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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18 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: The U.S Senate passes Uyghur rights bill in support of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China. Indian media continues to be accused of Islamophobia in its coronavirus coverage. Amnesty International says at least 1,000 Rohingya refugees are adrift at sea as South Asia closes its borders. Our recommended read today is by Rokhaya Diallo titled “Coronavirus exposed the real reasons behind France’s ‘burqa ban.'” This, and more, below:


18 May 2020

Coronavirus exposed the real reasons behind France's 'burqa ban' | Recommended Read

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, France is faced with a paradox: It has just made the wearing of masks compulsory in certain public spaces, but maintained the years-long ban on Muslim full-face veils. This suggests, as the Washington Post recently noted, "if an observant Muslim woman wanted to get on the Paris Metro, she would be required to remove her burqa and replace it with a mask". While in most countries the discussion about compulsory face masks focused on the effectiveness of the measure, in France, where not long ago the government proudly stated that "the Republic lives with its face uncovered", this decision raised questions about the way the state defines French identity and values. In October 2008, the High Authority for the Fight against Discrimination and for Equality (HALDE), France's public watchdog group on discrimination, equated the wearing of a burqa to the "submission of women" in a ruling over an administrative decision that denied a woman wearing the garment access to the French-language classes that were required for her to remain in France. As it sided with the public authority that took the controversial decision, the watchdog said: "The burqa carries the meaning of the submission of women which goes beyond its religious scope and could be considered as undermining republican values presiding over the process of integration and organisation of these lessons." The ruling laid the foundations for the perception that this religious garment is not only fundamentally anti-feminist but also foreign to French culture. It also ignited a debate on "republican values" which quickly transformed into a debate on whether Islam is compatible with the French Republic. The circular, therefore, officially acknowledged a link between the way a person chooses to dress themselves in public and that person's place in French society. To be recognised as a French person, the circular affirmed, one has to show her face in public, as a confirmation of her commitment to the "common values" and "shared destiny" of the country. This is why the French government's recent decision to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places raised questions. The government's move to make face masks compulsory while refusing to reverse the ban on Muslim face veils reaffirmed the conviction many already had that the so-called "burqa" ban has nothing to do with the incompatibility of face coverings with the French way of life and everything to do with the state's reluctance to include visible Muslims into the French national identity. read the complete article

Recommended Read

United States

18 May 2020

Senate passes Uyghur rights bill

The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday in support of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China. The bill would require the president to make a report to Congress regarding China’s crackdown on the Uyghurs and other minorities in the region. The report would identify persons responsible for the crackdown, whether they are officials with the Chinese government or not, and subject them to sanctions, including the freezing of U.S. assets and denial of visas. The bill was sponsored by a bipartisan group of fifty Senators and passed the Senate by unanimous consent. An amended version of the bill passed the House last December by a vote of 407-1. The Chinese government issued a statement following passage of the House bill declaring that the legislation “wantonly smeared China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts.” The Senate bill is expected to provoke similar ire. read the complete article

18 May 2020

Trump administration weighs suspending program for foreign students, prompting backlash from business, tech

Among the recommendations expected to be considered is the suspension of a program for foreign students to stay in the U.S. to get one or two years of occupational training between secondary education and full-time employment, a move many in the business and university communities are fighting. The program, known as Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is an incentive for foreign students to come to U.S. universities, as it provides some cushion between school and employment. Talk of suspending OPT has pitted business interests against immigration hard-liners like President Donald Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller, the officials said. Miller, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have all said the program has been rife with abuses, particularly by Chinese students whom they accuse of getting American educations and then returning to China. Data from the Congressional Research Service, however, shows otherwise. read the complete article

18 May 2020

Ambassador Brownback Warns About The COVID-19 Related Burdens Faced By Religious Minorities

On May 14, 2020, in a special briefing, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on religious minorities around the world. In April 2020, Ambassador Brownback used such an address to call for the release of prisoners of conscience in several countries around the world. The May briefing was used to raise the issue of the additional burdens faced by religious minorities during this unprecedented global pandemic. In his address, Ambassador Brownback warned about five trends emerging among the treatment of religious minorities as related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, some governments are using this COVID-19 pandemic to further repress some religious minorities. Second, religious minorities are often discriminated against in the provision of healthcare with religious minorities being denied access to medical assistance. Third, some religious minorities are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 and targeted as a result. Fourth, online propaganda campaigns target religious minorities spreading misinformation and inciting violence against these religious minority groups. Fifth, technology is being misused to further repress, discriminate, or surveil religious minorities. Among the example, Ambassador Brownback mentioned that in Myanmar, the Burmese military denies the Rohingya Muslims access to medical care and so exposes them to the risk of complications in severe cases of COVID-19. read the complete article

18 May 2020

'I thought we were going to die.' Muslim woman recounts SUV attack in Nutley

She sat in shock in her Toyota Camry, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, her 16-year-old son beside her. A second earlier, an SUV had sped up in the Carvel parking lot and slammed into the driver’s side of her car – intentionally. They sat stunned, as the SUV reversed to do it again. As she heard the revving of the engine, she thought this might be the day they die. “You get into that mode. How am I going to protect my kid? I’m thinking next he’s going to pull out a gun and we’re going to get shot. It’s the craziest feeling,” said the 39-year-old woman, recounting the April 21 attack on Franklin Street in Nutley. The Bergen County woman did not know her terrorizer, had never seen him before that day when she stopped at an ice cream shop. Inside the store, she said, he started screaming anti-Muslim slurs at her, calling her a terrorist and saying he hated her. She told him, "You're calling me a terrorist, but here you are terrorizing me." She asked those in the store, “Aren’t you going to do anything?” she said. She thought the encounter would end when she left the store. But according to the woman, as she drove out of the parking lot, the SUV exited an entrance-only driveway, waited for her approaching car and then struck it, twice. read the complete article

18 May 2020

'They put me in solitary for having oranges’ — incarcerated Muslims struggle during Ramadan

Religious rights groups along with civil rights attorneys say that people incarcerated at correctional facilities across the state are regularly prevented from properly observing Ramandan. And with coronavirus protocol in place at all correctional facilities, they say observing it has become even more difficult. In Franklin County, Vernon L. Ealy, Jr., a 44-year-old incarcerated Muslim who also acts as the county prison’s unofficial imam, filed a lawsuit in January based on multiple grievances he filed against the jail last year. Those grievances allege that corrections officers failed to deliver food during non-fasting hours, put him in solitary confinement for trying to keep oranges in his cell, and denied all incarcerated Muslims access to their preferred versions of the Qu’ran, Islam’s holy text. Ealy, who is still incarcerated, says that the problems brought up in his lawsuit have continued during this year’s Ramadan, which is set to end on May 23. The question at stake in Ealy’s case is whether or not the jail is violating incarcerated Muslims’ right to practice their religion without undue burden. The Religious Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act, passed in 2000, says that correctional facilities must provide appropriate religious materials and attempt to meet all religious needs of inmates. If they don’t, it’s on them to prove they can’t provide the accommodation. read the complete article


18 May 2020

For years, the West criticised Muslim women’s face veils. Now, we’re all masked

Now that face masks are being used to help fight against the spread of Covid-19, it has caused some to look anew at general discrimination against Muslim women wearing niqabs. And it has got me wondering about Québec’s face-covering ban, which came into law in October 2017 as well as France’s ban which came into law in 2011. If Canadians, Americans and Europeans can get used to the new ubiquitous face masks, will they also get used to niqabs? Will discrimination against the few women in the West who wear it stop? The European disapproval of the face veil has a long history, as I learned while researching for my book on Canadian Muslim women and the veil. Niqab has been seen as both a symbol of cultural threat and also of the silencing of Muslim women. The rise in hate crimes mirrors the opinion of many public leaders who have loudly proclaimed their anti-niqab attitudes. Jason Kenney, the former Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, tried – and failed – to ban niqab in citizenship ceremonies. In 2015 he called the niqab “a tribal cultural practice where women are treated like property and not like human beings.” In the same year, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper called it a dress “rooted in a culture that is anti-women … [and] offensive that someone would hide their identity.” In a recent op-ed for the Toronto Star, University of Windsor law student Tasha Stansbury pointed out that in Montréal hospitals, people are being asked to wear surgical masks. They walk in and interact with medical staff without being asked to remove their mask for identity or security purposes. But a woman wearing a niqab walking into the same hospital would be forced by law to remove it. read the complete article

18 May 2020

As face masks become the new normal – why were some demonised for wearing them before?

While the evidence on their effectiveness against Covid-19 might be mixed, researchers have found that even 60 per cent of the population wearing a mask could significantly lower the rate of transmission. But for some groups, covering the face can be more than just a public health measure – it can be a way in which they are subject to scrutiny, or have been demonised as a threat to public safety. In parts of Europe, a ban on face coverings has been the subject of much intense debate about religious freedom and the rights of individuals. A ban on face coverings has taken the form of banning religious face coverings – such as ‘Islamic garb’ like the niqab, which is worn by some Muslim women. Niqabs often cover the whole of the face, leaving a gap for the eyes or for the mouth. After France passed this ban, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Denmark followed suit. Bizarrely, the French government has confirmed that while masks will become mandatory from next week, women who cover their faces with face coverings as a result of their religion will still be fined and punished. Violating this ban can lead to a fine of up to 150 euros, as well as the requirement to take a class in French ‘citizenship’. The government has also confirmed that masks must be removed for identity checks, and that the ban does allow an exemption for public health reasons. Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted to ask whether Islamophobia could be any more transparent in these rules. In an op-ed for the i paper, Mariam Khan also noticed what she perceives as a glaring hypocrisy, writing: "It’s okay if the entire French population is covering their faces now so long as they are doing it for France and not Islam." read the complete article

18 May 2020

Photo contest asks Rohingya community to document their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic

As the world grapples with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dire issues faced by vulnerable refugee and migrant populations are compounded. Discrimination against the Rohingya community has been exacerbated by the current crisis as Bangladesh recently annouced that it would not allow more Rohingya refugees to enter the country. In mid-April, fishing trawlers filled with Rohingya asylum seekers were turned away by Malaysian authorities over COVID-19 fears. Rohingya refugees in Malaysia are also facing an increase in xenophobic and anti-immigrant pushback from Malaysians during the pandemic, and doubts about Bangladesh's ability to handle an outbreak in its densly-populated refugee camps are still in question. To document the COVID-19 crisis through their own eyes, the Rohingya Photography Competition has been organized by London-based British-Bangladeshi documentary filmmaker Shafiur Rahman. The competition is open to members of the Rohingya community all over the world and will run from April 23 to August 25, 2020. The main categories are “Rohingya life” and “Response to Coronavirus” and selection of photographs will be exhibited at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) in Ottawa, Canada and the Oxford Human Rights Festival in Oxford, UK. Global Voices interviewed Rahman by email to talk about what inspired him to create this competition and what he hopes to achieve. read the complete article

18 May 2020

After Islamophobic Posts, Indian in New Zealand to Be Terminated as Judicial Officer

An Indian community leader in New Zealand has lost his membership in the association of honorary judicial officers over posts on social media that were criticised for being Islamophobic – a first step towards his eventual dismissal as a justice of the peace. The incident was reported by a weekly diaspora newspaper in Auckland which said that it was “first case of its kind in New Zealand”. Among his posts deemed objectionable was one endorsing an economic boycott of Muslims in India. Indian News said that Kantilal Bhababhai Patel had lost his membership of the Wellington Justices of Peace Association over his social media posts. “The Association received a complaint and it was investigated. Mr Patel is no longer a member of the Wellington JP Association,” vice-president of the association, Ann Clark told the newspaper. In an editorial note, the newspaper expressed regret that cases of Islamophobic posts by Indian diaspora have now reached the shores of New Zealand. “In the past few months, several reports have emerged, mainly in the Middle East but also in Canada, where Indians or people of Indian-origin have indulged in online hate-speech against Muslims, and have faced consequences. Now this has happened here in New Zealand, which is sad, as just last year this country suffered its worst-ever terrorist attack carried out by a Islamophobic white supremacist,” it said. read the complete article

18 May 2020

In Jerusalem, Ramadan Restrictions Last Seen During the Crusades Return

The last time Muslim worshipers were kept out of the Aqsa Mosque compound throughout the entire month of Ramadan was when crusaders controlled Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has done what the intervening centuries had not: largely emptying the often crowded and chaotic spaces of Islam’s third holiest site, where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The restricted entry to the compound is only one example of how the pandemic has radically transformed the way Muslims in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have experienced the sacred fasting month of Ramadan as they cope with government social distancing measures. As the days of Ramadan have progressed, several Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel have started to object to the decision to close the Aqsa to the public, with some arguing that if Jews can pray in a socially distanced manner at the Western Wall just below it, Muslims can do the same in the compound. “It makes no sense,” said Ribhi Rajabi, a truck driver from Jerusalem, sitting in the shade under an olive tree by his home in the city. “If the Jews can pray without a problem in a small area, we obviously can in a space several times the size.” read the complete article

18 May 2020

Amnesty says 1,000 Rohingya stranded at sea as Southeast Asia seals borders

At least 1,000 Rohingya are stranded at sea as Southeast Asian nations tighten their borders to keep out the new coronavirus, Amnesty International said on Friday, urging action to ensure they were not buried in an “invisible graveyard” at sea. Rights groups believe at least two boats carrying Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority from Myanmar, are off the coast of the Indonesian province of Aceh, but officials said they had no clear information. Spokesmen for the Western Fleet of the Indonesian navy as well as Aceh’s disaster mitigation agency and search and rescue team told Reuters they were trying to confirm the location of the vessels. Refugees from two other boats have landed in Bangladesh since mid-April, many starving and emaciated after weeks at sea. Survivors from one said dozens died on board. Saad Hammadi, from the South Asia Regional Office of Amnesty International, said the refugees could have been sailing for several weeks or even months without food or water, citing information from humanitarian agencies and local news reports. In a virtual news conference he urged Indonesia and Australia, who chair an anti-people smuggling and trafficking forum known as the Bali Process, to ensure the refugees are allowed to land safely “so that we don’t see the sea become an invisible graveyard.” read the complete article

18 May 2020

China Is Spying on Uighur Muslims in the UK

Three years ago, attending a party in the British Uighur community meant singing and dancing, hand-pulled noodles and traditional dress. Celebrations – a way to unite the Turkic peoples of the UK – were organised every month. Now the parties have stopped, and it’s not because of the lockdown. It's because spies have infiltrated the community, and lives are at stake. China has locked up an estimated one million Uighurs in secret camps in the country’s western Xinjiang region, according to a UN human rights panel. The government claims that these are vocational “re-education” schools to root out religious extremism – a crackdown that reportedly involves forced prison labour, mass surveillance and removing Uighur children from their families. The Chinese government denies these allegations of abuse. The UK is home to a small Uighur population, mainly living in London. They say that the poisonous campaign waged against them in their homeland has spread here, and they feel increasingly abandoned by the place they now call home. “No one in the West cares,” one Uighur Londoner told VICE bluntly. “People will forget who we are after reading this article.” With a pandemic dominating news headlines, the blackmail and harassment of British Uighurs has been overshadowed. Fear and paranoia have divided the community. To many, an event that invites unrelated or unknown Uighurs, is an event “gone red” – meaning it’s been infiltrated by spies of the Chinese government. read the complete article


18 May 2020

German far-right exploits Covid-19 to rally anti-Muslim fervour

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, far-right leader Lutz Bachmann shuttled between his Spanish home and Germany to rally a dwindling number of followers for his poisonous campaign against Muslim migrants. During its heyday, the Friday night ritual of marches through the historic eastern city of Dresden, organised by Mr Bachmann’s grass-roots anti-migrant group, attracted more than 20,000 marchers. By the time that large gatherings were banned because of Covid-19, the numbers were down to about 1,500 at bi-weekly events as Pegida - Patriotic Europeans against Islamisation of the Occident – struggled to maintain relevance in a crowded far-right scene. For Pegida, coronavirus could prove a welcome lifeline. The portly former thief now fronts “virtual marches” from his Tenerife bolthole during weekly YouTube broadcast when he rails against government restrictions and accuses migrants of lockdown infractions that put loyal white Germans at risk. Despite the cancellation of the marches, the lockdown imposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel are proving to be a valuable rallying point for Mr Bachmann. He now positions himself as the “chief protector of the German constitution and its freedoms of speech and association,” said Sabine Volk, a research fellow at Jagiellonian University, Poland, who is working on an EU-funded project on populism in central and eastern Europe. Counter-radicalisation experts say the extremists in Germany are in a prime position to exploit fear and uncertainty for the benefit of their cause. History suggests that pandemics are good for the far-right. The Black Death of the 1340s resulted in a rise in anti-Semitism while immigrants were attacked in the 1890s when they were blamed for bringing cholera to New York. Most controversially, a report by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggested that Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933 was boosted by voters from poor areas that had been worst affected by the influenza pandemic of 1918. Researchers say that the uncertainty and instability caused by coronavirus is closely linked with a rise in extremism. read the complete article


18 May 2020

Hindutva Outfits Trigger Wave of Islamophobia to Curb ‘Economic Jihad’, BJP MLA Backs #BoycottHalalProducts on Twitter

