Coronavirus does not escape the eternal clash between Hindus and Muslims

The unstoppable spread of the coronavirus around the world had no religious connotation until it reached India, where community tensions between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority flared up again after contagions multiplied after an Islamic event.

That massive international congregation in mid-March in a New Delhi mosque, with some participants infected with COVID-19, according to authorities, caused a rise in the contagion curve that doubled cases in just four days.

"The congregation of the Muslim group has had a significant negative impact on all government containment efforts across the country. The curve would have been much smaller if it had not been for this meeting," Vikas Swarup, secretary, told reporters. from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Swarup called the event "irresponsible", but wanted to get away from any religious connotation, something that hundreds of thousands of compatriots did not avoid in a country with more than 10,000 infected by coronavirus and which is close to 400 deaths.


Islamophobic audio, text and video messages and anti-Muslim labels went viral on the internet, triggering a tsunami of comments on social media accusing Muslims of waging the? CoronaJihad or? BioJihad against this country of 1,300 million inhabitants of Hindu majority.

Some of these messages even called for the marginalization of India's nearly 200 million Muslims for being "super spreaders" of the virus, "deliberately" to destabilize the world's largest democracy and the growth of its economy.

The head of the Delhi Minority Commission, Zafarul Islam Khan, told Efe that blaming Muslims for the coronavirus outbreak is part of the "systematic banishment" that has been more or less institutionalized by the Prime Minister's Hindu nationalist government, Narendra Modi.

"There are certain Hindutva forces - ideology that an India longs for Hindus with minorities subservient to them - that see everything from a Muslim context. They blame Muslims for any problems facing this country," Khan said.

The event, held on March 13 in the Nizamuddin capital area by the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat, occurred three days before the Delhi government banned the assemblies of more than 50 people.

But that did not prevent some national television channels, known for their fervent nationalist tone, from broadcasting prime time programs under the labels "CoronaJihad" and "Nizamuddinidiots".

Or that countless images circulating online accusing Muslims of transporting and spreading the virus in India, such as one showing Chinese President Xi Jinping as the virus producer, the head of Tablighi Jamaat as its distributor, and Muslims as retail distributors.

"There was no conspiracy. They did not do it intentionally. (But) the media helped spread the anti-Muslim narrative across the country. People in some neighborhoods have excluded Muslims, Muslim vendors face economic boycotts," he said. Khan.

With this, he referred to the dissemination of text messages and videos through WhatsApp asking Hindus to stop buying from Muslims because they sell infected products.

Other images show a group of men gasping for breath as a voice behind the recording claims they are Muslim and spreading the virus among Hindus, or a clip showing a man in Islamic dress spitting on a police officer, a recording that then it was shown to be old.


The tension between Hindus and Muslims lived its maximum expression with the independence of the British Empire and partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, triggering systematic killings of members of the two communities in their exodus to India or Pakistan.

From time to time these clashes and community tension have been re-edited to a greater or lesser extent in the Asian giant, some recent ones, such as those that occurred in February in New Delhi, which left more than 40 dead, most of them Muslims, and emerged in following a new citizenship law that excludes devotees of Islam.

In this context, Human Rights Watch denounced in a recent report that the "discriminatory policies" of the governmental Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) were stimulating violence against the Muslim minority in the country.

The government, however, has consistently denied that there has been a wave of violence against Muslims.

Sarwar Kashani


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