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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08 Sep 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Disney‘s remake of Mulan is criticised for filming in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government is alleged to have imprisoned at least one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Writing for The New Arab, Bridge Senior Research Fellow Mobashra Tazamal analyzes Joy Reid’s recent comments about Muslims, writing “Stop using Islam as a yardstick for white terrorism.” Our recommended read today is from The New York Times on video testimony from two Myanmar Army soldiers who were part of the state’s genocidal campaign against the persecuted minority. This, and more, below:


08 Sep 2020

'Kill All You See:' In a First, Myanmar Soldiers Tell of Rohingya Slaughter | Recommended Read

The two soldiers confess their crimes in a monotone, a few blinks of the eye their only betrayal of emotion: executions, mass burials, village obliterations and rape. The August 2017 order from his commanding officer was clear, Pvt. Myo Win Tun said in video testimony. “Shoot all you see and all you hear.” He said he obeyed, taking part in the massacre of 30 Rohingya Muslims and burying them in a mass grave near a cell tower and a military base. Around the same time, in a neighboring township, Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun said he and his comrades in another battalion followed a nearly identical directive from his superior: “Kill all you see, whether children or adults.” “We wiped out about 20 villages,” Private Zaw Naing Tun said, adding that he, too, dumped bodies in a mass grave. The testimony from the two soldiers is the first time that members of the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s military is known, have openly confessed to taking part in what United Nations officials say was a genocidal campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. On Monday, the two men, who fled Myanmar last month, were transported to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has opened a case examining whether Tatmadaw leaders committed large-scale crimes against the Rohingya. The atrocities described by the two men echo evidence of serious human rights abuses gathered from among the more than one million Rohingya refugees now sheltering in neighboring Bangladesh. What distinguishes their testimony is that it comes from perpetrators, not victims. read the complete article

Recommended Read

United Kingdom

08 Sep 2020

Rule, Britannia! and the manufacturing of culture wars

Was Rule, Britannia! going to be dropped from the Last Night of the Proms in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement? Apparently not, and yet Boris Johnson was moved to comment on the story. Guardian columnist Nesrine Malik looks at how culture wars have entered mainstream politics. There was only going to be an orchestral version because of the pandemic and the fact there will be no audience to sing along. She tells Anushka Asthana why she thinks it wasn’t an innocent misunderstanding, but the result of a desire to exaggerate the threat to “our culture” from the unnamed vandals set on destroying it. Culture war skirmishes, Malik believes, are how rightwing electoral prospects are now advanced: not through policies or promises of a better life, but by fostering a sense of threat, a fantasy that something profoundly pure and British is constantly at risk of extinction. read the complete article


08 Sep 2020

Disney remake of Mulan criticised for filming in Xinjiang

Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan, already the target of a boycott, has come under fire for filming in Xinjiang, the site of alleged widespread human rights abuses against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The film, directed by Niki Caro, is an adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animation about Hua Mulan, a young woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in the imperial army in her father’s stead. The remake attracted criticism when the actor Liu Yifei, who plays Mulan, said she supported Hong Kong police in their often violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters. After the film’s release last Friday, observers noted another controversial element: in the final credits Disney offers “special thanks” to eight government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang where several re-education camps have been documented. The film also expresses thanks to the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee”, the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda department in Xinjiang. Disney has been approached for comment. read the complete article

08 Sep 2020

U.S. May Ban Cotton From Xinjiang Region of China Over Rights Concerns

The Trump administration is weighing a ban on some or all products made with cotton from the Xinjiang region of China, a move that could come as soon as Tuesday as the United States looks to punish Beijing over alleged human rights violations, three people familiar with the matter said. The potential ban, which could affect a wide range of apparel and other products, comes amid widespread concerns about the use of forced labor in Xinjiang, where China has carried out a crackdown against mostly Muslim minorities, including a campaign of mass detentions. The scope of the order remains unclear, including whether it would cover all cotton products shipped from Xinjiang or China, or potentially extend to items that contain Xinjiang cotton and are shipped from third countries. But any move to block cotton imports could have huge implications for global apparel makers. Xinjiang is a major source of cotton, textiles, petrochemicals and other goods that feed into Chinese factories. Many of the world’s largest and best-known clothing brands rely on supply chains that extend into China, including using cotton and textiles produced in Xinjiang, in the country’s far west. read the complete article

