4 December 2023
Fact checkOut of context

Out of context: Video showing Muslim street prayers in France is six years old

The 2017 clip shows Muslims praying in the street as a form of protest against the closure of a popular prayer hall in Paris.

A series of viral posts (here and here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows a video of a group of people carrying out prayers in France.

One account says despite having 3,500 mosques, the Muslims pray in the streets to show their presence in France, implying that this is “a process of irreversible Islamization.”

There has long been tension in France regarding Muslim population in the country. As of Nov. 8, 2023, the post has 2.9 million views, with 23,000 likes and almost 7,000 reposts.

The video shows a group of Muslims kneeling and praying on a street outside a city hall in France.

The comments under the tweets show that users believe the Muslims in the video are “sending a politically motivated message” and that the act is an “invasion.” One user commented, “they await the order to attack.” Several users also questioned why the Muslims were praying in the streets.

Annie Lab investigated the video and found the claim and comments to be out of context.

The video was taken in March 2017 while a group of Muslims protested against the closure of a prayer hall in Clichy, a suburban area in Paris.

We have geolocated the identical video on YouTube posted in 2017.

A comparison of the misleading video and the YouTube video (left) indicated the viral video was taken years before. The protest took place in the street of Clichy (right).

News reports by the Associated Press, which were published by Hindustan Times and Detroit News, also said the protest was about the closure of their prayer hall within the city hall in Clichy (Mairie de Clichy).

Islam is France’s second-largest religion. Reportedly, the country has a chronic shortage of Mosques for its estimated five million Muslims.

According to the local media, Muslims in Clichy had been using a prayer hall rented from Mairie de Clichy, but the town mayor decided to close it and turned the space into a multimedia library for the town’s residents.

France24 reported in November of the same year that the street prayers took place every Friday for months. BBC said it prompted counter-protests from French politicians who stated that the prayers were an unacceptable use of public space in France’s secular system.

There were some minor skirmishes as French officials and residents tried to block them from praying in the street, but there were no reported casualties, as far as Annie Lab can tell.

Currently, the website of Mairie de Clichy shows no indication of the presence of a prayer hall but includes a media library as one of its facilities.

Website of Mairie de Clichy showing a media library (encircled in yellow) as one of its facilities