‘If you enter a camp, you never come out’: inside China’s war on Islam

In Hotan, documents show officials are expanding detention camps and increasing surveillance

The Luopu County No 1 Vocational Skills Training Centre is hard to miss. It emerges suddenly, a huge campus towering over hectares of farmland.

Outside the compound, surrounded by tall white concrete walls lined with barbed wire and surveillance cameras, a police car patrols while several guards carrying long batons stand watch. The centre, which straddles a highway, is bigger than most of the surrounding villages – about 170,000sq metres. A banner on one building says: “Safeguard ethnic unity.”

Half a dozen people stand on the roadside, staring at the buildings. No one is willing to say exactly what this prison-like facility is or why they are waiting on its perimeter.

Images of Xinjiang, China, taken in December as part of a Guardian investigation into the mass detention of Uighur Muslims across China.
 Images of Xinjiang, China, taken in December as part of a Guardian investigation into the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in China. Photograph: Lily Kuo for the Guardian

They are reluctant to talk because the building is not a formal prison or university, but an internment camp where Muslim minorities, mainly Uighurs, are sent against their will and without trial for months or even years.

Researchers and residents say southern Xinjiang, where the Luopu County No 1 Vocational Skills Training Centre is located, has borne the brunt of the government’s crackdown on Muslims because of its density of Uighurs and distance from major cities.

“We have a saying in Hotan: If you go into a concentration camp in Luopu, you never come out,” said Adil Awut*, from Hotan City, who is now living overseas.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

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Duncan Hunter Is Running the Most Anti-Muslim Campaign in the Country

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) arrives at federal court in San Diego, CaliforniaSAN DIEGO, Calif.—Congressman Duncan Hunter had a problem.

The California Republican was supposed to coast to reelection this year. A square-jawed ex-Marine who inherited his father’s House seat in 2008, Hunter had won each of his past five elections by a wide margin. His district, a collection of inland San Diego suburbs, was solid GOP territory, and few campaign watchers expected that to change anytime soon.

On August 22, federal prosecutors charged the lawmaker and his wife with stealing $250,000 in campaign funds. In a 47-page indictment littered with galling details, the Hunters were accused of using campaign cash to fund lavish family vacations; to pay for groceries, golf outings, and tequila shots; and even to fly a pet rabbit across the country. To cover their tracks, the indictment alleged, the Hunters often claimed that their purchases were for charitable organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project.

The political backlash was swift and severe. Hunter was stripped of his committee assignments in the House. His fund-raising dried up, and Democratic money flooded into the district. When he tried to defend himself on Fox News, he exacerbated the crisis by appearing to pin the blame for the scandal on his wife.

Publicly disgraced, out of money, and facing both jail time and a suddenly surging challenger—what was an indicted congressman to do?

Eventually, Hunter seemed to arrive at his answer: Try to eke out a win by waging one of the most brazenly anti-Muslim smear campaigns in recent history.

In the final weeks of the election, Hunter has aired ominous ads warning that his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is “working to infiltrate Congress” with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has circulated campaign literature claiming the Democrat is a “national security threat” who might reveal secret U.S. troop movements to enemies abroad if elected. While Hunter himself floats conspiracy theories from the stump about a wave of “radical Muslims” running for office in America, his campaign is working overtime to cast Campa-Najjar as a nefarious figure reared and raised by terrorists.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Pittsburgh Shooting Is A Reminder: Jews And Muslims Are In This Together

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Robert Bowers was angry at Jews. But the 46-year-old alleged killer of at least eleven people in a Pittsburgh synagogue seemed most angry at Jews for one particular reason: They were helping Muslim refugees flee to safety in America.

In posts on Gab, the social media network favored by white supremacists, Bowers fixated on HIAS, the Jewish group that helps refugees resettle in the United States, including many Muslim refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Earlier this month, Bowers wrote that HIAS wants “to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us.” Another white supremacist’s post on Gab that Bowers reposted read: “It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!! Stop the kikes then Worry About the Muslims!”

And hours before he barged into the Tree of Life Synagogue, yelled “All Jews must die” and opened fire, he wrote another post naming HIAS: “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”

Bowers’ rantings should serve as a stark reminder that even some American Jews have forgot: The safety of we Jews in America is bound up in the safety of Muslims in America.

Bowers’ posts echoed a white supremacist conspiracy theory that grew in popularity after the civil rights revolution. Rather than acknowledge that black Americans led the struggle to topple the Jim Crow regime, white supremacists turned to their age-old target: Jews. They started propagating the false idea that Jews, the ever-powerful puppet-masters, were the ones pulling the strings of civil rights activists. Today, the theory is echoed in leading Republicans’ conspiratorial claims that George Soros is funding the caravan of Central American asylum-seekers currently making its way to the U.S. border to flee from the terror and repression of their home countries

 

American Kids Are Learning Islamophobia From Their Textbooks

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Donald Trump’s travel ban, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, is wreaking havoc on Muslim families, forcing some Americans to leave the United States for countries in the midst of devastating wars in order to reunite with loved ones. The resilience ― and, among some Americans, popularity ― of the travel ban is emblematic of how enshrined Islamophobia has become in American culture. Even our highest court of justice has endorsed a discriminatory law rooted in misconceptions about the instability, oppression and violence of the Middle East and Islamic faith.

While many people blame these persistent misconceptions on mass-media depictions of Arabs and Muslims, that’s not where they begin. We need to examine the pervasiveness of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim information in the American education system ― and, in particular, in textbooks.

Most Americans’ exposure to the Middle East and Islam starts with what they learn in high school history class. World history textbooks in the United States only allocate around 3 percent of space to discussions of these topics. And the story those textbooks tell in that limited space is a disturbing one. My research on world history textbooks used across the country finds that sections about Islam and the Middle East advance a “rise and fall” narrative. That story goes like this: In the medieval period, the Middle East was a flourishing and advanced civilization, but due to an inability to modernize, the region has subsequently declined into chaos, oppression and violence. This sensationalized version of history reduces the region to a bygone society and fails to account for the vibrant and dynamic contemporary reality of the Middle East.

 

Anti-Muslim round-up from the Southern Poverty Law Center

Detroit Area Mosques VandalizedThe following is a list of activities and events of anti-Muslim organizations. Organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups are designated with an asterisk (*).

National Group Activity

Western Conservative Summit (WCS) features Frank Gaffney: A mix of establishment, conservative and far-right figures headlined this year’s WCS in Denver, Colorado on June 8 and 9. As Hatewatch pointed out earlier last month, “The WCS has been a forum for anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant oratory in the past, and this year looks to be no different.” High-profile anti-Muslim figure Frank Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy* spoke at the event, indulging in conspiracy theories about “refujihad” and Muslims’ “demographic jihad” to “outbreed[] non-Muslims.” During Gaffney’s presentation he also implied that a coterie of political bodies, social media companies and civil rights organizations — including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and the European Union — were “the leading edge of civilization jihad in America and worldwide.”

ACT for America* attempts to expand to college campuses: ACT recently launched a new project called “Campus Hate Watch” to “expose and challenge college or university employees who discriminate against student’s (sic) First Amendment rights and spread hateful propaganda inside the classroom.” ACT claims it will be monitoring faculty who are supposedly spewing “anti-Americanism” rhetoric and “anti-Semitism.” The group makes no specific mention of challenging anti-Muslim hate, which it has a long historyof fomenting. This is not the first time ACT has tried to expand its work to college campuses. In 2014, ACT attempted to launch student chapters on college campuses as a “counterweight” to the Muslim Student Association.

