Anti-Muslim prejudice puts secular societies in a bind

http___com.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-eu.s3.amazonawsThe Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were a stark reminder that we live in a world defined increasingly by ethnic and religious hatred. The terrorists who slaughtered at least 250 innocent people in churches and luxury hotels were deliberately targeting Christians. Whether or not the local jihadi group explicitly wished to replace the caliphate lost by Isis, there is no doubt that this was an attack on Judeo-Christian values. Secular governments are often irritated and bewildered by the resurfacing of old prejudices. But they must grapple with them. According to the charity Open Doors, 245m Christians worldwide face persecution. In India, the ultranationalist Hindu message of Narendra Modi’s government suggests that both Muslims and Christians are, at best, second-class citizens. In the UK, nine MPs resigned from the Labour party this year partly over concerns at the growing tide of anti-Semitism in its ranks. The Conservative party ran a London mayoral campaign in 2016 with unpleasant overtones against the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim.

The first time a moderate, educated Muslim woman told me about the hatred she felt from fellow bus passengers, I was shocked. Since then, I’ve heard many similar stories. Ugly prejudice is on the rise. The UK is also struggling with growing sectarianism, illustrated by religiously motivated murders such as that of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, by a Sunni Muslim taxi driver. Hand-wringing will not solve this. But I am troubled by the recent drive to persuade the British government to introduce a legally binding definition of “Islamophobia”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES 

Group highlights civil rights abuses against Muslims

An elementary school student who received threatening notes in her classroom. A congressional candidate who dealt with anti-Islam political flyers during her campaign. And a mother who was subjected to an invasive airport search.

Those and many other cases from 2018 are highlighted in a new report released Wednesday by the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the state’s largest Islamic advocacy organization.

The goal of the report is to educate the public about the abuses local Muslims are facing while also encouraging people to step forward if they’re dealing with similar issues, said Barbara Dougan, the group’s civil rights director.

“The perpetrators and haters are emboldened,” she said. “The level of aggression toward women is especially troubling. Muslim women who wear hijabs are shouldering the greatest burden of the physical violence and harassment.”

Among the prominent cases highlighted was one involving a fifth-grader at Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham who received two notes in her classroom storage bin — one calling her a terrorist and the other threatening her with death. The incident prompted an outpouring of support from across the country as some 500 people sent letters of encouragement to the young student as part of a campaign promoted by the council.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX NEWS

Christians, Islamophobia Is Our Problem

COMMENTARY
By Catherine Orsborn3-20-2019

2019-03-19t012144z_1_lynxnpef2i03p_rtroptp_4_newzealand-shootout_1I looked at the faces and read the stories of the people killed in New Zealand last Friday. I saw my own toddler in the face of the 3-year-old boy. I felt the anguish his family must be going through losing such joy from their lives. I thought about the children who no longer have a mother or a father, and the people who lost a brother, a sister, a best friend. It’s moments like this, when I see the human impact of hate, that I am called back to the “why?” of my own work.

As executive director of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, my professional life is concentrated on counteracting anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. When I started this work, there were many from my white Christian community of origin that wondered if I had converted to Islam — as if that’s why I started doing this work.

I understood where the people asking this question were coming from, but the assumption behind it bothered me. They assumed the only reason Christians would care about anti-Muslim hate in the United States is if they had converted to Islam themselves. The assumption caused me to dig deeper into why I would care enough about this issue to devote myself to it not in spite of my Christian identity but because of it.

This theological grounding is a major part of why I started and stay involved in this work. But there’s something else that should be pulling white Christians into addressing Islamophobia: it’s our problem.

Their fellow congregants died in Pittsburgh. Now Jews are supporting Muslims in New Zealand.

P2OKY6SJP4I6TDH4FROQTGOCDYJews in Pittsburgh and Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, have forged a grim bond that transcends oceans and faiths: Mass killers have targeted their houses of prayer.

The Jewish community in Pittsburgh was roiled when 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in October. People of all religions rallied around them for support.

Now, members of Tree of Life have raised thousands of dollars for a Muslim community that lost 50 people, killed by a gunman Friday at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. Dozens more were injured.

“We feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” says a GoFundMe page set up by the congregation. “We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”

Donors provided thousands of dollars a day after the page was launched Sunday.

The effort mirrors an outpouring of support from the Muslim community in Pittsburgh after the massacre there. Nearly a quarter-million dollars was raised by Muslim groups to help injured worshipers and grieving families.

“To the families going through the most difficult moments in your lives: the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is with you,” the Tree of Life funding page says. “Our hearts are with you. We hold you in our prayers.”

“Tree of Life members, and our friends who continue to comfort and bolster us as we recover, must now come together to support the Muslims of Christchurch,” the page says.

There have been other similar efforts launched in Pittsburgh. The Jewish Federation set up a relief fund within days of the attack in New Zealand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

The Roots of the Christchurch Massacre

15Ali2-superJumboAll those who have helped to spread the worldwide myth that Muslims are a threat have blood on their hands.

For Muslims, Friday Prayer is like Sunday Mass for Christians. It’s the day of community prayer. We travel to our local mosques, our religious sanctuary. Our families gather in the early afternoon to pray as a community. Kids run through the halls as the imam recites the Quran in Arabic. We eat together and mingle outside.

This week, as those of us in the United States attend Friday Prayer, the Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, are preparing for funerals.

People around the world are praying for the dead in Christchurch after terrorist attacks at two mosques. The authorities say a 28-year-old Australian walked into two mosques with assault rifles and killed at least 49 people. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. These attacks are the latest manifestation of a growing and globalized ideology of white nationalism that must be addressed at its source — which includes the mainstream politicians and media personalities who nurture, promote and excuse it.

‘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)

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