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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14 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, neighbors prevent a boarder force van from removing two Muslim immigrants on Eid, as a Reuters investigation finds the Chinese government has partially or completely demolished dozens of mosques in Xinjiang, and in Myanmar, the rights of Rohingya refugees continue to be diminished despite the outcry from the international community. Our recommended read of the day is by Peter Yeung on model Rawdah Mohamed’s campaign to champion rights for Muslim women worldwide. This and more below: 


13 May 2021

The Somali-Norwegian model campaigning for Muslim women’s rights

Al Jazeera speaks to Rawdah Mohamed, the model behind a viral Instagram post during the #HandsOffMyHijab movement. Soon after, the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab, as well as the French translation of it #PasToucheAMonHijab, trended on social media, and was shared far and wide by the likes of Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and US congresswoman Ilhan Omar. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Mohamed said she wants to fight “deeply rooted stereotypes” against Muslim women, who she hopes to “unify” in an effort to fight Islamophobia. Al Jazeera: What was your aim with the Hands Off My Hijab post? Rawdah Mohamed: It was frustrating because I was watching all of this unravel. Not just this [hijab ban] incident, but many other incidents before. Muslim women are always left out of the discussion, no one was really asking us what we thought. You’re constantly being silenced, and you’re constantly having people speak for you. I just came to a point where I felt: Okay, I have to take this in my own hands and do what I can. Muslim women tend to be either victimised or made out to be almost like criminals. I wanted to show there are actual women whose lives are being affected by this. I also did it to unify Muslim women, because it does get lonely when you’re constantly attacked. If you look at the media and what politicians say, and you’re a very young woman trying to find your identity, it will seem as if the whole world is against you. I want young girls to know it is difficult out there, but if we unite we can stand up against this. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
14 May 2021

Opinion: Has the international community abandoned the Rohingya in Myanmar?

The International Community has condemned the turbulent situation in Myanmar. Countries have called for a continuation of the democratic process, pursued by the government elected in a general election last November. These are, of course, necessary actions. But when it comes to achieving better rights for the Rohingya minority, they do not go far enough. On top of making calls for democratic reform, the release of detainees and restraint from violence, the international community should step up its focus toward the minority group. Countries could support dialogue and long-term constructive measures to help the underlying problem of Myanmar: its ethnic diversity. Demands from the international community to stop the deterioration of the situation in Myanmar and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's State Counsellor, is correct. The international community, however, criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for her lack of support for the Rohingya. The return of Aung San Suu Kyi will not necessarily lead to the full protection of the minority's rights. "Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD (National League for Democracy) were mostly interested in protecting the rights of the permanent majority," said Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. "They alienated not just the Rohingya but a number of other ethnic groups." The international community has not taken a unified stance on how to respond to the situation in Myanmar since the military took over. read the complete article

13 May 2021

China challenges UN event focused on its Uyghur population

China faced condemnation from the United States and a handful of other U.N. member states at a United Nations event on Wednesday (May 12) over treatment of its Uyghur minority and other Turkic Muslim groups in the Xinjiang province. The event sought to pressure Beijing to allow a United Nations human rights representative to visit the region and conduct an independent investigation. China attempted to arrange a boycott of the event before ultimately deciding to make a last-minute appearance in which it challenged the widely reported characterization of Xinjiang in the international community. “Expressions of religion have been criminalized, and Uyghur language and culture have been discriminated against systematically,” said the United Kingdom’s Barbara Woodward during her remarks. Uyghur activist Jewher Ilham offered a personal example of how edicts from China’s Communist Party are changing the Uyghur language. She recounted how in conversations with her own relatives, she found that instead of the common phrase “May God give you peace,” her relatives were using the phrase “May Xi Jinping give you peace,” referring to the president of the People’s Republic of China. “The U.S. and its allies make a presumption of guilt and then fabricate so-called evidence,” said the Chinese diplomat in attendance who was Guo Jiakun, a member of China’s UN mission, according to Reuters. Guo argued that China was the victim of a campaign in which the plight of its 12 million Uyghurs was being used to destabilize the country. read the complete article

14 May 2021

Solar panels are key to Biden's energy plan. But the global supply chain may rely on forced labor from China

