The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Monday, expressed its concern over reports of Muslims in India facing discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Condemning the extensive discrimination and fake news peddled against Muslims after the Tablighi Jamaat event became one of the hotspots of coronavirus in the country the USCIRF took to twitter:
“USCIRF condemns the continued scapegoating and attacks of Muslims in #India due to false rumors over the spread of #coronavirus, often accompanied by dangerous rhetoric by politicians.
This stigmatization can breed further discrimination and violence.”
USCIRF also condemned countries like Pakistan, Cambodia for failing to protect its minorities against discrimination amid this pandemic. “In many countries, governments have failed to protect vulnerable religious communities. In particular, Muslims in India and Cambodia as well as Shi’a Muslims in Pakistan have faced increased stigmatization in recent weeks because some of the earliest patients to test positive for COVID-19 in those countries came from these communities”, said the report by the independent, bipartisan federal government entity.
A report by The Guardian says, “Kapil Mishra, a local BJP leader notorious for hate speeches, tweeted: ‘Tablighi Jamaat people have begun spitting on the doctors and other health workers. It’s clear, their aim is to infect as many people as possible with coronavirus and kill them.'”
“Though quickly debunked, the rumours of Tablighi Jamaat members refusing to go into quarantine, assaulting hospital staff and throwing bottles of urine at Hindus quickly spread.
Hashtags such as ‘coronaJihad’, ‘CoronaTerrorism’ and ‘CoronaBombsTablighi’ began to trend on Twitter in India. Mainstream Indian media repeatedly asserted that Tablighi Jamaat members were coronavirus ‘superspreaders’.”
The gathering by the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement that is nearly 100 years old was held at its global spiritual centre or markaz in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area last month, and it was attended by thousands of Muslims from India and abroad. At least 9,000 people had participated in the religious gathering at Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in Nizamuddin West last month. The congregation became a key source for the spread of COVID-19 in India as many of the participants travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.
The Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind also moved the Supreme Court, alleging that a section of the media is spreading communal hatred over last month’s Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, and sought directions from the Centre to stop dissemination of “fake news” and take strict action against those responsible for it.
The plea filed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and the secretary of its legal cell, through lawyer Ejaz Maqbool, contended that the unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat, which became one of the biggest hotspots of COVID-19, was being used to “demonise” and blame the entire Muslim community.