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 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, The McGill Tribune’s investigation into investments within McGill $1.9-billion endowment fund reveals the university’s connection to companies aiding or complicit in the Uyghur genocide in China, meanwhile in the United States, the New York Police Department’s top official on counterterrorism and intelligence is facing criticism from segments of the Muslim community after suggesting that the agency did not spy on Muslims post 9/11, and in China, the government has threatened to retaliate against the United States for a new round of sanctions that targeted officials said to be responsible for “transnational repression” of activists including Uyghur Americans. Our recommended read of the day is by Wai Wai Nu for the Washington Post on the U.S.’s recognition of Myanmar’s genocide against Rohingya Muslims and how this acknowledgement gives many Rohingya hope that “our oppressors will one day be held accountable for the crimes they have perpetrated against us…[and that] For many of us, it feels as though the pain and trauma of a generation are now being recognized in their entirety.” This and more below:


23 Mar 2022

At long last, the U.S. recognizes what the Rohingya already knew | Recommended Read

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially declared that the U.S. government defines the crimes perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people as a genocide. For me and many other Rohingya, this is an epochal moment. For too long, we have felt abandoned by the world. For years, we pleaded for help — but our calls went unanswered. The violence and suffering we endured were compounded by the realization that so much of the world preferred to look away. This collective memory has further traumatized us. How could no one care when they burned down our homes and slaughtered our people? How could the international community close its eyes when hundreds of thousands of us were forced to flee our country? Blinken’s announcement has important legal implications. That the world’s leading power has finally acknowledged our experience gives us hope that our oppressors will one day be held accountable for the crimes they have perpetrated against us. But it is also important to understand the moral and emotional impact of the U.S. government’s move. For many of us, it feels as though the pain and trauma of a generation are now being recognized in their entirety. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

Editorial: Of course it’s genocide. Finally the U.S. recognizes the truth about Myanmar’s Rohingya slaughter

A Rohingya mother watches as her 12-year-old son is forced to lie facedown and soldiers stomp on his head and neck. In the village of Maung Nu in Myanmar, soldiers blocked people trying to escape before the military began its attack. Soldiers sank boats full of Rohingya men, women and children as they tried to flee to Bangladesh. In brutal campaigns conducted against the Rohingya Muslim population in Myanmar in 2016 and 2017, villages were burned, people were tortured and killed, women and children were raped. “The attack against Rohingya was widespread and systematic,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He laid out the devastating details that were part of the fact-finding and analysis the State Department conducted before concluding officially that members of the Myanmar military are responsible for genocide against the Rohingya population, one of the most oppressed ethnic groups in the world. The military’s attacks in 2016 forced nearly 100,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. In 2017, attacks killed more than 9,000 Rohingya, and forced more than 740,000 to seek refuge in Bangladesh, according to Blinken. And, as he pointed out, crimes against the Rohingya continue. The Rohingya are treated like undocumented immigrants even when they have been born and lived in Myanmar for decades or come from families who have been there a century or more. They are treated like second-class citizens — and have been the target of brutal violence for years. The official finding of genocide in Myanmar has been long-awaited by human rights advocates and others — and is welcome. But it’s unclear what difference it will make — unless the U.S. is willing to be more aggressive. So far, little has stopped the brutal military autocrats running the government. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

China Threatens Retaliation for U.S. Sanctions Over Religious Repression

The Chinese government has threatened to retaliate against the United States for a new round of sanctions that targeted officials said to be responsible for "transnational repression" of activists including Uyghur Americans. At a regular press briefing in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Blinken's statement was full of "prejudice and lies," before calling it an interference in its domestic affairs. In his statement, Blinken accused China of efforts to "harass, intimidate, surveil and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and U.S. citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations." read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

Over 15 million dollars from McGill Investment Pool tied up in Uyghur genocide

Divest McGill’s recent occupation of the McCall MacBain Arts Building has served as a reminder of the controversy surrounding McGill’s investments in fossil fuels. The McGill Tribune’s investigation into other investments within McGill’s $1.9-billion endowment fund reveals the university’s connection to companies aiding or complicit in the Uyghur genocide in China. McGill has invested over $15 million in Chinese government bonds, organizations contributing to mass surveillance, and businesses exploiting Uyghur labour. The university has millions invested in Chinese state-owned enterprises and businesses operating in East Turkestan. An independent investigation by the Tribune has found that McGill’s investments are implicated in the Uyghur genocide. An independently sourced, interactive investment report last updated Nov. 30, 2021 shows several investments into entities complicit in the genocide, including $1,112,523 in China government bonds. Additionally, McGill has invested $8,954,164 into Tencent, a Chinese technology and entertainment giant, which owns WeChat, the most popular messaging service in China. The Chinese government has complete access to WeChat data and has used it to track, oppress, and arrest Uyghur activists and dissidents. McGill also has $3,603,034 invested in Alibaba, a company that taught its clients how to use its software to detect Uyghur faces. Although it is not confirmed how this technology is being used, it is thought that the Chinese government and corporations use it to surveil Uyghurs in East Turkestan and China. McGill has also invested $511,114 into Li Ning Co., a sportswear company accused of using enslaved Uyghur labour to produce cotton. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

Rohingya in Bangladesh welcome US calling repression genocide

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have welcomed an announcement by the United States that it considers the violent repression of their largely Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar a genocide. As news of the announcement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spread across the sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar district that are now home to about a million Rohingya, many residents expressed their enthusiasm. “We are very happy about the declaration of the genocide — many many thanks,” said 60-year-old Sala Uddin, who lives at Kutupalong camp. “It has been 60 years starting from 1962 that the Myanmar government has been torturing us and many other communities including Rohingya,” he said. “I think a path to take action by the international community against Myanmar has opened up because of the declaration.” The United States made the determination on Monday to call the repression a genocide based on confirmed accounts of mass atrocities on civilians by Myanmar’s military in a widespread and systematic campaign against the Rohingya, Blinken said in a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

It’s Time for Muslim Girls and Women to Have Their Moment in TV and Film

It’s time for the entertainment industry to evolve beyond Princess Jasmine. For the longest time, Disney’s “Aladdin” icon was the only representation many Muslim women had, allowing the only positive space where we could exist — never mind that it was exotified, sexualized and through the white male gaze. At least it was sold to us as better than the other familiar end of the spectrum: being the oppressed victim, or worse, a violent terrorist. Growing up to realize that even our beloved Jasmine pushed problematic tropes was like other kids discovering Santa wasn’t real — and, damn, maybe we are on our own. Enter: a new on-screen test for Muslim women in TV and film called “From ‘Surviving’ to Thriving.” The test, developed by the Geena Davis Institute, Muslim Casting, and Pillars Fund, with Muslim Girl as media partner, critiques Muslim representation in projects on a new sliding grade scale from A-F. The rubric is based on common Muslim women tropes that drop a project’s score the more problematic it becomes, while leaving room for the industry’s gradual pace of improvement. The on-screen test launches Tuesday with an opening event in official partnership with Muslim Women’s Day during the morning on March 27 on Twitter Spaces. “I hope this test serves as a starting point for conversation and increased funding,” says Serena Rasoul, founder of Muslim Casting. “We are starting to see more nuanced portrayals of Muslim women on screen and would like to keep this momentum going by using the test to elevate the stories that are getting it right and calling out those who are still getting it wrong.” With the upcoming highly-anticipated release of Ms. Marvel as a Pakistani Muslim girl from New Jersey who discovers she has superpowers, and the success of new projects like “We Are Lady Parts,” a show centered around a Muslim girl rock band, it seems like Muslim women are ready to exit the wings from muted background characters and onto the main stage. And still, the challenge is a shocking one: the on-screen test states that a recent study found that more than three-quarters (76.4%) of all Muslim characters are men. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

