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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31 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: The CEO of Volkswagen has defended the presence of a Volkwagen factory in Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of carrying out human rights abuses, meanwhile in Canada, an association that represents Newfoundland and Labrador’s Muslim population says a recent attack targeting two teenagers shows more needs to be done to stop hate crimes in the province, and in New Zealand, in the years before the deadly Christchurch attack, the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ) had warned authorities about rising Islamophobia and rising white nationalism, but no action was taken. Our recommended read of the day is by Samira Ahmed for the San Francisco Chronicle on how the standard response following a hate crime has been for the targeted community to “combat hatred directed at us by showing our love for America,” however, this never worked as it “aims to keep the racist hegemonic structure in place, rather than dismantle it.” This and more below:

United States

31 May 2022

No, showing more love for America isn’t the answer for hate attacks | Recommended Read

My first experience with overt bigotry played out on a Chicago street against the backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis unfolding thousands of miles away in Tehran. I was left reeling and confused. Why was he calling me Iranian when I was Indian, I wondered. Why was he telling me to go home when I was home? That terrifying incident — a moment in my childhood when life was shattered — became the cornerstone of my work: writing young adult novels where teens grapple not merely with identity but with defining themselves amidst impossible societal expectations. Why does your food smell weird? Your name is impossible to pronounce. This is America, why can’t you speak English? Go back where you came from! These discordant notes my characters hear are not merely fiction — Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, kids have been bombarded with those same racist insults for decades. Even though America is the only home they know. Even though America lauds itself for being a nation of immigrants. A country of the people, by the people and for the people. What AAPIs understand, innately, is that we are not the people most politicians are talking about. Every time hate crimes surge, we are commanded to do more to blend in. In the ’70s and ’80s, we were told to dress more American and speak English only. That was how we could fit in. There were no think pieces then touting the power of bilingualism. There was no crush of progressive private schools offering Mandarin or Arabic or touting the diversity of their student body. We are asked to combat hatred directed at us by showing our love for America. The aftermath of 9/11 saw another rise in hate crimes — most often directed toward Arab and South Asian Americans or those who “looked Muslim,” as if adherents of the most diverse religion on Earth were a monolith. My mosque on the Upper East Side in New York City handed out small American flags at a prayer service shortly after 9/11. Another mosque distributed American flag pins. This would protect us, the thinking went, this would prove that we were Americans, too. That advice has never worked. read the complete article

31 May 2022

It’s time for Biden to strongly attack the White-grievance industry

Biden is renowned for his expressions of empathy. But such language feels increasingly inadequate and, frankly, counterproductive in the face of nonstop political outrage. Now is the time for precise language. “Forces” are not the problem; one political movement encased within the Republican Party is. “Ultra-MAGA” ideas are not the problem; Republicans spouting anti-American ideas that threaten functional democracy are. It’s not the plague of “polarization” or “distrust,” some sort of floating miasma, that has darkened our society. Bluntly put, we are in deep trouble because a major party rationalizes both intense selfishness — the refusal to undertake even minor inconveniences such as mask-wearing or gun background checks for others’ protection — and deprivation of others’ rights (to vote, to make intimate decisions about reproduction, to be treated with respect). There is a through line between celebration of a defeated president who demeans women, excuses neo-Nazi marchers and refuses to accept election results and the GOP’s appeals to White grievance, contempt for political compromise and displays of toxic masculinity — which celebrate unbridled access to guns, excessive use of police force and authoritarian strongmen. The White-grievance industry (right-wing media, politicians, pundits, think tanks) keeps its voters in a constant state of rage over the loss of a society in which far fewer women competed with men in the workplace, White power was largely unchallenged, and diversity was less pronounced. And it has persuaded millions of White Americans that they are victims of “elites” or the media or globalism or attacks on masculinity or … something. It’s not hard to understand how we got here. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, wrote recently in Time about the MAGA formula, ascendant after the United States’ election of its first Black president: “the stoking of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-Black sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right.” read the complete article


31 May 2022

Truth emerges about Chinese repression of Uyghurs — no thanks to the U.N.

