The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect global populations and the world economy while citizens remain under a lockdown for safety reasons. Gathering has proved to be deadly as the healthcare crisis takes more lives around the world each day.
The Indian health ministry website as of 21st April 2020, tells us that 18,601 people in India have tested positive for the virus with 590 deaths. While the death toll is relatively small for a large nation in comparison to others like the US, this is not yet an indication of the full impact and citizens are still under lockdown in order to mitigate the healthcare crisis.
We bring the figures in India to light as we noticed a viral social media photograph showing a Muslim community in Agassi (India) gathering on rooftops to pray. Released on 14th April 2020, ran with the accompanying text, “Lockdown n social distancing for some people In India” which clearly intended to mock those in the photo. The post, which had been shared over 758 times attracted lot of islamophobic comments as shown below.
Considering that India has prohibited public gathering during the pandemic, we investigated the authenticity of the photograph. Our fact check began with searching for similar posts by other Sri Lankan pages and profiles which revealed it had in fact been posted by several others as seen below:
We then ran a Google Reverse Image search which came up with several results for the image indicating the photo to have been taken in different locations in the Arab countries including Egypt, Kuwait and Dubai. Considering there were multiple locations suggested in the search we did a deeper dive to verify the actual location of the photo.
The photo has some distinguishable location identifiers behind the building on the roofs of which people arengathering such as the river and minaret. Searching specifically with keywords such as “Minaret”, “Middle East” and “River”, Google indicated that the location was the Al Farooq Masjid Minar located in the El Fahidi Historic Site in Dubai as seen below:
For a next level of verification, we looked at the yellow-red building on the upper left of the viral image. A Google Maps search indicated that it was the Belhul Mosque on Old Baldia Street in Dubai. The screenshot taken by Google Street View can be seen below. When comparing the two images it is clear that the windows are the same ones from the viral the image:
Factcrescendo Gujarati Team also had debunked the story and compared the location using Google Earth view as see below.
This further confirms that the location is not India as well as the fact that the image was clearly captured in Dubai.
With several levels of verification, it is clear that the image’s location is in Dubai and not India. Hence, the claim that Indian Muslims are violating restrictions and protocols of social distancing by gathering on rooftops for prayers is FALSE.
Title:Are People In India Violating Lockdown By Gathering On Rooftops?Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne