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Iran Press TV

Harassment of Indian Muslims rises over COVID-19 rumors

Iran Press TV

Friday, 24 April 2020 9:03 AM

Indians are apparently looking for a coronavirus scapegoat as the country's Muslim population is widely reporting that they are being harassed over rumors of spreading the new virus.

Many people from the Muslim population said they are being harassed by both the police and people in the streets across the country, over the virus outbreak.

India reported Friday 1,684 new cases of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, over the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 23,077.

Health officials said they recorded 37 deaths while 490 patients have recovered.

The pandemic which has plagued the world since it emerged in China back in December has infected more than 2,710,264 people and killed 190, 896 worldwide.

In the meantime, rumors, misinformation and videos are being widely shared on social media in India, claiming that Muslims are deliberately spreading Covid-19.

Citing Hafez Mohammed Naseerudin, a Muslim Imam in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, CNN reported that he had been assaulted by police over the allegation.

"I am an Imam, so I look and dress very Muslim. I also have a long beard," he said. "The cop started hitting me and saying that it is because of me and my community that this disease is spreading."

In Punjab, a state in northern India, Muslim milk producers said they have been threatened by villagers, their houses have been raided by police, and people are scared to buy their produce.

"We have observed a deliberate pattern to delegitimize the community," said local website, Alt News.

"All these videos have been used to call for a boycott of the community, especially the lower economic sections of the society such as vegetable and fruit vendors. This act of communalizing a pandemic is disturbing as well as dangerous," it wrote.

Former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities described the discretionary moves as "shameful."

"It is shameful that the safety of the Muslim community has been compromised during Covid-19," said Wajahat Habibullah.

"We should all work together to combat the disease, instead we are targeting a certain community," he added.

Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country's 1.3 billion population, have long come under attack by India's Hindu nationalists.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist government has also sparked Islamophobia across the country, by approving a series of discriminatory laws.

Modi approved a law that stripped the majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status, back in December.

The controversial law sparked deadly clashes in the capital, New Delhi, in February last year.

It was also followed by another anti-Muslim citizenship law later in December.

The divisive law offers a path to Indian citizenship for six religious groups from three neighboring countries, but specifically excludes Muslims.

The New York Times in a report earlier this year said that the Indian police had directly engaged in violence against Muslims and actively helped Hindu mobs during anti-Muslim violence in New Delhi, in February.

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