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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10 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia:  A New Jersey man set to be the first Muslim Federal Judge faces prejudicial scrutiny with NJ committee member comments calling for him to denounce Sharia, while the Washington Post Editorial Board calls on international corporations to stop their sponsorships of the Beijing Olympic Winter games due to China’s ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims, and after numerous anti-Muslim rants, far-fight media personality Laura Loomer is banned from the Clubhouse app after “promoting violence.” Our recommended read of the day is by Amy Qin on the Chinese government’s active campaign to suppress birth rates amongst Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. This and more below


10 May 2021

China Targets Muslim Women in Push to Suppress Births in Xinjiang

When the government ordered women in her mostly Muslim community to be fitted with contraceptive devices, Qelbinur Sedik pleaded for an exemption. She was nearly 50 years old, she told officials in Xinjiang. She had obeyed the government’s birth limits and had only one child. It was no use. The workers threatened to take her to the police if she continued resisting, she said. She gave in and went to a government clinic where a doctor, using metal forceps, inserted an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy. She wept through the procedure. Across much of China, the authorities are encouraging women to have more children, as they try to stave off a demographic crisis from a declining birthrate. But in the far western region of Xinjiang, they are forcing them to have fewer, as they tighten their grip on Muslim ethnic minorities. It is part of a vast and repressive social re-engineering campaign by a Communist Party determined to eliminate any perceived challenge to its rule, in this case, ethnic separatism. Over the past few years, the party, under its top leader, Xi Jinping, has moved aggressively to subdue Uyghurs and other Central Asian minorities in Xinjiang, putting hundreds of thousands into internment camps and prisons. The authorities have placed the region under tight surveillance, sent residents to work in factories and placed children in boarding schools. By targeting Muslim women, the authorities are going even further, attempting to orchestrate a demographic shift that will affect the population for generations. Birthrates in the region have already plunged in recent years, as the use of invasive birth control procedures has risen, findings that were previously documented by a researcher, Adrian Zenz, with The Associated Press. Last year, a community worker in Urumqi, the regional capital, where Ms. Sedik had lived, sent messages saying women between 18 and 59 had to submit to pregnancy and birth control inspections. “If you fight with us at the door and if you refuse to cooperate with us, you will be taken to the police station,” the worker wrote, according to screenshots of the WeChat messages that Ms. Sedik shared with The Times. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
08 May 2021

[VIDEO] 'How can we feel safe?': Uyghur on Chinese government policy

CNN's Ivan Watson speaks to several Uyghurs about a Chinese government policy that forces Uyghur families to host government officials in their homes. read the complete article

United States

08 May 2021

Biden urged to appoint envoy to counter Islamophobia 'epidemic'

In a letter sent to the president, the US Council of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) led more than 80 Muslim groups in calling for the creation of the position, highlighting the current role of the administration's antisemitism envoy as a sign that an office for anti-Muslim sentiment was possible. "From here in America to France to China to Myanmar to India, anti-Muslim bigotry plays an interconnected threat to Muslims worldwide," the letter read. Oussama Jammal, the USCMO's secretary-general, told Middle East Eye that, similar to antisemitism, Islamophobia is on the rise and "becoming so dangerous to the lives of many Muslims, not just in the United States, but around the world". "We want for there to be this special envoy to monitor and combat Islamophobia, at the State Department alongside the other office for antisemitism. "It is only a fair request because we both face hatred and danger in this country and outside." When asked about whether there were plans to create an Islamophobia envoy, the State Department told Middle East Eye that it "cannot speak to any potential nominations", and that its office of religious freedom tracked anti-Muslim incidents around the world. read the complete article

06 May 2021

Kyrie Irving's recent conversion puts a spotlight on athletes observing Ramadan

NBA star Kyrie Irving’s recent conversion to Islam has brought new attention to the relationship between Muslim athletes and Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, when Muslims abstain from food and drink during the day. “I am taking part in Ramadan with a lot of my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said in the same news conference. “It’s been an adjustment … being committed to my service to God, Allah, and then continuing on with whatever I’m guided with." He isn’t the only Muslim NBA player observing fast this Ramadan. Others include Enes Kanter and Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers, Tacko Fall and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics, and Hamidou Diallo of the Detroit Pistons. “I took the route of mostly training at night,” said undefeated boxer Hasim Rahman Jr., who is currently training for his 11th professional fight, scheduled for later this month in Mexico. “After I open my fast, I digest for an hour before training into the night. Today I trained during the day, and that is something I do on occasion. To me, this proves even more that boxing is a mental test as much as anything else,” Rahman told Religion News Service. “The lack of energy is balanced out by the pure concentration you have. You go in knowing you will try to save energy, and in the end, we usually play better and still have energy left,” said team captain Arif Harisolia, “During Ramadan, you are a lot more focused on all aspects of life.” read the complete article

