Daily US Times, Delhi: Islamophobia sparked in India over a Muslim congregation that has sparked a new wave of Covid-19 cases in India.
Many states in India have traced more than 300 positive coronavirus cases to the weeks-long event in Delhi.
Since the news broke out on Monday, Islamophobic hashtags have been trending on Twitter in the country.
One historian named Rana Safvi suggests instead of corona quarantine, people should have hate quarantine.
Tablighi Jamaat arranged the gatherings. It was an Islamic missionary movement that is nearly 100 years old, and its global spiritual center or markaz is in Indian capital Delhi’s Nizamuddin area.
Thousands of Muslims from different parts of Indian and abroad attended the gathering.
Officials are still struggling to identify and trace all of those who attended, as well as their secondary contacts.
But the cases that are directly linked to the event have risen steadily through the week, exposing religious fault lines in a country, which has become sharply polarised in recent years.
Even as details about the congregation emerged on national news, #NizamuddinIdiots, #CoronaJihad, #Covid-786 (a number that carries religious meaning for Muslims), began trending.
Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan said, ”We need to be secular. Religious groups should not hold congregations thinking religion is its own act of survival”.
Lots of memes, that depict Islamophobia have also circulating in Indian social media platforms – one meme, for instance, shows China as the “producer” of the virus, and Muslims as its “distributors”.
Indian authorities believe the infection started with the event’s foreign attendees, many of whom are preachers – this list included several from Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is a Muslim, called the gathering in this coronavirus pandemic time a “Talibani crime”.
Indian television news, which has often been criticised for its divisive rhetoric, flashed headlines such as “Who is the villain of Nizamuddin?” and “Save the country from Corona Jihad”.
The swift communal turn has also unnerved Muslims – especially as it comes on the heels of deadly religious riots in Delhi, and a controversial “anti-Muslim” citizenship law that saw thousands of Indians take to the streets in protest.
The former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, has put out several tweets, condemning the Islamophobic rhetoric.
But there have been many such instances.
The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, Yogi Adityanath attended a busy Hindu celebration a day into the lockdown.
Another instance took place in Panjab, where 40,000 people in 20 villages were quarantined after a Covid-19 outbreak was linked to a Sikh preacher who had returned from a trip to Italy and Germany.
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