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Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero October 23, 2023

A shrine in Iran raised a black flag in mourning, not to call for war

If Your Time is short

  • The Imam Reza shrine in Iran hoisted a black flag in mourning after the explosion at a Gaza hospital.

  • It’s not uncommon for the shrine to hoist a black flag in mourning.

A black flag hoisted over a mosque in Iran prompted social media users to claim the country has called for war.

"The Islamic Black Flag has been risen on Razavi Shrine in Mashhad, Khorasan province, Iran, shown below," read the caption of an Oct. 17 Facebook post. "This is a Scripture-based (Qur'an) call to all of Islam for War. This flag was used by the Prophet Muhammad and is a sign of religious revolt/rebellion and engagement of battle."

(Screenshot from Facebook)

The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Could a call for war be so straightforward? We looked into the context of the black flag and found that the claim is unsupported.

The black flag was a statement of mourning, not war, after the Oct. 17 bombing of al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, which killed hundreds with more casualties expected.

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The Imam Reza Holy Shrine, sometimes called the Razavi Shrine, in Mashhad, Iran, posted an identical photo on its Instagram account. According to its caption, which tried to censor some words, the black flag was hoisted "in response to the barbaric crimes of the usurping Zio**nis**t (Zionist) regime, especially the bombardment of the Al-M**u'am**dani (Al-Mu’amdani) hospital." 

The Imam Reza shrine is managed by the Astan Quds Razavi, which also published an announcement about the hoisting of the black flag. Based on a version of the page translated with Google, it said, "Following the martyrdom of hundreds of residents of the Gaza Strip in the barbaric crimes of the usurping Zionist regime, the holy shrine of Razavi will take on a mood of mourning."

Iranian state-controlled news sites and others also reported that the Imam Reza shrine raised the black flag to mourn the casualties from the hospital explosion and other "crimes" by Israel. In a fact check of similar claims, Reuters also linked to an Oct. 18 statement published by Astan Quds Razavi, the shrine’s administrative organization, saying the flag was changed for "public mourning" because of the deaths in Gaza after the hospital explosion.

Based on Imam Reza shrine’s news releases that were translated using Google, the shrine planned more events, including a people’s gathering and a support march to express solidarity with Palestinians.

It’s not uncommon for the shrine to hoist a black flag in mourning. It does so for martyrdom anniversaries.

A black flag hoisted in October at Iran’s Imam Reza shrine was not a call for war. We rate that claim False.

Lea una versión de este artículo en español.

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A shrine in Iran raised a black flag in mourning, not to call for war

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