Protests follow denial of docking for ship carrying migrants, murder of migrant activist in Italy
- More than 600 migrants and refugees have been stuck abroad the Aquarius and two other Italian ships after the government refused to let them dock in Italy, with Spain having finally agreed to accept them.
- Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, has pledged to expel undocumented immigrants, vowed to crackdown on immigration, and shared anti-immigrant memes on social media.
- Following his decision as well as the murder of migrant labor activist Soumayla Sacko, thousands of demonstrators mobilized in Rome to protest in solidarity with migrants.
“Italian official warns migrant ships not to dock as migrant supporters rally in Rome” (CNN | June 2018)
“Aboard the Rescue Ship Where Migrants Have Been Stuck for a Week” (The New York Times | June 2018)
“Italians march in solidarity with migrant workers” (euronews | June 2018)
Denmark bans face veils as anti-Muslim sentiment increases
- The Danish Parliament passed legislation effectively banning burqas and niqabs, imposing up to a 10,000 kroner fine on anyone found in repeated violation.
- Just over three dozen people are thought to be currently affected by the legislation, prompting Muslims and advocates to argue the bill’s greater purpose is to stir Islamophobic attitudes.
- The ban comes amidst a wave of anti-Muslim remarks and proposals, including the Immigration Minister’s touting of falling Muslim citizenship approval numbers, a 50,000-signature petition to ban the circumcision of boys, and calls for the closing of Muslim schools.
“Danish parliament bans the wearing of face veils in public” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged” (The Guardian | June 2018)
“Unsurprising that stricter Danish rules give fewer Muslims citizenship: immigration minister” (The Local | May 2018)
Austrian government announces Islam crackdown, shutters mosques
- Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that it would be dissolving the Arab Religious Group, which runs six mosques, along with a Turkish mosque and would be shut down.
- The Interior Chancellor also announced that the residence permits of dozens of foreign-born imams associated with Turkish organization ATIB were under review, which could lead to their deportation if revoked.
- Implementing its pledge to restrict immigration and monitor assimilation, the government, a conservative coalition that includes the far-right Freedom Party, is using as justification a 2015 law prohibiting the foreign funding of religious groups and for Muslim organizations to support the Austrian state and society.
“Austria to shut 7 mosques and could expel dozens of imams” (Al Jazeera | June 2018)
“Austria shuts down seven mosques in what it says is ‘just the beginning’ of a crackdown” (The Washington Post | June 2018)
“Erdoğan warns of ‘crusader-crescent war’ after Austria’s shutting of mosques” (Hurriyet Daily News | June 2018)
U.S. government loses nearly 1,500 children as administration directs separation of families at border
- Under direction from the Trump Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have begun separating children as young as 18 months old from their parents and shipping them to detention facilities at times more than a thousand miles from where their parents are held.
- The separation of children from their families effectively produces “unaccompanied minors,” who are then referred to the Office of Refugee Settlement (ORS) for placement.
- The head of the ORS reported to Congress that the office had lost track of some 1,475 children who had been placed in its charge.
“Testimony of Steven Wagner on the Care and Placement of Unaccompanied Alien Children” (Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget | April 2018)
“Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors” (The New York Times | April 2018)
“What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like” (VICE News | May 2018)
Irish voters elect to overturn abortion ban
- Voters overwhelmingly chose to end the country’s constitutional ban on abortion, which had no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.
- The #RepealThe8th campaign challenged the constitutional amendment endowing the unborn with legal rights (ratified following a 1983 referendum), arguing that abortion has already been a reality in Ireland given its proximity to the U.K. and that access to safe treatment is a public health issue.
- Lawmakers will now introduce a bill to legalize the repeal officially, which is expected to be passed in the fall.
“Abortion referendum count: ‘quiet revolution’ as Yes set for landslide win” (The Irish Times | May 2018)
“Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal” (BBC News | May 2018)
“Ireland ends abortion ban as ‘quiet revolution’ transforms country” (Reuters | May 2018)
Israeli troops kill dozens, injure more than 2,000 Palestinians as U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opens
- More than 50 Palestinian protesters—most unarmed and including children—have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by Israeli forces after tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived at the fence between Gaza and Israel to protest.
- Multiple nations and international organizations condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as a violation of international law.
- Nearly 100 have died since the Great March of Return began in late March, when Palestinians initiated demonstrations demanding the right to return to their homeland ahead of the 70th anniversary of their expulsion.
“Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem” (The New York Times | May 2018)
“Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Gaza clashes: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014” (BBC News | May 2018)
Bahrain government bars opposition groups from elections
- The Shura Council, the upper house of Bahrain’s parliament, approved legislation that prevents members of dissolved political groups from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
- Such groups include al-Wefaq, tied to Bahrain’s politically and economically marginalized Shiite majority, and the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), a secular movement.
- Last year, courts ordered the dissolution of the two primary opposition groups, arguing that they fostered violence and terrorism in the country.
“Bahrain bars members of opposition groups from standing in elections” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Bahrain bans members of dissolved parties from running in elections” (Middle East Monitor | February 2018)
“Election ban on members of dissolved political societies approved” (Gulf Daily News | April 2018)