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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25 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, three Muslim American citizens filed a lawsuit against federal immigration authorities alleging that nearly every time they returned to the US from abroad they were stopped and questioned about their religion, meanwhile in India, the Karnataka government on Wednesday defended a decision by some temples banning Muslim traders during religious festivals, and in Canada, the region of Waterloo council votes in favour of policy to fight Islamophobia. Our recommended read of the day is by Bradley Jardine for TIME on how “Arab states are not only lending rhetorical support to China, they are also actively assisting Beijing in its global campaign of abuse and reprisals against Uighurs.” This and more below:


25 Mar 2022

The Arab World Isn't Just Silent on China’s Crackdown on Uighurs. It's Complicit | Recommended Read

Saudi Arabia, a key ally of China in the Arab world, has shown support for Beijing’s crackdown on Uighur culture in the past. During a 2019 visit to China, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, told his hosts: “We respect and support China’s rights to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security.” Saudi Arabia further endorsed China’s Xinjiang policies in two joint letters to the United Nations in 2019 and 2020. But Arab states are not only lending rhetorical support to China, they are also actively assisting Beijing in its global campaign of abuse and reprisals against Uighurs. At least six governments in the Arab world—Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the UAE—have detained or extradited Uighurs at China’s behest. According to our dataset at the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, around 292 Uighurs have been detained or deported from Arab states at China’s behest since 2002. The majority of these occurred in recent years. China’s repressive practices against the Uighur diaspora have expanded dramatically since Chinese President Xi Jinping unleashed his “people’s war on terror” in 2014. At least 1,327 individuals have been detained or rendered from 20 countries worldwide since then, according to our findings. The majority of these are from Muslim-majority countries. Today, links to the Arab world can result in immediate imprisonment for Uighurs, with algorithmic systems of surveillance flagging any individuals with ties to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or any of the other 26 countries blacklisted by Chinese police, for arrest. To pursue Uighurs, China has abused international organizations such as Interpol, the world police agency, as well as bilateral extradition treaties. read the complete article

25 Mar 2022

The U.S. Has Recognized Myanmar’s Genocide. But Is That Enough?

The United States formally declared this week that the atrocities and ethnic violence Myanmar’s military has committed against the country’s Rohingya minority constitute a “genocide,” following a yearslong campaign by advocates of the minority group and global human rights organizations urging the United States to do so. International attention on Myanmar’s offensive against the Rohingya intensified when violence against the ethnic group peaked in 2017, following years of repression. The five-year gap between the surge in violence and the U.S. genocide declaration led some human rights activists to criticize Washington for taking too long to make the determination, and they have called on the Biden administration to step up efforts to protect the Rohingya. “For five years now, the Rohingya community has been asking for the U.S. government to recognize their suffering for what it was,” said Naomi Kikoler, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “For many Rohingya, they feel that this prolonged period of time has enhanced their suffering and enhanced the risks that they have faced.” According to interviews with more than 1,000 Rohingya by the U.S. State Department, 75 percent of the Rohingya interviewed personally witnessed the military kill someone, and 1 in 5 people witnessed a mass casualty event. “These percentages matter,” Blinken said. “They demonstrate that these abuses were not isolated cases. The attack against Rohingya was widespread and systematic.” Along with the determination, Blinken announced the United States is applying targeted sanctions against 65 Myanmar leaders and their associates, as well as sanctions and export controls on 26 entities accused of human rights abuses or of funding the Myanmar military. In addition, the United States pledged to give almost $1 million in additional funding for the mechanisms investigating the crimes. This is on top of $1.6 billion provided to Rohingya refugees since 2017. But for many, promises of sanctions aren’t enough. Human rights advocates say the U.S. government needs to do more to hold the Myanmar military junta accountable, even while welcoming the new determination as an important first step. read the complete article

