French minister slams 'fake news' after mob attacks on Roma

France's government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the attacks on members of the Roma community in the Paris suburbs showed "the absolute necessity of fighting against fake news".
France's government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the attacks on members of the Roma community in the Paris suburbs showed "the absolute necessity of fighting against fake news".PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (DPA) - A French minister slammed the spread of fake news on social media on Wednesday (March 27), a day after several mob attacks on members of the Roma community in the Paris suburbs.

The attacks took place after rumours circulated on social media that members of the Roma community driving a white van were trying to kidnap children.

The incidents showed "the absolute necessity of fighting against fake news", minister and government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

Prosecutors in the Paris suburb of Bobigny said on Tuesday that 19 people, including two minors, had been arrested for questioning on charges of assault, arson and riotous assembly with weapons.

The prosecutors said that while suspicious persons and incidents had also been reported to police, there had been no verified incidents of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

Mr Griveaux warned that "this kind of rumour, spread in a very viral and very organised way on social media, result in the stigmatisation of a community" and violence "in the worst of its forms".

"We will have to be able to adapt our penal, judicial responses to the violence that we see today, but also to the absolutely unacceptable targeting of the Roma community," he added.

France last year adopted laws allowing judges to order fake news taken down from the Internet, but only in the context of elections campaigns.