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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21 Mar 2019

Today in Islamophobia: The leader of the Brexit Party resigns over allegations of Islamophobia, while Labour formally adopts definition of the phenomenon. Bangladesh struggles to cope with the influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, as Muslim countries are urged to condemn China’s internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Edward Curtis titled “The forgotten history behind Islamophobia and anti- Muslim terrorism”. This, and more, below:

United States

21 Mar 2019

The Forgotten History Behind Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Terrorism | Recommended Read

In addition to anti-Black racism and anti-Semitism, one of the pillars of the contemporary global white terrorism movement is anti-Muslim hatred. That hatred is founded on a kind of forgetting, an historical erasure. The erasure is a result of the assumption that Muslims are foreign to the West. Such forgetting leads to madness, the same madness that inspired Don Quixote to joust with windmills in a post-Reconquista Catholic Spain where everyone swore that Jewish and Muslim cultural influences had been eliminated. This is not to dismiss that a significant number of people believe that immigrants pose a threat to the cultures of the West. The immigration of Muslims and other minoritized religious groups to white, Christian-majority countries such as New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United States have clearly engendered negative reactions and often nostalgia for a more homogenous society. But when those feelings become the lens through which we rehearse a white supremacist, imperial narrative of Western history, we deprive ourselves of a past that can help us reimagine our present. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
21 Mar 2019

Podcast | Radical White Terrorism

The threat of violent “white power” terrorism is real. This week on Intercepted: In the aftermath of the massacre of 50 children and adults at two mosques in New Zealand, two Muslim journalists discuss Islamophobia, the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry, and the motive of the shooter. Guardian columnist Nesrine Malik talks about the “ghoulish routine” in the media and among politicians that increasingly emerges in the aftermath of massacres of Muslims by white supremacists. The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain explains why, as a nonwhite Western Muslim, he felt compelled to analyze the “manifesto” of the shooter. He argues that the shooter’s “writings reflect a worldview that is not just confined to the dark corners of the internet but is openly expressed in media and politics.” University of Chicago historian Kathleen Belew, author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” discusses the history of white power movements and why she draws a distinction between white power and white supremacy. She also rejects the label “lone wolf” for the perpetrators of these massacres and argues that they are united in their heinous cause. read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

Opinion | Christchurch attacks show Islamophobia is real, deadly and spreading around the world

In the UK, the columnist Melanie Phillips has argued that Islamophobia is a fiction used to shut down debate. Douglas Murray called it the Islamophobia “problem”, arguing that it was created by fascists. Islamophobia is motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility, and can merge with racism to target the symbols and markers of a being a Muslim. In the UK, extreme right-wing activity jumped by 36% in 2017-18, according to data from Prevent, the country’s terrorism-prevention programme. Statistics released by the Home Office showed more than half of religiously motivated attacks in 2017-18 were directed at Muslims. In the US, between January and September 2017, the Council for American-Muslim Relations recorded 1,656 so-called “bias incidents” and 195 hate crimes, an increase in both cases on the previous year. The council suggested president Donald Trump’s “toxic campaign rhetoric” towards Muslims was a contributing factor. read the complete article


21 Mar 2019

Muslim countries urged to press China end crackdown of Uighurs

A group of visiting UighurMuslim scholars originally from China's Xinjiang province has urged Muslim-majority countries to press China to end its "cultural war" against their ethnic compatriots. leaders from the Turkey-based Society of the Muslim Scholars of East Turkistan (SMSET) accused Beijing of engaging in systematic human rights violations of Uighurs in a bid to erase their cultural and religious heritage. "The Chinese government is waging a cultural war against our people by trying to force us to abandon our Muslim faith and our heritage to become atheists and communists like the majority Chinese society," the SMSET's Abdel Khaleq Uighur said on Tuesday. read the complete article

