The recent incident of a school teacher's beheading by an Islamic extremist has led to several pieces of misinformation shared around it. The recent one is a set of four unrelated videos and some from other countries are viral claiming the government in France is taking action against Muslims in the country and have also started cracking down on mosques.
We found that the videos are in fact from police action on protesters in Germany, Italy and one from an old incident in France.
On October 16, Samuel Paty, aged 47, a history and geography teacher at College du Bois d'Aulne, was allegedly beheaded by a Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch, an 18-year-old Russian refugee of Chechen origin settled in France. Paty, was allegedly attacked for holding a discussion on a controversial cartoon depicting Prophet Mohammed. The suspect, Abouyezidovitch is said to have been shot dead by police in the same area of Evreux, where the Paty's body was found.
The videos are viral with captions in English and Arabic on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. The caption reads authorities have stormed into mosques to attack Muslims. The video is being shared as, "France declares war on the Muslims. The Great Mosque of Clichy in Paris and Anhalu has been stormed. The Muslims have been beaten. The French authorities have crossed the red line, and the coming days are not good. France declares war on muslims and islam. the great mosque of clichy in paris and anhalu has been stormed."
All the four videos have the same caption.
We found that none of the videos are connected to the recent violence in France with one video from a demonstration in Germany, two from protests in Italy against restrictions in place to control the spread of COVID-19 and one from an old incident in France.
FIRST AND SECOND VIDEO
We found that two of the viral videos are from the same incident in Naples, Italy. We analysed both and identified the language in one of the videos as Italian. Using this as a clue we looked for reports of recent violent protests in Italy and found visuals from riots in Naples when residents protested against restrictions in place for COVID-19.
We found a tweet from October 25 which had a video matching visuals as in the viral video.
Same people and scenes can be seen in the above video by Hooligans TV and in the viral video. We also found one of the videos tweeted by a local journalist, on Oct 24, the day of the riots explaining how protesters attacked police vehicles. Journalist Pierpaolo Matrone tweeted the video with Napoli riots in the caption and called the protesters shamefu for attacking the police.
According to media reports, massive violent protests have broken out across several cities in Italy following new restrictions and lockdown in place to fight the second wave of the COVID-19 in the country. The BBC reported that in Naples, a big crowd gathered in the central Piazza del Plebiscito, asking for the regional governor to resign.
The third video, where one can hear crowds chanting Allah -Hu - Akbar on a busy street, is from January 2020, when many gathered to protest against China's atrocities on Uighur muslims.
We noticed 'Polizei' written on the van featured several times in the video which is Police in German. Using this is a cue we ran a search in German for 'Muslims protest' and found that the video has been online since January 2020. Scanning through some captions on Facebook posts dating back to January, we found that around 2000 people participated in a demonstration held in Hamburg, against atrocities on Uighur muslims in China.
According to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), a German news outlet, a demonstration was organised by a group against China at Steindamm in Hamburg-St. George. We then ran the same search on YouTube and found the same video uploaded on Jan 15, 2020 titled in German, 11.01.2020 Uiguren Demo in Hamburg which translates to, "Uyghur demo in Hamburg"
We also found a tweet by Documenting Oppression Against Muslims (DOAM) with visuals from the same protest from a different angle. The tweet from January 12 descrbes the video as, "Thousands attended a demonstration in solidarity with #Uyghur Muslim yesterday in #Hamburg, #Germany."
We found that this video though from France is old and unrelated to the recent protests.
A reverse image search for one of the keyframes in the video showed results for a mosque in Clichy, a suburb in Paris, France. One of the results was for a YouTube video from March 23. 2017 with the title translating to, "Heart touching ! Muscular evacuation of the mosque in downtown Clichy-la-Garenne"
This video uploaded by a local news site, is slightly longer than the viral video and shows the same scenes with the location also the same. We then looked for news reports about the incident and found several local stories that claimed that Clichy police entered a mosque in rue d'Estienne-d'Orves area after its lease was not renwed by the municipal body.
We also found Facebook pages of other mosques in Paris sharing the same video condemning the action of the police.
The beheading of the teacher in France has led to old videos and images from France being revived with false claims linking it to the beheading incident. BOOM has debunked two more such fake claims around the attack on the French teacher.
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