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False Protest Message Claims Picture Shows 500 Christians Burned By Muslim Terrorists

Outline
Widely circulated message claims that an attached photograph shows the charred bodies of 500 Nigerian Christians burned in a massacre perpetrated by Muslim terrorists.



Brief Analysis
The photograph is genuine, but it does not show the aftermath of a terrorist attack, but rather the bodies of people burned in a fuel tanker explosion in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While Nigeria has a long and bloody history of religiously motivated violence, this explosion was a tragic accident and was not the work of Muslim terrorists. Nor was it in any way targeted at Christians. The claims in the protest message have no basis in fact.

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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


Example
Burned Bodies in Aftermath of Tanker Explosion

This is a brutal example of how far the struggle between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria has reached.

Muslims are determined to impose their 'religion' all over Africa as well as in other continents and countries
of the world. Islam has but one goal: rule the world at any cost!"

"And where are the International Human Rights Organizations?

Christians are burnt alive in Nigeria: a horrific Holocaust right in front of International indifference!

As denounced by Father Juan Carlos Martos, on behalf of the Missionari Clarettiani, via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, Rome, Italy."
"By publishing this graphic document on Facebook, I have intended to make the world aware of certain terrible events totally ignored or minimized by the mainstream media; an authentic genocide so cruel and inhuman only comparable with the most hateful and vile acts in the nazi extermination camps."

"To my great surprise, Facebook has criticized me for the publication of this graphic document as a proof of the Holocaust that Christians have been suffering in Nigeria in the last ten years. According to Facebook's Security policy of the 'social' Network, this photo has been classified as 'pornographic', 'violent' or 'inappropriate' and hence I was disallowed to publish any picture for a week. And I was threatened drastic measures if I insist publishing any document that prove the terrible violations of Human Rights in Nigeria.
This attitude by the (Spanish) Facebook Management is an attack to the freedom of expression as much as a shameful insult to the 500 victims (only in this horrible episode) slaughtered by islamic terror only for being christian."

"I thought that this social network, originated in the United States, would not bend its knees in front of terror Especially, when still healing their wounds suffered in the gruesome 9/11 attack, just as our own 3/11 at Madrid railway station, all innocent victims of the wild fury and insanity of islamic terror."

"This seems even more unacceptable in Spain, a Democratic state, where the rights of opinion, expression and religion are guaranteed by the Constitution (Art. 16 and 20), if there is an attempt to limit such rights, let alone through threats and coercion thus weakening their freedom of expression by condemning as "inappropriate" a graphic document (not a photomontage) which reflects a brutal reality in all its crudeness."
"Contrarily, the Administrators of Facebook Spain should welcome this public protest advocating that such a barbarian act will never be replicated and that its perpetrators will be brought to justice. This is a right and duty of every citizen: a service to society, ultimate goal, I feel, of any network that defines itself as 'social'."

"Regrettably, if the murders continue, this is greatly because truth is always hidden to the sovereign people, so that they may not be aware and 'disdained' by it: complicit silence by the mainstream media leads to the indifference of the international political community facing this unspeakable Holocaust! Let alone the cowardice already rooted in the western world facing the islamic terror. A consequence of the stupid "Alliance of civilizations": another regrettable incident of our former Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero."
"Can you imagine the reaction of the islamic terrorist organization in the (impossible) case of a massacre of Muslims in a mosque, by the hands of christian terrorists? And how widely would our media cover and condemn the crime and the criminals??"

"Therefore, from this modest blog, I ask a favor from all people who are reading me: please distribute this photo and its comments using all the media you have. If only for commemorating these martyrs since, unfortunately, Facebook seems to be on the side of
the executioners by preventing the publication of such tragic events."




Detailed Analysis
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.

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References

Fuel tanker explosion kills over 230 in Congo
230 people were killed when a fuel tanker overturned and exploded
DR Congo fuel truck victims buried in mass graves
Nigeria: Dozens killed in Christian-Muslim strife

Last updated: January 10, 2013
First published: January 10, 2013
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer