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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02 Sep 2020

Today in Islamophobia: In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown. Portland killing renews focus on tactics of far-right group Patriot Prayer. Our recommended read today is by Justin Baragona on MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who recently compared the “way Muslims act” to radicalized Trump supporters. This, and more, below:

United States

02 Sep 2020

MSNBC’s Joy Reid Accused of Islamophobia for Comparing the ‘Way Muslims Act’ to Radicalized Trump Supporters | Recommended Read

MSNBC host Joy Reid on Tuesday faced accusations of Islamophobia over remarks she made during her Monday evening broadcast comparing radicalized Trump supporters to “the way Muslims act.” “When leaders, let’s say in the Muslim world, talk a lot of violent talk and encourage their supporters to be willing to commit violence including on their own bodies in order to win against whoever they decide is the enemy, we in the U.S. media describe that as they are ‘radicalizing’ these people, particularly when they’re radicalizing young people,” the ReidOut host began. “That’s how we talk about the way Muslims act,” she added. “When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as radicalizing people?” While receiving little attention following its airing, the liberal host’s remarks eventually sparked outrage when a video clip of the segment was widely shared Tuesday on social media by journalists and activists. The “how Muslims act” remark specifically drew complaints that she trafficked in “dangerous” anti-Islamic tropes, stereotypes, and generalizations. “Whoa. Joy Ann Reid says that ‘Muslim leaders... talk a lot of violent talk & encourage their supporters... to commit violence’ and goes on to compare ‘the way Muslims act’ to Trump and his supporters,” tweeted HuffPost reporter Rowaida Abdelaziz, who covers Islamophobia and social-justice issues. “What a terrible, dangerous, & completely inaccurate analogy to make.” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former campaign press secretary Briahna Joy Gray, meanwhile, questioned the way Reid generalized about how “nearly 1/4 of the world population acts.” AJ+ producer and host Sana Saeed called Reid’s remarks “appalling,” adding that the host “just throws out ‘Muslim leaders’ encouraging ‘their followers’ to ‘use their bodies to inflict violence’ (which leaders?)” before comparing “‘how Muslims act’ to American white nationalist radicalization.” And Jacobin staff writer Luke Savage described Reid’s remarks as “racism plain and simple,” saying the “subtext is more or less that Trump is ‘radicalizing’ his supporters, just like the barbarians do.” This isn’t the first time that Reid has been accused of making inflammatory comments about Muslims. After the MSNBC host came under fire in 2018 when homophobic posts from her old blog were unearthed—something she initially blamed on an alleged hacker—additional entries were found that trafficked in ugly, Islamophobic stereotypes. read the complete article

Recommended Read
02 Sep 2020

With mosques closed during the pandemic, Muslim converts navigate their new spiritual path online

Conversion in Islam is a simple process in which a person says the testimony of faith with witnesses present. It’s typically done at a mosque in front of a large gathering, with hugs and well wishes from the congregation afterward. But with mosques closed and people practicing social distancing, recent and longtime converts are embracing a new normal, doing virtual conversions and finding Muslim communities online to help them navigate their spiritual path. Giving shahadas online has been rare in the past. Imam Omar Suleiman, founder and director of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, has done them pre-pandemic for converts in remote locations or for those who fear their families finding out about their conversion. In-person shahadas are preferred because the ceremony is attended by Muslims who can help converts stay connected and get support from the community. Without sufficient support, converts sometimes drop off or disappear from the community. Online services have mostly been used for national Islamic organizations to connect with Muslims nationwide. Since the pandemic began, those programs have expanded, and local mosques have started streaming their services. Spiritual services are important for Muslims in general but sometimes more so for converts who did not grow up with Islamic practices and rely on community guidance. The increase in online resources has helped them further their connection to Allah and the Muslim community. read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

Ilhan Omar calls on MSNBC's Joy Reid to apologize over comments labeled Islamophobic

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called on MSNBC anchor Joy Reid to apologize Tuesday over remarks the night before that compared the actions of President Trump and his allies to "the way Muslims act" when "radicalizing" supporters. "Honestly, this kinda of casual Islamophobia is hurtful and dangerous," Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, tweeted Tuesday. "We deserve better and an apology for the painful moment for so many Muslims around our country should be forthcoming." The civil rights organization Muslim Advocates was among the groups criticizing the remarks and calling for an apology. "Joy Reid must apologize on air tonight for spreading the false, dangerous myth that Muslims are inherently radical and violent," Madihha Ahussain, the special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, said in a statement posted on the group's website. "MSNBC also needs to take action to ensure anti-Muslim bigotry has no place on its network." read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

