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CoronaJihad: COVID-19, Misinformation, and Anti-Muslim Violence in India

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Across India, the mainstreaming of Islamophobic rhetoric has spread nationwide, cutting across urban, rural, elite and poor communities. Social media in particular has been a major factor in the spread. WhatsApp for instance, with 400 million users in India alone, is the largest source of COVID-19 misinformation, with content that is easily and quickly spread among contacts, followed closely by Facebook and Twitter. Alongside online targeting of Muslims, explicit calls for hate has resulted in the exponential increase of fear among Muslim communities.

While anti-Muslim rhetoric is not new to India, COVID-19 has compounded the rift between Muslims and Hindus. From segregated treatment areas in hospital wards and viral messages to a sharp increase in violence, hatred towards and othering of Muslims is rapidly evolving from rhetoric to physical action.

City leaders can help by calling out and confronting hateful rhetoric when they see it alongside maintaining connectivity and trust to communities most affected during the pandemic. We have published guides on how city leaders can help to prevent the spread of disinformation and how cities can safeguard their communities. We are also continuing to publish monthly summaries of COVID-19-related resources, tools and data for city leaders.