A photograph showing a huge number of people offering namaz on a busy road was shared by several social media users, including Pakistani-Canadian columnist Tarek Fatah, with a claim that it was from India.
The claim comes amid a row stirred up by right-wing groups who have been protesting against people offering Friday namaz in public spaces in Gurugram.
However, we found that the photograph, which dates back to 2020, was from Dhaka, Bangladesh and not India. The photograph showed Muslims performing Friday prayers at the "Biswa Ijtema" — an annual gathering of Muslims on the banks of the Turag River at Tongi, on the outskirts of Dhaka.
Fatah, while sharing the photograph, wrote, "Blocking traffic on a highway in India to perform Friday prayers. This doesn't seem to me as a prayer; it's a demonstration of numbers to intimidate others. Any attempt to ask them to move to designated prayer spaces will be labelled 'discrimination'.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Upon closer inspection, we noticed BRTC written on a red double-decker bus seen in the photograph.
We then conducted a reverse image search of the viral photo and found a photograph posted on Pintrest, an image sharing platform. In the image we found the watermark of the photographer, Ratul Dhar.
We looked for the photographer on Google and found his website where he had posted the same photograph. The caption of the photograph said "Iztema".
Using "Ijtema" as a keyword, we conducted a reverse image search on Google and found a photograph posted on Alamy – a stock photo website – that had the a wider view of the viral image taken from a similar vantage point as Dhar.
The photograph was titled, "Muslims are performing Jumma prayers at The Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of the world’s Muslims after Hajj", and was posted on 10 January 2020.
Evidently, an image from Dhaka, Bangladesh was shared as Muslims occupying a busy road to offer Friday prayers in India.