Last week, the Ethiopian social media landscape was dominated by controversies and false claims regarding the inter-religious conflict and violence in Gondar and other areas.
The incident was a source of controversy and false claims mainly on social media.
Two lines of the narrative
The first controversy that came out was about the cause of the conflict in Gondar. The Amhara Media Corporation reported that the conflict arose after the funeral ceremony when attendants of the burial took stones from a nearby church.
The second claim regarding the starting of the inter-religious conflict came out instantly. The Amhara Islamic Affairs High Council issued a statement and stated that the conflict occurred when armed people reach the burial place before the dead body reached there and they prevented the corpse would not rest in the particular place. It claimed that the people armed with heavy weapons came from other areas and reached the burial place which is a mosque before the attendants even reached there.
Media reports that supported the second line of the story had also been made.
A controversial image used by the Guardian
The Guardian released a news article in which it used a controversial image. The image shows a woman with a child. The article was about Tigrayan ethnic cleansing from Humera and Welkait.
After the article was issued, claims appeared that the image doesn’t show Tigrayans that were ethnically cleansed from the mentioned area. Many claimed that the image was taken from the Sekota areas and shows displaced people of the Agew people amid the war between the TPLF and the federal-allied government.
However, the media house replaced the image with another one later on.
Paul Kagame called for UNSC and USA direct intervention in Ethiopia
A social media claim appeared last week that the Rwandan President Paul Kagame recently called for the United Nations Security Council and the US to directly intervene in Ethiopia to end the Tigray war. The Facebook post used a screenshot of a tweet to mislead readers. The screenshot itself was taken from a tweet made a year ago.
The same claim appeared last year that Kagame called upon the US and UNSC to directly interfere in Ethiopia to end the armed conflict in Tigray. This claim was later proven false.
Thus, the Facebook post screenshotted the tweet and posted pretending that the information was recent.
Therefore, HaqCheck investigated the claim and confirmed that the screenshot was taken from a tweet made a year ago and the claim was false.
Captured OLA troop
There was a Facebook post sharing an image claiming that it shows a captured OLA soldier. The image shows many people in army uniforms and a uniformed roped man.
However, HaqCheck confirmed that the image doesn’t prove the claim that the man on the image was a recently captured OLA soldier. The image was posted on Feb 12, 2022, with a description that Oromia police imprisoned many innocent Oromos who were suspected of having a connection to the OLA.
Altered image shared on Facebook
An image of an active Muslim rights activist was shared on Facebook that shows a man standing holding high a paper that reads, “We the extremist Muslims are the perpetrators in the Gondar conflict.”
The post was made with the intention that extremist Muslims were accountable for the inter-religious violence in Gondar.
HaqCheck’s reverse image check found out that the image was altered. The original image was posted on Apr 8, 2022, and the text on the paper reads, “Our faith is our soul; our education is our body.”
Thus, HaqCheck rated the claim Altered.
We recommend that social media users should always be cautious and skeptical of information and claims on social media. They should check original sources of information and crosscheck claims.
HaqCheck urges social media content creators to abstain from composing and circulating false information across platforms. They should be responsible that their social media posts may cause offline violence.
The government and respective government bodies are also urged to give sufficient and updated information regarding issues on controversies.
HaqCheck also recommends media outlets use accurate images when publishing content and provide images with proper descriptions.