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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30 Mar 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Xinjiang returns to work even as coronavirus worries linger. Amidst the global outbreak, some media outlets continue to link COVID-19 to Islam and Muslims: in Kannada, India, a headline accuses Muslims of spreading the virus. Our recommended read today is by Yashraj Sharma on Delhi’s Muslims who were displaced by the pogroms in February, and their search for solace and stability. This, and more, below:


30 Mar 2020

Delhi’s Displaced Muslims | Recommended Read

His clothing, a new set of Khan-dress, an identifiably Muslim attire, was his identity card. A man from the mob dragged him out by his neck and pushed him onto the road. When armed men started raining blows, Dilshad tried to run away from the mob “to save my life”; he failed and fell on the street. “I don’t remember anything else but only their loud chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ [roughly, ‘glory to Ram’, a Hindu god],” says Dilshad. “And they would beat me up continuously till I fell unconscious.” For the next two hours, Dilshad lay bloodied under the sun. The Hindu nationalist mob was hunting and beating Muslims to death on the streets of New Delhi after months-long protests against the ruling right-wing government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Islamophobic policies: the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a rumored update to the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Over the next couple of days, Dilshad moved into one of the Delhi Waqf Board relief camps in the northeastern part of the city to find shelter and a safe space. Administration and the government are the enemies of Muslims,” says Khan. “When police are rioters, who do we ask for help?” Wearing the same clothes he had been wearing for eight days, Ahmed isn’t able to settle down after the recent violence. “We’ve been living peacefully in that area for years. We’ve eaten together,” he says. “But now, the Hindus have turned against us.” The state’s incompetency at addressing their issues and taking firm actions makes Ahmed feel “weak and defeated,” he says. read the complete article

Recommended Read
30 Mar 2020

In Delhi, First Came the Pogroms. Then Came Coronavirus.

In late February, he lost his house at the hands of Hindu nationalist mob in the Indian capital’s worst communal violence in decades, riots that were arguably sparked by a series of hatemongering speeches by the local leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party. Nizamuddin ended up stuck sheltering in the Eidgah displaced persons camp in New Delhi’s Mustafabad neighborhood, three miles from his destroyed home. Since December, New Delhi has become a battleground of identities and ideologies. Hundreds of Muslims have been protesting against the citizenship law. It was Hindu nationalist citizens and leaders angered by those protests who organized the mob that ransacked Nizamuddin’s street. Meanwhile, the state’s complicity in the crimes against Muslims, as seen in the recent Delhi violence—during which multiple victims say that police didn’t react to their panicked calls or simply turned their backs—has encouraged the mobs on the streets, allowing them to attack Muslims with a sense of impunity. On March 24, Modi announced a nationwide lockdown amid growing numbers of coronavirus cases in India. The next morning, the families in the camp were asked to leave immediately. A representative of the Delhi Waqf Board, a government body that looks after the management of shrines and mosques, told Foreign Policy, “We can’t keep so many people in such little space. What if one of them would test positive for the virus?” Nizamuddin was out of options; with no money in hand, he was forced to move back to his looted home. For him, it is a scary reminder of bad memories now. “We were forcefully evicted from the camp due to some viral disease,” he told me over the phone. “Upon our return, we didn’t meet eyes with any of our neighbors.” He hasn’t received any monetary help to restart his life, apart from a bag of rice and some flour. “When it ends, I don’t know what we will do,” Nizamuddin said. “I cannot earn anymore.” read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

The Callousness of India’s COVID-19 Response

Late last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government introduced and passed a controversial new law, ostensibly in support of minorities in neighboring countries, that in fact openly discriminated against Muslims and undermined India’s secular foundations. Then, early this year, protests over that new law snowballed into a pogrom in which dozens of people—mostly Muslims—have been killed. Yet even as India was gripped by demonstrations and violence, the coronavirus was making inroads into society here. The country reported its first case on January 30, but authorities steadfastly insisted that cases were one-offs and no local transmission was taking place. In recent weeks, though, India has seen exponential growth in the number of cases. Today, we are three days into a three-week nationwide lockdown, a heavy restriction on a nation of 1.3 billion people that Modi and his government have insisted will help defeat the virus. This lockdown is, in keeping with many of this government’s policies, a headline-grabbing initiative announced with little warning, but one that will do little to address the myriad problems India faces in dealing with the coronavirus. It puts responsibility for containing the outbreak on citizens, instead of instituting a robust official support system. It is needlessly punishing for the most vulnerable in society. It does nothing to solve this country’s problems with public health and safety. And everything that is wrong with India’s response flows from that period late last year through the early parts of this year, in which the government set the tone for what is undoubtedly the world’s harshest lockdown with police brutality, a lack of transparency, and a shortage of compassion. As the government focused in recent months on passing the controversial anti-Muslim law, stoking protests and eventually communal violence, crucial time to prepare for this pandemic was lost. read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

Kannada newspaper accuses Muslims of spreading coronavirus

In a shocking case of irresponsible journalism, a leading Kannada newspaper, Vijaya Karnataka, accused Muslims of spreading coronavirus in a page one story on March 28. The headline of the story read, “All the Deceased Belonged to One Community”. Leading with the sentence that the three deceased in Karnataka due to COVID-19 belonged to one particular community, the report added, without any evidence or statements from the police, that it was members of this community who were blatantly violating the curfew in place because of the 21-day lockdown. Leaving no one in doubt as to which this “particular community” is, the report states that of the three deceased, two had returned from Mecca, while the third fell ill on his return to his hometown from Delhi where he prayed at the Jamia Masjid. The report accuses the deceased individuals of violating quarantine norms and freely travelling through many States before their deaths. The report also adds that while Hindus and Christians have stopped congregating at temples and churches, members of “this particular community are congregating for prayers and causing fear in society by freely violating the norms of the curfew”. The report appealed to the State government to “bring in strict measures so that members of this community do not spread the virus”. read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

Shaheen Bagh Protests: 'Muslim Women Don't Need Saviours, They Were Saviours of the Idea of India'

Zoya Hasan is Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has worked extensively on the socio-economic status of Muslim women. India hasn’t seen such a sustained civil society mobilisation dominated by young women. Nor have we seen this scale of women’s mobilisation around non-gender issues and in complete defiance of state and police violence across the country. It’s striking that women were out on the streets for a cause that was not women-specific, not about sexual harassment or domestic violence. The active participation of Muslim women in the anti-CAA protests was the defining feature of this movement. It shattered many stereotypes about Muslim women. It put paid to the pervasive belief that the average Indian Muslim woman is an uneducated and burqa-clad figure who has no voice and is suffering under patriarchal oppression. Muslim women were in the vanguard of the anti-CAA protests.They were the life and soul of resistance against CAA. Their support has sustained protests in multiple locations in dozens of cities and metropolises. No one would have expected such significant and sustained participation of Muslim women who led from the front. read the complete article

United States

30 Mar 2020

On #MuslimWomensDay, Founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh Talks Autonomy, Change and Empowerment

On March 27, the fourth annual #MuslimWomensDay, that means finding new and unique way to uplift Muslim women's autonomy while we all stay in social isolation. #MuslimWomensDay founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh told Teen Vogue this year's theme of autonomy is taking on new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, she said the day remains an important way to uplift Muslim women and all the choices they make—including staying inside to protect their health and their community. We chatted with Amani about what has and hasn't changed since she started #MuslimWomensDay, what she hopes people will understand, and how autonomy can happen in isolation. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: We started #MuslimWomensDay with the goal of dedicating one day during Women’s History Month to flooding the internet with Muslim women’s voices. We not only wanted to create a moment of celebration and empowerment for our underrepresented group, but also inspire opportunities for us to share our stories in our own voices and shine a light on the incredible narratives that exist within our communities. read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

How The Muslim Ban Served As A Warning For Trump’s Response To Coronavirus

For Muslim women who observe hijab, it’s become hard not to feel wary about going out in public. This has nothing to do with any increase in white American xenophobia during the current pandemic, but rather because of the Trump administration’s latest — and seemingly ongoing— expansion of what’s commonly known as the Muslim Ban. For visibly Muslim women, the ban and its widening scope have become a significant problem, serving as a cover for racism. Since women in hijab are easily recognized as being Muslim, they have become the obvious targets. When Refinery29 spoke to graduate student Janeen Radwan, who observes hijab, she told us how the Muslim Ban has had a huge impact on her and other hijabis. “It’s a manner of singling us out from our respective communities. It is already difficult living as a hijabi in the U.S. Wearing a headscarf is like wearing a giant flag around our heads. In a post-9/11 world, a hijab welcomes ignorant questions, glares, and insults — and these are just the minor offenses,” Radwan said. “This ban encourages a negative rhetoric that puts other Americans on their toes around those who are most visually Muslim, wearing a hijab. It makes us targets and villains to the rest of our American brethren.” For those who observe hijab, the Muslim Ban can feel like another mechanism for weaponizing anti-Muslim bigotry for political gain. And this is not just limited to travel. When discrimination is sanctioned at a federal level with something like the Muslim Ban, it trickles down into all other parts of society, in areas ranging from education to employment to healthcare. read the complete article


30 Mar 2020

'Just One Case': Fears Coronavirus May Spread Like Wildfire in World's Refugee Camps

In the world’s largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh, filmmaker Mohammed Arafat has been making public safety videos to warn about the dangers of coronavirus. The 25-year-old is worried that the disease will devastate the vast, crowded camps that house more than one million Rohingya, members of a mostly Muslim minority who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar. “We are living in tiny, crowded shelters, we are sharing toilets,” he told Reuters. “It is very difficult to protect ourselves, it’s too crowded, people can’t breathe well.” Bangladesh, which has reported 48 cases of the virus and five deaths, imposed a lockdown on Tuesday, the same day it confirmed the first case in Cox’s Bazar, the coastal district where the Rohingya camps are located. A family of four Rohingya have been quarantined after returning from India. read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

Messiah: Netflix series cancelled after allegations of anti-Islamic sentiment

The series starred Michelle Monaghan as a CIA agent investigating an enigmatic figure known as Al-Masih, who builds a legion of followers after claiming to be sent to Earth by a higher power. In Islamic eschatology, Al-Masih ad-Dajjal is an evil figure comparable to the Antichrist – whose name translates to “the false messiah, liar, the deceiver” in Arabic. After the first season debuted in January, there were complaints that the series contained subtextual anti-Islamic sentiment, with the Royal Film Commission of Jordan (where parts of the series were shot), even calling on Netflix to ban the series from its country. While the allegations of religious insensitivity may have played a part in the series’ cancellation, it has also been suggested that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made international filming schedules much harder to co-ordinate – which may be the key factor in the streaming service’s decision not to renew . read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

Some western media outlets could not resist linking COVID-19 to Islam and Muslims

Amidst the global media’s relentless news coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic, a number of media outlets have emerged with questionable output, seemingly making implicit and explicit connections between the spread of the virus and individuals who are visibly Muslim. ‘Moral Foundations Theory’ (MFT) proposes that there are five core moral values: caring, fairness, authority, loyalty and purity. ‘Parasitic-Stress Theory’ (PST) posits that pathogenic threat greatly shapes many aspects of a society and the way in which its members interact with one another. Purity, which is also referred to as sanctity, is believed to have evolved specifically to defend communities from pathogens. It is also associated with drives to maintain community sanctity from outside pollution and protection from harmful microbes and parasites, but also fuels concepts such as taboo. It is one explanatory variable in understanding why resistance to outgroup members can be so aggressive, and phenomena such as xenophobia and racism can prove to be virulent. When one reflects on the marriage of PST, and the moral value of purity/sanctity, the potential impact that the Coronavirus might have on social cognition and behaviour becomes apparent. It also might explain why stories pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic might have triggered the use of images of Muslims by media outlets; the value of purity could see both the Coronavirus and Muslims as a foreign threat, amongst those with salient or latent, conscious or unconscious, Islamophobia. read the complete article


