Fake News: Video Shows NO Mystery Man "In Muslim Garb" On Notre Dame Tower During Fire

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Video Shows NO Mystery Man "In Muslim Garb" On Notre Dame Tower During Fire

Was some kind of "mystery man", possibly wearing "muslim garb" seen in a brief video clip of one of the towers of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris during the April 15, 2019 fire, supposedly after all the workers left? No, that's not true: clearer footage shows the man is just a fireman.

The video clip started circulating on social media during the fire on April 15, 2019 and it looks like it was filmed by someone pointing a cellphone at a television screen and zooming in:

An example of the video can be seen in this tweet published on April 16, 2019 (archived here) which read:

"@realDonaldTrump ????BREAKING: No workers present at the time that the Notre Dame Cathedral fire started......So who is this guy dressed in Muslim garb?? #The200 https://t.co/cHYlJCcsQr"

French fact checkers looked into the issue:

Notre-Dame : qui est cette personne en gilet jaune sur une tour qui affole les réseaux sociaux étrangers ?

Question posée par Thomas Benoit le 16/04/2019 Bonjour, "Des personnes commencent à partager cette vidéo d'une télé espagnole montrant une personne évoluer sur une tour de Notre-Dame, suggérant qu'elle pourrait être de confession musulmane d'après les vêtements", écrivez-vous dans votre question en nous renvoyant vers une publication Facebook peu relayée, qui demande en anglais : "Pas de travailleurs sur le site.

They found the same video in this tweet with over 200K views at the time (over 600K now):

From looking at partial captions on the screen they were able to determine it was footage being broadcasted live by Spanish network RTVE.ES. The same live stream was also carried by CNBC and at 42:05 you can clearly see the man in question walk by:

Because this is a direct video feed and not a cellphone video of a television screen the colors and details are much clearer. The man is wearing a yellow high visibility vest and a shiny helmet, not a "muslim garb". At the start of the video the fire is already quite big and at the moment the man walks by one can also see jets of water being sprayed against the side of the tower by the fire brigade.

This would seem to indicate the fire brigade was on the scene already at the time the footage was shot. At the 30:30 mark in the video several other firemen can be seen standing in the same place:

And at the 42:50 mark, barely 45 seconds after the "mystery man" walked by, more firemen can be seen coming out of the door he went into, seemingly inspecting or pulling a firehose or a cable:

So yeah, it was just a fireman.

  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion