Old, Unrelated Articles Go Viral After Notre Dame Blaze in France
Hours after a massive fire engulfed the Notre Dame cathedral in France's Paris, several conspiracies and hoaxes related to the fire have begun to do the rounds on social media.
One of the most prominent theories afloat on Twitter was regarding a particular article by Jihad Watch, described by Buzzfeed News as "a website that frequently posts anti-Islam disinformation," The headline read: “France: Muslim girl “in search of love” plotted to blow up car packed with gas canisters near Notre Dame cathedral.”
According to the article, a 22-year-old 'jihadist' woman had been arrested three days earlier by the French authorities, in relation to a 2016 plot to bomb the Notre Dame cathedral by using a car packed with gas canisters near the cathedral.
This article was shared by many on Twitter, claiming that there was a connection between the plot and the attack.
The article was first shared by Robert Spencer, the Director of Jihad Watch, only minutes after the fire broke out at the cathedral, fuelling even more disinformation.
Following the news of the fire, Spencer posted an update right at the top of his article, stating that the post was not related to the Notre Dame fire.
The update read: "This is not a post about the fire at Notre Dame. I scheduled this post hours ago, long before I knew of the fire. The story below comes from AFP; the fact that the target of the foiled jihad plot is now burning is coincidental."
This note, however, has hardly done anything to curb the disinformation.
Meanwhile, another old report by The Telegraph has also been shared widely across social media, insinuating that the incident was connected to the fire.
The article's headline reads: "Gas tanks and Arabic documents found in unmarked car by Paris' Notre Dame cathedral spark terror fears", and is the 2016 plot that has been discussed in the Jihad Watch article.
According to this article, documents in Arabic were reportedly found inside a car with no number plates, parked near the Notre Dame cathedral.
The article also mentioned that while it contained no explosives or detonators, it had six canisters full of gas in the boot.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said, on Tuesday, the investigators are treating the Notre Dame blaze as an accident for now.
According to AP, the prosecutor’s office has also ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives behind the blaze.
They added that the Paris police will now conduct an investigation into "involuntary destruction caused by fire."