Tag: Islamophobia

What Oil Politics, Taliban, Islamophobia Mean to India

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The media must reveal the truth and help weak states rise above a crisis, not play up divisive forces.

By Ram Puniyani

The withdrawal of the United States Army from Afghanistan has brought the Taliban to power. The scenario in Afghanistan is alarming as minorities, and others, desperately attempt to leave the country. The record of the previous Taliban rule is flashing before the world, particularly the oppression of women and imposition of their version of Sharia law. It is their demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha that tells the world what the Taliban stands for. Some hope the exit of foreign powers will change Taliban rule, but events so far make this expectation ring hollow.

Regardless of how Afghans plot their future, it is most surprising that a section of the Indian media—which many disparagingly identify as godi media—has taken to non-stop coverage of the Taliban takeover. They are toeing the ruling party’s line, spending a significant share of airtime on perceived threats to India from the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

These anchors on TV never spare a chance to criticise those who “felt the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan will not affect India”. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police recently arrested six suspected terrorists and alleged that they were trained in Pakistan to conduct terrorist strikes in India. Their alleged motive was to thwart the democratic process in Uttar Pradesh, where elections are due next year. The TV channels immediately caught on to this episode, claiming it connects with events in Afghanistan.

Other than attacking those critical of the ruling government, TV channels were busy for a month presenting viewers with the horrors Taliban rule entails. Their concerns may be valid, but the cheek-by-jowl coverage the Taliban is getting is out of proportion. They make it seem like the only problem Indians face is the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan. For a large section of Indians, growing unemployment, the farmer movement, the rising atrocities against Dalits and women, and price rise are primary concerns. This narrative is absent from the media. Nor do they provide coverage to the intimidation of religious minorities in India, and even if they do, there is no attempt to be objective. Instead, this section of the media presents the religious minorities themselves as the culprits. The ‘hate Muslims’ sentiment has strengthened ever since the Taliban came to power.

The language in the media portrays the Taliban as representatives of all Muslims anywhere, as though it embodies some universally accepted Islamic values. The aim is to cast a deep shadow on Indian Muslims, increasing their alienation and marginalisation. The 2016 report, What Muslims Want, the most extensive research of British Muslims ever conducted, found that nine of ten British Muslims reject terrorism outright.” However, this powerful section of the media is unconcerned with the politics behind the Taliban’s coming to power. It does not bother to introspect why countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, do not have similar politics.

If the mainstream media correlates fundamentalist Islam represented by the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, and the politics of the last five decades in the oil-rich parts of the world, it would give away the truth. However, that would not suit the sectarian politics in India, and it would challenge the economic and political interests of corporates who control this media.

Fact is, western imperialism is out to control and plunder the resources of the world. In the last few decades after the colonial era ended, the United States and its cohort sought to control oil resources and markets worldwide. In a way, the people of West and Central Asia, rich in oil and other natural resources, suffer due to their wealth. America funded youth training in the retrograde version of Islam in Af-Pak, leading to the mujahideen and the Taliban. During the Cold War, it perpetrated imperialist designs in the name of a ‘free world’, which meant opposing communism. The Soviet Union supported several national liberation struggles, which the United States did not want. The war in Vietnam is the best example of how America pursued its anti-communist agenda through waging wars far from its borders.

After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the United States intensified its support to local fundamentalist groups. The Saudi regime helped train the youth, though mostly America supported the Mujaheddin, the Taliban, and even Al-Qaeda. The syllabus was prepared in Washington, America funded it, and youngsters got lured into fundamentalist schools where it was taught. It was a close collaboration between the CIA and the ISI of Pakistan, which indoctrinated the youth and gave them sophisticated weapons.

Their goal was to ally with the Afghan forces to defeat the USSR. Recall the 1985 visit of hardcore Islamists to the White House, where Ronald Regan hosted them. He brought them to the Oval Office and said, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers.” Let us be blunt: The CIA’s machinations created the world’s deadliest terrorists. To cut a long story short, Hillary Clinton, when she was US Secretary of State, accepted in an interview that America “funded Taliban and Al Qaida”.

West Asia is a victim of the oil and wealth lust of American imperialism. The majority of the victims of Islamist terrorists were Muslims. Pakistan lost close to 70,000 people due to terror strikes, including a former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, to such an attack. Still, the American media coined the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ after the 9/11 attack, as if events unfolding in Afghanistan or Iraq or Egypt were unconnected with recent American history. The global media picked up the phrase uncritically. In India, the Muslim community saw a further dip in its social and economic capital. An outcome of American policies was that they added to the discrimination of this community around the world.

It is the responsibility of the media to unravel the truth, no matter how complex. Of course, there are excellent books on the topic, only if members of the godi media care to read them! Their task is to help a weak state rise above its crisis, not to play into the hands of divisive forces.

The author is a social activist and commentator. The views are personal.

Source- newsclick.in, 24 September 2021

Australian Muslims (63%) believe Australia welcoming society; despite 80% face prejudice: AHRC report

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Photo- AHRC

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 23 July 2021: A recent report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, SHARING THE STORIES OF AUSTRALIAN MUSLIMS reveals 63 % of Australian Muslims believe Australia is a welcoming society, despite an even greater majority (80%) experiencing prejudice or discrimination.

It found three in four (74%) Australian Muslims said they felt ‘Australian’, but one in four (23%) said they felt unable to speak up when they experienced discrimination.

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Graphic- AHRC

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan says, “Australia’s Muslim communities make significant economic, community and charitable contributions to Australian society, yet they still experience widespread discrimination.

“Australia prides itself on being a diverse country, where equality and opportunity are afforded to all. If we are to live up to these values, urgent national attention is required to improve social cohesion. Supporting and including diverse communities enriches the whole country.”

Commissioner Tan says the report underlines the need for a National Anti-Racism Framework and clear goals and commitments on tackling racism.

“It’s not enough to simply condemn racism. We need a coordinated strategy that works on many fronts to actively counter racism at the various levels that it occurs,” Commissioner Tan said.

The report details nine solutions that Australian Muslims have identified to help improve social harmony with the broader community and increase cultural acceptance.

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Graphic- AHRC

These include stronger support from the Australian community and political leaders, improved media representation, public awareness education, and better implementation of existing initiatives.

The report’s findings are based on a national, representative survey of more than 1000 Australian Muslims, and extensive consultations with community members and leaders across Australia.

The report examines the Muslim community’s concerns and priorities in the wake of the tragic Christchurch mosque attack. It includes many examples of social harmony and cultural acceptance, but these are offset by experiences of hate, violence, and negative public commentary.

Muslim family killed in terror attack in London, Ontario: Islamophobic violence surfaces once again in Canada

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Four members of a Pakistani-Canadian family were killed by a man in a truck in what police are calling a hate-motivated attack. This photo, released by the family, shows the victims (left to right): Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal, 46.

By Jasmine Zine, Professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

A Pakistani-Canadian family out on a stroll on a warm weekend evening was murdered in a horrific act of Islamophobic violence in London, Ont. A nine-year-old boy, hospitalized with serious injuries, is the only survivor of a terror attack that killed his sister, father, mother, and grandmother.

How will he make sense of this unthinkable tragedy? This was not an accident. Police have said his family — his father, Salman Afzaal, his mother Madiha Salman, his 15-year-old sister Yumna Afzaal and his grandmother, Talat Afzaal — was “targeted because of their Muslim faith” and hit by a speeding truck. How do you process this targeted hate and violence at such a young age?

While Canadians may be shocked and blindsided by this mass murder, the ingredients for this tragedy have long been in the making. The warning signs of white nationalist violence have been glaring.

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253 percent between 2012 and 2015. The 2017 terror attack in a mosque in Québec left six men dead after offering their evening prayers. Last year, a caretaker in a Toronto mosque was stabbed and killed and the person charged with his murder is alleged to have been influenced by neo-Nazi social media posts.

Not just far-right groups

But it’s not only far-right fringe groups that hold anti-Muslim views.

Results from a 2016 Forum Poll revealed that 41 per cent of Canadian adults expressed some level of bias against identifiable racial groups, with Muslims having the highest negative rating at 28 per cent.

Another survey published in 2016, by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, found that only 32 per cent of Ontarians had a “positive impression” of Islam.

The following year, a survey done for Radio Canada revealed that almost one in four Canadians would favour a ban on Muslim immigration, with the level of support for this ban rising to 32 per cent in Québec. Most respondents (51 per cent in Canada, 57 per cent in Québec) felt the presence of Muslims in this country made them “somewhat” or “very worried” about security.

A breeding ground for violence

These negative views of the Muslim presence in Canada create a breeding ground for xenophobic racial violence.

I research Canadian Islamophobia and its networks that produce hate and circulate destructive ideologies.

There is a networked ecosystem of Islamophobic hate groups in Canada that promote conspiracy theories about Muslims threatening “Canadian values” and western civilization, plotting to impose “creeping shariah law” and political Islamism.

Other problematic rhetoric includes the liberal washing of white nationalism that politically camouflages xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist ideologies under the guise of “protecting democracy,” “freedom” and the “rule of law” from what are regarded as illiberal, anti-modern and anti-democratic Muslims.

Once again, it is not just extremist groups that promote Islamophobia. Canadian security policies have targeted Muslim communities for surveillance and scrutiny leading to targeted racial and religious profiling . Bill 21, the Québec law that bans certain civil servants from wearing religious symbols, follows decades of policies mandating the coerced unveiling of Muslim women who wear Islamic attire that effectively institutionalizes gendered Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim racism is normalized

Through these policies and practices, liberal Islamophobia normalizes anti-Muslim racism and constructs Muslims as suspect and inferior citizens.

My research on Islamophobia, spanning more than a decade, has underscored these and other concerns that anti-Muslim racism poses in Canada. I have documented the repercussions of anti-Muslim racism on Muslim youth in my forthcoming book Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation.