Portland killing renews focus on tactics of far-right group Patriot Prayer

In the four years that have followed, experts on right-wing extremism say Gibson has become the leader of one of the nation’s most divisive and dangerous domestic political organizations, and an example of the radicalization of American politics in the Trump era. The group has been involved in a string of violent clashes in cities throughout the West Coast, and scrutiny of Patriot Prayer has intensified since a follower of the group was fatally shot Saturday night in Portland. Gibson and Aaron Danielson, who was killed, had participated in a caravan of flag-waving Trump supporters that descended on the city and sparked confrontations with Black Lives Matter counterprotesters. For years, Gibson led his supporters, some of whom have suspected ties to white nationalists and supremacists, into the center of violent clashes on college campuses, in public parks and in neighborhoods throughout the Pacific Northwest. Some of Gibson’s initial supporters had ties to white-supremacist groups, and in 2017 he became more closely aligned with the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has engaged in white-nationalist and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Experts on right-wing extremism say Saturday’s events in Portland crystallized their long-standing fears about the Patriot Prayer organization and its past ties to politically charged, violent encounters. “It’s a provocative, provocation-oriented ideology,” said Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. “This became Joey’s main act — he would sort of chaperone into Portland and Seattle with this rabble of fascists and Nazis and far-right bikers.” Ross said Patriot Prayer initially thrived on seeking out confrontation, including showing up on liberal college campuses or in diverse neighborhoods to campaign in support of Trump’s conservative immigration policies. read the complete article


02 Sep 2020

For the Last Three Years, More Than a Million Rohingya Muslims Have Been Stuck in Bangladesh

It’s been three years, but the memory still haunts Yasmin in her dreams. The 22-year-old Rohingya woman now resides in the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp in Southern Bangladesh. Making her way there in 2017 was an arduous journey; she had slogged through the monsoon-drenched jungles and paddy fields of Western Myanmar in the dark for four days. She was fleeing a pogrom. “I was pregnant but that didn’t save me from being violated by a group of Myanmar soldiers. They came; killed my husband, raped me and burned my home,” Yasmin told VICE News.“I had to run for my life with others.” Yasmin’s story is just one of many tales of horror, brutality and madness that had taken place in the swampy Maungdaw district of Myanmar’s Rakhaine state after a group of Rohingya insurgents, who styled themselves as “freedom fighters”, attacked the Myanmar national army posts on August 25, 2017. The new arrivals in Bangladesh joined more than 200,000 Rohingyas who had fled earlier violence. These millions of refugees are living inside a total of 39 camps—together forming the world’s single largest refugee camp—straining resources in one of Asia’s poorest regions. “Life inside a refugee camp is not an easy one,” said Yasmin, who now has a son named Abdullah whom she gave birth inside a fragile shelter of blue tarp and bamboo, shared with few other refugees. “It’s a life of indignity and uncertainty.” read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

Israel approved grant to anti-Muslim US Christian Zionist group: Report

The Israeli government reportedly approved a grant to a Tennessee-based Christian Zionist organisation that is designated as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Forward reported. The Jewish American magazine reported on Monday that it had obtained an Israeli government spreadsheet showing that $40,000 had been transferred to Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) in the first quarter of 2020. PJTN was the driving force behind Tennessee becoming the first state in the US to pass a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in 2015. According to the Forward, the group has also successfully lobbied other states to pass anti-BDS laws. Asked about the grant, PJTN denied that it had received any money from the Israeli government or from Concert, a company funded by Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the group's founder, has previously said said that 30 percent of American Muslims are terrorists, that Islam is a "political system of global domination", and that former President Barack Obama literally caused tornadoes when he announced his support for a Palestinian state. read the complete article


02 Sep 2020

In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown

When police arrested the middle-aged Uighur woman at the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, she was crammed into a cell with dozens of other women in a detention center. There, she said, she was forced to drink a medicine that made her feel weak and nauseous, guards watching as she gulped. She and the others also had to strip naked once a week and cover their faces as guards hosed them and their cells down with disinfectant “like firemen,” she said. “It was scalding,” recounted the woman by phone from Xinjiang, declining to be named out of fear of retribution. “My hands were ruined, my skin was peeling.” The government in China’s far northwest Xinjiang region is resorting to draconian measures to combat the coronavirus, including physically locking residents in homes, imposing quarantines of more than 40 days and arresting those who do not comply. Furthermore, in what experts call a breach of medical ethics, some residents are being coerced into swallowing traditional Chinese medicine, according to government notices, social media posts and interviews with three people in quarantine in Xinjiang. There is a lack of rigorous clinical data showing traditional Chinese medicine works against the virus, and one of the herbal remedies used in Xinjiang, Qingfei Paidu, includes ingredients banned in Germany, Switzerland, the U.S. and other countries for high levels of toxins and carcinogens. read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

