Muslim clerics spreading myth that polio vaccine is a conspiracy to sterilize Muslims

Aravind Adiga in Time:

India_polio0929Poliomyelitis, a contagious viral disease that once crippled and killed thousands of children annually, has been eliminated in most of the Western world thanks to a vaccine invented by Jonas Salk in the 1950s, but it still survives in some of the world’s poorest countries. India seemed to be on the verge of eliminating polio last year, when it reported just 66 cases of the disease, down from 1600 in 2002. This year, however, things have gone horribly wrong with India’s polio elimination campaign; 325 cases have been reported already, and at least 23 of them have been fatal. What’s caught people’s attention is that 70% of those infected with polio this year are Muslim, even though Muslims account for only 13% of India’s population. What’s even stranger, and frightening, is the reason: some Muslims believe that the polio drops are part of a conspiracy to sterilize their children, and are refusing to let them be vaccinated.

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