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DEBUNKED

No, bells didn't ring across Paris to celebrate the election of Joe Biden

Did bells ring in the Paris region to celebrate Joe Biden's victory as a video claims?
Did bells ring in the Paris region to celebrate Joe Biden's victory as a video claims?
Text by: Alexandre Capron
5 min

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Shortly after the announcement of Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential election on November 7, internet users shared a video showing churches ringing their bells in the Paris region. According to these users, these churches were expressing their joy at the election of the Democratic candidate. In fact, these bells rang for a completely different reason.

On Saturday November 7, the Associated Press officially relayed that Joe Biden was the winner of the US presidential election at 11:25 am in the Eastern Time Zone, 5:25 pm Paris time, announcing that he had just won the state of Pennsylvania.

At 5:45 pm, a Twitter user posted a video filmed in the Paris region, with the Eiffel Tower visible in the distance and the sound of church bells ringing. She wrote: "The bells ring in Paris at 5:45 pm, Biden/Harris, the world is watching us! ". Many internet users shared her video, which was viewed more than 1.5 million times and reposted on YouTube.

Why it's wrong

Contacted by FRANCE 24 Observers on Sunday 8 November, the diocese of Paris first explained that it was not aware of any bells ringing in connection with the election of Joe Biden, as no instructions had been given to this effect.

The diocese of Nanterre, in the Hauts-de-Seine department, sent us a communiqué at the end of the day on November 8 detailing the reasons for which the bells rang:

 

In the diocese of Nanterre, most churches’ bells are automatically programmed to call the faithful to gather for Masses or for other celebrations. As every Saturday evening at 5:45 p.m., bells of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church in Meudon rang to announce the Mass at 6 p.m.

This weekend, it was confirmed that religious services were banned by the French state due to the Covid-19 crisis. Several parishes were awaiting the return of Conseil d’Etat and the summary judge as to the effective suspension, or not, of the restrictions taken during the state of emergency [...]. The answer having been published late yesterday, some of our bell towers could not be moved and announced celebrations which unfortunately could not finally take place. This is the case for the bells of the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church in Meudon, which can be seen and heard in a video shared on social media by a resident of the city.

Below is the full press release:

The internet user who posted the video has since deleted it. In another tweet, she explained that she had checked the time of filming, which could "correspond with Vespers celebrations [an evening prayer service observed by Catholics, editor's note]" adding that "maybe I was just caught up in emotion, but it was a lovely coincidence".

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