Fact-check: No, a NZ church was not attacked after mosque shootings

AFP
March 19,2019

The video has been posted on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with variations of an Urdu-language caption that start with: Breaking news - A Christian church in New Zealand has been attacked.

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A video viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media purports to show a church being attacked in New Zealand after last week´s deadly mosque shootings. The video is of an incident in Egypt in 2013.

- What are we verifying? -

The 31-second video shows a church burning while two men, wearing a red t-shirt and a blue t-shirt, stand on the building´s wall.

The video has been posted on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with variations of an Urdu-language caption that start with: "Breaking news - A Christian church in New Zealand has been attacked".

The videos that AFP tracked down were uploaded from Saturday, the day after an Australian gunman shot dead 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch.

The video has been viewed more than 400,000 times from one Urdu-language Facebook page alone. It lists its location as Pakistan and has 69,000 followers.

The caption in that misleading post followed the false statement about breaking news of a church attack with: "Each Muslim should share this. Please follow me to stay updated for every news, thanks."

AFP created an archived version of this false post (1).

- What do we know? -

By conducting multiple reverse image searches on Google and conducting several keyword online searches in Arabic, AFP established the video in the misleading posts was in fact taken in the city of Sohag, Egypt, in August 2013.

The same video can be seen on the YouTube channel of a news agency called ´MidEast Christian News (MCN)´, with that upload recorded as August 29, 2013 (2).

AFP corroborated the authenticity of the video on the MCN Youtube by matching the church seen in it with images on the Sohag church´s Facebook page and a Human Rights Watch report about violence there in August 2013.

AFP published a blog post on Tuesday that gives an in-depth report on its investigation into the misleading posts (3).

- What can be concluded -

The false posts are part of a deluge of disinformation on social media following the New Zealand mosque attacks aimed at inflaming religious tensions globally.


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