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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09 May 2019

Today in Islamophobia: Rohingya women and girls are trafficked to Malaysia for marriage. An op-ed warns that India’s tilt to the Hindu-right will not be easy to reverse. The U.S. travel ban forces families to wait years to see their loved ones, while a Republican state congressman peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Today’s recommended read chronicles journalist Ann Scott Tyson’s experiences reporting on Chinese surveillance of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.


09 May 2019

Reporting in Xinjiang: ‘A war zone with no war’ | Recommended Read

In the fall, Ann reported a three-part series for us on the repression in the region. She previously reported from China in the 1980s and early 90s. She also spent a decade as a war correspondent in Afghanistan and Iraq after the U.S. invasion. ANN SCOTT TYSON: So I was in my hotel room in Hotan and at about five something in the morning I am woken up by this blasting shrill Chinese propaganda music. And I get up, open the window and literally this music – it’s pitch dark outside. The town is quiet. I mean everybody’s asleep. You could see some flashing lights of police cars. You see a gigantic red and white propaganda billboard across the street. And it was two platoons of the People’s Liberation Army that were jogging through the town and had ended up at this track that they were jogging around. ANN: It occurred to me how perhaps a few years ago you might have still heard the call to prayer from mosques in the area. Many, many mosques have been torn down. No one’s worshipping at the mosques anymore because they’re too afraid to. There are no calls to prayers from the mosques. And I was reflecting on what it is like for the Uyghur population – the Uyghurs are the minority group that predominantly live in Xinjiang – to be woken up with this in-your-face reminder of the government and the oppressive system that they’re living under. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day
09 May 2019

Beijing’s Persecution of the Uyghurs is a Modern Take on an Old Theme

In its public relations effort to redefine the mass detentions as an exercise in civic engagement, the regime is following a pattern that is well established in the playbooks of history’s most malign dictatorships. After first denouncing reports of forced labor camps as slander, the Stalin-era Kremlin explained that the camp system served to transform people with deviant political views into ideologically committed Soviet citizens. The Nazis presented their concentration camps as akin to reformatories for juvenile offenders, and even produced a notorious propaganda film about the Theresienstadt camp that showed contented inmates playing soccer, learning carpentry, and tending to gardens. Likewise in China, television propaganda shows Uyghur “cadets” undertaking “vocational training” and learning Mandarin. According to the official narrative, the camps are not prisons but rather centers for career growth and education where Uyghurs are transformed into productive Chinese citizens. Another parallel between China under Xi Jinping and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin is the campaign to neutralize the Uyghur intellectual class. The Uyghurs today are enduring a campaign that is similar in scope, if not always in brutality, aimed at prominent cultural and scholarly figures. Among the most devastating blows was the 2014 arrest of Ilham Tohti, a distinguished Uyghur economist and advocate of interethnic understanding. After a two-day trial, Tohti was convicted of “separatism” and sentenced to life imprisonment, an unusually harsh term for a prisoner of conscience. read the complete article

09 May 2019

China tries to thwart CNN probe into detention camps | Video

CNN's Matt Rivers explains why his investigation into Chinese facilities that the US says are detention camps is so difficult and why it's important. "This is one of the biggest human rights stories on earth and as we saw, China is actively trying to cover it up." read the complete article


09 May 2019

Rohingya women, girls being trafficked to Malaysia for marriage

There is increasing concern about the number of young women and girls being smuggled across borders to marry Rohingya men abroad. The Kutupalong settlement in Cox's Bazar, from where the women are plucked, grew into the world's largest refugee site in 2017, after a Myanmar military operation described as "genocidal" by the UN targeted the majority-Muslim minority. According to Rohingya activists and rights groups, dozens of women are now regularly arriving in Malaysia to marry Rohingya men, reviving a form of transnational human trafficking that once moved thousands of Rohingya a year. "We travelled by land, occasionally changing cars. We started in the camp and went up to the Indian border, then we headed to Malaysia. There were three of us: another woman and a man - the trafficker," Begum told Al Jazeera. "I didn't know the trafficker, so I was scared of being harassed by them. I've heard stories before about traffickers raping women, sexually harassing them and beating people, so I was scared." The marriages and travel are often arranged by Rohingya men, previously smuggled into Malaysia themselves but usually unable to marry local women. Without documentation, they are unable to travel back to Myanmar or the refugeecamps in Bangladesh to get married, so send proposals through friends and relatives and make arrangements for marriages that do not involve much consent from the girls. read the complete article

