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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11 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, a far-right extremist is released on bail after appealing jail time for hate crimes done in 2019, while in India, Muslim leaders have opened up mosques to assist with the increasing rise of COVID-19 infection rates in the country, and in the U.S., the National Science Foundation funds a three year program to study hate crimes in the U.S. against Muslims in Arkansas. Our recommended read for the day is by Mohamed Elshekh on the growing threat of Islamophobia across the globe. This and more below: 


10 May 2021

Global Islamophobia: China, India, and Beyond

State-sponsored persecution and unlawful vigilantism characterize the sociopolitical conditions of many Muslim minority communities. The French Senate’s latest proposal to ban the hijab in public settings and the ongoing exodus of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar spotlight only a few manifestations of Islamophobia in countries across the globe. The laws and rhetoric against Islam and Muslims have led to violent killings, mass migration, and even genocide. These are not merely isolated case studies of Islamophobia but global trends that need to be challenged. Governments have mobilized targeted efforts against the beliefs and practices of Muslims, effectively rejecting international standards which safeguard religious pluralism and the freedom to worship. Islamophobia extends far beyond the borders of China and India. Muslim minorities in France, Germany, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere have experienced Islamophobic discrimination to varying degrees. The UN Human Rights Council found that Islamophobic sentiments have risen drastically. In March 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the issue of global anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination: “unfortunately, far too often, stereotypes are further compounded by elements of the media and some in positions of power. Anti-Muslim bigotry is sadly in line with other distressing trends we are seeing globally.” As it relates to the formation of public opinion, politicians and the media are powerful actors; therefore, the weaponization of their rhetoric against a minority community is not only irresponsible but dangerous. read the complete article

10 May 2021

China Blasts US 'Human Rights Violations Double Standard': 'Robber Acting Like a Cop'

The Chinese Communist Party said mass shootings, poverty rates and foreign wars are all evidence of U.S. "double standards" on human rights violations, with Beijing's largest publication accusing American lawmakers of "concocting lies" about China's Xinjiang Uyghur population. The People's Daily, the CCP's official publication, published a Monday piece which accused U.S. politicians of "fabricating lies and pushing rumors" to mislead the American public about Chinese human rights violations. The state-controlled outlet said the U.S. government is utilizing the "twisted logic of a robber acting like a cop" as Washington lawmakers try to hide COVID-19 deaths and millions of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military abroad. Last week, China's United Nations envoy penned a note which urged member countries not to attend this week's planned event on China's repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. The People's Daily piece said the U.S. military has "laid to waste" to countless countries and populations across the globe while American lawmakers have ignored domestic mass shootings and skyrocketing income inequality. In an apparent appeal to ordinary Americans, the outlet said it agrees with middle- and lower-class people who say the U.S. is only a "paradise for the rich." read the complete article


10 May 2021

Apple suppliers linked to Uyghur forced labor in new report

Several Apple suppliers may have used forced labor in China, according to The Information. Working with two human rights groups, the publication identified seven companies that supplied products or services to Apple and supported forced labor programs, according to statements made by the Chinese government. The programs target the country’s Muslim minority population, particularly Uyghurs living in Xinjiang. Six of the seven suppliers were said to participate in work programs operated by the Chinese government, The Information reports, which human rights groups describe as frequently offering cover for forced labor. Workers can be jailed for refusing to join the work programs, the report says, and those enrolled in the programs are often moved far from their homes. One of the suppliers operated in Xinjiang, the region of China predominantly populated by Uyghurs and where the most egregious human rights violations have reportedly taken place. The companies supplied Apple with antennas, cables, and coatings, among other products and services, according to The Information. The problem is not Apple’s alone. The tech industry at large relies on suppliers in China, and The Information reports that these companies have also worked with Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, among others. read the complete article

10 May 2021

When I walked the streets, cameras would recognize me, police would come running’: Uyghur camp survivor testifies

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, Uyghur concentration camp survivor Tursunay Ziyawudun recalled the graphic horrors she and other women suffered at the hands of the CCP for over 10 months, and how the Chinese government continued to track her every move once she was out. Rape, forced sterilizations, genital electrocution, and other barbaric crimes against humanity occurred regularly in these camps in the Xinjiang region of China, according to her testimony. Between March and December of 2018, “We were given injections of unknown medications. Every day, we had to endlessly swear loyalty to the Chinese government and reject our faith,” Ziyawudun testified through a translator. She added, “Girls would be taken away and only brought back days later. I saw girls lose their sanity because of it. Then, I myself, was taken, along with another woman. “I was tortured with an electric stick pushed inside my genital tract. I could hear the other woman’s screams in the next room. I knew the guards were raping her. After that, she never stopped crying. She added, “Girls would be taken away and only brought back days later. I saw girls lose their sanity because of it. Then, I myself, was taken, along with another woman. “I was tortured with an electric stick pushed inside my genital tract. I could hear the other woman’s screams in the next room. I knew the guards were raping her. After that, she never stopped crying. read the complete article

