An image showing a line of cars parked in front of what appears to be a cafe, with people inside smoking hookah (shisha) through the windows, recently went viral on social media in Lebanon.
Sarcastically captioned “how great you are, oh people of Lebanon,” the post sparked controversy due to its violation of the local health guidelines that prohibit crowding and smoking in restaurants and cafes.
Is the image real?
Claim: Some Lebanese are smoking hookah in their cars near cafes to evade their government’s COVID-19 health guidelines.
Verdict: The photo is false and was not taken in Lebanon.
A reverse image search reveals that the image in question was first uploaded to imgur.com on June 7th. A caption above the original image reads: “Arabs never give up. Edgeware Road, London.”
The caption and the green “HNB” (a company based in the UK) sign in the upper-left corner of the image show that it was actually taken in the capital of the United Kingdom, AFP Factual revealed.
As for the cafe, it turns out to be a restaurant called Shishawi, which serves Egyptian/Middle Eastern food in addition to roadside hookahs.
On a side note, while the Lebanese government did recently permit restaurants and cafes to reopen with certain limitations, hookah smoking inside remains prohibited until further notice, due to the ongoing epidemic.
Notably, a recent video showing Lebanese people smoking hookah and practicing no social distancing at a swimming pool went viral and sparked outrage among Lebanese social media users.
This took place after Lebanese authorities started to gradually ease the restrictions that were first introduced in March in response to the epidemic, which included the closure of the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport.
Earlier this month, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that the airport will officially reopen for commercial flights on July 1st.
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