A consortium of U.S., European and Japanese media organizations has published an extraordinary cache of leaked photographs and documents from inside China’s vast system of “reeducation” internment centers, making plain beyond any doubt that millions of Muslim Uyghurs — including children and elderly people — have been oppressed since Beijing launched its program, officially labeled genocide by the United States, in 2017. The Xinjiang Police Files, as the cache is known, prove that, in a single Xinjiang county, 22,762 residents, more than 12 percent of the adult population, were interned in a camp or prison during 2017 and 2018. The files include the text of a speech in which the official in charge of the crackdown mentions President Xi Jinping’s detailed knowledge of the repression, and his orders to continue it. This devastating material, especially the images of clearly bewildered, even tearful, detainees, "blows apart the Chinese propaganda veneer,” as Adrian Zenz, a scholar at the U.S.-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who received, authenticated and collated the material, told the BBC. Yet Beijing insists on its coverup, with the Chinese Embassy in Washington declaring, in response to the Xinjiang Police Files revelations, that the critics are disseminating “lies and disinformation.” Which brings us to the just-completed six-day visit to China by Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and current U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Billed as the first such trip to China by an occupant of her office since 2005, it comes roughly three years since Ms. Bachelet first proposed a fact-finding mission related to the Uyghurs and six months since her office announced it was about to release a highly critical report on their plight. That report has still not been published, however. The timing of her visit, permission for which Beijing announced in March, creates an appearance that the document was withheld in return for access to China for Ms. Bachelet. read the complete article

31 May 2022

Leaked photos of Uyghurs interned at Xinjiang detention centres 'devastating,' says activist

Photos recently published online showing thousands of Uyghurs detained as part of China's secretive mass detention system in Xinjiang region have terrified Turnisa Matsedik-Qira. The nurse and deputy director of Campaign for Uyghurs in British Columbia lost contact with family members in the area four years ago. Now, she fears finding images of a relative or friend in the leaked database. "I am still very scared to look at all of them," she told CBC Radio's Day 6. "It looks like a lot of people are very familiar … it doesn't mean I know or I don't know [them]. It's that they are all Uyghur people." "If I see someone who I know — or my brothers or my cousins or my nephews — in the pictures, I don't know what's going to happen to me. I feel I am very fragile." The Xinjiang Police Files were published last week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group that includes journalists at the BBC and Der Spiegel. The files contain tens of thousands of images which have been published in their entirety online. read the complete article

31 May 2022

China: Volkswagen defends Xinjiang operations amid reports of human rights abuses

The CEO of German car manufacturer Volkswagenhas defended the presence of a Volkwagen factory in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of carrying out human rights abuses, during an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt. While several major corporations ended their operations in Xinjiang following US claims that China is committing "genocide" against the Muslim Uyghur minority, VW boss Herbert Diess said that the joint-venture partner SAIC Volkswagen would not close its factory there. In comments published Monday, he said the company had been active in Xinjiang for years, but that the "small factory" there was economically "insignificant." Asked whether VW would end operations in protest, Diess told Handelsblatt: "We could do that. But we won't, because we believe that our presence has a positive impact." The interview comes shortly after the release of the "Xinjiang Police Files" which document the scale and brutality with which the Chinese state oppresses the Uyghur people. Beijing has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uyghurs. German government ministers have called for Germany to reduce its dependence on China in response to the new details. China is one of Germany's largest trading partners. read the complete article

New Zealand

31 May 2022

How pleas for help in the lead-up to the Christchurch attacks fell through the cracks - Chapter 1: The Iceberg

