Religious Discrimination Is Hindering The COVID-19 Response

CaribPR Wire, Mon. July 20, 2020: Unintended pandemic-like consequences from the COVID-19 have been striking the globe. With the unclear root cause of the disease, minority groups have become the target of the blame with the spread of the crisis.

“When people with prejudices are worried and feel that they have no control over a scary threat like pandemic, they will turn to the tried and true tactic of scapegoating the usual suspects: religious minorities and other persecuted communities,” says Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Centre, a US based think tank.

The cases of religious suppression have been on the rise around the world as a coronavirus epidemic is deteriorating. BMJ, one of the top four medical journals in the world, released an interesting thesis titled “Religious discrimination is hindering the COVID-19 response“. The British Medical Journal, BMJ, was first published in 1840 and is regarded as one of the world’s leading medical journal.

About 150,000 medical professionals are involved in this journal, dealing with the recent medical issue and providing medical knowledge and information concerned. Just about 20 percent theses submitted to BMJ are published in this Journal, which are often quoted by other medical professionals around the world.

According to the research paper, India’s 201 million Muslim citizens now find themselves blamed for the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, two Muslim men were reportedly beaten and made to kneel and apologize for “spreading the virus.”

Over 3000 members of the Tablighi Jamaat subsequently spent more than 40 days in quarantine with government authorities refusing to discharge them. The Indian government levelled charges of culpable homicide at Tablighi Jamaat chief Muhammad Saad Kandhalvi when at least six of the group died of the infection after attending an event in March, before the countrywide lockdown.

In Cambodia, Buddhists are blaming Muslims. In Israel, Jews are blaming Arabs. Fear and misunderstanding are stoking hatred worldwide—and it is harming the fight against the pandemic.

The paper introduces a case in South Korea, the members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus—labelled “heretical” by fundamentalist Protestants—are facing a probe after a congregation became the center of the country’s biggest outbreak in February. But what’s striking is how discrimination played a part before the outbreak.

“Members of the church refrained from being tested to avoid discrimination,” says Willy Fautre, executive director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International. “This was detrimental to them and public health as well.”

They are extremely careful about their religion exposed to others for the fear that they can get discriminated, bullied, or unemployed because of their religion.

Actually, it is reported that about 6,000 Shincheonji church members whose religious identity was revealed to others experienced severe discrimination and unemployment, and two of them lost their lives.

Despite the tragic incidences, about 4,000 former COVID-19 patients of Shincheonji members who got cured have decided to donate their blood plasma for the development of treatments for COVID-19. The donation of the blood plasma of 500 former COVID-19 patients has started this week.

Swami Vedanand Saraswati, Spiritual Head of Arya Samaj in South Africa – “I firmly believe that the Chairman, a man of great integrity, has done and continues to do all in his power to aid in fighting against the COVID-19 virus, and assist the relevant authorities where possible. As a Hindu Spiritual Leader in South Africa, I fully support the Chairman and laud the selfless gesture from him and his congregation. I implore the South Korean Government and other relevant authorities to immediately drop all charges and lawsuits and rather support the efforts of the Shincheonji Church in encouraging other recoverees to donate their plasma. Let us all follow the noble example set by the Chairman and encourage support towards the fight against COVID-19.”

Furthermore, Dr. Manu Singh, Hindu Spiritual Leader, Chairman of Sarva Dharma Samvaad in India, expressed his thoughts on such a suppression of the religion. “With the suffer of a pandemic, we need to overcome the crisis by becoming the one rather than hating each other. Being the one with the solidarity will be much effective treated following the physical vaccine and the treatment. Furthermore, the freedom of the religion specified in the constitution should be kept. I raise the voice to stop unfair treat to HWPL and Shincheonji church, and the Chairman Lee who sacrificed part of his freedom.”