False claim Morgan Freeman has converted to Islam goes viral

A Freeman representative has denied the rumours

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Claim: American actor Morgan Freeman has converted to Islam. He has also said that Qatar’s culture made him “love Islam more”, that he “will spread what happened” to him among his close ones, and that “God gave [him] a vision of the right path”.

Fact: Freeman has not converted to Islam. A representative for the actor has denied the claims.

On 22 November 2022, Facebook page ‘All sports’ posted a picture of Morgan Freeman standing with his arms wide open during the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony held on 20 November 2022 at the Al Bayt Stadium.

The photo was captioned as follows:

“آج کی سب سے بڑی خبر..!!
مشہور زمانہ ہالی ووڈ ایکٹر مورگن فری مین  نے اسلام قبول کرلیا،
 اللّٰہ تعالٰی اسلام میں ثابت قدم فرمائے آمین
[The biggest news of today..!!
Famous Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman has accepted Islam.
May God make him steadfast in Islam, Amen]”

Some posts also attribute a quote, reproduced in the following paragraph, to Freeman:

Form Denmark newspaper: Morgan Freeman: In fact, the Arab culture of #Qatar made me love Islam more and I will spread what happened to me among my friends and family about love, respect and human appreciation among Muslims here. God gave me a vision of the right path, and Doha presented the world with the most beautiful in history.

The most popular post on Facebook carrying the aforementioned quote was shared by user ‘Al Emran’ in ‘Mufti Menk’s Lectures’, a public group comprising over 2.5 million members.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check browsed articles related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup but did not find any credible reports suggesting that Morgan Freeman has converted to Islam.

The claims, perhaps, have made the rounds on social media due to the fact that Qatar is the first Muslim country to host the quadrennial sports event.

At the event, Freeman was accompanied by 22-year-old Qatari disability activist and speaker Ghanim al-Muftah.

The following video shows the entire portion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup where al-Muftah and Freeman converse — but at no point did the actor announce that he is converting to Islam:

In his dialogue, Freeman spoke of hope and jubilation and al-Muftah recited a verse from the Quran.

International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) signatory Reuters quoted Freeman representative Fred Specktor as saying, “Morgan has not converted to Islam.” Misbar — an Arabic fact-checking outlet — has also debunked the claim.

Soch Fact Check found no credible report carrying the “God gave me a vision of the right path” quote being attributed to the 85-year-old actor. We also searched Google using portions of the quote translated into Danish, considering the posts claim it is from a Denmark newspaper.

As for the pictures of the actor accompanying the false claim, most of them are indeed from the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium.

This picture was posted by verified Twitter account for Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 delivery and legacy organisation in English and Arabic.

These photographs , available on American stock photos platform Getty Images, were taken by Mustafa Yalcin, Justin Setterfield, and Michael Regan.

Original picture taken by Justin Setterfield and found on Getty Images

Original picture taken by Michael Regan and found on Getty Images

Original picture taken by Mustafa Yalcin and found on Getty Images

Another photo showing Freeman holding a rosary — also viral with the same claims — is, in fact, from 31 March 2016, when it was published in a Wall Street Journal story about “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman”.

Original picture found on The Wall Street Journal’s story about ‘The Story of God with Morgan Freeman’

In a fourth image, he is sitting in what appears to be a mosque, but it is neither recent nor related to the claims, and was posted by British activist Maajid Nawaz on 29 September 2015 when the two discussed “the difference between Islam & Islamism” at the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City.

Original picture found on the Facebook page of Majid Nawaz

On a related note, the picture went viral with similar claims a month later, in October 2015, and Nawaz issued a clarification.

Original picture found on the verified Facebook page of Morgan Freeman

Another image depicting Freeman in a black turtleneck is seen among some claims, including the one where the “God gave me a vision of the right path” quote is attributed to him, but it was posted to  his verified Facebook page on 19 March 2020. It is not related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period from 30 October 2022 to 29 November using the following search terms:

  • “Morgan Freeman Islam”
  • “Morgan Freeman Convert Islam”
  • “Morgan Freeman embrace Islam”
  • “Morgan Freeman accept Islam”
  • “مورگن فری مین نے اسلام قبول کرلیا”
  • “مورگن فری اسلام قبول”
  • “the Arab culture of Qatar made me love Islam more and I will spread what happened to me among my friends and family about love respect and human appreciation among Muslims here”
  • “Morgan Freeman ayaa ku dhawaaqay inuu qaatay diinta Islaamka”
  • “مورغان فريمان يعلن إعتناقه الإسلام”

The first search term, while generic and not exclusively containing the misleading claims, turned up more than 650 Facebook posts and 30 Instagram posts, which respectively gained 464,053 interactions and 182,873 interactions.

The second search term yielded 183,114 interactions and 9,449 interactions across 43 Facebook posts and three Instagram posts, respectively.

The third and fourth search terms showed three and two Facebook posts with 201 interactions and 36 interactions, respectively, but none on Instagram. The fifth search term turned up 590 Facebook posts and two Instagram posts with 294,448 interactions and 7,163 interactions, respectively. The sixth one yielded 321,023 interactions and 7,147 interactions across 757 Facebook posts and two Instagram posts, respectively.

The last two search terms did not turn up any post on Instagram but did show 172 and seven Facebook posts, which gained 66,633 interactions and 4,402 interactions, respectively.

The Arabic search term was the most popular by far, turning up close to 1,300 Facebook posts and 20 Instagram posts, which gained 1,223,925 interactions and 69,316 interactions, respectively.

Conclusion: A Freeman representative has denied the claims the actor has converted to Islam.

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