After New Zealand massacre, Islamophobia spreads on Chinese social media

On Weibo—China’s Twitter equivalent, with 446 million monthly active users, 120 million more than Twitter—mainstream coverage of the attacks was barraged with comments that expressed anti-Muslim rhetoric and support for the shooter. The top comment under a video clip posted by People’s Daily likens Muslims to “cancer cells” and asks the Chinese government to avoid making the same mistakes as New Zealand. People’s Daily is China’s largest news outlet and the official state paper, and its comments section is heavily censored. Yet at the time of writing this comment is in the highest position of visibility and has been liked by more than 400 people. Such comments aren’t representative of the Chinese population. Many Weibo users posted emphatic rebuttals, and some wrote articles decrying anti-Muslim sentiment. But again and again, the “most-liked” comments under mainstream media posts on Weibo are filled with hate speech. “Islamophobic speech on Chinese social media only comes from a small group of people. But there has been a drastic rise since 2016,” Kecheng Fang, a veteran Chinese journalist and media researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, tells me, noting the influence of the US presidential election. read the complete article


21 Mar 2019

Opinion | The Rohingya are not going home to Myanmar. Can Bangladesh cope?

Bangladesh is once again calling for the establishment of "safe zones" for the Rohingya in Myanmar so that it can begin resettling some of the 1 million or so refugees in its care around the district of Cox's Bazar . Bangladesh's new foreign minister, Abulkalam Abdul Momen, has started lobbying Russia, China and India, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to try to use their influence to persuade Myanmar to establish safe zones within its territory. This effort is pointless and ill- advised. Myanmar has no interest in establishing safe zones, and China and Russia have already prevented any such appeals from getting through the U.N. Security Council. Yet these efforts by Bangladesh bode ill nonetheless. It is finally dawning on Bangladesh that Myanmar has no intention of taking back any of the Rohingya refugees. In fact, all diplomatic efforts by Myanmar’s civilian government are a delaying tactic until the international community moves on to the next crisis. read the complete article


21 Mar 2019

Indian Court Acquits Four Men Accused in Deadly 2007 Train Bombing

The defendants included an Indian monk charged but acquitted in earlier attacks targeting Muslim gathering spots. Observers in India immediately framed Wednesday’s verdict in stark terms: as a win for Hindu “saffron” extremists, or a decision that disproved their existence.“Another clean chit to right-wing terror in India,” Rana Ayyub, a prominent Indian journalist, wrote on Twitter. “Big Blow To ‘Saffron Terror’ Theory,” read the headline for a story by Swarajya, a right-leaning news outlet. The question of whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party has shielded Hindu extremists is a hot-button issue ahead of national elections this spring. read the complete article


21 Mar 2019

Sweden grants refugee status to China's Uighur Muslims, prompting calls for UK to follow suit

Sweden is to grant refugee status to all Uighur Muslim asylum-seekers from China, prompting calls for other Western governments to follow suit. The Swedish migration agency said the minority would be automatically considered at risk of persecution in Xinjiang province, where more than a million Uighurs have been detained in re-education camps in a crackdown on Islam. The country had temporarily halted the deportation of Uighurs in September following an outcry over the decision to reject a family’s asylum claim. Human rights groups have warned Muslims repatriated to China face harassment, arrest and detainment in internment camps, where inmates are allegedly tortured and forced to renounce their religion. In the face of growing international criticism, China this week issued a lengthy report claiming it had detained 13,000 terrorists and broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs” in Xinjiang internment camps. It has depicted the centres as vocational training facilities designed to counter Islamist extremism. But the report presented little evidence of any crimes, and experts believe the camps are part of an aggressive government campaign to erode the identities of the Central Asian groups who have long called the region home and erase its Islamic culture. read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

