Amidst communal tension in Gurugram between far-right Hindu groups and Muslims over Namaz in public spaces, a photo showing a large number of Muslims offering Namaz on a road blocking traffic was shared online by Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani-Canadian commentator claiming that a highway in India was blocked to perform Friday prayers. Newschecker found the image to be from January 2020 in Bangladesh.
Right-wing protestors have reportedly disrupted Friday prayers held in government-owned grounds for the past several weeks in Gurugram.
In this backdrop, Fatah’s post that adds, ‘This doesn’t seem to me as a prayer; it’s a demonstration of numbers to intimidate others,’ has garnered over 4000 retweets and over 11,000 likes in 24 hours. The Archived link to the Tweet can be accessed here.
Using CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring platform, we found at least 40 posts on Facebook that have shared the image with the same claim.
To check the authenticity of the image, Newschecker ran a reverse image search on the viral photo and found a link to an American magazine website called Smithsonian on the Bing browser.
The image on Smithsonian posted with hashtag Bangladesh and dated January 2020, closely matches the viral image.
Smithsonian’s image clearly shows a double-decker BRTC bus, on searching for BRTC on the internet we found it is an acronym for Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation which clearly indicates the image is not from India.
Further, Newschecker found an image on the stock photo website, Alamy dated January 10, 2020, which exactly matches the viral image.
The description of the image states, ‘Thousands of devotees crowd trains this weekend, trying to get home from a three-day long religious festival. The Bishwa Ijtema takes place every year and sees millions travel to pray along the River Turag in Tongi, Bangladesh. It is the second-largest Muslim congregation in the world after the Holy Hajj in Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims.’
On contacting Azim Khan Ronnie, the contributor of the image to Alamy, for his comments on the viral photo he confirmed to Newschecker that ‘the photo was taken near Dhaka, Bangladesh during a global congregation.’
An image claiming to show Muslims bringing Traffic to a standstill during Friday prayers is actually an old photo from Bangladesh.