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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 April 2019

French survivor group condemns memes using picture of accessory to terrorists

Video of Jawad Bendaoud went viral as users attached 'amusing' captions

Bendaoud was condemned to a four-year prison sentence in his appeal trial. AFP
Bendaoud was condemned to a four-year prison sentence in his appeal trial. AFP

A survivors' group for victims of the 2015 Paris attacks has condemned the use of a video of Jawad Bendaoud, the jailed accessory to the terrorists responsible, for memes.

Life for Paris said the memes, in which Twitter users post a video showing Bendaoud walking into court, for which others provide captions, were not funny.

The memes "do not make Life for Paris laugh. They shouldn’t make anyone laugh," the group said.

Bendaoud was sentenced in March to four years in prison on charges of helping the November 13 Paris attackers escape arrest or detection.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Chakib Akrouh and Hasna Ait Boulahcen, hid in his flat on the outskirts of Paris after they and other gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people.

The meme was born when Twitter user @Mohamedjellit shared the video of Bendaoud, encouraging other users to “caption this”.

The request unleashed hundreds of iterations of the video by users who were seemingly unaware of who the man in the video was.

The video, dubbed "tough guy entrance", was just the beginning. Other images of Bendaoud were also used.

The original tweet has more than 16,000 retweets and almost 100,000 likes, and as it grew users began to realise the video's origin. Some told of their discomfort.

"He has been declared guilty of receiving terrorist offenders, having supplied accommodation to the main person responsible for the Paris attacks and his accomplice, Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Chakib Akrouh," the Life for Paris statement said on Tuesday.

"These two terrorists responsible for the deaths of 130 people and injury of 450 people planned other attacks in the hideout supplied by Jawad Bendaoud. The Paris Court of Appeals judged he knew well that he was lodging terrorists."

"These facts and this person do not make Life for Paris laugh. They shouldn’t make anyone laugh."

@Mohamedjellit, creator of the meme, told Buzzfeed News that he thought it was humorous.

“Yes, I knew that this man was in a court for a terrorist offence but that’s all. I have no opinion about him," he said.

Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor suspected of being involved in the attacks on Paris cafes and restaurants and the Stade de France stadium, is in a French prison awaiting a trial that may not start until late 2020.

Updated: April 11, 2019 02:19 AM

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