A viral post claiming the French economy is in a sudden slump as Muslims across the world are boycotting their products, as a mark of protest against the government, is false.
The viral post is a collage which uses three different screenshots - one the headline of a story from August which talks about a decline in France's GDP due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a screenshot of a stock index indicator showing a decline in CAC 40 index on October 27 and a tweet from French President Emmanual Macron which shows that France will never give in, and respects all differences peacefully.
The post, from a Facebook page 'Ummat-E-Nabi' can be seen below. More than a 1,100 users have interacted with this post, and it has more than 460 shares. An archive can be found here. The three image is found with a long Facebook post (with a relevant excerpt transcribed below) and 'France has been destroyed' in Hindi.
|Excerpt (Original Post)
फ्रांस अपनी करतूत की वजह से बर्बाद हो गया है,, सिर्फ दो दिन मे " France I share market Is Down"🔥🔥Company is Down. France की कपनियों मे इतना घाटा हुआ है कि फ्रांस "ट्विटर पर ट्वीट करके बोल रहा है" मेरी बर्बादी को रोको,,,अपील करा है( मतलब अब होश ठिकाने आ गये) मुस्लिम देशों ने "France product" का बहिष्कार किया, ,"सब मुसलमानों का साथ मिला,,, दुश्मन जमीन पर आ गिरा"
|France has been destroyed because of its actions. In only two days, France's share markets have dropped. France's companies are facing such a loss that they have taken to Twitter to appeal to save their losses (which means that they have learnt their lesson). Muslim countries have boycotted 'France Product' (sic). "All Muslims have come together, and (our) enemies have fallen on the ground".
Claim 1: Factchecking article showing a slump due to bycott
We ran a search for the headline and found that the screenshot is from a news story published by The Express on August 29, 2020, which has been highlighted by BOOM. The story reports data from French government's statistical body INSEE, when France witnessed a half-yearly decline of 13.8% - its worst recession since 1949. It also says that this slump was caused due to the situation in France after the COVID-19 pandemic. The headline has got nothing to do with the ongoing agitation. The Express article in question can be read here.
The article clearly mentions the economic situation is due to the pandemic and quotes INSEE stating, "GDP's negative developments in first half of 2020 is linked to the shutdown of 'non-essential' activities in the context of the implementation of the lockdown between mid-March and the beginning of May."
Claim 2: The boycott has caused a stock market decline
The second image in the collage is a screenshot showing the CAC 40 index - a benchmark index consisting of the top 40 stocks on the Euronext Paris (a stock exchange). On zooming in, one can see it is taken during trade on October 27.The image from the post can be seen below.
Data on the CAC 40 index shows that it has fallen more than 400 points over the course of the October 20 to October 30, but attributing this fall solely to the ongoing boycott would be misleading. Alongside the ongoing unrest in the Muslim world, a new COVID-19 lockdown imposed on October 28 due to a surge in cases that restricts the functioning of non-essential businesses for at least a month, and the impending US presidential elections on November 3 have also been factors influencing the market.
A tweet by Macron has also been included in the post can be seen below. While this tweet is in Arabic, he has also tweeted the same message in English here. The English version of the tweet can also be read by using the translate feature built in to Twitter.
Over the span of more than a week, France has witnessed two instances of violence with reportedly Islamist-linked perpetrators. The string of events started when on October 16, an 18-year old Chechen attacker beheaded a teacher named Samuel Paty for showing caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in his classroom; an act that is considered heresy in the Islamic faith. Macron defended the religious cartoons, which have fanned protests and agitations against the president, and against France, around the world. Sections within Muslim communities have burned effigies of Macron and have called for a boycott of French products.
The second incident was a beheading in a church in Nice, linked to a Tunisian man, killing three persons in all. The country is now on its highest terrorism alert. Friction over caricatures on Islamic figures has emerged sporadically since the Charlie Hebdo incident in 2015.
Further, BOOM found no evidence that French companies were taking to Twitter appealing for help to alleviate their losses.