Report: China destroyed dozens of Muslim sites

             By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – More than two dozen religious sites including mosques in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province have been partly or completely demolished since 2016, a British daily claimed Tuesday.

An article by The Guardian said a joint investigation by the newspaper and the Bellingcat website found new evidence of large-scale mosque razing in the autonomous region where Muslim minorities have long-faced religious repression.

It said the investigation analyzed 91 sites including mosques and shrines via satellite images and 31 of them “suffered significant structural damage between 2016 and 2018".

“Of those, 15 mosques and both shrines appear to have been completely or almost completely razed,” according to the report.

“The rest of the damaged mosques had gatehouses, domes, and minarets removed.”

Nine other locations identified by former residents as mosques also appeared to have been destroyed, it added.

The mass bulldozing drive is part of a state campaign against Uighurs, a Turkic speaking Muslim minority in China.

The destruction of shrines, which were sites of mass pilgrimage, "represent a new form of assault on their culture".

<p>China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang quoted in the article said in a briefing last month that there was “no such situation&quot;.</p>  <p>“There are more than 20 million Muslims and more than 35,000 mosques in China. The vast majority of believers can freely engage in religious activities according to the law,” Lu said.</p>  <p>However, the article says that China passed a five-year plan last January to make Islam compatible with socialism.</p>    <p>The Guardian also published satellite images from various religious sites, in which buildings that existed in 2016 are clearly seen as demolished in last two years.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

China stepped up its restrictions on the region in the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introducing what many experts see as the world’s most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

In its last report released on last September, Human Rights Watch blamed the Chinese government for a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

According to a 117-page report, the Chinese government conducted “mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment” of Uighur Turks in the region.

Turkish president marks start of holy month of Ramadan

                  By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur</p>    <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkey's president on Sunday welcomed the beginning of Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan, which starts this evening in Turkey.</p>    <p>On Twitter, Recep Tayyip Erdogan wished the best for the Turkish nation, the Islamic world, and all of humanity.</p>    <p>“May Allah accept our prayers and bring us to unity and solidarity to the Eid al-Fitr,&quot; the holiday at the holy month's conclusion, he wrote.

Millions of Muslims on Sunday will offer their first special evening Ramadan prayer called Tarawih, which will then continue throughout the holy month.

'Islamophobia in US driven by politics, not religion'

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Islamophobia in the United States is not rooted in a clash of religious beliefs but is driven by politics, according to a survey focusing on Muslim Americans.</p>  <p>The survey, conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), noted that anti-Muslim sentiment is influenced by a host of factors, including personal and national politics and how much a person knows about Islam, but is not due to their religious affiliation.</p>  <p>It found that Americans who personally know a Muslim are more than twice as likely to have a positive opinion of Muslims compared to those who do not.</p>  <p>However, the ISPU's Islamophobia Index rose from 24 in 2018 to 28 in 2019, indicating that Muslims remain the most likely group to face discrimination for their religion.</p>  <p>The index is a measure of the level of public endorsement of five negative stereotypes associated with Muslims in America – that most Muslims living in the U.S. are more prone to violence than others, that they discriminate against women, that they are hostile to the U.S., that they are less civilized than other people, and that they are partially responsible for acts of violence carried out by other Muslims.</p>  <p>According to the ISPU’s data, the Jewish community scored the lowest on the index at 18 while white evangelicals scored the highest at 35.</p>  <p>The survey also found that Americans who hold favorable views of blacks, Jews and the LGBTQ community tended to score 10 points lower on the index.</p>  <p>Some 33% of the Muslims surveyed were more optimistic about the direction of the country, despite being dissatisfied with U.S. President Donald Trump’s performance in office.</p>  <p>This may have been due in part to the survey being conducted after the first two Muslim women lawmakers, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, were elected to Congress, according to ISPU Executive Director Dalia Mogahed.</p>  <p>&quot;It was against this backdrop that ISPU conducted its fourth annual 2019 poll of American faith and non-faith groups,&quot; Mogahed said in the report, referring to Omar and Tlaib's election to office.</p>  <p>A total of 2,376 Americans, including 804 Muslims and 360 Jews, were polled during the survey, which was conducted in January.</p>  <p> 

US man arrested after anti-Muslim rant in Texas store

                 By Umar Farooq </p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - A man in the state of Texas was arrested after entering a store and going on a racist tirade, verbally attacking a Muslim worker by calling him a &quot;f***ing Arab.&quot;</p>  <p>When the man, who was identified as Joey Christian, walked up to the counter and confronted an employee and asked him what his name was, the employee said his name was &quot;Mo&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;What the f*** kind of name is that?&quot; Christian asked in response. &quot;What is your actual real name? Mo what?&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;It's Mohammad,&quot; the employee said.</p>  <p>Christian, 38, then proceeded to walk away from the counter, appearing visually frustrated and saying &quot;F***ing Arab. Goddamn f***ing Arabs.&quot;</p>  <p>A woman that was recording the encounter Tuesday confronted the man, to which he responded, &quot;You know what? I really don’t give a f*** what some b***h has to say.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;I really don’t give a sh*t about some goddamn Arab that I’ve been killing their goddamn kind for f***ing six months,&quot; Christian said. &quot;Actually two years. Six months in the last country I was in.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;People like this are the reason our country’s going what it’s going to,&quot; Christian went on. &quot;Because I've been killing his kind for longer than you’ve probably been alive.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;His kind, I’ve been killing for almost 20 years,&quot; he added.</p>  <p>The end of the video shows Christian walking outside and being confronted by a police officer.</p>  <p>He was arrested for public intoxication, abusive language and disorderly conduct, according to a Friendswood Police report.</p>  <p>&quot;Shoutout to the lady that recorded this, called the cops on this man and got him arrested,&quot; the employee said on Twitter.</p>  <p>Christian was previously arrested the week before for driving while intoxicated. 

PROFILE – Indonesia: Widodo from furnisher to two time president

By Nicky Aulia Widadio and Muhammad Latief

JAKARTA (AA) – Joko Widodo is leading the presidential race in Indonesia, early and unofficial results from Wednesday's vote claim.

Widodo's journey from a furniture company owner to president of a country with the largest Muslim population started as mayor of his hometown Solo.

In 2005, supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), he was elected mayor, which became a stepping stone for an illustrious political career ahead.

He received applause for successfully relocating 900 street vendors in the historic Banjarsari Solo Park, to a new better location.

This success attracted public attention as the relocation of street vendors in Indonesia was often followed by clashes between traders and security forces.

He also gained a reputation for making impromptu visits to development project sites to personally oversee the situation on the field.

His popularity won him a second term as mayor in 2010, which he did not complete as he was running for governor of capital Jakarta.

In 2012, he was elected the governor of Jakarta.

A year later, Widodo managed to organize the Tanah Abang Market, the largest wholesale center in Southeast Asia, which also had complicated issues related to street vendors and thuggery.

During his tenure as a governor, Widodo also started the ground breaking of the first mass rapid transit project in Jakarta as well as in Indonesia, which started operating in March, after six years of construction.

Two years later, his party nominated him for the 2014 presidential election.

He defeated former military strongman Prabowo Subianto to win the election.

In the first period of his administration, Widodo focused on infrastructure development.

He claimed to have built 782 kilometers (485.9 miles) of toll roads by the end of 2018. This year, the length of the highway will go up to 1,854 km (1152 mi).

Widodo also built 754.59 km (468.5 mi) of railway line as well as upgrading and rehabilitating the 413.6 km (256.63 mi) sport track.

The next project he has in his agenda is the construction of dam and reservoir routes. He has completed the construction of the Jatigede dam in West Java, which had been planned in the first President Sukarno’s period.

Widodo believes in a strong infrastructure to accelerate economic growth and aims to take Indonesia out of the middle-income country list.

