Czech tabloid uses old video from French taxi drivers' protest, claims it is of current protests by immigrants
The Czech tabloid news server ParlamentníListy.cz has used its Facebook profile to manipulate its readers once again. The server has published year-old video footage of protesters throwing tires at cars as they drive by, captioning the footage with the sentence "This is Paris".
Readers have mistakenly associated the images with current protests in France in the aftermath of a police officer using a truncheon to anally rape a young man. The "hard core fans" of this Czech server, which regularly publishes disinformation, discussed the message they received from the video in their online comments.
The footage of the demonstration in Paris is actually of taxi drivers protesting in January 2016. A reportage about the January 2016 taxi driver protest was broadcast, for example, by the Euronews television network.
The dramatic video from a Paris ring road shows a group of people throwing tires at cars as they drive past and attempting to stop them in other ways before setting the tires on fire in the road and almost bringing traffic to a standstill. Police eventually bring it all to an end.
The video is not, however, from the current protests by immigrants in France against police brutality, as the Czech tabloid readers were led to believe. In January 2016 the taxi drivers were protesting the Uber service in Paris.
As of 25 February 2017 this misleading use of the video had been shared more than 5 600 times, including by Czech-language readers abroad in Germany or Slovakia. Most of them had a clear opinion of it, as exemplified by a Facebook user posting under the name Veronika Dostálová.
"Well, what are we to expect, these are the culturally-enriching Neanderthals - they don't know how to do anything but herd goats and make a mess," Dostálová commented online, making a clear reference to the presumed "inadaptability" of immigrants in France. Another reader, posting through an anonymous, fake profile, states: "I'm sad that we don't have this in our country yet. I really would like to ask our leaders: 'Speed it up, please, so we can fully enjoy being culturally enriched by immigrants. Why should they enjoy them only in Western Europe? Are they any better over there than we are?' "
While that reader fell for the disinformation, others have warned that the post is a hoax. Those who already shared the disinformation have an easy answer to that revelation, though.
"Even if this video is, as I am reading here, one year old, that doesn't alter the fact that Paris has changed unbelievably, and unfortunately for the worse," posted a Facebook user named Irena Víšková Havlová. "This happened in their suburbs and the fact that our respected Czech Television preferred not to mention it will decidedly not be remedied by the opinions of some of our local optimists."
Current protests against police rape in Paris
The protests with which the Czech tabloid readers have now associated the year-old video began at the beginning of this month in a northern suburb of Paris inhabited predominantly by immigrant families. Violent unrest broke out there in response to a brutal police intervention against a 22-year-old black youth named Théo that involved anal rape.
As part of a raid against drug traffickers, police officers were stopping young men and asking them to show their identification. Théo is said to have resisted, so police first beat him brutally and then anally raped him with a truncheon, causing him serious injuries for which he was hospitalized.
The authorities have suspended the four intervening police officers from duty and are investigating rape charges against the 27-year-old officer allegedly responsible for injuring the detainee's rectum. During the subsequent protests against the police rape, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at officers and set anything they could on fire, including bus stops, cars and trash cans.
French President François Hollande visited the injured youth in the hospital, accompanied by television cameras, and Théo called on locals to stop their violence as part of that reporting. His sister, a professional handball player, also called for calm but emphasized that the family wants justice.
Théo said that during the rape he had believed he might die. He said the officers forced the truncheon into his rectum, sprayed tear gas into his face and mouth, and beat his head.
During the assault the officers reportedly shouted abuse at him, calling him a "bitch". The British newspaper the Guardian quoted him as saying that he "was walking only because they were holding me up."
The young man had to undergo emergency surgery to repair his rectum. Doctors estimate he will need three months to recover.
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