Images do not show an Algerian mosque revealed after a sandstorm
The structures in the images are not any part of a mosque
Claim: A mosque appeared in an Algerian desert after a sandstorm.
Fact: The pictures represent two separate structures present in El Oued, Algeria, suspected to be a village.
On 17 April 2023, a Twitter account (@Arabbeau) posted two pictures with the caption, “A mosque appeared in the desert after a sandstorm – Algeria.”
The pictures depict two structures built in the sand. Numerous other tweets also claim that these pictures show a mosque from the 6th century that was recently uncovered after a sandstorm.
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check decided to fact-check this news. We reverse-image searched both pictures and found that different photographers captured both pictures; and they do not show a part of a mosque.
The first picture was taken by American photographer George Steinmetz near Lizereg, El Oued, Algeria. In a conversation with MAFINDO, Steinmetz revealed that he had taken this picture back in 2009 and confirmed that the image was meant to depict an abandoned village, portraying the use of domes for building homes. A post on Facebook dating back to 2015, also explains this while crediting Steinmetz.
The second picture was taken by French Photographer Cyril Preiss near an abandoned village in El Oued, Algeria. In a conversation with AFP News, Preiss mentioned that he had taken this picture back in 2004, when he posted it here. He noted that while he was not sure what the building was, it was not a mosque, as claimed by the viral tweets.
The Twitter account (@Arabbeau) originally posted these images with the caption mentioned above on 17 April, 2021. Since then, several other posts on the internet have made the same claim both during 2021 and now, in 2023, with the account posting the exact tweet another time.
A post by the Elmardjan El Oued Association on Facebook shows the reconstruction of a mosque in Trifaoui, Algeria. The Association, speaking to AFP News, said, “It’s a mosque built in 1935. It has been renovated twice in the past: in 1962 and again in June 2020. It was renovated by the Elmardjan El Oued association with the help of volunteers.” Since the mosque in question resembles the viral pictures on Twitter, it is possible that people posted the false claim are doing so due to genuine confusion.
Therefore, the pictures do not depict a mosque that has been uncovered after a sandstorm but rather parts of abandoned villages near El Oued, Algeria.
Conclusion: A sandstorm did not reveal a mosque in Algeria.