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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Muslim minorities from China to India and beyond are facing discrimination, mass internment, and even extermination at the hands of their own governments.

Why it matters: The global trend is rooted in the U.S. war on terror, inflated fears of Islamic terrorism, and the rise of authoritarian populism around the world.

Things have never been worse for Muslims who live as minorities in their home countries.

  • China has built concentration camps for over a million Muslim ethnic minorities.
  • Myanmar committed a "textbook" campaign of ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.
  • India just passed a citizenship law that excludes Muslims.
  • The United States continues to implement a travel ban that is separating American Muslims (and others) from family members abroad.

And, increasingly, there's nowhere for them to run. Many countries around the world, not just the United States, have put up immigration barriers specifically targeting Muslims.

The backstory: These situations have arisen partly for localized reasons, but also because of sweeping global trends.

  • The U.S. war on terror has led to other state violence against Muslim populations. In fact, Chinese President Xi Jinping explicitly cited the U.S. war on terror as justification for policies that resulted in the ongoing detention of over a million Chinese Muslims.
  • Muslims, always the top victims of Islamic terrorism, now face demonization in countries like Sri Lanka due to popular fears of Islam due to its association with extremist groups.
  • The rise of far-right populist leaders such as India's Narendra Modi and Hungary's Viktor Orban — as well as the election of President Trump — has seen these leaders whip up anti-Muslim sentiment in order to bolster their own popularity.

The Trump administration has at times supported seemingly contradictory policies regarding religious freedom for Muslims — implementing the travel ban while also condemning China's crackdown.

  • One of Trump's campaign promises was a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." He partially fulfilled that campaign promise through his travel ban, implemented through executive order, that prohibits entry to the United States to almost all citizens of five Muslim-majority countries.
  • Trump has hired and promoted numerous once-fringe Islamophobes, including Frank Gaffney, Sebastian Gorka, and Pamela Gellar.
  • But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has referred to China's internment camps as the "stain of the century," and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has condemned China's actions as well.

The bottom line: It's a very bad time to be a Muslim in a country that isn't predominantly Muslim. And overall, the international community seems relatively unwilling to do much about it.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.