Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin February 21, 2017

Muslims offended their kids have to sing the national anthem? That was an Australian controversy

A series of Internet posts implying that Muslim parents don’t want their kids to sing the national anthem has continued to cause a stir, mostly by not making it clear to readers that the controversy is actually years old — and in Australia.

"Muslims offended that their kids have to recite national anthem," read the headline on a post we first saw Feb. 20, 2017, on Facebook brought it to our attention as part of the social media site’s efforts to clear its news feeds of fake news.

The post was one of many others across cyberspace that discussed how an international Islamic political group called Hizb-ut-Tahrir questioned why Muslim children must sing the national anthem.

Though some choppy grammar and poor editing made it difficult to know what was a direct quote, we gleaned that a Hizb-ut-Tahrir spokesman named Unthman Badar said the national anthem was part of a concerted effort of "forced assimilation" of Muslims by Australian officials.

But the post included two deceptive photos of schoolchildren standing at attention before an American flag in a classroom.

Let’s be clear: There is a controversial pro-Islamic group called Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and their spokesman Uthman Badar (note the spelling difference) did say Muslim children should not sing the national anthem. But what’s not entirely clear from the story is that this happened during a contentious meeting about the strain of Islamic citizens assimilating into Australian culture, held in Sydney on Nov. 1, 2015.

"This imposition of values is manifest in matters such as the insistence of senior government ministers that Muslim children sing the national anthem – an anthem which reflects a particular, disputed view of history and celebrates particular ideological values ... Why should they be forced to sing it?" Badar said, according to news reports. (Watch his speech above; the relevant portion starts around the 9:50 mark.)

"It is nothing less than forced assimilation ... sought to be justif­ied by exaggerated fear of a security threat," he added.

The Australian anthem reads:

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts;
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

The story did mention that the story was about Australia, but you had to read carefully to see that.

Their post on Facebook was even more deceptive. It includes the caption, "If you're offended by our beautiful flag, representing the blood that has been shed defending this great country, you can go back to the hell hole you came from!!" The Facebook page includes a picture of President Donald Trump taking the oath of office and is written from an American perspective.

To the site’s credit, when we contacted them via Facebook message about the post on Feb. 20, they conceded the photo choice was incorrect. Shortly thereafter, they changed the images to a single photo of the Australian flag. As of this writing, they have not amended their Facebook post, which had been shared more than 13,000 times.

Our ruling

A blog post claiming that Muslims are offended "their kids have to recite national anthem" linked to a deceptively edited post that includes images of children standing at attention before an American flag.

In reality, the genesis of the story is not from America but Australia, where a spokesman for an international Islamic political group called Hizb-ut-Tahrir questioned why Muslim children should be forced to sing the Australian national anthem.

The post, which has been altered after we inquired, is definitely misleading but not altogether fake. It also comes from 2015, which isn’t mentioned in the post being virally shared.

We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Joshua Gillin

Muslims offended their kids have to sing the national anthem? That was an Australian controversy

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up