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Last updated: January 10, 2013
First published: January 10, 2013
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
According to this message, which circulates via social media sites, blogs and email, a graphic image that travels with the message depicts the charred bodies of 500 Nigerian Christians burned in a religious orientated attack by Muslim terrorists. The message claims that the supposed massacre has been ignored by the mainstream media and that the story and picture were removed from Facebook in an apparent effort to keep information about the attack from being publicized.
However, the claims in this would-be protest message have no basis in fact. The photograph used in the message to illustrate the supposed massacre is genuine but it does not depict the aftermath of an attack by Islamic terrorists as claimed nor was the picture taken in Nigeria. In fact, the image shows the bodies of people killed in a massive petrol tanker explosion that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010. A Reuters news article about the accident noted:
(Reuters) - At least 230 people were killed when a fuel tanker overturned and exploded in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, unleashing a fire ball that tore through homes and cinemas packed with people watching World Cup soccer.
Officials said on Saturday the explosion late on Friday also injured 196 people, adding that the death toll could rise.
They described scenes of devastation in the town of Sange, where houses were burned and bodies littered the streets. Some people died while trying to steal fuel leaking from the tanker, but most were killed at home or watching World Cup soccer in cinemas.
Many articles about the explosion use the same image featured in the above protest message. Other news articles show the same scene after the bodies have been bagged and prepared for burial in mass graves.
The explosion was a result of a tragic accident and was certainly not a Muslim terrorist attack against Christians. Moreover, while there has been a long history of religiously motivated violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, there are no credible reports of a massacre like the one described in the above message. Thus, it seems that the creator of the message has taken an unrelated image and simply invented a story to go with it in an effort to further his or her own agenda.
And, the accusation in the message that the mainstream media deliberately ignores terrorist attacks against Christians is unfounded and actually rather silly. In fact, such attacks are extensively reported by news media all around the world on a regular basis. Furthermore, while Facebook may well have - quite legitimately - removed the image from its network because it was 'violent' or 'inappropriate' , the suggestion that the company has some deliberate policy of bowing to Islamic terrorists is nonsensical.
Telling outright lies to further a particular political or religious agenda is counterproductive and the dissemination of such inflammatory misinformation will do nothing more that add fuel to the fires of religious hatred and intolerance. And deliberately misusing an image showing bodies of accident victims to push a particular world view shows a callous and immoral disregard for both the victims and their families.