United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced his "total commitment" to rejecting anti-Muslim bigotry, hate and all forms of intolerance, urging all to draw from Ramzan the lessons of compassion, mutual respect and solidarity.
Guterres, in his remarks on Friday to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states on "COVID-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility", called for solidarity in speaking out against the rise in ethno-nationalism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable communities and exacerbating suffering.
"Now more than ever, solidarity and unity must be our leading principles... We also need solidarity in speaking out against the rise in ethno-nationalism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable communities and exacerbating suffering.
"You have my total commitment to actively challenge inaccurate and harmful messages, promote non-violence and reject anti-Muslim bigotry, hate and all forms of intolerance," he said.
With millions around the world observing Eid in the shadow of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, Guterres said that the pandemic has demonstrated the world's inter-connections, inter-dependence and also "our fragility. Our world is like one body. As long as one part is affected by this virus, we all are affected".
The UN chief said that as "millions of Muslims around the world celebrate, let us draw from the many Ramzan lessons of mercy and compassion, of dignity and rights, of mutual respect and understanding, of unity and solidarity".
As the world faces a humanitarian and economic crisis due to the pandemic, Guterres underlined the need for solidarity for a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response, guided by the World Health Organization (WHO), with a focus on developing countries, pooling efforts for those at greatest risk, and strengthening health systems as well as humanitarian response.
"Solidarity in tackling the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis keeping households afloat and businesses solvent. And prioritising the most affected: women, older people, children, low-wage earners and other vulnerable groups.
"Solidarity for peace. And I thank so many of you for supporting my appeal for a global ceasefire to focus on the fight against the virus," he said.
The UN chief also expressed his gratitude to governments and people throughout the Muslim world who live by their faith, supporting those fleeing conflict in the best Islamic tradition of "hospitality and generosity a remarkable lesson in this world where so many doors have been closed to those in need of protection, even before COVID-19".
The OIC, an international organisation comprising 57 member states, states that it is "the collective voice of the Muslim world" and works to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony".
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Around June 1, a five-minute video of an interview of a woman recorded in the style of an exposé went viral. The woman appears to be an office-bearer and is sitting behind a desk. She says, “These people are terrorists and we are giving them VIP treatment… we are exhausting our resources on them, getting our doctors ill for them…we are using 100 test kits per day on them, if they didn’t exist we wouldn’t need the kits… these people should be hit and kept in solitary confinement… Can’t Yogi ji give an order that state’s resources won’t be used on them.. we are sacrificing Rs 100 crores of the nation for these 20 crores.” The population of Muslims in India is approximately 20 crores.
A mic with the logo of ‘News इंडिया 1’ can be seen in the video. The interviewers behind the camera are trying to gain an official statement from the woman for their news bulletin. As per social media claims, the woman being interviewed is Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College, Kanpur.
The social media claims are true. The person in the video is indeed Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur. On June 1, several media outlets published a report about the viral video including The Hindu and The Indian Express.
According to The Hindu, “Lalchandani first said that the video was “morphed” and that she did not refer to any community or target Muslims. But in the same breath, she also admitted that she made the comments as a vent during the initial days of the COVID-19 crisis in Kanpur.”
She told both the publications that the local journalist who leaked the video tried to blackmail her and extort administrative favors. However, speaking with Alt News, Lalchandani said that she wasn’t aware of the clip’s existence until it became viral on social media. It is unclear how she could possibly be blackmailed over something that wasn’t in her notice. Moreover, she was unable to provide any evidence of the same.
Omar Rashid, the journalist who wrote the report for The Hindu, tweeted that Lalchandani told the outlet that she had made the comments in anger.
The principal of Kanpur Medical College Arati Lalchandani allegedly calls Tablighi Jamaat members terrorists, says they should be sent to dungeons, jungles & solitary confinement rather than being treated in isolation wards. She told @the_hindu that she made the comment in anger pic.twitter.com/vfM2tVnTaV— Omar Rashid (@omar7rashid) May 31, 2020
In her statement that was sent over WhatsApp, Lalchandani wrote, “THESE ARE NOT MY STATEMENTS GIVEN TO MEDIA but a malicious sting and do not reflect my inner feelings.” She added, “Even a mother in her anger says go to hell to her own children. And then hugs them the next moment. My actions have always spoken louder than words and will continue to do so. I shall continue serving you all and you can always send to me anyone in need. I work 24 hours for you.”
It is pertinent to note that Lalchandani did not apologize for the racist comments.
Therefore the social media claim associated with the video is true. Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur, indeed made derogatory remarks against Tablighi Jamaat members and the Muslim community. She said the country should put them behind bars instead of spending money and resources for their treatment.
Here's her Facebook post: