Image from Belgium misinterpreted to show pro-refugee rally in France in 2016

By: Ankita Kulkarni
July 6 2023

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Image from Belgium misinterpreted to show pro-refugee rally in France in 2016


The Verdict False

The image was taken in 2015 during a solidarity march for refugees in Brussels. It does not show “France in 2016."

Claim ID 7716a43e


Several posts on social media have been fueling anti-immigrant narratives in France amid the civil unrest that broke out nationwide in response to the fatal shooting of a teenager by the police on June 27. One such post on Twitter includes a collage of two pictures: the first is an image of people marching with a banner that reads, "They are not dangerous, They are in danger! #Refugees Welcome," and has the label "France in 2016" on it; The second shows an image of burning vehicles and is labeled "France in 2023." The post caption reads, "I see that worked out great for them. France 2016 vs 2023." The tweet, viewed over 6.1 million times, insinuates that France's pro-immigrant policies are to be blamed for the recent protests. The photo in the tweet shared with the claim that it shows a pro-refugee rally held in France in 2016 has also been circulating on Facebook with similar claims. However, the image is from Belgium. 

In Fact

We ran the first photo through a reverse image search and found the same visuals, although taken from a different angle, in an image published by Getty Images on September 27, 2015. The image was credited to Dursun Aydemir of Anadolu Agency. The image description read: "Hundreds of demonstrators carry placards, banners with slogans and flags as they attend a solidarity march for refugees in Brussels, Belgium on September 27, 2015." The slogan on the banner is the same as in the viral post. Three people behind the banner wearing red and yellow shirts can be spotted in both photographs. 

We also came across the first image in a report published by VRT broadcaster—a national public-service broadcaster for the Flemish Community in Belgium— on September 27, 2015. According to the report, 15,000-20,000 people walked from the North Station to Jubelpark in Brussels in a solidarity march to show support for refugees coming to Belgium. 

Although several rallies were held in France in 2015 in solidarity with migrants, the viral photo was not taken during one such demonstration. The image is evidently from Belgium. 

However, the second image from the viral post is from the recent protests in France. Reuters published the photo on June 28 with the caption: "Firefighters stand as they extinguish burning vehicles during clashes between protesters and police, after the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, Paris suburb, France, June 28, 2023."

The Verdict

A photograph of a pro-refugee rally shared on social media claiming it shows "France in 2016" is, in fact, from Belgium and was taken in 2015.

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before