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Bangladesh organisation’s notice doctored to promote false ‘cash for Islamic conversion’ claim

In World
April 24, 2024

Online posts shared hundreds of times in India have falsely claimed that an Islamic group in neighbouring Bangladesh advertised cash payments to anyone who could convert Hindu girls to Islam. AFP found several visual inconsistencies with the message that indicated it was doctored from an unrelated notice. The group has denied that it offered cash for conversions.

The message purportedly from Ahl-Al-Hadith — a non-political Islamic group in Bangladesh —  was shared alongside a Hindi-language caption here on X on April 3, 2024.

It translated to English as, “Trap a Hindu girl and win up to Rs 3 lakh ($3591); convert a Hindu family and get Rs 5 lakh ($5986). Horrific Islamic fundamentalist plan exposed.”

The caption further read, “Bangladesh Cyber Team hacked a Facebook page run by Bangladeshi Islamists.

“After this, shocking facts came to light — a reward of 3 lakh has been offered for the conversion of a Hindu Brahmin girl. A reward of Rs 2 lakh ($2394) for an Indian Bengali girl, and Rs 5 lakh for the conversion of a Hindu family.”

The post carried two notices with a similar message  — one written in Bengali language, and another that appears to be an English translation of it.

They both included what appeared to be an official stamp for the Bangladesh-based group Ahl-Al-Hadith, as shown in the screenshot below:

<span>Screenshot of the false post, taken on April 9, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.OXIMThUlJTd95JU.6AW2Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEzMDE-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/a717cc1aab9001671f83e1cb52306db9″><noscript><img alt=Screenshot of the false post, taken on April 9, 2024” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.OXIMThUlJTd95JU.6AW2Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEzMDE-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/a717cc1aab9001671f83e1cb52306db9″ class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot of the false post, taken on April 9, 2024

The notices were shared with similar false claims on Facebook here and here; and on X here.

Altered notice  

The notice shared in the false post included the full name of the Islamic group “Bangladesh Jamiyat Ahl-Al-Hadith” in the top left-hand corner.

Below this, two scripts — Bangla and Arabic — were used in the doctored part of the notice which referred to cash rewards for conversions, as highlighted in blue by AFP:

In response to the false posts, the group posted a clarification message on its official Facebook page on April 4, 2024.

The post’s Bangla-language caption translated in part as “We came to know that a fake circular notice is being shared on social media posts with false claims.

“Ahl-Al-Hadith of Bangladesh Jamiyat strongly condemns this baseless, conspiratorial and fake notification and calls on the law and order forces of the country to take action against all those who are misleading people by creating and spreading this fake notification.”

The original circular was published here on the organisation’s official website on February 7, 2022 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the notice in the false post (left) and the original message from the group’s official website (right) with similarities highlighted in red by AFP:

A reporter from AFP’s Bangladesh team compared the doctored notice to the original notice and found they both had the same reference number, date, official stamp and letterhead.

In the original notice, there was no reference to a cash reward for conversions.

A spokesperson for Ahl-Al-Hadith told AFP that the original document was digitally altered and shared online with false claims.

“One of our circulars of 2022 has been digitally morphed and shared online, in which we had issued a notice to each of our local committees to organise learning sessions of Koran Hadith. There is no mention anywhere in it of conversion of Hindus or giving money,” he said.

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