New York Times slammed for blatant ‘Hinduphobic’ article

A brazenly prejudiced article in the New York Times has gone viral on social media platforms in which the publication makes factually incorrect claims like ‘Hindu nationalists’ are fanning communal hatred in India against Muslims in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many people have rebuked the publication for relentlessly peddling ‘Hinduphobia’ through half-truths and blatant lies. They also are upset over the publication have twisted the unfortunate Delhi riots as an anti-Muslim riot earlier.

“Hateful messages have bloomed online. And a wave of apparently fake videos has popped up telling Muslims not to wear masks, not to practice social distancing, not to worry about the virus at all, as if the makers of the videos wanted heMuslims to get sick,” says the article, which is co-authored by Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj.

The piece mischievously claims that a section of the majority community is creating videos to mislead Muslims so that they fall prey to COVID-19.

The article also slams Indian authorities for blaming an Islamic group for spreading the virus. The allusion is to the Tablighi Jamaat, many of whose members have tested positive for COVID-19 after defying Delhi government guidelines on maintaining social distancing and not congregating in large numbers.

The group since then has emerged as a ‘super-spreader’ in India, with one-third of the total COVID-19-positive cases in the country being linked to it. Media reports and videos show that ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ members attacked police at many places and misbehaved with frontline health professionals when requested to be quarantined. News reports say that some of these people spat at the authorities and engaged in indecent and disgusting behaviour with female nurses.

“The government should not have played the blame game,” Khalid Rasheed, the chairman of Islamic Center of India, was quoted as saying by the NYT. “If you present the cases based on somebody’s religion in your media briefings, it creates a big divide. Coronavirus may die, but the virus of communal disharmony will be hard to kill when this is over.”

The publication conveniently forgot to get the other side’s perspective while offering a platform to one party to vent their venom.

The article also accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi for running a ‘Hindu Nationalist’ government and pursuing ‘majoritarian’ policies.

It must be noted that the Health Ministry hasn’t used the word ‘Muslims’ or blamed the community for the spread of COVID-19 in India. ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ members, however, have been called out as spreaders, but this group does not represent Muslims at large in India and was hardly known in the country before this episode.