One video that was widely shared in the aftermath of the Paris attacks shows a scene of revelry. Men gathered in front of London’s Tooting Broadway Station cheer and fist-pump the air. Full of smiles, some have climbed onto a statue and are waving green flags above their heads.
The title of the clip posted to Facebook: “Muslims Around The World Celebrate The Islamic Victory in Paris France.”
The video was rapidly disseminated, and with it, the outrage.
Social media users pointed to the clip as evidence of violent tendencies in Muslims, while others cited it as a reason to be wary of Syrian refugees. Until Tuesday, only a few ventured to bring up its dubious nature.
After all, the video actually has nothing to do with terrorism — it was filmed in 2009, not last weekend, and it shows Pakistanis celebrating a cricket match victory following the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.
A closer examination of the footage reveals that this context makes a lot more sense. The men are chanting “Pakistan,” wearing green clothing and holding up the green crescent moon flag of Pakistan. The flag of the Islamic State is black and marked by a white circle containing the Seal of Muhammad.
But still the video was shared as depicted as a perverse celebration of tragedy, generating nearly 500,000 views within hours of being posted on the personal Facebook page of a user named Jean-Baptiste Kim.
Though it has since been removed from Facebook, it can still be viewed on YouTube with the incendiary title.
Others have sought to dispel the false claims around the clip, though not nearly to the same viral effect as the original condemnatory posts.
It isn’t the only piece of fake “evidence” for Muslim joy over the Paris attacks to have surfaced in the past few days. Internet users are also sharing an image of a bearded man standing atop a French flag while holding up his right fist. He wears a robe that resembles traditional Islamic garbs for men.
“Oh Look another ‘Moderate Muslim’ Celebrating the Paris Terrorist attacks…,” read one tweet of the photo that has been shared over 1,000 times.
But this image, too, is dated and has no connection to the Paris attacks. A Google search confirms that the photo is two years old, according to The Independent.
Over the weekend, online hoaxers also sought to besmirch the reputation of Veerender Jubbal, a Canadian Sikh man whose smiling bathroom selfie was digitally altered to make it look like he was wearing a suicide bomber vest and holding up the Koran.
In the undoctored photo, Jubbal is wearing only a blue plaid shirt and holding up an iPad.
The Post’s Soraya McDonald reported that a Twitter user with the (now-suspended) handle @abutalut8 had posted the photo along with the caption, “BREAKING, one Islamic State attacker in #ParisAttacks was a sikh convert to Islam.”
A few European news outlets ran the photo as if it were real, while Jubbal, a freelance writer, took to Twitter to clear his name.
“Let us start with basics,” he wrote. “Never been to Paris. Am a Sikh dude with a turban. Lives in Canada.”
While these social media campaigns use fake material, the Islamophobic threats that Muslims have faced since the Paris attacks are real.
Over the weekend, a Canadian mosque was set ablaze and two others in Florida were threatened.
“I’m a red-blooded American watching the news in France,” said one voice mail message left at a St. Petersburg mosque. “Guard your children. I don’t care if you’re extremists or not… Get out of my f—ing country.”
This Monday, a member of the Islamic Center of Pflugerville outside Austin arrived at his mosque to find a torn up Koran covered in feces at the entrance.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, KVUE-TV reports.
A hijab-wearing Toronto woman was attacked Tuesday while going to pick up her son from school, the Associated Press reports. She was punched and kicked by two men who yelled slurs, tried to rip off her hijab and stole her cellphone and some cash.
“There’s no doubt that this is hate-motivated,” police constable Victor Kwong told the AP.
The woman’s brothers told reporters in an emotional address that she had been called “a terrorist” and told to go back home.
In North Carolina, an Ethiopian American Uber driver told WBTV that he was attacked by a passenger who thought he was Muslim.
“He said he’s gonna shoot me right in the face. He’s gonna strangle me,” Samson Woldemichael, a Christian, said of the encounter. “I asked him why. He was calling me too many bad word names…insulting me. He told me I was a Muslim.”
After the man threatened to kill him, Woldemichael asked him to get out of the car, but the passenger refused to leave. He wanted Woldemichael to get out instead.
Then, the passenger began hitting him repeatedly on the forehead. He didn’t get out of the car until Woldemichael started honking his horn in an attempt to get the attention of passersby. As the passenger was leaving, Woldemichael said, “He was saying he would shoot me and he was acting like he’s hiding his hand in his back, so he was acting like he was armed.”
The Uber driver, who arrived in the U.S. from Ethiopia eight years ago, told WBTV: “There are people who are not originally from here but who are really Americans in their hearts. They love the system…They believe in America, so it’s better to work with them than generalizing them and attacking them.”
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