Attention

Is an individual allowed to carry an ISIS flag in public in France?

Islamist walks down French street draped in ISIS flag. Nobody cares.” This tweet in English, accompanied by a picture, has the potential to influence. Especially given that it was posted on Friday, April 21st, the day after the Champs-Elysées attack, and retweeted almost 11,000 times. However, the tweet’s author, British blogger Paul Joseph Watson, is fascinated by conspiracy theories and omits mentioning that the picture was in fact taken long before the attack which caused the death of a policeman, and that several people have already been convicted for carrying this flag.

 

It is impossible to date this picture with absolute certainty. However, the photo did go viral on social media well before 2017. One internet user uploaded it in November 2015, and a month earlier had sent the original version containing a larger background which enabled location identification (notably due to the coffee shop in the background). A search on GoogleMaps confirmed that the picture was indeed taken close to 19 Boulevard du Montparnasse in Paris.

A journalist from AFP, a CrossCheck project partner, contacted the internet user who confirmed having taken this picture himself on July 23rd, 2014, during a demonstration against the Israeli operation “Bordure protectrice à Gaza” (“Protective border in Gaza”). Without having viewed the original it is impossible to confirm this, but this demonstration did take place on July 23rd, 2014.

Some users questioned certain flags held by demonstrators, which are sometimes wrongly mistaken for the Al Nusra Front flag, as it closely resembles the Muslim faith’s flag.

At the time of the demonstration the ISIS (Daesh) flag was not yet known – it was less than a month after ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate.

Furthermore, since the January 2015 attacks committed by the Kouachi brothers claiming Al-Qaeda affiliation and Amédy Coulibaly claiming ISIS affiliation, numerous people have been condemned in France for advocating terrorism through hanging the organization’s banner from their window or selling ISIS flags.

 

False

Misleading

Does Macron advocate pushing ahead with Turkey’s membership of the EU?

On Tuesday, April the 25th, the Facebook page On aime la France claimed that Emmanuel Macron was pushing ahead with Turkey’s membership application to the European Union. In reality, the French Presidential candidate has never supported such a measure. 

“Avec Macron, voilà un nouveau pays dans l’Europe! Je dis non!”“With Macron, here is a new country within Europe! I say no!”; claims the page “On aime la France” (“We love France”), showing a map of Turkey. Nevertheless, pushing forward with Turkey’s membership to the EU is not a step the En Marche! candidate is planning to take.

Translation of the Tweet reads: “Membership of Turkey to the European Union … it’s not going to take long … the bankers are going to make sure of it.” Translation of the text on the image reads: “With Macron, here’s a new country in Europe!! I say NO!!!

 

In an interview conducted on April the 17th 2017 with the news channel BFMTV, Macron declared that there will be “no progression” regarding the discussions on Turkey’s membership of the European Union if he is elected.

“With a government taking those decisions, there will be no progression concerning [Turkey’s] integration within the European Union” in the coming years, asserted the candidate. The comments came the day after a referendum in Turkey gave more powers to the President.  Macron stated that he “regretted profoundly” and “disagreed” with the path taken by the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In the same interview, Emmanuel Macron claimed that “there are thousands, and even millions of voices challenging the referendum result which was very tight”.  For this reason: “everything needs to be done in order to help, support those who are fighting for democracy”. “My wish, is to be able to continue having a European Union and a France which leaves the door open for Turkey’s democrats”, he continued.

False

Misreported

Rumours surrounding the Champs-Elysées attack: two dead, on an extremist watch list, Belgian assailant…

Following the Champs-Elysées terrorist attack on the evening of April 20th, numerous rumours spread on social media, as well as in the mainstream media. Here are the main ones:

 

(Translation: “ATTACK ON THE CHAMPS URGENT POLICE SEARCHING FOR #YoussoufElOsri who arrived with Thalys [a railway operator] from Belgium”)

  • Youssouf El Osri did not arrive from Belgium on a Thalys train

Some Belgian mainstream media and patriotic websites reported that Youssouf El Osri was involved in the attack, and wanted by police. However, this 35-year-old Belgian was not involved in the attack. The Belgian police had only reported him to French authorities because an Anvers-Paris train ticket was found at his home in connection with another inquiry. On April 21st he went to a police station in his city, Anvers, and, according to his lawyer (quoted by the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad) he was working in a gas station on the night of the Champs-Elysées attack. Perhaps the confusion arose from the communique that ISIS sent, via its press agency Amaq, in which it attributes the attack to a certain Abu Yussef, the Belgian. However, according to sources involved in the investigation, the assailant was a 39-year-old Frenchman, named Karim Cheurfi.

  • No second policeman was killed

Quoting a police source, the Reuters Press Agency, the SCP (acronym standing for ‘Syndicat des Commissaires de Police’ – ‘Union of Police Commissioners’), as well as candidate Jean Lassalle on French channel France2, all reported the death of a second policeman during the attack. In reality, according to the Ministry of the Interior, the exact toll was one dead policeman and two other injured policemen.

  • The attacker was not on an extremist watch list

Contrary to many media reports, Karim Cheurfi was not on an extremist watch list (a police tool used to identify an individual when he/she tries to cross national borders). However, his name was listed in a file of alerts in the context of terror and radicalization prevention (FSPRT) since January 2017.  Le Monde states that, in December 2016, Cheurfi had been attracting the attention of intelligence services. On February 23rd, 2017, he had been placed in custody, suspected of planning to kill police officers, but was released the day after due to insufficient evidence, states AFP, quoting sources close to the investigation. In March, the file was taken over by the anti-terrorist division of the Paris prosecution service.

  • No other attacks occurred in Paris

On France 2, right wing candidate François Fillon said: “We are being told that there are other attacks elsewhere in Paris”. Reuters also reported shootings near the Champs-Elysées, but this information was denied by the spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior.

François Fillon’s team explained to AFP that the candidate was referring to the Sentinelle operation, where a soldier was assaulted at the Etienne Marcel metro station, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Colonel Benoît Brulon (also the spokesman of Paris’ military governor) declared that the incident involved a “homeless person who was extremely inebriated”. He also cited the event as a “non-event”.

False

Misreported

Did the French government prevent overseas polling stations from displaying Marine Le Pen’s posters?

On Sunday April 23rd, several Facebook pages and Twitter accounts discussed the fact that Marine Le Pen’s posters were absent from French overseas polling stations. They claimed it was the French government’s decision. This absence is actually due to the fact that the Front National party did not provide them in time.

(Translation: “To not display the posters of a candidate in a national election is an infraction of the electoral code, will @MLP_officiel contest this?“)

« A real state affair, French people living abroad voting this Saturday have no opportunity to see National Front’s Marine Le Pen’s poster. I would be surprised if the candidate had not sent the posters, it has to come from higher up in the government, it’s a scheme! » claimed the website ‘France’s patriots’.

On Twitter, many voters were surprised they did not see the Front National candidate’s posters. Websites Fdesouche and Dreuz also spread the news.

Aucune affiche Marine Le Pen dans les bureaux de vote à l’étranger

The absence of Marine Le Pen’s posters in overseas polling stations is due to the Front National having forgotten to send them in time. «The posters are printed by the candidates themselves and they have to deliver them to the electoral commission before the deadline which was Monday April 10th », explained the Foreign Affairs Ministry to AFP. They added « Due to Marine Le Pen’s poster not having been provided, her board will remain blank. »