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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23 Mar 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Coronavirus fear cripples refugees living in unsanitary camps. An essay explores the othering of Muslims in Bollywood, as former Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon says Gandhi’s vision of India is being threatened by violence and divisive rhetoric. Our recommended read today is a conversation between Karen Armstrong and Christian Amanpour on social distancing, and its impact on religious communities worldwide. This, and more, below:


23 Mar 2020

Karen Armstrong on adjusting to 'aloneness' | Recommended Watch

Author and former nun Karen Armstrong tells Christiane Amanpour about the impact social distancing is having on religious communities around the world. "We don't have to go to church to be in touch with the sacred or the divine...Religion is about making us look at the darkness too and making us think about the suffering that we see around us, not just only the suffering of the people suffering from the virus, but I think it should also widen our sympathies a bit. Because we are all scared right now, we don't know what's going to happen. In a country like the U.K. and the U.S., we live in a very protected world and I think now is the time for us to think about people in Syria or Yemen who've been living in a state of terror- different kind of terror- for a long time...Religion means we have to open our hearts and our minds to the pain in the world: the pain in nature and the pain in humanity. read the complete article

Recommended Watch
23 Mar 2020

Coronavirus fear cripples refugees living in unsanitary camps

Tens of thousands of war-affected refugees are living in squalid, overcrowded camps and it is only a matter of time until they will be exposed to the deadly virus. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are 70.8 million forcibly displaced people around the world, including 25.9 million refugees and 3.5 million asylum seekers. Most of these people are living in refugee camps with limited healthcare, making them extremely vulnerable to a potential outbreak. read the complete article


23 Mar 2020

Bollywood: ‘Othering’ the Muslim on screen

In this article, we analyse the processes of exclusion and otherisation implicit in recent Bollywood period dramas. Contextualising this discussion against the absence of Muslim protagonists from most mainstream films, we argue that Bollywood’s otherisation of Indian Muslims is a well-entrenched practice that is itself reflective of India’s current political landscape. Justice in these narratives is embodied by the motives of the protagonist, which are given a higher moral claim by appeals to national interests. Thus, the protagonist fights not only the “traitors” of the nation but the very idea of human rights and juridical checks and balances. Justice, ironically then, is achieved through the successful subversion of the very principles that ensure justice. Similarly, Bollywood’s recent turn towards the genre of historical fiction propagates the trope of the “Muslim Other”. In recent times, Bollywood has played an immensely influential role in producing myths, prejudices and stereotypes about Indian Muslims. Using Muslim characters handpicked from history, these films seek to shape the dominant public perception of Muslims in India today using historical tropes. They also bear little resemblance to the historical narratives they seek to represent. With the Hindu right wing’s growing hegemony over political and institutional power, these cinematic representations add to a vitriolic atmosphere wherein Muslims are demonised and brutalised. Crucially, this is being done in the midst of a lack of progressive political articulation within the Muslim community to counter these hegemonic narratives. read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

From Ola to Zomato to social media, I now hide my Muslim identity everywhere

On the day Delhi riots broke out, I took a cab home after work. As I sat in the car and Ola’s IVR system welcomed me with my full name, I flinched, while the driver turned around to take a look at me. I immediately cut my name short on the cab aggregator’s application to make sure my religious identity never comes up like that again because I didn’t want trouble. I have also stopped using my last name ‘Islam’ on social media and other public platforms for the last couple of years to avoid being identified instantly. The fear of catching coronavirus may have made many Indians practice social distancing of late, I have been distancing from my own identity — my Muslim identity — for quite some time now. Over the years, I have developed ways to veil my religious identity, making extra efforts — both consciously and subconsciously — to not sound, look or act Muslim. But the last six years have been tough because of the rampant and aggressively open Islamophobia. At a rally against ‘jihadi’ violence organised by Hindu extremists and led by BJP leader Kapil Mishra after the Delhi riots last month, a middle-aged man told me that the problem lies with the word ‘secular’ in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. The protest rally had speakers talking about ‘jihadi hate’ of Indian Muslims and how they must be stopped. As a Muslim, I have heard words like ‘jihad’, ‘love jihad’ and ‘kaafir’ only in public spaces filled with anti-Muslim hate and bigotry. It shows how Islamophobia has engulfed India — to the point where any form of ‘Muslimness’ is vehemently disallowed, resulting in a forced exclusion and expulsion of the Muslim identity. read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

'Gandhi's Vision Threatened by Violence, Divisive Rhetoric in India,' Says Ban Ki Moon

Former Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki Moon, in an essay, has expressed concern over the violence that erupted in north east Delhi in the month of February and has said “that Gandhi’s vision is now threatened by sectarian violence and divisive political rhetoric”. In an article for the Indian Express, Moon who is the deputy chair of The Elders – a group founded by Nelson Mandela to work for peace and justice across the world – said that he was “profoundly disappointed and alarmed by the communal violence that disfigured Delhi in recent weeks.” Referring to India’s credentials as a democracy that had made its mark in global business, academia, IT, entertainment and sport, Moon said that India could teach the world “its traditions of democracy and ahimsa (non-violence)” Moon held that the attacks on poor and working people, mainly Muslims, could not be seen in isolation from Prime Minister Modi’s attempts to redefine Indian citizenship via the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the proposed National Population Register (NPR) and National Register for Citizens (NRC). all of which were incompatible with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. These developments, Moon said, raised questions about India’s democratic future. read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

“With The Death Of An Innocent, Humanity Dies Too”

These lines are from the 2010 movie ‘My Name is Khan’. There’s no need for me to repeat the whole plot of the film as most of us have watched it and showered our love. Islamophobia, yes, that’s what this article is going to be about. Most of the readers will stop reading this piece after going through the highlighted word ‘Islamophobia’, and that’s fine, because being a Muslim, I am used to it. I am used to being called a ‘terrorist’. Islam—this particular religion has started to disgust many people around, especially in India. Infiltrators, terrorists, jihadis are some of the nicknames given to the people from this community. This kind of ‘love’ Muslims receive can’t be matched. They even get lynched out of love. Not bragging about the love and blessings poured on us, I would like to recall that before giving a particular community the tag of being ‘anti-nationals’, why not consider the parameters that identify how patriotic a person is? A nation-lover or a patriotic person should love their country. I know that we all are accustomed to this ideology. But what more? A true patriot respects the Fundamental Rights of others as much as their own. Patriotism lies in the very fact that every living being inhabiting the land of a nation deserves to be protected. And that is what is happening in this country. Minorities are enormously respected and loved. They are being made conscious of their identity. An identity that may or may not be real. They are forcefully being given an unpleasant identity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 Mar 2020

I was taught to stand up to Islamophobia as it’s just like the anti-Semitism I face

I was educated at a typical Jewish faith school. I sang Jewish prayers, learnt Hebrew and celebrated Jewish festivals. But what made it unique, and still does to this day, is that three quarters of the students are practicing Muslims. The reason I had so many Muslim classmates wasn’t just the school’s good academic reputation. Their parents loved the ethos, the kosher food (which is very similar to halal) and the opportunity it gave their children to understand other belief systems. There was, and still is, a concerted effort by staff, parents and students to focus on similarities between the lives and practices of two faiths often pitted against each other. My school completely blurred the lines for me. When you celebrate what you share, your concept of community changes – it becomes wider, not narrower. Outside the school gates, hate crimes are on the rise – they’ve doubled since 2013. The latest Home Office figures show that almost half of them are committed against Muslims. Anti-Semitism follows similar trends; 89 per cent of European Jews feel it has increased in the last five years. When I have reflected on my time at King David in light of these figures, it saddens me that different minority groups often fight injustices separately. read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

Islamophobia is holding Muslim women back in the workplace. Employers should be doing more

