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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16 Mar 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Uighurs in Turkey fear persecution, as India’s opposition party slams BJP for Delhi’s anti-Muslim violence. One year after the Christchurch mosque attacks, Muslim leaders fear that the same could happen in the U.K. Our recommended read today is by Bridge Senior Research Fellow Arsalan Iftikhar on Christchurch, and the ideology that drove the massacre. This, and more, below:

New Zealand

16 Mar 2020

Christchurch Anniversary: The Islamophobic 'Great Replacement' Theory | Recommended Read

As we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch massacre, the most treacherous legacy of the New Zealand mosque massacre might actually be the 74-page racist manifesto “The Great Replacement”, railing against Muslims, immigration and multiculturalism. The Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto was obsessed with the idea that non-white Muslim people were ultimately going to “replace” white people in Western nations by becoming a larger percentage of the population. (The words “birth rate” and “fertility” occurred repeatedly throughout the document). He was obsessed with the idea that non-white Muslim immigrants to Western nations were having more children than white people and slowly creating demographic change. His “Great Replacement” manifesto was also peppered with racist jokes and references to right-wing internet message boards like 8Chan. He made references to both the Crusades and the Barbary Pirate War — invoking conflicts involving Muslims that are both centuries old and long-settled — just as right-wing racist memes on those message boards often do. Most experts agree that “The Great Replacement” conspiracy theory was made famous in modern times by a right-wing French writer named Renaud Camus who argued that “elites” in Europe (a thinly-veiled euphemism for Jewish people) were working behind-the-scenes to replace white Christian Europe with brown-skinned Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. One of the most confounding aspects of the Great Replacement is that it seems to be a sort of Grand Unification theory of hate that can be applied to and implicate any minority for any reason. Believers in the Great Replacement theory hold that minority groups know that they cannot numerically supplant or defeat the entrenched white society, so their goal is to dilute or “replace” white people by advocating for as much immigration from non-white groups as possible. Thus, anyone who takes anything less than the hardest possible line on immigration can be accused of working to further the Great Replacement. read the complete article

Recommended Read
16 Mar 2020

The Guest House: How New Zealand's Muslim community grieved the Christchurch attack

Over five episodes, and five intimate conversations, MEE senior producer Mohamed Hassan - and producer of the award winning podcast Public Enemy - looks at the fractures left after the 15 March attacks on the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre - the unspoken truths, the ripples sent throughout the world, and ultimately the path towards healing. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

He took a bullet to save his son in Christchurch. Can they ever heal?

“I saw smoke coming from a hole in his diaper,” says Zulfirman Syah, recalling the day a gunman walked into his mosque and another in Christchurch a year ago Sunday, killing 51 people and injuring dozens, including him and his son. “I couldn’t care for him.” Mr. Syah, an artist with dark, stoic eyes, knows the guilt is irrational; he couldn’t help his son because he had slipped into unconsciousness after diving over the boy and taking bullets in his own back and groin. He nearly died saving his only child’s life. But terrorism scars both bodies and minds. For Mr. Syah, his wife, Alta Sacra, and their son, Roes, the past 12 months have been defined by an anguish that recedes and then rushes back. The pain comes when they have to deal with a health care system that leaves them on their own. When they confront conspiracy theorists who use video of Mr. Syah to deny reality. When their son’s bruised psyche pushes them further from normalcy. And now, as the anniversary delivers another emotional jolt. Their searing experience points to forces the world has yet to contain: guns, technology and white supremacy. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Building unity in New Zealand a year after Christchurch attacks

An ambitious new design concept aims to reimagine the Linwood Islamic Centre, one of two mosques targeted by a gunman a year ago on March 15, in a building that would fuse Islam with New Zealand's indigenous culture. The design concept intends to bring together the worlds of Islam and "te ao Maori" (the Maori world), becoming a marae-mosque hybrid (a marae is a sacred place for New Zealand Maori and other Polynesian cultures). The Linwood Islamic Centre was one of two sites targeted by a white supremacist gunman, who killed 51 people in the attack on the Linwood Islamic Centre and the nearby Al Noor mosque. Seven people died at the Linwood Islamic Centre, and an eighth person shortly afterwards in hospital. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Opinion: Why March 15 should be designated an official anti-Islamophobia day

