Fact Check

Does Video Show the Biggest Library in France Burned Down by Protesters?

Misinformation spread online during the massive protests in France in July 2023.

Published Jul 5, 2023

 (Twitter user @roller2426)
Image Via Twitter user @roller2426
Claim:
A video shared on July 5, 2023, authentically showed the biggest library in France being burned down by protesters.
Context

The viral video did not show the biggest library in France being burned down by rioters. Instead, it showed a Manila Central Post Office in the Philippines on fire in May 2023.

On July 5, 2023, multiple social media users and websites shared a video allegedly showing the biggest library in France being burned down by rioters. Although the video was authentic, it didn't show a fire related to the massive protests in the aftermath of the shooting of a 17-year-old in Nanterre during a police check. The viral video showed a Manila Central Post Office in the Philippines that broke out in May 2023

(Twitter user @roller2426, Manila Bulletin)

Google Maps and news reports from various sources such as Manila Bulletin (the Philippines' largest English-language newspaper), CNN Philippines, and Reuters confirmed our findings. The miscaptioned video most probably spread because of the authentic events that took place in Marseille, France. The Bibliothèque l'Alcazar, a library in Marseille, was, in fact, attacked by the rioters due to the massive protests. But it didn't burn down, and as of July 5, 2023, the library has reopened, as various local newspapers reported.

Here's what the library in Marseille looks like.

(Google Maps screenshot of Bibliothèque l'Alcazar)

Given that the verified video visually matches pictures of the Manila Central Post Office and not the library in Marseille, we rate the claim as "Miscaptioned."

One of the Twitter users who shared the footage from the Philippines claiming it showed the library in Marseille admitted it did not show the situation in France. One user commented, "take down the click bait wrong video and repost the correct one," as the miscaptioned footage gained much more attention than its correction.

Since the beginning of the protests in France in late June 2023, Snopes has debunked multiple false claims on the topic. Another video that went viral allegedly showed dozens of cars being set on fire by French protesters. In reality, it showed a fire incident that occurred at an auction yard in Perth, Australia, in April 2023.

What's more, some social media users claimed that France had restricted "all internet access" across the country. That rumor was false, and the French Interior Ministry's Twitter account posted that a document attributed to the ministry was fake and that no such decision had been made.

 

Sources

"5 Firemen, 2 Others Hurt in Fire That Hit Decades-Old Manila Central Post Office." Manila Bulletin, https://mb.com.ph/2023/5/21/fire-hits-manila-central-post-office-1. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Disturbios en Francia: atacaron la casa de un alcalde y hubo más de 700 detenidos | Internacional." Vía País, 2 July 2023, https://viapais.com.ar/internacional/disturbios-en-francia-atacaron-la-casa-de-un-alcalde-y-hubo-mas-de-700-detenidos/.

Editorial, Reuters. Fire Torches Manila Central Post Office | Reuters Video. https://www.reuters.com/video/watch/fire-torches-manila-central-post-office-idOV419122052023RP1. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Fire out Declared at Manila Central Post Office More than 30 Hours after the Blaze Broke Out." Cnn, https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2023/5/23/manila-post-office-fire-out.html. Accessed 5 July 2023.

Gutierrez, Jason. "Fire Guts Manila's Historic Post Office Building." The New York Times, 22 May 2023. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/world/asia/manila-fire-post-office-philippines.html.

LaMagdeleine, Izz Scott. "Did France Announce Restrictions on Internet Access During 2023 Protests?" Snopes, 3 July 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/france-internet-shutdown/.

Loritano, Zoé. "Marseille : la bibliothèque de l'Alcazar réouvre au public." www.lamarseillaise.fr, https://www.lamarseillaise.fr/societe/marseille-la-bibliotheque-de-l-alcazar-reouvre-au-public-FF14447534. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Manila: Huge Fire Guts Historic Post Office Building – DW – 05/22/2023." Dw.Com, https://www.dw.com/en/manila-huge-fire-guts-historic-post-office-building/a-65694003. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Mort de Nahel : tensions à Marseille, des affrontements toujours en cours, la devanture de la bibliothèque de l'Alcazar vandalisée." LaProvence.com, 29 June 2023, https://www.laprovence.com/article/actualites/5135274842858615/mort-de-nahel-tensions-a-marseille-des-affrontements-toujours-en-cours-la-devanture-de-la-bibliotheque-de-lalcazar-vandalisee.

Villiere, Alexis. "Vandalisée par les émeutiers, la bibliothèque de l'Alcazar rouvre par la petite porte." Made in Marseille, 5 July 2023, https://madeinmarseille.net/140664-vandalisee-par-les-emeutiers-la-bibliotheque-de-lalcazar-rouvre-par-la-petite-porte/.

Wrona, Aleksandra. "Does This Video Show Dozens of New Cars Set on Fire by French Protesters?" Snopes, 3 July 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/new-cars-on-fire-france/.

"Youths Clash with French Police and Loot in 4th Night of Riots Triggered by Fatal Police Shooting." AP News, 30 June 2023, https://apnews.com/article/france-police-shooting-nanterre-nahel-9ec58a1219c943b9dd09c41db405c41b.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.

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