Hyderabad: Last year during the COVID-19 lockdown, a concerted effort was made by malicious groups to target Muslims and paint them as super spreaders of the virus. The hate campaign worked, and it was run as members of the Tablighi Jamaat had held a gathering in March 2020, due to which cases spread to a certain extent.
However, this time during the ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 virus, several Muslim organisation across the country have set up helplines and placed volunteers on ground to help those in need. On April 30, the Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), India, launched its COVID-19 helpline number after setting up a dedicated team of volunteers last week. In fact, the SIO and Jama’t Islami organisations have also converted their head offices across India into COVID care centres to help people in distress.
Speaking to Siasat.com, national president of SIO Salman Ahmed said, “COVID-19 patients or attendants can convey their requirements through two 24×7 helpline numbers started by the organisation or through social media.” He added that that a team of volunteers spread across the country is mapping resources and verifying information available on social media and internet, after which patients are then connected to relevant resource providers.
Furthermore, Salman informed that their ‘COVID-19 Relief Task Force’ consists of more than 1000 volunteers from across the country, who are going to work 24×7. “A plasma donor registration drive will be conducted to connect them with patients,” he stated. The helpline number for Telangana state is 7303373374. The needy can also tag SIO Telangana handles on Twitter @SIOTelangana or @Mdfaraz_ or hashtag #SOSSIO for help.
Service not just for Muslims but humanity at large
Dr Talha Fayazuddin, the Telangana president of SIO told Siasat.com, “Islam teaches us the dignity of a human being, dead or alive, irrespective of any race, religion or language.” He said that it’s natural for people to think that an ‘Islamic organisation’ would only work for Muslims only but added that it is completely far from the truth. “We are working for humanity at large and we are ready to serve anyone from any community,” he said. SIO is essentially ready to help anyone and everyone they can.
Building bridges between communities through social work
Salman Ahmed said that the rise of COVID-19 in India last year was marked by a relentless vilification campaign by the media and the powers that be against Tablighi Jamaat and the Muslim community at large. “Ever since then, SIO alongside the Muslim community at large has extensively engaged in welfare activities to help alleviate the pain of people suffering from the pandemic and lockdown imposed by the government.
“These activities have offered a contrasting view of the Islamic faith and Muslims to the country than the one offered by 24×7 channels and helped change many people’s perceptions.” Lastly, he added that while these activities do help in improving the image of the community, they are not going to “appease” non-Muslims.
“We will continue this work irrespective of how anyone perceives us. The images of skull-cap clad, bearded men, risking their lives to help others definitely helped in changing the attitude and perception of people that was built by years of hateful propaganda against the Muslims,” Dr. Talha opined. He added that the anti-Muslim hate is very deep-rooted and will require sustained efforts of community engagement coupled with education and awareness initiatives to weed it out completely.
Dr. Talha also said that it’s the responsibility of the educated and intellectual people from the other communities to lead on the front by sensitising and educating their respective communities.
Mask up campaign in Nizamabad, Adilabad
In view of increasing covid cases in Telangana, SIO in Nizamabad and Adilabad have also started an awareness campaign called “Mask Up Please”. SIO has appealed to students and youth to strictly follow the covid protocol, and is also spreading awareness among the citizens to step ahead to help and support the victims of COVID-19 and their families.