MyVoice: Views of our readers 24th April 2020
Prejudice against Muslims unwarrantedIt is sad that the global pandemic – Covid-19 – has acquired some communal shade following a religious congregatio...
Prejudice against Muslims unwarranted
It is sad that the global pandemic – Covid-19 – has acquired some communal shade following a religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin. Faith groups of all denominations congregate and can spread the virus and the biggest sin of omission of the Tablighi Jamaat was going ahead with an event involving foreign visitors when a world alarm had been sounded. Their raison d'etre is travelling, preaching, congregating and travelling some more and in doing so, the group has been linked to the virus in Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries.
But the question also must be asked: since our top leadership has stated authoritatively on April 14 that India was ahead of the game and that all foreign visitors were being screened, how did the foreign visitors of the Tablighi Jamaat enter India without screening? Indian Muslims had their back to the wall even before coronavirus hit the world. They have for years been the 'Other' that would be profiled for political mobilisation. It's a short journey to move from love-jihad to corona-jihad if the mind is so inclined. One could also ask if the Tablighi gathering has provided the perfect diversion from asking real questions about the manner in which the lockdown was imposed, whether it was needed at all, could we not have sealed our international airports and not shut down our country? Instead of real debates, the television and social media ecosystem is churning out a gory spectacle designed to reinforce communal prejudices and instigate the sort of mindset that promotes a witch hunt. Very sad!
Syed Ahmed Khan,
Toli Chowki, Hyderabad
Current crisis should unite people
The most important principle of democracy is fraternity, a sense of empathy among citizens, and above all, solidarity. A society fragmented on the basis of caste, creed, gender or religion lacks solidarity. Confronted by a crisis, such as the current pandemic, these divisions may become even sharper out of fear of the 'other'. We see this in the reactions of some sections of our society to the spread of Covid-19 in a gathering of the Tablighi Jamaat.
What should have been treated as a lapse on the part of a group of citizens, and there have been several, it was given a communal twist, heightening prejudice and hostility. What is gratifying is the immense contribution being made by citizen groups, health workers and the police in assisting ordinary people trapped in difficult circumstances during the pandemic.
If the current crisis strengthens fraternity among our people, transcending narrow identities, democracy is safe in India. Perhaps the term social distancing is inappropriate. We should practice physical distancing but enjoin social solidarity. We have been given a chance to step back and reflect on these deeper realities.