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As thousands of Pakistani Muslims made the journey to Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage in July 2022, a video was viewed thousands of times in social media posts that claimed it shows pilgrims criticising the current Pakistan government for housing them in “terrible” conditions. However, the video has been shared in a misleading context. It has circulated since August 2019 in posts that criticise the government at the time for pilgrims’ inadequate facilities.
The video — viewed more than 2,000 times — shows a camp where people can be seen lying on bunk beds inside tents.
A man off-camera can be heard criticising the government for housing Pakistani pilgrims in “terrible” conditions.
“The most expensive hajj in history, but they don’t even have water for drinking and washing,” reads an Urdu-language Facebook post that shared the video on July 2. “Ultimately, who controls the Ministry of Religious Affairs?”
The post criticises Pakistan’s “imported government” — a reference to the administration that replaced ousted prime minister Imran Khan, who has accused the United States of conspiring to remove him from power.
It also accuses Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government of committing “injustice” towards Pakistanis performing hajj.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs is the agency responsible for pilgrims from Pakistan. It prepares hajj packages that provide food and board at subsidised rates to Pakistani pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia.
Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on July 6, 2022
Pilgrims spend a portion of the hajj in Mina, a valley around seven kilometres (four miles) from Islam’s holiest site Mecca.
Mina is transformed into a tent city each year, according to media outlet The National.
A shorter version of the video was viewed thousands of times alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here; and on Twitter here and here.
Pakistani media outlet Daily Ausaf also used some of the footage in a report claiming it shows pilgrims complaining about the current premier Sharif. It has been viewed more than 300,000 times.
The clips circulated online as Saudi Arabia welcomed hundreds of thousands of Muslims from overseas for the biggest hajj pilgrimage since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the video has been shared in a misleading context.
Old complaint video
A reverse image search on Google found footage from the video in this report by Pakistan’s G News Network (GNN), which was published on August 10, 2019.
“Pakistani pilgrims complain against history’s most expensive hajj and the lack of adequate facilities,” the anchor says in Urdu-language.
“No water for washing, severe heat with no air conditioners and men and women were housed in the same tent.”
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video from the misleading posts (left) and the GNN report (right):
The full three-minute 35-second video was also shared in Facebook posts here and here on August 10 and August 11, 2019.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs also dismissed the claim that the video was filmed recently in a tweet published here on June 30, 2022.
“Old video”, reads Urdu-language text superimposed over a short clip from the video.
The tweet reads: “False rumours of an accident in Saudi Arabia / videos of protests are circulating on social media. Today is the first of Dhul-Hijjah and the tents in Mina have not been put up yet. The people reject political propaganda during a sacred activity like the #hajj”.
سعودی عرب میں حادثے کی جھوٹی افواہیں/ احتجاج کی ویڈیوز سوشل میڈیا پر زیر گردش ہیں۔ آج یکم ذی الحجہ ہے اور ابھی منی کی خیمہ بستی آباد ہی نہیں ہوئی۔ عوام #حج جیسی مقدس عبادت میں سیاسی پراپیگنڈا کو مسترد کرتی ہے۔@Pk_FactChecker@MuftishakoorJUIpic.twitter.com/RUkrDoHfu7
— Ministry of Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony (@MORAisbOfficial) June 30, 2022