In the last two years, no cases of diphtheria have been reported from Malappuram district in northern Kerala. As the district has traditionally been a hotbed of this bacterial disease, the successful eradication of the disease was attributed to the successful immunization program.
However, in September this year there were two reported cases of death due to the deadly disease, with news reports quoting health workers on the ground as claiming that certain Islamist groups were discouraging parents from immunizing their children.
However on record, state secretary of Nadavuthul Mujaihideen, one of the groups accused of speaking against vaccination, has maintained that orthodox beliefs cannot overrule health. They also say that they would try their best to remove the stigma attached to vaccinations among Muslims.
But in a video doing the rounds on Facebook, an Islamic leader is seen arguing otherwise.
The talk against vaccination apparently happened at a meeting held in February this year by the group’s women's wing, Muslim Girls And Women Movement (MGM), in the district.
The man in the video can be clearly heard saying, “Vaccination spreads different diseases and it is an activity of devil. They say it is good but it’s poison. Same happened to Adam, that snake told him the apple was good.”
“If God knows how to look after a child for nine months inside your womb then he knows how to take care after that also. So why do you give vaccination? And why do you think that some humans are needed to complete God’s job?” he added.
He even argued against using modern medicinal practices.
“When you want to deliver a kid, why do you depend on a gynaecologist? God will look after you. I will not let my wife, daughter — or any women close to me give birth with the help of a doctor. I won’t compel you to believe this, but I do," he further added.
When confronted with the video, MGM State Secretary Ayishakutty, denied the video was taken at the meeting held in February.
She told The News Minute, "I don’t remember such a speech in the meeting held in February and I don’t know this leader.”
The denial is in spite of the MGM logo being clearly visible on a banner that can be seen in the background.
Ayishakutty added, “We as an organization support vaccinations and we are on a mission to give awareness among public to give vaccination. Both beliefs and science should be given equal importance. If someone has talked against vaccinations or medications, it is because they are not aware."