Tesfaye to Danish Muslims: “It (Ramadan) must NOT mean an explosion in Corona infections”

Minister Mattias Tesfaye to Muslims Den (Ramadan) må IKKE betyde en eksplosion i smittede. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

While the world leader pass Ramadan greetings and corona guidelines in a way that keep everyone included but Immigration and Integration Minister of Denmark Mattias Tesfaye will post the sensational news headlines with divisive words like “Den må IKKE betyde en eksplosion i smittede” meaning It (Ramadan) must NOT mean an explosion in corona infected cases.

Read more: Tesfaye i opråb til danske muslimer

There has been reports that ethic minorities like African American and Latinos in the US have recorded higher number of corona cases. While explaining the reasons behind the disproportionate number of cases of corona for the people of colour in the States, Mother Jones writes “well, there are the more acute reasons (black and Latino people are being put at risk more in their day-to-day lives) and then there are the structural reasons (long-standing economic and health disparities between white people and people of colour). Black and Latino American accounts for more than 60 percent of the workforce of The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in NYC and MTA employees is hit high in NYC. As per the New York Times report of 8th April, bus and subway workers have been hit hard by the coronavirus: 41 dead and more than 6,000 either diagnosed with Covid-19 or self-quarantining because they have symptoms that suggest an infection.

Read more: Covid-19’s devastating toll on black and Latino Americans, in one chart

The figures in some of the mainstream media are presented in a way that link the corona cases more with minorities religious or cultural traits than other realities. Headlines depict minorities as they not following guidelines while ignoring the fact that these immigrants are mostly working in the most vulnerable fields like delivery, transportation, warehouses, grocery stores etc.

Read more: Indvandrere med coronavirus fylder hospital: Nu kræver overlæger klar besked

In Denmark the scenario is not very different. There are jobs like driving, delivery services, taxi, transportation, warehouses etc where majority of workers are from minority background. In an online supermarket warehouse located near Copenhagen, there are about 500 packers and other staff working. Around 80% of them are immigrants. The other 20% are either working in offices or from home. These hundreds of workers work in a much crowded place especially after the lockdown as online orders has increased and more employees are hired. There are now more than 6 corona positive cases in the warehouse but workers are continuously told to perform higher and some are fired because they could not perform 100 % despite the fact that the work place is too crowded. Similarly, other fields like taxi drivers where majority are from minority background are more exposed to corona infection.

The Ramadan guidelines regarding coronavirus are praised by muslims and these guidelines have already been followed by Mosques as they are closed since the lockdown has been announced. The issue is linking higher cases with religion and ethic background at a time when muslims holy month of Ramadan is starting without mentioning the other realities like work professions and structural imbalances. This makes it look like minorities are not following the guidelines.

The health authorities in Denmark are planning to issue the coronavirus infected cases data with regard to ethnic background. It might came out that minorities do have higher number of cases but it should not be used as a right wing tool to blame the cultural and religious disparities rather it could be taken as warning as state has failed to provide an equal standing to minorities. It could also be seen as immigrants do take risks to provide services to people even if they have to risk their lives.

By Naqeeb Khan

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