Doctored interview of Qatar Airways CEO shared on Indian social media

The original interview is from 2017

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Claim: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker in an interview with Al Jazeera responds to an appeal by Indian social media user Vashudev to boycott the airline following Qatar’s condemnation of BJP leaders’ recent anti-Islam comments.

Fact: The video of Al Baker doing the rounds on social media is doctored.

Fact or Fiction?

On 7 June 2022, Facebook page United India shared a video of Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker giving an interview to Al Jazeera. 

The post is accompanied by the caption, “This is Hilarious. CEO of Qatar Airways on #BycottQatarAirways by Vashudev. Watch till the end.”

The text juxtaposed on the clip shared by United India reads, “The CEO of Qatar airways now gives an interview to Aljazeera on the call for #BycottQatarAirways by Vashudev.”

The controversy comes after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma and party leader Naveen Kumar Jindal made remarks that were seen as insulting to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), prompting international backlash.  

Qatar and other several other Muslim countries condemned the controversial remarks made by the BJP members, following which “bycottQatarAirways” began to trend on Twitter on 7 June 2022.

As part of the trend, a Twitter user named Vashudev appealed to Indians to boycott Qatar Airways. In response to his appeal, a video of the airline’s CEO started doing the rounds on social media.

“Vashudev is our biggest shareholder with a total investment of 624.50 Indian Rupees. We don’t know how to operate anymore. We have grounded all flights. Our operations are not running anymore,” Al Baker can be heard saying in the video. 

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be false as the video of Al Baker’s interview with Al Jazeera is doctored. The clip has been edited and dubbed to make it seem like the CEO is responding to Vashudev’s appeal to boycott the airline. 

Soch Fact Check ascertained that the interview took place in 2017 after coming across a video published on 13 June 2017 by Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel.  The title of the 24 minute 58 seconds clip reads, “Akbar al-Baker: ‘Qatar Airways has a robust plan B’ – Talk to Al Jazeera”. It features Al Baker being interviewed by host Andrew Simmons. 

Bollywood actor Kangana Ranauat also fell for the spoof video, calling Al Baker an “idiot of a man” for bullying a poor man [Vashudev] and mocking his “insignificance” in a series of now-deleted Instagram stories. 

Virality

According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term, “Qatar Airways CEO Vashudev” turned up 101 posts on Facebook which received 38,993 interactions over the seven-day period leading up to 13 June 2022. The second search term “India Qatar Airways CEO” received 21,531 interactions across 51 posts during the same period.

The analysis revealed that Dhruv Rathee Squad Page’s post is performing 8.48x better than other similar posts on Facebook with 1,800 likes, 437 shares and 37,000 views. United India’s post gained 2,800 likes, 1000 shares and 175,000 views. 

On Facebook, the claim was picked up by a number of other pages, including here, here, here, here, here here.

The claim was shared on some groups as well, including here, here, here and here, among others.

On Instagram, the video appears here and here.

Conclusion: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker did not give an interview responding to Indian social media user Vashudev’s appeal to boycott the airline following Qatar’s condemnation of BJP leaders’ anti-Islam remarks. In fact, the viral video which makes it seem like that is the case has been doctored.

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