10 May 2021

China foreign ministry says planned U.N. event on Xinjiang an insult

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday the use of the United Nations as a platform for a virtual event on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang was an insult to the institution. China has urged U.N. member states not to attend the virtual event, planned by Germany, the United States and Britain. "The U.S. has banded up with several countries, abused the United Nations' resources and platform, and smeared and attacked China to serve it's own interests," she said at a daily news conference in Beijing. "This is total blasphemy against the United Nations." China has said the organizers of the virtual event at the United Nations, which is due to be held Wednesday, use human rights issues to interfere in China's internal affairs. read the complete article

10 May 2021

Huawei CEO tells staff to keep fewer records, write shorter memos

Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, has ordered staff members to keep records only as long as necessary and write shorter memos, following several crises involving internal documents, including the detention of his daughter. Ren advised employees of the Chinese telecommunications giant to use fewer adjectives in reports and to opt to chat in person with colleagues over coffee, according to a transcript of an internal speech from last month. Huawei faced a separate backlash after The Washington Post reported in December on internal documents showing the company’s work on surveillance technologies with racial profiling functions. A “Uyghur alarm” could alert police when it identified a member of the Muslim ethnic minority through facial recognition technology, according to test records found by the research organization IPVM. Following the report of the “Uyghur alarm,” a Huawei vice president of communications in Denmark resigned in protest, and French soccer star Antoine Griezmann quit as a brand ambassador. Huawei said at the time it was investigating the documents and did not condone the use of Huawei technology to discriminate against any community. In his typical military metaphor, Ren, who spent his early years as a Chinese army engineer, told a Huawei working group in the April speech that the changes would help the company advance from “guerrilla troops” to a “regular army.” read the complete article


10 May 2021

Many mosques in India turned into COVID centres amid virus surge

Amid the shortage, many places of worship, including mosques and gurdwaras, across India have come forward to help needy patients and a number of them have been turned into care centres for COVID patients. Mufti Arif Falahi, head of a seminary in the western city of Baroda, has taken on a different job over the past weeks: saving lives. A part of Falahi’s seminary in the western state of Gujarat, home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been turned into a makeshift care centre for COVID patients. “Every day, we have to turn away 50-60 people because we can only accommodate 142 with oxygen support,” Falahi told Al Jazeera over the phone. On Monday, India recorded 3,754 deaths, a slight dip after two consecutive days of more than 4,000 deaths. Daily infections stood at more than 360,000. India is the second-worst hit country by COVID-19 with 246,116 fatalities and more than 22 million cases – 10 million added in the last four months. But experts say actual caseloads and death tolls are much higher than the official figures. In another corner of Baroda – a city of 2 million – Jahangirpura Mosque has also been turned into a 50-bed COVID facility and patients admitted have access to oxygen. “This is the time that we all should come together to help people; that’s what our religion teaches us,” Muhammad Irfan, mosque trustee, told Al Jazeera. “Virus does not have a religion and we believe it’s a crisis and we must aid all and show our humanity. Currently, in our facility there are many people from other religions but we have opened them for everyone,” he said. A part of the mosque has also been turned into a temporary outpatient department to treat patients with mild symptoms. read the complete article

10 May 2021

COVID-19 Is India’s Great Leveler

In Hindu culture, a long white beard symbolizes wisdom, abstinence from or abdication of worldly pleasures, and a time for spiritual introspection. Modi’s long beard is less an aesthetic choice than a political strategy designed to manipulate his overwhelmingly Hindu supporters into imagining him as a sage and the pandemic as an unavoidable natural calamity. It is a prop that grants him the aura of an ascetic and enables him to shrug off accountability for the mayhem the coronavirus pandemic has caused in his country—including the countless deaths that would have been avoided had his government been ready with oxygen, vaccines, and hospital beds. Modi has often been portrayed as an incarnation of one or another Hindu god by his followers, who are often referred to as bhakts, or worshippers. But as the virus infects millions of Indians and kills hundreds of thousands across religion, caste, and class, many of his ardent Hindu supporters, too, feel abandoned. For the first time, they are asking if the man they saw as a messiah was a mere mortal blindsided by hubris and political greed and simply incapable of leading the country at a time like this. His government had been warned by scientists about an approaching second wave and of the spread of the much more contagious Indian variant discovered in December. Yet Modi did not focus on containment. Instead, his political party, the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), misled people into thinking Modi had defeated the coronavirus. It carried out massive political rallies, and the government refused to ban superspreader events such as last month’s Kumbh Mela festivities, during which millions of Hindus congregated and took a dip in rivers they consider holy. Moreover, despite the fact that an Indian pharmaceutical company called the Serum Institute of India (SII) has long been manufacturing a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Modi’s government did not procure the required doses to vaccinate India’s population in time. “He did not die a natural death. He was murdered by the government,” Srivastava said. “Modi’s government and his party just focus on exacerbating Hindu-Muslim rivalry—they have done nothing else. They say, ‘If you won’t vote for us, then India will become Pakistan and Muslims will rule.’ That is how they fool people who forget to ask for hospitals, for oxygen, for employment. I am also a Hindu, but I am not a duffer. If there is no space in hospitals and no oxygen, then what did they do with my tax?” read the complete article

10 May 2021

How the Covid-19 second wave has damaged Modi’s personality cult even among his loyal followers

The second wave of the pandemic has broken through the formidable personality cult of Narendra Modi, which had endured through demonetisation, the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the strict lockdown to prevent against the spread of Covid-19 last year, the farmers protests against new agricultural laws and the border crisis with China. Why has this happened and how will this shape the political prospects of Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the near future? At the heart of the Modi phenomenon lies the intuitive trust he engenders among large segments of the population. This trust is a function of the messianic image of Modi – a self-described fakir unattached to family and material possessions, who is here not just to lead India politically, but also socially, morally and spiritually. Firstly, the crisis has damaged the trust that is at the core of Modi’s appeal. Unlike demonetisation in 2016 or the implementation of the goods and service tax in 2017, the focus of public criticism has not just been on Modi’s competence but his very intentions. In previous instances, Indians have shown themselves willing to absolve Modi of the botched-up implementation of his government policies or to place the blame on his ministers or bureaucrats, judging him only for the purity of his vision. Secondly, the nature of the crisis has thwarted any attempts to package it into any divisive or uplifting ideological narrative. While the Hindu community was sought to be consolidated during the first wave by sowing bigotry against members of the Tablighi Jamaat Muslim group, it is not possible to paint the pandemic in a communal colour anymore. If anything, it is the Hindu Kumbh mela gathering that has attracted much of the blame in the media for the second wave. Thirdly, the anger against Modi is emerging from his most loyal political base – the urban middle classes. This is the group that holds disproportionate influence over the production of political opinion in the country, and has been a critical ideological supporter of the government. If the mainstream media has been much more critical of the Central government during this episode, it is because both their audience and personnel are drawn from these classes. read the complete article


11 May 2021

Far-right extremist lodges appeal against jail term just hours after being taken into custody

A far-right extremist has spent less than three hours in jail before lodging an appeal against his prison sentence for disrupting a Muslim gathering. Earlier today, Neil Erikson was ordered to spend four weeks behind bars for yelling offensive comments over a megaphone during Islamic prayers at Federation Square in 2019. In an unusual case, the magistrate explained to the court that Erikson had stated he preferred to risk jail or a fine, rather than undertake a deradicalisation program as part of a 12 month community corrections order. "I have no alternative but to send you to prison," Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told him at this morning's court hearing. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said the remarks were "offensive in the extreme" to those who had gathered to pray, adding that was Erikson's intended effect. "Your actions are racist," the magistrate said, noting his views were those held by far-right extremists and white supremacists. "They have no place in Australian society and are the very antithesis of our values and morals." Earlier, the court heard Erikson did not want to be assessed for a community corrections order as he found it more punitive than a fine or jail time. The court order — to be served out in the community for a year — would have banned him from social media, kept him from within 100 metres of mosques and required him to undertake a deradicalisation program. Yet within hours of being sent to jail, Erikson lodged an appeal against the sentence in the County Court. Magistrate Rozencwajg released him on bail ahead of his August appeal. As part of his bail conditions, he is banned from social media and cannot go within 100 metres of any mosque or Muslim gathering. read the complete article

United States

10 May 2021

Program To Study Hates Crimes Targeting Muslims In Arkansas

The National Science Foundation is funding a three-year program to study hate crimes committed against Muslims in Arkansas. Two criminal justice professors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have been awarded a $324,987 grant, which will enable an assessment of anti-Muslim sentiments. Muslims are ranked as the second most targeted group for hate crimes nationwide, but the professors say the extent in Arkansas isn’t known. Dr. Tusty ten Bensel, director of the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology, and Graduate Coordinator Dr. Robert Lytle plan to work with 30 paid undergraduate students to better understand the situation by talking with Muslims, law enforcement and state legislators. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 May 2021 Edition


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