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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04 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Muslim fruit suppliers in Noida, India, speak of discrimination and hostility. An op-ed argues that Trump closed doors to legal immigration as a distraction from his failures during the coronavirus pandemic. Our recommended read today is by Jayashree Bajoria on Islamophobia in India, and how it has been years in the making. This, and more, below:


04 May 2020

CoronaJihad is Only the Latest Manifestation: Islamophobia in India has Been Years in the Making | Recommended Read

Today, as the world battles coronavirus (COVID-19), which has already claimed thousands of lives, India is also battling another threat to life – Muslim hate. In recent weeks, social media and WhatsApp groups have been flooded by calls for social and economic boycotts of Muslims and there have been numerous physical attacks on Muslims, including volunteers distributing relief material, amid falsehoods accusing them of spreading the virus deliberately. It all started after the Indian authorities announced that they found a large number of coronavirus positive cases among Muslims who had attended a mass religious congregation in Delhi, organized by the international Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat. Even as the authorities raced to trace those affected, leaders from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had already called the Jamaat meeting a “Talibani crime” and “CoronaTerrorism.” Some mainstream media screamed “CoronaJihad” and the hashtag went viral on social media. The Tablighi Jamaat situation led the World Health Organization to caution: “It is very important that we do not profile the cases on the basis of racial, religious and ethnic lines.” Medical experts worried that such stigmatization of one community would do great harm during an epidemic, making people fearful, “leading to concealment of cases and delays in detection.” However, coronavirus has simply highlighted what Muslims have been increasingly facing in India since Modi’s BJP government was first elected in 2014. BJP leaders have repeatedly made Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim remarks in their speeches and interviews. These have, at times, encouraged and even incited violent attacks by party supporters who believe they have political protection and approval. They have beaten Muslim men for dating Hindu women. Mobs affiliated with the BJP have, since 2015, killed and injured scores of members of religious minorities amid rumors that they traded or killed cows for beef. Government policy has also reflected bias against Muslims. read the complete article

Recommended Read
04 May 2020

Over 1,100 activists condemn Delhi Police action against anti-CAA protestors amid lockdown

A group of 1,100 activists from across India have issued a statement condemning the arrests of Muslims and women activists in Delhi who were at the forefront of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Noting that these arrests were taking place at a time the country was in lockdown, activists have demanded that the Delhi Police make public the details of the FIRs, arrests and detentions with their legal status, and conduct a free and fair investigation into all the incidents of violence. A group of 1,100 activists from across India have issued a statement condemning the arrests of Muslims and women activists in Delhi who were at the forefront of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Noting that these arrests were taking place at a time the country was in lockdown, activists have demanded that the Delhi Police make public the details of the FIRs, arrests and detentions with their legal status, and conduct a free and fair investigation into all the incidents of violence. read the complete article

04 May 2020

India Muslims targeted in attacks over coronavirus

India has rejected a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which named it "a country of particular concern". Muslims have been attacked after a religious gathering in the capital allegedly led to a rise in coronavirus cases, with the minority being blamed for the spread of the disease. read the complete article

04 May 2020

Public Statement in Solidarity with Dr Zafarul Islam Khan

We strongly condemn the continued media trial and targeting of Dr Zafarul Islam Khan for his Facebook post thanking Kuwait for expressing solidarity with Indian Muslims. In his Facebook post, he mentioned the appalling deterioration of human rights of Indian Muslims who have been targeted by Hindutva bigots. A few politicians with ulterior motives and news channel anchors known for spreading bigotry and Islamophobia have mischievously sought to misinterpret his statement and ridiculously label him as anti-Hindu and anti-India. He has only reiterated what many citizens of India, public figures, international institutions, various European governments, the United States of America and United Nations human rights mechanisms have repeatedly underlined their concern at the increasing human rights abuse and violations of religious minorities in India. Dr Zafarul Islam Khan is a man of integrity. He is a scholar who is known to stand up for constitutional freedoms and values. read the complete article

04 May 2020

Indian Muslims Don’t Need Gulf’s Concern, They Need Modi’s Support

For the first time, civil society and the elite of several nations of the Arab world have expressed distress at the stigmatisation and vilification of Muslims in the wake of the Tablighi Jamaat episode. The Islamophobic social media campaign against the Tablighis has been backed by the virtual economic boycott of Muslim traders and vendors. It is not the GCC countries alone that have found India deficient in its treatment of Muslims. Other Islamic countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey were openly critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Recently, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom put it on the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ list. In GCC countries, where lakhs of Indians work, their religious identities never mattered – they are mostly referred to as ‘Hindi people’. This however, got altered with the vitriolic campaign when Hindutva votaries blurred lines between Tablighi Jamaat followers and other Indian Muslims, when Jamaat was portrayed as the representative of every Muslim in the country. Worse, displaying poor knowledge of Islam and sects and the myriad institutions within it, the Tablighi was presented as synonymous with jihadis and terrorists. No one in the Indian establishment has sent out an explicit message to sections that require urgent counselling, if not a blunt rebuke – the network of hate-mongers who saw in the Jamaat incident an opportunity to further polarise India on communal lines and solidify the BJP's core constituency. For fear of backlash from Hindus, most Opposition parties chose silence as their strategy. Modi must tell his cadre to stop stigmatisation of Muslims because it is ruinous to his successful campaign of bridging the Gulf and turning the Arab nations in his favour. The roundabout line that “COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or border before striking,” is insufficient to tell supporters to shut their Islamophobic campaigns. read the complete article

