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Rumor of '229 Christians' to be Executed after Taliban Takeover Goes Viral in China

Rumor of '229 Christians' to be Executed after Taliban Takeover Goes Viral in China

A map of Afghanistan. A map of Afghanistan.
ByRuth Wang August 26, 2021
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A Chinese-English bilingual messaging app with a prayer request chain claimed that 229 Christian missionaries were to be executed in Afghanistan went viral amid Chinese Christian online communities.

After being fact-checked, it turned out to be false.

Largely forwarded on the evening of August 18, the rumor stated, “Today sadly they just confirmed this terrible news at this time. They can corraborate it in the news. How sad!! Please pray for the 229 Christian missionaries, who have been sentenced to death tomorrow afternoon by the Afghan Islamists. Please can (you) pass this message on as soon as possible so that more people will be able to pray? This message was sent by JUDITH CARMONA The missionary from Chihuahua who is in Africa. The whole planet is united in prayer.”

It continued, “If you can forward it please join us in urgent prayer, also because the radical Islamic group has just taken Quaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq. There are hundreds Christian men, women and children who are being beheaded. Prayer cover is being requested. Please take a minute and pray for them. Pass the message to whoever you can. Quaraqosh has already been taken several times. They have asked us for prayer, please pass it on to others.”

In fact, the misleading message was also viral in the West in January 2020, but it was proved a hoax after being fact-checked.

Boom, an independent digital journalism aiming to fight misinformation claimed on Aug 19 again that the message was fake news, mentioning it dated back to 2017. 

It explained, “Similar variants of this message have been viral before claiming 22 missionaries were to be executed in Afghanistan which was fact-checked by Snopes in November 2009.

However, it had been never reported by any authoritative media.

A Spanish website named Larepublica.pe also stated a similar variant of this message was false.

The media outlet said, “After a search on Facebook with the tool ‘Who posted what?’ we found that one of the post oldest was made more than two years in the social network. On September 11, 2017, a user posted the prayer chain on a local media fanpage. The message was also spread via WhatsApp.”

It continued, “After a search in English, we found the article by the verifier Snopes - titled 'Prayer Request for 22 Christian Missionaries Sentenced to Death' - published on November 17, 2009.”

The virus twisted the news that 23 members of a South Korean church were taken hostage by the Taliban in 2007.

“This message was circulating since the beginning of 2009 through emails and text messages,” it added.

“This image is real, but it corresponds to the video of an execution that took place in the state of Libya, according to the Spanish verifier Newtral.” 

- Translated by Karen Luo

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