Reaction to White House’s Iftar dinner: Some American Muslim groups, leaders and community members said if invited, they would not attend the White House’s Iftar dinner that took place on June 6. This was in response to President Trump’s draconian policies like the Muslim ban. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim figures criticized Trump for saying favorable things about Islam during the event, such as “Iftars mark the coming together of families and friends to celebrate a timeless message of peace, clarity and love.” Hugh Fitzgerald, a contributor to Jihad Watch*, claimed in a June 8 blog that Trump’s Iftar speech shows he either needs “a re-education on the subject of Islam” or that he was lying and practicing his own version of taqiyya, an obscure and misunderstood Islamic concept that is popular among the far-right who claim it gives Muslims free reign to lie about their nefarious intentions. “Some will still find his remarks on Islam unforgivable,” Fitzgerald wrote. “I’m inclined to think that Trump thought it was okay to practice his own form of taqiyya, offering a modicum of praise of the faith where none was due.” Three days later, during a June 11 episode of his “Understanding the Threat” radio show, former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim conspiracist John Guandolo called for Trump’s Iftar dinner speech writer to be fired, saying “this is a step backwards.” “I don’t know what in the world the president is talking about. Islam does not celebrate love the way we understand love … Islam does not actually teach love.” Guandolo heads the anti-Muslim hate group Understanding the Threat*.

John Bolton’s earnings: On June 11, the White House released financial disclosures of over two dozen staffers, including National Security Adviser John Bolton. According to The Washington Post, Bolton earned $2.2 million in 2017, and $155,000 of it came from the Gatestone Institute, an organization known for spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Bolton served as chairman of Gatestone before joining the Trump administration.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SPLC WEBSITE

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to replace Tillerson, has long worried Muslim advocates

TUITMLZBUEYO3NSHTPOQTLFWSEMike Pompeo, the former Kansas lawmaker and CIA director President Trump unveiled Tuesday as his pick to run the State Department, has long worried Muslims and human rights groups for his sweeping statements about Islam.

There have been rumors for months that Trump would do what he did Tuesday — fire Rex Tillerson and replace him with Pompeo — and Muslim leaders and their allies have expressed concern about Pompeo’s singling out of and suspicious posture toward Muslim Americans. Pompeo has been honored by and has appeared with U.S. advocacy groups that have criticized Islam.

After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Pompeo — then a member of Congress — falsely accused American Muslim organizations of not condemning terrorism. Despite a steady stream of such condemnations since the Sept. 11 attacks — including many in the hours after the Boston attacks — Pompeo accused American Muslims of being “potentially complicit.” On the House floor, weeks after the Boston attacks, he said condemnations hadn’t been sufficient. “It casts doubt on the commitment to peace by adherents of the Muslim faith.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Every Time I Hear a Mass Shooter Wasn’t Muslim, I Feel Relief

171004_POL_Relief-ShooterNotMuslim.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2The first thing I felt Monday morning was grief. The slow trickle of news about another mass shooting can feel like just the next chapter in a long national assault on helpless victims, but it’s important we focus our energy on the victims whose experience in Las Vegas on Sunday night is new. Right now, I’m thinking about them and everyone else who has experienced this horror. My heart is broken.

The second thing I felt Monday was relief. That’s what I always feel when I learn a mass shooter wasn’t Muslim.

I wish, like many other Muslims I know, that my mind didn’t immediately arrive at “Oh God, was it a Muslim terrorist?” That’s a terrible way to think. But I don’t just feel that way because I don’t want my community to be forced to confront false associations. I’ve learned Americans have more pointed, sobering conversations about the root causes of this violence when they’re forced to confront a perpetrator they can’t so easily separate from themselves.

I know what will happen as soon as I hear a Muslim-sounding name connected to a shooting on the news. There’s question of accountability: Why didn’t “moderate Muslims” do more to stop it? What could I have done in New York to stop the Muslim shooter in Florida? Or California? If the shooter was born in America, the question then turns to the parents: Should they ever have been allowed to come here?

That’s how it went down after Omar Mateen was identified as the shooter in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in June 2016, until Sunday the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Within hours, reports chased down his immigration status and his connections with foreign terror groups, and a New York Times writer declared it the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. By the following Monday, then-candidate Donald Trump had also seized on Mateen’s religion and national origin, bragging on Twitter “for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” He added, in an angry, rambling speech, “The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE