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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02 May 2019

Today in Islamophobia: Hate crimes surge in London following the Christchurch attacks. A Liberal candidate in Australia makes anti-Muslim comments. Rohingya live in fear of resettlement back to Myanmar. A new study suggests anti-Muslim hate is driven by politics, not faith. Our recommended read of the day, by Simina Mistreanu, breaks down a report highlighting how China uses a vast surveillance network to spy on Uighur Muslims. This, and more, below:


02 May 2019

‘Seldom uses front door’: report reveals how China spies on Muslim minority | Recommended read

Using too much electricity or having acquaintances abroad are among a list of reasons that prompt authorities in China’s western Xinjiang region to investigate Uighurs and other Muslims who might be deemed “untrustworthy” and sent to internment camps, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The app is connected with the integrated joint operations platform (IJOP), a Xinjiang policing program that aggregates people’s data and flags those deemed potentially threatening. IJOP is part of a vast surveillance network currently employed in the restive region that includes frequent checkpoints equipped with face scanners, so-called “convenience” police stations, and surveillance cameras inside homes. Data collection, including people’s blood type, height and religious practices, has been central to the crackdown, which started in late 2016, the rights group says. The app targets 36 “person types” to whom officials must pay special attention. The categories include seemingly harmless behaviours such as “does not socialise with neighbours, seldom uses front door”; “suddenly returned to hometown after being away for a long time”; “collected money or materials for mosques with enthusiasm”; and “household uses an abnormal amount of electricity.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
02 May 2019

China's Mass Surveillance More Sophisticated Than Thought

A mobile app used by police to track citizens in China’s far west region of Xinjiang shows how some of the country’s biggest technology companies are linked to a mass surveillance system that is more sophisticated than previously known, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. The app uses facial recognition technology from a firm backed by Alibaba Group Holding to match faces with photo identification and cross-check pictures on different documents, the New York-based group said on Thursday. The app also takes a host of other data points -- from electricity and smartphone use to personal relationships to political and religious affiliations -- to flag suspicious behavior, the report said.The watchdog’s report sheds new light on the vast scope of activity China is monitoring as it cracks down on its minority Muslim Uighur population in a bid to stop terrorism before it happens. The U.S. State Department says as many as two million Uighurs are being held in camps in Xinjiang, a number disputed by Chinese authorities even though they haven’t disclosed a figure. Human Rights Watch said that so-called data doors at checkpoints may be vacuuming up information from mobile phones from unsuspecting citizens. Some Xinjiang residents who suspected their phones were being used as monitoring devices even buried them in the desert, a move that could later hurt them if the system loses track of their phone, according to Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The political reeducation camps are one pen, but then you have a series of bigger pens that are like virtual fences,” Wang said. read the complete article

02 May 2019

Here Are 48 Reasons Chinese Authorities Are Imprisoning Muslim Minorities

So it turns out that abstaining from alcohol or eating breakfast before dawn is enough to get you thrown into a concentration camp in China. In the country’s western Xinjiang province, as part of a broad system of surveillance against the region’s 12 million Uyghur and Kazakh citizens, Chinese officials and security personnel are looking for these kinds of “suspicious” activities as a way to identify people with extremist tendencies. Other red flags include owning a tent, telling others not to swear, and acting sad when your parents die. And engaging in any of these behaviours could see you being detained without trial and locked away in a political education camp indefinitely, according to a Foreign Policy report. The total list of “Forty-Eight Suspicious Signs of Extremist Tendencies”—compiled by analyst Tanner Greer and later published in the Australian National University’s 2018 China Story Yearbook—is based on interviews that Human Rights Watch researchers conducted with 58 ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs, all of whom successfully fled from Xinjiang at some point over the last three years. “The ‘random signs’ are all possible indications of deeper religiosity, which is in turn taken as indicating higher potential for susceptibility to so-called religious extremism,” he told VICE over email. “The goal of the Strike Hard Campaign is not, as China claims, purely to destroy terrorists but to destroy minority religion and identity altogether,” Tanner speculated. “It has created an atmosphere of constant fear, in which Uyghurs dread the invisible lines placed around every aspect of their lives.” read the complete article

United States

02 May 2019

White nationalism can't be 'normalized' if we want to stop massacres

The attack in Poway is far from an isolated incident. It is part of a rise in white nationalist violence that threatens all manner of communities and places of worship in the United States and around the world, from synagogues to mosques to Sikh temples to black churches. Some of these incidents we know well: Pittsburgh, the Christchurch mosque shootings, the suspected arson of three black churches in Louisiana. All are flashpoints in a larger story. Why do white nationalists target our communities in this way? At its heart, their violence stems from the false belief that the growing population of immigrants, people of color, and Muslims in America will threaten a white majority, instead of strengthening our democracy and fulfilling our country’s promise. And they blame Jewish people for the societal changes they fear, relying on old anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories. Lately, these conspiracy theories have found an audience online, amplified by some elected leaders. This moment demands a serious response from our elected leaders at all levels, and from both political parties. We cannot discuss the rapid rise of white nationalism in our society without talking about the way that its ideas and policies has become mainstreamed in American politics, while the threats from this movement are obfuscated or ignored. read the complete article

