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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25 Nov 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, Muslim MPs share their stories of facing anti-Muslim harassment and abuse only for the Tory Equalities Minister to claim that the Labour party was turning the issue into a “political football,” meanwhile in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees are in limbo as the legitimacy of repatriation to Myanmar is looking increasingly difficult while the growth of armed camps is raising fears in the refugee camps, and in India, people who have been living together for decades in Tripura are in a state of shock and disbelief over the sudden surge in communal frenzy following last months riots. Our recommended read of the day is by Omar Shakir and Maya Wang for Human Rights Watch on how Israel and China have both weaponized surveillance technology to suppress peaceful dissent. This and more below:


25 Nov 2021

Mass Surveillance Fuels Oppression of Uyghurs and Palestinians | Recommended Read

Tech-enabled control of a persecuted population. Abusive facial recognition. Severe restrictions on movement. Branding peaceful dissent as “terrorism”. For many readers, the scenario brings to mind China’s mass human rights violations against millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim people. Yet this description would also apply to Israel’s treatment of millions of Palestinians living under occupation. The Israeli military is reportedly using facial recognition to build a massive database of personal information on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which includes their photos, family histories and education, and assigns them a security rating. When soldiers, outfitted with an official smartphone Blue Wolf app, scan a Palestinian’s face, the app shows yellow, red or green to indicate whether the person should be detained or allowed to pass. To one of us – a researcher on China for Human Rights Watch – the Israeli Blue Wolf system is eerily familiar. A similar mass surveillance system is in use by the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, called Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), which acts as the “brain” behind various sensory systems throughout the region. IJOP is also a big data system, which detects “abnormality” as arbitrarily defined by the authorities. In recent years growing attention has been paid to China’s use and export of mass surveillance. But Chinese companies are not alone. Surveillance technologies have proliferated globally in a legal and regulatory vacuum. Governments have used the spyware, Pegasus, developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group, to hack devices in 45 countries, including those of journalists, dissidents and human rights activists. Pegasus turns an infected device into a portable surveillance tool by gaining access to the phone’s camera, microphone and text messages. read the complete article

25 Nov 2021

The Uyghur genocide university divestment movement is here

China’s human rights abuses have been getting a lot of attention in the run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. The disappearance and apparently staged re-appearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai in creepy videos posted online has shocked millions. The Chinese government will silence anyone who dares speak up against the behavior of the ruling Communist Party — including its ongoing genocide campaign against Uyghur Muslims. But that attention hasn’t resulted in much concrete action. The International Olympic Committee, rather than stand up for human rights, has helped the Chinese authorities to push their propaganda. The Biden administration is planning a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, which is better than doing nothing, but not by much. Congress won’t even pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which several U.S. corporations had the gall to lobby against. After the Olympics, when the cameras have turned away, Beijing will have one less reason to fear the scorn of the international community. But behind the scenes, the infrastructure for a long-term divestment movement is being built by the one group of Americans with no diplomatic or financial conflicts of interest: college students. There’s a historical precedent that shows why it just might work. In 2021, students in universities across the country are organizing to protest China’s ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., may have just scored the movement’s first big success. On Oct. 18, the student government association unanimously passed a resolution calling on the university to divest any and all of its financial holdings connected to Xinjiang atrocities. In response, university officials told student leadership, and confirmed to me, they have commissioned an independent audit of endowment holdings for anything related to mass internment, forced labor, mass surveillance or other crimes committed against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China. read the complete article


25 Nov 2021

Bangladesh begins moving Rohingya to remote island amid criticism

Bangladesh has resumed moving Rohingya refugees to a remote and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, despite criticism from human rights and aid groups who claim some have been relocated against their will. Deputy refugee commissioner Moozzem Hossain on Wednesday said 2,000 additional people will be transferred this week to Bhashan Char island, where Bangladesh eventually wants to rehouse 100,000 of its approximately one million Rohingya refugees. “Navy ships will bring them to the island on Thursday,” Hossain told the AFP news agency. About 850,000 of the mainly Muslim Rohingya minority are packed into camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, most of whom fled a Myanmar military clampdown in 2017 that the United Nations says could amount to genocide. Bangladesh has been praised for taking in the refugees who poured across the border but has had little success finding them permanent homes. Among the more than 19,000 Rohingya refugees who have already been relocated to Bhashan Char, hundreds have been arrested in coastal towns after fleeing the island. At least 11 people died in August after a fishing boat carrying escapees capsized. Bhashan Char, located some 60 km (37 miles) from the Bangladesh mainland, lies at the heart of an area prone to powerful cyclones that have killed approximately one million people in the last 50 years. read the complete article

