Hyderabad: Amidst the Corona virus pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of videos and text messages spreading misinformation that particularly target the Muslim community. A new video has been added to this list.
In a 45-second video, an employee at a restaurant, who is clearly a Muslim man and is seen wearing a skull cap, spits on the food before packing it for customers.
The video has gone viral in India after a congregation held by Tablighi Jamaat in mid-March was identified as a source of several positive Corona virus cases across the country. On 2 March the video went viral on Whatsapp with the claim that Muslims are spitting on the food and urging people to avoid eating food from shops owned by Muslims.
NewsMeter found that Mahesh Vikram Hegde, founder of Postcard News, had uploaded the video on Twitter on 21 March and tweeted, "After looking at this, I'm scared to eat at hotels! Watch the video where a hotel staff spits at food items, before serving it to customers! What's the use of Janata Curfew when we have deadly sadists like this man? Arrest this lunatic immediately." This was retweeted 2.3K times.
Roop Darak, Telangana spokesperson for the BJP youth wing Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, and BJP supporter Sonam Mahajan also tweeted the viral video which was retweeted over 1,000 times.
When keyframes from the video were extracted using the Invid tool, and searched with Google and Yandex reverse image search, NewsMeter found that the video was uploaded on YouTube on 27 April 2019. Alt News, during its fact check of the same video, also found that the video has been circulating recently in several countries in light of the Corona virus pandemic.
According to Alt News, the video was also viral in Malaysia last year. On 1 May 2019, a Malaysia-based lifestyle website Feed Me reported that the location of the restaurant in the video remains a mystery despite the fact that it has been viral since 26 April.
However, in UAE, Singapore, and Malaysia, the claim was that the man blew into the food packet and there is no mention of intentional spitting.
NewsMeter couldn't establish the source of the video. However, it has been circulating in other countries over the past year. In India, the video started going viral only after the Tablighi Jamaat incident and has nothing to do with #Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Hence the origin of the video cannot be India.