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Corona Pandemic Reveals Where Extremists & Everyday Muslims Overlap

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People wear masks against the coronavirus in NY's Times Square (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
People wear masks against the coronavirus in NY’s Times Square (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

The fast-moving coronavirus pandemic has become a morale boost to Islamists, many of whom see the virus as an act of divine wrath against the enemy. But how is it affecting “everyday” Muslims?

Those monitoring the messaging across pro-Islamist State (ISIS) platforms are observing several key themes among Islamists:

  • Highlighting death tolls in Iran from coronavirus (these are coming from anti-Iranian/anti-Shiite extremists
  • Xenophobia and racism against China, which they view as a justified punishment for China’s brutal treatment of its Muslim Uyghur population

While the passion for defending a common identity group (in this case, Chinese Muslims) against aggressors is a popular theme among extremists, glorifying punishment isn’t exclusive to extremists.

Among everyday Muslims, most of whom are not Islamist extremists, there’s consensus that “China had it coming” with how it treated Uyghurs.

There’s also recognition that the very things religious Muslims were challenged for practicing — or practices that were not seen as being inclusive within a secular society — are now norms in our new pandemic reality: Covering your face was seen as a security risk, now it’s preventative healthcare;  not shaking hands with women was seen as misogynistic; now it’s the new norm.

It has many everyday Muslims wondering whether earlier measures against covering one’s face or insistence on not touching people of the other gender in greetings was really security and culture or bigotry.

This is not to say there’s a comparison between ISIS and everyday Muslims. It is, however, to say that things are complicated, and that the victim mentality pegged on extremists is not exclusive to extremists.

On the other hand, there are legitimate grievances, and we’ll have to sort them out after the coronavirus pandemic is handled.

This is a time of observation. One such observation is: There are crossovers between the drivers pushing extremists and the emotions felt by everyday Muslims.

The coronavirus fallout is also bringing out the people in between, like the nonviolent Islamists who refuse to accept a possible coronavirus vaccine if it’s sourced from Israel:

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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