02 May 2019

Trump Wants To Hurt The Muslim Brotherhood. American Muslims Could Pay The Price

“The greatest damage might be in the realm of public diplomacy,” Nathan Brown and Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Middle East Center wrote in January 2017, when the Trump administration was last considering the designation. “Using a broad brush to paint all Muslim Brotherhood organizations as terrorists would be understood by many Muslims around the world as a declaration of war against non-violent political Islamists — and indeed against Islam itself.” For years, anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S. — many of them with deep ties to Bolton and Pompeo — have promoted conspiracy theories attempting to tie political opponents and prominent American Muslim organizations to the Muslim Brotherhood. Frank Gaffney, a former Pentagon official and head of the Center for Security Policy, an anti-Muslim think tank, has baselessly linked the Muslim Brotherhood to such figures as Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and conservative activist Grover Norquist. While these anti-Muslim groups and their advocacy for the terror designation were once relegated to the fringe of American politics, they have real influence in Trump’s White House. The designation is “about domestic control of Muslims. It has everything to do with a widely debunked conspiracy theory that Muslim organizations are nefarious,” Corey Saylor, the former director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told HuffPost in 2017. read the complete article

02 May 2019

The Language of the Ōtautahi/Christchurch Shooter Is at Home in the United States

The racist theories and arguments advocated by the shooter are neither new nor fringe, and they are not limited to Aotearoa/New Zealand.[2] They are based on a discredited theory of race ‘science’ created by Europeans during the 18th and 19th centuries to legitimize colonialism, settler colonialism, and transatlantic slavery. In the U.S., anti-immigration rhetoric is almost always used in reference to immigration and asylum requests by Afro-Indigenous, Indigenous, Afro-Latinx, and Latinx people from Central America, in addition to Haitians and Africans, along the Mexico-U.S. border. In addition, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim political discourse often looks to European countries as a ‘cautionary tale’ of the so-called ‘Islamization’ of white European Christian nations as a result of Muslim immigration and refugee resettlement. In his ‘manifesto,’ The Ōtautahi/Christchurch shooter lauded President Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Donald Trump and other U.S. politicians like Representative Steve King and Ambassador Pete Hoekstra propagate white supremacist conspiracy theories and ideology like those utilized by the Ōtautahi/Christchurch shooter. By virtue of their respective positions of political power, Trump, King, and Hoekstra are positioned to craft laws and policies that bolster white supremacist values and beliefs, such as immigration restrictions of Muslims and people of color. Moreover, national media personalities such as Michelle Malkin, Jeanine Pirro, and Laura Ingraham; blogs and bloggers such as Faith Goldy, Laura Loomer, and VDare; and non-profits and organizations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, fuel anti-Muslim and anti-immigration political rhetoric and narratives. Such language reinforces and serves to legitimate anti-Muslim and anti-immigration policies, laws, and legislation. read the complete article

02 May 2019

Attempts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization have failed before. Why is it returning now?

Almost all academics and analysts, even those critical of the Brotherhood, agree that it is not a terrorist organization. Moreover, such a designation would introduce a plethora of political problems in the Middle East and at home. The Trump administration may not worry about the likely consequences of tagging the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, and may view its political benefits as outweighing the likely costs. Is the Brotherhood a terrorist organization? First, there is near universal consensus in the analytical, academic and intelligence communities that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization. This is notable given the widespread and fierce disagreement among those experts about other questions, such as whether the Brotherhood is committed to democracy or can serve as a firewall against violent extremism. The Brotherhood’s political strategy and ideology emphasized patient social transformation and electoral participation rather than violent overthrow of regimes. It has consistently condemned acts of terrorism such as al-Qaeda’s attack on the United States. read the complete article

02 May 2019

Anti-Muslim hate is driven by politics, not faith — and it’s preventable, study suggests

Researchers say that anti-Muslim attitudes is influenced by a host of factors, from personal and national politics to how much a person knows about Islam itself — but not one’s own religious affiliation. The findings are part of this year’s American Muslim Poll, the fourth annual survey of U.S. faith communities conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C. The poll found that Muslims remain the most likely group to report experiencing religious discrimination. The ISPU’s annual Islamophobia Index, which measures the public’s endorsement of five negative stereotypes about U.S. Muslims, inched upward from 24 in 2018 to 28 in 2019. American faith communities differ greatly in their attitudes toward Muslims, with Jews scoring the lowest in anti-Muslim sentiment (after Muslims themselves), while white evangelicals score the highest. More than half of Jews — the group most likely to know a Muslim personally — report having favorable views of Muslims, but just 20% of white evangelicals — the group least likely to know a Muslim — hold positive views of Muslims. But a person’s faith appears to have no bearing on anti-Muslim sentiment, said ISPU director of research Dalia Mogahed. Instead, researchers found that partisan political ideologies are a much stronger predictor: Being a Democrat and identifying as a liberal is linked to lower Islamophobia. read the complete article

