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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09 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In Rajasthan, India, hospital staff face FIR for anti-Muslim WhatsApp messages. In the U.S, the fourth circuit throws out one of the last legal challenges to Trump’s Muslim and African Ban. In Malaysia, at least 270 Rohingya seeking entry by boat, are detained. Our recommended read today is by Vanessa Taylor on the deep surveillance of Black Muslim communities, and how it paved the path for George Floyd’s murder by the police. This, and more, below:

United States

09 Jun 2020

'Why Minneapolis?': How Deep Surveillance of Black Muslims Paved the Way for George Floyd’s Murder | Recommended Read

While it seems like an unassuming Midwestern city, Minneapolis has a deeply disturbing history of the surveillance of Blackness; this history not only created the conditions for Floyd’s murder, but shapes the everyday life of Black residents. Independent journalists like Tony Webster and outlets such as Unicorn Riot have long documented Minneapolis’s love affair with surveillance. In May, Buzzfeed reported on the numerous surveillance tools that are deployed in and around Minneapolis, such as facial recognition and automatic license plate readers. The report also highlighted how federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, are providing tools to further surveil protesters. But surveillance in Minneapolis is not limited to these tools; it is, instead, a framework that defines the city. In 2014, the Obama Administration launched Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), a Muslim surveillance program, with Minneapolis as one of three pilot cities. Distributing $10 million in grants nationally, the program in Minneapolis mostly targeted Somalis, as Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States. And an array of Minneapolis organizations took CVE funding, or otherwise partnered with CVE programming, including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (whose grant totaled $347,600), Minneapolis Public Schools, and others. As Mohamud Awil Mohamed, a Minneapolis community organizer and chaplain, told me, CVE was “marketed as a health and human services program . . . but in reality it was an extension of the state-security apparatus.” Under CVE, a de facto policy of treating Blackness as a crime was given legal weight. Somali and other Black Muslim communities in Minneapolis—many of whom also sat at the intersection of being immigrants and poor—were now officially “seen as a band of criminals and not truly American,” Ahmed says. read the complete article

Recommended Read
09 Jun 2020

I Wish I’d Had ‘Ramy’ When I Was a Kid

When I was growing up, my daily diet consisted of halal meat and Hollywood pop culture. In the latter category, we were so starved for Muslim representation that my family applauded when the characters in the comedy “Spies Like Us” accidentally ended up in a highly inaccurate depiction of Pakistan. The bar was so low that I just desired the terrorist villains in ’80s action movies to at least stop shooting bullets in the air. I’m not alone. Muslims who work in film and television often tell me they simply want stories to show Muslims as “human beings.” Last time I checked, I was a human: Maybe there’s a place for media that convinces the general public of that. But when it comes to what I watch, I want much more. That’s why I wish that teenage Wajahat — who fasted during Ramadan, but also pined for Jennifer Lopez and Winona Ryder — had been able to watch Hulu’s “Ramy.” Starring the comedian Ramy Youssef, and now in its second season, it’s about a confused Muslim millennial trying to reconcile his Islamic faith and Egyptian traditions with his sexual frustrations and self-destructive habits. Mr. Youssef was only 10 years old at the time of the September 11 terror attacks, a traumatic experience of “othering” during his blossoming adolescence encapsulated in a surreal highlight of Season 1 where he imagined eating strawberries and debating violence with Osama bin Laden. The scene intersects his young character’s guilt over masturbation with his anger and confusion over being scapegoated and vilified by classmates as the token Muslim. I was a 20-year-old college student during that crisis and the message I got from society was clear: Overnight my worth, along with the worth of America’s millions of other Muslims, became linked to security. The good Muslims were uncritical patriots who helped fight terrorism, the bad Muslim were terrorists. And the rest of us were to remain perpetual suspects. read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