09 May 2019

Swept up in Muslim genocide crisis, Hindu Rohingyas are stuck in Bangladesh

More than a million Rohingya have fled Myanmar to settle in at least 27 camps in neighboring Bangladesh. The refugees are commonly recognized as a Muslim minority group that has been persecuted for its members’ faith by authorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. But outside the largest camp, Kutupalong, approximately 500 Hindu refugees live in a heavily policed settlement that looks more like a village than the crammed camps the Muslim refugees live in. The crisis has largely focused on the Muslim refugees, but these Hindus have their own set of problems. The Hindu families began arriving in Bangladesh along with the Muslim Rohingya in late August 2017, after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a militant Rohingya Muslim group, attacked 30 Myanmar military outposts, kickstarting the exodus of some 700,000 Rohingya. Invested in keeping the country a Buddhist-majority land, the Myanmar government had already stripped Rohingyas’ citizenship rights in 1982, claiming they were illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The 2017 attacks began what United Nations investigators have called a genocidal crackdown. read the complete article


09 May 2019

India election 2019: The mystery of India's 'missing' Muslim politicians

63-year-old Shakeel Ahmad is a former member of the main opposition Congress party. But in April, when the party announced that it would not field him as a candidate in Madhubani, he did something unprecedented. He resigned, ending his decades-long association with the Congress. He then filed his nomination as an independent candidate from the same seat, which he has won twice before. It was a startling decision - and one that was spurred by widespread Muslim support. It revealed the resentment and frustration among Indian Muslims who are increasingly concerned about their shrinking political representation. The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded just seven Muslim candidates in the ongoing general election - it's contesting 437 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament. It had fielded the same seven candidates in 2014 too, but none of them won. It was the first time in India's history that the government had no Muslim members of parliament. read the complete article

09 May 2019

India’s tilt to the Hindu-right will not be easy to reverse

Among the reasons for wanting a change is a perceptible deepening of the religious divide in India with the ruling federal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Delhi pushing an agenda that aims to give primacy to the majority Hindu community at the expense of the minority groups mainly Muslims and Christians. But the question is whether a change in government in Delhi can bring the situation to an even keel. From all indications, it looks like the communal polarisation is deeper and may take much longer if at all, to re-secularise the country. The Muslim community which largely has been in the cattle business has found to its dismay that they are unable even to engage in trade for legitimate purposes. A Human Rights Watch report said at least 44 people have died in cattle-related violence in the last five years. Lynchings on this scale were unheard of until 2014. Even the marginalised Dalit community which engaged in skinning dead cattle for leather has come under attack with several in the community being beaten up for their activity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

09 May 2019

Amplifying Islamophobic hate crime: UK media in the wake of terror attacks

Our research shows that in the UK, minority Muslim communities now face surges in hate crime that are especially evident after terrorist attacks far from where they live. Recent CEP research offers new, large-scale quantitative evidence on the local impact on Islamophobic hate crime and incident occurrence following ten international jihadi terror attacks. It uses rich, high frequency administrative data from Greater Manchester Police in the period from 2008 to 2018. The unique nature of the data, and the unpredictability of terror attacks, provide a quasi-experimental setting allowing reliable conclusions to be drawn on the temporal impact of jihadi terror attacks on local Islamophobic hate crimes and incidents, the direction of causality between media and hate crime, and on the characteristics of hate crime perpetrators and their victims. Having access to offender data allows for a novel study of the characteristics of perpetrators of Islamophobic hate crime. Such offenders are older and more likely to be white as compared to other offenders. Interestingly, on average they commit crimes in slightly larger groups than other types of crimes. Whilst 60% of offenders live within 2km of the location of the committed hate crime, they tend not to live in the neighbourhoods of their victims, but in the neighbouring places. read the complete article