Majority of Muslim women in Scotland have been the victims of hate crime

Nearly two-thirds of Muslim women in Scotland have witnessed or experienced a hate incident or crime, according to a new survey – and 74 per cent of those women said they were the victim. The women said they had been shouted and sworn at or spat on, while others had their hijabs forcefully removed. Scottish Muslim women also reported being told to “go back to where you came from”. Some 65 per cent said they had not reported the incident, and 91 per cent said there had been no intervention or support from bystanders. Programme manager Ghizala Avan said the charity had carried out the survey after discovering Police Scotland’s data did not break down the sex of religious hate crime victims, despite evidence suggesting Muslim women are more likely to be targeted, ­harassed and attacked. She said: “We know that Muslim women are more visible because many wear the hijab or niqab, and at Amina we hear stories all the time of women being verbally harassed and abused. For us it’s an everyday reality and unfortunately Muslim women live with it as if it’s normal. “It’s as though we are desensitised to it, because it’s not normal to be shouted at in the street and told to ‘go back to where you came from’ read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

Labour formally adopts definition of Islamophobia

A party spokesperson said its national executive committee had adopted the working definition produced by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims “to help tackle Islamophobia, build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities”. The definition reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” The definition was produced by the group to build a common understanding of the causes and consequences of Islamophobia. It was decided upon after a six-month consultation with academics, lawyers, elected officials, Muslim organisations, activists, campaigners, and communities. read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

Leader of Nigel Farage's party resigns over anti-Islam messages

Catherine Blaiklock, the leader of the Brexit party, repeatedly retweeted posts from far-right figures as well as sending her own messages. Among the messages she shared was one by Mark Collett, a former British National party (BNP) activist, referring to “white genocide”. The term is often used in extreme rightwing and racist online activism of the sort seen as having inspired the man suspected of shooting dead 50 people last week at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The news will call Farage’s judgement into question after he left Ukip because of its “fixation” on Muslims and its alliance with far-right activist Tommy Robinson. Blaiklock retweeted seven messages from Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. One of her own messages read: “Islam = submission – mostly to raping men it seems.” Her other tweets about Islam also included: “Islam = submission, slavery. Western thought = critical thinking freedom.” Another, sent 10 days later, read: “I want my country back. I want seaside donkeys on the beach and little village churches, not acid attacks, mobs and mosques.” In January, deleted posts from Blaiklock’s personal blog emerged in whichshe expressed concern about “Muslim enclaves” and argued that crime and fatherlessness among black men were due to high testosterone levels. read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

Opinion | The Conservative party has an institutional Islamophobia problem

The Conservative Party is so opaque in telling us how it deals with Islamophobia that we have little information about any of the Conservative Party members or activists who have been reported to the Party for this form of growing bigotry. The Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis has belatedly talked tough on this matter in the press, but there has been little transparency and hardly any accountability. For me, this points to a strategy that rests on the hope that the problem goes away. And in the meantime, the tactic is either to sweep the matter under the carpet, or foster a culture of denial when it comes to Islamophobia, as repeated by Conservative MPs Nicky Morgan, Owen Paterson and Henry Smith. Mr Lewis claims there is “no place” for Islamophobia in the Party and that “swift action” is taken following any discrimination or abuse, a claim repeated by senior Tories including Vice Chairman James Cleverly, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tom Tugendhat. The denial is accompanied by a flat refusal to listen to those experiencing the Islamophobia, even be they loyal Muslims in his own party, like Baroness Warsi or Lord Sheikh, and groupings who want the Conservatives to succeed, such as the Conservative Muslim Forum. Baroness Warsi has been raising concerns for three years in private to no avail, and says she has no option but to publicly raise cases to shame the Party into action. read the complete article

21 Mar 2019

FIVE Birmingham mosques attacked with sledgehammers in shocking overnight strikes

Five Birmingham mosques were targeted overnight in a shocking spate of attacks. West Midlands Police confirmed officers were called to incidents at locations in north Birmingham in the early hours of Thursday, March 21. The force initially confirmed the Witton Road Islamic Centre in Witton was among those attacked on Wednesday night. Video posted on Twitter by Birmingham councillor Majid Mahmood showed a clean-up operation in progress. He said the centre was attacked with a sledgehammer. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Mar 2019 Edition


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