By Arundhati Mukherjee

Leading Islamic Scholars and Mosques from all parts of the UK join the campaign to fight fake news on Covid Vaccine.

A flood of disinformation and anti-vaxx bandwagon that started early last week seemed to have gained some initial momentum. The rumours spread like wildfire through social media and Whatsapp messages, targeting the UK’s religious-minded ethnic minorities.

The BAME community is said to be essentially vulnerable to Covid. One-third of those from minority backgrounds in the UK are Muslim. These communities have had a similarly high burden from Covid-19.

Chief Imam Hafiz Mohammad Sajid at the Al Mustafa Centre plays a vital role in the fight against coronavirus.

The latest public health messages are regularly read out at Friday prayers in the Middlesborough mosque.

The Chief Imam said: “With the vaccination being rolled out, we hope and pray that in due course this will bring some sense of normality to our lives. We have received guidance from The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI). They have consulted various experts in infectious diseases and sought scholarly opinion on the issues of vaccination. The Tees Valley Muslim Council members, on the advice of our national bodies, therefore give a clear and unequivocal message that individuals should take the Covid-19 vaccine on their medical practitioner’s advice following informed consent.”

“There appears to be an abundance of ‘fake news’ on the subject of the vaccination. So, it is important to verify any news you receive before acting upon it or forwarding on, as this can cause panic and easily spread during a crisis.”

South Tees Joint Director of Public Health Mark Adams has thanked the Al Mustafa Centre for its support.

“It’s crucial that influential voices within all our communities do their bit to encourage people to come forward for their vaccine when it’s their turn. I’d like to thank the chief Imam for helping to keep people safe”, he said.

Earlier this week, some of the names that came to the forefront of speaking against the Covid vaccine are Shukeel Chohan, Shah Nur, and others.

The British Muslim community has been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 with excess cases and deaths. This disinformation about the content in the vaccine has the potential of further injury to the group.

Dr Harpreet Sood, who is leading an NHS anti-disinformation drive, told BBC that it was “a big concern” and that the NHS officials were working along with South Asian role models, influencers, and religious leaders “to correct so much fake news”.

BBC has quoted Dr Sood: “We need to be clear and make people realise there is no meat in the vaccine, there is no pork in the vaccine. It has been accepted and endorsed by all the religious leaders and councils and faith communities.

We’re trying to find role models and influencers. And also thinking about ordinary citizens who need to be quick with this information, so that they can all support one another because ultimately everyone is a role model for everyone.”