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A man breaks down next to the caskets of three of the six victims of the 2017 Québec City mosque shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
The 9/11 generation of Muslim youth have come of age at a time when their faith and identity are under siege. This is a condition that has been exacerbated with two hate crimes resulting in mass murder in Canada in the past four years. The risks for the Muslim community are palpable. There is heightened fear and anxiety along with grief and mourning.

The calls to action from the local Muslim community in London, Ont., include an immediate national summit on Islamophobia in Canada. This is an important step to begin the work that needs to be done challenging Canadian Islamophobia.

Call for national summit on Islamophobia

This summit should have been undertaken after the Québec mosque shooting four years ago. Canada’s national amnesia surrounding this attack was finally addressed with a National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. We now have another horrific tragedy to remember and mourn and yet very little action on Islamophobia.

For Fayez Salman, the nine-year-old survivor whose world has been shattered by this hatred, none of this matters right now. As a scholar of Islamophobia studies, I can analyze what kinds of social, cultural and political factors precipitated the racist Islamophobic violence that destroyed his family and permanently altered the course of his life, but in the end God only knows how Fayez will make sense of this tragedy. Our prayers are with him.

Source- The Conversation, June 8, 2021. (Under Creative Commons Licence)

“Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

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Federal Government appalled at rising ‘examples of discrimination against Muslim Australians’ contained in a report released by the Charles Sturt University

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 November: The Federal Government has slammed the incidents of Islamophobia in Australia, calling them ‘completely unacceptable’. A media statement today from The Hon David Coleman MP Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs refers to the report (Islamophobia in Australia-2- 2016-2017) released by the Charles Sturt University today.

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

- The second Islamophobia in Australia report cites 349 incidents reported in 24 months (2016-17)
- This and previous reports indicate only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide
- Islamophobia is not just a problem for Muslims but requires national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

The report, which was led by chief investigator Dr. Derya Iner from Charles Sturt University’s Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, offers a multi-faceted analysis of verified incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia by victims, proxies, and witnesses in the two-year period of 2016-17.

A news report on the CSU website says, “The report shows predominantly Muslim women and girls are being targeted with verbal abuse, profanities, physical intimidation and death threats in public places, most often while shopping, and most often by Anglo-Celtic male perpetrators.

Insults targeting Muslims’ religious appearance and religion was the highest in both reports online and offline, with almost all women respondents (96 percent) targeted while wearing hijab.”

It adds, “The situation for Muslim children was particularly concerning and underscores the need for prevention strategies in schools.

The report shows that experiences of Islamophobic abuse start for children in pre-school years when they were accompanied by their identifiably Muslim parents.”

Intensity of hate rhetoric

The report shows the alarming intensity of hate rhetoric that groomed the Christchurch terrorist who carried out terrorist attacks in New Zealand earlier this year, as active in Australia three to five years ago.

Online and offline, people have detailed how they would like to murder all Muslims and yet there appeared to be no investigation or prosecution, raising serious questions about the fitness of existing laws.

Following the previous report’s trend, the most severe level of hate, wanting to kill and/or harm Muslims, was the most dominant rhetoric, consisting of one-quarter of the entire online cases.

Online, there were dynamics of contagion at play with online communities reacting to the perpetrator’s posts with supportive emojis, comments, and shares.

Sadly, the intensity of hate rhetoric was also present in physical cases, with 11 percent of the 202 offline cases including death threats.

The fact some Australian Muslims could not go about their ordinary life without receiving a death threat from a stranger opens serious questions about how Muslim identity has been publicly crafted.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Dr. Iner noted that the number of incidents discloses only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide.

“This is especially the case where continuous anti-Muslim sentiment in political and media discourse becomes normalized, desensitizing the public,” she said.

“With Christchurch in our minds, we cannot afford to be complacent.

“Social cohesion is something that must be nurtured and repaired by all of us for the well-being and security of Australia.”

The Hon David Coleman MP says, “Freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society. Australians of all religions should be able to practice their faith free of prejudice. The instances of discrimination against Australians of Islamic faith which are documented in the report are completely unacceptable.

The Morrison Government has no tolerance for racial or cultural prejudice against any group. In this year’s Budget, the Government invested $71 million into a package of measures designed to strengthen our social cohesion.

The behavior outlined in the report is condemned in the strongest terms – Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

Dr. Sharif As-Saber, Associate Professor at RMIT University and a Member of the Victorian South Asian Communities Ministerial Advisory Council says,” Unfortunately, Australia is not immune from various forms of discriminations, abuses and vilifications. Religious and racial discriminations including hate crimes are just a few of them. It is better to acknowledge the reality while there should be concerted efforts by the governments and various community groups and religious leaders to combat and mitigate such problems. In other words, ‘engagement’ is important!”

The Islamophobia Register Australia is launching a crowdfunding campaign as it relies on community funds to maintain its independence. The next report will include data from before and after the Christchurch tragedy.

Copies of the report are available at www.islamophobia.com.au.