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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
13 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S, the Senate moves towards a vote to pressure China over its detention of Uighurs. Facebook issues apology for its role in Sri Lanka’s anti-Muslim riots of 2018. As COVID-19 continues to fuel anti-Muslim sentiments worldwide, our recommended read today unmasks how trans-Atlantic conspiracy theorists and far right extremists are seizing on the pandemic to spread hate. This, and more, below:


13 May 2020

‘Conspiracy bingo’: Trans-Atlantic extremists seize on the pandemic | Recommended Read

The coronavirus is providing a global rallying cry for conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists on both sides of the Atlantic. People seizing on the pandemic range from white supremacists and anti-vaxxers in the U.S. to fascist and anti-refugee groups across Europe, according to a POLITICO review of thousands social media posts and interviews with misinformation experts tracking their online activities. They also include far-right populists on both continents who had previously tried to coordinate their efforts after the 2016 American presidential election. They are piggybacking on social media to promote coronavirus-related themes drawn from multiple sources — among them, Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns, the Trump administration’s musings about the coronavirus’ origins and anti-Muslim themes from India’s nationalist ruling party. In Italy, extremist news outlets have flooded social media with reports blaming that country’s devastating coronavirus outbreak on migrants, including an online attack that singled out a Pakistani employee at a Chinese restaurant in a northern Italian town. In France, activists called for sending non-white populations back to their “home” countries, while Le Pen, the far-right leader, alleged on Facebook that mosques had have “taken advantage of the confinement orders” by blaring “the muezzin's call to Islamic prayer” on loudspeakers. Tommy Robinson, the British anti-immigration activist, has promoted the “#GermJihad” hashtag and reposted online messages from members of India’s ruling nationalist BJP party to his more than 36,000 followers on Telegram, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s review of his posts. read the complete article

Recommended Read
13 May 2020

Covid-19 Fueling Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia Worldwide

Governments should take urgent steps to prevent racist and xenophobic violence and discrimination linked to the Covid-19 pandemic while prosecuting racial attacks against Asians and people of Asian descent, Human Rights Watch today. On May 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.” Government leaders and senior officials in some instances have directly or indirectly encouraged hate crimes, racism, or xenophobia by using anti-Chinese rhetoric. Several political parties and groups, including in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and Germany have also latched onto the Covid-19 crisis to advance anti-immigrant, white supremacist, ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic, and xenophobic conspiracy theories that demonize refugees, foreigners, prominent individuals, and political leaders. Increases in racist rhetoric have coincided with increases in racist attacks. Since February, Asians and people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to attacks and beatings, violent bullying, threats, racist abuse, and discrimination that appear linked to the pandemic. Discrimination hasn’t been limited to Asians or people of Asian descent. In India and Sri Lanka, where leaders have done little to stop rising anti-Muslim discrimination in recent years, many apparent Covid-19-related cases of attacks and discrimination against Muslims have been reported. In Myanmar, ultra-nationalist leaders have used the pandemic to justify threats and hate speech against Muslims. read the complete article

13 May 2020

Senate Moves Toward Vote to Pressure China Over Uighur Rights

The U.S. Senate is planning to move on legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Muslim minorities, an action sure to anger Beijing and one that signals rising anti-China sentiment in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor last week the chamber would take up legislation aimed at punishing China for its treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority. Senate leaders are checking with members to see if there are any objections so that it could be taken up for quick passage, according to three people familiar with the matter. The bill, sponsored by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, could come to the floor as soon as this week. read the complete article

13 May 2020

What Do Bryan Adams And President Trump Have In Common? “Ask China”

On Monday, two well-known celebrities made references to China that had racist overtones. Most troublingly, they could be foreshadowing of what is to come – especially since one of them is the President of the United States. On Monday, Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams, who was forced to cancel a string of concerts at Royal Albert Hall in London, vented his frustration online. Adams choice of inflammatory and derogatory words made clear that anti-China sentiment is beginning to slip through the filters of what is socially acceptable to say, even on social media. But in some ways, this shouldn’t be surprising because racially-tinged language is also coming from a far more powerful person, the President of the United States. While there is no question the coronavirus originated in China, the racist generalization of Chinese as “greedy bastards” only propagates stereotypes and animosity towards individuals of Chinese origin. And in the case of President Trump pressing an Asian American reporter to go ‘ask China’ the question, it is hard to mask the racially-tinged innuendo that was made by the most powerful leader in the world. Together, Adams and Trump delivered a one-two punch of racial hostility that, in Adams’ famous lyrics, cut like a knife. When leaders, whether elected officials or performers, start to more casually express a subtle form of racism, it opens the door for more. It doesn’t need to be this way however. We need to learn from the anti-Muslim backlash following 9/11 and make proactive steps to call-out all forms of anti-Asian racism (and of course racism generally). We also need to make sure that we stay vigilant about how Chinese American communities are protected from people who may try to find a target for their pandemic-induced fear and frustration. read the complete article

13 May 2020

Muslim burials in Europe strained by virus lockdowns abroad

As measures to stem the spread of the virus ground flights and close borders around the world, it’s not only the living whose travels are being curtailed. For many Muslims in Europe, even if the coronavirus doesn’t end their lives, it can affect their deaths because their bodies can’t be flown home for burial. “This has become an issue because of corona,” said imam Hamid Belkasmi, who presided over Bouda’s funeral. ”Many Muslims find it hard to accept being buried in the Netherlands.” But he added that the Association of Imams in the Netherlands has issued advice that it’s acceptable for Muslims to be buried in the country. However, that option raises another concern for Muslims in countries like the Netherlands and France: Islamic custom calls for the dead to be buried in a grave where they can lie forever. But in both countries, perpetual concessions for graves are costly and increasingly hard to come by. In France, normal concessions last 15 years and must then be renewed or bodies are removed. This can pose problems for some Muslims, both financial, cultural and religious. “This isn’t in conformity with Muslim tradition …. In Muslim tradition, when you bury someone it’s forever,” said Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council for the Muslim Faith. In France — home to the largest Muslim population in Europe with an estimated 5 million — families have been hard-pressed to bury their dead, whose numbers have multiplied during the coronavirus crisis. There are a limited number of plots in French cemeteries reserved for Muslims since the majority are flown to their countries of origin, mainly Morocco and Algeria. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 May 2020

Conservative Party probe an attempt to 'deflect' attention from Islamophobia: MCB

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has branded an investigation into discrimination within the Conservative Party as a "facade" and an attempt to "deflect" attention from the "very real problem of Islamophobia". The MCB said on Tuesday that the Conservatives were attempting to "hide hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry" among party members, after the Tories set out details of their own probe, looking into discrimination over "religion or belief and significantly Islam" as well as how the party had responded. The UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) ruled out launching its own investigation on Tuesday, saying that in light of the Conservative Party probe, it would not be "proportionate" to initiate one at this stage. read the complete article

13 May 2020

U.K. Conservative Party Sets out Investigation into Racism and Prejudice among Members

The U.K. Conservative Party has set out an update to its investigation into all forms of prejudice and discrimination among its members. The party has set out the "terms of reference" for the independent investigation, which sets out the scope of the inquiry and the issues that it will consider. The document promises to hold an independent investigation that will report on all alleged discrimination because of any protected characteristics like religion or beliefs. The document singles out "specifically Islam" as a focus of this inquiry. In one example, a report compiled by the campaign group Hope Not Hate, an advocacy group in the U.K. which campaigns against racism, showed anti-Muslim online comments made by Tory members, including six councilors. In April 2019, Buzzfeed News published a list of 20 party members who had made Islamophobic comments, including calling Muslims "muzz rats" and "subhuman scum". A poll of Tory members in June 2019, carried out by YouGov for Hope Not Hate, found that nearly half would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister and more than two-thirds of members believe that parts of the UK are under sharia law. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to launch an investigation into all forms of prejudice was criticized by Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), it accused the party of "refusing to acknowledge that there can be bigotry and prejudice directed at Muslims." Today the party set out the Terms of Reference for the investigation into all forms of prejudice and discrimination among its members. read the complete article

13 May 2020

Equalities watchdog drops plan for Tory Islamophobia inquiry

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have said it does not think it is proportionate to carry out its own inquiry after the Conservatives committed to an independent investigation looking into complaints of discrimination over “religion or belief and significantly Islam”. However, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which submitted a dossier of 300 cases to the watchdog cataloguing alleged Islamophobia, said the terms of reference set out by the Tories was inadequate. Harun Khan, secretary general of the MCB, said: “We have previously described the Conservative party’s attitude to Islamophobia as one of denial, dismissal and deceit. The publication of the terms of reference for its inquiry reflects that regrettable attitude. They are a facade to hide the hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry we have identified in its ranks.” The Labour MP Afzal Khan, vice-chair of the all party parliamentary group on British Muslims, said: “[The government] has let down the British Muslim community at every turn and their recent publication of the terms of reference for its inquiry demonstrates that they do not take Islamophobia seriously.” He said the Conservative party’s decision not to adopt the group’s definition of Islamophobia like other political parties was indicative of a government “dragging its feet” on the issue and it needed to tackle the issue within its own ranks. read the complete article


