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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15 Sep 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, police in North Carolina was found to be using what appeared to be “Palestinian-looking” targets for a school shooting response training, meanwhile in China, COVID-19 lockdowns in Xinjiang are causing severe food shortages for Uyghur Muslims, and in India, an 8-year-old Muslim boy was granted bail after a week of imprisonment after authorities arrested him following clashes that broke out during a Hindu religious event in Bihar. Our recommended read of the day is by William Noah Glucroft for Deutsche Welle on a new official report that finds Berlin has a structural problem with its treatment of its Muslim community, noting that there is a “lack of awareness and insufficient classification of anti-Muslim behavior and crimes, which has led to an underreporting of such incidents.” This and more below:


15 Sep 2022

Report uncovers Germany's structural racism against Muslims | Recommended Read

The state of Berlin has a structural problem with its treatment of its Muslim community, an official expert commission concluded earlier this month. The Berlin Senate set up the commission, the first of its kind in Germany, as a response to the far-right terror attack in the western city of Hanau in February 2020, when an extremist killed eight people of non-German descent, a German Romani, and his own mother, before killing himself. More than two years later, the panel's findings are in — and they paint an unfavorable picture of a city that, despite its surface-level projection of diversity and inclusion, has a lot of work to do. "A common (racist) attitude in the imagination of the 'majority or dominant society' favors a close link between Islam and poverty," according to the report, as many of Berlin's Muslims trace their German origins to low-skilled immigrants. As a result, Muslims, "like all immigrants marked by racism, are confronted with entry barriers, exclusionary practices and structural discrimination." The report criticizes a lack of awareness and insufficient classification of anti-Muslim behavior and crimes, which has led to an underreporting of such incidents. It also cites a lack of transparency when domestic intelligence agencies surveil Muslim organizations. Sexism plays out within the broader discriminatory context, especially for women who wear headscarves. The report concluded that Muslim women are less likely to receive sexual health screenings or have claims of sexual violence against them be taken seriously. The same goes for treatment of resulting trauma. On the cultural front, few leadership roles for Muslims have led to "major underrepresentation" and the presentation of cliches about Muslims. read the complete article

United States

15 Sep 2022

US law enforcement using Palestinian-looking target for active shooter training

Law enforcement in North Carolina was found to be using what appeared to be "Palestinian-looking" targets for a school shooting response training. The images, which were reported last month by the local station WLOS ABC News, showed a target wearing what appeared to be a keffiyeh, a Palestinian headscarf while holding an AK-47-style assault rifle. This was an exercise at a public high school on what to do when confronted with an active shooter situation. It was conducted by the Macon County Sheriff's Office at Rosman Middle and Rosman High School "for any kind of active threat," including the "threat of a gunman." The Council on American-Islamic Relations' government affairs department director, Robert McCaw, sent a letter to the Sheriff's office expressing concerns over the stereotypical image of the target. Among their suggestions are to use neutral targets and ones that are not culturally offensive. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Another Minnesota mosque attacked, FBI investigating as hate crime

The attack late last week on a mosque in Minnesota, which the FBI is now reviewing as a hate crime, is the latest in a state that is seeing a proliferation of such crimes. The incident occurred Thursday when two people broke into the Islamic Center of Saint Cloud, one of the main mosques in the area, located about an hour's drive from Minneapolis. They ransacked the premises, smashing a window, damaging floor tiles and leaving beer cans and cigarette butts inside the mosque. They also reportedly stole two copies of the Quran. They also left a note in blood. "They didn't care about the sanctity of our space," Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The New Arab. The two perpetrators, a man and a woman from the Minneapolis area, both in their 20s, were arrested within hours of the attack after they'd dropped their hotel room keys around the crime scene. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Cultural Appropriation of Islam Is a Focus of ‘Stealing My Religion’

