Imran Khan’s picture edited onto 2017 Turkey protest poster

Picture goes viral amid protests against Khan’s ouster

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Claim: A picture being shared online allegedly shows Turkish people out on the streets in support of Imran Khan as part of the ongoing protests against Khan being ousted from the prime minister office.

Fact: The picture is from the ‘March for Justice’, an anti-government crackdown protest that took place in Turkey from 2017. Khan’s picture has been doctored onto the original photo, which makes no mention of him or the PTI.

On 7 April 2022, Instagram user ‘شجاعت رسول’ (@shujaat_rasool0786) posted an image of a protest with people holding Turkish and Pakistani flags, a placard with a cross over the American flag as well as one captioned, “stop involment in other countries,” and a poster with a picture of Imran Khan — the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former prime minister of Pakistan.

The post was captioned as follows:

“‏روس کے بعد ترکی میں امریکی رجیم چینج کے خلاف مظاہرے ۔ امریکی صدر جو بائیڈن نے کچھ عرصہ پہلے ترکی میں رجیم چینج کے لیے اپوزیشن جماعتوں کو سپورٹ کرنے کی ایک وڈیو جاری کی تھی جس پر ترکی نے سخت ردعمل دیا تھا..
[After Russia, protests against US regime change in Turkey. Some time ago, US President Joe Biden released a video in support of opposition parties for a regime change in Turkey, to which Turkey reacted strongly.]”

The viral post comes amid countrywide protests against Khan’s ouster from the prime minister’s office through a no-confidence vote, which the country’s former leader alleged was the result of “foreign interference” and “foreign conspiracy”, hinting at US involvement.

Soch Fact Check has previously debunked claims that a viral video showed US President Joe Biden celebrating the successful passing of the vote of no-confidence against Khan, that Khan’s message to the nation was displayed on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, that Russia organised anti-US protests in Khan’s support, and that former defence minister Pervaiz Khattak abused journalists in Parliament on the night of the no-confidence vote.

Fact or fiction?

Soch Fact Check used Google Reverse Image Search and TinEye Reverse Image Search, with the former leading to links on different social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, where the picture in question was shared.

The TinEye search, on the other hand, led us to an article on SYRI.net — an Albanian news agency — titled, “VIDEO/ Turqi, 400 km në këmbë për ‘drejtësinë’ [VIDEO / Turkey, 400 km on foot for ‘justice’],” and published on 10 July 2017. The report was about Turkish Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s protest march.

We reverse-searched the headline on SYRI.net and found a cover image similar to the one posted by @shujaat_rasool0786 on Instagram.

A second TinEye search result was of a news report by The New York Times (NYT) about the same protest in Turkey, titled, “Erdogan Adversary Begins 250-Mile Protest March in Turkey.” The NYT story included the original image, with the following caption:

“Demonstrators in Istanbul on Thursday held placards reading “Justice” to denounce the jailing of an opposition lawmaker, Enis Berberoglu.Credit…Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.”

Soch Fact Check searched Getty Images with relevant keywords, with the date range limited to June 2017, and found the original photograph here.

The photograph was taken by Istanbul-based AFP photographer Ozan Kose on June 15, 2017. It is from the ‘March for Justice’, which started in Ankara and continued to Istanbul and was against the government’s crackdown and arrests in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup d’état attempt. 

Soch Fact Check also found various digital errors while comparing the viral, doctored image in question to the one originally shot by Kose in 2017.

Starting from the left, the bearded man with the cap is not in fact holding any flag — Turkish or Pakistani — but only raising his fist in the air. The flag in his hand in the viral image has clearly been edited in. Additionally, the large poster in the hands of the second man is not a picture of Khan but in fact bears the text, “Tutuklu Milletvekillerine Özgürlük [Freedom for Imprisoned Members of Parliament],” on an orange-coloured background.

The two smaller placards on the right side of the original image sport the word, “Adalet [Justice],” and not the American flag with a cross over it or the words, “stop involment in other countries.”

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the past 30-day period using the following search terms:

  • “روس ترکی امریکی رجیم چینج [Russia Turkey American regime change]”
  • “ترک مسلمان عمران خان کے کے حق میں سڑکوں پر آگئے [Turkish Muslims come out on roads in support of Imran Khan]”
  • “‏ترک عوام عمران خان کی حمایت میں سڑکوں پر نکل آئی [Turkish people come out on roads in support of Imran Khan]”
  • “یاد رہے بہادری اور سچائی کو دنیا کی کوئی طاقت شکست نہیں دے سکتی [Remember that no power in the world can defeat bravery and truth]”

The first search term turned up close to 50 posts that gained more than 10,500 interactions; the second one turned up three posts with over 130 interactions; and the third search term turned up upwards of 40 posts that garnered almost 8,500 interactions.

The fourth search term appears to be the most popular one, with more than 14,200 interactions across 75 posts.

The viral image gained further traction after it was posted by Facebook page ‘Sabir Shakir Video’, where it received more than 6,000 reactions and was shared more than 2,200 times.

Conclusion: A viral image that allegedly depicts people in Turkey out on the streets in support of Imran Khan is doctored. The image in question has nothing to do with Imran Khan or the PTI’s protests across Pakistan. Khan’s picture has been superimposed onto the original photo. That picture is, in fact, from the ‘March for Justice’ in Istanbul, Turkey, and was taken on June 15, 2017, by photographer Ozan Kose.

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