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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03 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: A new search tool developed by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) in the United States is allowing Uyghur Muslims the ability to search for information about missing loved ones in Xinjiang, China, meanwhile in India, YouTube confirms that cow vigilante, Monu Maneaser has been “indefinitely suspended from its “YouTube partner program,” taking away the ability for the suspected murderer to make money from his content, and in the U.S., streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus are providing filmmakers of different ethnicities an opportunity to represent their own stories. Our recommended read of the day is by Aaron Glasserman for Foreign Policy on the efforts of China’s new Head of Ethnic Affairs to discourage multiculturalism in favor of fostering a more “Chinese Nation.” This and more below:


China’s Head of Ethnic Affairs Is Keen to End Minority Culture | Recommended Read

Several high-profile promotions and demotions signaled that officials’ political survival depends on personal loyalty to Xi and that aggressive implementation of his policies is key to career advancement. Among the officials garnering Xi’s support is Pan Yue, who was elected as a full member of the CCP’s Central Committee. Since last June, Pan has been head of the State Council’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission, which is responsible for policy concerning China’s “minority nationalities,” the 55 officially recognized ethnic groups who collectively represent around 8.9 percent of the total population. Pan’s election to the Central Committee suggests that the Xi administration’s hard turn toward assimilationism will likely continue and perhaps intensify. Since the beginning of Xi’s second term in 2017, measures related to “managing” ethnic minorities have run the gamut, from destruction of what officials deem “foreign” architectural elements such as mosque domes and the removal of Arabic signage on restaurant awnings and storefronts to the imposition of Mandarin as the sole language of instruction for certain subjects in some schools. Repression has been most severe in Tibet and Xinjiang, where local populations have been subjected to extreme restrictions on movement, constant surveillance, mass internment, and—as has been reported of Uyghur women—forced sterilization. Pan did not initiate these policies, but he is poised to extend and expand them. read the complete article

Uyghurs Find Out What Happened to Missing Loved Ones in Xinjiang

For the first time, Uyghurs around the world have been able to find answers about their missing family in Xinjiang through an unprecedented new search portal. The Xinjiang Person Search Tool came to light through the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), a US-based non-profit, after Chinese police files were anonymously hacked. The tool – which holds 700,000 personnel files – has provided the Uyghur diaspora an opportunity to find evidence of missing family members, including their charge sheets, sentencing, detention status and whereabouts. The persecution of the Muslim minority in China has increased in recent years, with Chinese Government policies including arbitrary detention of the population in ‘re-education’ internment camps, forced labour, political indoctrination, forced sterilisation, sexual assault and the suppression of their religious practices. The tool uses internal Chinese Government documents, including images and data from 48 Xinjiang counties, and draws on more than 11,000 spreadsheets and thousands of photographs, which are continually updated as new information comes in. read the complete article


Rohingya refugees decry 'devastating' cuts to food aid

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh said on Thursday they are struggling to survive after the United Nations slashed their food aid due to a massive funding gap. After a $125 million donation shortfall, monthly food vouchers were cut from $12 to $10 per person starting in March, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced, warning further cuts were "imminent" without an immediate cash injection. The drop has already caused hardship among the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh's overcrowded camps, where they are reliant on aid and malnutrition is already rampant. "We don't have any income and the rations are reduced," said refugee Rahela Begum, 40, whose son is ill and malnourished. "He does not eat rice or other foods but only nutritious nut cream. They have stopped giving the nut cream and I don't know if he will survive." This is the first time assistance has been scaled back since an estimated 750,000 Rohingya fled over the border during a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar's military that is now subject to a UN genocide investigation. read the complete article

Penny Wong says Narendra Modi allegations a 'matter for the Indian justice system'

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has described allegations of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in a mass killing two decades ago as "a matter for the Indian justice system". Speaking in New Delhi on Wednesday evening, Senator Wong also declined to criticise Indian authorities for raiding the BBC's offices in the city after the broadcaster aired the allegations. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will next week travel to India to meet Mr Modi, viewed by critics as an authoritarian Hindu nationalist, closely following trips to the country by Senator Wong and Treasurer Jim Chalmers. At least 800 people, overwhelmingly Muslims, were murdered in 2002 during an outbreak of mob violence in the Indian state of Gujarat, where Mr Modi was chief minister. Mr Modi has always denied turning a blind eye to the violence, and a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court exonerated him in 2010. But he was barred from entering the US for nearly a decade over the riots, using a law allowing the State Department to ban foreigners who commit "particularly severe violations of religious freedom". That ban was rescinded when Mr Modi became prime minister in 2014. A BBC documentary published in January - India: The Modi Question - revived the allegations, revealing a UK government report found Mr Modi was "directly responsible" for enabling a "climate of impunity" during the riots. read the complete article

US adds Chinese genetics firms to trade blacklist over surveillance allegations

The United States on Thursday added two subsidiaries of Chinese genetics company BGI to a trade blacklist over allegations it conducted genetic analysis and surveillance activities for Beijing, which Washington says was used to repress ethnic minorities in China. The US Department of Commerce, which oversees export controls, said in a statement that BGI Research and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) “present a significant risk of diversion to China’s military programs.” In 2020, the US Department of Commerce added two other BGI affiliates, Xinjiang Silk Road BGI and Beijing Liuhe BGI, to the trade blacklist over their alleged involvement in human right abuses against Uyghur and other mainly Muslim minorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang. BGI Group issued a statement at the time denying the allegations, saying it “does not engage in unethical practices and does not provide gene technology for the surveillance of Uighurs.” read the complete article