Solidarity hijab is well intentioned—it aims to combat gendered Islamophobia. And yet, since it uses the religious practice of a community, the intention motivating the gesture is not the primary way to assess its ethical implications. We must also consider how Muslims experienced solidarity hijab, and some Muslims, importantly those from the most marginalized communities, experienced it as a reductive, erasive, presumptive, and co-optive act. The takeaway is simple: solidarity hijab is not as violent as other prevalent forms of anti-Muslim racism, but it is not the antidote either. Non-Muslims adopting hijab for the day did not dismantle the underlying systems of structural injustice that disproportionately affect Muslims, especially Muslim women of color. Those underlying structures include orientalism and white feminism, among others. Adopting hijab as a symbol of solidarity is orientalist in a way that is both gendered and romantic. During the colonial period, the veil became enmeshed in gendered orientalism, resulting in Muslim women being designated the bearers of Islamic tradition. Today, using gendered aesthetics to symbolize Islam in political movements relies on that same framing. What is tricky about the orientalism of solidarity hijab is that it is not blatantly negative. In fact, even as protesters deployed hijab as a sign of Muslim difference and identity, they also insisted that they were interested in a positive portrayal of that symbol. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Austin mosque’s Islam 101 classes aim to ‘demystify’ religion amid refugee increases

In the year since the Afghanistan pullout, Refugee Services of Texas anticipates more than 1,000 Afghans have or will resettle in the Austin area. As more Afghans acclimate the Central Texas community, an Austin mosque is looking to welcome them with open arms, while educating members of the public about Islam and Muslim culture. On Wednesday, the North Austin Muslim Community Center is launching Islam 101, a series of weekly classes to help share elements of Muslim culture with Austin community members. Islam Mossaad serves as the imam, or the mosque’s prayer leader, at NAMCC and said the program aims to better connect Muslim and non-Muslim Austinites through shared understandings of Islamic culture. “We want to demystify and also inform, and go a little bit deeper and see the level of complexity of some of these issues,” Mossaad said. “You want to actually have an engaged discussion. So when you come to the mosque, we want you to ask the hard questions.” In recent years, Mossaad said increased polarizations have reflected in actions targeting Austin’s Muslim population. Last fall, hate messaging and a bloodied pig’s head mask were left outside an Austin mosque on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. He said these sentiments come from a lack of understanding of Islam and its practitioners. These classes aren’t aimed at converting residents, but he said they hope they can leave with greater empathy and appreciation for Muslim community members. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Police arrest suspect for Queens anti-Muslim hate-crime subway assault against 17-year-old

Police arrested a Brooklyn man on Wednesday for an anti-Muslim hate-crime assault that took place in February. Authorities cuffed Joval Cedeno, 41, for allegedly attacking a 17-year-old girl unprovoked at the Queensboro Plaza station on Feb. 18. He reportedly proceeded to hit her upper back and neck. Cedeno faces charges for hate crime assault and related charges. read the complete article


15 Sep 2022

Hijab ban: Majority community trying to do away with Islamic practices, petitioner tells SC

There is discontentment among members of the majority community to do away with practices related to Islam, the counsel for a petitioner in the hijab ban case told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, reported Bar and Bench. “It is simply poking at one aspect of a religion [hijab], saying let’s see if we can get this one aspect struck off,” Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan told the court. A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia is hearing a batch of petitions challenging a Karnataka High Court order that had, in March, upheld the state government’s ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions. The development came after in December and January, a group of Muslim students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi city were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. The students staged a protest, and similar demonstrations were held in other parts of Karnataka. Hindu students and mobs of men protested against Muslim women wearing hijabs to educational institutes. At some colleges, Muslim students were heckled, while in another case, some men climbed up a flagpole to plant a saffron flag and broke into classrooms. At Wednesday’s hearing, Dhawan told the Supreme Court that the hijab ban case needs to be looked at in the perspective of discrimination against Muslims. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Oxfam discrimination report: Why women and Muslims earn less in India

Indian women face discrimination in the job market and earn less than men even when they have the same qualifications and experience, a new report says. Oxfam India's Discrimination Report 2022 blames "societal and employers' prejudices" for women's lower wages. Other marginalised communities also suffered discrimination in the job market, the report found. These included those at the bottom of the caste system, tribespeople and members of the Muslim community. "Discrimination in the labour market is when people with identical capabilities are treated differently because of their identity or social backgrounds," Amitabh Behar, Oxfam India's CEO, said. "The inequality for women and other social categories is not just due to poor access to education or work experience but because of discrimination." They found that every month on average, men earned 4,000 rupees ($50; £44) more than women, non-Muslims earned 7,000 rupees more than Muslims and those at the bottom of the caste system and tribespeople made 5,000 rupees less compared to others. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

Arrested Muslim boy, 8, gets bail a week after India violence

Authorities in India’s eastern state of Bihar have been criticised for arresting an eight-year-old Muslim boy accused of rioting after clashes broke out during a Hindu religious event. The boy, a resident of Barharia village in Bihar’s Siwan district, was granted bail by a local court on Wednesday, nearly a week after he was arrested. His family told Al Jazeera he had gone for afternoon prayers on September 8 with his 70-year-old grandfather when violence erupted during a procession to mark the annual Hindu festival of Mahavir Akhara. “We don’t know what happened near the mosque. We later heard there were some clashes during a Hindu rally and Muslims were randomly arrested at the mosque,” Shama Parveen, the boy’s cousin, told Al Jazeera. The boy’s grandfather was granted bail on Tuesday. Barharia residents say the clashes on September 8 started after dozens of saffron-clad men carrying sticks and iron rods gathered outside a local mosque and chanted Islamophobic slogans. “Instead of catching the rioters, the police are targeting Muslim children. The police personnel should be given strict punishment and the family members of the child should get compensation,” Muslim parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted. read the complete article


15 Sep 2022

Uyghurs living under COVID-19 lockdowns in Xinjiang face food shortages, family separations

But unlike lockdowns in other major cities in China, lockdowns in Xinjiang are rarely discussed publicly and face strict censorship on the Chinese internet. Chinese language media reported that censors in Xinjiang have been asked to "dilute discussions" about Ili's lockdown, by posting videos and pictures of "lifestyle, baby matters, and food". Inty Elham, a Uyghur Australian human rights activist, said she was only able to get confirmation of the COVID lockdown and food shortages in Ili from ethnic Han friends living there. Uyghur residents were too afraid to talk, Ms Elham said. "We've also seen videos of Chinese authorities literally kicking and shoving over people who are crying out for help." Ms Elham believes that China's COVID measures are being used as a tactic to directly target individuals by threatening to send them to re-education camps. "Basically, in addition to the severe human rights abuses, as we know, Uyghurs outside the camps are basically under house arrest. They've been under these lengthy COVID lockdowns," she said. "It's been 40 days now." A Uyghur woman living in Adelaide, who also did not want to use her name because of security concerns, said her aunt in Ili only had cooking oil and flour left at home earlier this week. "She cried so badly over the phone," she said. "She said the situation was getting worse and people just couldn't access food and medicine. "The only way she could get vegetables was from her ethnic Han neighbour. She didn't know how the neighbour received supplies." The Adelaide resident said she suspects that China's harsh treatment of Uyghur people had led to greater difficulties for Uyghur people in lockdown. read the complete article

15 Sep 2022

A Uyghur Author and Translator Were Detained. Now, Their Novel Speaks For Them.

Perhat Tursun was eager for his novel, “The Backstreets,” to come out in the United States. It would be the first Uyghur novel to appear in English, and he considered the grim tale of one man’s struggle within an oppressive environment one of his most consequential works. But Darren Byler, who translated the volume and is a leading scholar on Uyghur culture and Chinese surveillance, was reluctant to go ahead. The text was ready by 2015, but the crackdown on Uyghurs living in China’s far western region of Xinjiang left him concerned for Tursun, and for his Uyghur co-translator. Publishing the book in English, he feared, might heighten their exposure. Hundreds of Uyghur intellectuals were detained in China as part of a repression campaign targeting predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities that started in 2016, then escalated. Researchers say that as many as one million or more Uyghurs and Kazakhs were sent to indoctrination camps that the government called vocational training programs. Expressions of cultural identity or faith were heavily restricted. The United Nations said that the detentions could be considered “crimes against humanity.” By 2018, Tursun and Byler’s co-translator, a Uyghur man who asked to remain anonymous, were among those who disappeared into the camps. The New York Times confirmed the co-translator’s identity with Byler and with the book’s publisher, and is withholding his name to protect him from retaliation from the state. With the two men in detention, it was time to publish the book, Byler said. “They deserve to have their voices and their work recognized,” he said. read the complete article


