A video is viral on social media, where one can see flames engulfing the sky at what seems to be an open-air festival with large white tents. A car can be seen moving backwards in order to avoid the fire and, people can be heard screaming at a distance. The video has been viral with the claim that Muslims attacked the Eritrean community festival in Sweden.

@MrSinha_ who uses Twitter to generate and amplify misinformation on a regular basis, shared the video tagging journalists Ravish Kumar and Rajdeep Sardesai. He claimed Muslims had attacked the festival and asked the scribes whether the fire in Sweden had also been caused by Monu Manesar. His tweet generated over 5 Lakh views. (Archive).

Monu Manesar is a Bajrang Dal leader from Haryana and cow vigilante accused in the murder of two Muslim youths in February.

While sharing the same video, Twitter user @aquibmir71 claimed it was Muslims who attacked the Eritrean community festival. (Archive)

Another handle by the name ‘Izlamic Terrorist’ (@raviagrawal3) shared the video and wrote it was an arson attack by Muslims.

Fact Check

First, we broke down the video into multiple key-frames using a video verification tool and ran a reverse image search. It led us to a video story by a German Television News channel Welt, which covered the Eritrean community festival in Stockholm, capital of Sweden on August 3. At the 0:30-minute mark, it shows portions of the viral video.

The ‘description’ section of the video contains a detailed report about the incident. It says, “… more than 50 were injured and around 100 arrested during a pro-government Eritrean festival near the Swedish capital Stockholm. Violent riots broke out during a gathering of government opponents near the festival site, police said on Thursday. According to images from the venue, several cars and at least one tent were set on fire… The tabloid “Expressen” reported that around a thousand anti-government demonstrators broke through a police barrier during a legally registered protest and stormed the festival. The demonstrators tore down marquees and used tent poles as weapons against police officers.”

Eritrea is a African country on the shores of the Red Sea. According to a report in The Guardian, “Human rights groups have long described the east African nation as one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country has never held an election since it gained independence from Ethiopia three decades ago. Refugees from the country have described a police state of forced labour, where young men and women are forced into military conscription and the civil service where they face torture and sexual harassment. The conditions have prompted millions to flee the country in recent decades.”

The report adds that similar anti-government clashes were reported in various cities, including Toronto, Seattle and Stockholm.

In order to find out more about the particular clash in Stockholm, we went through several news reports. According to a report by AP, “Sweden is home to tens of thousands of people with Eritrean roots. The festival devoted to the cultural heritage of Eritrea is an annual event that has been held since the 1990s but has been criticized for allegedly serving as a promotional tool and source of money for the African nation’s government.”

Another report by WFMG News said, ‘… festivals held by Eritrea’s diaspora in Europe and North America have been attacked by exiles whom the regime dismisses as “asylum scum.” People who fled the Horn of Africa nation say the violence against festivals in Germany, Sweden and Canada are protests against a repressive government that’s been described as the “North Korea of Africa.”

According to the Guardian, anti-government demonstrators had been authorised to hold a protest near the festival at Stockholm. But during the protest, many of them, nearly around 1,000 anti-government demonstrators broke through a police barrier and tore down festival tents, setting booths and vehicles on fire. “This is not a festival, they are teaching their children hate speech,” protester Michael Kobrab told Swedish broadcaster TV4.

We can thus conclude that the claim in the viral video that the attackers were Muslim is fabricated and false. The attackers at the Eritrean Community Festival in Stockholm were anti-government protesters who were unhappy with the present regime in Eritrea.

Shryatama Datta is an intern at Alt News.

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