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KUALA LUMPUR — As the Covid-19 spreads faster, Rohingya leaders, activists, and media worldwide spare no effort to create awareness about the outbreak of Covid-19 among and to urge their communities both in diaspora and homeland to stick to the preventive measures, obey the local law and follow the medical instructions including MCO, Covid-19 Test, etc. with special emphasis on the issue of the few hundreds of them in Malaysia who attended the Tabligh program recently.

There are a few hundred Rohingya refugees in Malaysia who participated in the Tabligh gathering held from February 28 to March 1, 2000, in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, that many confirmed cases of infection in South East Asia have a link to.

Though it was an international gathering, the issue of several Rohingya refugee attendees made headlines in local and, even, foreign media, as it was so exaggeratedly portrayed by Reuters that terrified not only the whole community but also the country and may stir anti-refugee (Rohingya) sentiment among host community, saying “Malaysian authorities are trying to track down an estimated 2,000 Rohingya who attended a Muslim gathering.” without proper factcheck and thinking the possible consequence.

According to Health D-G, the attendance was as high as 16,000 people, up from the original figure of around 10,000. Of the attendees, 14,500 were Malaysians and the rest 1500 were foreigners from around the region. How Rohingya could be 2,000 despite the fact that there were attendees from the SEA and Subcontinent?

Rohingya Vision has contacted several community and Tabligh leaders who described the number mentioned in the Reuters report as “exaugurated and illogical” and denied the accusation that the Rohingya attendees tarry to be tested.

Hajee Farid, a leading Rohingya Tabligh figure, said, “Rohingya attendees were a few hundred in Sri Petaling. General Rohingya didn’t attend the event.” adding “Actually the gathering was a special event for ulamā and khudamā (scholars and seniors). So, there is no question for public Rohingya to attend. Most of the Rohingya attendees attended at the end to join just the final dua (supplication)” that doesn’t cause to intermingle in the crowd.

As it was a special program, the ones who joined the full event won’t outnumber even 50, because, according to Farid, the scholars and senior members playing a leading role in Tabligh to be eligible to attend this event are less than this.

Another devotee member, Mohammad Y, told Rohingya Vision that many of the attendees have undergone proper medical screening for Covid-19 and the ones known to him including aforementioned Farid were tested negative, while many others were returned by the clinics or hospitals without being tested due to the lack of any symptoms.

Perhaps, according to Farid, this is the reason why other participants are reluctant to go for testing as they don’t see Covid-like symptoms.

Yet “we are urging every participant in Tabligh gathering and even non-participants with symptoms, regardless of having UNHCR card or not, to be tested for coronavirus assuring safety and zero costs, follow preventive measures and MCO, ” told Bo Ming Naing, President of Rohingya Society in Malaysia, who has recently guided his society through a live video and posted in Facebook:

“Malaysian medias (media) are writing 2000 Rohingyas gathered at Sri Petaling religious gathering. Do these medias (media) have any evidence that 2000 Rohingyas participated at (in) this gathering? We, Rohingya Community would like to know this because we all are serious for (about) this issue. The reporters wrote the news without any evidence and some reporters do not know who are Rohingya and who are Myanmar Muslim. If something happen(s), the reporters write news by using Rohingya’s name.”

Almost all the Rohingya refugees are heavy and manual labor working for wages. Their survival food and hand-to-mouth income made them too busy to even have time for their family, forget Tabligh.

With 2,000 suspected people staying behind untested, if the situation worsens, the host community one day will forget that “the virus comes from China, not Rohingya.” as Rahmat Ali commented.

Anwar S. Mohammad commented “How come they reported incorrect numbers in an extreme(ly) sensitive case in the first place? Will Reuters take responsibility if Rohingyas are subjected (to) any forms of punishments (punishment) because of their irresponsible reporting?

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