Viral video does not show a library in France set ablaze by protestors

By: Rajini KG
July 6 2023

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Viral video does not show a library in France set ablaze by protestors


The Verdict False

A video of a post office building burning in the Philippines has been misinterpreted as Alcazar Library in Marseille, France.

Claim ID 5131aba2


A video of a large building engulfed in flames is going viral with the claims that it shows a library in France destroyed by protestors. Social media posts have claimed that the building on fire is the Alcazar Library in Marseille. The video has also been shared with anti-immigrant narratives that have dominated misinformation on civil unrest in France sparked by the killing of a 17-year-old teenager by a police officer last week. A tweet with the video read, "#BREAKING In Marseille, migrants burned one of the largest libraries in (France). The Alcazar Library's collection contained almost a million documents, 350,000 of which were in the public domain. In particular, medieval manuscripts and unique editions." This tweet alone had over 51,000 views at the time of publishing.

Another tweet sharing the video claimed, "Rioters have destroyed the largest library in France with fire. The Alcazar Library in Marseille included an archive of one million rare and historically significant documents. Not a bad thing if you're trying to erase history and rewrite it (sic)." The video is also circulating on TikTok and YouTub. However, the video is from the Philippines and not France.

In Fact

We ran screengrabs from the viral clip through a Google reverse image search and found that the same video was shared on TikTok on May 22 by user 'dk_bh_99'. In the comments, another user pointed out that the video is of a post office building in Manila. 

On searching for reports on fires in Manila, we found that Reuters had uploaded a video report on YouTube on May 22 showing the Manila Post Office up in flames. It was captioned, "Fire torches historic Philippines post office." The video report showed zoomed-out visuals of the post office, but the structure of the building and the background are the same as in the viral clip. A fire officer in the report said that the fire started at the general services office in the basement of the post office and later engulfed the entire building. 

The YouTube channel of Manila Bulletin Online, a news outlet based in the Philippines, had also shared similar visuals of fire tearing through the post office building. The description read, "The Manila Central Post Office in Lawton, Manila, was hit by a massive fire on Sunday night, May 21."

Photos of the building seen in the viral clip and the reports posted by Reuters and Manila Bulletin Online were also posted on Facebook by 'Txtfire Philippines' and 'Arranque Volunteer Fire Brigade' on May 22, weeks before protests erupted in France. 

On June 8, the Philippines' Bureau of Fire Protection said in a statement online that the fire that broke out at the Manila Post Office was due to a car battery explosion in the lower ground storage area. At least seven people were injured in the incident, AP News reported.

We also compared images of Marseille's Alcazar library available on the stock photo website Alamy to the visuals in the viral video. The latter does not show the red color arch at the library's entrance and the black grills surrounding it. All this proves that the clip doesn't show the Alcazar library burning and is of fire at the Manila Post Office.

However, French news outlets did report that the Alcazar library was targeted by protesters recently. LaProvence, a local news website from Marseille, reported that on June 29, protestors attacked the library at night, and cans and garbage were burnt in front of the library. Another regional news website LaMarseillaise also mentioned in a report that the facade of the library was damaged, but none of the books or documents were destroyed. 

The police later barricaded the library, Marseille's deputy mayor Jean-Marc Coppola said in a tweet. He also told the media on June 30 that the library was damaged a little, but reinforcements were sent to the spot to protect it and that it will remain closed for a few days. 

The Verdict

The viral video is from the Philippines, where the Central Post Office in Manila caught fire due to a car battery malfunction. The video does not show a library in France and predates the recent protests in the European nation.

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