In recent years we have seen a rise in Islamophobia, white supremacy propaganda and the extreme right rhetoric coming into the mainstream. The brutal killing of 51 innocent lives at two mosques was not an isolated and random event. It was preplanned, premeditated and a calculated attack designed to cause maximum damage and make a statement. Leading up to March 15, to be a person of colour, having a beard, wearing a prayer hat or a hijab, having names like Muhammad or Ali or Fatima resulted in discrimination, marginalisation and in extreme cases racist and islamophobic attacks. People have been singled out at airports, threatened on the streets and online platforms, not getting a fair chance when it came to employment and biased reporting in the media. Unfortunately, Islamophobia and racism is still very prevalent in this country. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Did the Christchurch attacks change how we view anti-Muslim bigotry?

It wasn’t only the scale of violence that so deeply shocked the world and traumatised a small South Pacific country, one unfamiliar with acts of armed conflict and terrorism, but the manner in which the gunman, an avowed white nationalist, carried out his dastardly deeds, live streaming each and every kill on his social media feeds. Were the events of March 15 not horrific enough, then they have been compounded by the fact that in the 12 months since, the live streaming of attacks on mosques, synagogues, black churches and anywhere else targeted minorities gather has become a calling card or “blue ribbon event” for similarly like-minded, violently racist individuals. “Attacks always spark reactions from different extremist communities, but when it comes to the far-right, there was never anything like the response to the Christchurch attack,” Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, told The Sydney Morning Herald. She added that Tarrant’s targeting of Muslims, coupled with his “deadly execution” and live streaming of the attack has generated an “unprecedented response”, describing it “like nothing we’ve ever seen thus far from the far-right across the globe.” This week, The Saturday Paper published a classified report produced by Australia’s top spy agency - Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) – that revealed how far-right extremists and white supremacists are drawing inspiration from the Christchurch attack to carry out similar attacks in hope of “accelerating the race war.” read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

The open wounds of Christchurch

Survivors of the Christchurch terror attack talk to MEE about the memories of the event that ripped their small community open. Sheikh Hasan Rubel wakes up in the morning feeling like himself again. The sun shines through the large window pane in his living room. His two-year-old daughter hovers in and out, playing with toys that are sprawled across the floor, bathed in the late summer glow. It’s not until the afternoon that the pain returns. “As the day progresses, and at night time is when I have most of my pain,” he said. “And some days it’s really hard to move my legs because it feels like I’m in so much pain, I don’t want to move.” The 35-year-old operations manager moved to New Zealand with his wife five years ago from Bangladesh, settling in Christchurch where he completed his masters and then found work. He was the sole-breadwinner of the family, but is now confined to his home, unable to work. Without much of a distraction, he was forced to sit at home, alone with the memories of the day that altered the course of his life. In the few times where he and his wife have left the house, sometimes to run errands or to the hospital for checkups, he was always on edge. If he heard a noise, it startled him. If he saw a car driving too quickly, he became certain there would be a crash. Almost a year on from the attack, he felt like his life was stuck. read the complete article

United Kingdom

16 Mar 2020

Met police concedes forcing woman to remove hijab at airport was wrong

Police have admitted that forcing Muslim women to remove their headscarves at UK airports could be unlawful, a practice likened by one victim to being made “to remove her top”. In an out-of-court settlement, the Metropolitan Police has conceded that when it coerced a woman to take off her hijab so officers could photograph her, it was a breach of her human rights and violated the woman’s right to religious observance. A transcript of a recorded interview with the 25-year-old woman, known as Asiyah, and male officers at Heathrow airport in October 2018 reveals that police told her that “we can take photographs that we need by force”. The officers were using a controversial counter-terrorism power known as schedule 7, which allows individuals to be stopped and searched at UK airports and ports without there being grounds for suspecting the person of involvement in terrorism. It is an offence if an individual fails to answer questions or does not comply with requests such as removing a headscarf. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Muslim leaders fear Christchurch-style attack could happen in UK

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of north London’s Finsbury Park Mosque (FPM) – which suffered a terror attack in which a worshipper was killed in 2017, said: “As a community here in the UK, this might happen as well. We have had to take extra precautions in terms of security. “On the same day (as Christchurch attacks), somebody called us and said `you will be next, what has happened to them, will happen to you’. “This was shocking. We never imagined that during such a crisis, after more than 50 innocent people got killed, that somebody would tell us this. “We have to take everything seriously in the current climate. Islamophobia is spreading and it is being tolerated.” read the complete article


