Video shows Eid al-Fitr prayers in Moscow, not 'Friday prayers before riots in Paris'

A video of thousands of Muslims praying in a street has been viewed hundreds of times in social media posts that falsely claim it shows prayers in Paris just before riots in the French capital, which saw intense urban violence sparked by the police killing of a teenager on June 27, 2023. But the video was in fact filmed outside a mosque in the Russian capital Moscow, where worshippers gather every year to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

“It is the Friday before the riots in Paris, look and think. If you don't wake up it will be the picture of tomorrow's India," reads the Hindi-language caption of a video shared on Facebook here on July 6, 2023.

The video, which has been viewed more than 200 times, appears to show thousands of Muslims praying in the streets surrounding a mosque.

"This is the last option, if you can save anything then save your country, otherwise be ready to run away like Kashmir. God only gives a chance ... He won’t come to save you" it continues to say, referring to how around 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled after violence began in the region in the late 1980s.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on July 11, 2023

The same video was also shared alongside similar claims in Hindi on Twitter and Facebook, as well as in English on Facebook here, garnering more than 1,800 views.

It circulated after France was rocked by violent protests, sparked by a fatal police shooting of a teenager of Algerian origin in the Paris suburb of Nanterre in late June 2023.

The shooting rekindled longstanding frustrations and accusations of systemic racism among France's security forces, and the outpouring of anger saw thousands of buildings and vehicles torched or damaged, AFP reported.

But the video was filmed in Russia's capital Moscow, not Paris, and is unrelated to the protests in the French capital.

Video from Moscow

A reverse image search on Yandex, followed by a keyword search on YouTube, found an identical video was previously posted on May 4, 2022, with a Russian title that reads: "Eid al-Fitr 2022 at the Moscow Cathedral Mosque (1)" (archived link).

The audio in the video appears to have been edited, as the adhan -- the call to prayer -- can be heard throughout the clip, but should only be recited before the prayer.

A further search found that the audio in the clip matches a recording of the adhan recital posted on YouTube here (archived link).

AFP also found shorter videos of Eid al-Fitr prayers in Moscow in early May 2022 on YouTube and Telegram, as well as photos on Twitter, which correspond with scenes from the video that was falsely shared online (archived links here, here and here).

The adhan cannot be heard in these YouTube and Telegram clips.

Below are screenshot comparisons of the video used in the false post (left) and the YouTube video (top right) and a photo shared on Twitter (bottom right), with matching features highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparisons of the video used in the false post (left) and the YouTube video (top right) and a photo shared on Twitter (bottom right)

The same mosque -- the Moscow Cathedral Mosque -- can be seen here on Google Street View (archived links here and here).

Muslims in the Russian capital gathered at Cathedral Mosque for Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the fasting month, on May 2, 2022, the Moscow Times reported (archived link).

The golden- and turquoise-domed Cathedral Mosque, also known as the Moscow Grand Mosque, can host over 10,000 worshippers, but crowds often spill out onto surrounding streets.

AFP published photos of Eid prayers in front of the same mosque in 2014 and in 2017.

AFP earlier debunked another false claim that the clip shows Muslims praying in "secular France".


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