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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24 May 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., Palestinian American Muslim lawyer Tahanie Aboushi is running to become Manhattan’s next district attorney, as in China, investigations find that an Imam from Xinjiang’s largest mosque has been incarcerated by the state since 2017 , and in the Spanish city of Ceuta, residents are responding to the arrival of thousands of African immigrants with sympathy, concern and in some cases hostility. Our recommended read of the day is by Brent Huffman on Pakistan’s recent deportation policy for Uyghur Muslim refugees escaping persecution in China. This and more below: with sympathy, concern and in some cases hostility.


21 May 2021

Pakistan Is Cracking Down on Uyghur Muslims Who Fled China

Khan is a school teacher turned activist who, under enormous risk to himself and his family, is running an underground railroad allowing Uyghurs like Ghafoor to escape China. In the past decade he has helped dozens of families flee this persecution. “If I don’t help them, who will?” he said. “I have helped many Uyghur families resolve their issues and God willing, I will keep doing this in the future.” But the situation in Pakistan has rapidly deteriorated. Pakistan is no longer a safe haven for this Muslim minority group. Under pressure from the Chinese government, Pakistan’s police are now deporting Uyghurs back to China, and an uncertain future. Pakistani authorities are under huge pressure from China owing to CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $62 billion (about £44 billion) economic project consisting of multiple loans from China to be used for infrastructure, power plants, telecommunications, and schools. CPEC is the flagship project of the $8 trillion One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, an ambitious re-imagining of the historical silk road trade networks connecting China to the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Even though Pakistan is the only country in the world created as a Muslim nation, the promise of Chinese money seemingly overpowers the desires to stop what is happening to Uyghur Muslims. “The Pakistani government will do anything China orders them to do. Uyghurs are suffering so much because of CPEC,” said Ghafoor. Due to CPEC, Ghafoor fears that he and his family are not safe in Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities have threatened to send him and his family back to China where they will be separated and where Ghafoor, his wife and teenage sons will be sent to the camps. “If I return to China with my family, God knows if we would survive,” said Ghafoor. Umer Khan is trying to find them a safe haven in another country like Turkey or even Afghanistan. But China has made the immigration process nearly impossible for Uyghurs with Chinese passports, by confiscating or not renewing their travel documents. Khan is pleading with the UN for help. Pakistani authorities have also begun collecting biometric data on all Uyghurs living in Pakistan. Khan holds up a document handed out to households in Islamabad – the questionnaire asks about religious affiliation and family history. “For us this is more dangerous than bullets or bombs. They want to see how many ‘real Uyghurs’ are present and can be removed from Pakistan,” he said. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
22 May 2021

Don’t let Middle East violence fuel hatred on the streets of Britain

All over the world, we have lived together for more than a thousand years. And today, we find Muslim and Jewish communities living harmoniously side by side in Manchester, Leeds and right across the UK. Our shared history binds us together and yet sometimes it appears to drive us apart. It is in Jerusalem that our histories converge most abruptly and together, we have looked on in horror and heartbreak as the recent events in Jerusalem and across Israel and Palestine have unfolded. The forced eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, protests by the extremist Kahanists and the shocking scenes at Al-Aqsa mosque have rocked Jerusalem and its residents. Hamas has fired an indiscriminate and continuous hail of rockets at Israel, while retaliatory airstrikes by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have rained down on Gaza. But as always, it is innocent civilians who paid the price, with the death toll now well over 200, including countless children. While the majority of those killed were Palestinian, we mourn every death as a tragedy and recognize the toll this conflict has wreaked on all citizens in Israel and Palestine. Any ceasefire must herald a renewed international effort for meaningful and lasting peace. To achieve this, the international community must ensure innocent civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinian, are protected and supported to rebuild their lives and embrace a new era of reconciliation and unity. Our message to Britain’s Muslims and Jews – our friends, our neighbors – is simple: despite our emotional turmoil, we cannot and should not hold each other responsible for the events in the Middle East. Just as the Jewish communities in Prestwich or Alwoodley are not responsible for the actions of Netanyahu’s government, neither are Muslims in Longsight or Harehills responsible for the actions of Hamas. This may appear to be common sense – something that should not need to be said. But each time violence escalates in the Middle East we see a rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the UK. Last week, the Community Security Trust recorded a fivefold increase in the number of antisemitic incidents reported over the past few weeks, while in the same period Tell Mama recorded a 430% in reports of anti-Muslim hate. Social media has – characteristically – become a cesspit of antisemitic and Islamophobic abuse. read the complete article

21 May 2021

Uyghur Muslims living in UK don't know if family left in genocide are dead or alive