04 May 2020

‘We’ve stopped going there’: Muslim fruits suppliers in Noida speak of discrimination and hostility

Last week alone, two elected local leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh were caught on tape unleashing anti-Muslim slurs against fruit vendors in their constituencies. In Deoria, MLA Suresh Tewari was seen asking people not to buy vegetables from Muslims. In Lucknow, MLA Brajbhushan Rajput was filmed humiliating a Muslim vendor. After the lockdown, Imran, 24, was assigned to deliver fruits and vegetables in a few hotspots — all residential societies — in Greater Noida and Noida Extension. “We had a mobile stall near Gaur City in Noida Extension. We had to remove it,” Imran told Newslaundry. “On April 20, our boys returned from work and told me local residents were harassing them for being Muslims.” Imran claimed that residents asked the names of his associates and where they were from. He said: “Two days after their inquiry, the boys said they were asked to leave. I asked them to stop going there after that. The residents found one of their own choice, a Hindu, and he’s the supplier there now.” Khalid Khan, 30, another fruit vendor, moved his stall from a hotspot last week. “I had been assigned to Vishnoli village, a hotspot in Dadri, by the district magistrate’s office. Fruits and vegetables weren’t reaching there because of the quarantine,” Khan told Newslaundry. “I started going there in mid-April. For the first few days, people there bought whatever they needed. It seems like when customers were stocked up, they started spreading these ‘spitting’ rumours about us.” He added: “They were very brash with me and my boys, and said we put our saliva on fruits and vegetables. The village head was especially abusive. He accused us of selling at higher rates and said this is how these Muslims are.” On April 25, Khalid chose to abandon the venture. “This is happening because we are Muslims, and this never happened before,” he said. “I don’t understand why people have started behaving like this. I have seen these rumours spreading on WhatsApp but I just ignore them.” read the complete article

United States

04 May 2020

Chasing Safety

The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the start of the war, but also that that number is likely far higher. More than 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Yemen. Families are forced to flee their homes, many with just the clothes on their back, and cross deserts and mountains. Airstrikes have crumbled schools, and more than 130 medical facilities have been attacked. Yemen was one of the world’s poorest countries before the war and largely relied on imports for food and medicine. The war demolished any remaining hope for its people. More than 3 million Yemenis had been displaced by the ongoing conflict as of last year, and over 65,000 Yemenis had fled the country entirely. Few countries have provided relief for these refugees, including the United States; President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that barred entry to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen. The U.S. closed itself to Yemenis in spite of its own complicity in the war there: It has provided billions of dollars in weaponry and intelligence support to Saudi Arabia, which backs the Yemeni government, further escalating the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. Over the last few years, migration and immigration experts have witnessed the rise of an extraordinary phenomenon called “extra-continental migrants,” a term that refers to individuals who have tried to come to the United States by traveling across multiple continents. On a warm July evening in 2019, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi left for the long trip north with about $2,000 in savings and a backpack filled with food. They were joined by four other migrants and refugees ― three Yemenis and one Sudanese. The group mapped out a route that would take them along the Pan-American Highway, the longest road in the world. From Ecuador, Mahyoub and Al-Azabi would go to Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico before finally arriving at the U.S. border in Texas. read the complete article

04 May 2020

Opinion: Trump closed doors to legal immigration as a distraction from his failures during coronavirus pandemic

Trump’s executive order banned all immigration from abroad with few limited exceptions, potentially representing the greatest restrictions on legal immigration since the United States in the Immigration Act of 1924 imposed the first permanent annual quotas, which were heavily weighted in favor of Northern Europeans and banned all immigration from Asia. The new executive order is more of a political statement than a health or economic policy one. If short term, it may not have any major effect with American consular posts abroad temporarily closed for immigrant interviews due to the coronavirus pandemic. The statement that the executive order is effective only for 60 days provides one with little confidence given the fact Trump said that his original so called “Muslim Ban” — later re-characterized as a travel ban — would be effective for 90 days and now it’s been in effect for over three years. Furthermore, the president in his press conference indicated that he couldn’t tell when the executive order would be lifted. Stephen Miller, his White House adviser and long-term immigration restrictionist, reportedly said on a phone call that they had achieved their goal of significantly restricting legal immigration on a long-term basis. The rationale that would-be immigrants are a source of the coronavirus makes little sense. Prior to the issuance of any immigrant visa abroad, the applicant is required to be tested for any contagious disease by a doctor selected by the appropriate American consulate abroad. Furthermore immigrants far from being a burden on the economy have consistently led with the creation of small businesses and technological innovation, being a net plus for the economy. read the complete article


