On September 23, the conservative Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported an incident that took place in India’s Jharkhand state the previous day, when a crowd of 10 to 15 people attacked a group of local people, accusing them of butchering a cow. Three men were injured in the attack, one of whom died. The story cited a senior police official, M.L. Meena.
As Yeni Safak indicated, the story it published was in fact written by the Reuters news agency. However, while the original Reuters piece was headlined, “Man in India killed by mob after being accused of cow slaughter,” and clearly stated that the attacked men were not Muslims, Yeni Safak changed the headline to read: “Muslim man in India killed by mob after being accused of cow slaughter.”
As of the time this fact-check was published, Yeni Safak had not changed the erroneous headline.
Meanwhile, other media worldwide have picked up its version of the story, with the false headline. A Pakistani website, The Frontier Post, and Azerbaijan’s Azeridaily.com republished it with same headline.
The Russian language source IslamNews.ru also published the piece with Yeni Safak’s headline. Yeni Safak’s version of the story has also been shared on social media.
The topic of violence against Muslims attracts adherents of Islam worldwide. When such stories are false or misleading, they often are accompanied by fake videos and pictures, as in the case of the photo of a mass grave of victims of the 2010 earthquake in Tibet, which was doctored and presented as a photo of alleged Muslim mass murder victims in Burma.
So-called “cow lynching” is a persistent issue in India, where cows are sacred animals in the country’s predominant Hindu culture. Harming cows or distributing and consuming beef or skin is prohibited in many Indian provinces. According to Human Rights Watch, 44 people, including 36 Muslims, were killed in cow-related violence between 2015 and 2018.
However, cow lynching is not exclusively targeted at Muslims. Rather, it is targeted against any religious or social group, or group of individuals, believed to have harmed the sacred animal.