“I last heard from my parents in 2017. I don’t know if they’re dead or alive.” This is what one Uyghur living in the UK, a mum-of-three who can’t be named for her own safety, told the Mirror. This is a common story amongst Uyghur Muslims living in the UK, whose relatives back in China are victim to what many have called a genocide. Imprisoned in camps, they are made to learn Chinese history, the language and watch state-produced broadcasts, documentaries and speeches by leading politicians as a part of their ‘re-education’. Women are subject to forcible sterilization and endemic rape and many Uyghur Muslims are sent off for forced labour. Current estimates are that there are more than one million people in these camps, and analysis of satellite images suggests there are at least 380 camps. Uyghur Muslims are often incarcerated for something as simple as outwardly practicing Islam, having WhatsApp on their phone, or traveling abroad. None of the Uyghur Muslims who live in the UK and spoke to the Mirror can be named for their own safety. One Uyghur Muslim told the Mirror: “My relatives are detained and I don’t want to speak in case they get punished.” In the UK, Uyghur Muslims live in fear for loved ones, cut off from them, not knowing if they’re dead or alive, in the camps or at home. read the complete article

21 May 2021

Latest Gaza conflict fuels anti-Semitism, Islamophobia across U.S., Europe

The recent escalation in violence between the Israeli military and Hamas in Gaza has had a ripple effect around the world, with reports of several incidents fueled by anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Research from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, shows that anti-Semitic and Islamophobic sentiments spike when conflicts escalate in the Middle East. In the United Kingdom, the Community Security Trust reported a 500% jump in anti-Semitic incidents since clashes at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Islamophobic incidents are up 430% since the same date, per Tell Mama, an Islamophobia monitoring group. read the complete article


22 May 2021

BJP ‘anti-Muslim’, vaccines will ‘sterilise’ us — why these Bihar Muslim villages shun Covid jab

Muslims in many Bihar villages are reluctant to get vaccinated, with their hesitancy having little to do with faith as the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) and other Islamic religious scholars have already backed the Covid-19 vaccination drive. Instead, deep-rooted insecurities, ill-conceived apprehensions, a distrust of the Modi government and a lack of information have all meant that fewer Muslims are getting the vaccine in the northern state. “There are a lot of rumors but the vaccine being a sterilizing agent is one of them making the rounds in the Muslim community,” Bimla said. Bijay Kumar, block monitory and evaluation assistant at Bochahan block, said there is “enormous misinformation” among the Muslim community of the block. “We get to hear rumors like vaccines sterilize people or that it’s Modi’s ploy to control the Muslim population,” he said, however, adding that “educated Muslims have come forward and got vaccinated”. The vaccine hesitancy is also driven by what some here termed as the “BJP’s anti-Muslim policies”. “We can’t ignore the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens, Ram temple etc,” said a villager in the Masjid Tok locality. “So it’s clearly a wicked ploy to reduce our population in the garb of vaccinations.” read the complete article

21 May 2021

Officials take police action against leaders of bulldozed mosque in India

A local administration accused of illegally tearing down a mosque in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has filed a police case against nine local Muslim leaders who challenged the demolition. On Monday, Masjid Gareeb Nawaz Al Maroof in Barabanki district was bulldozed without notice after it was declared an illegal structure by the local administration, which had contested its presence. The demolition provoked outrage and fear in the local community and across India, with the administration accused of inflaming religious tensions in the area. Local muslims said they fled after the demolition and the members of the committee that ran the mosque went into hiding. The committee said the demolished mosque was at least six decades old, and have documents including a 1959 electricity bill and a notarized 1991 land survey map to prove its long-time presence in Barabanki. A statutory body overseeing the mosque, known as the waqf board, said it was “a century old” and locals said their grandfathers and great-grandfathers used to pray there. Documents show the mosque was registered as a “waqf property” in 2019, meaning it was an officially registered mosque and not under the jurisdiction of the local administration. It was only around 2019 that it became mandatory for many mosques to be registered with the state waqf board. Following the public outcry that followed the mosque’s demolition, on Thursday evening a local administration official lodged a police report, known as an FIR, against all eight members of the mosque committee and an officer from the Uttar Pradesh state waqf board. It accused them of fraudulently registering a structure “illegally built on government land” as a waqf mosque in 2019, without informing the local authority. The local authority alleged to police that there was a conspiracy by the mosque committee and waqf board to get the property registered as a mosque and subsequently claim illegal ownership of government land. read the complete article


