A screenshot of a fake communal quote attributed to Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is viral on social media. The quote, falsely attributed to Khaleda Zia and shared by one Khabar24X7.com , states that the erstwhile prime minister had asked Hindus and Buddhists to convert to Islam to stay in Bangladesh, an Islamic nation.
BOOM ran searches for credible news reports and also spoke to Sayrul Kabir Khan, a member of Bangladesh Nationalist Party's press wing who denied any such statement made by Zia during her tenure as a prime minister and otherwise.
The quote reads, "I regret the continuing of massacre of Hindus & Buddhists in Bangladesh, but Bangladesh is an Islamic Nation and not Secular. Now, the Muslims are in majority here. Under the circumstances, if Hindus & Buddhists want to live safely, they should either convert to Islam or go to India."
Text reading "This is why CAA" has been edited and placed on the screenshot.
The image is viral in the backdrop of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and the mass exodus of Afghans to other nations, including India to escape the Taliban regime. Several thinkers have raised questions about India's Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and how it will affect the entry of Afghans, from Afghanistan, a Muslim majority nation, in India. The CAA was passed by the Narendra Modi government in 2019 and aims at granting Indian citizenship based on religion. The law allows migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to be eligible for citizenship only if they are not Muslims.
Netizens have compared the citizenship laws of Bangladesh, based on Zia's fake quote with India's CAA in this backdrop. Click here to see a Facebook post.
BOOM received the quote on its WhatsApp tipline number for verification.
BOOM did a keyword search on Google and found no credible news reports stating that Khaleda Zia had made such a statement during her tenure as the prime minister . Khaleda Zia, who served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, is an international figure and any such comment made by her would have been reported by the national or international media.
BOOM also reached out to Bangladesh Nationalist Party regarding the viral quote attributed to its chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Speaking to BOOM, Sayrul Kabir Khan, a member of BNP press wing, said, "Khaleda Zia has never made such a statement. She was in power during the Gujarat riots. She took necessary steps to ensure security for the minorities in the country. And, BNP believes in communal harmony and the constitution of the party ensures it."
Additionally, the screenshot falsely designates Khaleda Zia as president, Bangla National Party. She is the chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, not the president of a party named 'Bangla National Party'.
In the past the Sheikh Hasina government has accused Khaleda Zia and her party of being sympathetic towards the Islamists. However, according to reports, Khaleda Zia's party had in 2016 condemned the murder of a Hindu priest by Islamic State, who claimed responsibility. A Reuters article quoted Zia as saying, "I, in the possible strongest terms, condemn and deplore the attack and the killing of a member of a minority religious community. They are also peace loving citizens of this soil and have the right to live in this country."
Khabar24x7.com has no existence now
BOOM found the original Facebook post from 2015 featuring the fake quote by the page called Khabar24x7.com. Khabar24X7.com 's about section on Facebook states, "We provide you the real story behind every paid news, Join us at www.khabar24x7.com & get latest news updates on all paid news going on your televisions." The page was created on February 6, 2015.
The section also consists of the domain address of Khabar24x7.com "http://www.khabar24x7.com/". We clicked on the address and was directed to the Wix.com, a website building site. The message read ,"This Domain Isn't Connected To A Website Yet!"
According to Domain Big Data, the domain named khabar24x7.com was created in 2014 and was last hosted on Wix.com.
Additional reporting: Minhaj Aman, BOOM Bangladesh
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