No room for religious intolerance in UAE: Sheikha Hend
Abu Dhabi - She said the need of the hour is for everyone to focus on containing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Religious intolerance and hatred have no place in the UAE, an Emirati businesswoman and philanthropist has reiterated. Sheikha Hend Al Qassimi, who has been in the news for slamming Islamophobic social media posts, said she was surprised to find Indian names behind some of these posts.
A prejudiced section of social media users have targeted Muslims over a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi that reportedly led to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in India. As Khaleej Times reported earlier this week, Sheikha Hend shared screenshots of Islamophobic tweets from a now-deactivated account and warned: "Anyone that is openly racist and discriminatory in the UAE will be fined and made to leave."
The Emirati told Khaleej Times on Tuesday: "When I first reacted to the tweet, I didn't really know what Tablighi Jamaat was. I am sorry, but I grew up with Indians and they don't talk like this . When I saw the tweet, what I said was what any Emirati would - that this hatred is not welcome."
The fact that some of the accounts from which the hatred was posted were real "shocked" her even further. "Unfortunately they are (real). They even put the name of their companies. Nobody denies that we (Emiratis) depend on Indians, but trust me, nobody wants to do business with this category of people."
Sheikha Hend underlined that she respected all religions, but she won't take nasty jibes. "There is obviously hypocrisy in ... many religions. Al Qaeda promises 72 virgins and heaven, but they don't go out themselves, but send young idiots."
She said the need of the hour is for everyone to focus on containing the Covid-19 pandemic. "We should put more energy in how we can get out of this coronavirus situation."
Referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tweet against giving religious angle to the spread of Covid-19, Sheikha Hend said: "Many people said he reacted because of me, but I don't want to take the credit. Maybe, I was the first to react and things snowballed."
Un-Indian-ness on social media
Sheikha Hend recently returned from India as she practises yoga at an ashram in Bangalore. She hopes the situation will return to normalcy and better sense prevails. "I found a new tweet which said that by December 2021, there will be no more Muslims or Christians in India. This sounds like the most un-Indian thing. I only wish I could help. I don't know how."
The virus doesn't target a particular religion. Neither should we: Emirati poet
Meanwhile, Emirati poet and author Khaled Al Dhanhani said the Covid-19 situation is an opportunity to overcome differences and reject paths of violence and extremism.
"Coronavirus is not threatening any particular country, but rather it has crossed borders. It doesn't see any race, religion, colour or creed. We must act in cooperation with each other and solidarity. This is not a time for fanaticism and to trade accusations between sects, religions and nations," Al Dhanhani said. "What is required of us is to put united efforts to confront this virus, in addition to creating more awareness, taking precautions and having the right approach to overcoming this malicious virus. We must also not be drawn by rumours or to believe lies that contribute to frightening people and communities."