Video of Eid al-Fitr celebration in Moscow misrepresented following French elections

After France's left-wing coalition came out on top in the second round of 2024 parliamentary elections, social media users shared a video they claimed shows Muslim worshipers in the country. This is false; the footage was filmed in the Russian capital of Moscow to mark the end of Ramadan in 2022.

"Today, the #French decided that France would remain under Islamic rule by giving their votes to the leftist communists," says a July 7, 2024 X post.

Another X post sharing the clip of a large crowd says: "This is not Pakistan, this is France. Who supports Marine Le Pen?"

Screenshot of an X post taken July 9, 2024
Screenshot of an X post taken July 9, 2024

The claims spread elsewhere on X and Facebook.

France's left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) alliance -- made up of the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI), the Communist Party, the Greens and the Socialist Party -- secured the most seats in the National Assembly during the July 7 parliamentary vote. The coalition beat out Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party (RN), which had been expected to lead.

French President Emmanuel Macron's camp came second in the snap vote, taking 164 seats after voters came together to block the anti-immigrant RN from power. But with no single group winning enough seats for a majority, the parliament is in gridlock with difficult negotiations to form a governing coalition.

The NFP's success sparked outrage among the far-right online, with some social media users suggesting France would come under "Islamic rule." The rhetoric reflects criticism of the LFI's Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has expressed support for the Muslim community.

French secularism laws are intended to keep the state neutral in religious matters while guaranteeing citizens the right to practice freely. Some activists argue the rules seem to disproportionately exclude Muslim women from public life, and many voters expressed concern that the RN would further restrict freedoms if it won the majority.

However, the video shared online is unrelated to the French elections.

Reverse image and keyword searches surfaced an identical YouTube video uploaded May 3, 2022 with a Russian title that says: "Eid al-Fitr 2022 at the Moscow Cathedral Mosque (1)" (archived here).

Turkish website Yeni Safak shared the same clip May 4, 2022, saying it shows "thousands of Muslims performing Eid prayers on the streets of Moscow" (archived here).

Screenshot of an X post taken July 7, 2024, with elements highlighted by AFP
Screenshot of a YouTube video taken July 7, 2024, with elements highlighted by AFP

Using geolocation techniques, AFP found one of the buildings shown in the video is the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, which has a distinct gold and turquoise exterior (archived here). The building can accommodate more than 10,000 worshipers, but crowds often spill into the surrounding streets.

Screenshot of an X post taken July 7, 2024

Muslims in the Russian capital gathered at the mosque to mark the end of Ramadan on May 2, 2022, The Moscow Times reported (archived here).

AFP photographers captured similar images of Eid al-Fitr celebrations in front of the mosque in 2014 and 2023.

Russian Muslims pray outside the central mosque in Moscow on July 28, 2014, during celebrations of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr this week, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan during which followers are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to dusk. AFP PHOTO/DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (AFP / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV)
Muslims pray on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, outside the Central Mosque in Moscow on April 21, 2023 (AFP / Alexander NEMENOV)

AFP has previously fact-checked posts misrepresenting the footage shared online in Polish, English and Serbian.

More of AFP's reporting on misinformation about French politics is available here

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