Were These Girls Killed by Afghan Jihadists for Being Shi’a Muslims?

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The morning of May 11, 2021, this tweet was shared showing graphic images of children in shrouds. Claims were made on Afghanistan Jihadists having killed these Hazara children for being Shi’a, a minority Islam community in Afghanistan.

 

We check whether there is any connection between these deaths and Afghanistan jihadists.

Background

On May 8, 2021, an explosion went off in front of Sayedul Shuhada’s entrance a school in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. It claimed almost 55 lives, leaving 150 other injured. Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education said that a great number of those wounded were female students. This attack is said to have been carried in a heavily Shi’ite neighbourhood. The Taliban however denied any involvement in this attack.

Hazara, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic minority group primarily consists of Shi’a Muslims. They are considered apostates and are often discriminated against for having beliefs that exempt them from restrictions that affect other religious groups and this has created a division between Sunnis and Shi’as. An excerpt from The Institute Of Ismaili Studies states that the Shi’a Muslims believe that for the spiritual and moral guidance of the community, God instructed the prophet to designate a figure of authority to succeed as a leader of the Muslims. This was Imam Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. This specific interpretation of the role of Ali as an Imam of Guidance distinguishes their interpretation of authority from that of other Muslim believers.

The Sunni Muslims on the other hand believe that Prophet Muhammad passed down the leadership role to Abu Bakr. Thus, Muslims who believe that Abu Bakr should have taken the leadership mantle are referred to as Sunnis and those who believe that this role should have been taken up by Ali are considered the Shi’ite Muslims. A common belief shared by these two Muslim communities is that Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet.

Verification

From the attack in Kabul early this month involving school girls, claims from this tweet in question can be confused to what happened in that school.

From a reverse image search, results show this image of children in shrouds was taken on August 21, 2013, in the outskirts of Damascus in Syria. Syria’s opposition blamed President Bashar al Assad’s forces for the attack that claimed an estimation of 1,300 lives. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Sarif defended the president’s regime against these allegations.

An additional result leads to an article published on the same day. It featured the same image attributing it to the attack in Damascus. Fights broke out the next day, on August 22, 2013, following the chemical attack in the Ghouta district of Damascus.

With the same image, this article gives a detailed statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on allegations made against President Assad’s regime. He said a homemade rocket with a poisonous substance had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition. He termed this attack as a premeditated provocation.

In an article, National Geographic looked into how these chemical weapons would be safely destroyed in case President Bashar al Assad surrendered these weapons. This was published on September 14, 2013, with the same image of these children.

Similarly, this image of children wrapped in shrouds has been shared as a misleading tweet, referring to the current Israel – Palestine conflict.  (See below).

Verdict

Images showing children, allegedly killed for their religious affiliation are FALSE.

 

This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.

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Nyakerario Omari

Nyakerario J. Omari is a Kenyan writer and journalist with a passion for in-depth stories told through documentaries. She has an interest in reporting matters concerning health, crime and human rights.