For many, the terror attacks on the Christchurch mosques seemed to come from nowhere. But not everyone was blind to the looming danger. In this seven-part series See No Evil, Stuff investigates how a group of women desperately tried to get the attention of officials – and why they failed. In the months after the Christchurch terrorist attacks of March 15, 2019, the former head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Andrew Kibblewhite, gave evidence about what he knew – what the system knew – about the danger of white supremacy. “We weren’t unaware of a white supremacist threat, but it wasn’t where our focus was,” he says, in an interview with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 51 innocent lives at the hands of a white supremacist. The system, Kibblewhite says, saw the threat of the extreme right-wing as a “small iceberg”. After March 15, Kibblewhite admits, it was obvious they were wrong. “The iceberg was bigger than we realised, and it was our job, as a system, to know the size of that iceberg.” How did the system miss this iceberg, or at least the significance of it? How did no one see this iceberg coming? Stuff has spent months gathering insider accounts and scanning thousands of pages of documents – millions of words in which, from 2014 to 2018, the Muslim community was crying out. Our investigations have focused on one organisation in particular, the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ). On the surface, its lobbying was highly effective. Between 2014 and 2018, its members met with Cabinet Ministers, an intelligence chief, the police, and top civil servants. Time and again, Rahman says, they would be faced with the same response when they spoke to a room of officials. “They listen politely, and smile, and say, ‘Oh, yes, yes’,” she recalls. “And that’s it.” And, from the evidence seen by Stuff, she’s right. That’s it. No further action taken. At least, no further action that materially resolved the issues that had been raised. Sure, there were plenty of well-meaning people who tried; there was consultation and high-level meetings with people who wanted to help. But in the end, when you stand back, you can’t help but ask: what changed? A lot of things went round in circles. Some of what the women were talking about during their years’ long, relentless struggle for attention was hair-raising: increasing Islamophobia, blatant racist attacks and threats, and the looming shadow of the alt-right. read the complete article


31 May 2022

Words aren't enough to stop hate crimes in N.L., says head of Muslim association

The association that represents Newfoundland and Labrador's Muslim population says a recent attack targeting two teenagers shows more needs to be done to stop hate crimes in the province. In a press release issued Sunday, the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador said the rate of racist attacks is rising across Canada. "While racism and Islamophobia are certainly not as prominent in Newfoundland and Labrador as they are in the rest of Canada, the local incidents of the last few years suggest that we are not immune to such hatred," says the release. "As Muslim Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are concerned. We demand more concrete action for the prevention and elimination of racially and religiously motivated hate crimes against our communities." The association spoke out following an incident, reported by CBC News last week, in which two teenage Muslim sisters said a man yelled racial slurs and slapped one of them outside a St. John's restaurant where they work. The sisters say they were targeted because they're Muslim. They, and a friend who was with them at the time, wear hijabs. The girls reported the incident to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary but say police haven't been able to identify the man or lay charges. read the complete article

United Kingdom

31 May 2022

Muslim schoolgirl’s hijab ‘yanked off’ in bus stop assault

As the 16-year-old was on the way to school to sit an exam, she was approached by a woman outside the Christian Centre on Embankment Road, in Plymouth. Devon and Cornwall Police say the woman – believed to be aged 18 or 19 – was first arguing on her mobile phone a few seats away from the victim just before the incident on Friday morning. When the call ended she is understood to have angrily turned on the pupil, first barking ‘what’s your problem’, even though the girl later explained to officers she tried not to look in her direction. Without any provocation, the suspect then tried to punch her but missed before pulling her hijab from her head. A kind-hearted member of the public saw that the girl was upset and frightened, and accompanied her on the bus to make sure that she got to school safely. A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said the student was left ‘extremely upset’ by this assault, which is considered to be racially aggravated, and could not sit her exam as a result. ‘We believe that there was at least one other person at the bus stop who witnessed the incident,’ a statement said. ‘This was an unprovoked attack on a young female student on her way to school. ‘The motive for the assault is unknown but is considered to be racially or religiously aggravated because the female was wearing the hijab. read the complete article


31 May 2022

Gyanvapi row: Court hears arguments of Muslim side, next hearing on July 4

The district court here on Monday heard arguments on the maintainability of a plea by five Hindu women seeking permission for daily worship of the Shringar Gauri Sthal in the Gyanvapi mosque complex. District Judge AK Vishvesh posted the matter for further hearing on July 4. During the hearing on Monday, the Muslim side argued against the maintainability of the plea, District Government Counsel Rana Sanjiv Singh said. The counsel for the Hindu side, Vishnu Shankar Jain, told reporters that the court has categorically stated that the report on the videography survey of the complex will be made available to all parties. However, only the court will tell what will be the conditions for this, he said. The survey was conducted earlier this month on the orders of a lower court. The court fixed July 8 as the next date of hearing, he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 May 2022 Edition


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