DEBUNKED

Did France's Marine Le Pen really say African leaders were banned from French hospitals? Nope.

A false quote attributed to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen started circulating on Facebook in mid-March, right in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. (credit: France 24)
A false quote attributed to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen started circulating on Facebook in mid-March, right in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. (credit: France 24)

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Did French far-right politician Marine Le Pen really say that “no African leaders will be accepted in French hospitals” during the coronavirus pandemic as they had “the past 60 years to build [their own] decent hospitals”? That’s what many people have been claiming on Facebook and Twitter in the past week. It turns out

that Le Pen said no such thing… but we found the person who did.

This quote attributed to Le Pen was posted by a number of different Facebook accounts. They circulated widely-- just one of these posts has been shared more than 11,000 times.

Several websites also picked up this quote, including this one, which cites British daily newspaper The Telegraph as a source. However, there is absolutely no sign of this quote if you search the pages of the Telegraph. The newspaper confirmed they had never published the quote.

The Rassemblement National (National Rally), Le Pen’s party (formerly known as the National Front) also denied that their leader had ever uttered these words, calling them “fake news".

We used the site whopostedwhat to find the first account that shared this rumour online. 

We contacted the person who runs that account and he admitted that he invented the quote: "It was my own personal inspiration because I am extremely angry at African leaders who only think about power and forget their own people. These are people who go get medical care in the West. After I learned the good news that the airports had been shut down, I was inspired." 

He added: "I wanted to spread a message that would reach them from a well-known person and Marine Le Pen is well-placed!" 

This is an example of a piece of fake information that starts off as a joke but is then shared by others as if it were a real quote.

It’s especially unlikely that Le Pen would have said such a thing considering the close ties that her family has maintained with certain African leaders. In her 2017 presidential campaign, Le Pen proposed a “new partnership” between Europe and Africa, so the two continents would be able to live their "own identities in peace, sincerity and prosperity.”