Claim: A video shows a cleric engaging in sexual activity with a boy in a mosque in Palestine.

Fact: The video is from Pakistan. It surfaced in 2021 when a seminary student exposed the sexual abuse he was subjected to at the hands of his teacher and former JUI-F leader, Mufti Azizur Rehman.

[Trigger warning: This fact-check contains content pertaining to a sexual assault; therefore, we have blurred relevant screenshots.]

On 30 October 2023, X (formerly Twitter) account @MOSSADil posted (archive) a video showing two bearded men — one young and the other older — engaging in sexual activity. The caption accompanying the clip is as follows:

“The Imam of Beit Hanon was caught red-handed inside the Al Nusrayat Mosque. When he performs anal sex on one of the guys while the guy is filming everything 6 moves to fix the camera. The IDF of course let him finish and both of them were transferred to continue the pleasant units 😂 and detention in Israel.”

What’s going on in Gaza?

On 7 October 2023, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza — launched (archive) a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared (archive) war on Hamas on 8 October 2023.

According to a 9 November 2023 update by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 10,800 Palestinians have been killed and over 26,900 injured since the 7 October attack. Similarly, at least 1,200 Israelis have been killed and upwards of 5,400 injured.

Ever since the 7 October attack, a flood of misleading, old, and out-of-context pictures, videos, and claims have surfaced in the media.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reverse-searched keyframes from the video and came across this tweet (archive), which carries the same clip. The accompanying caption reads as follows:

“Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman, the head of Jamia Manzoor-ul-Islam Madrassa in Lahore and the central leader of JUI-F, on screen. all children in this madrasa must be screened to see whether they have suffered. This is okay, will we ignore this?. #muftiazizurrehman”

The text “@FarooquiJameel” is superimposed diagonally on the video, so we looked up posts from Jameel Farooqui, a journalist who worked for BOL News and now records podcasts called JFPC.

Farooqui appears to be the one who first uploaded the video and broke the story of the religious cleric sexually abusing one of his students. However, he later deleted the clip from Twitter, saying (archive) it “had reached where I intended it to and I have been assured of action” against the perpetrator.

The video we are investigating can also be found here on a separate account.

A 16 June 2021 article (archive) by The Express Tribune reported, “Footage of Mufti Azizur Rehman, a 70-year-old religious cleric and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s vice ameer [leader] in Lahore, sexually assaulting one of his teenage seminary students went viral late Tuesday night.”

The report also detailed the state of the survivor, writing, “A video message was also leaked with the footage by the teary-eyed survivor, in which he claims that: ‘My attacker’s sons have threatened to kill me for exposing him [Mufti Aziz]’”.

The publication noted. “In distress, the survivor shares that he is in hiding, adding that, ‘It is better I die’ out of fear of retribution in the recording.”

Mufti Azizur Rehman was booked by the police (archive) a day later on 17 June, arrested (archive) on 20 June, and confessed to the crime (archive) a day later. Consequently, the cleric’s party membership was suspended (archive) through a notice issued by the Lahore chapter of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and he was fired (archive) from the Jamia Manzoor ul-Islamia.

A picture of Mufti Azizur Rehman behind bars is available in this report (archive) by Dawn, published on 20 September 2021.

It is also important to note that a mosque named “Al Nusrayat” does not seem to exist at all. The claim mentioned the mosque was located in the city of Beit Hanon; however, there are no mosques by that name in Beit Hanoun.

Some Palestinian mosques have similar-sounding names, such as Umm al-Nasr Mosque in Beit Hanoun, An-Nasr Mosque in Nablus, and Masjid Al Nasr in Al-Khader. Another Masjid Al Nasr is located in Nur Shams — which is a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank — and a Nasr Mosque is situated in Kafr Yasif, a town in Israel. 

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concludes that the video is falsely linked to Palestine and actually shows an incident that took place in Pakistan.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found that the claim spread across social media rapidly and in different languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Albanian.

It was posted here, here, here, here, and here on X.

On Facebook, it was posted here, here, here, here, and here. It was also shared here, here, and here as a Reel, as well as text-based posts here, here, here, here, and here.

The clip was also found on a forum known as Sam’s Alfresco Coffee and Kosovo-based Albanian-language website Gazeta Metro.

The video was also circulated on Telegram here.

Conclusion: The video is actually from Pakistan. It surfaced in 2021 when a seminary student exposed the sexual abuse he was subjected to at the hands of his teacher and former JUI-F leader, Mufti Azizur Rehman.


Background image in cover photo: Ash Hayes


To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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5 months ago

[…] Related: Video of cleric sexually abusing student is from Pakistan, not Palestine […]

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