'I'm Not A Virus': French Asians hit back at racists as coronavirus spreads worldwide

'I'm Not A Virus': French Asians hit back at racists as coronavirus spreads worldwide
People have shouted racist abuse at Asians in France over the coronavirus outbreak, prompting a social media campaign.
3 min read
30 January, 2020
The virus has spread across the world [Getty]
French Asians have launched a social media campaign to confront racist abuse they have received in response to the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, which has seen some 6,000 cases and 170 deaths.

A fourth case of the deadly virus was confirmed in France on Wednesday and is said to be an elderly Chinese tourist on holiday in Paris, prompting racism and stigmatising remarks towards people of Asian ethnic origin.

The French hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus [I am not a virus)]has been trending online and they use it to complain about the abuse they have received on public transport, social media and even mainstream media.

A local newspaper called Le Courier Picard was criticised after it used the racist headlines, “Alerte jaune” [Yellow alert] and “Le péril jaune?” [Yellow peril?], along with an image of a Chinese woman wearing a face mask.

Stephane Nivet, head of the International League against racism and anti-Semitism told BBC that no newspaper would have ever used the headline “Black alert”.

Following intense backlash, the paper apologised for using some of the “worst Asian stereotypes”.

One Twitter user recalled that she had been on her way home from work when she overheard two people saying, “look out a Chinese girl is coming our way.”

“I’m Vietnamese,” the girl added.

“First of all, all Asians are not Chinese,” another irate Twitter user said, “[secondly] all Chinese are not infected with the virus. Stop asking if we’re dangerous [when] we cough,” he said.

French nationals with an Asian background who have “never stepped foot in China” are telling people to “stop your anti-Asian racist comments and behaviour”.

Lou Chengwang begged people on Twitter not to be prejudiced: "I'm Chinese, but I'm not a virus! I know everyone's scared of the virus but no prejudice, please."

A woman called Minh, who is of Vietnamese origin told the French publication Le Monde that she was shouted at by a driver, who told her: “Keep your virus, dirty Chinese! You’re not welcome in France”.

France is preparing to send a plane to Wuhan on Thursday to evacuate approximately 250 people, including non-French EU citizens.

Spreading to Middle East

There are over 6,000 cases of the coronavirus and 170 deaths across the world And it has spread to at east 16 countries globally including Thailand, France, the US, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE confirmed the first coronavirus case in the Middle East was a family of four that came into the country from a Chinese city which hosts the outbreak.

The potentially-deadly coronavirus has reached the Middle East, with the UAE confirming the first case in the region on Wednesday.

Abu Dhabi has confirmed the first case of the deadly coronavirus in the region, saying that doctors were treating a family-of-four that had come from a Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, and have said they will be released following a 14-day quarantine period.

The diagnosed people were in stable condition and under medical observation, the ministry said in a statement provided to the state news agency WAM.

"It is not a cause for concern," the ministry assured the public.

The Chinese city of Wuhan stands at the epicentre of the outbreak, and whilst scientists grapple with theories that could have caused the disease, which is thought to have originated from animals, there are no clear answers.

British Airways has cancelled flights to and from China until March as a precaution against further spreading to the UK.

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