A message with a prayer chain request claiming that 229 Christian missionaries are to be executed in Afghanistan by Islamists is false and has been revived following the takeover of the country by the Taliban.
BOOM found that the same viral message dates back to 2017. The message has several discrepancies like it mentions that Quaragosh has been taken over by the same radical Islamist group, however, Quaragosh is in Iraq and was controlled by ISIS and was liberated back in October 2016.
This message is being shared in the backdrop of Afghanistan's capital Kabul being overrun by the Taliban on August 15, 2021, with the militant group taking control of the country with the government collapsing.
The viral message reads, "Please pray! Just out today from our Global Media Outreach Hdqt, Please pray for the 229 Christian missionaries, who have been sentenced to death tomorrow (Wed) afternoon by the Afghan Islamists...."
It goes on to mention, "the radical Islamic group has just taken Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq."
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BOOM also received the viral message on our WhatsApp helpline number (7700906111) inquiring about it.
Viral on Facebook
On searching with the same caption on Facebook, we found that misleading message was viral
BOOM found that the viral prayer chain message is a hoax and has been circulating since 2017, with different variants of the same message which have been fact-checked before.
The message has several discrepancies like mentioning that the Iraqi city of Quaragosh has been taken over by radical Islamists recently, however that had happened in 2014 when it was taken over by the Islamic State till it was freed in October 2016.
We found the exact same message posted on Facebook back in September 2017 with the same text.
On comparing both the posts we find that they are identical with same sentences like - "...229 Christian missionaries. Tomorrow afternoon 9 will be sentenced to death by the Afghanistan's, and "...This message was sent by Judith Carmona the missionary of Chihuahua who is currently in Africa...." which are in the same in the 2017 post.
The viral message mentions the takeover of Qaraqosh, which is a Nothern city in Iraq that was destroyed during the occupation by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014, and after four years the city was liberated during the battle for Mosul by October 2016.
ISIS had desecrated Christian places of worship, beheading religious statues, and with tens of thousands of Christians that fled and those who remained were subjected to having their property stolen, leaving or facing death.
We also found that the same message claiming 229 missionaries were to be executed in Afghanistan was previously fact-checked by Verificador de La República, a fact-checking website from Peru, when the same message was being shared in Spanish in January 2020.
Similar variants of this message have been viral before claiming 22 missionaries were to be executed in Afghanistan which was fact-checked by Snopes in November 2009.
We also did not find any credible news reports specifically mentioning 229 missionaries were to be executed in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reported on August 18, 2021, quoting an Afghan exile living in Rome stating that a Christian family living in Afghanistan had told him that, "the Taliban are going door to door" asking whether any Christians live there or in that community.
BOOM has been debunking viral misinformation and disinformation since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. You can view our fact-check articles in the thread below.
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