False Claims about Macron and This Year’s Agricultural Fair

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A recently circulated photo falsely suggests that French President Emmanuel Macron was seen fleeing from farmers at this year’s agricultural fair. The photo also falsely claims that he was banned from attending the fair. Neither of these statements are true.

Photo: European Parliament

On February 24, 2024, a photo of French President Emmanuel Macron was posted on the X social network along with the claim that it was taken at this year’s International Agricultural Fair.

An interesting photo comes from France, where this morning at the agricultural fair there was an incident when the gathered citizens tried to lynch Macron.

The same photo with the same claims was then posted on another X profile and on several Facebook profiles (123).

An identical photo, but without explicit claims that it was taken at this year’s agricultural fair, was published on February 24, 2024 on the web portal TV Bec and on a Facebook profile.

In reporting on the event, Sputnik published an article on its website and then shared the claim on its Facebook page that President Macron was barred from visiting the fair.

Local media note that this is the first time in the history of this manifestation that the President of France is not allowed to visit the exhibition fair.

The same claim was published by the following web portals: Russia TodayAloOdbranaGledaj, as well as on the blog of Nebojsa Vukanovicdeputy in the National Assembly of Republika Srpska.

Russia Today, Alo and Nebojsa Vukanovic’s blog also published a photo of Macron running. While these articles did not explicitly state that the photo was taken at this year’s agricultural fair, their inclusion in articles about the event suggests that readers might draw this conclusion.

What are the facts?

Farmers across the European Union (EU), including France, have been protesting for weeks. They are dissatisfied with “excessively restrictive environmental rules” and competition from cheap imports from outside the European Union, especially from Ukraine, which has received special concessions for selling its products on the EU market since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Farmers also protest against increasing costs that are not accompanied by growth in income, i.e. inflation.

It is true that farmers also protested at the opening of the International Agricultural Fair, which was held in Paris from February 24 to March 3 this year. In an article published on February 24, 2024, France 24 describes it as follows:

“Riot police kept the protesters at a safe distance as Macron toured the fair, inspecting prize cattle, tasting honey from Normandy and cheeses from the Alps, and shaking hands with exhibitors.

But as he entered the fair’s livestock area in the morning, hundreds of protestors crashed the gates and clashed with police.

In the ensuing confusion, the fair was repeatedly closed and then re-opened to the public.”

France 24 reports that “While French presidents have often been jeered at the annual fair, Saturday’s scenes were a first.”

So, it is true that farmers protested at the fair and clashed with the police, but it is not true that Macron was “banned” from entering the fair, which he evidently attended. Many photos and videos of Macron at this year’s fair can be found online, including photos of him in the livestock section of the fair. These photos were published in well-known global and French media, and there are videos of Macron at the fair, which show the French president cutting the ribbon at the opening. There are also entire galleries from the opening day featuring Macron.

Origin of the Controversial Photo

The photo of Emmanuel Macron running with security behind him and the inscription “French grains valued in the world” has also circulated in English with the claim that it represents the French president running away from farmers at this year’s International Agricultural Fair (examples herehere and here). The Reuters Fact Check website analyzed this claim on February 29, 2024, and stated that the photo comes from last year’s fair and shows Macron running to greet the visitors of this event.

The photo was taken by photographer Christophe Petit Tesson on February 25, 2023. It can be found on the AFP site with the following description:

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) runs to greet people as he visits the International Agriculture Fair in Paris on February 25, 2023, on the first day of the 59th edition of the fair. The 2023 edition of the International Agriculture Fair runs in the French capital from February 25-March 5, 2023.

The claim that a photo shows President Macron “escaping” from farmers at this year’s International Agricultural Fair is deemed fake news. All instances of spreading this initial claim are classified as disseminating fake news.

The misleading use of facts is attributed to publications by RT, Alo, TV Bec, and a particular Facebook profile, due to their circulation of an outdated photo of Macron from last year’s fair in texts about this year’s event.

The claim published on the web portal Sputnik Serbia suggesting that Macron was not allowed to visit the fair is rated as fake news. All subsequent shares of this claim are rated as distribution of fake news.

(Author: Maida Salkanović, Raskrinkavanje.ba)