Jihadists discuss coronavirus, offer advice

Turkistan Islamic Party spokesman as seen in its video about COVID-19.

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the world, jihadist groups have offered their own take on the situation and have even offered advice on how to mitigate its effect.

Both the al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and the Islamic State have publicly commented on the virus.

In a video released late last month, the TIP, a predominately Uighur jihadist organization, framed the coronavirus outbreak in China as “punishment from God” for the state’s oppression of the Uighur minority.

“They [the Chinese government] destroyed the mosques and changed them to places of dancing, vices and insolence, they tramped upon the Qur’an and burned them, and transgressed upon the honor and raped the women,” the TIP spokesman states.

As a result, the speaker alleges, “the revenge from God came against these criminals and he sent upon them the deadly coronavirus.” The jihadist spokesman also adds that “the entire world knows that what happened in China is merely part of the punishment from God.”

In addition to providing an overview of the virus’ outbreak, the group also chides the Chinese state for allowing the consumption of “meat prohibited by the Qur’an.”

It is thought that the current worldwide pandemic possibly originated in a wet market inside Wuhan where wild animals are sold alongside livestock. The TIP echoes this information in its production.

The TIP’s video ends with the speaker praying that “this outbreak be a reason for the destruction of the atheist Chinese state.”

Although the TIP largely operates in Syria and Afghanistan alongside various al Qaeda-linked outfits, the group’s long-stated goal is to build an Islamic state within the Chinese province of Xinjiang. A large portion of its propaganda is directed towards the Chinese state.

Islamic State offers advice

While not explicitly naming coronavirus in its most recent issue of the weekly Al Naba newsletter, the Islamic State does offer “Sharia guidance on dealing with epidemics.”

Utilizing several ahadith [sayings of the Prophet Muhammad] to emphasize their points, the group offers basic advice such telling members to “cover your mouths when yawning and sneezing” and to “wash your hands before dipping them into containers.”

Some of the Islamic State’s advice even mirrors that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by advocating for a form of social distancing and quarantining.

“The necessity for the healthy to not enter the land of the epidemic and for those who are sick to not leave from it,” the group’s guidelines state.

The Islamic State also downplays the severity of the situation and attempts to assuage fears that may be within the group’s ranks.

The jihadist group tells it followers that “it is necessary to believe that diseases are not infectious by themselves but are of the order of God and his capability.” Moreover, it orders its supporters to “trust in God and seek refuge in him from the diseases.”

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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