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UK Muslim Groups Fight COVID Vaccine Misinformation on WhatsApp

With fake news on COVID-19 vaccine now spreading like wild fire on social media, amid efforts to vaccinate people, two British Muslim groups are leading the fight against vaccine misinformation on WhatsApp.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) have created “myth-busting” messages that recreate the informal style of viral fake news clips, Arab News reported.

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Dr. Wajid Akhter, assistant secretary-general of the MCB and vice president of BIMA, said the past year “has been an information war.”

He added: “People should be allowed to share worries and concerns they have. But some of the stuff that we’re seeing going around definitely goes into the territory of deliberate misinformation. WhatsApp is a very specific lawless wasteland of social media.”

Akhter said: “We didn’t spend too much time trying to make it perfectly classically designed … An anti-vaxxer would just flick on his camera, rant for 60 seconds and send it off and the lie spreads halfway around the world, so we weren’t going to wait.”

As more people remain hesitant about receiving the coronavirus vaccine, Akhte said that the MCB’s reputation among the British-Muslim community is a crucial reason for the success of the campaign.

“It’s human nature that you’re more likely to listen to your friends or colleagues,” he said.

“We’re literally the person praying next to them in the mosque. We’re relatives or friends.”

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Vaccination In Islam

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims to seek medical treatments: “Make use of medical treatment, for Allah has not created a disease without appointing a remedy for it.” (Abu Dawud)

Muslim leaders from across the country have been very vocal about the importance of trusting the vaccination program.

Birmingham’s landmark Green Lane Masjid and Community Center issued a statement last month to clear skepticism surrounding COVID vaccine and urge Muslims to seek medical advice.  

In January 2021, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) okayed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 for Muslims.

In December, BIMA also approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Muslim communities, confirming that there are no animal products in this vaccine.