25 Nov 2021

Rohingya refugees trapped between state violence and armed gangs

The legitimacy of repatriation to Myanmar is looking increasingly difficult for Rohingya Muslims dwelling in refugee camps in Bangladesh due to escalating violence in Myanmar's Chin and Rakhine states. Meanwhile, a perilous chain of events has also further exacerbated refugee fears since the killing of prominent community leader Mohib Ullah in September by armed gangs. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are exasperated by the unfolding crisis. Mohammad Yousof, a 65-year-old shopkeeper and father of eight told The New Arab he had been warned by the Bangladesh Camp in Charge (CIC) official that if he did not “destroy” his tea shop, they would do it for him. Days later, as he served his customers he said, “the CIC arrived with a bunch of men at 11.30am and destroyed about 15 or 16 shops”. Some of the Rohingya living in camps say rations from the World Food Program are not sufficient to feed their families. Yousof, who said he sold tea, coffee, biscuits, cigarettes, and betel, was saving money for his daughter’s wedding; money that he said was also being used to buy “fish, vegetables and medicines we cannot get from the NGO hospital”. He said his children are not educated and so cannot get jobs with NGOs in the camp. “We were told Rohingya cannot do any kind of business in the camp; they [CIC] accused us of making money for gangs to buy weapons. Instead of finding and arresting the real culprits, they are torturing innocent people like us. “We cannot survive this kind of life anymore. What is our fault? We are only running tiny corner shops to support our poor families, nothing more than this. We just want to go back to Myanmar but we need help from other countries. We know we are being treated this way because we have become a huge burden for Bangladesh.” According to the UNHCR, there are 907,766 registered Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps. In 2017, more than 700,000 fled from their homes in Rakhine as Myanmar’s army burned down their villages. The Bangladesh government is keen for the Rohingya to be repatriated to Myanmar, but with violence raging in the country, Adib-Moghaddam said this would not be a just solution. read the complete article


25 Nov 2021

France attacks EU commission for meeting Muslim youth organisation

Paris' campaign to silence outspoken Muslim communities sets its sights outside the country. Two French ministers have lashed out at the European Commision after the Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli met the pan-European Muslim youth association the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO). The French Junior Minister for Citizenship Marlene Schiappa went on Twitter to brand the Muslim student network as an "Islamist association." FEMYSO, a network of 33 Muslim youth and student organisations across 20 European countries, has in the past criticised the French state of Islamophobic policies targeting the country's Muslim population. The French government often brands its critics as extremists, Islamists, or Islamo-leftists if they question state policies that seek to regulate how French Muslims practice Islam. According to the EU Commissioner for Equality, the meeting with FEMYSO aimed to discuss "the situation of young Muslims in Europe and the challenges experienced as a result of stereotyping, discrimination and outright hatred." The French Secretary of State for Europe Clement Beaune called the EU's meeting with FEMYSO "absurd," vowing that the French government will approach the commision to ensure that links with the grassroots student movement are cut. read the complete article

25 Nov 2021

France: Why Eric Zemmour's rhetoric should worry us all

Zemmour’s political views and track record place him squarely in the same political camp as Trump, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Italy's Matteo Salvini and many of the other right-wing populists currently in positions of power around the world. In fact, Zemmour’s admiration for Trump is a matter of public record. He expressed it directly during a TV interview earlier this month, when he said: “He succeeded in bringing together the working classes and the patriotic bourgeoisie. That's what I've been dreaming about… for 20 years." A supporter of the great replacement theory, Zemmour spends his time as a commentator and author spreading the ethno-nationalist false notion that white people "native" to western lands are being “replaced” by a never-ending flood of non-white immigrants He has described the racially diverse Parisian area of Seine-Saint-Denis, for example, as “no longer France”, adding that it has become “another continent” because of the Arab and African population living there. He has even said that should he ever be elected as president, he would implement a ban on Mohammed as a first name as it is "it is not a French name". Furthermore, his racist and xenophobic views are so considerable that he has faced several convictions over inciting racial and religious hatred, including after his statement on TV that "jihadists were considered to be good Muslims by all Muslims." Ultimately, it is the impact that Zemmour’s rhetoric could have on the political debates both during the campaign and in the future that should worry us all. This is where he represents the most immediate danger to the communities he is attacking. He has pushed the debate even further to the right, despite Le Pen and her National Rally party’s already remarkable achievements on that front. Attacks on migrants, Muslims and minorities, as well as the rolling back of civil liberties, have defined this election already, with barely any challenge coming from the political centre. These issues will continue to be the focus of debate in the years to come. read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 Nov 2021

