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 2021

Today in Islamophobia: As another deadly wave of COVID-19 infections was swamping India, Modi’s government refused to cancel a giant Hindu festival. Additionally, local elections held in five states in the country over the weekend resulted in a loss for the ruling BJP. Meanwhile, Uyghurs living overseas continue to mobilize online and use social media to raise awareness about the Uyghur genocide, despite risk of surveillance from the Chinese government. In France, an open letter endorsed by 20 former generals of the French army is the latest in the country’s continued descent into Islamophobic political discourse and normalization of the far-right. Our recommended read of the day is by Erik Edstrom, a former combat officer who fought in the war in Afghanistan, which he describes as a “complete disaster.”

United States

05 May 2021

How American Politics Got Troops Stuck—and Killed—in Afghanistan I Recommended Read

But it was the Afghan people, not U.S. soldiers, who have been the greatest—and most numerous—victims of America’s longest war. Nearly 4 million Afghans have been displaced from their homes. Likewise, amid the fighting, the number of Afghan civilians who were injured or killed by our troops was multiples higher. “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said General Stanley McChrystal, then-senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan. When I returned to America, the war came home with me, along with the regret of having harmed the people of Afghanistan. When it comes to negative-sum financial profligacy, no event in American history rivals the War on Terror. The more America contributes—soldiers, taxpayer dollars, opportunity costs, global reputation—the more America continues to lose. At roughly $910 billion, which doesn’t include future costs like disability pay in perpetuity or servicing our debt obligations, the total operating costs of the Afghan War are greater than the cost of the Civil War (both sides), World War I and the Korean War combined. When it comes to our military, the mantra of the public has become: Thank, don’t think. To most Americans, insulated from its effects, war is elevator music. read the complete article

05 May 2021

Islamic advocacy group alleges hate incident at Cheshire prison

In a letter to Angel Quiros, acting director of the Connecticut Department of Correction, CAIR-CT Chairman Farhan Memon said Shem Brijbilas, a correctional officer at the Cheshire facility, had been “the target of repeated homophobic and anti-Muslim harassment by other officers,” including through a false incident report circulated among staff in April. The alleged report, framed to indicate it was written by Brijbilas, offers homophobic rhetoric, uses multiple racial slurs and suggests that Muslim-Americans are “inferior to the White Race” and should be on “bended knees to serve ... Aryan masters.” It ends with “God Bless the United States of White America,” written in all caps, and “HH,” a common white supremacist notation for “Heil Hitler.” read the complete article

05 May 2021

Muslim leaders forgive man accused of Moorhead mosque vandalism

Benjamin Stewart Enderle, 22, of Moorhead, was arrested on April 28 and faces felony harassment and criminal damage to property charges. The charges are enhanced because they involve allegations of bias against a protected class, prosecutors said last week. "It is the month of Ramadan, and forgiveness is the message we learn from the day we step into this world. With that in mind, we ... would like to let the gentleman who allegedly put graffiti and hate messages on our mosque know that we forgive him from the deepest of our hearts," said Sajid Ghauri, adviser for the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center. "Instead of coming in the dark, please come in light and talk with us," Ghauri said. "I guarantee you we will find lots of common ground and we will become good friends. Love is much more powerful than hate." read the complete article

05 May 2021

The many reasons it's wrong to ask a judicial nominee about their religion

This month, US President Joe Biden announced the nomination of Zahid Quraishi, a magistrate judge in New Jersey since 2019, for the United States District Court for New Jersey. If selected, it would make Mr Quraishi the first Muslim federal judge in America. And yet, even in the middle of his nomination hearings, a US senator asked Mr Quraishi: “What do you know about Sharia law?” This line of inquiry is problematic for many reasons. For one, it is the modern equivalent of the popular, last-century version of asking a Catholic politician, on the verge of taking public office, whether he or she will pledge "loyalty to the pope or the constitution". read the complete article

05 May 2021

US court keeps public out of hearing into death of Black Muslim man

A federal judge in the US state of Arizona ordered the public to be kept out of Tuesday's hearing regarding a $10m wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Phoenix and 10 of its police officers. The lawsuit was filed by the family of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr, who died in 2017 while being pinned down by police, with one officer having his knee pressed down on Muhaymin's head and neck - as shown in police bodycam footage revealed last year. The case has drawn comparisons with the police killing of George Floyd last year, and was revisited following the release of the bodycam footage. read the complete article


05 May 2021

India's virus surge damages Modi's image of competence

India's hospitals were packed with coronavirus patients, relatives of the sick scrambled to find supplies of oxygen, and crematoriums were running near full capacity to handle the dead. Yet despite those clear signs of an overwhelming health crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed ahead with a densely packed campaign rally. "I have never seen such a huge crowd before!" he roared to his supporters in West Bengal state on April 17, before key local elections. "Wherever I can see, I can only see people. I can see nothing else." As another deadly wave of COVID-19 infections was swamping India, Modi's government refused to cancel a giant Hindu festival. Cricket matches, attended by tens of thousands, carried on, too. read the complete article

05 May 2021

India’s ruling party just lost a key election. It’s worrying that they even stood a chance.

