Faces of Oromo activists digitally added to T-shirts worn by Egyptian football players

·2 min read

An image has been shared on Facebook in Ethiopia purporting to show three Egyptian football players, among them Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, wearing T-shirts adorned with the faces of Ethiopian opposition leader Jawar Mohammed and Hachalu Hundessa, an Ethiopian singer and civil rights activist who was assassinated in June 2020. However, this is false: AFP Fact Check traced the original image of the three teammates – all wearing trendy, branded T-shirts without the Ethiopian men's faces – to Salah’s Instagram page.

The post was published on June 30, 2022, and has been shared more than 60 times from Oromia INFO, a Facebook page which has nearly 11,000 followers.

“It was reported that Mohammed Salah wore the t-shirts with images of Jawar and Hachalu. If you want to read why Salah wore the t-shirt, click on the link below (sic),” reads part of the caption written in Ethiopia’s Oromo language.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on July 14, 2022

Unlike what is claimed in the caption, the link leads to an Oromo-language blog page called DW Blogs, which is not associated with the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The blog’s article discusses the conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan.

A search on the blog found no trace of the image, which shows three Egyptian football players posing for the camera. They include Liverpool FC striker Mohamed Salah in the middle, with countrymen Omar Gaber on the right and Nabil Dounga on the left.

Both Gaber and Dounga appear to be wearing white shirts printed with a picture of Hachalu, while Salah’s top appears to feature a smaller image of Jawar.

Hachalu was gunned down in Addis Ababa in June 2020, sparking a wave of protests led by Jawar, a prominent Oromo leader and former media mogul. He was later arrested during an altercation with security forces over Hachalu’s burial location.

More than 160 people were killed in street demonstrations following Hachalu’s death. Oromo political leaders and opposition activists, including Jawar, were rounded up and detained in a government crackdown.

The faces of the two men, however, were not part of the original picture showing Salah together with his national teammates.

Doctored image

By running a reverse image search, AFP Fact Check found the original picture on Salah’s official Instagram account where it was published on June 2, 2020.

Original photo (left) versus doctored version (right)

In the original image, unlike the doctored photograph shared on Facebook, Dounga is seen wearing a white Dior T-shirt, Salah’s has no distinct image on it, while Gaber’s top features a picture of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out.

AFP Fact Check has previously debunked claims linked to doctored images of people whose attire has been digitally altered (here and here).

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