When sunita williams died
Fact Check: Did Sunita Williams convert to Islam?
Did Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams convert to Islam? A viral post on Facebook claims that Sunita Williams, right after returning from space, changed her religion.
On July 27, Facebook user M Rahman posted a video which apparently explains why Sunita Williams decided to accept Islam. Along with the video, he wrote a post in Bengali, which when translated, stated, "This is why Sunita Williams accepted Islam right after returning from space."
Till the time of filing this story, the video has been viewed by more than 105,000 and shared by over 5,700 users. The archived version of the post can be seen here.
India Today TV Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim to be absolutely false.
Using keywords, we started checking in Google for any news related to the claim. We used the keywords 'Sunita Williams converted to Islam' and came across a number of articles. Most of the articles started with the question: Did Sunita Williams convert to Islam?
We came across an interview of Williams from 2010 in the lifestyle magazine Condé Nast where she was asked: "Are rumors that you converted to Islam after seeing the lights of Mecca and Medina from space true?"
To this, the astronaut replied, "I don't know where that started. It's not like I mind and I don't have favoritism for any religion. But my dad is Hindu and I grew up trying to understand, what Krishna, Ram and Sita means. My mother is Christian, so then, what does Jesus mean? Me personally - not something to do with NASA - I do think there is a God and it's somebody looking out for us and trying to guide us to live a very happy, productive life. There is further meaning. That's just my thought. "
The interview was taken right after she returned from space - the time mentioned in the viral post.
Apart from this, on April 2, 2013, in a press conference after returning from space, Sunita Williams had said she carried a small statue of Lord Ganesha with her.
In an interview to India TV, she repeated the same thing. She added, "There are many things to do in space. I didn't always find time to read the Gita or Upanishads. But I used to read them at night sometimes."
AFWA has found that this claim has been doing the rounds on social media since 2008. A Pakistani blog had then made this blatantly false claim. The archived version of the post can be seen here.
Hence, we can conclude that the viral claim on Sunita Williams, accepting Islam is completely baseless. This rumor has been spread time and again on social media.
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