ISLAMOPHOBIA IN AUSTRALIA

The survey of over 1000 Muslims, conducted during 2019-2020, led by Race Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Chin Tan highlights religious discrimination, vilification and hate against Muslims that manifested in the Christchurch attack in March 2019. Stories, comments and insights shared by Muslim leaders, consultation participants, and National Survey respondents during this project provided a wide-ranging picture of community members’ lived experiences of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate. The project survey responses and consultation findings demonstrate that Australian Muslim communities are taking the lead in identifying community solutions to the issues they face. They are calling on the whole Australian community to support greater awareness and understanding of Islam to help strengthen social cohesion. Community responses during the survey draw attention to the broader context of anti-Muslim hate expressed through a rising incidence of online abuse and hate speech in the increased evidence of far-right extremism in Australia.

ISRAEL IS TORTURING DETAINEE TO DEATH: RIGHTS GROUP

Human rights groups accused Israeli authorities of torturing a Palestinian detainee to death. Abdu Yousef al-Khatib Tamimi, 43, lost his life during interrogation at al-Moscobiyeh interrogation centre in occupied East Jerusalem. “Testimonies gathered from his families and other detainees show that he was electrified and beaten,” Amani Sarahneh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Society NGO, told Anadolu Agency. “Palestinian NGOs and Jerusalem governorate accuse Israel of killing al-Khatib,” Sarahneh said. A father of four, al-Khatib from Shufat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, was detained by Israeli forces for a traffic violation. Hasan Abed-Rabbo, the media advisor of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, said that al-Khatib, 43, died while being held at the interrogation centre. Around 4,850 Palestinians, including 41 women, 225 children and 540 administrative detainees, are estimated to be held in Israeli prisons, according to Palestinian rights groups.

NOT GETTING JOB BECAUSE OF BEING MUSLIM

Primary school teacher Mazlinah binte Haji Mohamad Noor never thought she would struggle to find work when she moved to Wellington in 2017 – especially when New Zealand is facing a teacher shortage. But after applying for more than 200 roles, Mazlinah, 55, has had little interest from employers and managed to only get five interviews and no offer of a permanent job. Mazlinah, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, said at one school the interviewer rolled her eyes when she walked in and before she could even say a word. “I tried to stay calm and professional, but I was feeling ‘what’s the point’. I am already being judged by my name and what I wear, and I’m not going to make it again,” she said.

MALAYSIA FIRST AGAIN IN GLOBAL MUSLIM TRAVEL INDEX

Malaysia has maintained its position as the best destination for Muslim travellers even amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The country once again came first in the list of best Muslim-friendly holiday destinations, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021. Malaysia has remained in the top destination since the launch of the index in 2015. The GMTI monitors the overall performance of the Muslim travel market. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said Malaysia is committed to continue developing the Muslim-friendly travel segment, sometimes referred to as halal travel. Nancy added that Malaysia is a place where Muslim travellers feel comfortable in as the country caters to their basic faith needs.

ADEQUATE MUSLIM BURIAL LAND IN FEDERAL TERRITORIES

There is adequate Muslim burial land in the Federal Territories to accommodate burials including the bodies of those who died due to Covid-19, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri. Nevertheless, he said a discussion with the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia would be held to look at the need to increase Muslim burial areas in the Federal Territories. Zulkifli said this to reporters after handing over contributions from the Waqaf Foundation of Malaysia (YWM) to groups in need of aid here. YWM allocated essential item packs under the Essential Fund Programme amounting to RM11,250 to 225 needy recipients. The recipients comprised taxi drivers, Malaysian Armed Forces veterans and individuals whose incomes were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

COMMISSION TO PROBE ISSUES LINKED TO TABUNG HAJI FUND

The Malaysian government will set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate issues related to the Muslim pilgrims’ fund Lembaga Tabung Haji that arose from audits carried out in the board. The probe would involve audits carried out by consultants such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Roland Berger between 2014 and 2020. Tabung Haji is the main savings vehicle for most Malaysian Muslims who store money with the agency to go for pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia, with the fund paying attractive annual dividends. It held assets totalling RM78 billion (S$25.2 billion) in the first half of 2020.

U.S. PRIVACY, TAX LAWS HIT ISLAMIC CHILDREN’S CARTOON

Islamic children’s cartoon Omar & Hana has been viewed over 3 billion times in 50 countries across its YouTube channels but this past year has been a struggle for Digital Durian, the Malaysian production company behind the show. Monetisation has been impacted by a new tax policy and U.S. legal cases on data collection from children’s content. Launched in 2017, the show about four and six-year-old siblings Omar and Hana. However, in September 2019, the owner of the streaming platform, Google, was forced to reach a $170 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating COPPA, which restricts the collection and use of data from children under 13 years old without parental consent. YouTube is facing a similar legal challenge in the UK for $3.2 billion. The loss in revenue has impacted the programme adversely.

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