Hate-Mongering Against Indian Muslims Sees Sharp Increase In Times Of Coronavirus
The pandemic is just a deadly virus for all the citizens in India, but for Muslims, it’s no less than a source of hate-mongering, public shaming and further marginalisation. The novel coronavirus has made the lives of Indian Muslims more miserable and vulnerable in current times of global crisis.
Indian digital news outlet The Wire published a news report of Harsh Mander, wherein the author has argued that since the spread of coronavirus, the Indian government and national media started yet another hate-mongering campaign against the Muslims for apparently spreading the fatal virus in the country.
Last month, the Tableeghi Jamaat held a large international gathering in their five-storey ‘Markaz’ located in Delhi, with many participants from Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. The author noted that organising the conference was enormously injudicious. However, there were many religious, political and social gatherings held during this same period in India, and the Tablighi meeting was held with due permissions form the authorities of Delhi. “Similar gatherings of thousands in Hindu temples in Gujarat and Sikh gatherings in Punjab in the same period attracted negligible attention from the media and in official briefings,” the author said.
Just after the completion of Tableeghi Jamaat conference, the official briefings and media quickly started depicting the gathering as the ‘epicentre’ and ‘central cause of the virus spreading’ across India. The Delhi government in its briefings referred to the coronavirus cases as ‘Markaz Masjid’ patients.
The report noted, “More than 25,000 Jamaat members and their contacts were traced and tested, the participants in other large religious and political gatherings held around the same time, including those patronised and attended by senior leaders of the ruling party, including the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, were not aggressively pursued or tested to even a fraction of the degree to which the Tablighi participants.”
Meanwhile, the social media cell of Indian ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started spewing venom against the Muslims, by using trends such as #CoronaJihad, #BioJihad and #TablighiJamaatVirus.
The consequences of this hatred were immediate, terrifying and deadly. The report claimed that at least two suicides have been reported by Jamaat members to date. “My colleagues running help lines and food distribution and I, are getting numerous reports of lynch attacks on Muslims. Muslim truck drivers were beaten up in Arunachal Pradesh. Some unknown men fired at a mosque in Dhankot village in Gurugram, Haryana. Moreover, Delhi Minorities Commission reported that 200 men attacked and ransacked a mosque in North West Delhi,” the author stated while listing some of the religious-persecution cases of Muslims. It is pertinent to recall that all of this happened during the nationwide lockdown.
Along with all these violent attacks, widespread calls for the social and economic boycott of all Muslim vendors also were also being propagated. The electronic and print media – which is ‘Islamophobic’ even in normal times – propagated the narrative that the COVID-19 virus had spread in India mainly by the Tableeghi Jamaat and Muslims generally. Ordinary Hindus may not be communal, but it was very easy to persuade them with highly charged communal propaganda.
“While other Indians are battling fear, loss, dislocation, joblessness, hunger and a frightening epidemic which no government in the world seems able to vanquish, the Indian Muslim has been forced not only to battle all of these, but also the intense and utterly irrational levels of hate from their neighbours,” the report noted.