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.

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19 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Nepali Muslims eye India’s growing Islamophobia with fear. In the U.K, police hunt killers after a British-Lebanese woman is murdered in a drive by shooting. Our recommended read today is on the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, which reported its first case of COVID-19 earlier this week. This, and more, below:


19 May 2020

Cox’s Bazar coronavirus case – the first of many? | Recommended read

In recent weeks, aid organisations such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and CARE Germany have been preparing for an outbreak as best as they can. Medical personnel have been trained and isolation centres have been set up. According to IRC, a camp with 1,700 beds is planned and several hundred beds are already operational. There is an intensive care unit with ten ventilators. "The infected Rohingya person is being treated in isolation at a Doctors Without Border (MSF) hospital in Cox's Bazar," Mohammad Mahfuzar Rahman, an official working for the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) and in charge of the Ukhiya Kutupalong camp, revealed. "Six members of his family have been kept in quarantine separately. Their samples will be collected later and sent to the local medical college lab for testing," he added. According to the IRC, the Bangladeshi government and several aid organisations have been striving to identify the chain of transmission since the detection of the first case. But the process is still on-going. As a result of the confirmed case, more than 855,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in the camp and over 440,000 residents living in the immediate vicinity of the overcrowded camp now face the threat of being infected with the coronavirus. Despite all the efforts, additional resources are needed to prevent a catastrophe, as Manish Agrawal, Bangladesh country director at the IRC, explained. "Health facilities are already crowded and overwhelmed, without the sufficient equipment, health staff or physical space necessary to treat cases." read the complete article

Recommended Read


19 May 2020

Nepali Muslims eye India's growing Islamophobia with fear

As India deals with an increase of online and physical attacks against Muslims, Nepali Muslims are worried that their country may follow suit. Muslims make up around 5% of Nepal's population, and in terms of access to health and education as well as a standard of living, the group falls well below average. With a history of limited physical protection from the state and local authorities in times of need, members of the Muslim community have been victim to attacks in 2004 and most recently in 2016. After the 13 Tablighi Jamaat members tested positive for the coronavirus in Nepal, conspiracy theories led to online anti-Muslim vitriol which solely blamed the religious gathering in Delhi for the spread of the coronavirus. In neighboring India, Narendra Modi's nationalist Hindu party has been accused of creating an atmosphere of Islamophobia. Arjun Appadurai, a professor of media, culture and communication at New York University explains how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing issues in the country: One of the key features of anti-Muslim sentiment in India for quite a long time has been the idea that Muslims themselves are a kind of infection in the body politic. So there’s a kind of affinity between this long-standing image and the new anxieties surrounding coronavirus. While Muslims have been marginalized in Nepal, from education to politics, Kathmandu-based American journalist Peter Gill explains that, unlike in India, the recent anti-Muslim sentiment does not have overt rhetorical support from ruling Nepali political parties. However, this may not be enough to allay the fear of Nepal's Muslim community. For the head of Nepal's Jame Masjid, Abdul Shamim. read the complete article

19 May 2020

Coronavirus: Rohingya refugees dying at sea as nations deny entry

Australia and Indonesia have agreed to tackle the latest ­Rohingya maritime crisis but have given no detail as more than 1000 asylum-seekers remain stranded at sea amid COVID-19-fuelled border lockdowns across Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Australian counterpart Marise Payne spoke at the weekend following pleas from UN and humanitarian agencies for the two co-chair nations of the Bali Process, an international people-smuggling and trafficking forum, to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe. “The two agreed to talk about the Rohingya within the Bali Process framework,” ministry official Achmad Rizal Purnama said. Amnesty International said at least 1000 Rohingya refugees were stranded between the Bay of Bengal and Malaysia. Thailand and ­Indonesia invoke COVID-19 lockdowns as an excuse to turn away boatloads of distressed refugees, some of whom have been at sea for weeks. Another 500 asylum-seekers were said to be on their way to Indonesian waters near Aceh though provincial authorities there say they stepped up air and sea patrols in recent days but no asylum boats were seen. read the complete article