22 May 2021

Food, shelter, beatings: Border city divided over migrants

Residents of Spain’s multi-ethnic city of Ceuta are used to being in the news every time the fragile alliance between Spain and Morocco shakes up. For many “Ceutis,” as locals are known, that comes with being a speck of a European nation in North Africa. The city is culturally closely intertwined with Morocco, with Muslims making over 40% of its population, but also separated from it by high perimeter fences that set apart the two extremes of poverty and prosperity. But when relations hit a two-decade low this week over Spain’s help to one of Morocco’s top enemies, “Ceutis” confronted the sudden arrival of thousands of African migrants with sympathy, concern and in some cases hostility. In one neighborhood, Muslim women, moved by the plight of young Moroccan men, gathered in a traditional house to sort out and distribute donated clothes. They also cooked food and offered migrants sleeping in the streets a place to shower. The women said the migrants could be their children — and that their plight brought memories of past times when the migrant flow was in the opposite direction. “I remember my mother telling me they were migrating too, people didn’t have anything to eat and were going to Morocco,” said 75-year-old Aisha Ali Mohammed, who was among those sorting through garments. “Now they are migrating here.” Dozens of migrants gathered for respite outside of Nawal Ben Chalout’s family home, where she had shifted around to give shelter to three young men. “The boys are very confused, very scared, I talk to them and they ask for food,” Ben Chalout said, adding that her neighbors were also opening their doors to offer a place to sleep and eat. “Sometimes they don’t even want food. They have questions, they want information.” Vox, Spain’s new far-right party, has referred to the influx of migrants as an “invasion,” but the term has been also used by some conservatives, including the autonomous city’s president, Juan Jesús Vivas. His government said more than half of the city’s children skipped school on Tuesday because their parents feared instability in the streets and some shops closed, fearing looting from cashless migrants. But Fouad and others directed their anger at the Moroccan government for using them as pawns in the diplomatic impasse with Spain. read the complete article

23 May 2021

Hundreds of child migrants crammed into warehouses in Ceuta

Hundreds of children and teenagers are crammed into warehouses or sleeping rough in city parks in the Spanish north African enclave of Ceuta as their fate remains up in the air days after thousands of migrants arrived in the city. More than 8,000 migrants last week crossed into the seven-square mile territory – many of them swimming or piling into flimsy inflatable rafts to skirt the breakwater that marks the border with Morocco – amid reports that Moroccan officials had relaxed controls over the border last week . At least two people died attempting the crossing. About 7,000 of those who crossed into Spain have since been sent back across the border, according to Spanish officials, but the city has identified 438 children and teenagers who arrived unaccompanied by adults and more are being rounded up as social services workers scour the city’s parks and streets. “We’re working to address the issue of children who have come alone,” Spain’s minister for social rights, Ione Belarra told Spanish broadcaster RTVE. “It’s important to understand that we’re seeing children that are much younger than the usual – children of seven, eight, nine years old.” Many of them have been sent to warehouses turned into shelters in order to carry out 10 days of coronavirus quarantine under police watch. Several minors who have managed to slip out of the warehouses have complained that the crowded, inadequate facilities meant that they had gone days without hot meals – surviving instead on provisions such as apples, yogurt and sandwiches – while a lack of beds had left many of them sleeping on the floor. “I would prefer to sleep in an abandoned car, like I did the first few days here. It’s more comfortable, ” one youth told “I want to get out of here,” another told El País, after capturing video that appeared to show a bathroom floor covered in excrement after the toilets had stopped working. read the complete article


23 May 2021

Ex-Muslim leader at China's biggest mosque in Xinjiang incarcerated

A former Muslim leader at China's largest mosque in the country's far-western Xinjiang region was incarcerated by Chinese authorities in 2017 as he was accused of having spread extremism, sources close to the matter said Sunday. In addition to the person who led prayers in the mosque, other religious leaders have been also detained, the sources said, amid accusations that the Communist-led government has infringed on the human rights of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the region. The former imam at the Id Kah mosque was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the sources said. China's move may come under fire from the United States and other democratic nations that have lambasted the alleged repression of the Uyghurs as amounting to a "genocide." read the complete article


22 May 2021

Suu Kyi to appear in court soon: Myanmar junta

Myanmar’s ruling military junta said that deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was overthrown in a February coup, will appear in court in the coming days, her first public appearance since being deposed. "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is in good health. She is at her home and healthy. She is going to face trial at the court in a few days," junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said in an interview with Phoenix Television, according to excerpts released on Saturday. The court appearance will mark the first time Suu Kyi will be seen in public since the military took over and enacted a harsh crackdown on Feb. 1. She has thus far appeared only by video link for court proceedings. More than 4,200 people in Myanmar have been arrested, charged or sentenced, and 815 have been killed by the junta. read the complete article

