The 23-year-old is now speaking out against the racist and grossly misinformed attacks sparked by coronavirus mass hysteria.
As more cases of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continue to be reported every day, certain nations have also seen a significant rise in another worrisome epidemic: xenophobic attacks. A 23-year-old student from Singapore who recently became the victim of one such incident is now speaking out against the racist and grossly misinformed attacks sparked by mass hysteria. Jonathan Mok shared his ordeal on Facebook earlier this week, recounting how he was brutally assaulted by a group of people on Oxford Street—a busy shopping area in the center of the British capital—mere yards away from his central London home.
The spread of coronavirus has resulted in panic across the world — with people debating as to the severity of the situation: is this a deadly virus that we should all be afraid of? Or is it just similar to the common flu? It is without doubt that the medical effects of the COVID-19 have taken the front stage in issues across the world (and rightfully so). However, when we have been focusing solely on the health effects of the coronavirus, we fail to see the social effects that have surfaced from the spread of this virus— where racism has found yet another excuse to rear its ugly head, Mok began.
He continued that while he has been aware of the rising racist attacks in recent weeks—and has even personally experienced several racist statements directed at him—he never expected to be physically assaulted; especially not on one of the busiest streets in London. Recounting the traumatizing incident that left him with a severely bruised eye and a few fractures in his face, Mok wrote: Last Monday, at roughly 9.15 pm on Oxford Street in London, I walked past a group of young men, when I saw one of them look at me (just as he walked past me) and said something to me, which I could make out the word 'coronavirus.'
There is intense racism right now due to ignorant, ill informed, racist people, toward the Asian community. Not all Asian people are Chinese. Not all Chinese people have been to China. Not all people people in China have the Coronavirus. Inform yourself and shove your racism!— Zoie palmer (@ZoiePalmer) March 3, 2020
I was stunned and turned around to have a look at the man who made the statement. He was still staring at me as he walked past and realized I was looking at him. He shouted 'Don't you dare look at me, you ____' (I could not catch the last word because of the accent). Within 3 seconds, he was in my face, together with 3/4 other young men, and a young lady (all of whom seemed no older than 20 years old but were all more than a head taller than me). I was shocked and angry because he directed a racist remark at me and had the audacity to shout at me like I had wronged him. All of a sudden, the first punch was swung at my face and took me by surprise. When I was still shocked by the first hit, the guy delivered the second sucker punch, he continued.
The world is in the grips of an epidemic more dangerous than coronavirus - racism https://t.co/UaLq9S3UIs — #AJOpinion, by @HamidDabashi pic.twitter.com/PFPNaEV8B5— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 21, 2020
Mok revealed that although a few passersby attempted to reason with the assaulters, the group continued to attack him. The attacker's friend tried to swing a kick at me as I was explaining to the passer-by that I hadn’t done anything at all... The guy who tried to kick me then said, 'I don't want your coronavirus in my country,' before swinging another sucker punch at me, which resulted in my face exploding with blood (from my nose), where the blood was splattered all across the pavement, Mok wrote. A visit to the hospital revealed that the assailants had left him with "a few fractures" in his face which might require Mok to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Chinese Canadians say they've experienced racism with the spread of coronavirus around the world. pic.twitter.com/Lczoxm00rz— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 19, 2020
A Melbourne hospital is being rocked by racism, with families refusing to let their children be treated by doctors of Asian appearance due to coronavirus fears. @msanto92 #9News pic.twitter.com/TSuKWWH0Ry— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) February 27, 2020
The U.S. has an ugly history of associating Chinese people with disease. https://t.co/1tf6qEFxY1— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) February 29, 2020
Speaking to BBC about the attack, the University College London student said that he couldn't understand why "people would target another person simply because of their skin color. It just doesn't make sense at all." Addressing the recent rise in coronavirus-fueled xenophobia, Mok said, "When people see Asians wearing face masks, they automatically assume that they're ill. And I've heard of incidents where people get shouted at on the tube for wearing face masks, which is completely ridiculous because they're trying to protect themselves and trying to protect you as well. I've really been blind to many of these subtle racism issues in Singapore and coming out here, living here, and experiencing this, I've realized that this is actually a very serious problem that has plagued us for a very long time and we actually need to do something about it."
So I get on the train and this white woman immediately covers her mouth with a scarf when she sees me. I thought it would be interesting to fake cough and see how she reacts. The racism is showing Jan! (Too bad we couldn’t hear her mumbling under that racism!) pic.twitter.com/DW4HNdoKwh— min (@princessmin_c) March 2, 2020
The NYPD and the Hate Crime Task Force encourage the victim to report this incident to the police for a full investigation. https://t.co/4Qb4XHVj3Z— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) February 5, 2020
Video shot by@autumnlovevogue. Happened on 2/1/2020. Headed home with a friend. He directed his coronavirus rant at me for 15 mins.There were other men on the train, they avoided eye contact with me. I felt trapped and scared. This was my first. #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus #IamNotAVirus pic.twitter.com/cjkMCoYvRa— tanny jiraprapasuke (@jiraprapasuke) February 5, 2020