ISLAMOPHOBIA CONTINUES AT DISTURBING LEVELS IN AUSTRALIA
The third Islamophobia in Australia report was released at the third anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks. It once again highlighted the ongoing threat to Muslim people in their everyday lives. This report is based on incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia by victims, proxies and witnesses during 2018 and 2019. This includes 247 verified incidents (138 physical and 109 online). It follows 349 incidents in the second report (published in 2019) and 243 incidents in the first report (published in 2017). Although the analysis of reported cases may not represent all incidents occurring across Australia, they remain a critical and valuable source for understanding manifestations of Islamophobia in the Australian context. The report found perpetrators were predominantly men (74%), while victims were predominantly women (82%). Of the 103 victims, 85% were women wearing hijab, 15% children and 15% women with children.
THREE PALESTINIANS INCLUDING TEEN KILLED BY ISRAELI FORCES
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have shot three Palestinians dead, including a teenager, in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank and in the Naqab (Negev) desert, earlier this week. The IOF had moved into Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus and Qalandia refugee camps in occupied East Jerusalem. 17-year-old Nader Rayan died after being shot in the head, chest and hand following an Israeli raid on the sprawling Balata refugee camp in the northern city of Nablus early on March 15, the Palestinian health ministry announced. The raid on Balata resulted in the arrest of Ammar Arafat, who was detained after his house was stormed by forces.
HEZBOLLAH DENIES SENDING FIGHTERS TO UKRAINE
Lebanese group Hezbollah has categorically denied sending fighters to Ukraine to support Russian troops as Moscow’s war on Kyiv enters its fourth week. “I categorically deny any of these claims,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “These claims are lies that are bare of truth.” “No one from Hezbollah, neither a fighter nor an expert, went to this battlefield,” Nasrallah said at the Al-Mahdi Scouts Anniversary Ceremony. Kyiv had earlier claimed Moscow recruited about 1,000 fighters from Syria and Hezbollah to fight in Ukraine. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to come to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
ROHINGYA BOAT WITH DOZENS OF CHILDREN LANDS IN INDONESIA
A boat carrying more than one hundred Rohingya refugees, including dozens of children, landed on the coast of Indonesia’s westernmost province Aceh, police said. The vessel, which sailed from a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, arrived shortly after 3:00 am on a beach in Bireun district. It was carrying 114 people, including 58 men, 21 women and 35 children aged under 15 years old, police said. “We will conduct a general health check-up and Covid-19 rapid antigen tests for these foreigners,” local police chief Mike Hardy Wirapraja told. He said they would later be transferred to neighbouring Lhokseumawe district which has a shelter for refugees. Police found out about the arrival after some local fishermen reported that a boat filled with Rohingya people had landed on the beach.
AT LEAST 10K CHILDREN KILLED IN YEMEN CONFLICT: UN
At least 10,000 children have died in Yemen’s nearly eight-year war, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as international attention remains squarely on the war in Ukraine. “Yemen may have receded from the headlines, but the human suffering has not relented. For seven years and counting the Yemeni people have been confronting death, destruction, displacement, starvation, terror, division and destitution on a massive scale,” he said at UN headquarters in New York. “Millions are facing extreme hunger, and the World Food Programme had to cut rations in half due to the lack of funds. Further cuts are looming. This is a tragedy,” he added.
RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER ACCUSED OF INSULTING ISLAM
Since taking office, Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas has pledged to foster religious inclusivity in the Muslim majority nation, but analysts say that poor political communication has hindered some of his policies. Yaqut’s policies have been met with various pushbacks from different groups, not least because of his choice of words. Most recently, he was met with criticism after issuing a ministerial circular stipulating guidelines for the use of loudspeakers at mosques. Many Islamic organisations such as the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI), Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), as well as the country’s largest Muslim organisations Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have expressed their support of the circular. However, other groups have also criticised the regulation. Politicians argued that the use of loudspeakers was a technical matter that should be left to each mosque according to the local traditions.
UN RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT CHINA’S UYGHUR MUSLIM REGION IN MAY
United Nation’s rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was likely to travel to China in May for a trip that will take her to the western Xinjiang region, where the government has allegedly detained 1.8 million minority Uyghurs in mass detention camps. “I am pleased to announce that we have recently reached an agreement with the government of China for a visit, which is planned in principle in May,” Bachelet said in a video address to the UN’s Human Rights Council. Rights groups have relentlessly alleged that the Chinese government had arbitrarily detained 1.8 million Uyghurs and others in the volatile region. The predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnic minority number roughly 12 million in Xinjiang but tens of thousands have gone into exile in the last decade.
SAUDI BLOGGER IMPRISONED FOR ‘INSULTING ISLAM’ FREED
After 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam,” Saudi blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi has been released. “Raif called me. He is free,” his wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with their three children. Badawi’s release was also confirmed by a Saudi security official, who said on condition of anonymity that “he was released today.” The winner of the Reporters Without Borders prize for press freedom was arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia in 2012 on charges of “insulting Islam.” At the end of 2014, Badawi, now 38, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks. His first flogging in Jeddah square in Saudi Arabia shocked the world and was described by the United Nations as “cruel and inhuman”. After the outcry, he was not lashed again.