Satirical image of Taliban official holding a Chairman Mao book is doctored from a news photo
A photo appearing to show a Taliban official holding up a Mao Zedong book at a press conference has been shared hundreds of times on social media platforms, alongside a claim it shows the Taliban giving credit to the Chinese communist's book for their military victory. The claim is satirical: the photo has been doctored to include the book.
The photo was published here on Twitter on August 16, 2021.
The post's simplified-Chinese caption reads: "The reporter asked the Taliban's person in charge: What made you able to occupy the whole country of Afghanistan so quickly?"
The photo appears to show Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar holding up a Chinese-language volume of "Selected Works of Mao Zedong" during a press conference.
The book is a collection of the written works of Communist China's founding leader ranging from the years 1926–1957.
The press conference, at which the Taliban claimed that 85% of Afghanistan's territory was under their control, took place in Moscow in July, as reported by AFP here.
A selection of comments under the misleading tweet suggested that social media users were misled by the photo.
One commented: "The choice of the people, the choice of history."
Others wrote: "It's the Afghan people who chose us" and "[They] even understand Chinese, brilliant".
However, the claim is satirical: the book was digitally inserted into the photo.
A reverse image search on Google found the original photo published here by Reuters news agency on July 9, 2021.
The photo caption reads: "Members of Taliban political office Abdul Latif Mansoor (L), Shahabuddin Delawar (C) and Suhail Shaheen attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia July 9, 2021."
Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored photo (L) and the photo published by Reuters (R):
The press conference was also live-streamed in this YouTube video here by Ruptly, a Russian video news agency. The full video of the press conference does not show the Taliban negotiator holding up a book by Mao.