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FRANCE TERROR ATTACKS

TERRORISM

Schools: France vows to fight terror conspiracy theories

The French government aims to crack down on the spreading of conspiracy theories in France's schools surrounding the recent terror attacks, because they are giving fuel to those seeking to radicalize young people.

Schools: France vows to fight terror conspiracy theories
Some conspiracy theorists question whether police ever truly found this getaway cars used at the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
There have been conspiracy theories for as long as anyone remembered. Did Kennedy really die? Was there ever a man on the moon? Was September 11th an inside job?
 
And now that massive terror-related news stories have struck France – and hard – a whole host of conspiracies have cropped up among kids eager to share the latest snippet from the internet.
 
And they are proving to be a growing concern for the French government desperately trying to battle radicalization among young people, who have a tendency not to believe the official version of the story.
 
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (pictured below) spent Tuesday hosting a conference on the topic of fighting the spread of conspiracies at schools.
 
The all-day conference, held at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, saw around 300 people in attendance, including students, teachers, psychologists and lawyers.
 
 
The aim is to start a discussion about the dangers of conspiracy theories, especially after terror attacks set tongues wagging in French school yards over the past year.
 
One group of 16-year-olds told the BFM TV channel that there was something “fishy”, for example, about the death of the policeman during last January's terror attacks. 
 
“You can't see any blood in the video,” said a boy called Julien. “He gets a bullet through the head but there's no blood – only dust?”
 
Other popular conspiracy theories include:
  • That the knife-wielding man killed by police last month in northern Paris had a knife and an Isis flag planted on him by police.
  • That the getaway car used by the Kouachi brothers in the Charlie Hebdo attack was not the same one recovered later by police.
  • That a passport found at the Bataclan concert hall after terrorists killed 90 people in November had links to documents found at ground zero in New York after September 11th.

And it's exactly these kinds of rumours the government wants to crack down on, fearing that pupils take the conspiracies seriously because they're easy to find online. 
 
Rudy Reichstadt, who started the French site “Conspiracy Watch“, said that theories are spreading far quicker than ever before.
 
“Teenagers have always been fascinated by the mysteries. But before, they'd have to go out and buy a book about it,” told Le Figaro newspaper
 
A key problem is that many conspiracy sites online don't actively advertise that they're just speculations, meaning young people are more likely to believe that what they're reading is true and isn't just a theory, he added.  
 
Tuesday's conference will focus on how to get students to think twice before believing and indeed sharing such rumours. 
 
And in a bid to engage the young audience, officials have launched a website with more information called “We're manipulating you” (On te manipule) and set up a SnapChat account, broadcasting video snippets on the topic to anyone who wants to watch.
 
“Together we will build a suitable response, which will break the students' fascination with conspiracy theories and which will be based on the long-time strengths of schooling: rigour, reflection, thought and knowledge,” she said.  
 

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CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

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