Against Coronavirus, Pakistan Turns to a Traditional Remedy: Blame Ahmadis and Jews

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Every few minutes for the past week, a viral meme entitled “coronavirus timeline in Pakistan’ has been shared by social media users in Pakistan.Written in Urdu transliterated into Latin script, the meme helpfully conveys the evolution of Pakistani conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 from January 2020 till May, as coronavirus has mutated from “Allah’s wrath on China” (January) to the globe-spanning claim that it’s a “hoax designed by Bill Gates to forcibly implant microchips” (May).Tucked in for April is: “American and Israeli conspiracy.” No anthology of conspiracy theories in Pakistan could be complete without superlatively imaginative attributions to Israel. In fact, had the meme been ranked by the degree of fixation of the conspiracists, and not a take on the evolution of the theories, Israel would’ve won first place in a walkover.In meme terms, Israel would be best described by the baton roué, or bike fall, template in Pakistan: the country is riding along steadily, when the movement is arrested by an obstacle of its own making. The bike falls, and the rider blames Israel.

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