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A video circulating in early September on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter claims to show persecution inflicted on Christian missionaries in Afghanistan. In fact, the video is from an anti-government art performance that took place on May 26, 2021 in Medellín, Colombia.
In a video of almost three minutes shared on social networks, we can see about fifteen women wrapped in plastic bags and lying on the ground.
A crowd surrounds the group and takes pictures. The video was viewed 145,000 times on a September 3 Facebook post with the caption “THIS IS WHAT OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS LIVE EVERY DAY AROUND THE WORLD BECAUSE OF THE GOSPEL.” In the video, an unidentified narrator claims that “Christians are tortured, mistreated, because of the word of God”. The date of the event is not mentioned in the publications.
Video posted on September 3, 2021 claiming to show Christians being abused in Afghanistan. It was archived by the Observers here.
The video was notably reported by two readers via the Observers WhatsApp number. It also circulated in English from September 1 as here on Twitter.
A deceptive video from an artistic event in Colombia
A reverse image search using the InVID We Verify tool (see how to proceed here) allows you to find the original video.
Video published on May 21, 2021 showing an artistic and political demonstration in Colombia. It has been archived here.
Uploaded to Youtube on May 27, it lasts about 12 minutes and shows an artistic manifestation with a political vocation carried out in the Parque del Poblado (People’s Park), in Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia. This performance entitled “Empaquetados” – “packed” in Spanish – was organized in April 2021
Further research enabled us to find the mention of performance in a item from the Colombian newspaper ADN Medellin dated May 27. The performance was intended to pay tribute to “persons missing during the demonstrations of April 28,” with reference to the repression of anti-government demonstrations which caused the disappearance of 89 people and 19 deaths.
The video was therefore edited and the sound removed to be replaced by a male voice claiming that it was an assault on Christian missionaries.
What situation for the Christians of Afghanistan?
The Christian minority represents a few thousand people in Afghanistan, according to Open Doors, an NGO defending Christians against persecution. Since the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and the fall of the Afghan government on August 15, most of them have left the country or are keeping a low profile : converting to a religion other than Islam is punishable by death in areas controlled by the Taliban. So far, no mass persecution against Christians in Afghanistan by the Taliban has been reported in the international media.
This video of people wrapped in plastic had already circulated on networks in July 2021 and claimed to show victims of Covid-19 in Indonesia, according to a item from AFP Thailand from July 2021.