15 Sep 2022

NUG releases statement recognising Rohingyas’ right to citizenship

The National Unity Government (NUG) released a statement on Thursday in an effort to dispel doubts about its position on the status of the Rohingya in Myanmar. In the statement, the NUG suggested that the country’s 1982 Citizenship Law, which has been blamed for reducing the Rohingya to statelessness, could be repealed once a new constitution has been drafted. In its place, it said, would be a new law that would “base citizenship on birth in Myanmar or birth anywhere as a child of Myanmar Citizens.” “The Rohingyas are entitled to citizenship by laws that will accord with fundamental human rights norms and democratic federal principles,” the statement added. The 27-member NUG has faced growing pressure to address the issue since it was formed in mid-April by ousted MPs and other prominent figures opposed to military rule. The statement also addressed another issue that plagued the previous National League for Democracy (NLD) government—how to handle atrocities committed by the military during “clearance operations” that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh in 2017. Seeking to distance itself from the NLD’s stance, which was to defend the military against charges of genocide, the NUG said it would be willing to refer the matter to an international court. read the complete article


15 Sep 2022

Guests call out burkini ban at Tunisian hotels as discriminatory

On the second day of her stay at the Marriott Hotel in Sousse, Jannette Mensi waded into the swimming pool only to be told by hotel staff that she would have to get out due to her choice of swimwear -- a burkini. "I was shocked, my mind froze - I never thought this would happen to me in my own country," said Mensi, 68. But numerous high end hotels in coastal tourist towns have banned the swimwear from their pools - a policy that reflects enduring European, particularly French, influence in the country, as well as divisions between secular and conservative Tunisians. On the website, at least 20 hotels advertise that the burkini is banned at their establishment. For Mensi, who was informed she could only swim in the Marriot's back pool, generally used by children, the ban discriminates against her as a Muslim woman. "I respect, I accept next to me a lady with a bikini, or someone drinking wine... I respect them, they should respect me," she said. Following questions sent by Reuters, a spokesperson for the Sousse Pearl Marriott Resort & Spa apologised and said they would extend access to the main pool "to all adult guests, no matter the swimwear they choose." Hotel burkini bans in Tunisia date back to the 2000s and became more common after the 2011 revolution, when more women started wearing the hijab. The Muslim headscarf previously attracted police harassment under toppled dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and was banned in the workplace during his 23-year rule. read the complete article


15 Sep 2022

China is committing genocide. The world has no plan to stop it.

Five years ago, human rights groups started sounding the alarm that China was building internment camps to hold Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority located in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Four years ago, brave Uyghurs spoke up to Western media outlets, and journalists like myself started writing article after article to draw public attention to the crisis. Three years ago, leaked papers from within the Chinese government proved Uyghur claims about the government’s system of mass detention. Two years ago, experts showed that China was also subjecting Uyghurs to forced labor and forced sterilization. One year ago, the United States declared the crisis a genocide and President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which put the onus on importers to demonstrate that a product’s supply chain is free of forced labor, into law. And now, finally, the United Nations has published a report. A report that says China’s policies “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.” A report that adds nothing new to what we already knew about the crisis, that neglects to call the crisis what it is — genocide — and that some experts say was watered down under tremendous pressure from Beijing. “It’s just too little, too late,” Timothy Grose, a China expert at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, told me. “The real tragedy of all this is that the Human Rights Council of the UN has failed to uphold its basic mission, which is to protect human rights.” Difficult or not, unless world powers succeed in taking Beijing to task, the recent UN report may only serve to underscore a horrible fact: The world has no real plan to stop the genocide underway in China. Some Uyghurs are at the point where they wish the world would just cop to that harsh fact, rather than paying lip service and raising their hopes over and over. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Sep 2022 Edition


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