16 Mar 2020

India Lobbies to Stifle Criticism, Control Messaging in U.S. Congress Amid Rising Anti-Muslim Violence

The internal tension came to a head earlier this month, when a bipartisan resolution, introduced by Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., with 65 co-sponsors, failed to be scheduled for a markup in the House Foreign Affairs Committee as planned. Committee Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., originally promised to bring the resolution up for debate, but after he met with Indian government officials, the resolution never made the schedule. The Indian government and a pro-India advocacy group, Hindu American Foundation, have deployed an arsenal of lobbying tactics to hinder the House resolution’s momentum since its introduction in early December — expending a disproportionate amount of resources and manpower to prevent the House from taking an official stance on Kashmir. The resolution’s passage would be a symbolic blow to India’s international reputation, which has suffered under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s rapid-fire implementation of controversial policies widely seen as stepping stones to transforming the country from a secular democracy into a Hindu supremacist state. After hearing concerns about the resolution from the Indian Embassy and other Foreign Affairs Committee members, Engel proposed edits to the language with the intention of “advancing a measure through the committee with a clear path to passage on the House floor,” his office said. But Kashmiri American advocates told The Intercept that the latest changes uncritically accept talking points from the Indian government and its supporters about Kashmir’s history and the current situation. Despite Jayapal agreeing to those edits, Engel did not include the resolution in the first markup of the year, as promised. Hindu American Foundation took credit in a newsletter for stalling deliberations after putting out a call to action to pressure members of Congress against supporting the resolution. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Western companies must stop profiting from China’s crimes against humanity

International Efforts to hold China accountable for its campaign of cultural genocide against Uighur and other Muslim minorities have been weak, in part because it’s not easy for outsiders to target concentration camps holding hundreds of thousands of people in the sprawling and remote Xinjiang region. But there is one way to respond to this extraordinary human rights crime that is both straightforward and morally imperative: Western companies must stop importing and marketing goods produced by Uighur forced labor. A report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China this month identified 20 Chinese and Western companies that “are suspected of directly employing forced labor or sourcing from suppliers that use it.” In addition to brand-name clothing manufacturers, Coca-Cola, Costco and Campbell Soup Company are on the list. A second report, by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs.” In addition to Apple and Amazon (whose founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post), companies on that list include Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, General Motors and Google. U.S. companies that purchase or import goods made with forced labor may be in violation of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits products made “wholly or in part” with forced or prison labor, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission. While many of these firms launch investigations to determine whether their supply chains are clean, the commission found that doing so is virtually impossible, because coerced workers are unable to speak freely to investigators. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Democracy is dying in India, and Trump shouldn't be on Modi's side

When President Trump wrapped up his two-day visit to India in February and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India's "religious freedom" following Hindu-Muslim riots in parts of the capital, it didn't just feel like Indian democracy was crumbling further; it felt as though it had got the go ahead from a global superpower. In reality, this religious freedom is under considerable threat, particularly for Muslims. The violence in New Delhi began over a disputed citizenship law on February 23, which led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus. The citizenship law, passed by the Indian government on December 11, 2019, grants fast-tracked citizenship to undocumented immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh based on their religion —provided they aren't Muslim. Critics of this law see it as unconstitutional for purposely leaving out a religious group. India, the world's largest democracy — where 80% of the population is Hindu, compared with 14% Muslim — has been secular since its birth in 1947. This recent violence isn't just an isolated incident. It's part of a disturbing trend in Modi's India. Since the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power 2014, there has been a rise in violent crimes against minorities. The violence has followed a rise in overtly religious nationalism in India's politics; several members of the BJP advocate for "Hindutva," a principle that aims to define Indian culture through Hindu values. So far, the US has declined to criticize the direction in which India is heading. read the complete article

16 Mar 2020

Alleged AfD donor's firm gave money to Tory club

A company controlled by a property magnate who allegedly funded Germany’s main far-right party recently gave £50,000 to an elite organisation that donates large sums of money to the Conservative party. The firm, which is co–run by Henning Conle, gave the donation in January to the Carlton Club, an institution described as the spiritual home of the Tories. The private club in an upmarket area of central London has raised and donated nearly £1m to the party in the last two decades. The club, which describes itself as “one of London’s foremost members-only clubs”, did not respond when asked if it intended to pass the donation from Conle to the party. A series of German media reports have claimed Conle was the ultimate source of a donation of €132,000 (£115,000) to the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). German prosecutors are investigating AfD over the legality of the donation and its source. read the complete article


