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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17 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities in Ahmedabad have ordered the removal of non-vegetarian food stalls from its main roads, which some are viewing as a direct attack on the city’s Muslim vendors, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, British Muslims in Liverpool are facing increased harassment and abuse following Sunday’s attack at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and in Kenya, Muslim leaders say the government’s campaign against terrorism has transformed into war against Islam and Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Eva Dou for the Washington Post on a new report that finds cotton from Xinjiang fields is still making its way to U.S. shelves, despite the Biden administration’s ban on some of the largest Xinjiang suppliers due to human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims. This and more below:


17 Nov 2021

Xinjiang cotton banned in the U.S. is still making it on to store shelves, says report | Recommended Read

In China’s cotton-growing Xinjiang region, farmers have been hailing a bumper harvest this autumn. But much of the crop is under U.S. sanctions, and where it will end up is a thorny question. Xinjiang produces a whopping 85 percent of China’s cotton, which is made into garments sold around the world. Some of the largest Xinjiang suppliers have been banned since last year from selling to the United States due to human-rights abuses in the region against members of the Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority. U.S. and European policymakers are now discussing expanding the ban, with much of the world’s cotton products hanging in a regulatory and ethical gray zone. Enforcement is proving challenging, with fashion brands sourcing from hundreds of factories around the world with little proof of where the cotton originated. Laura Murphy, professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at Sheffield Hallam University, says there is high likelihood that banned Xinjiang cotton is still making it to U.S. shelves, because it is shipped to third countries for clothing manufacturing. “It obscures the provenance of the cotton,” she said. “Companies still have a long way to go to ensure they are not using Xinjiang cotton.” In a report released Wednesday, Murphy’s team mapped out how cotton makes its way from Xinjiang fields to garments through an opaque web of suppliers. It says that more than half of China’s exported cotton go to countries in Asia — including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia — where it is made into clothing for further export to the rest of the world. read the complete article

17 Nov 2021

Justice for the Uyghurs: What the US Can Do

According to the Holocaust Museum, the comprehensive evidence “triggers the legal obligation, binding on all states, to take appropriate action to prevent or halt genocide [and]… to protect victims of genocide and crimes against humanity.” The report builds on a growing number of expert reports and government declarations finding that the mass atrocities against the Uyghurs — including the mass internment, forced sterilization, and separation of families — amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. The CCP uses the guise of counterterrorism to both perpetrate region-wide destructive crimes in Xinjiang and to silence journalists, media outlets, and organizations abroad dedicated to the documentation of those crimes, including victim accounts. The CCP’s attempts to condemn the World Uyghur Congress as an organization with a “violent, terrorist, and separatist agenda,” along with other prominent Uyghur rights organizations like Campaign for Uyghurs and Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), are attempts to silence those working tirelessly to ensure the victims of its mass atrocity crimes are heard and not forgotten. According to a new report by UHRP and the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, 96 percent of Uyghurs interviewed living in liberal democracies feel threatened. Most of them have faced digital risks, threats, and harassment. The U.S. can take the following immediate, common-sense steps toward securing accountability for the CCP’s transnational repression and effective humanitarian assistance for the Uyghurs, and ending U.S. complicity in the atrocities. read the complete article

17 Nov 2021

Biden administration soon to announce diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics

Although the administration technically has not finalized this decision, a formal recommendation has been made to the president and he is expected to approve it before the end of the month, administration sources confirmed. The timing of this process was not linked to the Biden-Xi virtual meeting Monday evening, which was billed as a way for the two leaders to demonstrate their ability to manage complex U.S.-China relations in an era of rising tensions. Various reports this week have said that Xi Jinping intended to bring up the Olympics issue with Biden, perhaps even inviting him to personally attend. But the issue didn’t come up at all during the 3½-hour meeting, according to initial reports. Biden administration officials have been virtually silent on Olympics-related issues in recent months, refusing to speculate on whether Biden would support a full athlete boycott (as human rights groups and activists are calling for), or a more limited boycott, or no boycott at all. Now that the Biden-Xi virtual summit is complete, sources said, the administration has one less reason to hold off on announcing the diplomatic boycott. The administration will inform allies but leave them to make their own decisions on whether to follow the U.S. lead. “What moral authority do you have to speak again about human rights any place in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide?” she said. “So, honor your athletes at home. Let’s have a diplomatic boycott. … Silence on this issue is unacceptable. It enables China’s abuses.” Following Pelosi’s remarks, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman accused her of spreading “lies and disinformation,” as well as using “the so-called human rights issue as a pretext to smear and slander China.” The Biden administration has reaffirmed the Trump administration’s January determination that the Chinese government’s abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s northwest Xinjiang province constitute an ongoing “genocide.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Nov 2021

