The ‘rent-a-cause’ andolanjeevis have successfully created a prosperous career in India and elsewhere. Following their path now are ‘rent-a-cause-fact-checkers’. Holding a knife in one hand and flowers in the other, the so-called fact-checkers perfectly know how to portray you as the biggest philanthropist. So what if on the other hand, you are butchering someone.
Taking their service this time around are the Taliban. Thrashing in bin hundreds of videos and photos of the Jihadist organization whipping and stoning women, the fact-checkers have risen from the dead to fact-check one obscure photo making the rounds on social media.
In a bizarre attempt, AP, Reuters and homegrown propagandists masquerading as fact-checkers brand Alt News fact-checked this one photo claimed to be from Afghanistan. What’s more, Twitter made it an ‘event’ and promoted the ‘fact-check’.
Twitter has earlier said that it will continue to provide platform to Taliban as long as it does not violate its user policy. Social media giants like Facebook and YouTube have barred Taliban as it is terrorist organisation as per US laws.
Here is what happened.
A photo of three women who appeared to be chained and being taken by the Taliban went viral on social media recently.
A 2003 photo of three women walking behind a man was manipulated to add chains onto the women’s ankles. Also, social media users falsely claimed the photo showed Afghan women, but the original image was captured in Iraq. Get the facts behind the image. https://t.co/MblT7DmVtS— AP Fact Check (@APFactCheck) August 18, 2021
The aforementioned news agencies, rushing to safeguard the Taliban’s ‘reputation’ claimed that the photos were ‘digitally altered’. They also said that the photo is from 2003 and was taken in Iraq, freeing the Taliban from the possible ‘dent in reputation.’
एक तस्वीर वायरल हो रही है जिसमें बुर्के में दिख रही महिलाओं के पैरों में ज़ंजीर बंधी है. इसे अफ़गानिस्तान की हालिया तस्वीर बताया जा रहा है. जबकि ये एक एडिटेड तस्वीर है. सालों पुरानी एक तस्वीर को एडिट कर शेयर किया जा रहा है. #AltNewsFactCheck | @AbhishekSayhttps://t.co/wdTXsWhc35— Alt News Hindi (@AltNewsHindi) August 17, 2021
These reports come at a time when the media is abuzz with reports of violence from Afghanistan. Scores of videos showing the Taliban open firing at protesting crowds, lashing men and women have sent shock waves across the globe. Enough to reveal the motive and intention of the Jihadi organization.
Here are some pictures and videos for perspective:
The facade of a beauty saloon with images of women is defaced with spray paint in Shar-e-Naw in Kabul, Afghanistan.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 19, 2021
UK warns Taliban will be judged on its "actions rather than by its words" : https://t.co/BIdWtMRtb5 pic.twitter.com/viXfxuGcjp
Taliban has defaced pictures of women on a salon in Kabul.
Women, children, the elderly, disabled with thousands of bags outside the airport. Taliban footsoldier and his wip. Brave Afghan woman filming pic.twitter.com/ESNfWGselr— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) August 18, 2021
Taliban whipping women, children and elderly outside the airport as they try to flee the country where things has escalated quickly.
Taliban shooting at protestors in Jalalabad city and beating up journalists.
In fact, that is not all. Reuters India photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was identified by Taliban as Indian, taken away, killed and his dead body mutilated in Afghanistan earlier in July. The same Reuters has today joined other ‘fact-checkers’ which lowkey give the Taliban benefit of doubt that perhaps all the images of brutality are not true.
However, amid these chaotic scenes, the ‘fact-checkers’ decided to pick up one random image to ‘fact-check’ as false despite overwhelming evidence that the Taliban is perpetrating atrocities on the Afghan people, especially women.
Women under Taliban regime
The timing of the fact-check could not be worse. On Wednesday it was reported how Khatera (33) narrated her horror of working as a woman in Afghanistan. Khatera said that she had to flee to India last October after she was shot 8 times by the Taliban that eventually rendered her blind.
“After torturing us, the Taliban would discard our bodies as a part of inflicting punishment on us. Sometimes, they would throw our bodies at dogs. I was lucky that I survived their barbarity. One has to live in Afghanistan to understand the ordeal women, children and minorities suffer there,” Khatera revealed.
We also reported how the Taliban shot dead a woman in Takhar province for not wearing a burqa while in public. A photo of the deceased woman lying in a pool of blood with her loved ones crouched around her was released by the media.
So much for women empowerment and tolerance, several videos on social media show the Taliban destroying posters featuring women on the glass doors of beauty parlors.
Fact-checkers and whitewashing crimes
This is not the first time so-called fact-checkers have resorted to selective ‘fact-checking’ to absolve Islamists of their crimes. From fact-checking a meme to disapproving news by adding irrelevant information to even selectively trusting the police over fact-checking are some of the tricks they use. For example: There is a news of forced religious conversion. The ‘fact-checkers’ will rely on a statement by say Maharashtra Police or West Bengal Police or any other non-BJP ruled state if it suits the narrative. But, if the Uttar Pradesh Police will give an answer which goes against their narrative will be dismissed because UP is currently a BJP ruled state.
Sometimes, they are even selective about witnesses. For example: An incident has taken place which could lead to communal tension. Say it is an incident where people from ‘particular community’ pelted stones on Hindus or on a Hindu temple. The ‘fact-checkers’ will immediately activate their network and go on ground to speak to the ‘stonepelters’ where they would obviously mention how nothing of those sort happened. In fact, someone may even say that the ‘stone pelting’ was more of self defence because they felt threatened. Some people have the exclusive right to feel threatened too.
And as if being apologists for homegrown Islamists was not enough, the so-called fact-checkers have now gone international to clean up after the Taliban.