It all started when Nizamuddin was first reported as a COVID-19 epicentre after a congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat that took place in Bangalewaali Masjid, days before India went into a 21-day lockdown. Jamaatis came from across India as well as abroad, the latter possibly bringing the virus with them and spreading it around the Markaz during the event.
Many who had attended, soon started displaying COVID-19 symptoms. As many as 647 of the new cases were reported on Thursday and Friday had links to the religious congregation at Nizamuddin, as per the ministry of health and family welfare.
In view of the coronavirus outbreak and an increasing number of infected patients linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin in March, the fake news are on a rise and we should beware of them.
Fake News #1: Muslims licking utensils to spread coronavirus
A video of Muslim youth licking utensils has been going viral with many claiming that COVID-19 infected Muslims were deliberately licking utensils to spread coronavirus. The claim has been refuted by fact-checking websites that pointed out that the video was from 2018. Moreover, it depicted members of the Dawoodi Bohra sect that includes “Daana (graind) committees”.
The community believes in zero food waste. The people seen in the video were part of one such Dawoodi Bohra Daana committee and were not licking clean plates but rather the plates they were eating in before washing the utensils.
Fake News #2: Muslims sneezing to spread coronavirus
A viral video shows the Muslim devotees sitting on their knees and allegedly sneezing purposefully in unison to spread coronavirus. Many claimed the video was shot inside Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin mosque and March 31 onward the video has been going viral in India.
— nithin (@nithin42349592) April 1, 2020
The fact-checking website found out that the video was first shared on Pakistani social media on January 30 with similar claims of the group spreading coronavirus. However, the first case of coronavirus in India was recorded on January 30. AltNews noted that there was a possibility that the video was even older, though the fact-checkers could nor verify the origin of the video. Whether it was shot in Nizamuddin dargah or Nizamudding mosque, which is also known as the Banglewali Markaz, also remains unverified.
Furthermore, internet searches revealed that the devotees were not sneezing in unison but rather performing the ritualistic “zikr” style of prayer – a Sufi ritual which involves taking the name of Allah several times in swift repetition while breathing in and out.
Fake News #3: Hindus denied rations in Karachi
Several videos of Hindus in Karachi, Pakistan, went viral with claims that Hindus were discriminated against during coronavirus crisis and not given government rations in Rehri Goth. The news appeared on an Indian news agency wire service and was picked up by all major digital news platforms.
However, a fact-check conducted by Pakistani English newspaper The News International debunked the report as baseless, claiming that food ran out at the distribution site in Rehri Goth where the incident allegedly occurred.
Fake News #4: Muslim man spitting at cops to escape quarantine/give him coronavirus
A video of a Muslim man spitting at cops while being taken away in a police van went viral. It was claimed that the man had been picked up along with 166 others from Nizamuddin and taken to a quarantine centre in Tuglaqabad, Delhi, where news agencies like PTI reported some Muslims allegedly misbehaved with doctors and health officials.
— Mumbai Mirror (@MumbaiMirror) February 29, 2020
While several health officials and authorities, confirmed the incident, the video doing the rounds in the same context, however, was fake and was filmed not in Delhi but in Maharashtra.
A fact check by BBC Hindi found the footage dating back to earlier in March when the incident occurred in Thane. The man had allegedly spat at the cops after he was denied food. He was then beaten up by the police. The video had nothing to do with Nizamuddin detainees.
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Fake News #5: Muslim vendor spitting on fruits to spread Coronavirus
The video shot in Raisen, MP, started to circulate on social media after the Tablighi jamaat fiasco with many prominent right-wing as well as “liberal” voices attacking the community for deliberately spreading the virus. In the video, a Muslim fruit seller was seen licking his fingertips and touching fruits with it.
This is next level. Be safe and careful people pic.twitter.com/OJhONjvUR3
— desi mojito (@desimojito) April 3, 2020
While many outraged against the video as an attempt to spread coronavirus, a fact check by AltNews revealed that the video was shot far back in February before coronavirus had been notified a public health emergency in India (March 14).
The man in the video was allegedly mentally unstable and had been caught on tape counting the fruits, not licking them. The footage was real and a police complaint was also filed against the fruit vendor.