Ehtesham Hassan ( Dera Ismail Khan, KPK)
The outbreak of a virus, covid19, has brought to fore another virus rarely noticed usually. After complete lockdown, almost every kind of human activity has come to a halt. There has been a fight for resources and healthcare access globally. This fight for resources has exposed some social and political fractures within our societies. There are news from across the globe of people facing discrimination, hatred, bullying, and cyber-bullying due to their identities, colors, religions, and professions, etc. This is a threat multiplier and also alarming. Unfortunately, this virus, like covid19, is spread throughout the world.
Religious discrimination is the most prominent issue when it comes to sidelining others. In India, Muslims are being stigmatized and discriminated against everywhere due to their religion. BJP regime is known for its anti-muslim policies and they see Covid19 a golden opportunity to capitalize on. Though there has been some negligence on the part of Tableeghi Jamat, BJP saw this as an opportunity to target the entire Muslim community.Same is the case in Pakistan.Both camps, Tableeghi Jamat and Shia pilgrims have been accused of spreading the contagion by their opposite sects.
Since Covid19 emerged in Wuhan China, Chinese people across the world are facing extreme humiliation and discrimination. Anyone with Chinese identity is barred from various social spaces and denied healthcare access. Such “othering” of people depicts how biased and psychologically disturbed humans are. President of the United States, Donald Trump, has termed Covid19 as the Chinese virus. Politicians can go this much to ensure their vote bank at the cost of millions of lives.
In United States and Europe, immigrants who don’t have official residential documents are facing the worst discrimination. Most of them are fearing from getting tested because of the fear of being detained by the authorities. They are living the worst lives in camps and ignored on all scales by respective governments. If the respective governments fail to tackle the immigrants’ problem and don’t get them tested, this may lead to a dangerous outbreak and claim thousands of lives.
In another shocking incident in Indonesia, two daughters and their mother were bullied and harassed and accused of the spread of the contagion because they are dancers by profession. This is very humiliating and unfortunate. Conservative clerics deem it against religious practices to allow such “immoderate women” into their societies. There have been many such similar incidents in many different countries where people faced discrimination and hatred due to their professions and genders. This will force many people to rethink their professions to avoid such discriminations in the future. This is something that will have long-term ramifications for the entire society.
The blacks in United States are the most affected community. There have been more black deaths than any other community. There are many reasons for that: Lack of awareness, poverty, carelessness, etc. But this spike in black deaths has made the black community vulnerable to hatred and bullying. In China, the US and Europe racism is at its peak. Racism against blacks is an old practice and even the pandemic has failed to stop it.
Pandemics create fear and fear is a key ingredient for racism and xenophobia to thrive. Such incidents happening around the globe indicate that it will take more than a pandemic for humans to give up hatred against their fellow beings. This is a big warning and we all need to understand this before things get out of our control. Breakout of Covid19 has been attributed to agribusinesses and profit-hungry capitalists. Their greed and urge to become rich at the cost of a pandemic is already costing us a lot. If we, humans, didn’t take effective steps to stop this inequality and exploitation at all levels, this may turn into one of the worst humanitarian crises. Healthcare must be free for all human beings irrespective of their color of skin, geography, profession, or religion. If we didn’t stop turning this world into a “world for few” instead of turning it into a “world for all” this may become “ world for none”.