A video of protestors ransacking an outlet of restaurant chain McDonald’s went viral on Twitter with the claim insinuating that the protesters were Muslim immigrants who created havoc in the French capital. The video has the text ‘Paris’ superimposed on it. The viral video is actually a compilation of multiple clips of masked protesters vandalizing stores and torching vehicles and furniture amidst billowing smoke and burning debris. A large presence of police personnel and fire tenders can also be seen in the video.

Twitter user @i_desi_surya shared the clip on April 1 with the caption “…Rampant R@pes, MurdE##, Abuses and security issues engulf France now .. no points guessing whom they allowed to “peacefully settle” Blame?” The phrase “peacefully settle” is a sarcastic jibe at the Muslim community. The post has garnered approximately 1000 likes and 600 retweets. (Archive)

Another user, @NagarJitendra, shared the video with the caption – ‘पेरिस में भी क्या कोई #रामनवमी का जुलूस निकला था??’ (Translation: Did any #RamNavami procession take place in Paris as well??). The post which has received over 2000 likes and 1200 retweets, refers to the clashes that took place on Ram Navami across India and alludes that Muslims were also responsible for the riot in Paris. (Archive)

The video is also viral on Facebook.

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Fact Check

We did a keyword search on Youtube about a possible riot in Paris and came across multiple reports of the incident. The video posted by The Guardian on March 24, 2023, shows the same event in question from a different angle. According to the video description, Thursday, March 23, marked the ninth day of protests across France, as a record turnout of protesters took to the streets to rally against Emmanuel Macron’s pensions reform. It also states that some masked protesters were seen vandalizing and smashing shop windows, including fast food restaurant McDonald’s. The French president used controversial executive powers to push through the bill that will raise the pension age. On March 22, Macron defended his decision to pass the bill which, in turn, catalyzed further protests and violence.

A comparison of screenshots from the two videos indicates that both footage are from the same incident.

Another video of the same event was shared by Newshub. A parallel comparison of the two footage (from different angles) confirms that the footage from the viral video is of the same event. The image of the building beside the red balloon is visible in both clips.

According to a report published by AlJazeera, demonstrators were agitating against the pension reform bill introduced by the Macron government, which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. The ongoing protests and strikes have been led by trade unions and labourers against the pension reform. However, there was no mention of any particular religious group participating in the demonstration or any communal motive. Hence, the communal angle of the incident is entirely false.

A screen grab of the report published by Al Jazeera.

To summarize, a video showing French protesters vandalizing restaurants and public properties has gone viral on social media with a false claim that the protesters were Muslims. This comes right after several incidents of communal riots were reported across West Bengal, Gujarat, and Bihar during Ram Navami on March 30. However, upon fact-checking the claim, we came to know that the French demonstrators were primarily trade union members who were protesting against the French government’s pension reform. There is no evidence of any communal motive or participation of any particular religious group in the protest.

Abira Das is an intern at Alt News.

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