After the advertisement by a cancer hospital in Meerut denying admission to Muslims, BJP MLAs in UP openly harrassing Muslim vendors, Jain Bakery flaunting ‘No Muslim Staffs’ and Islamophobic tweets by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya adding fuel to the fire, the communal tension on Twitter rose again when a pro-Hindutva periodical and a BJP MLA called for an anti-Halal campaign. Making the hashtag #BoycottHalalProducts trend on Twitter, Sanatan Prabhat and BJP MLA Raja Singh openly incited communal hatred despite PM Modi’s call for unity and brotherhood. Taking to their Twitter handle recently, the pro-Hindutva group of periodicals along with its spokesperson Chetan Rajhans, BJP MLA from Gosha Mahal T Raja Singh in Telangana, Hindu Jagruti’s National Spokesperson Ramesh Shinde and Sudarshan News TV channel all united to spew hatred against the minority community by alledging how halal was “gaining a stronghold over the world economy”. Following the communal hatred lead by Sanatan Prabhat, these people called for curbing of “economic jihad” and were soon joined by other Islamophobes on Twitter. read the complete article

18 May 2020

Indian media accused of Islamophobia for its coronavirus coverage

Critics have accused a large section of Indian media of blaming Muslims for the spread of the coronavirus, which so far has infected more than 82,000 people in the country and caused 2,649 deaths. Coronavirus worries took centre stage in India by the third week of March but the preceding months had already been turbulent. Pan-India protests erupted in December 2019 against a new citizenship law championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, that many deemed discriminatory. Anti-Muslim mob violence shook Delhi in February after supporters of a governing party leader allegedly attacked peaceful sit-ins against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). By late March, Muslims became the focus of media attention after it emerged that six people who died from COVID-19 in southern Telangana state had attended an event held by a Muslim religious group called Tablighi Jamaat from March 13-15 in New Delhi. Muslims faced further vilification in the first week of April after a government spokesperson publicly linked a spike in coronavirus cases to the Jamaat event, which was also attended by preachers from other Muslim countries. Since then, the government seemed to have singled out the Jamaat at most official briefings. "The media chose not to ask the government why foreign participants were not tested at airports, why Delhi and the central government and police agencies gave permission for the gathering, which was denied by the Maharashtra government," activist Kavita Krishnan told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

18 May 2020

BJP MP shares old video of Muslims offering namaz, Delhi Police say verify before posting

West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma Thursday posted a two-month old video of Muslims offering namaz in large numbers in the national capital to claim they’re violating lockdown and social distancing rules, but was called out by Delhi Police that asked him to “verify before posting and spreading rumours”. Both Verma and Delhi Police have, however, deleted their tweets. The BJP MP, in his tweet in Hindi, wrote: “Does any religion permit this kind of behaviour in the wake of coronavirus? Lockdown and social distancing norms have been torn to shreds…” He further asked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to deduct the salaries of maulvis to stop such practices. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 May 2020

Muslim doctor hopes docu-series shines light on BAME healthcare workers

A Muslim NHS doctor working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis has said he hopes a new Channel 4 docu-series shines a light on the BAME healthcare workers putting themselves in harm’s way. “We are clapping people who a few months ago we might have been saying ‘get out of our country, you’re not welcome here,’ we had this odd undercurrent of xenophobia, or racism, but actually now we are clapping them every week, saying ‘we recognise how much of an amazing effort, how much bravery, you’re demonstrating for the greater good’. “I think it’s really important after this crisis calms down, after we get over it, that we remember that. If personal stories and names and faces helps to remind us of that, I think it’s really powerful and really helpful.” Producer Farah Qayum added: “I’ve worked on a lot of programmes about the Muslim community and one of the fears always is that they are a community that are misunderstood and are often not represented well. “So I think whatever we can do to debunk some of the myths and bigotry out there is always something that I personally want to do. read the complete article

18 May 2020

Tory Islamophobia: The UK equality watchdog is letting the party off the hook

Worryingly, this policy came from the very top. In a shameful episode, Cameron, who was then prime minister, abused his position to falsely accuse an entirely innocent South London imam of being a “supporter of IS [Islamic State]” in a bid to link Labour to extremism. This smear was repeated by other senior Tories, and eventually apologies had to be issued and damages paid. Numerous Tory MPs have expressed Islamophobic views before and since. Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, expressed regret after sharing an anti-Muslim post by Tommy Robinson. He also hosted events with anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist Tapan Ghosh, who has previously called for the UN to control the birth rate of Muslims and praised the genocide of Rohingya Muslims. A YouGov poll last year unveiled the chilling finding that two-thirds of Tory members believed parts of Britain operated under sharia law. Almost half believed in the myth of no-go zones where “non-Muslims are not able to enter”, while 39 percent thought Islamist terror attacks “reflected widespread hostility to Britain among the Muslim community”. In other words, Islamophobic attitudes are structurally embedded within the Conservative Party membership on a scale that dwarfs Labour’s problem. And yet, this deep-rooted Tory bigotry has never received more than a tiny fraction of the coverage that Labour antisemitism has been given in the mass media. It doesn’t take a genius to divine the reason. Just as importantly, many British newspapers share and actively promote the same Islamophobic attitudes that are rampant in the Tory party. It is a strongly held view held by too much of Fleet Street that Islamophobia is a myth fabricated by Muslim activists. read the complete article

