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COVID-19: Racism, Blame Shifting and Politicizing a Pandemic.

Hamdhan Shakeel

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The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the global pandemic has also paved way for a new wave for Anti-Asian hatred and rhetoric’s. Due to disinformation and fake news fueled by global politics, the Asians, especially China has been blamed for the COVID-19 virus.

This accusation and following hysteria have been further exacerbated by some global powers such as the U.S. and its allies specifically blaming China and accusing that the COVID-19 virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

First promoted by then U.S. President Donald Trump as a part of his feud against China, the “Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory” was dismissed by Scientists and journalists as a conspiracy theory.

However, when China curbed the spread of the virus and initiated one of the world’s most successful and largest vaccine drives while the U.S. recorded 35 million cases with 610,000 deaths along with it, Anti-Chinese rhetoric’s once against became mainstream as the U.S. struggled to maintain its dominance over the rest of the world.

In a classic Chinese move, China gained the support of the globe by providing the much-needed aid. While the U.S. was hoarding COVID-19 vaccines enough for more than 3 times its adult population according to The Washington Post, China engaged in humanitarian work by donating and providing medical supplies and the COVID-19 vaccine to the rest of the globe.

Till date, China has provided more than 300 billion masks, 3.7 billion protective suits, 4.8 billion testing kits and over 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to more than 200 countries.

However, instead of working on eliminating the COVID-19 pandemic which has had devastating effects on the global economy and tracing the origin of the virus in a scientific manner, some western states backed and coerced by the U.S. is attempting to shift the blame to China by distorting facts and spreading disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

An undeniable fact is that finding the origin of the COVID-19 virus is paramount to ensuring that health professionals are ready for when the next such pandemic strikes. The recently publish joint WHO-China report on the origin of the COVID-19 is the much-needed foundation and guideline on which the rest of the world should conduct their scientific studies on the origin of the COVID-19 virus.

The notion that the virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China is also highly unlikely as the Wuhan Institute of Virology is a highly specialized and respected institute with international standards of safety. The idea that the virus escaped due to poor security features is another aspect that one needs to analyze when looking into the accusations that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan. The age-old racism fueled viewpoint that all Chinese products and institutions are of inferior quality is undeniably a part of what is fueling the allegations that the virus leaked from an internationally accredited lab in Wuhan, China.

Even following the publication of the joint WHO-China report on the origin of the virus, a few countries have politicized the efforts to find the origin of the virus. While this has been met with criticism from the vast majority of the world, these few states continue to act in a bid to politicize and blame shift for the current situation.

In reaction to this, 48 countries around the globe have written to the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging the WHO to act according to the resolutions made by the World Health Assembly. They called for the WHO to push forward the “Global probe on traceability of the virus”.

The 48 countries stated that the virus is the common enemy of humanity and that it can only be conquered through a joint effort by the global community.

They also stated that the probe on the origin of the virus is a scientific work and that it should not be politicized.

This sentiment was backed by several academics including Professor Su Jingjing from the Peking University’s School of Health Humanities, who stated that while tracing the origin of a virus is critical to ensuring the medical professionals are better equipped to coping with future outbreaks, finding it however, is a massive scientific effort and a “great deal of luck”.

If we are to look at other similar incidents, it took scientists nearly 2 decades of global research free of political bias before they could identify the patient zero of HIV/AIDS. In case of the Ebola pandemic, scientists have been researching its origin since the 1970’s to no avail.

This in itself is proof that tracing the origin of a virus is a highly scientific work requiring multiple disciplines and years of research without political influence or disinformation.

The politicization of the tracing of the origin of the COVID-19 virus will undoubtedly interfere and obstruct the scientific effort required to successfully trace and establish proper procedures to combat the next such pandemic. If the WHO and other global powers are to successfully curb the spread of the virus and achieve normalcy, all states need to refrain from racism, blame shifting and politicizing a global pandemic.

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Motion to dismiss president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was omitted from today’s Parliamentary sitting.

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With the corruption accusations by former tourism Minister Ali Waheed, against President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, MP for Maduvvari constituency Adam Shareef submitted an  emergency motion to dismiss President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih from official duties. HoweverMajlis declined to agenda the motion for today’s parliamentary sitting.

The emergency motion submitted by MP Shareef states that Former Tourism Minister on trial for 7 counts of sexual abuse Ali Waheed accused President Solih of profiting from the MMPRC corruption. The motion also dictates that since Waheed has stated that there is CCTV footage proving President Solih’s alleged crime, it should be investigated transparently by the Maldives Police and Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

At the press conference held by Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, last night, stated that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih received over MVR 35 million through the MMPRC corruption. Answering to a question raised by a journalist Ali Waheed also stated that it was not one time that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih received money through MMPRC corruptionand that in several different occasions President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih received money through the MMPRC corruption.

Ali Waheed also mentioned that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solihs name was in the initial MMPRC beneficiary list. And that during the initial investigation Former Assistant Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz removed President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s name from the MMPRC beneficiary list..

This is not the first time Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has been accused of receiving corruption money through MMPRC corruption. Opposition party has also accused President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for being a beneficiary of MMPRC corruption.

The former Tourism Minister Ali Waheedcurrently residing in the United Kingdom, was sentenced to prison by the Maldives Supreme Court upon failure to appear in court for a hearing regarding 7 counts of sexual assault.

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Rasfannu beach area closed due to Oil spill. Opening date unconfirmed.

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Due to the oil spill that happened near Rasfannu, the beach area and sea area have been closed until further.

Male’ city council informed that due to an oil tanker that washed ashore near Rasfannu bursting and contaminating the ocean and beach area, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advised closing of the beach as it may have harmful effects on the locals who visit. Until the area is completely clean, it will be closed off to the public.

EPA director general Ibrahim Naeem stated that the oil that’s washing up at Rasfannu beach is oil that’s stuck between the rocks and the barrier. He stated that the reasoning for the oil leak is unclear.

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) stated that lifeguards are diving and cleaning the oil spill as well as Police forces are working on cleaning the area.

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In the first 8 months of this year, 51-million-rufiyaa worth of Zakat Al-Mal.

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In just the first 8 months of 2021, 51 million rufiyaa has been received by Zakat Al-Mal.

According to statistics released by Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) in august 2021, there has been an increase of 17.8 million rufiyaa in Zakat Al-Mal in comparison to the first 8 months of 2021. From January-August 2020, MIRA had noted receiving 33.3 million rufiyaa in Zakat.

In 2021, from January-August 2021, in just 8 months MIRA had received 55 million rufiyaa and 18119 American dollars. In 2020 MIRA had received 11.4 million rufiyaa and 4264 American dollars as Zakat Al-Mal.

Zakat Al-Mal is when a person’s wealth reaches the minimum amount, they must pay a set amount as a religious obligation.  This can be paid any time of the year.

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