07 May 2021

Recasting the way Muslims are seen, one actor at a time

In 2013, actor Serena Rasoul found herself on a set where there were no scarves for her or the other women cast as hijabis, Muslim women who wear the hijab, or headscarf. She improvised, but that experience left a mark on her. “It dawned on me that there isn’t a home for Muslim talent,” Rasoul said. “We had generally been left out of this industry for so long. We were just on the fringes making our own content for our own spaces, not really entering the mainstream until the last five years or so.” She didn’t act on the thought right away. “I didn’t even think it was possible to shift or move this industry, let alone influence it,” she said. But after the murder of George Floyd in police custody in May 2020, she said, “We really started to see a racial reckoning, an injustice reckoning, of multiple industries opening up, and I thought it was the perfect time to take that discomfort that I felt and channel it into something meaningful.” Although there are Muslim advocacy groups and Arab American casting agencies, none of the latter were focused on changing stereotypes of Muslims in TV and film by working with Muslim talent specifically. So, Rasoul, who lives in Virginia and works as an international trade analyst by day, began to build a broad roster of Muslim and Middle Eastern, Southwest Asian and North African talent that includes actors, writers, directors, technicians, sound editors and costume designers. On Jan. 21 — the day after the Biden administration repealed what has widely become known as the “Muslim ban,” which barred entry to the United States to citizens of several majority-Muslim and other countries — she launched the talent agency Muslim American Casting. What started as a side gig has turned into a much larger endeavor: Actors from the United States and beyond have been getting in touch with Rasoul in hopes of landing roles that are better suited to their needs and aspirations. She is working with three clients: two filmmakers and a major beauty brand. “Many said they finally had a home ... an entity that advocated for them and understood their needs or their hesitations in possibly taking on some roles and could advocate for them when creating better characters,” she explained. read the complete article

08 May 2021

Clubhouse Bans Far-Right Figure Laura Loomer Over Reported Anti-Muslim Remarks

Provocateur Laura Loomer has become at least the second far-right figure to have their account suspended by the invitation-only Clubhouse app, violating the platform's "violence policy" during a discussion in which she reportedly railed against Muslims. Loomer, who previously described herself as a "proud Islamophobe," gained national notoriety after handcuffing herself to Twitter's headquarters in 2018 in protest of her ban from that social media platform. Her suspension this week from Clubhouse comes amid weeks of conservatives flocking to it and Parler as "free speech" alternatives to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Reports emerged Friday of Loomer's suspension following a recent live chat in which she described becoming "roadkill" if Uber doesn't vet its Muslim drivers. Salon's Zachary Petrizzo reported Friday evening that Loomer has "doubled down" on her anti-Muslim remarks about Islamic Uber drivers, demanding increased background checks. Loomer first criticized Lyft and Uber after a November 2017 New York City terror attack by an Uzbek national killed eight people and injured eleven. She demanded a Muslim-free alternative ride sharing service in posts on Twitter, an app that she is also now banned from as well. read the complete article

08 May 2021

The US Needs to Stop Treating Ramadan Like a National Security Issue

In the current climate of globe-spanning Islamophobia and Muslim suffering, however, acting as one body has become difficult if not impossible. The omnipresent lens of national security subjects our entire faith community to state surveillance, harassment and dehumanizing discourse in media, making it even more difficult for Muslims to reach across existing barriers of race, ethnicity, cultural and linguistic differences. A recent Vox article titled “9 questions about the Muslim holy month you were too embarrassed to ask” offered answers to questions about the meaning of Ramadan, how Muslims fast and how to be supportive of a friend who is fasting. The final question, however, was, “So if you’re not supposed to get angry or complain or gossip during Ramadan, how come terrorist attacks by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda always seem to spike during Ramadan?” The Vox author’s tongue-in-cheek response was “because terrorists are assholes.” The structure of that Vox article seemed aimed at implying that the final question about terrorism followed logically from the others, but in reality, it had no legitimate place in that article. Whereas the preceding questions convey legitimate information about Ramadan, the last question served only to reproduce the constant cultural fixation on the supposed connection between Islam and terrorism. The Vox article was by no means alone in suggesting a connection between Ramadan and an increase in terrorist attacks — a Google search with the question “does terrorism increase during Ramadan” yields many results. Although empirical claims about this increase in terrorist activity abound, the possibility that something other than Ramadan might account for it is conspicuously absent from any of the responses. The question is consistently posed without any context or alternative hypotheses — leaving Ramadan as the sole explanation for any violence. An article in The Atlantic titled “Is ISIS More Violent During Ramadan?” is paradigmatic. In seeking answers, this article refers to a 2015 University of Maryland National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) report which examined data on over a decade of attacks by ISIS and other prior existing terrorist groups. This report concluded that “while major attacks have taken place during Ramadan, we have also observed major attacks outside the month of Ramadan, and periods during which Ramadan was relatively calm. Thus, it remains an open question whether Ramadan is a period of heightened risk.” But one unanswered question remains: What was the impetus was for assuming a connection between Ramadan and violence in the first place, other than Islamophobic tropes about Muslims as inherently violent? The persistence of the debate around whether the holy month of Ramadan is a motivator for violence highlights a phenomenon that has been omnipresent in the “war on terror” — the framing of Islam as a national security threat, which then serves as justification for extreme interventions by the state. read the complete article

