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.

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07 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Bangladesh, The Rohingya community is increasingly terror stricken due to dozens of smaller fires this year including the March blaze, as the support of a general boycott of companies bankrolling the upcoming Beijing Olympic games continues in no small part due to the plight of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and in Canada, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association formally appeals the Quebec court ruling on religious symbols law. Our recommended read of the day is by Patrick Howell O’Neill on a sophisticated cyber attack in China which the Chinese government used as a means to spy on Uyghur Muslims living in the country. This and more below:


05 May 2021

How China turned a prize-winning iPhone hack against the Uyghurs

The inaugural event was held in November 2018. The $200,000 top prize went to Qihoo 360 researcher Qixun Zhao, who showed off a remarkable chain of exploits that allowed him to easily and reliably take control of even the newest and most up-to-date iPhones. From a starting point within the Safari web browser, he found a weakness in the core of the iPhones operating system, its kernel. The result? A remote attacker could take over any iPhone that visited a web page containing Qixun’s malicious code. It’s the kind of hack that can potentially be sold for millions of dollars on the open market to give criminals or governments the ability to spy on large numbers of people. Qixun named it “Chaos.” Two months later, in January 2019, Apple issued an update that fixed the flaw. There was little fanfare—just a quick note of thanks to those who discovered it. But in August of that year, Google published an extraordinary analysis into a hacking campaign it said was “exploiting iPhones en masse.” Researchers dissected five distinct exploit chains they’d spotted “in the wild.” These included the exploit that won Qixun the top prize at Tianfu, which they said had also been discovered by an unnamed “attacker.” The Google researchers pointed out similarities between the attacks they caught being used in the real world and Chaos. What their deep dive omitted, however, were the identities of the victims and the attackers: Uyghur Muslims and the Chinese government. China’s hacking of Uyghurs is so aggressive that it is effectively global, extending far beyond the country’s own borders. It targets journalists, dissidents, and anyone who raises Beijing’s suspicions of insufficient loyalty. Shortly after Google’s researchers noted the attacks, media reports connected the dots: the targets of the campaign that used the Chaos exploit were the Uyghur people, and the hackers were linked to the Chinese government. Apple published a rare blog post that confirmed the attack had taken place over two months: that is, the period beginning immediately after Qixun won the Tianfu Cup and stretching until Apple issued the fix. MIT Technology Review has learned that United States government surveillance independently spotted the Chaos exploit being used against Uyghurs, and informed Apple. (Both Apple and Google declined to comment on this story.) The Americans concluded that the Chinese essentially followed the “strategic value” plan laid out by Qihoo’s Zhou Hongyi; that the Tianfu Cup had generated an important hack; and that the exploit had been quickly handed over to Chinese intelligence, which then used it to spy on Uyghurs. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United States

06 May 2021

Pittsburgh was once a Black Muslim refuge. Here’s one family’s story.

On our Zoom call, Abdullah laughs, but he’s clearly pointing to something serious, something missing from his upbringing. Now 47, he’s the disability compliance administrator for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh and also the father of six kids. The “R.” in his name is important: it helps distinguish him from his father, also Ali Abdullah, who was Braddock’s first African-American mayor. “Imagine going through your life and only knowing one aspect of yourself,” he said. Learning about Blackness was hard enough. Learning about Islam felt near impossible. “It was like a dark hole to my life.” As a young adult, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He took a class in Arabic, became a regular at the masjid or mosque and listened to a lot of Black Muslim hip-hop artists. He also studied the history of slavery. To his surprise, he realized some 10 to 30% of enslaved Africans in the United States were originally Muslim until nearly all were forced to convert to Christianity. “It just brought everything home,” he said. The seemingly disparate pieces of his identity — his race, his religion — actually fit together in a coherent story. That story had just been stamped out by racial and religious oppression. At the same time, Abdullah began uncovering details of a second moment in Black Muslim history — a moment in which Pittsburgh played a key role. Abdullah’s introduction to that history began with his own grandfather, Ibrahim Alamed Deen. Through it all, Pittsburgh offered a hub of intellectual, spiritual and social energy. The city was a refuge, said Sarah Jameela Martin, a local historian of Black Islam. It had a reputation. Black Muslims in the early 1900s would come there looking to be part of its pioneering community. read the complete article

06 May 2021

Pittsburgh’s Black Muslim history uncovered.

Unlike previous episodes of From The Source, this episode is not a standalone piece. “Pittsburgh, A Black Muslim refuge,” written by our religion reporter Chris Hedlin, focuses on the Abdullah family of Braddock and their family's deep connection to the spread and practice of Islam by Black Americans in our area. On the audio side, you'll meet Ali R. Abdullah, the source for Chris' story and a proud father, girl dad, Muslim, African-American man who wants to challenge the monolithic representation of Black and Islamic-practicing people in our area and how they're depicted and why it was important for him to learn and teach and record his own family's history. read the complete article

