A staged video pretending to show a man urinating on pork in a Dutch supermarket was widely shared in several languages on social media in December 2023 with claims that it was genuine footage of a Muslim migrant. In Greece, there were angry reactions to the video, with some posts using the hashtag "DeportThemAll". But the video does not show a real scene: the creator told AFP it was a hoax intended to show how easy it was to create disinformation.
The video created by a social media user in The Netherlands was shared by a Dutch entertainment site on December 17, 2023 from where it was tweeted by Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom that won the November 2023 elections.
It shows a man with his back to the camera standing at a supermarket meat section and appearing to urinate. The sound of flowing liquid is heard. A man says in Dutch: "Dude, you are too radical. Only because he doesn’t want to eat pork? Wow!" Then he adds in English: "We don't eat pork."
The video was widely shared in several languages including English, French, Dutch and German. A Facebook post in Greek from December 12, 2023 writes: "Netherlands: an Islamophile urinates on pork in the supermarket."
Another Greek post refers to the man in the video as an "investor", an ironic reference to migrants that is widely used in Greece. "For now you see an illegal immigrant investor whom Europe has given residency papers and he is urinating in public on pork in a supermarket in Holland," the post says. A user commented: "If we don't finish them, they will finish us!!!!"
Anti-migrant sentiment is high in Greece, one of the main points of entry for migrants seeking to enter the European Union by crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey or North Africa.
But these posts are sharing a video of a staged scene. The creator of the video explained to AFP in the Netherlands that the man filmed had not urinated on the meat.
Video is staged, says the creatorWhile the sound of flowing liquid can be heard in the video, no liquid can be seen on the meat or the floor as there would be if the man was actually urinating.
The logo on various products visible in the footage indicates that it was filmed in an Albert Heijn supermarket.
Through an online search, the earliest version of the video AFP could find was posted on December 15 by a user calling himself Danny Derix. It was uploaded to the Instagram and TikTok accounts of "Buurtwachtt", which means "Neighbourhood Watch" in Dutch. There is no hashtag or word in these versions to suggest that the man being filmed was a migrant.
Looking through this Instagram profile, we found other videos similar to the one from the supermarket. For example, we see a similarly dressed man miming the same action apparently at a sports gym on December 13 and December 11.
In a private exchange on December 20 via the Instagram profile, the creator confirmed he was the author of the video. "The person you see in the video is my friend. This was recorded on December 13, 2023. It was taken in the Netherlands in a grocery store (Albert Heijn XL) in the city of Zaandam," he said.
"The video is totally fake. He never peed on the meat or anything like that. I've used a sound effect of a urinating sound and put it on the original video. The intention was to show the world how easy it is to make and spread fake news as the truth."
He said: "All the proof will be posted on my YouTube channel 'Buurtwacht'."
Prank explained on YouTubeAs the video was going viral, the creator uploaded a video to YouTube (archived here) on December 20 in which he explained the stunt.
"It is to show that anything can be fake on the internet. We want to make it clear to people how easy it is to spread fake news or a fake video," he said. "We didn't even use a water bottle in this video. It is literally a sound effect that I recorded in my toilet with my iPhone, and placed over the original video that we recorded in the Albert Heijn."
Dutch store reports no such incidentThe supermarket chain Albert Heijn said it was not aware of this event occurring in any of its stores.
"We've seen the video. We have conducted internal research based on this. We have not received any reports of nuisance about this from our stores," media relations representative Angela Stoelinga told AFP in an email on December 20, 2023.
Anti-migrant sentiment high in GreeceSince the beginning of the year, some 45,900 people asylum-seekers have arrived in Greece, almost all landing on islands near the Turkish coast. It is the largest number in four years, according to the United Nations (archived here).
On December 20, 2023, the European Union approved an "historic agreement" to overhaul its asylum system, including more border detention centres and faster deportations (archived here). Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his "satisfaction" with the agreement (archived here) but dozens of migrant aid charities have criticized the planned changes, calling the deal "dangerous".
Only 20 percent of Greek citizens perceive immigration of people from non-European Union countries as positive, according to this Eurobarometer research (page 145) carried out in October and November 2023. The report is downloadable here. When compared with other member states, this figure is lower only in the Czech Republic (14 percent). It is also 20 percent in Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia.
And 78 percent of Greek respondents in the October-November 2023 report said migration was negative, a rise of 8 percentage points from the May-June 2023 report. Negative sentiment towards migration was only higher in the Czech Republic (81 percent), according to the research.
On December 19, 2023 Greece passed a law on giving residency permits to some migrants who have been in the country for three years and are working (archived here). It is intended to overcome manpower shortages in the agriculture and construction sectors.
AFP has already tackled several false or misleading claims in Greek related to disinformation targeting migrants.