19 May 2020

China erasing Muslim culture during Ramadan

According to Bitter Winter, an online magazine focused on religious liberty in China, some Chinese local governments have been asking the police to enhance their monitoring of Muslims since Ramadan began, especially during Friday prayers and Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast). In Zheijiang, law enforcement is required to report the location of local Muslims in real-time and check the IDs and luggage of any Uyghur tourists from Xinjiang. One Muslim living in Qinghai said that the government forced them to break the fast by placing water along the route to the mosque and requiring Muslims drink it before being allowed inside to pray. Many Uyghur students have also been banned from practicing their religion during the holy month. One high school teacher in Shandong confirmed that the school was forcing all Uyghur students to eat pork with their Han classmates: "To turn them into Chinese is the end goal of the education." Another Muslim living in Kazakhstan told RFA that, in his hometown of IIi, if local authorities believe someone is fasting, they will force them to eat candy or moon cake. If they refuse, they will be sent to an indoctrination camp. Members of minority groups have even been forbidden from sleeping on hard beds and eating at short-legged tables as they traditionally do read the complete article

United Kingdom

19 May 2020

UK police hunt killers after British-Lebanese Muslim woman is murdered in drive-by shooting

A murder investigation was launched by British police on Monday after a 19-year-old British-Lebanese Muslim woman was shot dead by an unknown assailant in the north of England, reports confirmed. The shocking murder, which was believed to be a drive-by shooting, took place at 3pm in Blackburn, a northwest town. Hijab-wearing Aya Hachem was reportedly en route to a local store for her mother when a gun was fired from a passing vehicle. She was found "unresponsive" when armed police arrived on the scene and Hachem later died in hospital. Police have not revealed a motive for her murder but are not yet treating it as terrorist related. Incidents of Islamophobia in the UK have risen sharply since the 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester, according to the Muslim News. read the complete article


19 May 2020

Islamophobia Even During a Pandemic? Pig's Head Mounted on German Mosque's Door

Even in these trying times when the entire world is busy fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, it was business as usual for some anti-social elements in Germany who seem to have been hell-bent on spreading religious hatred despite the curfews and lockdowns in place. In an incident that seems to be promoting the "Islamophobic" mentality, intended to hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community, two unidentified miscreants placed the head of a pig on the door of a mosque in a city in Germany on the night of Saturday, May 16. Turkish media reported on Sunday, May 17, that surveillance cameras at the 'Fatih Mosque' which is run by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in the southern German city of Vaihingen, recorded the incident where the a pig's head was mounted on the door of the mosque by two perpetrators who were seen driving a company van from a neighboring city. The footage also shows that the two vandals took photos of their dastardly act soon after attaching the pig's head onto the main entrance of the mosque. The unidentified miscreants are said to be between 25 years and 30 years of age. read the complete article

United States

19 May 2020

Coronavirus restrictions on mosques bring women to the fore

Mosques in the U.S., as in much of the world, are highly gendered. Most mainstream Muslims agree that mixed-gender congregational prayers should be led by a man. Two-thirds of mosques segregate their prayer spaces, often with a physical barrier, and only a little over half have women on their governing boards. Many times, women in the mosque are already experiencing prayers "virtually," with the imam appearing over a television or audio feed in the women's space. Not all mosques are equipped with the technology where women actually see and hear the imam — and if they are equipped, often they break down in the middle of prayer, and women are left to guess what is going on. In the United States, where Muslim women are, on the whole, more educated than their male counterparts, many mosques do invite women as secular experts — in the fields of mental health or civil rights, for example. Both ISNA and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank that analyzes trends in American Muslim communities, have long recommended more inclusion of women in leadership and programming within American mosques. Some American mosques have had women teach in mixed-gender contexts for years. At most African American mosques, which do not typically segregate their prayer spaces, women have led ta’leem, or religious education, sessions to mixed-gender audiences for decades. In the last few years, a handful of mosques across the country have hired female ustadhas, or scholars in residence, who preach, teach, and offer spiritual guidance to their congregations. Since 2018, for example, Fatima Lette has been the ustadha at the Roswell Community Masjid in Georgia. The key here is that, with congregational prayer cancelled, there is no worry that women are leading mixed-gender communal prayers, a function still reserved for men. Every Ramadan at the Islamic Center of Southern California, which has had women serving on its board since the 1950s, women scholars offer Quranic commentary during special nightly congregational prayers. This year, Edina Lekovic will be the featured speaker for the Night of Power, the holiest night of the Islamic calendar that comes at the end of the sacred month of fasting and prayer. This first, she explained, “is a first for ICSC, available only because it’s virtual and does not include leading prayers.” These stories suggest that performing our rituals together from home has allowed Muslims with privilege to experience solidarity with those who have often not felt included: women, converts and families with special needs members. After the pandemic is over, mosques may and should be inspired to structure programming that includes these groups more fully. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 May 2020 Edition


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