A few weeks ago, a disturbing video went viral on social media. The video depicted a horrifying incident in which a man wielding a knife attacked people, including toddlers and an elderly man, in a playground in Annecy, France. The man was identified as Abdelmasih Hanoun, a 31-year-old Christian Syrian refugee. Shockingly, in the video, Hanoun can be heard yelling “In the name of Jesus Christ!” as he carried out the violent act.
According to a report by BBC, Hanoun himself stated that he is a Syrian Christian. The French police arrested him for attempted murder, and the prosecution stated that his actions did not appear to be linked to terrorism. However, there is a section of the media and social media users claiming that Hanoun is actually a Muslim named Selwan Majd. These claims are based on an image shared by Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, a far-right anti-Muslim conspiracy blog. Spencer tweeted the image with the caption “An Atrocity in Annecy” and shared a link to an article with the same title.
Jihad Watch later published an article titled “France: ‘Christian’ who stabbed children on playground turns out to be a Muslim named Selwan Majd,” which was a translation of a report from a French website known for sharing Islamophobic content called Resistance Républicaine. The article alleges that Hanoun is actually Majd, and he used false papers to portray himself as a Christian during his travels and marriage in Sweden. However, the report does not provide any credible sources for this information.
Various Twitter users, including prominent international figures and far-right organizations, shared the link to Jihad Watch’s report. Additionally, Elish Yako, the national general secretary of an NGO called Association d’Entraide aux Minorités d’Orient, claimed through a series of tweets that Hanoun was indeed a Muslim.
To fact-check these claims, we conducted a thorough investigation. According to reports from Le Monde, a French daily newspaper, Hanoun was born in Syria in 1991 and served in the Syrian army. He left the country in 2011 when the civil war broke out and eventually moved to Sweden, where he met his future wife, who was also Syrian. The couple got married and had a child. However, Hanoun was unable to obtain Swedish citizenship and later moved to France, where he applied for citizenship in 2022.
Contrary to the claims made by Jihad Watch and Resistance Républicaine, the Swedish authorities did not doubt Hanoun’s Christian identity or reject his citizenship application based on suspicion. Reports indicate that his ex-wife, who is now a Swedish citizen, confirmed that Hanoun is a Christian and that they met in Turkey, not Sweden.
Furthermore, a French fact-checking organization called Liberation also refuted the claim that Hanoun is a Muslim named Selwan Majd. The organization highlighted that the priest mentioned in Resistance Républicaine’s article passed away recently and was known for his Islamophobic views. BFM TV, a French news channel, interviewed Hanoun’s ex-wife, who reiterated that he is a Christian from Al Hasakah, Syria, and described him as a good father.
In conclusion, there is no evidence to support the claim that Abdelmasih Hanoun, the suspect in the Annecy stabbing incident, is a Muslim named Selwan Majd. The available information confirms that he is a Christian Syrian refugee. It is important to note that Jihad Watch and Robert Spencer have previously shared misleading reports targeting the Muslim community.
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Aisha Patel is a dedicated Indian correspondent with a deep understanding of the nation’s diverse affairs. With a background in Indian culture, politics, and current events, she provides in-depth analysis and timely reporting on domestic issues within India.