25 Mar 2022

Opinion: Biden’s Rohingya genocide declaration can’t just be empty words

On Wednesday, the United States announced that it had determined Russia was committing war crimes in Ukraine — 28 days into the invasion. When the U.S. government announced on Monday that it had determined that Myanmar’s military had committed genocide against the Rohingya, it was more than five years after the violence there began. The close timing this week between the Biden administration’s two statements is likely no coincidence, even though the crimes committed against the Rohingya happened in 2016 and 2017. The administration wants to signal that the Ukraine crisis hasn’t completely consumed its foreign policy bandwidth. Secretary of State Antony Blinken alluded to this when announcing the genocide determination at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. To be sure, the Ukraine crisis and the Myanmar situation are not the same. The crimes of Russian President Vladimir Putin are nowhere near the scope and scale of the Myanmar military’s broad campaigns of mass murder, mass torture, mass rape, ethnic cleansing and other horrors — at least not yet. But that’s kind of the point. “What does that say to the victims in Myanmar that there was clear evidence of mass atrocities for years but nothing happened? The message is, you do not matter,” said Amber Maze, executive director of the Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention. “And what does that say to those committing the crimes? It allows them to think they will get away with it, and so they will do it again.” The State Department has had clear evidence of crimes against humanity in Myanmar since 2018 but never called them out as such. When the Biden administration took office, it spent more than a year reviewing the Rohingya file — even though it needed only two months to confirm (correctly) the Trump administration’s determination that the Chinese government’s abuse of Uyghur Muslims was a genocide. The unspoken but obvious explanation is that these determinations are often decided based on politics or policy, not evidence. Parts of the U.S. government and Congress long believed that supporting Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi (who defended the military’s atrocities), was more important than calling out the Rohingya genocide. But that strategy didn’t work. Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested by the junta when it seized power last year and the military has ignored all U.S. calls for restraint since. The Biden administration and Congress should ramp up their engagement on the Myanmar crisis to prove to the world that this genocide declaration is more than empty words. read the complete article

25 Mar 2022

Ricketts family denounces Islamophobia after Chelsea fan backlash

The Ricketts family have denounced Islamophobia and racism after a backlash by Chelsea supporters threatened to derail their bid to buy the Premier League club. Chelsea fans had the hashtag #NoToRicketts trending on Twitter on Wednesday, with supporters raising concerns over the potential purchase by the owners of the Chicago Cubs. In 2019, Splinter News published a string of emails in which family patriarch Joe Ricketts purportedly said "Islam is a cult and not a religion". He apologised for the comments three years ago. In a bid to prove their suitability to take over Chelsea, the family released a statement saying they rejected "any form of hate in the strongest possible terms". "Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society," they added. read the complete article


25 Mar 2022

India: Amnesty calls denial of bail to Muslim activist ‘big blow’

Rights group Amnesty International has described India’s repeated denial of bail to jailed Muslim activist Umar Khalid as a “big blow” to those exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the Hindu-majority country. Khalid, 34, along with more than a dozen other Muslims, is accused by the Indian authorities of being part of a “larger conspiracy” that led to religious riots in New Delhi in February 2020 which left 53 people dead, most of them Muslims, and dozens of houses and mosques torched. The riots – the worst the Indian capital had seen in decades – followed peaceful sit-ins across the country, mainly organised by Muslim women, against the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government in late 2019. Critics said the CAA, which fast-tracked Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from India’s neighbouring nations, violated India’s secular constitution. The Muslim resistance to the law triggered hate speeches against the community by ministers and politicians belonging to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindu groups, which led to attacks on Muslims living in the eastern parts of New Delhi. The Delhi police, who are controlled by the federal government, accused Khalid of being a “key conspirator” and one of the “masterminds” of the riots. He was arrested on September 13, 2020 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, a draconian anti-terror law characterised by stringent bail provisions, among other charges. The activist, who was also jailed briefly for “sedition” in 2016 when he was a student at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, has denied any involvement in the Delhi violence. read the complete article

25 Mar 2022

Karnataka govt defends move by temples to ban Muslim traders from fairs

The Karnataka government on Wednesday defended a decision by some temples banning Muslim traders during religious festivals, citing a little-known law to argue in the assembly that no people other than Hindus could be allowed inside temple premises during fairs and holy occasions. The state’s law and education ministers backed the ban instituted by at least six temples in the past week, and chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government couldn’t interfere if the ban was legal. Over the last five days, banners have emerged outside temples in Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Shivamooga districts announcing that Muslim traders will not be allowed to set up stalls in religious fairs, breaking from decades-old local traditions. The statements came amid swirling controversy over several temple authorities across Karnataka denying Muslim shopkeepers permission to set up stalls in popular Hindu religious fairs, where usually members of all faiths do business alongside each other. The posters have come up in communally sensitive districts of coastal Karnataka, which were already on the boil over the state government’s decision in January to ban the hijab in classrooms, and the ensuing controversy. read the complete article

United States

25 Mar 2022

Muslim Americans sue US government over alleged religious targeting at border

Three Muslim American citizens filed a lawsuit against federal immigration authorities on Thursday alleging that nearly every time they returned to the US from abroad they were stopped and questioned about their religion. The three US citizens alleged they would be subject to secondary screenings by border officers, during which they were asked questions including whether they were Muslim, whether they were Sunni or Shia, which mosque they attend, and how often they pray. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a district court in Los Angeles, claims their treatment amounts to religious discrimination under the Constitution, as it violates the First Amendment's right to freedom of religion - because other faiths are not similarly targeted with such questioning. It also calls on the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to expunge the records of the three individuals, which the ACLU says are to be held in a database for up to 75 years and are accessible to US law enforcement agencies. "Just as border officers may not single out Christian Americans to ask what denomination they are, which church they attend, and how regularly they pray, singling out Muslim Americans for similar questions is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs are entitled to full and equal membership in American society," the lawsuit says. read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 Mar 2022

Rizwan Wadan, the British Muslim filmmaker combatting anti-Muslim hate through film

British-born Muslim filmmaker Rizwan Wadan has been working tirelessly for the last five years, screening his hard-hitting film in public settings all across the UK. The film produced by Rizwan, under his production company Pixeleyed Pictures, is part of the Error in Terror campaign which aims to deter individuals from carrying out acts of terror, promote harmony within the wider community and dispel stereotypes surrounding Muslims and Islam. With the rise of global Islamophobia, Rizwan – who has worked on camera for Hollywood films such as The Favourite and Star Wars – has garnered support from the mainstream film industry including veterans like Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Biziou who worked on films such as The Truman Show among many others. “The motivation to start this campaign came from seeing how Muslims were portrayed through media, news and entertainment," Rizwan tells The New Arab. "I wanted to create this campaign to have these difficult conversations with people and to be able to address this (anti-Muslim hate) through the visual medium of film." Rizwan's powerful film aims to separate Islamic teachings and principles from being associated with terrorism and also serves to educate non-Muslims about the true essence of the religion, which he says can be done by, “creating a movement which turns confrontations into conversations." “When you watch the film and you see the explosion it's difficult, it sucks you straight in and it takes you to the point where the viewer is hooked into what’s happening," he explains. The film then goes on to show how terrorism has no religion and how terror goes against the tenets of Islam. “We flipped the narrative on its head and I think the reaction has been shocking for people. We’ve had loads of people in tears." read the complete article


25 Mar 2022

Region of Waterloo council votes in favour of policy to fight Islamophobia

The Region of Waterloo is going ahead with a revised policy that aims to eradicate Islamophobia. Councillors unanimously voted in favour of the policy Wednesday night that will see Jan. 29 recognized as a day of mourning in remembrance of the Quebec City mosque attack, anti-Islamophobia training for staff, amend the code of conduct to address harassment based on race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, and engage area municipalities to consider similar bylaws. "I'm looking forward to the difficult work that is ahead and that we can find many ways as a region to continue to support this," said Coun. Jim Erb. A previous attempt to pass the policy failed around a month ago due to objections from key community group Coalition of Muslim Women K-W. They noted that no money was attached to back up a program that is seeing federal funding pulled. On Wednesday, council approved up $100,000 for the coalition's Hate or Discrimination Reporting and Support Program for 12 months beginning on April 1. "Islamophobia happens at the intersection of racism, xenophobia, anti-Islam, anti-Muslim biases, and prejudices," said Fauzia Mazhar with the coalition. Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic adds that the set of recommendations speaks to the seriousness of an increasingly disturbing trend of hate against Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Mar 2022 Edition


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