As a Muslim woman, HR Advisor Mayah avoids drinking establishments like bars, pubs and clubs. Unfortunately, these are the types of places that her colleagues prefer to socialise in. "I enjoy my job and have a great rapport with my colleagues," she explains. "But I struggle to network and socialise with them outside of work because there is a heavy drinking culture in my industry." Unfortunately, stories like Mayah's are increasingly common in the workplace. Dr Suriyah Bi, a lecturer at SOAS university, spent eighteen months researching Muslim women in the workplace. Her report, titled Empowered Employment: Unlocking the Workplace for British Muslim Women, found that through external factors, this minority group were not excelling in their careers. Key findings included: • 84.2 percent of British Muslim women were actively engaged in the labour market and contributing to the economy, suggesting that Muslim women are highly competent and skilled. • A major challenge to work and career development was a lack of confidence which 54.3 percent of participants selected. • 47.2 percent of women stated they had encountered Islamophobia and discrimination as a challenge in the workplace. • 33.9 percent of participants stated that family and partner expectations were barriers to their career development. Most shockingly, nearly half of the respondents in Dr Suriyah's study claimed that they had dealt with some form of Islamophobia or discrimination at work. A solution, outlined in the report, to removing this bias is to urge employers to adopt 'name-blind' application processes where names of participants are anonymised. However, getting past the face to face interview still remains an obstacle for some Muslim women. read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

The Brighton jihadists: bullied brothers who went into battle

No Return tracks five teenage friends from Brighton who stepped into its chaos. All were killed except one. The survivor, Amer Deghayes, is the longest-serving Briton in Syria since the fighting began and offers a unique account of a ceaseless, shifting conflict. Equally crucial are those he left behind. I learned that more than 30 Brightonians – the largest identified group of potential jihadists in western Europe – had discussed plans to join him. All were between 13 and 18 years of age, some were girls, most were white, working-class Islamic converts from the forgotten estates of east Brighton. In light of these allegations, the five boys received a child protection order forbidding Abubaker contacting them. But their troubles were far from over. At Longhill school the four younger boys were subjected to racist comments and bullying. The attacks were daily, merciless and unrelenting. Water was lobbed over the twins as they queued for lunch in the canteen. Bread buns were hurled at them as they ate. Taunts of “Paki” and “terrorist” followed them around the playground. They were cornered and beaten on the school bus back to Saltdean. Even when they made it to home turf, there was no respite. Anti-Islamic graffiti began appearing on the quaint seafront promenade, 200 metres from the family home. Adjacent to their house lay Saltdean Oval, the park where the Deghayes boys played football on summer evenings. It was their favourite pastime, until the bullies from Longhill began targeting them there. They stopped playing football, a decision that upset all the brothers. At night, their attackers would mass at the Oval and creep up the hill towards their home where they would stand in the small front garden, shouting obscenities, the familiar favourites of “Paki” and “terrorist”. Bricks would hit the house. Some of the gang would start kicking the front door. When they grew bored, they would leave. Then the family would quietly shuffle to bed, too petrified to venture downstairs. According to local activists, police gave the impression they were happy to abandon the family. The twins in particular felt the police did not respond to the racism and that reports of harassment and antisocial behaviour against them were not investigated, according to one of their case workers. Behind Brighton’s progressive image of green politics, veganism and tolerance was a competing, ugly reality. During the spring term of 2010 the twins made a pact that the bullies wouldn’t win. read the complete article

United States

23 Mar 2020

A 'Chinese Coronavirus'? Officials Accuse Trump of Stoking Xenophobia and Violence Against Asian-Americans