16 Mar 2020

'I Thought It Would Be Safe': Uighurs In Turkey Now Fear China's Long Arm

"They didn't say why they were arresting me," says Parach, 44, an ethnic Uighur who landed in Turkey more than five years ago after fleeing his home in China's Xinjiang region. "At the police station they tried to get me to sign a statement saying I was a terrorist. They beat me, but I wouldn't sign it. Then they sent me to a deportation center." It was a cold, dark building hundreds of miles away from Istanbul. Parach says he met at least 20 other Uighurs there, all expecting to be deported. Then, after three months, he was released without explanation. Turkish authorities urged him not to speak out against China. Parach suspects China was behind his arrest. He has criticized China's treatment of his people for years and had to flee the country after repeated detentions. "When you stand against China," he says, "you are a threat wherever you are." As a result, many Uighurs have fled to Turkey, which they have traditionally viewed as a refuge and an advocate for their rights. Now, many Uighurs in Istanbul tell NPR they fear China is pressuring Turkey to threaten them. read the complete article


16 Mar 2020

'Show humanity': India opposition slams gov't on Delhi violence

India's opposition politicians have slammed the Hindu nationalist government for the deadly anti-Muslim violence in the capital New Delhi, with the main opposition Congress party calling for the resignation of the interior minister. But the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended its handling of the worst violence in New Delhi in decades that killed 52 people, mostly Muslims. Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of the opposition All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, accused the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of spreading hatred against Muslims - the country's largest minority. "What is my dignity when 19 mosques have been destroyed or damaged. What is my dignity when I see a saffron flag being erected on a mosque," Owaisi said during his stirring speech referring to the flag associated with Hindu far-right groups planted on a mosque minaret during the violence. "Do you have any humanity left in you? For God's sake show your humanity. This is not a question of Hindu or Muslim. This is a question of whether you will rise up to your constitutional duties," said the member of Parliament from the southern city of Hyderabad. read the complete article


16 Mar 2020

On Christchurch anniversary, remember Canada has its own problems with far-right and racism

A year later, I can still vividly recall following news of the attack from Edmonton and thinking about my family in Toronto, many of whom would also have been attending mosque that day for Friday prayers. The news of fellow Muslims being gunned down while at prayer filled me with quiet despair. But I was not surprised that such an act had taken place. As I spoke to family and friends and went online to seek information, this lack of surprise was a strong undercurrent among the public expressions of grief. And it is perhaps one of the most damning indictments of the current political moment. The rise of racist, white-supremacist and anti-Muslim rhetoric around the globe has continued apace. One of the same Christchurch mosques that was attacked last year recently received a threatening message, for example. Sadly, Muslims are no longer surprised that they are being attacked for simply practising their faith — even in Canada, one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Canada has not been immune to this phenomenon of rising hatred. In 2017, a mosque in Quebec was the target of a killing spree that took the lives of six people and solidified the dangerous atmosphere of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. The targeting of Muslims is not just about overtly violent attacks. It is also about the insidious impressions that have set roots in the minds of everyday people who have been exposed to a steady diet of anti-Muslim rhetoric from all fronts. It's about how ubiquitous the fear of Muslims has become. read the complete article

United States

16 Mar 2020

Audio Recording Claims Neo-Nazi Terror Group Is Disbanding

The chief philosophical influence of an American neo-Nazi extremist group that is the subject of a nationwide FBI crackdown and is believed to be on the cusp of being declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department, is claiming in an audio message obtained by Motherboard that the group is disbanding. In the recording, James Mason, a longtime figure within the U.S. neo-Nazi movement and the author of what’s considered an important work in the racist canon of the far-right, claims to officially announce the demise of Atomwaffen Division, a group that has become synonymous in recent years with white nationalist terrorism and is linked to five murders. “Over the course of past weeks and months, the level and degree of federal infiltration and the numerous arrests stemming from that have so severely hampered the group's ability to function as a group that it would be pointless to even pretend that anything resembling organizational activity could continue,” he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Mar 2020 Edition


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