21 May 2021

Spiraling conflict in Myanmar sends thousands fleeing as military targets rebels

The military seized the town of Mindat, unleashing a “four cuts” strategy used against other minority groups, including Rohingya Muslims in 2017. Troops arriving in helicopters fired heavy artillery at civilians, according to residents, and cut off the supply of food and water. Soldiers raided homes where they suspected militia fighters were hiding, and shot a 10-year old girl in the neck, local media reported. Most of the 12,000 residents in the urban area fled into the hills, where they forage for food and sleep in makeshift shelters. “Our Chin state used to be peaceful, but this is a new experience for us,” said one of the resistance fighters, who would be identified only by his tribal forename, Salai, for safety reasons. “We are running and hiding in the middle of these bullets and bombs.” Almost four months since Myanmar’s military ousted the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, resistance to the coup is intensifying beyond street protests and civil disobedience. Though the cost of fighting back is high — more than 800 have been killed, mostly peaceful protesters and bystanders — militia groups are now taking up arms against the overextended military as the country speeds toward collapse and thousands of refugees pour into India, Thailand and China. Myanmar’s military, also known as the Tatmadaw, has been fighting armed ethnic groups on its border regions for decades. Since the coup, many of these groups have condemned the military and declared any previous cease-fire agreements invalid. Clashes have erupted again between the military and groups like the Karen National Union and the Kachin Independence Army, destabilizing the region. But militias such as the Chinland Defense Force, which attacked the military in Mindat, are a new phenomenon. When the military began to open fire on peaceful protesters — often aiming at the chest or head, and killing children — communities started organizing and arming themselves to protect their towns and neighborhoods. Horsey said there is a “big range” in capabilities between these new militias, some with not much more than a Facebook page and others with “real military capability.” read the complete article

United States

23 May 2021

Meet the Palestinian-American Lawyer on the Way to Becoming the USA’s First Female Muslim District Attorney

If you’ve followed Tahanie Aboushi’s ongoing race to become Manhattan’s next district attorney, heard about the high-profile cases she’s tackled over the past decade as a civil rights lawyer, or asked her about either of the above, you’ll have witnessed an unadulterated fearlessness that is rare in American politics today. Nothing, it seems, can scare this woman: not the trolls, a rancorous side effect of simply existing as a woman of color; not the New York Police Department (the largest police force of its kind, with an eye-watering annual budget of US $11 billion; not even former President Donald Trump, no aside necessary. “My identity is what got me into politics before I could know who I was, or who I wanted to be,” says Aboushi, one of 10 siblings born to Palestinian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up a Muslim American, especially in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Aboushi’s heritage and faith became increasingly prevalent in the chary eyes of her peers. She decided to embrace these parts of herself fully, and with resolve. “This was the life that was chosen for me, and whether I bury my head in the sand, whether I look the other way, it doesn’t make me any safer or more accepted,” she says. “And it doesn’t make my neighbors any safer or more accepted, either.” It's Aboushi’s story and identity that make her candidacy for Manhattan DA – one of the most influential ranks in US politics – unlike anything her city or her country has seen before. Unsurprisingly, it’s a role that, in the last century, has been filled exclusively by white men, none of whom have ever walked in the shoes of those directly impacted by their actions. Aboushi has walked in those shoes, and for miles on end. She’s got a pair of her own, too. What’s more: she would be the first woman and the first person of color to hold this office in Manhattan, and the first Muslim DA in the nation’s history. The way she sees it, this office has long operated as an obstacle to progress for criminal justice reform, which is why it needs to be dismantled from the inside out. This requires standing up to Manhattan’s powerful and privileged – something former DAs have consistently failed to do, she asserts, pointing to the decision to drop a promising criminal fraud investigation against Trump and his children prior to his presidency. read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 May 2021

Jewish groups condemn Tommy Robinson after he attends pro-Israel march

Jewish community groups have denounced the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson after he appeared at a pro-Israel rally in central London on Sunday. The former English Defence League leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, joined a demonstration organized to support Israel holding a placard which said “Free Gaza from Hamas”. The rally’s organizers, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, said they could not control who turned up at their public events but tweeted “any & all supporters of extremism are never welcome”. Many Jewish groups were quick to emphasize they opposed Islamophobia among Zionists as much as antisemitism among the pro-Palestine movement. Britain’s largest Jewish advocacy group, the Board of Deputies, also tweeted its own condemnation of Robinson after a video of him at the pro-Israel rally circulated online. “Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) & supporters of far-right extremist organizations like the English Defence League are not welcome at our community’s events. “Their message of hate and division must be confronted and defeated. We utterly reject their bigotry.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 May 2021 Edition


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