Meet Nabilah Islam, the Bangladeshi American trying to make Georgia progressive

As a teenager, her mother, a working-class immigrant from Noakhali, Bangladesh, literally broke her back while trying to hold down two jobs - flipping burgers at one and stacking boxes onto trucks at a busy warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia at the other. When her injuries meant she needed time off work, her insurance company tried to deny her benefits. Islam says she was on every phone call with the insurance provider, translating and pushing for the company to cover her mother. "The system tried to take advantage of my mum," she told Middle East Eye. Deciding to fight back against what she calls a "broken healthcare system", and eventually winning through a lengthy legal battle, the Bangladeshi American says she fully understands the plight many American families are facing when dealing with corporate America. Islam, who identifies as a progressive, has received a deluge of support from notable Democrats and is often referred to by the media as "Atlanta's AOC". Pushing a platform that includes popular policies, Islam has taken the campaign stage by storm - winning endorsements from California Congressman Ro Khanna and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The most recent endorsement from Omar, Islam says, came after the congresswoman believed she had a vision that could work and would "cross the finish line". "Ro and Ilhan understand that if we want to pass progressive policies in Congress, we're going to have to elect more progressives," she said. read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

Fourth Circuit Throws Out One of the Last Challenges to Trump’s Travel Ban

District Judge Theodore Chuang of the District of Maryland last year refused to dismiss the constitutional claims in the lawsuit, as plaintiffs had presented “factual allegations sufficient to show that the proclamation [was] not rationally related to the legitimate national security and information-sharing justifications identified in the proclamation [but] … was motivated only by an illegitimate hostility to Muslims.” He said the case could proceed to discovery on those claims, as the Supreme Court’s holding in Hawaii v. Trump, which upheld the ban, was based on a record created at the preliminary injunction stage. A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit on Monday reversed that finding, with Judge Paul Niemeyer writing in the opinion that the “district court misunderstood the import of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hawaii and the legal principles it applied.” Judges G. Steven Agee and Julius Richardson joined the opinion. Covington & Burling attorneys argued for plaintiffs in the case that their claims the ban is based on anti-Muslim sentiments and not national security reasons could move forward because the Supreme Court acted on a limited record based largely on public statements made by Trump as a candidate, before discovery could happen. A number of other groups and firms, including the ACLU and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, also are behind the complaint. read the complete article


09 Jun 2020

Covid-19: Rajasthan hospital staff face FIR for anti-Muslim WhatsApp chats

The Rajasthan Police on Sunday filed a First Information Report against three staff members, including a doctor, of a private hospital in Churu district for allegedly planning to discriminate against Covid-19 patients from the Muslim community, reported the Hindustan Times. The FIR also named a lab technician and a compounded. “Kal me me muslim ptnt ka x-ray ni krunga. Yah meri sapat hai [From tomorrow, I will not do X-rays of Muslim patients. This is my vow],” read one of the messages, according to The Indian Express. Another message from the same person read, “Muslim ptnt ko dekhna hi band krwa do [Stop attending to Muslim patients all together].” The WhatsApp group is called “BARDIA RISE”. Dr Sunil Choudhary, who runs the Srichand Baradiya Rog Nidan Kendra – a private orthopaedic hospital – in Sardarshahar, apologised on Saturday. In a Facebook post, he said the hospital staff did not have any intention to hurt any religious groups. “We assure you that in the future our hospital will not give you any reason to complain,” he wrote. read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

Bollywood's silence on domestic issues leads to accusations of hypocrisy

“End this race war here in the US, and around the world,” wrote Priyanka Chopra, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars who currently lives in America. “Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin colour.” Chopra was echoed by some of Bollywood’s household names, such as Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Deepika Padukone and Disha Patani, who posted messages of support for those protesting against racism in the name of George Floyd, who was killed in the US when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Yet for many, these messages of anti-racism and equality rang hollow coming from the mouths of Bollywood’s biggest names, some of whom in the past had made endorsement deals with skin whitening creams, or products that promoted “fairness”, thereby helping to fuel the still-rampant discrimination of darker skinned people in India. “It’s not that their views can’t change or that they shouldn’t speak up for what they want, it’s about selective and performative activism especially when they have at some point propagated a colourist attitude in their own country,” read another response. Many of the Bollywood stars were also accused of speaking out against race-driven atrocities in the US while remaining silent about the ongoing persecution of Muslims, migrant workers and lower caste members of society in India. read the complete article


