Fact Check

Did Biden Kneel Before Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman?

Photographs of the president kneeling are popular viral fodder.

Published Jul 28, 2022

 (The White House/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via The White House/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
U.S. President Joe Biden knelt before Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during their July 2022 meeting. 

Fact Check

U.S. President Joe Biden has been depicted in a number of kneeling photographs, but this is not one of them. A clearly doctored photograph showing him kneeling in front of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman made the rounds in mid-July 2022, after the leaders had a high-profile meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The photograph was tweeted by right-leaning pundit Sebastian Gorka who also served under former President Donald Trump. 

The original picture of Biden kneeling was taken from another moment back in 2020, which we fact-checked on a separate occasion. In that story Biden was campaigning for the presidency in Detroit in September 2020 and knelt down in front of a young boy.

In fact, the exact photograph of him kneeling that was later placed into the above image with the crown prince was shared by Reuters Pictures Editor Corinne Perkins in 2020:

This picture has the same angle as the one in the above tweet from Gorka. Biden himself shared the moment from a slightly different angle on his Instagram account:

We also looked through photographs taken from the meeting, and found nothing that indicated the president had kneeled in front of the prince. 

While Biden did not kneel in front of the crown prince, he did greet him with a fist bump, which the Saudi government was quick to spread across social media. During his meetings with the crown prince and his father King Salman, Biden raised his concerns over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and emphasized that he thought Bin Salman was responsible. 

Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. A U.S. intelligence report released in 2021 said the prince likely approved the killing. Bin Salman has, however, has denied any involvement. 

Biden’s fist bump has thus been widely criticized, with Khashoggi’s fiance tweeting a response: 

Given that the original photograph of Biden was clearly doctored, we rate this claim as “False.” 

Sources:

“Biden’s Fist Bump with Saudi Crown Prince Gets Blowback.” Axios, 15 July 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/07/15/biden-khashoggi-fist-bump-reactions. Accessed 28 July 2022.

Detrow, Scott. “Biden Avoids a Handshake with Saudi Crown Prince, but Fist Bump Doesn’t Go over Well.” NPR, 15 July 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/07/15/1111706564/biden-saudi-crown-prince-mbs-fist-bump-jeddah. Accessed 28 July 2022.

“Did Biden Kneel Before George Floyd’s Son To Apologize?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/joe-biden-kneeling-george-floyd/. Accessed 28 July 2022.

“Saudi Crown Prince: First EU Visit since Khashoggi Killing.” AP NEWS, 26 July 2022, https://apnews.com/article/boris-johnson-entertainment-greece-saudi-arabia-jamal-khashoggi-abdeec418236c2fdcea10b9dba52aa45. Accessed 28 July 2022.

“US Implicates Saudi Crown Prince in Khashoggi’s Killing.” AP NEWS, 20 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/us-saudi-crown-prince-khashoggi-killing-26c37f6d603737de7509f5ee09ae7f9d. Accessed 28 July 2022.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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