‘China Must Give the UN immediate and Unfettered Access to Uyghur Camps’

China’s ongoing efforts to clear Xinjiang of its indigenous Uyghur population and flood the territory with millions of Han Chinese migrants meets the definition of genocide, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In some of the region’s counties, as much as 80% of the Uyghur population has vanished since 2016, having either been detained in a vast network of concentration camps or forcibly disappeared altogether, according to accounts published recently in Byline Times. Human rights activists, non-governmental organisations, policy think tanks, and journalists have helped identify as many as 500 potential concentration camp and detention centre sites in Xinjiang using a combination of satellite imagery and eyewitness accounts. A recent Buzzfeed News investigation identified 315 sites that are currently being used as part of China’s mass detention programme. One of these detention facilities is known locally as “Xinjiang Fifth Prison”, located in Urumqi, or by the map coordinates 43°56’28.0″N 87°34’45.0″E. The half-size of a large city block, with a half-dozen single storey, wing-shaped housing complexes and a handful of administrative buildings, Xinjiang’s Fifth Prison was transformed into a Uyghur concentration camp on 17 June 2017, according to written testimony Byline Times has received second-hand from a current Xinjiang Government official. read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

‘They kill us here’: Survivor of Uyghur concentration camps recounts torture

Mihrigul Tursun tearfully recalled on Tuesday the torture she suffered in the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in Xinjiang, China. “I asked why I was in prison. I asked why I was tortured,” Tursun said. “What did I do wrong?” Tursun shared her story during a virtual event hosted by Pitt’s centers for Governance and Markets and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, as well as the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and Congregation Beth Shalom. The organizations held the event to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China. The Chinese government has detained at least 800,000 and possibly more than 2 million Uyghurs in “reeducation centers,” marking the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II, according to The Guardian. In the camps, Uyghurs are forced to undergo psychological indoctrination programs as well as physical torture, including waterboarding and sexual abuse. read the complete article

02 Sep 2020

Coronavirus update: Beijing imposes draconian measures in Xinjiang

The Government in China's Xinjiang region is imposing draconian measures to combat coronavirus, including physically locking people in homes and arresting those who do not comply with strict quarantines of more than 40 days. Some residents are forced to swallow traditional Chinese medicine, according to government notices, social media posts and interviews with three people in quarantine, and at least one herbal remedy contains ingredients banned in other countries. A Uyghur woman told the AP that she and dozens of cellmates in a detention centre had to strip naked once a week and sit as they and their cells were hosed down with disinfectant. read the complete article


02 Sep 2020

Facebook faces grilling by MPs in India over anti-Muslim hate speech

Facebook’s alleged political bias and its role in spreading anti-Muslim hate speech in India is to come under scrutiny when senior executives are summoned before a parliamentary committee. The committee hearing on Wednesday follows allegations in the Wall Street Journal that the company’s top policy official in India, Ankhi Das, had prevented the removal of hate speech and anti-Muslim posts by politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in order to maintain a good relationship with the government, a claim the company denied. India is Facebook’s largest and most lucrative market, with 328 million users. Facebook also owns WhatsApp, which has more than 400 million users in India. The BJP, which has more than 16 million followers on its page, is Facebook’s biggest advertising spender in India, paying out 46.1m rupees (£469,478) over the past 18 months. Pawan Khera, a spokesperson for the opposition party India National Congress, said Facebook had serious questions to answer at the parliamentary standing committee on information and technology. “Collusion happening between a social media giant like Facebook and a party like the BJP has very serious consequences,” said Khera. “Not only have we seen the pace and spread of the BJP’s divisive agenda grow very fast on social media, but instances of hate speech have also been ignored by Facebook. We thought it was initially that the BJP were dependent on Facebook, but now we realise it’s a mutual dependence driving this.” read the complete article


02 Sep 2020

Norwegian PM defends ripping of Quran pages as 'freedom of speech'

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Monday defended freedom of speech in her country after an anti-Islam rally took place this weekend where pages were torn out of the Quran. The rally on Saturday near parliament was staged by the group Stop Islamization of Norway (SIAN). A female member of the group was seen ripping out pages from the Quran and spitting on them. A large group of counter-protesters had also assembled. Police deployed tear gas and pepper spray as part of efforts to keep the rival groups apart, but one counter-protester managed to breach the cordon and kick the woman. The police made several arrests. Solberg told news agency NTB that she was "very worried that freedom of speech, which we strongly defend in Norway, may be experienced differently in other countries, or that it may be perceived that we do not care about the views that SIAN has, because we do." "I strongly dissociate myself from everything they (SIAN) stand for," she said. "I think it's hurtful to hear how they talk about people living in this country, talk about the faith of people living in this country." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Sep 2020 Edition


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