Did Iranian police really destroy thousands of bottles of alcohol?

Bottles of alcohol being destroyed in Pakistan, not Iran, as some online users claimed. (Facebook)
Bottles of alcohol being destroyed in Pakistan, not Iran, as some online users claimed. (Facebook)

A viral video posted in early May claims to show bottles of alcohol in Iran being destroyed by security forces and civilians. But that's not what actually happened.

In the video, which was shared widely on social media in Venezuela and India as well as on conservative Russian chat forums, often without sound, hundreds of what appear to be empty wine and liquor bottles are laid neatly in the dirt in front of crowd of men. The men proceed to hurl the bottles one by one into the air as others in uniform survey the scene.

The video was in fact filmed in Pakistan. Here's how we tracked it down.

Language and uniforms are a big hint

Running a reverse image search of the video quickly turns up a version with sound. The people in it are heard speaking Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. The most common languages in Iran are Persian, Kurdish and various Turkic dialects.

Additionally, one of the men in the video is wearing a white cap and uniform typical of that of a naval officer. But the uniform has short sleeves, which is inconsistent with Iranian naval uniform.

Finally, the two men holding large bottles of liquor in the foreground of the video are wearing caps that say "Pakistan". An online search of "Pakistan customs" reveals photos of Pakistani customs officials wearing hats with a similar logo.

A scene filmed by the Associated Press

The video depicts Pakistani customs officials destroying seized goods worth more than 3 billion rupees, or around €17.7 million euros on April 25.

Authorities smashed around 59,000 bottles of liquor and beer and burned narcotics outside Karachi, along Pakistan's southern coast, according to Independent News Pakistan. Drinking alcohol is forbidden for Muslims in the country.

The event can also be seen in a video and photos taken by the Associated Press.

Both the viral video and the AP video show a line of concrete blocks and an excavator to the right of the scene, as well as white plastic bags demarcating the area where the bottles are piled up.

Similar practices are also common in Iran, where producing, obtaining or consuming alcohol is illegal. Individuals convicted of these offences could be sentenced to up to one year and 74 lashes.

This article was written by Ershad Alijani.