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Fact Check

2021 London Muharram Procession Video Falsely Linked To Israel-Hamas Conflict

BOOM found that the viral video is from 2021 and was shot during a Shia religious procession on the day of Ashura.

By - Anmol Alphonso | 4 Dec 2023 10:09 AM GMT

An old video from a 2021 Shia religious procession on Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram) in London is being shared on social media falsely linking it to the recent Israel - Hamas conflict claiming that it is from a pro-Palestinian protest.

There have been several pro-Palestine protests held in London and across the United Kingdom against Israeli airstrikes that have killed mostly women and children. Israel resumed its bombardment on Gaza immediately after a week-long truce between them and the Islamist militant group Hamas ended on Friday with over 700 Palestinians getting killed in the last 24 hours. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the October 7, 2023. In Israel the official death toll stands at about 1,200 killed.

The video was posted on X (formerly know as Twitter) by Darya Safai, Member of the Belgian Parliament, with the caption, "When I fled from the Islamic Republic of Iran, I never thought I would ever see such images of London. Terrible to see this Islamisation spreading in Europe."


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The same video was also posted by Jake Wallis Simons, Editor, Jewish Chronicle with the caption, "Not Iran, Oxford St, London". Simons later deleted his tweet after several X users pointed out that the video is old.


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FACT-CHECK

BOOM found that the viral video is from 2021 shot during a Shia religious procession on Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram).

We found a quote tweet by MSNBC journalist Mehdi Hasan pointing out that the viral video is old dating back to 2021 and not a political protest but a Shia religious procession in London, UK.

Taking a hint from this, we then ran a keyword search with "oxford street london ashura 2021", which search results showed us videos of Ashura processions in 2021 in London, and found several other videos of the procession on August 19, 2021. These processions were held by The Hussaini Foundation.

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For Shia Muslims Ashura is a day of mourning as they annually commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the third Shia imam.

We checked The Hussaini Foundation's YouTube channel and found videos of the procession held in 2021 on August 19, where we can see the same banners on Oxford street as seen in the viral video. One of the banner reads, "Oxford Street District", which is also present in the viral video, even the red bus can be seen behind the woman is the same.


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On Hussaini Foundation's Instagram account we found posts from August 2021 that matched the visuals seen in the viral video.



Additionally, we also found the official route of the August 19, 2021, procession that was posted by the organisation on August 16 that year on Instagram. It also mentions Oxford Street.



The banner "Oxford Street district" was put up in 2021 on Oxford street to advertise the redevelopment plans for the Oxford Street District. This matches with the banner in the viral video


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On looking up on Google Maps, we found the lane where the banners can be seen in June 2021, and in other photos from over the years these banners cannot be seen. This establishes that the video is from 2021.


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London's Metropolitan Police official handle also replied to the now deleted X post by Jake Wallis Simons stating, "This video has been shared a lot this weekend. We’ve seen a number of comments from people who are under the impression it was filmed recently or that it relates to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. We believe it was actually filmed at an Ashura Day event in 2021. It has no link to current events."


Rien Emmery, a fact-checker with VRT NWS, a Flemish public broadcaster in Belgium, posted a X thread also geo-locating the video that was tweeted by Darya Safai, Member of the Belgian Parliament, and pointed out that X's Community notes had wrongly stated that the video is from 2017 and falsely claimed that it was from a demonstration against ISIS after labeling it.