Muslim MPs share horrifying hate they've received - but debate plunges into angry row

Muslim MPs shared horrifying experiences of the hate they have received in a Commons debate on Islamophobia. A Labour shadow minister revealed she was chased by a racist gang with dogs who ripped her clothes - while another MP was nine when asked if her dad was a terrorist. A third MP, Labour’s Apsana Begum, said “I’m constantly having to cope with a vicious torrent of abuse” - being branded a “vile and filthy creature” and told “Muslims should be banned from public office, we can’t trust their allegiances”. Ms Begum read messages she received saying “deport the filth”, “throw her and her family back to where she came from”, “chop her hands off”, and chillingly, “this could be one of her last statements”. But the Westminster Hall debate plunged into a furious row after the Tory Equalities Minister accused Labour of turning the issue into a “political football”. Kemi Badenoch hit out after Labour MP Afzal Khan accused Boris Johnson of “ignoring the issue”, failing to respond to a letter he wrote a year later. Ms Badenoch said: “The highly partisan nature in which the debate has been opened, if watched by all Muslims in our constituencies, won’t look like people trying to tackle anti-Muslim hatred. “[It] will look like they as a community are being used as a political football for political goals.” That prompted furious condemnation from opposition MPs. SNP MP Anum Qaisar told MPs she tore up her planned speech, saying instead: “I was nine years old when I was asked if my dad was a terrorist the day after 9/11. “It was only a couple of months after that when our mosque was burnt to the ground in a suspected Islamophobia attack. “I’m not going to accept a debate where we’re told we have to take the politics out of it. “Because the Prime Minister does peddle a rhetoric when he says dangerous things, like veiled Muslim women look like letterboxes.” read the complete article


25 Nov 2021

China's crimes against the Uyghurs

As the Beijing Olympics approach, all eyes are turning toward China — but something terrifying is happening there that the government does not want the world to see. We are confronted with a potentially genocidal state hosting the Olympics. Right now, millions of people in the Xinjiang region of northwest China are being persecuted on the basis of their identity — because they are Uyghur, a Muslim minority group. The Chinese government is going to great lengths to use primarily non-lethal means to slowly destroy the Uyghur community, which totals approximately 12 million people. China’s actions are so alarming that we at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide. It is critical to underscore that genocide is a rare occurrence, and to invoke its name is to put forth an urgent, clarion call for action. Mass atrocity perpetrators often go to great lengths to conceal and deny their crimes. The Chinese government has been exemplary at this. They have restricted independent monitors from accessing the millions of people they are persecuting and the vast network of detention centers and prisons that have held between 1 million to 3 million people. They harass and threaten Uyghurs who speak out - including those living in the United States. The Chinese government has for decades tried to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people, giving disingenuous rationales for doing so — like fighting terrorism and preventing separatism. Recently, surfaced information signals that the Chinese government’s conduct has escalated beyond a policy of forced assimilation. Since 2017, their attacks have intensified with new tactics used to repress, eradicate the Uyghur culture, and — it increasingly appears — to destroy the Uyghur people over time. read the complete article


25 Nov 2021

Tripura: Fear and hope after anti-Muslim violence

A single-storied mosque damaged by a stone-pelting mob stands next door. Inside, there are broken doors hammered by bricks, twisted fan-blades and shattered windowpanes. The Chamtila mosque is surrounded by both Hindu and Muslim homes but most people prefer to stay indoors after more than 10 incidents of religious violence were reported from the district of North Tripura in October. Local reports said some mosques were vandalised and burnt down during the violence. Bhanu Pada Chakraborty, a senior police official in the district, denied reports of mosques being torched, but said some had been vandalised, without confirming a number. There are disturbing scenes a mile further north of Chamtila, where at least five shops were burnt by the same mob that vandalised the mosque. All shops belong to minority Muslims in the Rowa village. The attacks followed a huge rally taken out on 26 October by the hardline Hindu organisation, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) - a close ally of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - and half a dozen other religious groups in the border town of Panisagar. They were protesting against recent attacks on Hindus in neighbouring Bangladesh, which encircles Tripura on three sides. People who have been living together for decades are in a state of shock and disbelief over the sudden surge in communal frenzy. Tripura has been run by BJP since 2018 after 25 years of Communist rule. The opposition has blamed the ruling party of trying to mix religion with politics to win elections, an allegation the BJP strongly denies. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Nov 2021 Edition


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