International efforts to combat Islamophobia require more than lip service

Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Lauded by some, criticized by others, it remains to be seen whether such a move will actually have an impact on the millions of people worldwide who face state-sanctioned discrimination, oppression, and genocide. The resolution calls on the international community — governments, civil society, the private sector and faith-based-organizations — “to organize and support various high-visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness of all levels about curbing Islamophobia.” The date of the annual commemoration holds significance as the tragic anniversary of the rampage on two mosques in Christchurch, N.Z. in 2019. The perpetrator was a far-right terrorist and white supremacist who livestreamed the first of his two mass shootings on Facebook. He killed a total of 51 worshippers. The brutality of those attacks was a clear example of the devastating consequences of Islamophobia, a phenomenon that has reached “epidemic proportions,” according to a 2021 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Irrational fear of Muslims writ large has been used as an excuse to clamp down on civil liberties around the world, provide unequal treatment to Muslim migrants and refugees, as well as utilized as a pretext to implement genocidal policies in various places including in China and in Myanmar. In India, home to the second largest population of Muslims in the world, the situation has become dire. Not surprising then that the Indian government opposed the UN resolution on Islamophobia. France, also accused of violating the human rights of its Muslim population, similarly pushed back.If an international day to combat Islamophobia is to have any meaning, it will require governments around the world to hold each other accountable. read the complete article


23 Mar 2022

The fight over India’s hijab ban

Videos showing Muslim students begging to be let into a school while wearing hijabs has gone viral in India, sparking protests. Several of the students petitioned the government to reverse the decision to ban hijabs in schools, the latest in a series of policies targeting Muslims throughout the country. Neha Bhatt is an award-winning journalist and author in Delhi and a frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail. She explains how India’s politics and history have led to this moment, and why some people are concerned these acts of discrimination could be leading towards genocide. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

India: Muslim activist recounts two ‘painful’ years in jail

When Ishrat Jahan walked out of a prison in the Indian capital last week, she was hugged by her sister and they burst into tears as relatives gathered around to welcome her back home after more than two years of imprisonment. “I missed my family a lot. This separation was very difficult for me,” she told Al Jazeera a week after her release from jail. Jahan, a 31-year-old activist, was arrested along with dozens of other Muslims in February 2020 during mass protests against a controversial citizenship law passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government in December 2019. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) allowed non-Muslim migrants and refugees from India’s neighbouring countries to secure Indian citizenship if they arrived in India before December 2014. Read together with a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), many feared the CAA-NRC plans were aimed at disenfranchising the Muslim minority. Critics said the CAA violated India’s secular constitution while United Nations’ experts called the law “fundamentally discriminatory”. The passage of the CAA and fears over a potential NRC triggered a wave of peaceful demonstrations across India, with Muslim women leading the sit-ins at various places, including at Shaheen Bagh, a working-class Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in southeast Delhi, which turned into the epicentre of the protests. Jahan, a lawyer and former municipal councillor elected from her locality, organised one such female-led protest in East Delhi’s Khureji area. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

This anti-Muslim hate campaign is tearing India apart

The virulent hate campaign by Hindutva forces promoted by the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and subsequent rise in public and institutional Islamophobia, have combined to create panic among India's 204 million Muslims, the country's largest minority community. The mood was encapsulated by India's opposition, along with France and the EU, to the UN General Assembly resolution sponsored by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and eight other nations to mark the anniversary of the 2019 attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, by designating 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Fifty-one Muslims were killed in the mosque attacks. In opposing the resolution, New Delhi sent a clear signal that it doesn't care about the ongoing Muslim hatred prevailing in India. The adoption of the resolution followed a report last year by the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, in which it was said that anti-Muslim hatred had reached "epidemic proportions". Examples of Islamophobia in both India and France were cited in the report. A recent film, The Kashmir Files, is another attempt to incite hatred against Muslims through the manipulation of the facts. The film was produced and released to cover up and divert attention from the injustice done to the people of Kashmir and to distort the unsubstantiated allegations that the Hindu pandits — wise men — who lived like brothers with the Muslims in that state were tortured. Prime Minister Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah openly praised the film, even though is generates anti-Muslim feelings among Hindus, undermining the secular principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. In a country where mass murder and even ethnic cleansing of Muslims has been reported, highlighting the killing and exodus of upper cast Hindu Brahmins from Kashmir is part of a dangerous agenda to create an even tenser atmosphere, with anti-Muslim hate speeches and rhetoric making their way into cinemas. A video has circulated on social media showing a Hindu man calling on his community to father children from Muslim women. This was dated 18 March at a cinema where this film was being shown. It was an open call for the mass rape of Muslim women. read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 Mar 2022

