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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28 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Anti-Semitic crime rises in Germany; tinned pork is left outside a Muslim family’s home in the U.K. USAID comes under fire for appointing new religious advisor with a long history of Islamophobia. Our recommended read today is by Shivam Vij on India’s fake news factories, and how they are following a distinctly anti-Semitic playbook. This, and more, below:


28 May 2020

India’s anti-Muslim fake news factories are following the anti-Semitic playbook | Recommended Read

The Lincoln incident had a history and a future. It was preceded by years of rumour-mongering about Jews carrying out human sacrifice (of Christians, of course). So this incident became believable: the owner of the well was tortured into confessing. The case became famous, with ballads and nursery rhymes written on it. This is how anti-Semitism went mainstream. This trick is known as the Jewish or anti-Semitic canard. And there have been many kinds of anti-Semitic canards for centuries. One such was seen during a pandemic. The plague in the 14th-century Europe, better known as the “Black Death”, killed millions of people. A canard was spread that the Black Death was caused by Jews who poisoned wells. This led to the massacre of many Jews. That’s eerily similar to what we have just seen in India. Fake news that Muslims were spitting and dropping currency notes have been deliberately floated to spread the canard that they are responsible for Covid-19. This fake news surge led to incidents of Muslims facing economic boycott and demands to that effect, all of which were amplified by memes and cartoons. In Delhi, a Muslim was beaten up, accused of ‘Corona Jihad’. In 2018, the fact-checking website AltNews put out a long list of examples of fake news where Muslims are accused of crimes they never committed, in order to produce a narrative that Hindus are under siege — “Hindu khatre mein hai”. In the short run, this helps in shifting attention away from the Narendra Modi government’s failures. So, Covid-19 is spreading, the fake news factories suggest, not because of the Modi government’s delay in testing and arranging personal protective equipment (PPE), but because Muslims are actively spreading it. This also helps in standard Hindu-Muslim polarisation, preventing a BJP voter who may be unhappy with the economic situation or has other grievances from voting for another party. Genocide is a big word not to be used lightly. Yet, the similarities between the Jewish canard in Europe and the Muslim canard in today’s India should make us look at the long arc of history. If we don’t stop these fake news factories today, we might be writing a terrible, terrible history of our time. read the complete article

Recommended Read

United States

28 May 2020

New USAID religious-freedom adviser has history of anti-Islam comments

USAID officials confirmed to me that Barsa chose Mark Kevin Lloyd to be USAID’s new “religious freedom adviser.” His first day was Tuesday. In 2016, the Associated Press reported that Lloyd (then the Trump campaign’s Virginia field director) had made and shared several Islamophobic posts on his personal social media accounts. On June 30 of that year, he shared a post on Facebook that called Islam “a barbaric cult,” the AP reported. Four days after the Orlando terrorist attack that same June, he shared a meme saying potential gun buyers should be forced to eat bacon. In another post, Lloyd wrote that “those who understand Islam for what it is are gearing up for the fight,” the AP reported. Those post are no longer public, but Lloyd’s Facebook account as of Tuesday still shows public posts where he accuses Barack Obama of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and says people who believe Islam is a peaceful religion don’t understand history. “No one with a history of spewing hatred and bigotry has any place helping to lead one of our government agencies,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) told me. “It’s especially outrageous that someone with a track record of Islamophobia would be put in a role dealing with religious freedom.” read the complete article

28 May 2020

Social media bias lawsuits keep failing in court

An appeals court in Washington, DC just rejected a complaint by Laura Loomer, the conservative activist who was banned from Twitter for anti-Muslim tweets and later chained herself to the company’s headquarters in protest. Loomer argued that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple had all colluded to suppress conservative content, violating Loomer’s First Amendment rights in the process. The court disagreed and threw out the suit. It’s convenient timing, given that President Donald Trump has spent the past day excoriating Twitter for its alleged bias. Trump threatened Twitter after it applied a fact-checking label to his tweets, threatening some kind of unknown action to “strongly regulate” or close down sites that “silence conservatives’ voices.” Anti-bias lawsuits — where people argue Twitter, Google, or Facebook are discriminating against them for political reasons and legally obligated to carry their speech — offer an illuminating look at why Trump’s boldest threats are probably bluster. Courts across the country have repeatedly defended social networks’ rights to ban at will. If Trump wanted to shut down sites that went against his wishes, he’d need to basically upend this precedent. read the complete article

28 May 2020

USAID called to fire new religious adviser over anti-Muslim posts

Muslim Advocates and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for Mark Kevin Lloyd's dismissal on Wednesday following a string of now-deleted comments on Facebook and Twitter, which were posted when he served as the Trump campaign's Virginia field director. In two different tweets made weeks apart in 2016, Lloyd called Islam "a barbaric cult", and said that the religion was "violent in its doctrine and practice". Lloyd started his new position at USAID on Tuesday. The $31bn agency is charged with providing economic, security and health assistance to some of the world's poorest countries. Madihha Ahussain, the special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, said it was a cruel joke for USAID, an agency tasked with overseeing foreign aid and development efforts, to appoint an anti-Muslim bigot as a religious freedom adviser." "Mark Kevin Lloyd should be removed from his post immediately. Someone who has broadcast this kind of hateful and dangerous rhetoric should have no place in our government and certainly should not be advising a federal agency on religious freedom," Ahussain said. USAID officials told the Washington Post that Lloyd was chosen for the position by John Barsa, who the White House - without consulting the State Department - controversially named acting administrator of the aid agency last month. read the complete article

28 May 2020

Bullets fired at Indianapolis mosque during holiday celebration

The Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network (IMAN) and an Indianapolis mosque are calling for a hate crime investigation after shots were fired at the Muslim place of worship on Sunday. According to a press release from IMAN, some members of Masjid-e-Noor were gathered Sunday evening to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan when “bullets penetrated the windows and nearly struck some of the congregants, in an apparent hate crime against the mosque.” A police report filed by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department confirms officers responded to reports of shots being fired into the mosque located at 5355 Lafayette Road Sunday around 9:20 p.m. That’s near the intersection of Lafayette Road and West 52nd Street on the city’s northwest side. read the complete article

28 May 2020

'Just Let the Patriot Act Die You Cowards': House Lawmakers Urged to Vote Down Flawed Domestic Spy Bill

Progressive privacy advocates and civil libertarians on Wednesday called on constituents to urgently call their representative in the U.S. House and demand they vote against a surveillance bill that would allow the Justice Department and FBI to spy on the internet browser histories of people living in the United States—including citizens and undocumented immigrants. After an amendment designed to strengthen the bill was dropped, opponents said it was vital for the bill—a version of which passed the U.S. Senate by a single vote last week—to be defeated outright. read the complete article


28 May 2020

From Niqab To N95

In 2010, France passed a law prohibiting people from wearing clothing in public that covers your face. And although many blasted the law as Islamophobic, the "burqa ban" remains in place today, punishable with a fine and citizenship course. But as the country begins to emerge from lockdown, wearing masks is mandatory in public places such as schools and on public transport. Shop owners can require customers to wear them as well. And while the government does not see any conflict between the laws - one is to promote gender equality and the other is to maintain public health - the situation has left many, including some French Muslims, smirking at the apparent irony. In this episode of Rough Translation, we look at how the mask is changing the way people relate to each other in a country where until recently, it was your civic duty to show your face to all. read the complete article


28 May 2020

House sends Uyghur human rights bill to Trump's desk

Lawmakers in the House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to sanction Chinese government officials responsible for internment camps in the region of Xinjiang, where up to 2 million ethnic Muslims have been forcibly detained. The legislation, titled the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, condemns the Chinese Communist Party for the detention centers and recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in the region. It passed with a vote of 413-1. Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie was the sole opponent. "Beijing's barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscious of the world," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the vote Wednesday. "This House of Representatives, in a very strong bipartisan way, we are sending a message to the persecuted that they are not forgotten. We're saying to the president of China: you may tell these people that they are forgotten, but they aren't." The Senate approved the bill two weeks ago. Now, it will go to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature. On Tuesday, he did not say whether he will sign it, telling reporters he is "taking a look at it very strongly." The White House declined to comment when asked about the legislation Wednesday. read the complete article

