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A protest in Jeju. Photo: Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Jeju, South Korea — The arrival of 550-plus asylum seekers from war-torn Yemen earlier this year on South Korea's Jeju island has sparked online outcry and protests on the island, as well as the capital, Seoul.

What they're saying: "I don't want the government to accept refugees at all, especially those from Muslim countries,” said a 38-year-old protester in Seoul who refused to give his name. “Their culture and religion are very different from us. I don't want to see this bad religion in our country where our children will grow up and it will bring harm to them."

A rise in fake stories and anti-Islam propaganda online has spurred on the protesters but, according to Il Lee, a human rights lawyer, the anti-refugee sentiment is not new in Korea. There are also worries that the spread of false information is going unnoticed and the government's apparent lack of involvement in the matter has failed to calm down the situation.

  • "There is a strong phenomenon in Korea that people blame foreigners for everything that goes wrong," said Lee. "But when it comes to the Yemeni asylum seekers, there is a strong anti-Islam sentiment.”
  • In an interview with Al Jazeera, Choo Mi-ae, chief of Korea's ruling party, admitted there was “lack of understanding and room for improvement.” She added that “the Korean public didn't have many opportunities to encounter cultural diversity.”
  • Jeju has a population of around 600,000 and a recent survey of 500 islanders revealed 90% felt insecure about going outside since the Yemenis' arrival.

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.