On January 19, Alt News debunked a viral picture which suggested that while Sania Mirza wears a hijab in Pakistan, she dons modern urban attire in India. Several Facebook pages including Tarek Fateh Fan club and Bharatiya Yuva Shaktee had shared the viral meme, where the image on the left features Sania Mirza in western clothing, while she is donning a hijab in the image on the right. At the time of writing the article, the post by the Facebook pages still exists with a combined share count of nearly 10,000.


Alt News probed the origin of this claim and found a India TV broadcast of June, 2010. According to the report, Sania Mirza’s style of dressing had changed after her marriage to Shoaib Malik in April 2010. In the broadcast, India TV anchor said that after Sania Mirza got married with Shoaib Malik, her dressing style suddenly changed. She further said that Mirza was seen in ‘Pakistani’ clothing and her dressing style is not what it used to be.

Image from Saudi Arabia

Alt News used Google reverse image and found that the photo of Mirza donning a hijab is not from Pakistan. It was clicked during her trip to Saudi Arabia in 2006. An article published by Rediff on November 9, 2006 was titled, “Spotted! Sania Mirza in a hijab”. According to the article, Sania Mirza was clicked during her visit to Mecca for Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage. Hence, India TV‘s claim that the photograph of Sania Mirza wearing a burqa was clicked after marriage with Shoaib Malik and belongs to one of her Pakistan visits is false as her marriage with Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik took place in 2010, while the picture is from her Umrah visit is from 2006.

It may be noted that she has been spotted in western clothing, similar to what she would wear in India, on several occasions in Pakistan.

India TV’s misreport about Sania Mirza’s photograph turned out to be one of the earliest instance, the false claim was propagated on television, which later was converted to a meme on the Internet.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.