28 May 2020

What Muslim digital community organizers learned from a remote Ramadan

Young Muslims’ efforts to keep their communities connected during the holy month have birthed virtual iftars, Quran study groups, game nights and trivia nights on nearly every possible platform: Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, the Discord gaming chat app and even the video game Animal Crossing. While originally meant as stopgap measures to replace the community fostered during in-person Ramadan get-togethers, organizers of many of these digital efforts say, participants quickly realized they had tapped into something special — not just a replacement for mosques — by going online. “I think that’s 100% our biggest takeaway,” said Uneeba Mubashsher, a Toronto-based user experience researcher who co-founded Remote Ramadan 2020. “Going into this, everyone thought that Ramadan in community would be completely lost, but we can actually build meaningful relationships with technology.” Re-creating the experiences of communal iftars and reflection circles virtually ended up adding something new — something many say they don’t want to forfeit when their mosques reopen. Take Chit Chat Chai. The group was founded last year by junior doctor Inayah Zaheen as a “social-spiritual” discussion circle for women at her suburban London mosque. This Ramadan, the group was forced to go digital. Members use a WhatsApp group to keep connected and coordinate their weekly Zoom get-togethers. “While we missed having that palpable sense of chatter in the air while hosting in-person sessions, there was a beauty in the shared sisterhood we were able to foster digitally,” Zaheen told Religion News Service. “Alhamdulillah (praise God), going digital in the context of lockdown was a huge blessing, whereby we were able to extend our reach.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

28 May 2020

Tinned pork left outside Muslim family’s home during Ramadan

A Muslim family spoke of their shock after discovering tinned pork products placed on their wall and that of their neighbour when returning home one evening. The incident occurred during the final week of the holy month of Ramadan in the Birmingham area. The family added that such an incident had never happened in the area before. Tell MAMA has long documented how perpetrators have targeted the homes or vehicles of Muslims with pork products – from placing rashers of bacon on car door handles or pushing them through letterboxes. Nor have Islamic institutions (and their proposed locations) been immune from such visceral anti-Muslim and Islamophobic incidents either in recent years. Just last week, the Jamia Masjid Sultania in Sneinton, Nottingham, had pork drippings, raw meat, dog waste and soiled nappies tossed into their car park. In a Facebook post dated May 20, the mosque revealed that Nottinghamshire Police are also investigating a string of threatening letters sent to the mosque. read the complete article


28 May 2020

Anti-Semitic crime rises in Germany, most from far right

Overall, politically-motivated crimes were up 14.2% in 2019 over the previous year, which is the second highest level since authorities began tracking such crimes in 2001, Seehofer told reporters in Berlin. Crimes by the extreme left rose the most, increasing 23.7% to 9,849, but the majority of politically motivated crimes were from the extreme right, with 22,342 cases and an increase of 9.4%. At the same time, crimes linked to a foreign ideology dropped 23.7% to 1,897 and those motivated by a religious ideology fell 27.5% to 425. “The largest threat, as in the past, is the threat from the right,” Seehofer said. “Extreme-right politically motivated cases make up more than half of all of such recorded crimes — it is an order of magnitude that causes us concern, great concern.” Nearly 40% of all political crimes were classified as “propaganda crimes” — such as displaying banned symbols like the swastika. Violent crime dropped 15.9% to 2,832 cases. Of particular note was a 13% increase in anti-Semitic crimes to 2,032, more than 93% of which were attributed to the far right. Similarly, anti-Muslim crimes rose 4.4% to 950, more than 90% at the hands of a far-right perpetrator. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 May 2020 Edition


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