13 May 2020

The fabricated threat driving genocide in Myanmar

When the most recent and dramatic stage of the genocide against the Rohingya started with Myanmar’s “clearance operations” in August 2017, the immediate trigger was an attack against a military border post by a previously insignificant insurgent group that called itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). In the space of just over six months, the “clearance operations” cleared at least 70 percent of the roughly 1 million Rohingya people from the lands of their ancestors. But the operations were somewhat less successful at “clearing” actual militant groups. The most significant of these groups is the Arakan Army (AA), a long-established ethnic militia of Rakhine Buddhists on the borders of Myanmar. It has been noticeably more effective at resisting the onslaught of the military than other comparable groups, despite bearing the brunt of attacks for decades now (if we also include precursor groups). In the past couple of years, since the genocidal cleansing started in earnest, it has also been the most effective internal group in fighting back against federal Myanmar forces. The AA is not just a headache for the Myanmar military in terms of fighting prowess; it is also a headache in the ideological battle. The military and the civilian government in Myanmar attempted to construct a justification narrative for their genocidal actions in 2017-18 around the “terrorist threat” that Rohingya insurgent groups supposedly represented. For that to have any traction internationally, and even in some domestic circles, it had to be presented as Islamist terrorism — otherwise, observers might think that the Rohingya were just defending themselves from an overbearing Myanmar-Buddhist nationalist, authoritarian state. But the AA is not an Islamist group, and it is not fighting on the basis of, or in order to promote, anything about Muslims. It is essentially an ethnic militia in the same way that other Buddhist or even Christian ethnic groups in Myanmar have similar groups. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

13 May 2020

Facebook apologises for its role in Sri Lanka’s 2018 anti-Muslim riots

Facebook Inc.’s lack of a serious response to signs of abuse on its platform in Sri Lanka may have helped stoke deadly violence in the country in 2018, according to an investigation of the social network’s operations there. The company released a summary of the findings Tuesday, along with other independent assessments of the service’s impact on human rights in Indonesia and Cambodia. “We deplore this misuse of our platform,” the company said in a response to the Sri Lanka report. “We recognize, and apologize for, the very real human rights impacts that resulted.” Facebook also highlighted actions it has taken to address the problems, including hiring content moderators with local language skills, implementing technology that automatically detects signs of hate speech and keeps abusive content from spreading, and trying to deepen relationships with local civil society groups. The report on Sri Lanka details Facebook’s failure to respond to almost a decade of warnings about misuse of its platform from groups within the country. In 2018, a viral video falsely purporting to show a Muslim restaurateur admitting to mixing “sterilization pills” into the food of Sinhala-Buddhist men may have contributed to unrest and physical harm. read the complete article

United States

13 May 2020

Combating hate amid a pandemic: How a Ramadan tradition is building bridges in the US

As Muslims observe a Ramadan like no other amid the coronavirus pandemic, Muslim leaders and civil rights organizations in the United States are turning to the virtual world to participate in interfaith dialogue and fellowship at a time when Islamophobia continues to threaten the community. "Islamophobia has been on the rise especially in political seasons, in election seasons, and interfaith dialogue brings us together," Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, told ABC News, adding that when it comes to engaging in social justice issues for Muslims, Ramadan is "usually the most active time of the year." Three Muslim members of Congress -- Democratic lawmakers Andre Carson of Indiana, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan -- are co-hosting a virtual national iftar on Tuesday evening. They will also be joined by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison – a former U.S. congressman and the first Muslim to win an election for a statewide office in the U.S. The iftar -- or breaking of the fast dinner -- is organized by Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization, and is expected to be attended by people of diverse faiths, the group's CEO, Farhana Khera, told ABC News. "We think doing these events is an important opportunity to share with non-Muslim allies a little bit about who we are as a community," Khera said, "and so, we purposefully geared this event in a way that it's welcoming of both Muslims and non-Muslims from across the country." read the complete article

13 May 2020

Federal hate crime charge in Missouri Islamic center fire

A federal grand jury indicted 42-year-old Nicholas J. Proffitt in the April fire that destroyed the Cape Girardeau Islamic Center, the office said in a statement. Proffitt is charged with damaging religious property because of the property’s religious character, using fire to commit a federal felony, and damaging a building used in interstate commerce through use of fire. Proffitt, of Cape Girardeau, was earlier charged with state counts that included first-degree burglary, first-degree arson and first-degree property damage motivated by discrimination — a state hate crime. read the complete article