04 May 2020

Three More Indians in UAE Face Probe for Communal Social Media Posts

The UAE has taken interest in Indian residents’ social media activities after backlash from Arab intellectuals over reports of anti-Islamic posts by Indians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outrage in Arab social media had led even the Indian ambassador to UAE, Pawan Kapoor to remind Indian community in the gulf that both the countries share the “value of non-discrimination on any ground”. In 2015, UAE had passed a non-discrimination law which criminalised any hate speech on any media that aimed at stoking religious hatred or insulting any religion. Despite the warning, Gulf News reported that local companies took action again a chef, storekeeper and a cash clerk for their posts on social media which reportedly criticised Islam. read the complete article

04 May 2020

Rohingya survivors tell of misery and death at sea; hundreds still adrift

Rohingya refugee Shahab Uddin thought the wooden trawler he boarded in February would be his ticket out of a camp in Bangladesh to a better life in Malaysia. Instead, the voyage nearly killed him. The 20-year-old was among almost 400 survivors pulled from the water, starving, emaciated and traumatized after the boat failed to reach Malaysia and spent weeks adrift before returning to Bangladesh in mid-April. Hundreds more refugees are stranded on at least two other trawlers, rights groups say, as Southeast Asian governments tighten borders to keep out the new coronavirus, threatening a repeat of a 2015 boat crisis when hundreds of people died. The United Nations has implored authorities to let the boats land, but anti-refugee sentiment is surging in Malaysia and governments say borders are sealed to keep out the coronavirus. read the complete article

04 May 2020

Why we Rohingya refugees risk our lives at sea

In 2012, I was a student living in my ancestral home of northern Rakhine State in Myanmar. We lived with far-reaching restrictions that made it feel like I was born into a life of barriers and discrimination. We couldn’t move freely. I couldn’t even visit a friend in a neighbouring village without a permission letter from authorities, who would interrogate us with each simple request. We even had to ask local officials for permission to marry. Many of us couldn’t get an education. I was one of the lucky ones. But at school I was never equal in the eyes of my teachers, and other students called me racial slurs. I was tired of listening to it. The Rohingya and our neighbours, the Rakhine people, have their differences, but I wondered why there was so little respect between two communities that have lived side by side for generations. But I hit my lowest point in 2012, when a wave of violent conflict erupted in our communities. More than 100,000 people, many of them Rohingya, were forced into camps in other parts of the state. The restrictions on us Rohingya grew even tighter. There are no internships, no job placement schemes, no study abroad programmes for people like me. In a country where my very citizenship is denied, I didn’t even have a passport. This is why I connected with a smuggler, who told me he knew somewhere I could live in peace. He said I would be free to move anywhere I wanted, and even continue my education and achieve my career goals. He told me he could take me to India – for a price. I was terrified and confused. I didn’t know whether to believe him. I cried and cried, but I couldn’t help thinking that such a place must exist. This is why I left. In July that year, I paid the smuggler to take me from Myanmar, crossing the mountains for three days, to neighbouring Bangladesh. From there, we continued to India for another six days. We walked or took buses, hiding so we wouldn’t be caught. I felt terrified each time I saw someone who looked like a police officer or a soldier. read the complete article


04 May 2020

Rohingya refugees sent to remote Bangladeshi island after weeks at sea

Rohingya refugees believed to have spent weeks stranded on cramped boats at sea have been sent to a remote, uninhabited island by Bangladesh, while hundreds more remain adrift. Dozens of Rohingya landed on the coast of southern Bangladesh on Saturday, an official said, with some sent to Bhasan Char, a silt island in the estuary of Bangladesh’s Meghna River. Hundreds more refugees remain stranded on at least two trawlers between Bangladesh and Malaysia, according to rights groups, who say south-east Asian governments are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to turn away refugees. “A small boat carrying 43 people came to shore today,” the Bangladesh government official said. It is not clear how many have been sent to Bhasan Char. read the complete article


04 May 2020

French Muslims Face a Cruel Coronavirus Shortage: Burial Grounds

The pandemic that has upended much of the world has halted the tradition of many French Muslim immigrant families of repatriating bodies to their country of origin. And as most countries have closed their borders, it has also highlighted the challenging task of finding proper Muslim burial plots that are oriented toward Mecca. Such plots are significantly lacking in French cemeteries, a concern that many families from Northwest and sub-Saharan Africa have raised for decades. But the pandemic has helped reveal the full extent of the shortage while underscoring the broader struggle over the integration of Muslims in France. “Covid-19 has, unfortunately, hit the Muslim community with full force,” said Chems-Eddine Hafiz, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris. “This situation has been going on for years, and we are now paying a high price for it.” French Muslim communities have been calling for more space in cemeteries for years. But because of France’s strict secular laws, town councils — which manage the country’s cemeteries — are not required to create or extend religious plots. With about 25,000 coronavirus-related fatalities, France ranks among the top five most affected countries in the world. Although it is not known how many Muslims are among the dead, Muslim undertakers have reported being inundated with requests to arrange emergency burials or deal with repatriation. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 May 2020 Edition


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