Newsweek did not publish a cover declaring Pakistan the ‘most intolerant nation’

Image allegedly depicting Newsweek cover is fake

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Claim: The Newsweek magazine’s cover page for its December 2021 issue features bold text stating that “Pakistan proved the prophecy right” — referring to an October 2007 cover — since “it has been declared the most intolerant nation in the world”.

Fact: The Newsweek magazine published four issues in December 2021; none of them featured any text referencing Pakistan.

On 13 December 2021, Soch Fact Check was sent an image allegedly depicting the Newsweek magazine’s cover for its December 2021 issue, which featured the following text:

“2021 – Pakistan proved the prophecy right as it has been declared the most intolerant nation in the world.”

The image, it appears, can be traced back to a tweet posted by ‘ThePakhtoonChronicle’ at 11:49 AM on 7 December. It was shared shortly afterwards by two other Twitter users — ‘Aimal Pashteen’ and ‘bandhini fernando’ — who posted the image with different captions at 12:03 PM and 2:22 PM, respectively.

The image was then posted on Facebook by Altaf Ahmad at 7:18 PM on 7 December and by Habib Kiani at 11:13 PM on 11 December.

The alleged Newsweek cover also features an image from the vigil of 49-year-old Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana — who was brutally lynched by a mob outside a Sialkot factory where he worked as a manager — as well as people rioting with their hands in the air.

Soch Fact Check found the image allegedly depicting the Newsweek cover in question to be false and doctored — it has been made by combining images from different sources.

The weekly American magazine, which is published 47 times every year, released four issues in December 2021. These included ‘God Save The Queen’ on 10 December, ‘Toxic Food’ on 17 December, ‘Special Issue – America’s Greatest Disruptors’ on 24 December, and ‘22 Things To Look Forward To In 2022’ on 31 December. None of these issues featured text referencing Pakistan.

Additionally, Soch Fact Check found several errors in the image allegedly depicting the magazine cover.

The first headline listed on the cover reads, “Omicrone likely to become dominant variant, experts say.” The correct spelling of the newest variant of concern identified by the WHO is, in fact, “Omicron”, without the letter “e”. Additionally, Soch Fact Check could not find the headline in any other publication. ‘Opera News’ — which claims to be “The Nation’s #1 Intelligent Local News App” but does not have an ‘About’ section — published a piece with that headline but the website cites an article by  The Guardian, which does not refer to the variant as “dominant”.

Second, Newsweek typically does not include its full headlines on its cover pages, nor do the magazine’s headlines begin with dates as the date of publication is already mentioned on the right hand corner of the cover. Further, when the magazine changes the color of its text for emphasis, it usually doesn’t make the words bold seeing as how they are already highlighted, which would come across as redundant. Some examples can be found in the image below.

The third error appears on the bottom-left corner of the alleged cover, where there is text stating, “A Sri Lankan nationalist has been killed in one of the horrific mob-lynching attack.” A magazine of international repute would not label Diyawadana a “nationalist”, particularly since nothing is known about his political leanings. Additionally, the sentence, “one of the horrific mob-lynching attack”, is grammatically incorrect; it should be “attacks”, not “attack”.

Lastly, an image of a receipt on the bottom-left corner of the alleged cover mentions two dates, 29 October 2007 and 25 August 2008, which demonstrates that the receipt was superimposed from another — but original — Newsweek cover that Soch Fact Check has previously fact-checked. The address provided on the receipt is of a business located in “Morton Grove, Illinois”, was “founded in 1993”, and is owned by a ‘Marilyn I Appelson’.

Conclusion: Newsweek did not publish a cover declaring Pakistan the “most intolerant nation” nor did it mention any “prophecy”. The cover appears to have been made by merging images from different sources.

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