13 May 2020

Freed Italian aid worker target of hate campaign after conversion

An Italian aid worker has become the focus of a far-right hate campaign after returning home this weekend having been freed from 18 months of captivity by al-Shabab in Somalia. Silvia Romano converted to Islam while being held for ransom, with her family confirming the 24-year-old had changed her name to Aisha. "Islamic and happy. Silvia the ungrateful," read the front-page headline of right-wing daily Il Giornale on Monday. A politician from the province of Treviso posted on Facebook that Romano should be hanged. The post was swiftly removed. Alessandro Sallusti, head of the Il Giornale newspaper, which is owned by the brother of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, tweeted: "Silvia is back, and well. But it was like seeing a concentration camp prisoner proudly dressed as a Nazi. I don't understand, I will never understand." Romano was working as a volunteer in an orphanage in a village in southeast Kenya when she was seized by gunmen in November 2018. She was smuggled across the border into Somalia, where she was believed to have been detained by the armed group al-Shabab that advocates a fringe interpretation of Islam. "Imagine the Islamic terrorists: They have brought home the money, committing a criminal act, and 'won' the cultural battle in the name of the Islamic veil and conversion," said Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right opposition League party. Magistrates have opened an investigation into the abuse to see if charges of aggravated criminal threat can be laid against some of the senders, sources told Reuters. Newspapers quoted Romano as telling officials that she had chosen to become a Muslim of her own free will after reading the Quran, and had not been abused by her captors. read the complete article


13 May 2020

Two Tales on the Labyrinthine Illogic of Bigotry and Islamophobia in India

Two friends reached out to me recently to tell their stories. Both are Hindu and Gujarati, and both wished to remain anonymous because they wanted to share some of the hateful things they have heard from their loved ones. My friend Sandeep* is under lockdown with his family in Ahmedabad; my friend Karan* lives in the US but is in regular touch with his family over WhatsApp. Sandeep’s family owns an air-conditioning business. During the initial days of the lockdown, when requesting repairs and technical assistance was still not allowed, Sandeep’s family was inundated with calls from many Ahmedabad elites, asking them to send AC repairmen over to their homes to both fix malfunctioning air-conditioners and install new ones. Although Sandeep did not disclose the names of these clients, he said that some of them had homes with 15 or 20 rooms, and that they were so powerful that saying ‘no’ directly wasn’t feasible This is unsurprising. If this pandemic has shown us anything – it is that money buys immunity. The privileged have been able to abscond from reality on deserted islands and ski resorts, while those who have always had to stand in line merely stand in longer ones. What was disconcerting was the solution Sandeep’s family found to this dilemma: they began to say that the only technicians available were Muslim. Immediately, the request would be rescinded. Evenings in his joint family home are often spent watching a frothy Turkish soap opera, with his relatives rooting for its protagonists and chastising its villains. But when Sandeep pointed out that these beloved characters were all Muslim, his father said, “They’re good when they’re there, but get spoiled when they come here.” For the labyrinthine illogic of bigotry which Sandeep’s family adheres to, Muslims “cease” to be Muslims when they show any (supposedly incompatible) signs of modernity or prosperity, when they are above a certain social grade, or when they are far enough. Our current government is not much different, shifting tack from genocidal hate speech to vague messages of fraternal love as soon as several prominent figures from the UAE spoke out against India’s unrelenting persecution of Muslims. read the complete article

13 May 2020

Hindus arranging iftar, Muslims sanitising temples: How love trumped hate during lockdown

On Wednesday, members of the Muslim community from Mumbai helped perform the last rites of their 72-year-old Hindu neighbour in Sewri area after the deceased's relatives could not reach for his funeral due to the lockdown. Pandurang Ubale, who was paralysed since the last few months, died at his residence on Monday. He had been staying in the Muslim-dominated locality along with his wife and son for some decades. As Ubale's wife and son were unable to make all arrangements for the funeral, they informed their neighbours, who came forward to help and even prepared the bier. A neighbour, Asif Sheikh, who attended the funeral, told PTI, "We have known Ubale uncle for a long time. He always participated in our festivals and we used to be a part of their festivities. We all came forward to bid him a farewell and helped in performing his last rites." All throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, communal harmony has trumped hate, with heartwarming tales of solidarity reported across the country. Burqa-clad Imrana Saifi went viral on social media when images of the 30-year-old sanitising Nav Durga Temple in North Delhi's Nehru Vihar were posted on Twitter. Saifi, throughout the neighbourhood, disinfected temples, mosques and gurudwaras without fail during the Ramzan period. On April 27, All India Radio (AIR) News tweeted the image of a Muslim man breaking his Ramzan fast with the caption: "A Hindu family arranges Iftar for a Muslim boy stranded in Majuli, Assam, due to lockdown". On the same day, Times of India reported that A Hindu family arranged iftar meals for Kashmiri Muslims stuck in West Bengal's Bardhaman owing to the lockdown. The Muslim members were also given space to offer namaz at the Hindu residence. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 May 2020 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results