With the busy blaming the coronavirus outbreak in India almost entirely on the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary movement, social media is being peppered with random videos of Muslims to allege that members of the minority community have been deliberately spreading the virus.
The Jamaat organised a congregation at its headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West from March 13 to 15. In the weeks since, several dozen of the attendees have tested positive for the virus, and at least eight have died. Nizamuddin has now been declared one of India’s 10 “hotspots” of coronavirus outbreak.
As is their wont, have quickly pounced on this tragedy to peddle bigotry. Taking a cue from them, social media users are now sharing old videos to whip up anti-Muslims hatred.
One such video shows a group of boys licking spoons and plates. It is shared with some variation of the accusation that the Muslims are “systematically” spreading the coronavirus. “They are spreading on each other, they are already out, going to places strategically,” reads one message circulated with the video on Whatsapp.
The video is also circulating with the tag “Muslims spreading corona”.
Newslaundry did a factcheck and found the video is from 2018. It was made at a mosque of the Dawood Bohra community in Marol, Mumbai, and was part of an awareness campaign about food wastage.
A Bohra community official in Mumbai confirmed this to Newslaundry. “This video circulating on social media showing Muslims licking utensils to spread coronavirus is grossly misconstrued,” he said. “The video was made by some students in 2018 in Marol to sensitise people about avoiding food wastage.”
Huzefa Patanwala, member of a masjid committee in Mumbai, told Newslaundry: "The video was made in 2018 by young boys in the masjid to create awareness in the community, with the intent that not even a morsel of food should be wasted. But it was misinterpreted and used by miscreants to spread misinformation."