08 Sep 2020

Three things we can learn from contemporary Muslim women's fashion

In studying how Muslim women dress for over a decade, I realized a deeper understanding of Muslim women’s clothing can challenge popular stereotypes about Islam. Here are three takeaways. Modesty is not one thing: While there are scattered references to modest dress in the sacred written sources of Islam, these religious texts do not spend a lot of time discussing the ethics of Muslim attire. And once I started to pay attention to how Muslims dress, I quickly realized that modesty does not look the same everywhere. Muslim women don’t need saving: Many non-Muslims see Muslim women’s clothing and headscarves as a sign of oppression. It is true that a Muslim woman’s clothing choices are shaped by her community’s ideas about what it means to be a good Muslim. But this situation is not unlike that for non-Muslim women, who likewise have to negotiate expectations concerning their behavior. In my book, I introduce readers to a number of women who use their clothing to express their identity and assert their independence. Muslims contribute to mainstream society: A 2017 Pew survey showed that 50 percent of Americans say Islam is not a part of mainstream society. But as Muslim models and Muslim designers are increasingly recognized by the fashion world, the misperception of Muslims as outsiders has the potential to change. Muslim models are spokespersons for top cosmetic brands, walk the catwalk for high end designers and are featured in print ads for major labels. read the complete article


08 Sep 2020

'Say Jai Shri Ram', Killers of Muslim Man in NCR Said, Police Deny Murder Was Hate Crime

On Sunday, at around midnight, 20-year-old Mohammad Sabir was told by the police that they had found the lifeless body of his father, Aftab Alam, tied to the side of his own car. Sabir wasn’t entirely surprised to hear this, he says. A few hours earlier, he had sensed that something was wrong when he received an unusual call from his father – who didn’t utter a word after he picked up the phone. Sabir heard “drunk” men on the other end of the phone asking his father if he would like to drink. Alam said ‘no’, Sabir heard. The men then asked him his name, according to Sabir. By then, having sensed that something was wrong, he began recording the call. In the audio file of the call available with The Wire, at 8:39 minutes, one of the men can be heard saying, “Jai Shri Ram bol, bol Jai Shri Ram”. Sabir heard no conversation after that. But 11 minutes later, at the 19:41 minute mark, one of the men can be heard saying, “Saans ruk gayi.” ‘He has stopped breathing.’ “Sub-inspector Sanjay sir helped me when I told him about the matter. He immediately started tracking my father’s mobile phone and accessed the last location of the SIM card,” said Sabir. This ‘last location’ was near Badalpur police station, where the police found Aftab Alam’s bruised, lifeless body. He was taken to a nearby hospital. Sabir broke down upon recalling the sight of his dead father. “His tongue area was badly bruised, ears were bleeding, there was a big cut on his face. This is clearly a case of mob lynching,” he said, using the phrase which has come to symbolise hate crimes in India. “But the police has only registered a robbery case.” read the complete article

Graphic Content
08 Sep 2020

Delhi: Policeman Questioned for 'Forcing' Riot Victims To Sing National Anthem

In February, a video of 23-year-old Faizan went viral. Shot during the Delhi riots, it shows a group of policemen assaulting five men – who are lying on the floor and writhing in pain – and making them sing the national anthem and ‘Vande Mataram’. Faizan, who sustained bullet injuries, died on February 28. More than six months later, an officer of the Delhi Armed Police has been questioned in connection with the incident, according to an Indian Express report. While the video surfaced on February 25, it was recorded by the assaulting policemen on the previous night at Kardam Puri. Faizan was admitted to the LNJP Hospital on February 25 and succumbed to his injuries three days later. On March 3, The Wire spoke to Faizan’s mother Kismatun, who confirmed that he was one of the men seen in the video. She also claimed that her son had died because of the police’s assault. According to the Indian Express‘s Mahender Singh Manral, the Crime Branch’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding Faizan’s death was helped by another video, shot from afar. In this video, the investigators noticed that one of the policemen was carrying tear smoke munitions (TSM). The investigators believe that the policeman who was called in for questioning also shot the video of the men lying on the ground. The other video, shot from afar, shows that at least six policemen were part of the group, and the investigating officers are trying to zero in on the rest, according to the Indian Express. read the complete article

