BJP member Surendra Poonia shared a photograph of protestors holding ‘Refugees Welcome’ placards. Their faces are masked. Poonia alleges that the man in the middle is French teacher Samuel Paty who was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov on October 16. Anzorov was born in Moscow and came to France with refugee status as a boy.

Poonia’s tweet, promoting anti-immigrant sentiment, said, “The person standing in the middle in the photo is the same teacher beheaded by a Jihadi in Paris. A few years ago he was welcoming refugees coming to France but little did he know that the refugees will behead him. This is for those ******* who want Rohingyas to settle in India.” As of this writing, the tweet drew over 2,000 retweets and more than 5,000 likes.

The tweet was picked up on Facebook and shared by several users assuming the claim to be true.

The photograph is also circulating on 4chan boards with the identical claim.

False claim

Poonia’s claim that Samuel Paty is the man in the middle is false for the following reasons:

1. Everyone in the photo is wearing masks thus it could not have been shot “a few years ago” in the pre-COVID era.

2. The group is not welcoming refugees to “France” as the image was taken in Kent, UK. A police van in the background reads “Kent Police”.

3. The placard carries a logo of ‘Good Chance’, a community based out of the UK that empowers artists through theatre and art. They predominately work in areas with high refugee populations to create opportunities.

4. The image was uploaded by Good Chance on October 17, a day after Sameul Paty’s murder. As per the tweet, it was shot in Folkestone, Kent.

“Hundreds of people lined the streets in Folkestone to welcome refugees today (October 17). Asylum seekers are currently being housed at Napier Barracks following their arrival in the UK. Supporters gathered from around 11am and then held up signs, played music, danced and called out to the residents at the camp,” according to KentLive.

Surendra Poonia, therefore, attempted to pass off a week-old photograph of a group welcoming refugees in the UK as an old photograph of French teacher Samuel Paty who was recently beheaded in France by a Moscow-born teenager for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad during a class about freedom of speech, in relation to the Charlie Hebdo case.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.