Monday, July 22, 2019
Home News A joke about the Mecca pilgrimage turns to cyberharlying on Twitter

A joke about the Mecca pilgrimage turns to cyberharlying on Twitter

What was presented as a joke finally turned out badly, provoking a violent controversy, accompanied by threats and insults against a teenager. In the night of Saturday to Sunday, an account identifying itself as Hugo, a high school student, posted on Twitter a photo of the Kaaba, one of the most venerated places of Islam, in Mecca during the great pilgrimage, the Hajj . It brings together more than two million pilgrims from all over the world each year.

On the picture, we see an immense crowd that revolves around the sacred cube, the Kaaba, fulfilling one of the obligatory rites of the pilgrimage. In his tweet, the teenager, probably without thinking of evil and without imagining to trigger such violent reactions, accompanied the picture of this legend: "There are people in InZeBoite".

Being humorous, this sentence is a reference to In ze box, a children's game show broadcast on Gulli. For the candidates, the final test, "the black box", consists of crossing a labyrinth in the dark and in three minutes, guided by an adult who observes the child via an infrared camera.

"Potache". Following the broadcast of this tweet, "Hugo" received intimidation, insults, threats of physical violence and even death threats, as confirmed at Release the journalist Parisian who published an article on the controversy on Sunday. Many comments were quickly removed from Twitter, including death threats. However screenshots of Internet users always allow to consult these hateful messages. The name and address of the establishment in which Hugo would study have even been disclosed. Release Monday evening, could not confirm the identity or age of Hugo who, according to his Twitter account, would be a teenager, according to the journalist Parisian.

"Hugo's tweet is not an Islamophobic act at all. This is no more and no less the language of adolescents, says sociologist Vincent Geisser, a specialist in Islam. Contacted by Release, Muslim leaders have also seen a "Joke of potache", not bearing consequences.

After experiencing a torrent of hatred, the owner of the account has formulated, as of Sunday, an apology: "For all the people who saw my tweet, excuse me I did not think it was going to be so big, still sorry let me alive." This tweet itself has been removed from the social network by its author. Despite some gray areas, hundreds of netizens Sunday brought their support to the schoolboy, launching the hashtag #JesoutiensHugo, become viral. The controversy has even taken a political turn. Marlène Schiappa, Secretary of State for Equality between Women and Men and the Fight against Discrimination, also expressed her support in a tweet, recalling that blasphemy did not exist in France: "France is a secular republic where everyone can criticize and mock religions without being threatened with death for that! Blasphemy does not exist. On the other hand, cyberbullying in a pack has been punished since this summer by law. " Even momentum on the side of the Secretary of State to the digital, Cédric O, which published on the social network: "The faith of fundamentalists is very fragile to feel threatened by the irony of a teenager. I recall that cyberbullying is punishable by law. " Other personalities, like the essayist Raphael Enthoven, also took the defense of the teenager.

Embarrassment. The runaway shows how the terrain of Islam is permanently flammable. Two days after its outbreak, many gray areas remain in this case. As is often the case on Twitter, there is some doubt about where the threats come from. "I do not see anyone in Muslim communities organizing such a campaign against a teenager, continues sociologist Vincent Geisser. It's a private matter. It is necessary to go back to the perpetrators of the threats for them to be punished. " For the moment, no Muslim leader has considered it necessary to intervene publicly, the matter causing embarrassment.

Contacted by Release, the national police communication service has confirmed that a survey of the Pharos platform, which makes it possible to report illegal content and behavior on the Internet, has been launched. The perpetrators of harassment are sentenced to two years and a fine of 30,000 euros. The maximum penalty is three years and a fine of 45,000 euros if the victim is under 15 years of age.

Bernadette Sauvaget


Marjorie Lafon



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