Organizations and lawmakers throughout California as well as nationally are condemning recent rhetoric by President Donald Trump describing the novel coronavirus. They say his words, intentionally or not, encourage prejudice and violence against people of Chinese or Asian descent. On Thursday a group of civil rights organizations announced the creation of a reporting center to track anti-Asian violence and discrimination in California and across the country. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chair of the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, told Capital & Main that the creation of the site was motivated by more than 300 recent incidents collected from media outlets and other organizations. Levin agrees that rhetoric does matter and that the person with the biggest megaphone can increase, or decrease, xenophobic-motivated acts of hate. "When Bush spoke out to prevent acts of violence against Muslim-Americans in the wake of 9/11, hate crimes tracked by the FBI declined for a year." Those calling on the president to cease and desist equating the virus with China, however, are not likely to get their wish. At a Thursday press briefing, a Washington Post photographer captured a photo of Trump's speech, where Trump, in Sharpie script, crossed out "Corona" and wrote "Chinese." read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

After suggesting novel coronavirus was created in North Carolina, OAN correspondent says that same conspiracy theory is “odd”

Chanel Rion, the White House correspondent for the pro-Trump cable outlet One America News, is now calling the claim that COVID-19 originated in the U.S. a “notably odd accusation” from the Chinese Communist Party. However, just a few days ago, Rion suggested in an OAN special that COVID-19 was created at a lab in North Carolina in 2015. Ironically, Rion has recently used her media platform to accuse mainstream media of pushing Chinese government propaganda about coronavirus in an attempt to undermine President Donald Trump. Rion’s attacks on the press covering coronavirus have now been featured in the White House briefing room. During a March 19 coronavirus task force update, Rion asked Trump about his use of the term “Chinese virus,” asking, “Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels?” Trump responded by attacking the press and saying, “It's more than fake news -- it's corrupt news.” Prior to joining OAN in May 2019, Rion worked as a pro-Trump editorial cartoonist whose illustrations promoted anti-Muslim bigotry; Seth Rich conspiracy theories; the book of a virulent anti-Semite; and a call for “armed citizens” to defend the country against purported coups and assassination attempts by the “violent left." read the complete article

23 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: White supremacists planned to use virus as a bioweapons

Federal law enforcement warned that white supremacist terrorists had considered weaponising coronavirus through saliva-filled spray bottles and contaminating non-white neighbourhoods with the virus, according to intelligence briefings. A brief from the Federal Protective Service written last month reported that white supremacists on the encrypted messaging app Telegram discussing spending "as much time as possible in public places with their 'enemies'" to transmit the virus. They also plotted targeting law enforcement by leaving "saliva on door handles" and elevator buttons at government offices. The memo follows warnings from the FBI about the increased threat of racially and ethnically motivated extremists, following a record high in hate-motivated attacks and the rise of neo-Nazi and white supremacist violence. read the complete article


23 Mar 2020

Holding China Accountable For Its Mistreatment Of Ethnic Uyghurs

While the Uyghurs are a predominantly large Muslim Turkish ethnic group with a distinct culture, their presence in China (heavily concentrated in Xinjiang) has been admonished in this present day and age. Ethnic Uyghurs remain targeted for surveillance and control tactics. China’s agenda of severe repression towards these individuals has precipitated from years of tension between China and its people. Most recently, China has amplified its mistreatment towards ethnic Uyghurs. It has allegedly been transferring detained Uyghurs to factories belonging to global companies like Nike, Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Zara, H&M, Mercedes-Benz, and Uniqlo. In a report issued from the Canberra based Australian Strategic Policy Institution (ASPI) March 1, 2020, approximately 80 000 Uyghurs were relocated from detention camps within the Xinjiang province to these factories. Through the use of satellite imagery, media reports, and open-source public documents, the ASPI discovered 27 factories across several Chinese provinces that have mobilized forced labour upon Uyghurs since 2017 under the Xinjiang aid program. The conditions thousands of labourers are forced to succumb to grossly violate human rights in subjugating labourers to discriminatory practices. Under these practices, labourers are forced to move into segregated dormitories, study Mandarin and pursue ideological training apart from the state’s frequent surveillance and prohibition of religious practices. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Mar 2020 Edition


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