United States

08 Sep 2020

Top Legal Scholar: Trump Team Radically Restricted Immigration

The Trump administration has radically restricted immigration to the United States through administrative actions and executive orders, according to a leading immigration scholar. Ira Kurzban, author of the 2,650-page Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, 17th edition, has documented the changes made since Donald Trump took office. To better understand the changes, I interviewed Kurzban about what his research revealed. Kurzban: I was most surprised at how sweeping the changes in immigration law have been. The transformation of immigration law was shocking and Covid-19 has accelerated those changes in the law of asylum, relief in deportation proceedings, family and employment-based permanent immigration, and the treatment of nonimmigrants, including students, exchange scholars, multinational executives and high skilled workers. The book, in painstaking detail, covers all of those changes through July 2020. Kurzban: After Trump won the election, he held meetings at Trump Tower with Kris Kobach, Stephen Miller and others who sought to transform and some might say disfigure immigration law. In the earliest days of the Trump administration they announced a plan to develop a highly restrictive immigration policy with a narrow point system that would designate few entrants into the country. They have executed that plan in a manner that few could have imagined. read the complete article

08 Sep 2020

Stop using Islam as the yardstick for white terrorism

While Reid may have been wanting to point out media double-standards when it comes to talking about white nationalist violence and violence committed by individuals who identify as Muslims, her statement is riddled with generalisations and plays on dangerous anti-Muslim tropes. The most glaring example of this is, "the way Muslims act." If you want to understand why this is a problematic statement, just replace the word "Muslim" with any other identifier: Black people, Jews, women, etc. These words not only present Muslims, a population of 1.8 billion people from all walks of life across the globe, as a monolith but renders them a static collective. This leads to the dehumanisation of a community. Instead of pointing out that such imagery linking Muslims to violence is racist and discriminatory, Reid uses it as the frame of reference to explain the dangers of white nationalist violence. Reid isn't the first to deploy this analogy of "Muslim radicalisation" and white nationalist violence. Pointing to violence committed by individuals who identify as Muslims as the barometer of measurement for anything to do with "extremism," "radicalisation," and/or "terrorism" has been a constant theme within western discourse for the better part of the last two decades. In the context of Reid's statement, it's as if Islam and Muslims are the standards for radicalisation and violence altogether, and using it as a reference point is the only possible way to understand the severity of the current US domestic situation. Instead of employing Islamophobic tropes, Reid could have easily situated Trump's promotion and mainstreaming of white nationalism within the white supremacist rootings of the country. read the complete article


08 Sep 2020

Why Disney’s new ‘Mulan’ is a scandal

Disney filmed “Mulan” in regions across China (among other locations). In the credits, Disney offers a special thanks to more than a dozen Chinese institutions that helped with the film. These include four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region — organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity. It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today. More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out. read the complete article

08 Sep 2020

Disney criticised for filming Mulan in China's Xinjiang province

Disney is under fire for shooting its new film Mulan in parts of China where the government is accused of serious human rights abuses. The final credits thank a government security agency in Xinjiang province, where about 1m people - mostly Muslim Uighurs - are thought to be detained. on Monday, social media users noticed that in the credits Disney thanked a number of government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in the city of Turpan and the "publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee". The public security bureau in Turpan is tasked with running China's "re-education" camps where Uighurs are held in detention, China expert Adrian Zenz told the BBC. The "publicity department" named by Disney is responsible for producing state propaganda in the region, he adds. Mr Zenz described Disney as "an international corporation profiteering in the shadow of concentration camps". Activist Shawn Zhang also criticised the company, writing "how many thousands of Uighur were put into camps by Turpan Bureau of Public Security when filming Mulan there?" Turpan was the site of the first "re-education camps" where Uighur women wearing veils or men wearing beards were detained, Mr Zenz explained. The public security bureau is also responsible for managing construction of the camps and hiring police to staff them, he added. The earliest evidence of "re-education" work of Uighurs in Turpan is from August 2013, Mr Zenz claims. read the complete article


08 Sep 2020

Rohingya crisis: Nearly 300 refugees land in Indonesia after months at sea

Police said fishermen spotted a wooden boat carrying the Rohingya several miles off the coast of Lhokseumawe city on Sumatra's northern coast. The boat contained 297 people, including 14 children, police said. The Rohingya have for years been fleeing persecution in Myanmar for other south-east Asian nations. The refugees set sail from southern Bangladesh at the end of March or early April, bound for Malaysia, Ms Lewa said, but were turned back by both Malaysian and Thai authorities because of coronavirus restrictions. She said the refugees may have been held hostage at sea for a period by traffickers demanding money before allowing them to disembark. Locals reportedly donated food and clothing to the refugees: "We're concerned about their condition," one resident, Aisyah, told the Reuters news agency. "They need help in the name of humanity... They're human beings like us." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Sep 2020 Edition


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