China's Xinjiang region has evolved over the past two decades into a major production hub for many of the companies that supply the world with parts needed to build solar panels. But new research suggests that much of that work could rely on the exploitation of the region's Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minorities, potentially tainting a significant portion of the global supply chain for a renewable energy source critical to combating the climate crisis. The report published Friday — titled "In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labor and Global Solar Supply Chains" — presents evidence of a troubling reality: that components for clean energy may be created with dirty coal and forced labor. An advance copy of the report was shared exclusively with CNN Business. Allegations have been raised before that forced labor in Xinjiang has been used to produce polysilicon, a key component for making solar panels. But this latest research indicates that the practice is also used in the mining and processing of quartz, the raw material at the very start of the solar panel supply chain. "The global demand for solar energy has encouraged Chinese companies to go to great lengths to make our climate responsibility as inexpensive as possible," the report states, "but it comes at great cost to the workers who labor at the origin of the supply chain." The report was co-authored by Laura Murphy, professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, and supply chain analyst Nyrola Elimä, who lived in the Uyghur region for 19 years. CNN previously reported on Elimä's family's case in Xinjiang, where her cousin has been sent to an internment camp. The report was compiled with the help of "forced labor and supply chain experts fluent in Chinese, Uyghur and English." It cites hundreds of publicly available corporate disclosures, government statements, state media articles, social media posts, industry reports and satellite imagery, and details their investigation into more than 30 solar products companies to determine whether they may be exposed to forced labor in their supply chains. read the complete article


14 May 2021

Mosques disappear as China strives to ‘build a beautiful Xinjiang’

In recent months, China has stepped up a campaign on state media and with government-arranged tours to counter the criticism of researchers, rights groups and former Xinjiang residents who say thousands of mosques have been targeted in a crackdown on the region's mostly Muslim Uyghur people. Reuters visited more than two dozen mosques across seven counties in southwest and central Xinjiang on a 12-day visit during Ramadan, which ended on Thursday. There is a contrast between Beijing's campaign to protect mosques and religious freedom and the reality on the ground. Most of the mosques that Reuters visited had been partially or completely demolished. Reuters analyzed satellite imagery of 10 mosques in Changji city and visited six of them. A total of 31 minarets and 12 green or gold domes had been removed within a period of two months after April 2018, according to dated images. At several mosques, Islamic architecture was replaced with Chinese-style roofing. These included Changji's Tianchi road mosque, whose gold dome and minarets were removed in 2018, according to publicly available satellite images. read the complete article

14 May 2021

On Eid, Xinjiang imams defend China against US criticism

Muslim leaders from the Xinjiang region rejected Western allegations that China is suppressing religious freedom, speaking to foreign diplomats and media at a reception at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Echoing the government line, the president of the Xinjiang Islamic Association said China had eradicated the breeding ground for extremism by improving livelihoods, teaching people about the law and setting up vocational training and education centers. Foreign analysts say the centers are part of a detention system that has locked up an estimated 1 million people or more over time. Abdureqip Tomurniyaz, who heads the association and the school for Islamic studies in Xinjiang, accused anti-China forces in the U.S. and other Western nations of spreading rumors and lies. Religious leaders from five mosques spoke at the 90-minute presentation, three in person and two by video. They all described prayers and feasting for Eid al-Fitr and rejected criticism of China’s religious policies. Videos showed men praying inside mosques and people dancing in squares outside. However, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a U.S.-based group, said in a report Thursday that it had documented at least 630 religious figures who have been detained or imprisoned in Xinjiang, most since 2014. The charges included illegal preaching and teaching religion to children, which is outlawed in China. read the complete article

13 May 2021

Uighur crackdown sees China target imams for ‘extremism’, study finds

China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim religious figures on charges like propagating “extremism” as part of its crackdown in the Xinjiang region, a new study has found. The research, compiled by the Uyghur Human Rights Project, looked at a dataset consisting of 1,046 cases of imams and other religious figures “detained for their association with religious teaching and community leadership” since 2014. The research found that 18 clerics had died in either a prison or a camp, or shortly following their release. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 May 2021

Neighbours rush to street to block Home Office from removing Muslim immigrants on Eid

Crowds surrounded a Border Force van with the two Muslim men inside and one person lay underneath it, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to accuse the Home Office of creating "a dangerous and unacceptable situation". Three protesters were arrested, according to the No Evictions Network campaign group. The stand-off began early on Thursday, the Muslim holiday of Eid, when officials arrived in Kenmure Street. People living nearby surrounded the van, chanting: “Leave our neighbours, let them go”. Scotland’s Justice Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf asked to speak to home secretary Priti Patel about the events. He tweeted: “This UK Border Force Operation, in Polloksheilds, the heart of the Muslim community, on Eid is a demonstration of the UK Govt’s hostile environment. “I have asked to speak to the Home Secretary to gain further details & make clear just how unacceptable this situation is.” Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said the two people detained were Muslim and had come from war-torn countries. “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state,” he said. “And it’s on Eid, you know... the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.” read the complete article

United States

13 May 2021

Anti-Muslim graffiti spray-painted on Brooklyn mosque

A Coney Island mosque was vandalized with the words “Death 2 Palestine” overnight Thursday — the final day of Ramadan, police said. The hateful message was found scrawled in blue spray paint near the front door of Tayba Islamic Center on Coney Island Avenue around 6:45 a.m., cops said. Thursday is Eid al-Fitr, one of the holiest days of the year, marking the end of fasting of Ramadan. The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating, cops said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 May 2021 Edition


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