'Baseless' claim Muslims in Leicester wouldn't use hand sanitiser hidden by Facebook

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
Police in Leicester City Centre on July 4th. Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases whilst restrictions are lifted in other parts of the country.
Claims about the Muslim community and Leicester's lockdown were hidden on Facebook following a fact check. (PA)

A “baseless” claim that Muslims in locked-down Leicester did not adhere to the government’s coronavirus advice has been partially hidden by Facebook.

The post – a screenshot – was put up on the site claiming members of the Islamic community didn’t understand Downing Street messaging about COVID-19 and couldn’t use alcohol-based sanitiser because of their religion.

Rachael Krishna, from fact checker charity FullFact, wrote that the first claim was unproven and the second is false.

Facebook has put the post behind a message which highlights that it contains false information, with FullFact describing the post as “baseless”.

Leicester was put under a local lockdown to get its outbreak under control, the first time a particular area was put back into restrictions designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The Department of Health told Leicester Live: “Observational data and the epidemiology suggest that transmission within households, lower compliance with social distancing in the community, and workplace transmission may all be contributing to the current situation.”

The Facebook post contains a screen grab, in which someone has written that Muslims in Leicester didn’t understand government messaging because it wasn’t translated to what the person calls “their language”.

It was shared more than 400 times, and goes on to make the claim about alcohol-based sanitisers. It is hidden by Facebook, with a message that FullFact has debunked the sanitiser claim, but can still be viewed.

Facebook displays this message with the "baseless" screenshot but the post can still be seen. (Facebook)
Facebook displays this message with the "baseless" screenshot but the post can still be seen. (Facebook)

FullFact said the claim about language appears to have come off the back of a newspaper article.

The charity said the piece reported sources claiming a lack of translation of coronavirus messaging contributed to the Leicester outbreak, but did not specify any religions.

The specific claim that Muslims had not understood the guidance was not proven, FullFact said, and the assertion that Muslims would not use alcohol-based hand sanitiser is false.

The Muslim Council of Britain told FullFact: “The issue of alcohol in Islam relates to the drinking of alcohol, and not its use in other ways, such as the disinfection of skin.

“Many Muslims believe it is permissible to use alcohol-based sanitisers for alleviating illness or improving health, particularly as this is a necessity in the current climate.”

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