Did an "arson attack on the Bibliothèque nationale de France" (National Library of France) on July 3, 2023, destroy "thousands of books and manuscripts"? No, that's not true: The video in a social media post shows a fire at the historic Manila Central Post Office in the Philippine capital on May 21, 2023.
The claim appeared in a post and video on Instagram published on July 4, 2023, under the title "🔥 France's national library being culturally enriched." The caption said:
📍 Paris, France
❓ How do you feel about the arson attack on the Bibliothèque nationale de France?
This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Jul 5 14:42:56 2023 UTC)
The caption continued:
📰 According to Reuters, a group of masked assailants set fire to the main building of the library on Monday night, destroying thousands of books and manuscripts, some of which date back to the Middle Ages. The attackers left behind graffiti that read "Death to France" and "Allahu Akbar".
🔎 The New York Times reported that the French authorities have launched a terrorism investigation into the incident, which they believe was carried out by radical Islamists. President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack as an "act of barbarism" and vowed to protect the country's cultural heritage.
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💬 "This is not only an attack on a library, but on the soul of France, on its history, on its identity. This is an attack on civilization itself." - Jean-Michel Blanquer, French Minister of Education
👇 Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
⚠️ Fact check: The Bibliothèque nationale de France is one of the oldest and largest libraries in the world, with over 40 million items in its collection. It was founded in 1368 by King Charles V and has survived wars, revolutions, and fires. It is considered a symbol of French culture and a treasure of humanity. (100% accurate) (Warning: This content may contain misinformation or errors. Please do your own research before trusting or sharing it.)
🔗 Sources: Reuters, The New York Times
#france #library #arson #journalism #news
The post comes with its own cautionary label, suggesting readers should not trust its contents. It says:
(Warning: This content may contain misinformation or errors. Please do your own research before trusting or sharing it.)
And that warning is not wrong. The post comes loaded with errors.
A Google News search for a fire at the National Library of France produced no evidence of one on July 3, 2023. The attributions in the social media post of reporting by Reuters and The New York Times about such a fire are fictitious, as are quotes attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron and former French Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer.
Additionally, a Google reverse image search using a screenshot from the post on Instagram (above) matched with multiple news articles about the May 21, 2023, fire in the Philippine capital. See below:
(Source: Google screenshot taken on Wed Jul 5 14:42:56 2023 UTC)
Manila Public Information Office
A video posted to Facebook on May 21, 2023, from the Manila Public Information Office also shows the fire:
Bureau of Fire Protection
On June 8, 2023, the Bureau of Fire Protection in the Philippines released a statement on its investigation into the fire, saying the cause was a car battery explosion in a "lower ground storage area" of the building.
The only part of the post that appears to be largely true is the section marked "⚠️ Fact check." It gives a bit of the history of the National Library of France. The post says:
The Bibliothèque nationale de France is one of the oldest and largest libraries in the world, with over 40 million items in its collection. It was founded in 1368 by King Charles V and has survived wars, revolutions, and fires. It is considered a symbol of French culture and a treasure of humanity. (100% accurate)
Lead Stories has already debunked another claim involving widespread protests that erupted in France in late June 2023 and early July 2023 over the death of a teenager of Algerian descent who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop: Fact Check: Image Does NOT Show French Protesters In Apparently Stolen Police Van In July 2023 -- It's From A Movie