Slovakia News | Muslims

New legislation effectively bars Islam from official status in Slovakia for foreseeable future
  • Legislation from the Slovak National Party (SNS) passed through Parliament increasing the number of adherents required for state recognition from 20,000 to 50,000 in the Catholic-majority country.
  • Official status allows for religious communities to run their own schools and receive subsidies from the state.
  • There are only between 2,000 and 5,000 Muslims currently in the country, but anti-immigrant sentiment in the country has ratcheted fears of a massive overrun by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Read more:
Slovakia toughens church registration rules to bar Islam” (Reuters)

Related reads:
PM Fico: Islam has no place in Slovakia” (The Slovak Spectator, May 2016)
Slovakia’s leader said Islam has ‘no place’ in his country. Now he’s taking a leadership role in the E.U.” (The Washington Post, June 2016)

Hungary News | Muslims & LGBT

Hungarian city council adopts mayor’s proposal to ban Islamic and pro-LGBT expression
  • The ban encompasses the construction of mosques or other places of worship in the town of Ásotthalom that “undermine” the Catholic Church as well as forms of devotional expression including face- and hair-coverings and the call to prayer.
  • The ordinance also bans “public propaganda” depicting marriage as anything but the union of a man and a woman across all media forms.
  • The mayor of the town, site of a fence along the Hungarian-Serbian border, defended the ordinance as protection against the two “pagans” of migration and liberalism, but the Hungarian Islamic Community (MIK) was quick to denounce it as xenophobic.

Read more:
Burqas, mosques, ‘gay propaganda’ all banned in Hungarian village” (RT)
Hungarian Muslim group criticises town’s ‘xenophobic’ decree” (The Guardian)
Hungarian City Bans Mosques, Burqas And Gay Marriage” (NewNowNext)

Additional reading:
In Hungary’s migrant vote, only the turnout is in doubt” (Reuters, September 2016)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via NewNowNext)

Mexico Feature | Afro-Mexicans

The Political Reemergence of Mexico’s “Invisible” Minority


Source: Fusion YouTube

Despite a half-millennium of life in Mexico, Afro-Mexicans have seen their political visibility decrease dramatically as the ideology of mestizaje (racial mixing) has become central to Mexican national identity. As in many parts of the Americas, how blackness is defined in Mexico is distinctive, unique to the convergence of circumstances that shaped identity through culture, economics, geography, ideology, and law. Today, the contemporary political landscape, with its interest in multiculturalism and the rectification of historical disadvantage, has pressed black Mexicans to seek greater administrative recognition. But with relatively small numbers and lacking a non-Spanish native language, Afro-Mexicans have been officially indistinct from either the majority non-indigenous and mestizo population or minority indigenous groups, unwilling to acknowledge the historical circumstances that have made recognition of Afro-Mexicans as a minority a priority and denying the financial and political support that such recognition would bring.

However, in 2015, an interim census allowed for respondents’ self-identification as “black”—itself a disputed term among Afro-Mexicans—for the first time, giving new visibility and coherence to the more than 1 million black Mexicans in the country. Mexican blackness—as defined historically, culturally, psychologically, and geographically—has joined the global stage of Afro-consciousness in the call for recognition and reparation of injustices against the community of African and Afro-descendent peoples. The official reemergence has attracted the attention of media outlets covering the renewed consciousness and political agency of Mexico’s “invisible minority.”

Read:
Afro-Mexicans: No longer ‘erased’” (The Daily Kos, April 2016)
The black people ‘erased from history’” (BBC, April 2016)
Now Counted By Their Country, Afro-Mexicans Grab Unprecedented Spotlight” (NPR, February 2016)
Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning” (The Huffington Post, January 2016)

Also:
The secret lives of Afro-Mexicans in America” (Fusion, February 2016)
México Negro A.C.

Netherlands News | Black

More than 100 arrested during anti-Black Pete protest in the Netherlands
  • Despite a day-long ban, demonstrators took to a holiday festival in Maassluis to protest the ongoing national reverence for Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), a controversial figure black Dutch and allies say perpetuates racist stereotypes.
  • The figure has been under fire for years as its status as a national holiday tradition has been called into question for its ties to the Netherlands’ racist colonial history, including by the U.N.
  • Adding to the controversy is the frequency with which Black Pete is performed by white people in blackface in parades and other celebratory events.

Read more:
Dutch police detain 100 Black Pete protesters” (AFP/Deutsche Welle)
Dutch Santa’s black-faced helper stokes anti-racism protest, police arrest 100” (Africanews)
Dutch race hate row engulfs presenter Sylvana Simons” (BBC)

(Image Credit: via Africanews)

Tanzania News | HIV+ Queer Men

Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
  • The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
  • The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
  • Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.

Read more:
Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)

(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)

Malaysia News | Artist-Critics

Popular Malaysian political cartoonist detained for work critical of PM
  • Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, faces charges for cartoons allegedly insulting scandal-embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak, the latest in a series of sedition charges he faces.
  • Zunar’s work has satirized Najib’s lavish lifestyle and the scandal involving the alleged diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from a Malaysian development fund into the PM’s personal bank account, which has led to Najib’s use of a colonial-era sedition law to quell critics’ dissent.
  • The detention came after the disruption of Zunar’s exhibition at the George Town Literary Festival, where Penang Umno Youth members stormed the festival and demanded the removal of his work.

Read more:
Malaysian cartoonist ‘Zunar’ arrested at literary festival, charged with sedition – again” (Deutsche Welle)
Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar arrested under sedition law” (Reuters)
Mob storms cartoonist Zunar’s show” (The Malay Mail)

(Image Credit: Zunar, via Deutsche Welle)

Austria News | Asylum-Seekers

Asylum center attack the latest in a series in Austria
  • Unidentified assailants threw a molotov cocktail at the center near Vienna, damaging a wall but leaving occupants uninjured.
  • Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, with anti-immigrant sentiments having ratcheted up ahead of the upcoming presidential election pitting the independent incumbent against a far-right nationalist candidate.
  • The attack follows the arson of a newly built but unoccupied refugee center in Altenfelden earlier in the year.

Read more:
Austrian asylum center hit by Molotov cocktail” (Reuters)
Haunted by asylum center fire, divided Austrian town prepares to vote” (Reuters)
Austria sees 13 attacks on refugee centres in 3 months” (The Local Austria, June 2016)