06 May 2021

Muslim Teen Claims She Was Attacked by 2 Girls Due to Her Religion

An investigation is underway after a Muslim teenager from Montgomery County accused two other girls of attacking her and ripping off her hijab at school due to her religion. “What they did was disgusting and horrible and it was a hate crime literally. That’s it,” Sanaa Beaufort told NBC10. “That’s all we’ve got to call it.” Beaufort, a 16-year-old junior and student ambassador at North Penn High School, told NBC10 two other girls attacked her Tuesday inside the school. Beaufort claimed one of the girls aggressively approached her and bumped her as she stepped out of the bathroom. As she took a defensive stance, a fight broke out and another girl jumped in, according to Beaufort. Beaufort said the girls ripped off her hijab, her religious head covering, during the fight. “You stripped me of my religion,” Beaufort said. “You took the most sacred thing I have on my body.” The incident also occurred during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims. Beaufort told NBC10 the dispute between her and the two other girls began weeks ago when she asked them to stop using the “N” word. She claims after that there were constant threats of violence. She also claims the girls kept saying, “We got you now,” during the fight on Tuesday. read the complete article


06 May 2021

Three Months After Coup, Myanmar Returns to the ‘Bad Old Days’

Every night at 8, the stern-faced newscaster on Myanmar military TV announces the day’s hunted. The mug shots of those charged with political crimes appear onscreen. Among them are doctors, students, beauty queens, actors, reporters, even a pair of makeup bloggers. Some of the faces look puffy and bruised, the likely result of interrogations. They are a warning not to oppose the military junta that seized power in a Feb. 1 coup and imprisoned the country’s civilian leaders. As the midnight insects trill, the hunt intensifies. Military censors sever the internet across most of Myanmar, matching the darkness outside with an information blackout. Soldiers sweep through the cities, arresting, abducting and assaulting with slingshots and rifles. Little more than a decade ago, the most innocuous of infractions — owning a photograph of pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or an unregistered cellphone or a single note of foreign currency — could mean a prison sentence. Some of the military’s Orwellian diktats rivaled those of North Korea. Three months after Myanmar’s experiment in democracy was strangled by the generals’ power grab, the sense of foreboding has returned. There is no indication that it will ease. For the better part of 60 years, the military’s rule over Myanmar was animated not by grand ideology but by fear. Today, with much of the population determined to resist the coup-makers, a new junta is consolidating its grip by resorting, yet again, to a reign of terror. “Myanmar is going back to the bad old days when people were so scared that their neighbors would inform on them and they could get arrested for no reason at all,” said Ko Moe Yan Naing, a former police officer who is now in hiding after opposing the coup. read the complete article


06 May 2021

Olympics sponsors duck questions over Beijing 2022 as boycott calls grow

Multinational companies sponsoring the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are evading questions about their participation as China comes under intense pressure over the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. As calls for a boycott of the event grow among activists, companies are increasingly being urged to take a stand over Xinjiang — at the same time as the Chinese government has encouraged boycotts of brands that speak out. Letters from human rights groups have gone unanswered and 11 of the 13 companies that have major sponsorship deals with the International Olympic Committee that include the Beijing games did not comment when asked by the Financial Times if they were reconsidering their plans. They include Coca-Cola, Visa and Airbnb from the US, Panasonic and Toyota from Japan, and Samsung from South Korea. Alibaba, the only Chinese company that is a full IOC sponsor, also declined to comment. read the complete article

07 May 2021

Muslim consumers want luxury. They just can't find it

For TikTok influencer Maha Gondal, finding premium brands that design modest clothing is a constant challenge. The 25-year-old made the decision not to shop at major luxury brands, turning to independent designers like Daily Paper and Louella. “It’s definitely hard to shop as a Muslim person,” she says. “I think luxury houses are really lacking — yes, they are becoming more diverse and are trying to be more inclusive, but they’re still very Muslim limited.” The modest fashion market is growing, providing ample opportunities for luxury brands — after all, there are more than 1.8 billion Muslims. It encompasses consumers who choose to dress modestly for religious and cultural reasons through to those who do so for stylistic choices. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/21, the modest fashion industry is valued at $277 billion and is estimated to reach $311 billion by 2024. The largest markets for modest fashion include Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, with strong growth predicted for countries such as Indonesia. This opens up new frontiers for luxury brands. “Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has been identified as a possible new hub for luxury items. Nigeria also has a high potential for luxury goods with its large Muslim population and abundance of high-net-worth individuals,” says Aaliya Mia, senior associate at DinarStandard, a strategy, research and advisory firm. Rawdah Mohamed, a Somali-Norwegian model who walked the runway for Max Mara in September, believes that luxury brands need to work harder to understand the Muslim consumer. “I think [luxury brands] are not including consumers in their conversations. Sometimes it looks like they haven’t done any research. They’ve made a collection just to tick the box and say ‘we catered to the Muslim woman’ when they actually haven’t,” says Mohamed. “Many brands don’t even know the difference between Ramadan, which is the fasting month, and Eid, which is the celebration where everyone wants to look their best.” Max Mara declined to comment. For luxury modest clothing such as an abaya or hijab, many Muslim women turn to local designers out of frustration. “[Muslim women] are so tired of being presented the same mediocre collections again and again,” Mohamed says. read the complete article