18 May 2020

Hate crime against ‘Oriental’ people in London soars, police data show

The Metropolitan Police recorded 166 verbal, online and physical attacks in February and March where the officer reported the ethnic appearance of the victim as “Oriental”, up from 66 during the same period last year, a freedom of information request by the Financial Times has revealed. “[These figures] are dreadful,” said Mike Ainsworth, director of London services at charity Stop Hate UK, adding that the real number was likely to be much higher as their work shows hate crime is significantly under-reported. “Part of the problem is coming from thousands of miles away, undoubtedly,” he said, with the organisation receiving reports of offenders quoting Mr Trump’s description of Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus”. Patrik Hermansson, a researcher for anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate, said far-right activists in the UK had also adopted the same language as Mr Trump. Extremists on social media and online forums “have latched on to calling it the ‘Chinese virus’ and conspiracy theories about Chinese people in the UK intentionally spreading the virus”, he said. “We have seen people who were previously very anti-Muslim currently focusing and aiming their racist attacks towards China.” It is “absolutely a possibility” that the pandemic could give rise to an anti-Chinese movement within the far-right, said Mr Hermansson. read the complete article


18 May 2020

UN's Guterres asks Bangladesh to move Rohingya to refugee camps

Hundreds of Rohingya rescued by Bangladesh and sent to a flood-prone island after being stranded at sea for weeks should be moved to existing refugee camps, the UN secretary-general said. Antonio Guterres made the appeal to Bangladesh's foreign minister in a letter that was obtained on Sunday by AFP news agency. The Rohingya were rescued in early May after floating adrift in the Bay of Bengal and sent to Bhashan Char island - a silty strip of land that is vulnerable to monsoon storms. Dhaka has said the 308 were sent to the island rather than the camps in Cox's Bazar because authorities were afraid they might have the viral disease, also known as COVID-19. Guterres said the refugees should be moved to the camps after their time in quarantine is completed. Dhaka has not said how long the Rohingya will remain in isolation. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

18 May 2020

Facebook’s Apology for its Role in Sri Lanka’s Anti-Muslim Riots Should Spark Change

Facebook’s failure to remove hate speech and disinformation during the 2018 riots resulted in spurring on the deadly violence which had erupted in Sri Lanka. The investigation as carried out by Article One, which published a report as part of a two-year partnership with Facebook, involved conducting assessments into human rights in Sri Lanka. Although everyone has the right to free speech, it should not be used as a guise to incite hate against others nor should it be a catalyst for planning attacks against minorities. The social media giant issued a statement to Bloomberg, “deploring” the misuse of its platform, stating that “We recognize, and apologize for, the very real human rights impacts that resulted.” However, the significant damage, strained relations between communities and rise in Islamophobia is already prevalent in the country and has further fueled tensions. As a Sri Lankan Muslim myself and journalist who covered the riots in Sri Lanka, I believe that social media platforms like Facebook need to make fundamental changes to their platform to protect minority groups from content that could incite violence against them and further fuel divisions and pre-existing Islamophobia. read the complete article


18 May 2020

Rohingyas, migrant workers face the brunt of Malaysia’s xenophobia during Covid

As the coronavirus spreads across an economy, livelihoods are lost and futures are imperiled. Looking for someone to blame, populists and opportunistic politicians turn to migrants and refugees. Soon, the local social media fills with xenophobia and hate, along with demands that the foreigners “go back to where they came from.” For weeks, this pattern has played out with particular vehemence in Malaysia. The targeted foreigners are the Rohingya, a largely Muslim ethnic group that has faced decades of persecution in nearby Myanmar. In recent days, the situation has become so extreme that 83 human-rights groups demanded that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin intercede. He should pay attention: Calming these tensions will ultimately protect the public health and livelihoods of all Malaysians — and quite possibly provide an example for other countries grappling with the same poisonous problem. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 May 2020 Edition


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