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Hoax Alert

Fake News: NO Explosion In 'Jihadi Capital' Molenbeek At Start of Ramadan

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 16 May 2018 07:09:45 Z)

Was there a huge explosion in Molenbeek, Belgium at the start of Ramadan and was this because it is the "Jihadi Capital of Europe"? Despite what Katie Hopkins tweeted it is not true. A huge warehouse fire in nearby Koekelberg was initially reported as being in Molenbeek but Koekelberg is not known as the "Jihadi Capital of Europe". There were some reports of an explosion but it was caused by the fire, not the other way round.

On May 15, 2018, right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins sent out a tweet with an embedded video (archived here):

Screenshot of https://twitter.com/KTHopkins/status/996478514433085442

The video was originally posted by Twitter user Dimitri Strobbe (archived here and here):

Translation: "Fire jumps to neighboring buildings!!! #molenbeek #fire Heard giant explosion now".

The tweet was part of a longer series reporting about the fire. Here is the first tweet (archived here):

Translation: "Big fire in #molenbeek. Police and fire brigade on the scene".

But local media reports pointed out the fire was in a municipal warehouse located in the Rue Stepman in Koekelberg that was used to store wood and plastic.

Un entrepôt entièrement ravagé par un incendie à Koekelberg

Un entrepôt communal de Koekelberg a été entièrement ravagé par un incendie qui s'y est produit mardi soir. Il n'y a pas de blessé. Une trentaine de riverains qui étaient incommodés par les importants dégagements de fumée ont été évacués vers un...


The area in red is part of Molenbeek. Molenbeek and Koekelberg are very close to each other, hence probably the confusion.

No media reported about an explosion being the cause of the fire and no connection to terrorism, jihad or the beginning of Ramadan has been found.

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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