many in the two groups. And George Floyd’s tragic murder and the reaction that followed both conjure up the past challenges for these two communities—and offer an inspiring sign of hope for the future. One of the primary areas of friction arises from the fact that some Muslims own delis or even liquor stores in urban neighborhoods where they gladly accept the money of black customers but show no support for the African-American community in time of need. Others, such as Michigan-based Imam Dawud Walid, who is African-American, have called out South Asian and Arab Muslim store owners who profit off the black community by selling them goods that are detrimental to their health, as he did in a tweet this week: "If fellow Muslims who own liquor stores in the Black community truly care about Black lives, they can start with stopping the sale of alcohol, lottery, and drug paraphernalia in their stores.” While some have accused the Muslim owners of being welcoming of white patrons but openly hostile to black customers, calling them racist names in Arabic or other languages. Add to that, internally in the Muslim community, some Middle Eastern/South Asian Muslims—primarily but not exclusively immigrants—had a history of not welcoming or being dismissive of them simply because of their race. This very point was made by comedian Hasan Minhaj this week on his Netflix series Patriot Act, as he addressed the murder of Floyd and need for “Brown” people—especially Muslims—to be a part of the fight against discrimination. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Twitter and Reddit Support Lawsuit Challenging Social Media Vetting of Visa Applicants

Twitter, Reddit, and a trade association representing over 40 major internet companies told a federal court last week that the State Department’s policy requiring visa applicants to register their social media handles violates the First Amendment. Their friend-of-the-court brief comes in a lawsuit filed by the Brennan Center, Knight First Amendment Institute, and the law firm Simpson Thacher on behalf of Doc Society and the International Documentary Association. The suit argues that the registration requirement gives their members and partners an unacceptable choice: be careful and possibly limit what they share on social media — or be denied entry to the United States, whether to visit or to live. In turn, it deprives American filmmakers of opportunities to hear from their foreign counterparts. And it makes it harder for them to connect the world through film, an important part of their missions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a number of faith-based organizations added their voices in additional briefs about how the registration requirement invades privacy and harms religious minorities. read the complete article


08 Jun 2020

Fear Stops Rohingya Getting Tested as Virus Hits Refugee Camps

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh with symptoms of the novel coronavirus are not coming forward to get tested because they fear being separated from their families and held in isolation, community leaders and aid workers say. Only one death from the coronavirus has been recorded in the crowded camps in southeast Bangladesh, where some 730,000 Muslim Rohingya fled in 2017 to escape a military crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. But aid workers fear the coronavirus may be spreading faster through the world's largest refugee settlement than the 29 cases confirmed since mid-May would indicate. Only 339 tests have been carried out in the camps, officials said, partly because people were simply not going to health facilities to get checked. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Fearful Rohingya refugees infected with coronavirus flee quarantine

Rohingya refugees infected with coronavirus are fleeing quarantine in their Bangladesh camps because they fear being transferred to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal, community leaders said Thursday. At least two infected refugees have gone missing since testing positive for the virus after the first COVID-19 death was reported Tuesday, they said. About one million Rohingya, most of whom fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017, are packed into camps along the Bangladesh border, and the coronavirus has become the latest cause of misery. read the complete article


08 Jun 2020

BJP generates stories for anti-Muslim sentiments

The BJP weaves many stories for its followers to keep their hearts burning with fanaticism and to generate anti-Muslim sentiments. While most of these stories are cooked up, some are actually built on true events. For instance, the story of the Somnath temple. The temple is located in Gujrat-hometown of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Muslim rulers in the past destroyed it several times. The attack on the temple by Mahmud of Ghazni is perhaps the most prominent. During one of his raids on India, Mahmud came across the venerated temple. “There a hundred thousand pilgrims were wont to assemble, a thousand Brahmans served the temple and guarded its treasures, and hundreds of dancers and singers played before its gates.” The temple was sacked and its treasures confiscated. The history of the temple helps India’s ruling party stir religious emotions and nationalistic fervor, and enables it to mobilize fanatical Hindus to act against Muslims in their country. Ironic as it may sound that present day Muslims are being demonized for events that occurred centuries ago and in which they played no part, yet, for BJP such a narrative is important to advance Hindutva ideology embracing the ideal of Hindus’ racial superiority. In this regard, fear and hatred of Muslims is perhaps deemed essential to forge unity and offset the debilitating effects of social divisions that are inherent in a society riddled with caste system; a factor that aided Muslim conquests of the sub-continent in the first place. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Rajasthan hospital owner apologises for staff’s anti-Muslim remarks