06 May 2021

Life at disaster’s edge: What it means to start over – again and again

We Rohingya have grown all too accustomed to starting over with nothing – through catastrophic fires and monsoon floods, or after fleeing our homeland in terror. Abdu Rohim and his family are living proof. They were among at least 48,000 people whose homes were burnt to the ground in March when an uncontrollable fire spread through parts of Bangladesh’s refugee camps. They lost everything. Abdu’s family, including three young children and his elderly parents, are rebuilding their lives over the ashes of their former home. Many families still have nothing more than three pieces of bamboo and a tarpaulin sheet. The entire community is terrified: There have been dozens of smaller fires this year aside from the March blaze. Many Rohingya suspect that someone is purposely igniting them. Bangladeshi authorities say they are investigating, but we haven’t been given any answers. Like Abdu, I am a Rohingya refugee. We are survivors of genocide, but it feels like the calamity never ends. We live through one crisis after another. The monsoon season brings heavy rains and landslides that wash away our bamboo tents. Our homes are dangerously exposed. May, the peak cyclone season, is here. A few weeks ago, a strong early storm damaged many of the fire victims’ temporary tents. Our children play on dangerously busy camp roads, where they risk being run over because there are no proper playgrounds and no formal schools where they can learn. This has happened many times. Children have also been kidnapped by traffickers. Many women have been sexually abused due to a lack of strong security in the camps. We don’t feel safe at night. There are no proper channels for our voices to be heard about these problems. When I think about all these terrible things, I lose my very breath. The refugee population here lives trapped within a barbed-wire fence meant to keep us inside; entering and exiting is intentionally made difficult. These fences made it even harder to survive the March fire. Abdu and his family had to crawl through a hole, torn through the wires, in order to escape. “We would not have such great losses of lives and property if there were not these fences, and if there was an entry point available for fire services,” he told me. We suffered in Arakan – what we call our homeland in Myanmar. We found shelter in Bangladesh, but we are still not safe. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 May 2021

Ilford worshippers pelted with eggs in ‘Islamophobic' attack

Worshippers were pelted with eggs outside an east London mosque in a "truly appalling" attack, police said. Five people were hit with eggs outside the Ilford Islamic Centre in Albert Road, Ilford, around 23:00 BST on Tuesday. MP for Ilford South Sam Tarry tweeted he was "shocked and saddened" by the "Islamophobic attack". The attack comes as worshippers mark Ramadan. Police are investigating the incident, the Met said. Ilford Islamic Centre director and secretary Ahmad Nawaz said nobody was injured in the "unnerving" attack on the worshippers who were leaving prayers at the mosque. "We take it on the chin. We are always fearful of something like this. This sentiment exists. " He added: "I'm very mindful of the potential of something to happen, but as a community we will confront it." Mr Tarry said: "These disgraceful acts of violence and hatred have no place in Ilford, and I hope that the perpetrators face justice as soon as possible." read the complete article


06 May 2021

Muslim, civil liberties groups to appeal Quebec court ruling on religious symbols law

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in a statement Thursday the law known as Bill 21 makes Quebecers who wear symbols such as hijabs, turbans and kippas second-class citizens. "We promised that we would not stop fighting until second-class citizenship ends for all Quebecers," said Yusuf Faqiri, the council's director of Quebec affairs. Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard acknowledged in his April 20 ruling that the law violates the rights of Muslim women and has dehumanizing consequences for those who wear religious symbols. But he largely upheld the law, which the province had shielded from charter challenges by invoking the notwithstanding clause. Bill 21 was adopted in June 2019 and prohibits public sector workers who are deemed to be in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs and turbans on the job. read the complete article

New Zealand

07 May 2021

Where is New Zealand’s ‘values-based’ foreign policy when it comes to the Uyghurs?

After the Christchurch terror attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern donned a hijab as she comforted the relatives of the 51 Muslims who were killed simply for practicing their faith. The image spread across the world and she was lavished with international praise.Yet her apparent turning away from the active erasure of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority population may undo that reputation. On Wednesday, New Zealand’s parliament backed away from calling what is happening in Xinjiang a “genocide,” opting instead for the watered-down language of “human rights breaches”. But the evidence is clear. Genocide is happening in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs. Yes, we might be a small country and strong trade relations mean New Zealand is vulnerable to retaliation from China. But ultimately it would be better for New Zealand to align with other like-minded states on this issue than to succumb to China’s economic might because it ultimately protects us from China’s increasing aggression and disregard for an international rules-based system. How New Zealand will uphold its “values-based” foreign policy in the face of massive pressure from the CCP is becoming one of the biggest political – and moral – challenges of the Labour government. But other small nations all around the world are also feeling vulnerable to China and it has not stopped them speaking out. States like Lithuania and Belgium have put forward and debated motions using the “genocide” language, even under threat of retaliation. More than ten democratic nations have already passed parliamentary resolutions condemning China’s horrific human rights abuses in Xinjiang and introduced a range of responses, including anti-forced labour legislation. In April, British MPs voted to declare China was committing genocide against the Uyghur people. Britain and the EU have also taken action with the US and Canada to impose sanctions. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 May 2021 Edition


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