Following a series of Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark that caused a diplomatic row with Muslim-majority Turkey, social media posts with more than one million views shared photos they falsely claimed showed the anti-Islam activist responsible and his “killer”. However, the images are unrelated to the Koran burnings and evidence indicated Rasmus Paludan was alive and well, as of February 2, 2023.
“The person who burned the Koran in Sweden has been killed and sent to hell, while the Ghazi has been detained,” reads an Urdu-language Facebook post from January 28.
“Ghazi” is an honorific to describe those who fight for Islam.
The post shows various photos – one of a man detained by police, another of a man with a bruised face and three photos of police and emergency service vehicles.
Turkey summoned Denmark’s ambassador on January 27 to condemn Copenhagen for allowing far-right extremist Rasmus Paludan to burn Korans over Ankara’s refusal to let Sweden and Finland join NATO.
The Danish-Swedish dual national first burnt a copy of the Muslim holy book near a mosque in the Danish capital and then a second copy outside the Turkish embassy.
A decision by Swedish police to allow Paludan to stage a similar protest in Stockholm prompted Turkey to postpone planned NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland.
Paludan continues to stage similar demonstrations and there have been no reports that he has died, as of February 2, 2023.
The photos were shared in a similar post on TikTok — attracting more than one million views — and on Twitter here, here and here; and Facebook here, here and here.
Melbourne attack 2018
A reverse image search on Google found a similar photo of the detained man in a report published on November 21, 2018 by Australian outlet news.com.au.
The report identifies the man in the photo as Hanifi Halis, a suspect arrested along with two others over a planned terror attack in Melbourne.
“It’s alleged the three men were ramped up their plans for a terrorism attack in March — a plot which police said was going to target a crowded area with an intent to ‘kill as many people as possible’,” the report reads.
The photo was also published in a report by The Australian on November 20, 2018.
Below is a screenshot comparing the photo in false posts (left) and the photo in news.com.au’s report (right).
US comedian attack 2022
A reverse image and keyword search on Google found the photo of the man with a bruised face in a New York Post report from May 4, 2022.
The article names the man as Isaiah Lee, who was taken into custody after attacking comedian Dave Chapelle during a show in Los Angeles.
“He was also hospitalized after security pounced on him, with video showing his arm twisted and apparently snapped as he was booed while being led to an ambulance while strapped to an upright gurney,” the report reads.
The image was also published in a report by TMZ from 15 December, 2022.
Below is a screenshot comparing the photo in false posts (left) with the photo in the New York Post’s report (right):
Koran burning 2022
A reverse image search on Google of the photo of a police officer walking by a blaze found it in a report by Al Jazeera published on April 18, 2022.
“Riot police stand guard as a bus burns in Malmo, Sweden, on Saturday after violence broke out,” the photo’s description reads.
According to the report, Paludan and his far-right group Hard Line planned to burn the Koran back then as well sparking protests across Sweden.
The image was also used in a report by the Associated Press published on April 18, 2022.
Below is a screenshot comparing the photo in false posts (left) with the photo in Al Jazeera’s report (right):
Israel stabbing 2022
Reverse image searches on Google found the two remaining photos in reports by AFP and Reuters both published on September 22, 2022.
The photos show police attending a scene where they shot dead a suspect following a stabbing attack in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Below are screenshots comparing the photos in false posts (left) with AFP’s and Reuters’ photos (right):