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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05 May 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S, minorities bear the brunt of inequality, COVID-19 and hate. India cracks down on Muslims under cover of the coronavirus. Our recommended read today is by Ben Lorber on the scapegoating of ultra-orthodox Jews, and how it mirrors Islamophobia. This, and more, below:

United States

05 May 2020

'Primitive, Diseased Invaders' Threatening America: How Scapegoating ultra-Orthodox Jews for Coronavirus Mirrors Islamophobia | Recommended Read

I’ve found that anti-Haredi anti-Semitism often looks different than the white nationalist anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and rightwing scapegoating of "globalists" and George Soros, that many are used to encountering. In many ways, the tropes that, time and again, demonize Haredim as backwards invaders, are similar to the xenophobia and Islamophobia we see on the rise across America, in the era of Trump. Echoing national anti-immigrant discourse, residents and elected officials in the New York and New Jersey suburbs have long warned of an "Orthodox invasion," depicted growing Haredi populations as a "viral spread" or "infestation" across communities, and complained that taxpayer dollars subsidize the unproductive lifestyles of unwanted outsiders. There are also strong parallels with contemporary Islamophobia, which similarly scapegoats Muslims as backwards, primitive religious fundamentalists. Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, it is said, remain mired in premodern superstition, rejecting science and progress, stubbornly unwilling to assimilate into Western legal systems and cultural norms. Both groups, it is claimed, are held captive by a totalizing religious law, incompatible with, and indeed hostile to, civil law, the Constitution, and secular society. In different contexts, Haredi yeshivot and Muslim madrassas are both proclaimed sites of indoctrination, where children are denied a secular education and inculcated into religious backwardness, fanaticism and intolerance. The construction of Haredi synagogues and Muslim mosques is vociferously opposed through incessant recourse to bureaucratic and legal "practicalities," matched with a simmering undertone of cultural resentment. Religious courts deciding issues of Jewish halakha and Muslim sharia are derided as inherently hostile to civil law and the constitution. Both groups are accused of plotting to create a "state within the state," their benign establishment of communal institutions read, by the gaze of the majority, as a hostile conspiracy of subversion. Both groups are painted as unpatriotic and disloyal to broader society, concealing their true motives to outsiders while speaking freely in the privacy of the in-group.Of course, there are limits to these comparisons. Haredi neighborhoods are not feared as breeding grounds of extremism and political radicalization, marked as national security threats, or targeted for deportation by the state - all threats faced regularly by immigrant and Muslim communities. American Jews, Haredi or otherwise, do not currently face anywhere near the same level of exclusion, demonization, and systemic oppression faced by Muslims or non-white immigrants across the American body politic. The situation in the Hudson Valley and Ocean County suburbs, moreover, is complex, and many residents voice legitimate concerns around issues like overdevelopment, property tax allocation and public school funding that are not always rooted in anti-Semitism. read the complete article

Recommended Read
05 May 2020

15 Funerals a Day: The Pace of Death Stuns Brooklyn Muslims

All day long, wood coffins are carried in and out of Al-Rayaan Muslim Funeral Services in Brooklyn. They do this an average of 15 times a day in recent weeks. Before coronavirus hit, the home was holding only 20 to 30 funerals a month. Many of the dead are immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and some don’t have family in the United States. Mourners nearby are asked to join in the recitation of the Janazah — a Muslim funeral prayer. Since the coronavirus took hold of New York in March, burial rituals in the city have become more complicated. Funeral homes everywhere are backed up and overwhelmed. Many, like Al-Rayaan, have had to rely on refrigerated trucks to store the dead since social distancing restrictions, along with a significant spike in the number of deaths in the city, slowed down the pace of burials. It’s particularly disruptive for Muslims, who rarely practice embalming and whose religion dictates that the dead must be buried quickly. read the complete article

05 May 2020

Minorities bear brunt of inequality, COVID-19 and hate

COVID-19 has ripped off any cover that still obscures the deep inequalities burdening communities of color in America — inequalities that have in a few months’ time become too obvious and too ugly for the rest of us to ignore. Americans at large are now clearly dependent for their sustenance, if not their survival, on their countrymen of color, on recent immigrants and on those with different-sounding names: the medical personnel, the food industry, public transit and nursing home workers, and many others. The communities carrying the nation on their backs happen to be the same ones suffering from the virus in disproportionate numbers. In metropolitan areas across the country, black and Hispanic Americans account for wildly out-of-whack percentages of those stricken, a function of inferior access to health care, frequently inadequate housing and high-risk jobs. “The very communities of color bearing the burden of this pandemic have been bearing the brunt of systematic inequities since long before COVID-19,” said Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. “Residents of color are over-represented in the case counts and also make up more of our front-line workers risking their health to keep everyone safe and sound.” And it will be those communities that will also bear the brunt of the job losses soaring daily and the suffering associated with them. Two weeks ago, the ADL released a list of examples of the harassment and threats to which Asian Americans were subjected in the first half of April alone. These included racial slurs, physical assaults, threats of violence, racist graffiti and Facebook vitriol. Last week the ADL reported on anti-Muslim bigotry in a time of pandemic, exposing “American anti-Muslim ideologues propagating a range of conspiracy theories aimed at stoking fear, claiming Muslims are defying social distancing rules and actively trying to spread the virus.” read the complete article


05 May 2020

Poster Prohibiting Entry Of Muslim Traders Put Up In Indore Village, Police Files Case

A case has been registered against unknown persons after a poster prohibiting the entry of Muslim traders was put up in a village in Madhya Pradesh's Indore district. The poster was removed by the police on Sunday, April 3, after pictures of the poster started making rounds on social media. "Muslim vyapariyon ka gaon mein pravesh nishedh hai (Muslim traders are not allowed in the village)," read the poster, which was reportedly signed on behalf of residents of Pemalpur village in Depalpur tehsil. The incident came to the fore after Congress leader Digvijay Singh retweeted a post that carried a photo of the poster and said, "Such discrimination in the society is not in the interest of the country." Addressing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state police, the former CM asked, "Is this act not against the appeal of Prime Minister Modi? Is this act not a criminal offence as per our law?" read the complete article

05 May 2020

1,100 Feminists Condemn Crackdown on Muslim Women Anti-CAA Activists

As many as 1,100 feminists from all over India – including organisations and individuals across a wide cross-section – have issued a solidarity statement, condemning the targeted crackdown on Muslims and women activists in Delhi who had been visible in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. The signatories noted that the Delhi Police, “at the behest of the Union home ministry is brazenly rounding up people under the cover” of the COVID-19 lockdown. The statement also underlies the harm caused by linking the peaceful protests that began in December to the riots that took place in Delhi in February. It also asks why cases have not been registered against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Pravesh Verma, who made incendiary statements that are believed to have led to the violence in northeast Delhi. read the complete article

05 May 2020

Hate Goes Viral in India

COVID-19 has crippled nearly every aspect of governance and public life in India, with one exception: the department of hate and fake news. Not only is hate-mongering doing well, almost every Islamophobic hashtag is, for lack of a better word, going viral. For the past two months, Indian social media has been awash in Islamophobic content that’s tried hard to link the COVID-19 pandemic to Muslims. “This wave of communal propaganda began right after the news of the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco broke,” said Pankaj Jain, fact checker and founder of SMHoaxslayer. The case with the Tablighis was far from exceptional. The group became a spark for Islamophobic propaganda, which conveniently ignored similar problems with roots in non-Muslim communities in India. On that same day that the now infamous Tablighi gathering began in March, the Health Ministry of India told the Press Trust of India: “Coronavirus is not a health emergency.” Screening was far from watertight at airports and many people slipped through the checks, bringing the virus home. Testing rates remain abysmal, even now. read the complete article

05 May 2020

India cracks down on Muslims under cover of coronavirus

Indian police are arresting high-profile Muslim activists and ordinary civilians under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic in a crackdown that follows anti-government protests and communal riots this year. Over the past five weeks since India imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of the disease, New Delhi police have been “indiscriminately” arresting people, lawyers and activists said. The controls on movement were limiting detainees’ access to legal assistance. Criminal lawyer Nitika Khaitan said at least 50 people had been questioned, detained or arrested in connection with the riots in February, which killed more than 50 people. “We have been receiving daily calls from people for help,” said Ms Khaitan, who is part of a collective of lawyers offering assistance to those affected by the violence. “We fear that arrests happening now are not on strong grounds.” Rightwing Hindu politicians have cast coronavirus as a Muslim disease while pro-government television channels have declared war on “corona jihad". Rightwing groups have distributed saffron-coloured flags, the colour of the ruling party, to identify Hindu food vendors after rumours spread over social media that Muslims were spitting on fruits to deliberately spread coronavirus. Academics said the pandemic has amplified the religious prejudice that has defined Mr Modi's second term in office after he won a landslide election in 2019. read the complete article

United Kingdom

05 May 2020

Islamophobia: Muslim women’s experiences in Scotland

Journalist Tasnim Nazeer was the victim of Islamophobia in Glasgow city centre when out shopping with her children. She was verbally abused by a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs, and only escaped unharmed thanks to the intervention of a passer-by. Her experience led her to explore the enduring issue of Islamophobia. She spoke to three Muslim women in Scotland about their experiences of hatred, and what it’s like to be a Muslim woman living in Scotland in 2020. Nearly three-quarters of Muslim women in Scotland have experienced Islamophobia. This shocking statistic was revealed by the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group to tackle Islamophobia, led by Labour MSP, Anas Sarwar. The group is an attempt to help Scotland demonstrate leadership to the rest of the UK and the world in taking action against anti-Muslim sentiment. However, hate crimes continue. Islamophobia affects Muslims in work, schools and in public. Many Muslims have reported being fearful to leave their homes in case they face verbal or physical abuse and some feel they are outsiders in their own country. read the complete article


05 May 2020

Dozens of refugees stranded at sea to be quarantined on controversial island

Dozens of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea for weeks are being quarantined for coronavirus on a remote island in the Bay of Bengal after docking in Bangladesh on Saturday. The 29 refugees, mostly women and children, were taken to the cyclone-prone island Bhashan Char -- also known as Thengar Char -- in order to protect the sprawling refugee camps of Cox's Bazar from the spread of Covid-19, Bangladesh Naval Lieutenant Abdur Rashid told CNN. Cox's Bazar, home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees, has been in strict lockdown since early April -- only very limited movement is allowed within the squalid cluster of makeshift camps. The refugees now on Bhashan Char were among hundreds of Rohingya Muslim refugees trapped at sea for weeks in "appalling conditions" after trying to flee to Malaysia, according to a statement from the European Union. The stateless ethnic minority are not recognized as citizens by their home country of Myanmar, despite tracing their roots there for centuries. Bangladesh has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled on humanitarian grounds, but they are not afforded any rights there and are confined to refugee camps. Authorities are still investigating where the group sailed from. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 May 2020 Edition


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