Why Leila Aboulela’s literature strikes a chord with Muslim readers

Themes of belonging, faith, and what it means to be British are subjects that are rare in popular mainstream fiction when written from the perspective of Muslims. Those are precisely the topics that award-winning Sudanese author Leila Aboulela examines in a host of highly acclaimed books, where women feature as central characters. She won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000 for one of her short stories, The Museum. Her book, Elsewhere Home which is a collection of short stories, won the Satire Society’s Fiction Book of the Year 2018. In recounting untold narratives and perspectives, Leila’s characters are ordinary people who just happen to be Muslim. Their faith is a large part of their identity and woven unashamedly into her stories. It does not feel contrived. Born in 1964 in Cairo and raised in Khartoum, Leila moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, after she was married in her mid-20s. This uprooting of her life and the alienation she initially felt in the UK is a theme she writes about often, and that experience comes through in her writing. She arrived in the UK in the 1990s, which was a time of rising anti-Muslim sentiment. This deeply upset Leila, and she would channel her emotions into prose. It was almost a therapeutic endeavour that allowed her to express her anger at being misrepresented as a Muslim, and to tell stories that challenged the mainstream narrative. “Britain can be really resistant to outsiders, in a kind of odd way, so that no matter how much people integrate and no matter what they do, there is always this reminder that they are outsiders and that they have to qualify to belong,” Leila told TRT World. read the complete article

23 Mar 2022

Anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson faces potential jail over court no-show

Anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson faces a potential jail sentence after failing to appear at a High Court hearing on Tuesday to be questioned about his finances after losing a libel case. The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was due to appear in court over unpaid legal bills after he was successfully sued by Syrian refugee student Jamal Hijazi last year. A video of Hijazi, who was 15 at the time, being assaulted at a school in the north of England, where his family had settled after fleeing Syria, went viral in October 2018. Robinson claimed in two subsequent Facebook videos that Hijazi was “not innocent” and claimed he “violently attacked young English girls in his school.” Hijazi sued Robinson for libel in July 2021, where a High Court judge later ruled Robinson’s claims to be untrue and ordered him to pay the student £100,000 ($132,632) in damages and more than £43,000 in legal costs. The former EDL chief declared bankruptcy four months later, a filing which has since been discharged, with Hijazi’s lawyers successfully applying for an order requiring Robinson to return to court to face questioning over his finances. A High Court judge will decide whether Robinson is in contempt of court. read the complete article

United States

23 Mar 2022

NYPD's top official faces backlash for downplaying Muslim surveillance

The New York Police Department's top official on counterterrorism and intelligence is facing criticism from segments of the Muslim community after suggesting that the agency did not spy on Muslims post 9/11. At an eight-hour council hearing on public safety on Friday, Shahana Hanif, the first and only Muslim NYC council member, asked if the NYPD could commit to fully disclosing the extent of its Muslim surveillance programme and if the NYPD could also issue a formal apology or public acknowledgement to Muslim New Yorkers for the "discriminatory, fruitless, and damaging programme". John Miller, who serves as the NYPD's deputy commissioner on intelligence and counterterrorism, answered that the surveillance was just a "perception". "Perception allowed to linger long enough becomes reality. I know from my own conversation with Muslim members of the community and Muslim community leaders, that there are people… who will believe forever… [that] there were spies in their mosques who are trying to entrap people," he said. "There is no evidence that that occurred based on every objective study that's been done." In 2011, the Associated Press reported that since 2002, the NYPD had "subjected entire neighbourhoods to surveillance and scrutiny, often because of the ethnicity of the residents, not because of any accusations of crimes". The AP investigation also found that the NYPD religiously profiled and surveilled NYC Muslims in an attempt to find "radicalisation", mapping out communities, conducting video surveillance, recruiting informants, and generating intelligence databases. A year later, the NYPD acknowledged in a testimony that the unit in charge of the surveillance - the demographics unit- never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation. And in 2014, the unit was discontinued. Hanif, who later called on Miller to be fired, told MEE she was dismayed that he refused to accept the intrusive and destructive effect surveillance had on the Muslim community. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Mar 2022 Edition


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