Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has expressed disappointment and anger through his YouTube channel about how the coronavirus outbreak has negatively affected the Pakistan Super League (PSL), postponed the Indian Premier League (IPL), and is now terrifying for third-world countries and their economies.
And it got a little too racist really fast.
"I don't understand - if God has made halal animals, why are you eating haram?" he questioned in the very beginning.
Looking perplexed, he further shared, "When God has given you so much livestock, why can't you eat that? Why do you have to eat bats, cats and dogs, drink their urine, their blood, and spread the virus in the entire world? I don't understand, I'm really angry. They've gotten the whole world at stake, these Chinese" he says, slamming an entire race of people while disapproving of their eating habits.
Quick, someone tell Akhtar that coronavirus is no excuse to be a bigot.
He went on to talk about the global repercussions of the virus spreading. But what he's most angry about is PSL.
"Cricket returned to Pakistan after years and now it's going to be forced behind closed doors. Overseas players have to go back to their countries. We were having so much fun. And we have to stop all that, why? Because some Wuhan people want to eat bats and drink their urine?"
He then directly addressed Chinese people and said: "I'm really angry to see that by eating strange things, you've not only doomed yourself but put the rest of us at risk too."
He added, "But you must understand, I'm not against the Chinese, I'm against law of the animals. How can you eat them? It's probably your culture but it's not benefiting you - it's hurting humanity. In third world countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh even Sri Lanka - there are not enough facilities. You must stop."
Where do we even start unpacking this?
It is highly irresponsible for a person with his following to spread such misinformation. Influencers such as Akhtar have a key role to play in preventing and stopping stigma surrounding people from China and Asia in general.
China is not only working the hardest on containing the coronavirus, the results have been positive. While they're busy fixing the issue, Akhtar is out here bashing them; at least update your knowledge.
At a grave time like this, racial profiling and shaming an entire race for the effects of a global pandemic is harmful and unfair to say the least. Those following a different religion than us do not share the same understanding of food preferences that we do; if this is a part of Chinese culture and they want to consume wild animals, that's their prerogative but the onus to regulate is on the government. Culture cannot be changed overnight.
Perhaps a better way to phrase his dismay would be to ask for better implementation of existing policies in China that prohibit exotic animal trade.
Not to mention, many people in China have started to shun wildlife consumption as it is, even before the pandemic.
A study by Beijing Normal University and the China Wildlife Conservation Association in 2012, found that in China's major cities, a third of people had used wild animals in their lifetime for food, medicine or clothing; researchers also found that just over 52% of total respondents agreed that wildlife should not be consumed. The number in Beijing was even higher, where more than 80% of residents were opposed to wildlife consumption.
In a previous survey in 2004, 42% of total respondents were against the practice.