During the night of the 23rd to 24th of March, thirteen tombs in the Jewish section of the cemetery of Pantin in Paris were damaged. Rumours of vandalism and desecration spread across social networks. In reality, this was an accident: a truck hit the tomb stones while trying to avoid a car.
Cimetière de Pantin..des tombes juives vandalisées..dans la nuit de Jeudi à Vendredi . pic.twitter.com/diQ33lGpny
— 🇫🇷Salat Bernard ⚖️ (@bernardsala) March 24, 2017
(Translation: ‘Pantin cemetery… Jewish tombs vandalized… during the night of Thursday to Friday.’)
On March 24th the website Europe Israel claimed that: “dozens of tombs have been destroyed and/or vandalized”. Two days later the same publication claimed to have received photographs and videos from the public and reported in an article that: “all reach the same conclusion: the theory of the road accident is highly unlikely”.
Photo prise ce matin : cimetière de Pantin, carré juif : un "camion fou" ? Faut arrêter de nous mentir et de nous prendre pour des cons…! pic.twitter.com/SW2Paj2Vqc
— ((( isabelle✡️))) (@frisson2com) March 26, 2017
(Translation: “Picture taken this morning: Pantin cemetery, Jewish section: a “crazy truck”? People need to stop lying and treating us like idiots…!’)
The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) denounced the panic observed on social networks in an editorial. “A simple news story that occurred last Monday and was treated and reported as such over the following week turned into digital delirium over the weekend”, lamented the president of the CRIF, Francis Kalifat. “If the authors of the rumors had asked the relevant persons what had happened, they wouldn’t have got the social networks excited over nothing. They wouldn’t have created as much buzz or generated as many likes or shares. They would, however, have demonstrated responsible behavior”.
"Je suis surpris des proportions que prend cette affaire, il s'agit d'un accident de la route, certes dans un cimetière.." https://t.co/JuZXAgETmH
— Francis Kalifat (@FrancisKalifat) March 28, 2017
(Translation: ‘I am surprised by the extent to which this affair is being blown out of proportion, we are dealing with a road accident, albeit in a cemetery…’)
In a press release on March 26th, Paris City Hall confirmed that a police investigation had established the truck driver’s responsibility for the accident and determined that the truck was driving over the speed limit. The municipality has committed to restore the damaged tombs as soon as is possible.
Matthieu Lamarre, press advisor to the mayor of Paris, shared two pictures of the truck. The pictures had been taken by the authorities responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery .
Lamarre told CrossCheck that: “the truck could not be removed from the cemetery for over two days and we had to use a crane to remove it”.
— Matthieu (@mr_matth) March 27, 2017
(Translation: ‘2 photos for those who continue to say that the tombs of the #Pantin cemetery were desecrated. No, it was indeed a road accident.’)