Rumors Target Muslim Community During Coronavirus

The Muslim community in America has always been treated with a certain amount of disdain, which has led to a great deal of misinformation — and even disinformation — to be circulated on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Many of the newest rumors argue that Muslims are being granted certain special rights not afforded to other groups like Christians or Jews. All of these rumors are completely fake, but some are widely accepted as true — something that has only helped Donald Trump’s crusade against anyone different.

Anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise around the world, but some of those rooted here in the United States leave us with the most unease. 

One commonly shared Facebook post said that mosques are still open even as churches and synagogues have been shut down. Policies differ depending on state, but many religious gatherings have been closed for the duration of the pandemic — and they’re all treated exactly the same in accordance with the law.

The post in question goes so far as to provide examples of Christian pastors and priests who were arrested for violating the new coronavirus laws. But one of those examples is of a Louisiana pastor and a New York Mosque. Shockingly, the pastor was arrested repeatedly for violating coronavirus laws — but he was also arrested for reckless driving after nearly running over someone who was protesting regular church services. The mosque, however, was closed as soon as New York issued its emergency order limited crowds.

Orlando Family Magazine shared a piece relating Islamophobia to the current age in which everyone must stay indoors or risk spreading the deadly coronavirus infection to older loved ones. Imam Tariq Rasheed acknowledges that many religious ceremonies have changed or been limited to small gatherings, but none has been more difficult on loved ones than the funeral.

He said, “Traditionally the funeral prayers are held at the mosque and a big number of people attend, but in this pandemic funeral prayers are held with only close relatives and friends.”

But even with these restrictions and the rumors flooding the community, some still do their best to ignore the negative and continue to implement the practices that would even more severely limit the aforementioned gatherings. 

Janan Najeeb said of Ramadan: “This is the first time, probably in living memory, that they could not gather for the community prayers in the evening and the breaking of the fast. This is unprecedented. But again, it goes back to the whole concept that the sanctity of life supersedes even worship practices that could put people’s lives in danger.”

Najeeb is executive director for the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and Islamic Resource Center, and in constant contact with her community — so she’s well aware of their thoughts and concerns.

Najeeb said, “This has also been a time for reflection. There are so many people that have said that actually, in spite of all of these restrictions, this was probably the first Ramadan that so many people felt it was incredibly spiritual to spend it all with family at home, praying together, sitting with your children.”