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Old video of burning cars in Paris used to foment anti-Muslim sentiment

A screenshot from the video, originally posted on YouTube in 2015.
A screenshot from the video, originally posted on YouTube in 2015.
3 min

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A video posted on war-enthusiast Facebook page A World At War on November 22 shows a row of cars enveloped by flames on a Parisian street, black smoke billowing up towards the adjacent apartments. The page states that the fire had been started by “Muslim migrants” the night before. But this video is actually more than a year old, and so far there has been no substantiated information about who started the blaze.

The video was posted with the caption, “Muslim Migrants Set Fire to Over 25 Cars in Paris Last Night in an Upper Class section of the city.” By November 25, it had been viewed over 1.3 million times on the group's Facebook page, and also shared on Twitter by "alt-right" accounts.

A World At War describes itself as a "website strictly for those interested in military history, weapons, news, and other information pertaining to war or the military," however much of the content posted on the Facebook page has an anti-Islam and anti-migrant bent. The page has 5,739 likes.

A quick search on YouTube proves that the fire in the video didn’t happen on November 21 this year – it actually broke out on the night of July 13-14, 2015. The video was shot from one of the buildings on the other side of the street and posted on YouTube on July 14.

The French national holiday Bastille Day falls on July 14 and is celebrated across France with fireworks. In large towns, celebrations have occasionally descended into violence or with fires started in public places. Although this is a dramatic example, the known facts are as follows.

Local newspaper Le Parisien reported that a group of young people aged between 14 and 16 years old set fire that July night to a rubbish bin on the avenue Marcel Doret in the 16th arrondissement of the French capital in the early hours of the morning. The fire took, and spread rapidly up the street through a row of parked cars, completely destroying 26 vehicles. When police and firemen arrived, the group of teenagers threw fireworks and projectiles at them.

It's impossible to say whether the group of young people were Muslim or from a migrant background. But the cars were not deliberately burnt -- and once again, the events took place 16 months ago.

To learn how to verify videos yourself, check out the FRANCE 24 Observers’ guide to verifying content on social media networks.

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