Muslim Students of JNU, a students collective questions the government failure in dealing with novel corona virus pandemic and media victimization of Muslims in the name of CoVID 19. In a statement, they demanded that the FIR filed on Nizamuddin Markaz for holding the congregation must be taken down.
“The screening of passengers at airports began on the 4th of March. At this point when the government should have stopped all passengers with symptoms from entering the country, it allowed the entry of most due to negligence in testing them. Individuals who were hastily cleared had no reason to believe they were infected.”MSJ points out. The Muslim Students of JNU raises important questions regarding the government’s inability to set up mass testing yet. They also asks can a divided society trust the government to fight the virus. They questions the way Muslim bodies are portrayed as infected bodies which are with an intention to infect others as well, a propaganda currently being run by certain Indian news channels.
Read the statement in full here.
WE CANNOT FIGHT CORONA VIRUS WITHOUT FIGHTING ISLAMOPHOBIA.
If the Coronvirus has to be stopped, we should stop blaming the Muslims for everything and focus our energies in doing real work!
We Muslim Students of JNU would like to ask whether the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for collective international effort against an unprecedented crisis or, instead, will the blame on Muslim bodies for its spread become a new frontier of Islamophobia in India? “Jaahil, gawar, brainless pigs…blowing themselves up is a khandani pesha!” The above rant on Twitter signifies that the Islamophobes have a new reason for their visceral hatred of Muslims – the Muslim body being branded as an infected body, a carrier of the virus, but also as a weapon to be used against others. This conspiracy theory is based on the Islamophobic prejudice that Muslims would prefer to kill themselves if only to infect others.
To those well-meaning people who give value to scientific temperament above all else, we would like to ask: What is that prejudice that instantly blames religious Muslims for gathering in the Nizamuddin Markaz as “Corona-Jihadists” willing to compromise and sacrifice their bodies to infect others and not even raise eyebrows against the religiously favoured citizens of the nation that held much larger gatherings at the same time at the Tirupati Temple? Does science explain these biases against an othered minority? To those who view the ‘Nizamuddin Fiasco’ as a question of science vs. religion, we would like to ask if science explains the climate of hysteria today in which since ‘we don’t know “who or what” is spreading the virus’ we can suspect everybody (read Muslims)? Yes, it does. There is a huge literature on the foundations of these social biases and discriminations rooted in racial, religious, caste or gender-specific factors. What is, in fact, true is that science has itself been a casualty as questions about mass-testing or efficiency of lockdown have been brushed aside. It is these double standards of the media of the country that conveniently uses any point of view that can situate all the problems of the society on the Muslim mind and the Muslim body even when it is challenged by the other, more rational vantage point. If we do not understand that this Islamophobia, being carefully nurtured in the society, will impede the fight against COVID-19. We are going to look upon Muslims not as unsuspecting victims of the virus but as criminal cases who deserve imprisonment rather than urgent medical help. The fight against Islamophobia and COVID-19 are linked because in stopping pandemics correct political decisions and community support are as important as medical science. A collective effort against the Corona virus requires that the Government take all its citizens into confidence at this critical juncture. What is that prejudice that instantly blames religious Muslims for gathering in the Nizamuddin Markaz as “Corona-Jihadists” willing to compromise and sacrifice their bodies to infect others and not even raise eyebrows against the religiously favored citizens of the nation that held much larger gatherings at the same time at the Tirupati Temple? It requires that the authorities acknowledge that the lock down was announced without any prior preparation or consultation. Once the government acknowledges this it will be more successful in asking people to self-declare their travel history or symptoms of Corona virus. The virus is not only a test of the Indian medical system but also of the citizen’s trust in government. The FIR against the management of the Tablighi-Jamaat is a clear case of scape goating – “a bali ka bakra” who is to be sacrificed to appease the “god of the epidemic”.
But let us ask ourselves: can a divided society which does not trust the government fight the corona virus?
A newspaper article today argues that the congregation at Nizamuddin committed a ‘crime against humanity’ and should not be defended. But we ask is the Muslim suffering himself from the virus not a part of that humanity? Is Muslims’ suffering less important than the ‘risk’ he poses to others?
Having ruled out any ‘conspiracy,’ let us ask ourselves was the TJ congregation irresponsible? To say that a person was irresponsible he/she should first be aware of the danger they are in. Was TJ aware of the danger they were in? Consider the timeline of events. The screening of passengers at airports began on the 4th of March. At this point when the government should have stopped all passengers with symptoms from entering the country, it allowed the entry of most due to negligence in testing them. Individuals who were hastily cleared had no reason to believe they were infected. The TJ congregation was a pre-scheduled meeting (these events are planned months before) on the 8th-10th of March i.e. much before the Delhi government banned religious gatherings. The meeting was also held much earlier than Janata Curfew declared on the 22nd. As the Delhi government declared a lock down on 23rd, means of transport were no longer available to return home. Under such compelling circumstances there was no option for the Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate stranded passengers with all necessary medical precautions till arrangement for movement could be made by the authorities. On the 24th of March Markaz authorities sought for permission for vehicle passes for stranded visitors to return home. The permission of which is still awaited. We would like to ask the government why these demands for evacuation were not addressed or brought before the wider public? Why did the government wait till the 31st of March to declare a health crisis in the Markaz premises? In these circumstances, it cannot but be said that the Government was slow to realize the possibility of a crisis and non-transparent in its functioning. As is evident from the mass exodus of the migrant workers, people unaware of the impending crisis were neither taken into confidence and nor were prepared for such a huge lock down without sufficient support from the government.
If the sovereign government who is the bearer of the responsibility of its citizens can fail to exercise its duty, despite the warnings and events that had unfurled worldwide, months before the virus invaded our nation, how can it be expected of a small Tablighi Markaz to realize the dangers of the spread of a virus even before the Prime Minister of that sovereign nation? We would like to reiterate that the Muslim community fully supports measures taken for the curb of the Corona virus. Muslim organizations have in the past offered their services to the government to curtail the infection. We Muslim students of JNU will continue to contribute voluntarily in the fight against the Corona virus until the pandemic is over. We demand that FIR against Jamat should be taken down, there should be a stop in the vilification of Muslims and a stop in making Muslims a scapegoat.”