The owner of a private hospital at Sardarshahar in Rajasthan’s Churu district has tendered an unconditional apology after some online chats among its staff members, which allegedly disparaged Muslim patients, went viral on the social media. The police have launched a probe into the matter. The chats on a WhatsApp group titled ‘Bardia Rise’ allegedly commented on Muslim COVID-19 patients, saying it was best not to attend to them, as the virus infection was spreading in the Muslim community, and that they should be referred to a Muslim doctor for treatment. The group was formed by the staff members of Srichand Bardia Rog Nidan Kendra in Sardarshahar. While one of them commented that he would not take X-rays of Muslim patients, another employee said that had Hindus tested COVID-19 positive and had there been a Muslim doctor, the latter would not have attended to them. Sunil Chaudhary, an orthopaedic surgeon who runs the hospital, apologised through a Facebook post, saying the hospital staff did not intend to hurt the sentiments of any community. “Our hospital has no intention to deprive any community of medical treatment. We apologise and assure that there will be no cause for complaint in future,” said the post. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

'Hypocrites': Bollywood actors slammed over George Floyd stand

Several Bollywood stars have been labelled "hypocrites" after speaking out against racism to lend support to global protests while promoting products in India designed to make people's skin lighter. The actors were also trolled and accused of "cowardice" for their refusal to call out the attacks on India's minorities, mainly Muslims, while protesting against the killing of George Floyd in the United States. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

How lives were destroyed under cover of lockdown in a small Indian town

Under the cover of lockdown, they came. Armed with petrol bombs, acid bombs, gas cylinders, molotov cocktails and explosives, the men, numbering around 100, piled stealthily into small boats to cross over the Ganges river. Reaching their target, the banks of the small town of Telinipara, they climbed ashore. And then, they pounced. The violent onslaught that began at midday of 12 May was the pinnacle of the worst outbreak of religious violence in India since the riots that ripped through north-east Delhi in February, killing over 50 people. Over three days in this small town in West Bengal, which, like the rest of India was under a strict nationwide coronavirus lockdown that confined everyone to their homes, Hindu attackers burned and decimated Muslim homes and shops and vandalised two mosques and a Muslim shrine. According to multiple accounts given to the Guardian, the perpetrators also exposed themselves to Muslim women and made rape and death threats as they carried out the brutality. In retaliation, local Muslims then began setting fire to Hindu homes. Of the 55 buildings eventually destroyed, around 45 belonged to Muslims. “Why are the Hindus attacking us so cruelly?” she said. “Do we have no right to live in India just because we are Muslim?” Since Narendra Modi’s far-right Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) took power in India in 2014, with an agenda to make India a Hindu rather than secular nation, India’s Muslims - who make up 14% of the country – have faced increasing persecution, often state-sponsored. Already socio-economically disadvantaged, Muslims have faced discrimination, boycotts and fatal lynchings and a recent amendment to the citizenship law, introduced in December, ruled that refugees from all religions except Islam could have Indian citizenship. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Outrage over an elephant and celebrities embracing Black Lives Matter expose India’s deep hypocrisy

On June 3, India’s leading industrialist and philanthropist, Ratan N. Tata, poured his shock and anger on social media over the death of a pregnant elephant that had accidentally consumed a pineapple with firecrackers in it. He released a statement that said: “Such criminal acts against innocent animals are no different than acts of meditated murder against other humans.” Tata was not the only Indian celebrity to express outrage at the death of the elephant. Actors, intellectuals and politicians joined the chorus. That same evening, an Indian court denied the bail application of Safoora Zargar, a 27-year-old Kashmiri student activist who is five months pregnant and has been in jail while suffering complications due to polycystic ovary syndrome. Doctors fear a possible miscarriage that could endanger Zargar’s life. She has been in the dreaded Tihar Jail in New Delhi for two months for allegedly conspiring to obstruct law enforcement during February’s nationwide student protests against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Bill, which brazenly excludes Muslim migrants. Zargar is in prison while the real intellectual architects of the recent anti-Muslim carnage that rocked Delhi in February, and took more than 50 lives, remain in the highest positions of power as officials in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Some have openly urged their supporters to shoot “traitors.” As many Indians wear the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag as a fashion accessory, they remain oblivious to the fact that the ugly faces of majoritarian privilege and discrimination have been present in their home country for a long, long time. As demonstrators around the world mobilized against the brutal killing of George Floyd and conversations on race spread, Indian celebrities found a safe cause. Indian actor Priyanka Chopra, who is a global icon, shared Floyd’s last words, “Please, I can’t breathe,” on her Instagram account to express her pain and anger. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

‘High time to stop such hate-spreaders’: Complaint filed against Republic, Arnab Goswami under Cable Act

A Pune-based social activist filed a criminal complaint against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswmai last month for stirring up communal hatred and divide on his news channel. Activist Nilesh Navlakha filed the complaint on May 8 under the Cable Televisions Network (Regulation) Act, 1995. Copies of the complaint were submitted to Pune police commissioner K Venkatesham and district collector Naval Kishore Ram. Navlakha also levied allegations against ARG Outlier Media — the company that owns and operates Republic, in which Goswami holds 82 percent stake — for conducting shows that promote religious polarisation and communal hate. The 14-page complaint stated that the “cause of action” for the complaint was Goswami’s primetime shows on the Palghar lynchings. Goswami had launched a communal tirade on his show, even accusing Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of getting the two Hindu sadhus murdered in Palghar in April. However, the complaint said it isn’t “restricted” to Goswami’s reporting on Palghar; it takes into consideration various debates helmed by Goswami on Republic TV and Republic Bharat. According to the complaint, Goswami’s allegations in his shows are “often based on religious innuendos and half-truths. His way of declaring information based on half-truth as facts is harmful and irresponsible. His arguments and words are communal in nature and he keeps repeating them throughout in each of his shows." read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Pregnant elephant's death in India triggers 'hate campaign'

An elephant's death in the southern Indian state of Kerala has erupted into a political controversy, with the state's chief minister flagging a "hate campaign" over the incident by the Hindu right-wing forces. The wild elephant, aged about 15, allegedly ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers that exploded in its mouth, leaving it in searing pain as it walked around the village for days, according to media reports. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday tweeted that three suspects have been identified, and that the case will be jointly investigated by the state's police and forest departments. Meanwhile, a controversy erupted after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi, also an animal rights activist, said the incident happened in Malappuram district, which has 70 percent Muslim population and lies 85km (52 miles) west of Palakkad. "It's murder. Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it's India's most violent district," she told the ANI news agency on Wednesday. "For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time," she said, without elaborating who she meant by "they". The statement by the senior BJP leader triggered a storm of anger on social media, with hundreds of posts suggesting the perpetrator could be a Muslim. That, despite many journalists - and even actors - from the region tweeting that the elephant died in Palakkad and not Malappuram as alleged by the BJP and its supporters, and asking people not to communalise the incident. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Jun 2020

Politicians love face coverings, as long as the people wearing them aren't Muslim women

At first, they referred to this dreadful disease as a great equaliser. But over the past month or so, we have seen how coronavirus, and the economic impact of protecting ourselves from it, has shone a harsher light on the existing inequalities in our society. Perhaps the uniformity of face masks could unite us all. Yesterday it was announced that from 15 June, face coverings will be compulsory on all public transport. It’s interesting to me – as a Muslim woman – that Boris Johnson’s government now not only supports but actively obliges people to go about their lives wearing garments that obscure most of their faces. Covid-19 has a disproportionate impact on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, with 33 per cent of critically ill patients from a minority background, despite accounting for just 19 per cent of the UK’s overall population. As a Muslim woman working at a Muslim aid agency, Islamic Relief, I have rolled my eyes at warnings to people from my community against breaking lockdown rules to socialise with family and friends during Ramadan and Eid – while hundreds of non-Muslims held VE Day street parties to very little scrutiny. And now, as European countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions, I can’t help but think there’s a similar hypocrisy in some states that have long taken a hardline approach against the niqab, which covers the face, and the burka, which covers both face and body, now mandating face coverings by law. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Tory Shaun Bailey's account deletes tweet praising Tommy Robinson supporters

Tory London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has come under fire after his Twitter account praised supporters of far-right extremist Tommy Robinson. It came in response to a tweet from a supporter, apparently boasting that “Team Tommy” had been helping to clean graffiti left on statues after Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest. Mr Bailey’s account retweeted the message, adding: “Thank you.” In recent days, the supporter’s account had branded protesters “vermin” and “ferals” - and had posted messages saying Robinson had been “stitched up” over a recent arrest. Mr Bailey’s team later deleted the retweet. read the complete article

08 Jun 2020

Matt Hancock accused of ‘ignorance’ after claiming UK marchers not protesting against racism in this country

Matt Hancock has been accused of “ignorance” after claiming the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the UK are not directed at homegrown racism. Labour MPs and march organisers lashed out after the health secretary said: “Thankfully, this is all based in response to events in America rather than here.” Gary McFarlane, a Black Lives Matter activist, pointed to the deaths of British black men after being restrained by police “in circumstances not dissimilar to the murder of George Floyd”, to explain the protests. Anger was also fuelled by Boris Johnson’s “racist remarks”, the “disproportionate” lockdown-flouting fines levied on black people and the ongoing Windrush scandal, with no blanket amnesty for those caught up in it. “This is the governing party that refuses to investigate Islamophobia within its own ranks.” David Lammy, Labour’s justice spokesman, echoed the criticism, saying: “Racism and prejudice exist in the United Kingdom as well as the United States. read the complete article


08 Jun 2020

Beyond Xinjiang's camps, China threatens Uighurs globally

It’s well known that China uses its vast surveillance network to monitor its ethnic minorities, including Tibetans and Uighurs. But leaked documents — the Karakax list — from the western region of Xinjiang show that across Europe, exiled Uighurs report surveillance by the Chinese state and threats of harm to their relatives in Xinjiang if they make noise about Chinese repression at home. The Chinese government disputes reports of the records, but it appears this has become part of the new normal for China, even as it continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaked documents from Xinjiang show the Chinese government’s reasons for detaining several hundred Uighurs. The Karakax list contains personal data on more than 300 individuals with relatives abroad. The Chinese government has flagged “people who leave the country and do not return” as a security risk in Xinjiang, because of their possible ties to exiled groups deemed as “separatists” by Beijing. Details about family members, social circles and religious beliefs, as well as perceived misdemeanors, are in the file. This would appear to confirm China’s surveillance and imprisonment of hundreds of individuals from the Karakax region, where Turkic Uighur Muslims make up more than 90 percent of the population. Uighurs in Xinjiang are being punished because of the actions of family members abroad, suggesting that the Chinese state and intelligence agencies have created a surveillance network in the West. read the complete article


08 Jun 2020

Man arrested for threatening Christchurch-like attack on Muslims in Germany

Police in Germany have detained a man they say aimed "to kill Muslims" in an attack inspired by the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 21-year-old white man from the northern city of Hildesheim had announced his attack plans "in an anonymous internet chat", the state prosecutor's office in the town of Celle said on Monday. Initial investigations show the suspect "has for some time been considering the idea of committing an attack in which he wanted to kill numerous people in order to attract worldwide media attention," prosecutors said. The suspect referenced the attacker who killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch in March 2019 and said he wanted to carry out a similar attack. "His aim was to kill Muslims," prosecutors said. Police found weapons in the suspect's home, as well as electronic files containing right-wing extremist content. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jun 2020 Edition


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