Misleading posts claim 'Sri Lankan newspaper published cartoon of Pakistan's religious extremists' after blasphemy killing


In the wake of the killing of a Sri Lankan man for alleged blasphemy in Pakistan, social media posts have shared a claim that "a newspaper in Sri Lanka published a cartoon of Pakistan's religious extremists" in early December. But an AFP review of all mainstream newspapers in Sri Lanka found that up until December 15, none had in fact published the cartoon. The artist behind the cartoon who works for an English-language newspaper told AFP he only posted it on social media and it was "not published [in any] Sri Lanka print media".

The cartoon was posted here on Facebook on December 12, 2021 and has received more than 2,000 likes.

"This was published in a Sri Lankan newspaper today", reads the post's caption.

"Just heart breaking how a handful of people managed to ruin the reputation of an entire country like this."

The cartoon appears to show a figure wielding the Pakistan flag's crescent moon as a weapon. "Pakistan's religious extremists" is written on his jacket.

The name "Awantha Artigala" can also be seen in the bottom-left corner of the image.

Screenshot of the post. Taken on December 14, 2021

The posts circulated online after a Sri Lankan factory manager was beaten to death and set ablaze in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy -- an accusation that has often incited mob violence.

More than 100 people have been arrested for the crime, AFP reported on December 5.

The cartoon was also shared in posts with a similar claim on Facebook hereherehere and here; and on Twitter hereherehere and here.

Pakistani online media portal Baaghi TV made the same claim here.

However, an AFP review of mainstream newspapers in Sri Lanka published in English, Sinhala or Tamil found that none had published the cartoon as of December 15.

Keyword searches of the name seen in the cartoon found it was created by Awantha Artigala, a cartoonist working at Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror, an English-language newspaper.

In response to the misleading posts, Artigala told AFP the cartoon was "not published [in any] Sri Lanka print media".

"That cartoon published only on my Facebook page and Twitter," he added.

Artigala posted the cartoon on his Facebook page on December 4, 2021.

"Man tortured and killed in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy," reads the post's caption.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the cartoon in the misleading posts (left) and the original posted by Artigala on Facebook (right):

Screenshot comparing the misleading posts (left) with the original (right). Taken on December 14, 2021. ( AFP / )

AFP has previously debunked posts claiming to show the Sri Lankan man's grieving mother and claims that a "burqa-clad" man was arrested in connection to the incident.

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/misleading-posts-claim-sri-lankan-031405834.html


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