09 May 2019

Under Siege For His Comments About Rape, UKIP’s Star Candidate Carl Benjamin Has Recruited Milo Yiannopoulos To Join His Campaign

Two days after police revealed they are investigating Benjamin for talking about raping the Labour MP Jess Phillips in a YouTube video, UKIP’s most prominent candidate is scheduled to appear with Yiannopoulos in the southwest of England for the first of a series of public events around the UK. Yiannopoulos is a British former technology journalist who became a star in ultraconservative circles in the US as an editor at Steve Bannon's Breitbart News. In 2017, a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed that Yiannopoulos had played a key role in introducing extremist white nationalist ideas into the mainstream of American politics in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. read the complete article

09 May 2019

Britain used to ask Muslims to move here. What happened to us?

In the current climate of Islamophobia, I wonder how many British people are aware of a series of films made in the early 1960s, which were expressly designed to encourage people from Arab countries to come to Britain to work or study. The four films, all in Arabic, were made on behalf of the Foreign Office, and all begin with a mosque skyline and melodic chants of “Allahu Akbar”, the start of the Muslim call to prayer. They are unapologetically religious, eager to show Arabic-speaking Muslims how welcoming Britain is, how Islamic institutions exist in Britain to cater to their cultural and religious traditions, as a friendly home from home. The films were designed solely for showing abroad and were probably never seen in the UK at the time. The reason I know about them is because a Syrian cotton merchant I interviewed in Manchester sent me the link to them. I watched them as part of the research for my book about a textile merchant from Homs who came to Bradford in the early 1980s as an economic migrant, bought a failing mill and built up a global trade in broadcloth while other Yorkshire mills closed down. read the complete article

United States

09 May 2019

Travel ban forces Americans to wait years for loved ones

Their mother, Amena Abdulkarem, is stuck in Yemen with her two younger sons, the boys’ brothers. She’s been waiting three years for a visa to come to the United States to join her husband, Sadek Ahmed, and the children.Their family’s situation is representative of the toll that the Trump administration’s travel ban has taken on an untold number of families. Ahmed, a 31-year-old school maintenance worker in New York and a U.S. citizen, and other Americans with relatives from countries targeted by the ban see no end to their separations. And they say they have no idea how to get a coveted waiver created, but seldom issued, by the government to help families avoid being apart for so long. The travel ban’s effect has been stark: Almost 38,000 people seeking immigrant or tourist visas have been blocked from the U.S. since the ban took effect. Only 2,673 waivers were granted between December 2017 and January 2019, according to the State Department, which did not comment on how the waivers were granted. read the complete article

09 May 2019

Branding the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization could rattle US allies in the Middle East

The Trump administration is seeking to label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization — a move that would allow the U.S. to impose broad sanctions against the Islamist group, which has millions of members across the Middle East. But it could rattle U.S. relations with several allies in the region. Experts say the plan could cut funding for humanitarian programs, weaken the validity of U.S. terrorism listings, project hostility toward Muslims and play into the whims of autocratic leaders. "This would not be in the interest of the U.S., partly because I think the Muslim Brotherhood doesn't meet the criteria, and partly because I think it would cause various kinds of complications and potential problems," said Anthony Dworkin, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. read the complete article

09 May 2019

Matt Shea: the Republican who stokes fears of civil war and fuels conspiracy theories

Shea predicted conservatives would hold out in “regions of freedom” like the American Redoubt, a geographical term for parts of the north-west US coined by another survivalist author, James Rawles, and the center of a rightwing “political migration” movement. In such regions, Shea said, people could “push back against the ever encroaching arm of the left, and more appropriately, the communists”. Shea predicted that “more likely than not … some sort of Balkanization” was ahead, “because those regions of freedom are already forming right now”. He added: “I think the right as Christian Patriots are ready at least in this area for what is about to happen.” In his comments, Shea repeatedly stokes conspiracy theories with antisemitic overtones. Asked if groups like Latinx advocacy organization UnidosUS (formerly La Raza) were working together with protest groups like Antifa and Black Live Matter, Shea claimed that these groups were also cooperating with other groups and were funded by billionaire George Soros. “They are working together, it’s happening. They are very well connected through their networks, and their networks generally lead back to one George Soros, as you know,” he said. read the complete article