Australia’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach to human rights in India has failed, advocates say

The Australian government has refused to be drawn on human rights in India, prompting accusations that it has shelved uncomfortable issues to boost trade and security ties. Human Rights Watch said the “quiet diplomacy” approach favoured by the west had failed to have any visible impact on India and urged the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to raise human rights during his visit to the country next week. BBC offices in India were raided by tax department officials in February, just weeks after the release of a documentary critical of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, which examined rising tensions between his Hindu nationalist government and the minority Muslim population. The Indian government invoked emergency laws to block the documentary, which included details from a British Foreign Office report that alleged Modi was “directly responsible” for a “climate of impunity” that enabled deadly riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002. In the lead-up to his planned trip to India next week, Albanese was asked about the Gujarat riot allegations and whether he would raise contemporary human rights concerns with Modi. The prime minister did not engage with the substance of the question. He said he was determined to build a better relationship between Australia and India and he looked forward to having “positive discussions” with his counterpart. read the complete article

United States

Is the representation of Arabs in Hollywood changing?

From the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters, vilifying depictions of Arabs and Muslims have persisted in Western cinema, unchallenged. Yet, with the rise of streaming services, filmmakers of different ethnicities are now being afforded a chance to represent their own stories. read the complete article

She pushed back her student’s hijab. Was it a mistake or an act of hate?

Tamar Herman knew that a Muslim girl in her second-grade class always wore a hijab. But one day, Herman thought she saw a hoodie covering it. She asked the girl to remove it, she says. Then, depending whom you believe, the teacher either “brushed back” the fabric or “forcibly removed it.” “That’s my hijab!” the girl cried out, she told her mom later. Her hair was briefly exposed. Herman says she apologized and assumed the incident would blow over. She was wrong. What could have been a mistake followed by an apology became a maelstrom, driven by the parents’ ire, the teacher’s statements and by social media after an Olympic fencer, who had made international headlines for competing in her hijab, lit into Herman. “This is a hate crime,” one person wrote in a local Facebook group. “You have to fire the teacher,” said another. Within days, a called for Herman to be fired; it eventually collected more than 41,000 signatures. NBC News, USA Today and the New York Times carried the story far beyond this New Jersey suburb. What actually happened that day, and why? Did social media play an important role in holding someone accountable? Or did a town full of people, communicating via dozens of local Facebook groups, rush to judgment in a sincere but misplaced effort to take racial bias seriously? All this time later, those questions remain unanswered. read the complete article

In two competitive South Jersey districts, GOP fights over candidates’ anti-abortion and anti-Muslim posts

The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year was widely seen as contributing to Democrats’ fending off an anticipated “Republican wave” in the 2022 midterms, and there are signs that it continues to motivate Democrats. Wingate’s 2022 loss was a major disappointment for the Gloucester County GOP, which thought it was on a roll following Durr’s shocking 2021 victory over then-Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), then New Jersey’s second-most powerful elected official. That race caught the vaunted South Jersey Democratic machine off guard, with an unanticipated backlash to Gov. Phil Murphy’s pandemic policies helping defeat Sweeney. Since then, Democrats have been paying closer attention. In one Facebook conversation four years ago, DeSilvio said “I consider abortion murder and anybody that supports it, is considered ‘evil’ to me!!’” POLITICO also viewed a screenshot of DeSilvio’s “About” page on Facebook where, under “basic info,” he wrote “I believe in Jesus. No muslims here !!” He has since removed the anti-Muslim language. Durr, a truck driver, himself faced controversy over anti-Muslim social media posts, but they did not publicly surface until right after his election. He apologized and met with Muslim advocates and members of the community, then introduced legislation to recognize two Islamic holidays. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Prevent review: why we need a new – and clearer – definition of Islamist extremism

An independent review of the UK counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, has recommended that the government increase its efforts to tackle Islamist extremism. Prevent was launched nearly two decades ago to divert vulnerable people away from radicalisation and terrorism. It has been controversial from the outset, criticised by experts and campaigners alike for its tight focus on Islamist extremism in particular and the alleged targeting of Muslim communities in Britain this results in. One fundamental question this review poses is what exactly “Islamist extremism” is. This matters because many professionals (including teachers, lecturers, social workers, health workers and prison guards) are now legally obliged to watch out for it. Research I have recently published with Maaha Elahi, a pupil barrister, shows that a clearer definition is possible. The problem is that Prevent’s definition is rooted in the government’s favoured concept of “British values”. It says little about how extreme Islam differs from more mainstream forms of the religion. And it offers little practical guidance for the professionals now under a legal duty to be aware of terrorist risks. read the complete article


YouTube Stops Hindutva Vigilante Monu Manesar From Monetising Channel, Takes Down 9 Videos

YouTube has confirmed that cow vigilante and self-proclaimed gau rakshak (cow protector) Monu Manesar has been “indefinitely suspended” from its “YouTube Partner Program,” which means he can no longer make money from the videos he posts. A few days before the double murder in Bhiwani, an investigation by Alt News’ Shinjinee Majumdar found that Monu and his team have uploaded several violent videos on social media in the past with little attention from law enforcement authorities. Alarmingly, Monu enjoys a massive following on social media – he has over 2 lakh followers on YouTube and 83,000 followers on his Facebook page where he often uploads content in violation of Meta and YouTube’s safety guidelines. In many photos uploaded on his social media, his team can be spotted grabbing visibly injured men by their hair. Monu and his supporters claim they are all cow smugglers. Meta is yet to act against any of the gory content posted on Monu’s Facebook page. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Mar 2023 Edition


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