Did Muslims in Switzerland demand removal of Swiss cross from the flag?

New Delhi: The Swedish city of Malmo witnessed raging violence on August 28 aftera copy of the Quran was burned by members of a far-right Danish party. A day after, reports of clashes in Norway breaking out during an anti-Islam rally also surfaced.

Amid this, an image purportedly showing Muslim refugees in Switzerland burning the Swiss flag went viral on social media. According to the claim, Muslim men burnt the Swiss flag in 2019, demanding the removal of the Cross from the flag.

The Claim

The caption to one such image uploaded on Twitter read, “Last year #Muslim #refugees in #Switzerland demanded removal of #Cross from the #SwissFlag. How thankless a community can be to a country which has given them refuge on their homeland?”

India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found that the claim is false. This is an old image from Pakistan, in circulation since 2016. The flag being burnt in the image is not Swiss but Danish.

Similar claims are also shared on Facebook.

The archived versions of the claims can be seen hereherehere and here.

AFWA probe

With a reverse image search, we found that the same image has been on social media at least since 2016 with similar claims.

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Also, with a simple Google search, it was clear that the flag in the viral image is not the flag of Switzerland but the Denmark flag.

The flag of Switzerland has a white cross with equilateral arms in the centre of a square red field. On the other hand, the flag of Denmark which is also red in colour has an off-centre white cross that extends to the edges of the flag – as seen in the viral image.

Courtesy “India Today”

The Truth

On further search, we found that the image is part of a 2006 outrage that hit several Muslim countries following the publication of cartoons featuring prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

We found the image uploaded on the British-American stock image site, Getty Images in the year 2006. According to the site, the image was taken in Pakistan on February 23, 2006, by photographer Rizwan Tabassum for AFP.

The description of the photograph titled, “Pakistani Muslims torch a Danish flag” reads, “Pakistani Muslims torch a Danish flag during a demonstration in Karachi, 23 February 2006. Pakistani hardline Islamic parties continued countrywide protests denouncing the publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in several European newspapers.”

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Danish Cartoon controversy

The Prophet Muhammad Cartoon controversy exploded after a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons of the Prophet under the headline “The Face of Muhammad” on September 19, 2005.

Thousands protested and hundreds died in a worldwide protest against the cartoon in 2005 and in 2006. Several western newspapers reprinted cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon, the one that had caused the controversy, in protest of an alleged plot to kill him.

The image in question was taken during one such protest against the reprinting of the cartoon by the western newspapers. The protestors were angry about the cartoon, not the cross on the flag. Also, no credible media report was found regarding the torching of the Swiss flag by the Muslim community in Switzerland.

Claim

Image shows Muslim refugees in Switzerland burning the Swiss flag in 2019 demanding the removal of the cross from the flag.

Conclusion

This is a 2006 image from Pakistan where people burnt the Danish flag protesting the depiction of Prophet Muhammad in Western newspapers.

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