02 May 2019

New CAIR Report to Show How Anonymous Donors Use Mainstream Philanthropic Groups to Funnel Millions to Anti-Muslim Hate Groups

CAIR's report, "Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network," documents how more than 1,000 foundations funneled almost $125 millionto 39 anti-Muslim hate groups during that period, which saw a marked increase in anti-Muslim hate violence and discrimination.The money was used to support anti-Muslim legislation and policies, conduct anti-Muslim lobbying, distribute false and defamatory information to mainstream media and on social media, and run public campaigns promoting conspiracy theories tied to issues such as mosque construction. read the complete article


02 May 2019

The BJP's rise to political eminence lies in an old temple town

"How long should Hindus wait?" he says, echoing what millions of Hindus have been asking since 1992, when Babri Masjid, a 16th-century Mughal-era mosque, was demolished by a Hindu nationalist mob. The incident triggered countrywide religious riots that killed around 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.The event made the north Indian town with roughly 50,000 people the epicentre of Hindutva (the Hindu supremacist ideology) politics professed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP came to national prominence in the 1990s after it led a nationwide movement to build a temple in place of the mosque. The Hindu nationalist BJP was founded in 1980, but it actually emerged from the Bharatiya Jan Sangh party formed in 1951. For nearly three decades, the BJP has campaigned for a "bhavya" (grand) Ram temple in Ayodhya, a populist platform that catapulted the right-wing party from two parliamentary seats in the 1980s to political dominance. "They carefully chose Ram as their deity, because he appeals to a large section of Hindu society. Ram is venerated by every sect of Hinduism. So the movement for the liberation of Ram's birthplace became both a political and a religious movement," journalist Dhirendra K Jha, who co-authored the book, Ayodhya: The Long Night, told Al Jazeera. read the complete article


02 May 2019

'We will lose any hope of going home': Rohingya live in fear of resettlement

The only difference between a prison and the Rakhine camps is that in prison at least they know how long their sentence is,” says the 23-year-old, shaking his head. Mohammad is one of 128,000 Rohingya Muslims forced from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, and into camps after Buddhist extremists burned down their homes in 2012. For seven years, those who who did not flee across the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh have been penned in, denied access to education, jobs, healthcare or even the chance to “to go for a walk along the beach and rest under a tree”, says Mohammad. Despite pledges by the Myanmar government to close the camps, documents seen by the Guardian show the Rohingya will not be allowed to return to the homes from which they fled. Instead, rows of modular housing blocks being built next to the camps will be their new homes. There will be no land to grow crops or tend animals, no resumption of a traditional way of life or return to the city, where easy access to markets would allow them to sell their goods. Their movements will be restricted and, without identity documents, they will remain stateless, denied access to services and at risk of arrest if they should leave the compound. read the complete article


02 May 2019

Federal election 2019: Liberal candidate Jessica Whelan 'made anti-Muslim comments', Tasmanian Parliament told

Jessica Whelan is vying for the Labor-held Tasmanian electorate of Lyons, which has been considered by the Liberal Party as within reach. But social media posts Ms Whelan allegedly made, aired in Tasmania's Parliament on Thursday, have rocked her candidacy. Tasmanian Labor Opposition Leader Rebecca White told the Parliament Ms Whelan responded to a 2017 post about public housing waiting lists. Ms White told the Parliament Ms Whelan, when replying to another woman, said: "Given that your profile states you went to college at 'never lose hope in Allah' … I hope you're not bloody on our housing waiting list.Tasmanian Labor's deputy leader, Michelle O'Byrne, also claimed Ms Whelan posted a vulgar comment in response to a Facebook video, which purported to show non-Muslim American women praying alongside Muslim women. The video was titled "Feminists In America Begging For Sharia Law". Ms O'Byrne read what she said was Ms Whelan's response to the meme aloud in Question Time today. "Round them up Donald, cut their clitorises off and sell them to Muslims in Muslim countries and cancel their passports. You'll make a mint," she said the post stated. read the complete article

United Kingdom

02 May 2019

Hate crime in London soars since Christchurch attacks

There were 1,630 hate offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police in March. Of these, 156 were Islamophobic - almost double the number recorded the previous month. A monitoring group said the UK had seen an unprecedented spike in reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes since the attack in New Zealand. Tell MAMA said the almost six-fold increase in reports to its monitoring service was a reaction to the shootings at two mosques on 15 March which left 50 people dead. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 May 2019 Edition


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