DEBUNKED

Photos claiming to show assault on pro-migrant activist are fake

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A series of photos that show a young activist taking off her top to reveal a pro-immigrant message and then being assaulted by a crowd of men have been circulating on several French Facebook pages that are openly anti-immigrant. However, in fact these images were photoshopped to add the political element of migrant rights. The photos actually come from a wild party that had nothing to do with migrants, and took place more than 10 years ago.

The first few photos show a smiling young woman lifting up her T-shirt to expose a banner stretched across her bare breasts that reads "Refugees Welcome". The images that follow show men from the crowd surrounding and assaulting her. The final images show the young woman crying.

The Facebook posts published alongside this series reads: "An activist for migrant rights is sexually assaulted by a crowd… we’ve been warning them this would happen…”

These photos were posted by several anti-immigration groups. However, some social media users expressed doubt about their veracity in the comments section.

The French website Dreuz.info, which claims to be “pro-American, pro-Israeli and neoconservative”, published this series of photos back in April under the headline “‘Refugees welcome’ said this young blonde woman and, then, suddenly…”

The series of photos was also recently shared by several German groups who claimed that extra security precautions would be taken during the famous Oktoberfest beer festival to avoid this kind of incident.

Screengrab of an article published by Dreuz.info about these photos in April 2016. The article is still up on their site.

Screengrabs of a video… from almost 10 years ago!

But this series of images was clearly photoshopped. The sign reading "Refugees Welcome" was lifted from a photo taken during a protest in Germany in September 2015. This was first pointed out by the French website Les Debunkers, which specialises in debunking Internet hoaxes.

The original image of the "Refugees Welcome" sign was taken from this photo (click here to see it) and Photoshopped onto another photo.

The series of images showing the young woman are actually screengrabs from a video that has resurfaced online on multiple occasions. The oldest posting we found was from July 2007, but it did the rounds of the Internet again in 2011, 2013, and 2014. According to the caption written in July 2007, this incident occurred during Spring Break, a famously wild week of US student parties that takes place during an annual holiday from university classes, throughout the United States. Many students also travel abroad for the occasion. Spring Break parties are known for getting out of hand.

This screengrab was taken from the earliest online publication of this video that we could track down.

Some of the websites who shared this series of photos did actually admit that they were photoshopped. However, other sites like Dreuz.info continued to claim that these “authentic” photos show a “feminist and pro-immigration hipster who thinks that all migrants are good and kind”, ignoring comments from their own readers pointing out that the images were photoshopped.

If you want to know how to verify photos and videos circulating on the Internet, check out our guides:

>> How to verify photos and videos on social media networks