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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20 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In China, a new report shows the impact of the forced sterilization of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang on the regions population, as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins a growing number of lawmakers calling for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, and in the U.K., the escalation of violence by Israel in occupied Palestine and increase in rocket attacks from Hamas has brought a rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes across Britain. Our recommended read of the day is by Cady Lang on the history behind France’s latest attack on the hijab and the rights of Muslim women. This and more below:


19 May 2021

Who Gets to Wear a Headscarf? The Complicated History Behind France's Latest Hijab Controversy

The conflict over one woman’s choice to cover her head comes in the wake of controversy surrounding an amendment passed by the French Senate last month that would ban girls under 18 from wearing the hijab in public. As part of a proposed “anti-separatism” bill, it was presented alongside amendments that would also prevent mothers from wearing hijabs on their children’s school trips and would ban the “burkini,” a full-body swimsuit. While some French politicians have defended the amendment as a reinforcement of the country’s adherence to secularism, others have slammed it as yet another instance of part of an ugly strain of Islamophobia in the nation, which is home to the largest Muslim population in Western Europe—a population that has experienced increased discrimination in recent years, in the wake of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years and the rise of far-right politics. But understanding why the hijab is the site of so much controversy in France also requires understanding the deep history behind the debate.While the proposed legislation still needs to be approved by the lower house of French Parliament before it can become a law, it’s already drawn significant backlash from many Muslim women around the world, who see the law as not only xenophobic and discriminatory, but an attack on their agency. “Banning the hijab is about colonialism,” Alia Al-Saji, an associate professor of philosophy at McGill University, tells TIME. “French colonization of Muslim countries was often about controlling and managing populations that were of diverse religions… The hijab is a way of clearly showing that you are Muslim, which is colonially constructed as being opposed to colonialism. But it’s also a site of potential resistance.” read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day

United Kingdom

19 May 2021

“My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” Says Rabina

Rabina Khan’s “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” is out TODAY, the 20th of May, 2021. It is a personal memoir ranging from the journey to wearing the veil, tackling the misconceptions and prejudices after having worn it, to the politics surrounding it around the world. “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” is an open and bold plethora of real life experiences that relates to everything and anything that has to to with the veil or hijab; it even addresses issues that most people may find too controversial for conversation, the “let’s not get in too deep” kind. That is why we need a book like this on every bookshelf; it’s a book that will stir up discussions that most choose to avoid, but NEED to have! read the complete article

19 May 2021

Israel-Gaza conflict triggers spike in antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate in UK

Reported incidents of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred are spiking in Britain because of the Israel-Gaza conflict, monitors have said. The Community Security Trust (CST) reported a 500 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents since clashes at the al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem. In the same period, Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama recorded a 430 per cent rise in reports of anti-Muslim hatred. Extremists, including neo-Nazis, have been trying to capitalize on the conflict while spreading hateful posts and conspiracy theories about both Israelis and Palestinians online. read the complete article

19 May 2021

UK police monitored thousands through Prevent-linked mental health hubs

Children as young as six are being referred to a mental health project run by counter-terrorism police as part of the UK government's controversial Prevent strategy, according to a report by medical human rights researchers published on Wednesday. Researchers said the project, in which health workers “monitored” thousands of people identified through Prevent referrals, raised “serious ethical concerns” and blasted it for “gross Islamophobic disproportionality”. Drawing on documents obtained through freedom of information requests, the report argues that "pre-crime" security concerns are influencing medical treatment. Case studies show that medical professionals have been encouraged to monitor patients based on concerns related to them being a “convert to Islam”. The documents also appear to show potentially coercive practices, including mental health assessments conducted in the presence of police. read the complete article


19 May 2021

Forced sterilization and Xinjiang's shrinking population

She was already beyond child-bearing age, but Qelbinur Sedik says Chinese authorities still forcibly sterilized her, part of what she describes as a systematic campaign to suppress births of Uyghurs and other minorities in the tense Xinjiang region. In 2019, Sedik -- then aged 50 -- says she begged authorities to spare her from being fitted with the compulsory IUD, as previous attempts resulted in severe pain and bleeding. So community workers gave her no choice but to be sterilized at a clinic in her home city of Urumqi, under threat of police action if she refused. "Why would they extend this to women aged over 50, who've gone through menopause and have no way of giving birth?" she told AFP from Holland, where she is seeking asylum. Sedik, who still suffers from chronic pain and abnormal bleeding, is an ethnic Uzbek, one of the Turkic Muslim ethnic groups that live in Xinjiang. In the northwest territory, official data shows birth rates have nearly halved between 2017 and 2019 -- the steepest drop of all Chinese provinces and regions in that time and the most extreme globally since 1950, according to an analysis by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Scholars and rights advocates say ramped-up birth control policies since 2017 -- including arbitrary quotas for sterilization and IUD insertion, and imprisonment for having too many children -- are part of a deliberate, state-backed attempt to suppress ethnic minority births in Xinjiang. These measures coincided with a mass internment campaign that has swept up an estimated one million Uyghurs and other minorities, which Beijing says is to eradicate Islamic extremism in the region after a spate of inter-ethnic violence and attacks. read the complete article

