The New York Times (NYT) has again demonstrated its unwillingness to report objectively and peddle fake news even on the face of a looming apocalypse. In a report co-authored by Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj, the NYT claimed that the Wuhan Coronavirus was fanning ‘religious hatred’ across India. In their report, the authors have made horrendously inappropriate and misleading claims that are laughable on the face of it.
During the course of the report, the authors claim, “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 Muslims to get sick.” A deliberate attempt is made to insinuate that the videos on the video-sharing platform TikTok, where Muslims advocate against social distancing and ask fellow Muslims to place their faith in Namaz and Allah instead, was somehow created by Hindus to make Muslims fall sick. This when there is enough evidence to indicate that the videos were created by Muslims themselves.
The maker of one such video, Sameer Khan, had later tested positive for the Wuhan Coronavirus. Another Muslim man who had posted a video of himself wiping currency notes on his face and declaring that the virus was Allah’s punishment was later arrested by the Police. Furthermore, Maulana Saad of Markaz Nizamuddin, which has become the largest vector of the coronavirus, had himself offered sermons where he urged his followers to defy government guidelines on social distancing. Under such circumstances, there is absolutely no reason to doubt that the videos of Muslims on TikTok advocating against social distancing and calling the virus “Allah’s NRC” was indeed created by Muslims themselves. The effort by NYT to insinuate otherwise is further evidence of their rabid Hinduphobia.
Apart from the usual accusations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi running a ‘Hindu Nationalist’ government and pursuing ‘majoritarian’ policies, the report engages in victim-mongering in significant measure. The authors managed to conjure some scared Muslims suffering from paranoia and a persecution complex and elicited responses from them that cements their narrative. The report also made a reference to the anti-Hindu Delhi riots in February and gave their readers the impression that it was an anti-Muslim pogrom.
“The government should not have played the blame game,” Khalid Rasheed, the chairman of Islamic Center of India, was quoted as saying. “If you present the cases based on somebody’s religion in your media briefings,’’ he said, “it creates a big divide.” “Coronavirus may die,” he added, “but the virus of communal disharmony will be hard to kill when this is over.” Again, the reporters did not make it a point to mention the fact that mentioning the Tablighi Jamaat cases separately is necessary in order to prevent the masses fro panicking. Instead, NYT allows Rasheed to engage in his own self-serving propaganda.
Past Antecedents of NYT – Fake News Unlimited
The report by NYT is just another instance of its unabashed propaganda against India and the ruling dispensation in the country. The NYT has a history of peddling anti-India narratives, whether it be the events that transpired in the aftermath of the Balakot Airstrikes or Narendra Modi in general. In the past, it has published racist cartoons to denigrate India right after the Mangalyaan Mission. In one article, NYT claimed that as the 2019 general elections were closing in, Modi’s popularity was on a low and the “rejuvenated opposition was landing punch after punch with corruption allegations. But one bombing in Kashmir, and weeks of military brinkmanship with Pakistan afterward, appears to have interrupted Mr. Modi’s slump.”
NYTimes’ former Delhi bureau chief Ellen Barry had also indulged in white-washing the 2002 Godhra carnage where as many as 59 people were burnt alive in a train. She had also spread lies to insult the victims of Godhra carnage in her report on the Gulbarg Society verdict. NYTimes also encourages troll-like behaviour while reporting on democratically elected public representatives by attempting to trivialise the personal lives of female politicians.