A video of a man vandalising a statue is viral on social media with the claim that he is a Muslim migrant in Italy who opposed the nakedness of the statue.

The tweets warn how “secularism” is going to destroy Europe in the coming years. It has been shared on social media with a Hindi caption as well.

[Complete message in Hindi: एक मुस्लिम शरणार्थी इटली में एक मूर्ति को नष्ट कर रहा है, स्पष्ट दिखा रहा है वो एक शांतिदूत हैं शायद यूरोप को नहीं पता कि अगले 5-10 वर्षों में उनके साथ क्या क्या घटने वाला है भारत को सतर्क रहते हुए जल्द से जल्द अवैध बांग्लादेशियों और रोहिंग्या को निकलना चाहिए #इसलिए_nrc_चाहिए]

Alt News has also received multiple requests to verify the clip on its official mobile application. (Android, iOS)

The video has been circulating on Twitter and Facebook since May 2019.

Video from Algeria

A simple keyword search on Google took us to multiple reports related to the incident. According to Step Feed, a MENA-focused news organisation, the incident took place in Algeria in 2017. A Salafist extremist was arrested by the Algerian authorities for vandalising the statue of Ain El Fouara in Setif, Algeria. Daily Mail too reported on the incident, along with the before and after photos of the statue. While Step Feed says the man arrested was a religious fundamentalist, Daily Mail wrote that he was suffering from mental illness.

Step Feed also reported that Azzedine Mihoubi, who was the Minister of Culture at that time, spoke in an Egyptian TV program called “DMC evening”, confirming that the motive behind the attack was religious. He further added that the statue was built 120 years ago and bears a significant cultural value in Algeria and a number of experts were deployed to restore the statue.

In 2018, AP reported a similar incident of a man destroying the statue in Setif, Algeria. The report says that Setif Communications Director Mohamed Touiri said that a Salafist disfigured the face, breasts and arm of the statue. It further adds that Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi suggested in a tweet that the culprit was the same man who damaged the statue in 2017.

According to France24, the Ain El Fouara statue (“the fountain’s source” in English) is a work of French sculptor Francis de Saint-Vidal. It was unveiled in 1898 and has since become a symbolic monument in the town, where it is popular among the locals. Over the years the nakedness of the female figure has caused multiple controversies. On April 22, 1997, it was damaged by a homemade bomb. It was also attacked by a man with a hammer on February 28, 2006. The statue was repaired after each attack.

We have compared a screengrab showing the statue in the video with a publically available photograph of the statue. As evident, it is the same structure in Setif, Algeria.

Thus a video of a man vandalising a statue in Algeria has been falsely shared as a Muslim migrant destroying the structure in Italy. There are contradictory reports on the motive behind the act. While some say it was religious, others claim that the perpetrator was mentally unstable.

About the Author

Kalim is a journalist with a keen interest in tech, misinformation, culture, etc