Fact Check

Muslims in Atlanta Encourage Children to Mutilate Themselves with Knives?

Image purportedly shows Muslim children celebrating a bloody ritual involving knives in Atlanta.

Published Nov 14, 2014


Claim:   Circulating images depict a bloody Muslim ritual that took place in Atlanta.


Example:   [Collected via Twitter, November 2014]

Bloody Muslim "Ashura" Holiday Includes Children in Atlanta, Georgia: URGENT


Origins:   On 5 November 2014, a blog post claiming to display images from a Shi'ite Muslim Day of Ashura ritual held in Atlanta, Georgia, began to garner attention. Ashura fell on 3-4 November 2014 on the Gregorian calendar; and soon afterwards upsetting images from the observance of that holiday showing bloody children holding large knives spread via social media sites, with many viewers questioning the veracity of the images.

On TeaParty.org, a heavily-shared article titled "Muslims in Atlanta Encourage Children to Mutilate Themselves with Knives" reported:

The hideous bloody scene you're seeing isn't taking place in Pakistan or Afghanistan. It's happening in Atlanta.

And, as Creeping Sharia points out, this is being carried out by "Muslims from an ACLU / DOJ state-sanctioned mosque"

It's happening in Atlanta, Georgia, where Shiite Muslim settlers are commemorating Ashura, a Muslim festival marking the death of Caliph Hussein bin Ali, a grandson of Mohammed, who feuded with another Caliph who was Mohammed's nephew by marriage. Hussein Ali's death was a pivotal moment in the rise of Shiite Islam and its feud with Sunni Islam.


However, this presentation was inaccurate. The picture serving as the image header on the article was not taken in Atlanta or anywhere in the United States, but rather in Baghdad, Iraq:

The tradition, which commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson, is seen by some Shi'ite Muslims as away of washing away their sins.

The Day of Ashura is a national holiday in some Muslim countries, with thousands taking part in annual rituals which include people whipping and cutting themselves with chains and knives.

Young children were seen covered in their own blood as they wielded large blades in a ceremony in Baghdad.


Other images circulated via social media were also attributed to Ashura observances in Atlanta, but those pictures were actually Reuters news photos snapped in Mumbai, India:

A Shi'ite boy is held still as a gash is cut into his head as part of an Ashura ceremony in Mumbai, India.

Even small children participate in the ceremony commemorating Imam Hussein, grandson of Mohammad.


The geographic confusion may have stemmed from the fact that a mosque in Atlanta did upload footage from an Ashura observance on 5 November 2014, but the observance shown in that video did not take place in Atlanta:

Another video posted by the Atlanta mosque was also included in many posts about the "bloody Muslim ritual" that supposedly took place in Atlanta in November 2014; but that video actually dated to July 2014 (several months prior to this year's Ashura observance), did not capture events occurring in Atlanta, and did not depict children.

Last updated:   14 November 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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