An old video from Saudi Arabia is being shared on social media with the false claim that it shows a cleric (Imam) being arrested from the pulpit of a mosque after calling for a war against Israel. BOOM found that the viral video dates back to March 2018 and is not related the ongoing Israel - Hamas conflict.
The recent Israel-Hamas conflict began after the October 7, surprise attack by the Islamic militant group Hamas on Israeli forces resulting in the killing of 1,400 Israelis and around 200 people being taken hostages taken by the group. After the attack, Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza strip and an ongoing military operation resulting in the killing of more than 10,000 Palestinians, which includes mostly women and children.
The 21-second video shows an individual standing on a pulpit while a group of people try to bring him down. The video is being shared with the caption on X (formerly known as Twitter) which reads, "BREAKING: The Saudis arrested an Imam who called for a war with Israel. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are now protecting and helping Israel more than the US itself."
The same video is being shared Facebook with similar captions.
Click here to view.
BOOM found that the video is from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, dating back to 2018, and is not a recent video of an Imam being arrested for speaking against Israel.
A reverse image search of some key frames from the viral video on Yandex led us to a report published on March 4, 2018 by Indonesian news outlet Viva. The story carried a feature image similar to the viral video. The article from March 4, 2018, is titled 'Exciting Video, Moments of Cleric Arrested by Police During Lecture'
The report states that the video went viral on social media claiming that it showed a cleric being forcibly brought down from the pulpit by policemen and other attendees at the mosque in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. We also found another report published by Moslem Today on the same incident.
Taking a cue from these reports, we ran a search using Arabic keywords and found a report by London-based Arabic daily Al-quds Al-Arabi published in March 2018 with the title 'Saudi Arabia: A mosque preacher was forcibly removed from the pulpit and arrested - (photos and videos)"
According to this report, officials in Saudi Arabia had arrested a man for allegedly impersonating an Imam and delivering the Friday sermon in the Jabriya Mosque, located in the Yanbu al-Bahr part of Saudi Arabia. The report states that the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Saudi Arabia had claimed that the man was pretending to be an Imam, and alleged that he was "psychologically challenged".
Al Khaleej reported on March 2, 2018, that the man had tried to preach a sermon in the mosque and was removed by some worshippers and a security official. This report also carried visuals that matched the viral video.
The report quoted the spokesperson for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Medina, Majid bin Ghaleb Al-Muhammad, confirming that the man was prevented from giving the sermon by the mosque administration.
Saudi news outlet Sabq had quoted the director of the mosque administration, Ali bin Hussein Abu Al-Asal, who was present when the incident took place and said that he was among the people who had tried to persuade the man to leave the pulpit.
In August 2018, a prominent Islamic preacher Safar al-Hawali was detained for criticising Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after he had published a 3,000-page book attacking bin Salman and the ruling family over their "ties to Israel", calling it a “betrayal”. Al Jazeera had reported in 2018 on dozens of arrests of imams, women’s rights activists and members of the ruling royal family since Mohammed bin Salman became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017.