20 May 2021

Chinese authorities order video denials by Uyghurs of abuses

China has highlighted an unlikely series of videos this year in which Uyghur men and women deny U.S. charges that Beijing is committing human rights violations against their ethnic group. In fact, a text obtained by the AP shows that the videos are part of a government campaign that raises questions about the willingness of those filmed. Chinese state media have published dozens of the videos praising the Communist Party and showing Uyghurs angrily denouncing former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for declaring a genocide in the far west Xinjiang region. The videos, which officials have insisted are spontaneous outpourings of emotion, have also featured prominently in a series of government news conferences held for foreign media. But the text obtained by AP is the first concrete confirmation that the videos are anything but grassroots. Sent in January to government offices in the northern city of Karamay, the text told each office to find one Uyghur fluent in Mandarin to film a one-minute video in response to Pompeo’s “anti-China remarks.” read the complete article

19 May 2021

The Uighur slaves of the supply chain: The story of Xinjiang's cotton industry

China is the workshop and supplier of the world, eager to pull innumerable monetary and political levers to maintain that status. A highly surveilled and repressed population could be grist for that particular mill, and a resource to be exploited in China's hungry labour market. Early last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute published 'Uyghurs for Sale', an extensive report detailing how Uighurs found themselves, as a result of the state's attempts to destroy their culture and prevent them from practicing collective politics, enmeshed within China's system of state capitalism. The report is not comprehensive, but it lays out a general case: that Uighurs from Xinjiang province in the west of China were shipped out as impressed labour across the country – sent to factories and workshops across China – where they were forced to work in some of China's manufacturing jobs, some were sent straight from the gates of internment camps. Wherever they were dispatched from, these workers were unable to go home. Because Uighur slave labour is so diffusely spread around, those international bodies and campaigns which organize against the genocide had difficulty gaining purchase. The Australian report was not conclusive and later reporting indicated that as well as shipping Uighurs out to the national Chinese labour market, the authorities in Xinjiang had begun to build factories in the internment camps themselves, adding another grim layer of complexity. read the complete article


19 May 2021

India: Century-old mosque razed in defiance of court order

Officials in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh have allegedly bulldozed an old mosque, triggering anger and anguish among the Muslim minority, with a prominent community organization saying it will approach the high court over the matter. The Ghareeb Nawaz Al Maroof Mosque, which residents in the state’s Barabanki district say was nearly 100 years old, was demolished on Monday evening by the local administration after hundreds of policemen surrounded the area and halted the movement of people to prevent any protest. Since 2017, Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state with nearly 220 million residents, almost one-fifth of them Muslim – is governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with a controversial saffron-robed monk Yogi Adityanath, known for his anti-Muslim hate speech, as the state’s chief minister. On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, a Muslim body that looks after mosques and other community assets in the state, condemned the demolition and said it was done in defiance of a court order to halt demolitions of alleged “illegal structures” until May 31 in view of the coronavirus pandemic. read the complete article

United States

19 May 2021

For Jews on the right and left, Reps. Omar and Tlaib are centerstage

AIPAC, the prominent pro-Israel group, spent roughly $2,000 on a series of Facebook advertisements this week attacking progressive Democrats. While one featured Pocan in a collage of five members of Congress, Tlaib, who represents the Detroit area, was at the center of that image. Another image singled out Omar, who is from Minnesota, and juxtaposed her with Hamas rockets shooting into the night sky. “When Israel targets Hamas,” the ad read, “Rep. Omar calls it an ‘act of terrorism.’” Omar had, in fact, Tweeted on May 10 that “Israeli airstrikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism.” But her office was quick to condemn the AIPAC advertisement — a spokesman called it “blatant Islamophobia.” AIPAC told the Forward in a statement that the ad was “completely fair and accurate.” The spat, along with a photo of Tlaib addressing President Biden on an airport tarmac in Michigan that went viral and served as the centerpiece of the front page of The Washington Post Wednesday, was a reminder of the outsized attention the two women have drawn since their election in 2018 when it comes to the political conversation around Israel. “AIPAC and other Israel hawks have spent decades dehumanizing Palestinians, pushing Islamophobic propaganda, and trying to convince our community that criticism of Israeli policies from people of color is inherently dangerous and antisemitic,” said Morriah Kaplan, a spokesperson for the left-wing Jewish group IfNotNow. read the complete article


19 May 2021

Comments under Australian media stories negative about Muslims are 'Petri dishes' for racism

The comments sections underneath opinion pieces on Australian media websites are "Petri dishes" where racism grows and flourishes, new analysis suggests. Islamophobic beliefs are normalized in the comments on opinion pieces expressing negative views on Muslim people as people with similar views embolden each other, the research from anti-racism organization All Together Now suggests. Though these comments are often expressed relatively politely, they still convey racist ideas. "The impact race-related media pieces have on people is tangible and our report shows the dangerously polarizing effect they can have," All Together Now managing director Priscilla Brice said. read the complete article


19 May 2021

Every U.S. Lawmaker to Call for Boycott of China's Winter Olympics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has joined a growing list of lawmakers calling for a diplomatic boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing over China's human rights record. The Chinese government has drawn scathing criticism from the West for its mass internment of Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang and its violent clampdown of protests in Hong Kong. Both issues have cast a giant shadow over the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are set to be staged in China for the first time. Beijing is set to be first city in the world to host the Summer and Winter Games—it played host to the 2008 Olympics. Pelosi and fellow politicians have criticized U.S. companies that are Olympic sponsors for their silence over Beijing's human rights record. "What I propose—and join those who are proposing—is a diplomatic boycott," the House speaker told a bipartisan congressional hearing on the issue on Tuesday. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 May 2021 Edition


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