Hacked Twitter of Swedish party writes anti-Muslim post

                By Atilla Altuntas</p>    <p>STOCKHOLM (AA) - A racist tweet was posted from Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party’s Twitter account, which got hacked on Monday, a statement by the party said. </p>    <p>A shocking message reading &quot;One like = one dead Muslim&quot; was posted from the ruling party’s account, which was hacked at 2.00 a.m. local time (0000GMT).</p>    <p>The party took back the control of the account at 9.30 a.m. local time (0700GMT), the statement said.</p>    <p>The hackers also wrote that Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has resigned and joined army as lieutenant.</p>    <p>In addition, a message reading &quot;sale of drugs is free&quot; was also posted by hackers.</p>    <p>“The messages have nothing to do with us and we will file a criminal complaint,” said the party's spokesman Asa Soderen. </p>  <p>  <p>*Writing by Burak Bir

US: Muslim student targeted in attack at high school

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) – A New Jersey high school student was arrested this week after pulling off a Muslim student's hijab during a fight, according to the Middlesex County's prosecutor's office. </p>  <p>The student got into an altercation with the other student over a seat in one of East Brunswick High School’s common areas, according to local news channel WNBC. </p>  <p>One of the girls pulled off the other's hijab, or headscarf, shouting anti-Muslim slurs at her.</p>  <p>The school's security guard rushed to stop the fight, but video was captured and posted on social media.</p>  <p>&quot;The East Brunswick Public School District values our diverse student body and community,&quot; East Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Victor Valeski wrote in a letter obtained by WNBC. </p>  <p>&quot;The district does not tolerate any incidents of bias, discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying and takes swift action if such an event occurs.&quot;</p>  <p>Valeski reportedly said the altercation was deemed a bias incident and immediately reported it to the East Brunswick Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.</p>  <p>The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said the student who pulled off the girl's hijab was charged with simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment and disorderly conduct.</p>  <p>The student was not named due to her juvenile status.</p>  <p>Hundreds of parents and community members filled the school board meeting this week, with many outraged over the fact that the Muslim student who had her hijab pulled off was also suspended as well, due to the school's zero tolerance policy against any kind of violence.</p>  <p>&quot;Students in this state have a right to safety and security while on school premises, and it is the duty of faculty and administrators to ensure that right,&quot; said Jim Sues, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' New Jersey chapter. </p>  <p>&quot;Bias incidents, violence and cyber bulling such as was witnessed in this case should never be tolerated, and the laws that protect our citizens from these offenses should be strictly enforced.&quot;

Nationalism core election promise of India's Modi

                      By Ahmad Adil</p>    <p>CHANDIGARH, India (AA) - India’s ruling party on Monday made a number of promises in its election manifesto, including stripping special rights from the people of Jammu and Kashmir region.</p>    <p>The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) released the election manifesto titled “Sankalpit Bharat, Sashakt Bharat’ (Determined India, Empowered India) ahead of the first phase of voting of general elections.</p>    <p>“In the last five years, we have made all necessary efforts to ensure peace in Jammu and Kashmir through decisive actions and armed policy,” the manifesto read.</p>    <p>Kashmir’s special constitutional status prevents outsiders from buying property in the Muslim-majority region.</p>    <p>“The next five years are crucial because in 2022, we mark the 75th anniversary of our Independence. Generations of great women and men laid down their lives so that we could breathe the air of freedom. It is our sacred duty to create the India of their dreams,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the manifesto.</p>    <p>The party also pledged to facilitate construction of a Temple of Ram at a disputed site in Ayodhya, where 16th century Babri mosque was demolished in 1992.</p>    <p>The manifesto said the party will “expeditiously complete the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and actively consider its extension to other states.” The NRC list is unique to Assam. It was first tabulated in 1951, four years after independence from British rule, to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal migrants from bordering Bangladesh, which was then part of Pakistan. </p>  <p>In 2015, the government began a process of updating the list. The new list includes only those people or their descendants who entered India till midnight of March 24, 1971, when Bangladesh became an independent state.</p>  <p><br>
  • 'Zero tolerance' policy on terrorism

The BJP has also vowed to continue the “policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism and extremism”.

The ruling party has also said that they are “committed to the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill for the protection of individuals of religious minority [non-Muslim] communities from neighboring countries escaping persecution.”

Activists and political parties say the bill violates the country's “secular constitution.”

The manifesto said the BJP will also make “efforts” to double farmers’ income by 2022.

