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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26 Mar 2020

Today in Islamophobia: The Christchurch gunman changes his plea to “guilty,” as an essay by Irfan Raja explores why mosques are under attack in Europe. Hifza Ayaz unmasks the link between economic convenience and China’s oppression of minorities. Our recommended read today is by Danielle Lee Tomson on the rise of Sweden’s Democrats, and the end of Swedish exceptionalism. This, and more, below:


26 Mar 2020

The rise of Sweden Democrats and the end of Swedish exceptionalism | Recommended Read

In 2015, Sweden had a record-high of 162,877 applications for asylum, primarily from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan—or about 1.6 percent of Sweden’s population of 10 million. This would be proportionally equivalent to over five million people applying for asylum in the United States, which in fact only received approximately 83,000 asylum applications that year. For a country like Sweden that has grown increasingly secular over recent decades, the influx of Muslims from war-torn countries has greatly impacted politics and society. The Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna), a right-wing populist party once politically verboten because of ties to neo-Nazis at its founding in 1988, is now the third largest party in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament. It has effectively fashioned a narrative linking the surge of predominantly Muslim immigrants to a perception of an uptick in violent crimes and perceived strains on the prized Swedish welfare system. Swedes who are disgruntled by “the establishment” response to these concerns, especially regarding sociocultural issues, are attracted to the populist refrain of the Sweden Democrats: “We say what you think.” Unsurprisingly, the Sweden Democrats’ primary talking point is to specifically halt asylum immigration, which is predominantly Muslim. This case study offers insight into why Swedes are joining the Sweden Democrats and the connection to their perception of Islam. Through interviews with Sweden Democrat voters and officials primarily in Skåne, the southern party stronghold, this paper provides an intimate portrait of Sweden Democrats and their frustration with a political establishment over Muslim immigration, the perceived impact on the welfare system, and the cultural fallout in secular, liberal Sweden. Interviewees eagerly shared their experiences of changes in Sweden, such as the introduction of Muslim children joining their kids’ classes, witnessing crimes in neighborhoods with more immigrants, and experiencing what they think of as religious concessions for Muslims who “should” be assimilating to secular Sweden. read the complete article

Recommended Read


26 Mar 2020

How China’s oppression of Uyghurs is linked to economic convenience

Outsourcing is the economic move, which also explains why 85% of China’s cotton is grown in Xinjiang. These companies have not only escaped accountability, but have also veiled the unethical means that facilitate production. Oppressive measures against the Uyghurs is based on economic incentive, making ownership of labor a critical component of the hedonistic struggle. “I think money and land—especially land—play a crucial role in trying to maintain tight control over the region,” said Aydin Anwar, a Uyghur American and Outreach director of the Save Uyghur campaign. “East Turkestan is an occupied nation with incredibly rich minerals and resources that the Chinese Communist Party has been exploiting since the latest occupation in 1949. The existence of Uyghurs, their culture, their faith threatens China’s ability to maintain control of the land—because it’s clear that the culture, language and presence of East Turkestan is in fact not Chinese.” Anwar has lost contact with her family back home and deems 93 of her relatives missing. “China has claimed that we’ve always been a part of China. By erasing who we are as people and homogenizing all of China to essentially become Han Chinese is their way of supporting the claim that we’re all one,” she said. What does China’s position as a leading manufacturer entail? World leaders proposing neutrality to maintain economic relationships, the difficulty of holding the Chinese government accountable and consequently banning products made in China. Oula Yassine, a Fashion major with a focus on Product Development at Columbia College, Chicago explains that mass consumption and mass production are interdependent, which is why it’s increasingly difficult to refrain from purchasing products that are made in China. read the complete article

New Zealand

26 Mar 2020

Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman changes plea to guilty

The Australian man accused of killing dozens of Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March last year entered a surprise guilty plea to all 51 charges of murder at a special session of a Christchurch court on Thursday. Brenton Tarrant, who appeared by video link, also pleaded guilty to 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act. The 29-year-old had previously pleaded not guilty and was due to face trial in June. "He has been convicted of each and every one of those charges," Justice Cameron Mander said in minutes of the hearing that were released by the court. "The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding," the judge added. read the complete article


26 Mar 2020

Why are mosques under attack in Europe? Why do the British fear Muslims?

What inspires hatred and anti-mosque sentiment? Why are mosques targeted? Has Europe failed to protect its mosques? Are mosques the least protected under European law? Is it because of the media's reporting of Islam and Muslims? Or is it because Muslims are failing to demonstrate the true Islam? The problem is, of course, serious and the challenge ahead is to make mosques safer places for worshipers. What could make this happen? More police patrolling, the media reporting positive visuals, Muslims engaging with non-Muslim neighborhoods and what else? Also, why is that one set of troublemakers’ religion comes under fire in the media? Soon after the Christchurch attacks, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced a U.N. plan to make mosques a “safer haven, not sites of terror.” It seems this is just another speculative attempt from the U.N. to ensure human rights in the conflicting regions of the world; therefore, it’s questionable whether it will succeed. The Christchurch shooting has created a global pattern of hate and anti-mosque discourse. Recently, German security institutions arrested 12 members of a far-right group that “plot to attack multiple mosques.” A New York Times headline read, “Far-Right terrorism is No. 1 threat” facing Germany. In Britain, security services have successfully foiled several far-right plots to bomb or carry out shootings at mosques. The matter is of course quite serious, as most far-right radicals are turning toward mosques. Worryingly, graffiti being painted on mosques, acts of vandalism, windows being broken and spitting on mosque-goers, especially bearded men and veiled women, has become far too common. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Mar 2020 Edition


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