30 Mar 2020

Keeping Eyes Open to Islamophobia

The term “Islamophobia,” although a buzzword we often find scattered around in our morning news and Twitter feeds, was first introduced in a 1910 thesis by Alain Quellin. Quellin articulates the term as islamophobie, or “a prejudice against Islam that is widespread among the peoples of Western and Christian civilization.” This word represents a long-standing negative history with Islamic communities: a history filled with hate and inequality. The phenomenon of intolerance against Muslim people has an extensive history in our nation. One of the most notable early instances of this phenomenon were the 1907 Anti-Oriental Riots in Vancouver: a three-day period in which anti-immigration attitudes manifested into violent attacks against Chinese, Japanese, Sikh, and Muslim minorities. Seven years later during World War I, the Canadian government set up internment camps across the country for Muslim immigrants in order to isolate the minority communities from the public. Early events like these set a precedent for future Islamophobia, solidifying the anti-immigration hatred that would come to define the next few years. However, when looking at the true catalyst of modern-day Islamophobic ideology, we can point specifically to the September 11, 2001 attacks. As a response to these extremist terrorist attacks, the values of Canadian government went through an immediate transformation in which security became the chief concern. The “War on Terror” swept through the world in full force. The events of September 11th left us with a toll of 2 977 casualties. However, the aftermath was even more disastrous. A study done by Neta C. Crawford in November 2018 totaled the amount of deaths as a direct result of the War of Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in 2018 as 480 000-507 000, not including indirect deaths or deaths as a result of the War in Syria. These deaths are a result of the War on Terror, yet they go unrecognized on our days of mourning. read the complete article


30 Mar 2020

Prison Sentence for Uyghur Singer Part of China's Efforts to Eradicate Uyghur Culture

The secret sentencing of celebrated Uyghur singer Rashida Dawut to 15 years in prison for “separatism” is one more iteration of the Chinese government’s disturbing and reprehensible attempt to eradicate the cultural expression of Uyghurs and other minority groups, PEN America said today. “Though we don’t know the precise details of why Rashida Dawut was sentenced to prison––nor why she was on trial in the first place––the reality is grossly apparent: Rashida has become one more victim in Chinese authorities’ efforts to systematically silence prominent Uyghur voices,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “This 15-year sentence reveals the extent of the Chinese government’s fear of Uyghur artistic and cultural expression. We emphatically call for Chinese authorities to release Rashida and drop all charges against her and any other artists targeted for merely expressing their cultural identity.” read the complete article

30 Mar 2020

Xinjiang Returns to Work, but Coronavirus Worries Linger

Officially vetted images and reports in China’s state-controlled media show life in Xinjiang resuming after more than a month of a regionwide shutdown to control the coronavirus. “Xinjiang has completely restored the normal order of production and life,” the official People’s Daily declared in a March 12 headline. But questions remain over the severity of the outbreak in the largely underdeveloped region, and whether a tightly enforced lockdown made it difficult for some residents to survive. The government says Xinjiang, a region of 24.5 million, officially has 76 coronavirus cases and three deaths. But Uighurs living abroad have been concerned about the fate of as many as a million or more Uighurs, Kazakhs and members of other predominantly Muslim minorities, who have been held in a sprawling network of indoctrination camps the government says are needed to fight religious extremism. They are skeptical of the government’s official tally of cases, fearing that the virus would spread rapidly in Xinjiang if it were introduced into the camps, or to prisons or rural areas with limited medical care. For many Uighurs, communication with the outside world has been largely cut by the government’s clampdown, adding to the uncertainty. Sayragul Sauytbay, a Chinese-born ethnic Kazakh woman who was forced to work as a Chinese language teacher in a camp from for a few months until early 2018, said she was worried that the government would do little to prevent an outbreak in the camps. “According to my personal experience in the concentration camp, they never helped anyone or provided any medical support for any kind of disease or health condition,” said Ms. Sauytbay, who fled to Kazakhstan two years ago, in a phone interview this month. “If the coronavirus spread inside the camps, they would not help, they would not provide any medical support.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

30 Mar 2020

Muslims are scared of going to therapy in case they’re linked to terrorism

‘I feel I had to self-censor. And that’s not the point of therapy. It’s meant to be a place where you’re open to getting to the root of your problems’. 27-year-old Ahmed has had 13 cognitive behavioural therapy sessions, but he feels he’s had to hide or understate parts of his Muslim identity. He, of course, has no radical tendencies, but worries that when discussing the feelings of alienation which many British Muslims feel at times, it could be misconstrued as something darker, something terroristic. This, he feels, is due to the government’s counter-extremism programme Prevent, which has been accused of discrimination for undue surveillance on Muslims for years. There is distrust among Muslims about the Prevent duty which they, like Ahmed, feel places extra scrutiny on their movement. But Muslims who feel otherised from society have nowhere to turn except inwards, even when their mental health is compromised. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Mar 2020 Edition


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