Liverpool bomb: Muslim people already suffering hatred, says MP

Muslim people are already suffering racial hatred after Sunday's terrorist incident at Liverpool Women's Hospital, one of the city's MPs has revealed. Labour's Kim Johnson said her team "had been hearing incidents where women wearing the hijab are facing abuse". City Mayor Joanne Anderson has led calls for unity after a taxi exploded outside the hospital. Police said Emad Al Swealmeen died when a homemade device exploded shortly before 11:00 GMT on Remembrance Sunday. It is understood the 32-year-old suspected bomber was an asylum seeker from Syria who had converted from Islam to Christianity in 2017. Liverpool Riverside MP Ms Johnson told the House of Commons: "Incidents such as these, while extremely rare, always provoke a spike in race hate and particular in the Muslim community, and my team have been hearing incidents where women wearing the hijab are facing abuse." Ms Anderson appealed for people "not be guided by the sort of rising hate that often happens after an attack like this". "Don't let it divide our city. We are very strong as a community and the people to blame are [those] involved - nobody else," she said. Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram also warned people to be on their guard against "speculation" and "scapegoating". He told BBC Radio Merseyside Sunday's blast "can't be allowed to divide our communities". "We don't need those right-wing ideologues to blame people who settled here, or because they have a different coloured skin or a different religion to them," he said. read the complete article

17 Nov 2021

Liverpool’s leaders urge unity amid reports of Islamophobic attacks

Liverpool’s politicians and faith leaders have urged solidarity in the face of division after reports of Islamophobic attacks following a suspected suicide bombing in the city. Multi-faith representatives delivered a joint statement of solidarity outside Liverpool women’s hospital on Tuesday, where a car was blown up on Sunday. The Rev Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, the rector of Liverpool, said the attack had “shocked people of every faith – and those of no faith – across the city”. He added: “Terrorism is an indiscriminate act against people of all faiths and backgrounds. It seeks to destroy our lives of peaceful coexistence and disrupt the functioning of society.” Leyla Mashjari, an associate director of Al-Ghazali Multicultural Centre, representing Liverpool’s Muslim community, said: “At this difficult time let us remember that there is more that unites than divides us.” She said she had heard indirect reports of Islamophobia since the weekend. “We haven’t heard directly from people but it’s going around the city that a few ladies have had scarves pulled off, issues like that. So what we are trying to do is get the word out that we are working with organisations including the city council, and that people should report these crimes rather than just ignore them,” she said. read the complete article

17 Nov 2021

Would You Know How To Spot And Stop Islamophobia?

The latest government data shows that Muslims are the largest target of religiously motivated hate crimes. Over the last year, around half of all religious hate crimes were towards Muslims. A group of politicians representing all the different parties, known as an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), was set up in 2019 to come up with a working definition of Islamophobia. They suggested to definite it as a “type of racism” but two years later and the government haven’t yet settled on a definition. A government spokesperson says: “We are working to agree a robust definition of Islamophobia and it’s important to take the time to get this right.” Racism is a belief that one race is better than others. It also means any harmful act or unfair treatment towards someone because of their race. When talking about Islamophobia, the term encompasses prejudice or hate towards Muslims and the religion of Islam. In the case of Azeem Rafiq, being subject to drink wine would be seen as a form of Islamophobia as drinking alcohol is not allowed in Islam. However, when it comes to being called the P word or other derogatory terms because of ethnicity, these would be classed as racial slurs. It’s common for Islamophobia and racism to go hand in hand when people conflate religion and ethnicity. As November is Islamophobia Awareness Month, organisations are stepping up to educate more people on how to tackle Islamophobia. read the complete article

17 Nov 2021

Priti Patel apologises for UK report falsely calling Muslim man 'hate preacher'

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel apologised on Monday to a Muslim man who was falsely described as a "hate preacher" by the Home Office. The apology was issued at the High Court in London, following a lengthy libel action pursued by Islam21c news website chief Dr Salman Butt. "The government accepts that it was wholly false to allege that Dr Butt is an extremist hate preacher who legitimises terrorism and therefore someone from whose influence students should be protected," said the Home Secretary’s legal counsel, Aidan Eardley, in court on Monday. "It is sorry for the harm caused to him and in particular for the fact that the allegation was made and maintained for so long." Dr Butt launched a claim of libel and breach of data protection laws after being named in a 2015 Home Office press release on tackling extremism in universities. Butt's lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told the High Court that his client was given no prior warning or chance to respond to the allegations, which were "widely republished in the UK media". The Home Office initially responded to the libel claim with an 'honest opinion' defence, however, has now apologised to Dr Butt and will remove his name from the press release. read the complete article