09 May 2021

Police: Man charged in attempted stabbing at Islamic center

Fairfax County Police said officers responded to a report of a man with a knife at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center on Saturday afternoon. According to police, a suspect later identified as Jonathan Lincoln, 41, of Falls Church tried to stab the guard and then pointed the knife at several people while leaving. No one was injured. Lincoln has been charged with two counts of assault and disorderly conduct, the department said in a post on social media. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf. “We stand in solidarity with the Dar Al Hijrah community,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “No community should feel unsafe or intimidated as they carry out their religious obligations.” read the complete article

10 May 2021

NJ man could be the first Muslim federal judge. But a question about Sharia is stoking controversy

New Jersey's Zahid Quraishi has served as a military prosecutor and Army captain in Iraq, as an assistant U.S. Attorney who has tried cases of public corruption, organized crime and financial fraud, and as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. But when Quraishi, who grew up in Union County, appeared last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee – which is considering his nomination as a federal district court judge – one of the few questions he faced had nothing to do with his noteworthy resume. “What do you know about Sharia law?” asked the committee chair, Sen. Dick Durbin. Muslim Americans were dismayed that even a war veteran and magistrate judge could not escape Islamophobic suspicions that routinely befall those seeking or serving public office. The question about Sharia, or Islamic law, is one they say is laden with bias and the false assumption that being Muslim somehow is at odds with being American. But it wasn’t only the Sharia question that rankled many Muslim Americans. Quraishi’s answer – that he knows nothing about Sharia – also drew rebukes and a call from one prominent attorney and Islamic law expert for organizations to rescind their support of him. By distancing himself from Sharia, they fear he may be reinforcing negative perceptions about the faith and who constitutes a “good Muslim.” read the complete article


07 May 2021

Chinese Government Reportedly Used Prize-Winning iPhone Hack to Spy on Uyghur Muslims

An award-winning iPhone hack was reportedly used by the Chinese government to spy on it Muslim minority Uyghur community. A new report from MIT Technology Review explains that Chinese security researchers used to participate in the Pwn2Own “hacking” contest designed to discover and exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in platforms worldwide. Hackers win prizes and the hacks are reported to companies so they can be addressed before the details are made public. Apple fixed “Chaos” shortly after, but according to the report, the Chinese government in the meantime used it to hack iPhones that belonged to Uyghur Muslims. Apple confirmed that the exploit has been used as such, but the full extent that Beijing had used it wasn’t clear until now. read the complete article

08 May 2021

China urges U.N. states not to attend Xinjiang event next week

China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday. "It is a politically-motivated event," China's U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. "We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event." China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use "human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China's internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China's development." The ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Britain are due to address the virtual U.N. event on Wednesday, along with Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard. The aim of the event is to "discuss how the U.N. system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang," according to an invitation. read the complete article

07 May 2021

Corporations should think twice before sponsoring the ‘Genocide Olympics’

NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR ringing declarations on human rights, some of the world’s biggest corporations are silent and scampering for cover under scrutiny for their sponsorship of next year’s Olympic Winter Games in a country engaged in genocide. That country, of course, is China, which has undertaken a ghastly campaign of forcible sterilization, rape, torture, imprisonment, forced labor and so-called reeducation on a mass scale against millions among its Uyghur Muslim minority. As Beijing prepares to host the XXIV Winter Games, it is crushing dissent on the mainland and in Hong Kong, running a network of concentration camps and intensifying a campaign of intimidation and terror that has targeted lawyers, journalists and anyone else who dares to criticize the rising tide of tyranny overseen by President Xi Jinping. The Games’ major corporate backers might imagine that by plowing more than $1 billion into sponsorship deals for the 2022 Games they will associate their brands and logos with the pageantry, pizazz and athletic prodigies that will be beamed around the globe. They ought to reconsider how those brands and logos will fare, along with their profits, in an event orchestrated and overshadowed by a regime dedicated to human rights abuses on a grand scale. Because even as the world’s gaze is concentrated on the sporting events and arenas in and around Beijing, coverage of the Games will also train a spotlight of unprecedented intensity on the violence and repression 2,000 miles to the west in China’s Xinjiang region. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 May 2021 Edition


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