On August 18, 2021, this Facebook post went up on the internet. It shows images of Afghanistanians in a plane and another of Afghanistan children, it claims that 229 Christian missionaries had been sentenced to death by an Islamic group.
Islam is the official state religion in Afghanistan. According to Cultural Atlas, approximately 99.7% of the country’s population identify as Muslims. The number of minority Muslims and non-muslim groups has declined as people fled the unrest that has been taking place since 2001. The Cultural Atlas further adds, Afghanistan is majorly established on Sunni Islamic doctrines.
According to Deutsche Welle, the Taliban identifies as a group of Sunni Muslims and follow the ultra-conservative Deobandi school of religion.
Reverse image searches show these two images were taken in Afghanistan. The first one, according to Forward, shows Afghanistan refugees in a camp in Share-e Naw Park, Kabul. The second one, according to The Guardian, shows almost 640 Afganistans being flown to Qatar following the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. No report indicates that the images are connected to the persecution of Christian missionaries. Using keywords, ‘229 christian missionaries Afghanistan’ to establish whether any information of this report appeared in the news, Piga Firimbi found no evidence of the claimed execution.
However, USA Today previously debunked these claims. According to USA Today, “the rumor is a chain message that has circulated online for more than a decade.”
Another fact-check by Snopes indicates that this chain of misinformation dates back to 2009.
Looking further into these claims, this variation first alleged that 22 Christian missionaries had been abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan and were apparently set for execution on an unspecified date. Putting this into perspective, claims about these 22 Christian missionaries have resurfaced in 2021.
Encouraging people to pray for these missionaries, the Facebook post also stated that Afghanistan Islamists have just taken over Qaraqosh in Iraq. However, the most recent report of an Islamic takeover of the city of Qaraqosh in Iraq was in 2014. In an article by BBC, a quarter of Iraq’s Christian population fled the unrest.
This alert claiming 229 Christian missionaries were abducted in Afghanistan and will be executed is FALSE.
This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.