17 Nov 2021

Kenyan Muslim leaders demand government action on unexplained disappearances

A string of unexplained abductions and killings of Muslims is worrying faith leaders, who now demand action and answers from the government. At least 40 members of the Muslim faith have been abducted by unknown assailants since January, and only 10 have returned to their families, according to the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims. These numbers do not include those kidnapped in the predominantly Islamic northeast. Muslim leaders say the government’s campaign against terrorism has transformed into war against Islam and Muslims. “We are witnessing a deliberate strategy of instilling fear among Muslims and discouraging them from going to the mosques, which are supposed to be sanctified places,” said Sheikh Hassan Ole Naado, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims. The incidents are attracting the attention of Christian leaders, who have been collaborating with Muslims in Kenya in peace and interfaith dialogue, development and humanitarian work. “This should be a concern of all Kenyans,” Roman Catholic Bishop Wilybard Lagho, of the Diocese of Malindi, told Religion News Service. Muslim leaders and human rights groups in the country accuse the government of extrajudicial killing, torture, arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances and of interfering with the freedom of assembly and worship, as it implements its anti-terrorism activities. read the complete article


17 Nov 2021

Erasing life itself: Apportioning blame for the Uyghur atrocities in Xinjiang

The catalogue of cruel and unusual treatment of Uyghurs from all walks of life has been well documented since the clampdowns in Xinjiang began in earnest in 2017, transforming the largely Muslim Turkic area of North-West China into a virtual open prison. While this might, in essence, be true, a new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think-tank, relying on leaked police documents and until now unpublished government budget documents, seeks to point the finger at specific individuals responsible for the oppression and discovers that the line of command within the intricate complexity of the Party is opaque and not easy to unravel to apportion blame. But time is short. Beijing has been deleting files of incriminating government directives and procurement data since 2019 and has busied itself transforming the region into a "safe place" for the millions of Chinese tourists who have been flooding into the region since the campaign began. Plans are for 400 million visitors by 2025. According to a recent AP journalist's visit, gone is the wrap-around razor wire, clusters of armed police drilling on street corners, and intrusive checkpoints. Shops are bustling, Chinese tourists are met with smiling faces as they dance with Uyghurs in national costume around the alleyways of Kashgar's ancient city and co-opted foreign citizen journalists bolster the view that negative criticism of China is unjustified. But as calls grow for unfettered access by UN observers to Xinjiang and its camps, activists are concerned that by the time access is granted, most of the outward signs of oppression will have been driven underground. They fear that evidence of genocide will be whitewashed and there will be no one left on whom to pin the blame. read the complete article


17 Nov 2021

Indian city to remove non-vegetarian food stalls from main roads

Authorities in Ahmedabad have ordered the removal of non-vegetarian food stalls from its main roads – the fourth city in the western Indian state of Gujarat to do so in recent days. In an order on Monday, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation said it will remove stalls selling non-vegetarian food items from the city’s main roads as well as within the 100-metre (330 feet) radius of schools, colleges and religious places. The restriction came days after municipal corporations in Gujarat’s Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Vadodara cities, led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), took similar measures. The civic administration in Vadodara and Rajkot even ordered the shopkeepers and hawkers to cover non-vegetarian food, including eggs, saying it could “hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus”. It also stated that smoke emanating from such places could cause public health hazards. “The practice of displaying meat, fish, and eggs at stalls might have continued for several years but it was time to end it,” Vadodara Municipal Corporation standing committee’s chairman Hitendra Patel was quoted as saying, according to local media reports. The opposition Congress party said the BJP wants to “divert the attention of people” from the main issues, including unemployment and price rise. “BJP has failed on the promises it made to people – be it employment or clean water. The main agenda of the BJP is to create polarisation by raising such non-issues,” Gujarat Congress spokesman Manish Doshi told Al Jazeera. Doshi said the ban on non-vegetarian food stalls in Gujarat’s cities was an “election gimmick” by the BJP to further deepen the religious divide in the state. read the complete article


17 Nov 2021

Parents question Waterloo school board about racism, children's safety amid teacher assault charges

The Waterloo Region District School Board met with the Coalition of Muslim Women Monday to discuss concerns from racialized parents about their children's safety following assault charges against a Kitchener teacher. The executive director of the coalition says the non-profit group has gotten more than a dozen calls and messages from parents since a 52-year-old Alpine Public School teacher was charged Nov. 4 for allegedly taping up two children in her classroom. "Lots of unanswered questions right now, lots of gaps with information that parents had," Fauzia Mazhar said. "They learned about it through the media or from people who they knew." The parent of one of the children involved in the Oct. 22 incident told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo at the time that he felt that race was a factor in what happened to the students. He told CBC that the school board needs to do more to protect students, including re-evaluating its hiring practices. Similar comments flooded the Coalition of Muslim Women's hate reporting system — as did calls and messages from parents wanting more information, Mazhar said. "Criminally it may not be a hate crime and it may not be looked at as a hate crime, but the perception in the community is that it was a hate crime," she said. "The perception of something that happens in the community is also important." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Nov 2021 Edition


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