For the past few years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a far-right Hindu nationalist faction, have dominated national politics. Since coming into power in 2014, Modi and BJP have attacked the foundations of India’s political system, gradually undermining the guardrails protecting democracy. But this weekend saw a notable setback for Modi: an electoral defeat by a larger-than-expected margin. In local elections held in five states, the BJP lost the biggest prize: control of the Legislative Assembly in West Bengal. The defeat came amid gathering signs of trouble for Modi’s quest to dominate India — the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak, attributable in no small part to government policy, foremost among them. read the complete article


05 May 2021

Defying Chinese surveillance, young Uyghurs abroad speak up online

From her webcam switching on by itself to her laptop’s cursor moving around as she watches Netflix, it is a bugbear Ilham has learnt to live with since she started criticising the Chinese government for detaining her father, a Uyghur academic, nearly a decade ago. Ilham is part of a growing chorus of young Uyghurs living overseas who are mobilising online and using social media to campaign against forced labour in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, home to the Uyghur Muslim minority. Despite living abroad, many believe expanding their digital footprint through their online activism has made them - and their families - more of a target. “I do feel conflicted every single day. If I speak up about my dad, would they torture my dad? Is it going to cause more harm?” said Ilham. In March, Facebook Inc said it had blocked a group of hackers in China who used the platform to target Uyghurs living overseas by infecting their devices with malware that would enable surveillance. The social media giant said there were fewer than 500 targets, who were mainly from the Xinjiang region but primarily lived in other countries including Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia and Canada. read the complete article

05 May 2021

China policy debates lack Muslim voices

The mostly white, mostly male world of China analysis is starting to change as calls rise for more inclusion of women, Asians, Black people, and other people of color. But there's one group that so far has been largely overlooked — Muslims. Why it matters: The Chinese government is committing an ongoing genocide against Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, building on decades of repression against Chinese Muslims that was largely ignored in the West. A more diverse group of China policy analysts can help expand the bounds of traditional debate and bring a new perspective. read the complete article


05 May 2021

Hands off my hijab! Young Muslim women protest proposed French ban

The amendment to an 'anti-separatism' bill designed to strengthen France's secular values and which applies to girls under 18 has drawn outrage and prompted an online protest under the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab (#PasToucheAMonHijab) that went viral beyond French borders. "It's part of my identity. To force me to remove it would be a humiliation," Chourak said. "I cannot understand why they would want to pass a law that discriminates." "(The politicians) want our emancipation, they want to save us from this imaginary oppression, but it is they who are oppressing us," said medical student Mona el Mashouly, 25, in her home city of Strasbourg. read the complete article

05 May 2021

The Generals' Letter: Stoking the fire of French Islamophobia

France has crossed a new line in its continued descent into unspeakable levels of Islamophobic political discourse and normalisation of the far-right. Last week, the far-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles (Contemporary Values) published an open letter endorsed by 20 former generals of the French army, and signed by around 1,000 servicemen and women. The Generals’ Letter (as dubbed by the French media) is styled as a warning and a call to arms. It cautions that the country is heading into a “civil war,” that “France is in peril,” and faces “several deadly dangers.” Most importantly among them: “Islamism and the hordes of the banlieue,” (meaning “slums”) and “a certain anti-racism.” What specific form of opposition to racism is deemed an existential threat to the nation, is not stipulated. The letter blames the current “chaos” on the government’s supposedly “lax” approach to the Islamism and leftism. It warns - chillingly - of the necessary “intervention of our comrades on active duty in a perilous mission of protection of our civilizational values.” The letter does not come out of nowhere. It is the latest development of a theme that has dominated French politics in recent months: The notion that Muslims and their leftist allies are a dangerous fifth column which the Republic must stamp out if it wants to defend its values and way of life. read the complete article

Sri Lanka

05 May 2021

Sri Lanka Face Covering Ban Latest Blow for Muslim Women

Muslims in Sri Lanka already faced a growing list of discriminatory government policies before the cabinet approved plans on April 27 to ban women’s face coverings. If approved by parliament, the measure will outlaw garments worn by some Muslim women such as the niqab or burqa, increasing their social marginalization. After a similar ban was temporarily imposed following the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka documented numerous cases of Muslim women, including those legally wearing a hijab – a head covering that does not cover the face – being abused in public and denied access to public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and universities. This is only the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s latest assault on religious freedom. read the complete article


05 May 2021

Why do some Muslim-majority countries support China’s crackdown on Muslims?

Economic ties explain some of this surprising endorsement of the repression of fellow Muslims. My recent research suggests another part of the story has received far less attention: the significant increase in religious engagement between Beijing and these countries, which helps explain the enthusiasm from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt for the crackdown in Xinjiang. China has been able to align its hostility toward its Muslim population with the antipathy of these countries toward particular forms of political Islamism — ranging from mainstream political groups that want their governments to expand democracy, cut corruption and protect human rights, to more radical Islamist groups that denounce governments as apostates and puppets of the West. However, China and the Saudi-UAE-Egypt axis don’t share the same concerns about Islam: While Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt fear specific forms of political Islamism that challenge their legitimacy and regional standing, China fears the very “Muslimness” of its Islamic communities. By aligning its crackdown with the fierce hostility to political Islamism within Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, Beijing appears to be seeking legitimization from an unlikely source. read the complete article

05 May 2021

New Zealand draws back from calling Chinese abuses of Uyghurs genocide

New Zealand’s parliament will not debate a motion that would label the abuses of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, China, as acts of genocide. Parliament opted instead on Tuesday to water down the language, and discuss concerns about human rights abuses in the region in more general terms. It is expected the new motion will pass unanimously on Wednesday. However, it marks no deviation from the country’s current position. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 May 2021 Edition


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