Doctored photo of Hamza Shahbaz in yellow blazer goes viral

Hamza Shahbaz’s dark blue, chequered blazer edited with yellow overlay

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Claim: A picture shows Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz Sharif wearing a yellow kurta under a medium dark yellow, chequered blazer.

Fact: The picture has been doctored. A yellow paint overlay appears to have been applied to Hamza Shahbaz’s blazer using a photo-editing application. The original photo shows Shahbaz wearing a pastel blue kurta with a dark blue, chequered blazer. The image is from the recent swearing-in ceremony of Muhammad Balighur Rehman as the governor of Punjab.

On 1 January 2022, Twitter user @waqas_amjaad posted a picture of Hamza Shahbaz wearing a yellow, Mandarin-collared kurta under a medium dark yellow, chequered blazer. Sharif appears to be listening to someone during a meeting. Amjad captioned his tweet as follows:

“بہترین عنوان دیں۔۔
[Give the best title.]”

Twitter user @TeamLucidAir then shared the picture as a standalone tweet, which was then quote-tweeted by former deputy speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Qasim Khan Suri, who captioned it as follows:

“فیشن کا یہ دور سہانا لگتا ہے
اچھا خاصا مرد زنانہ لگتا ہے
پل بھر میں کیسے بدلتے ھیں نقشے
ہم کو تو یہ لڑکا شبانہ لگتا ہے
[This looks like a nice age of fashion
A decent man looks feminine
How the features change in an instant
To us, this boy looks like a young lady]”

The photo went viral shortly afterwards and was posted on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check investigated the source of the image as certain features of the photo point to the use of a photo editing tool.

Using relevant keywords, we found a tweet by ARY News Senior Executive Vice President Ammad Yousaf about Balighur Rehman’s oath-taking as the governor of Punjab. Hamza Shahbaz, as well as Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, were present at the ceremony. On that basis, we determined that the viral image was likely taken the day of the ceremony  — 30 May 2022.

We went through the verified Facebook page of Hamza Shahbaz and found a post from 31 May showing the PML-N leader sitting in the same manner with the same background as in the viral photo, but in a blue — rather than yellow — ensemble.

Soch Fact Check identified certain errors, as seen in the figure below, in the viral images in question and tested if a yellow paint overlay on one of the original images reproduced the same vivid yellow effect. We applied the overlay at 50% opacity on the fourth image from the 31 May post on Hamza Shahbaz’s Facebook page. Once we confirmed that it did, we reversed the changes in the viral images by bringing to zero the saturation of the selected area comprising Shahbaz’s blazer and kurta. Both matched and, therefore, indicate that the viral images have been doctored.

We have illustrated our process below:

Soch Fact Check also used Twitter’s advanced search to view other tweets from the same day. We found posts from The Pakistan Daily Editor Hamza Azhar Salam and the head of the PML-N’s social media wing, Atif Rauf, that carried an image depicting Rehman taking an oath, with Shahbaz sitting by his side, dressed in blue.

We also came across another post on Shahbaz’s Facebook page featuring pictures from Rehman’s oath-taking ceremony and found an uncropped, original version of the viral image. These images were shared on 30 May.

Posts by the PML-N’s official Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as the tweets by Salam and Rauf, confirmed that Shahbaz was in fact wearing a blue ensemble and not the yellow shades seen in the viral photo.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 10-day period from 29 May to 7 June using the following search terms:

  • “Hamza Shehbaz’s dressing”
  • “Hamza Shehbaz dressing”

The first search term turned up eight Facebook posts and one Instagram post that received 11,459 and 2,949 interactions, respectively. The second search term revealed 11,919 and 12,844 interactions across nine Facebook posts and six Instagram posts, respectively.

A CrowdTangle search using the term “Hamza Shahbaz” for Instagram posts turned up two posts — from @propergaanda and @thecorrespondent.pk — that received over 2,100 ‘likes’ collectively.

On Facebook, there were two popular posts — from ‘Dekhlo’ and ‘Lahore Is Da Best’ — with the former gaining over 7,600 reactions and being shared more than 1,800 shares and the latter getting over 650 reactions and 125 shares. Other posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

At least 16 posts were found on Twitter, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The image also appeared in a Pinterest Brazil collection.

Some outlets on Instagram shared the picture along with Qasim Khan Suri’s pejorative comments on the matter, terming his words an indication of the “PTI’s toxic masculinity”. These posts — which carry the text, “Hum ko toh yeh larka Shabana lagta hai: PTI’s toxic masculinity now targeting Hamza Shehbaz” — can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The picture of Hamza Shahbaz wearing yellow clothes during the swearing-in ceremony of Balighur Rehman as governor of Punjab is doctored. He, in fact, wore a pastel blue kurta with a dark blue, chequered blazer.

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