09 Jun 2020

Trump plans to sign bill pressuring China over Uighur Muslim crackdown: source

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppressing Uighur Muslims, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday without offering a time frame for the signing. The bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate with bipartisan support last month, calls for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps. The Chinese embassy in Washington repeated a prior statement noting that the bill “blatantly smears China’s counterterrorism and deradicalization measures and seriously interferes in China’s internal affairs,” which China “deplores and firmly opposes.” read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

'Desperate journeys': Rohingya children recall ordeal at sea

Left to starve for months at sea, Rohingya children who escaped Bangladesh's refugee camps took "desperate" journeys to reach Malaysia on flimsy smuggling boats, according to a new report released as it emerged Malaysian authorities had detained nearly 300 Rohingya trying to reach the country by sea. Testimonies by refugee children, who were rescued from a boat found adrift in the Bay of Bengal in April, revealed how they were beaten and forced to watch their parents' bodies thrown overboard. "As long as Rohingya do not see a future for themselves, families will continue to make dangerous journeys and put themselves in harm's way in search of a better life," Hassan said. Among those who were rescued in April and told their story to Save the Children was a 16-year-old boy identified by the pseudonym Aziz. Aziz told Save the Children he was out at sea for almost two months. After the boat he was on was turned away for a third time by Malaysia because of coronavirus restrictions, they ran out of food and water. "All the food we had was finished. We were starving for days," he was quoted as saying. "We had no water to drink. Some people drank water from the sea. They got sick later." "I saw a man dying, and the broker threw the body into the sea. The broker beat us when we asked him to turn around and go back to Bangladesh. I never thought I would survive." read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

Malaysia detains nearly 270 Rohingya seeking entry by boat

Malaysia on Monday detained 269 Rohingya migrants when they tried to enter the country on a damaged boat off the holiday island of Langkawi, authorities said. The Southeast Asian country, which does not recognise refugee status, has been a favoured destination for ethnic Rohingya who fled a 2017 military-led crackdown in Myanmar and more recently squalid conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Acting on a tip-off received a day earlier, Malaysian authorities intercepted a boat ferrying the Rohingya in the pre-dawn hours of Monday off Langkawi off the northwestern corner of the Malaysian peninsula. Before the boat was intercepted, 53 migrants had jumped into the sea in an attempt to evade arrest, the statement said, but were detained by the Malaysian coast guard once they reached shore. read the complete article

09 Jun 2020

The U.S. Must Use the New Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act to Sanction Chinese Officials for Religious Persecution

After years of hard work, Congress passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act on May 28 by an overwhelming majority. This is the first law in history dedicated to promoting the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China, who have faced systematic persecution as a result of their religious beliefs. It will ensure U.S. policy toward China takes into account the Chinese government’s violations of religious freedom. The new law also directs the U.S. government to impose financial sanctions and visa bans against Chinese government officials responsible for the persecution of Muslims. It requires an FBI report to Congress on efforts to protect Uyghurs from Chinese government intimidation and harassment on American soil. Additionally, it would require the Administration to report on human rights abuses in the Uyghur region, including formal estimates of the number of individuals detained in concentration camps. Sadly, there’s no shortage of complicit officials in China. I urge President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on them, including Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo. In addition to overseeing the concentration camps in Xinjiang—the Chinese region that is home to most Uyghurs and known to us as East Turkistan—Chen is also responsible for creating a surveillance state in Tibet that monitors Buddhist monasteries. The U.S. government should also target former Political and Legal Affairs Commission Chief Zhu Hailun, the architect of China’s repressive policies against Uyghurs. In addition, I urge Congress to swiftly pass a second bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would direct the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to presume that any goods produced in the Uyghur region are the product of forced labor. The CBP has already blocked imports from individual Chinese companies due to concerns about forced labor. This bill would help ensure that no American consumer makes purchases that would violate their sense of justice. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Jun 2020 Edition


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