09 May 2019

3 Muslim Workers at Amazon File Federal Discrimination Complaint

Three Somali women working for Amazon near Minneapolis have accused the company of creating a hostile environment for Muslim workers and of retaliating against them for protesting their work conditions, according to a filing submitted this week to federal regulators. In a letter with the filing, Muslim Advocates, a nonprofit legal organization representing the women, asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate what they argue are “systemic violations” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits employment discrimination based on religion, among other things. read the complete article


09 May 2019

Quebec lawmakers told secularism bill will institutionalize discrimination, stoke Islamophobia

Wearing a purple hijab, or Muslim head covering, in the National Assembly's "red room," Samira Laouni said that by seeking to bar some civil servants — including public school teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs, skullcaps or turbans, the government was sending a message. "The message being received by Muslims ... is that they're not welcome in Quebec," Laouni said, speaking for Communication pour l'ouverture et le rapprochement interculturel, a non-profit group that promotes inter-cultural dialogue. "That's clearly not the message the government wants to send." She expressed concerns that by singling out some religious groups more than others — such as Muslim women — the bill was contributing to intolerance. The bill, she said, will "legitimize discimination." Laouni's group was accompanied by several members of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, the Quebec City mosque where six people were killed in 2017 by a gunman radicalized by the white nationalist movement. She said representatives of the cultural centre had also asked to speak at the commission but were denied a spot. Several other religious groups have criticized the government for leaving them out of the hearings. read the complete article


09 May 2019

Facebook video calling Islamic culture 'barbaric' and 'primitive' shared by federal CLP candidate Jacinta Price

video featuring a provocative Syrian-American commentator describing Islamic culture as "barbaric" and "primitive" was shared by Country Liberal Party (CLP) candidate for Lingiari Jacinta Price on her personal Facebook page. The candidate shared the video on her Facebook account in 2014, but did not comment on it or endorse it. The video, which claims to contain "the naked truth about Islam", featured Wafa Sultan — who is a psychologist — sharing her views on what she saw as the destructive nature of Islamic civilisations. In the video, Dr Sultan compares how Jews and Muslims dealt with adversity, saying "only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies". She also claimed the world was seeing a clash between "the culture of the West" and the "backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims". The online video originated from the controversial Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), and featured footage of Dr Sultan speaking to the Al Jazeera news network. Dr Sultan is a divisive figure, but was named in Time Magazine's most influential people list in 2006, described as a "bad girl of Islam". She has referred to herself as a Muslim who does not believe in Islam. read the complete article


09 May 2019

The Jew, the Muslim and White Supremacist Terror

The case of Earnest reveals how connected the figures of the Jew and the Muslim are in the imagination of white supremacists. The attacks on the Poway synagogue and the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido show as much as Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue and Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre that Muslims and Jews are the common enemy of white supremacist terrorism. While Breivik seems to followed a long path of political socialization from being a member of a local branch of the far-right party in Norway to nurturing his anti-Muslim ideology on the web to becoming a terrorist, Tarrant and Earnest seem to have followed a much more radical ideology of white supremacy that does not potentially include Jews who might be utilized against Muslims. While for Breivik, the figure of the Jew is coopted to support Islamophobia, for Tarrant and Earnest, Jews are as much the other as Muslims. Breivik relied on the myth of a Judeo-Christian heritage, invented following the Holocaust to whitewash not only völkisch anti-Semitism, but also the centuries of persecution of Jews in Christian Europe. This myth has become so dominant that even radical right parties in Europe have adopted it as part of their strategy to become mainstream and attempt to garner Jewish support for what they call Muslim anti-Semites. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 May 2019 Edition


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