This photo shows protesters in Uttar Pradesh in India after the attack on the Kashmir military camp in 2016

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A photo has been shared hundreds of times in several social media posts with a claim that it shows dozens of Muslim families who had converted to Hinduism in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh of India, after the religious conversion of a local Islamic leader. However, the photo was shared in a false context. It has been circulating since 2016 in reports on a Muslim community in Uttar Pradesh protesting a deadly attack on Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The photo was posted to Facebook here on December 13, 2021.

It had been shared over 490 times before it was deleted.

The photo appeared to show a Hindu priest surrounded by a group of men, some wearing taqiyah caps, which are often worn by Muslim men.

Screenshot of the misleading message, taken on December 22, 2021

The caption of the message in Hindi translates into English as: “After the return of Waseem Rizvi to Sanatan Dharma, Muslims are more and more fearful and [converting] voluntarily to Hinduism. 34 Muslim families from Uttar Pradesh return to Hinduism from Sanatan. Hi Shri Ram. “

Rizvi, former chairman of the Shiite board of the central Waqf of Uttar Pradesh, changed his name to Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi after converting to Hinduism in early December 2021, Indian news agency Press reported. Trust of India.

“Sanatan”, or “Sanatana Dharma”, is an expression in the Hindi language generally used to refer to the central idea of ​​the life and the duty of Hinduism.

“Shri Ram”, also known as “Rama”, is a widely revered Hindu deity.

The photo has been shared more than 360 times after appearing alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here; and on Twitter here, here and here.

The photo was however shared in a false context.

A reverse image search, followed by keyword searches on Google, revealed that the photo was published in this report, published by Indian newspaper Amar Ujala on September 24, 2016.

Translated into English, the title of the report in Hindi reads: “’Down in Pakistan’: Slogans Thrown at Jama Masjid”.

Jama Masjid is a mosque in Vrindavan, a town in Mathura district, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in northern India.

The first paragraph of the report reads: “The city’s Muslim community expressed its anger against Pakistan after 18 Indian soldiers were martyred in the terrorist attack on Uri’s military headquarters in Jammu-et -Cashmere.

AFP reported on the attack in Uri, a town near the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the disputed territory, on September 20, 2016.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the photo of the misleading message (L) and the photo of Amar Ujala’s report (R):

Comparative screenshot of the photo in the misleading post (L) and the photo in the Amar Ujala report (R)

Amar Ujala also posted a video of the protest here.

Rajeev Agarwal, Amar Ujala’s Vrindavan correspondent, told AFP he took the photo and covered the protest in 2016.

Azaad Qureshi, chairman of the Jama Masjid management committee, told AFP that the protest was organized in response to the attack on Indian troops.

AFP located the Hindu priest pictured in the image, Naval Giri, who said he encouraged local Muslims to protest the 2016 attack on Indian soldiers.

“I know people are sharing false information that 30 to 40 Muslim families have converted to Hinduism, misusing this old photo,” he said. “These false claims are shared after Wasim [Rizvi]conversion. However, we welcome those who seek to embrace Hinduism with open arms ”.

Jack C. Nugent