The BJP manifesto said the party wants to make the country the world's third-largest economy by 2030.

“India was branded part of the as ‘fragile five’ in 2014 … we have already become the world’s sixth-largest economy and will soon be among the top five. We aspire to make India the third-largest economy of the world by 2030. This implies that we commit to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025 and $10 trillion economy by 2032,” the manifesto says.

India’s main opposition Congress party criticized the manifesto.

“For its 2019 manifesto, BJP has simply copy-pasted its 2014 manifesto & changed all previous deadlines from 2019 to 2022, 2032, 2047, 2097. Luckily they didn’t shift any deadlines to the next century,” senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said on Twitter.

“The difference between BJP manifesto and Congress manifesto can be seen firstly from the cover page. Ours has a crowd of people, and BJP manifesto has face of just one man. Instead of a manifesto BJP should have come out with a 'maafinama' [apology letter]," he added.

India’s general elections, which will be held in seven stages, begin on April 11.

India: Muslim attacked for allegedly selling beef

            By Shuriah Niazi</p>  <p>NEW DELHI (AA) - A Muslim man was attacked by a group of Hindus in India’s eastern state of Assam over the weekend for allegedly selling beef, according to media reports Monday. </p>  <p>The attack on Shaukat Ali took place at a market in Biswanath district.</p>  <p>In a video that surfaced on social media, Ali was seen kneeling down and being attacked by a group of men and questioned about his identity.</p>  <p>Biswanath district police superintendent Rakesh Roshan said the police had registered a report after receiving a complaint from Ali that he was assaulted, called a Bangladeshi and forced to eat pork, said a report in the Hindustan Times.</p>  <p>According to the news website Scroll.in, Assam has a complex and somewhat ambiguous law on cattle slaughter. </p>  <p>The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950 allows the slaughter of cattle over 14 years of age or those incapable of work or for use in breeding. The law stipulates that such cattle will be given a “fit-for-slaughter certificate” by a doctor of the state husbandry and animal welfare department. </p>  <p>Unlike many other Indian states, the law in Assam does not distinguish between buffaloes and cows or bulls.</p>  <p> 

'Hateful' note left on US congresswoman's office door

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said a note accusing fellow freshman lawmaker Ilhan Omar of &quot;Jew hatred&quot; was left on the door of her congressional office. </p>  <p>Tlaib is one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, alongside Omar who has twice been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks after she began her term in January. </p>  <p>Tlaib posted a picture on Twitter that appeared to depict the note Tuesday. </p>  <p>&quot;Rep Omar, Stop your disgusting Jew hatred. Your sign says 'Justice for all.' That means Jews too. Your jihad against the Jews will fail. Am Yisrael Chai,&quot; the small blue stick-it note read, concluding with a Hebrew phrase that roughly translates to &quot;the nation of Israel is alive.&quot; </p>  <p>It is unclear why the note addressed to Omar was left on Tlaib's door, as well as who left the message. </p>  <p>Tlaib responded to its allegations on Twitter, insisting it was replete with &quot;hateful rhetoric &amp; bullying.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;Stop the fear mongering &amp; blantant [sic] lies. Come here w/ the value that all beings deserve human rights, including Palestinians,&quot; she said. Omar &quot;&amp; I fight for equality &amp; justice for all. There's nothing antisemitic about that!&quot;</p>  <p>Tlaib and Omar were elected to Congress during the 2018 midterm elections, and have been part and parcel of the Democratic caucus' growing progressive wing, alongside hallmark congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. </p>  <p>Omar, in particular, has attracted controversy for a series of comments denounced by many, including members of her party, as anti-Semitic. </p>  <p>Omar suggested in February that support for Israel in Congress is tied to the financial benefits that accompanies it, remarks she apologized for before she denounced &quot;political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,&quot; referring to Israel.</p>  <p>Unlike her first set of remarks, Omar has doubled down on her loyalty claim with some support from leading members of her party, including top contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination.</p>  <p>A resolution introduced by the House's Democratic leadership initially intended as a rebuke of Omar was later widened to condemn multiple forms of hatred after a poster displayed in the West Virginia Capitol tied Omar to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.