A French parody account, Benoite, quickly picked up steam, gaining several thousand followers over the course of just a few days. Indeed, people noticed the irony that President Macron, who supported the so-called revolution in Syria, now faced a genuine revolution at his own doorstep.
PARIS — After three weeks of protests in France, a Twitter account sprang up that seemed eerily familiar: Benoite Abedoux of Paris was asking for airstrikes against her own country to save her life from the “brutal French regime.”
Protesters calling themselves Yellow Vests, or Gilets Jaunes in French, flooded the streets of Paris on November 17 in response to an increase on fuel taxes. The protests quickly morphed into a broad mass movement against the general neoliberal policies of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Three weeks later, a little girl named Benoite Abedoux took to Twitter to express her frustrations with the “brutal French regime,” as she called it. The Twitter account was a direct jab at the Twitter account of Bana al-Abed, a seven-year-old Syrian girl who took to Twitter in 2016 asking for U.S. military action against her own country.
In one Tweet, Bana stated, “Dear world, it’s better to start third world war instead of letting Russia & Assad commit #HolocaustAleppo.” In another Tweet, she said that she would “welcome Donald Trump action against the killers of my people.”
The person running Bana’s Twitter account later scrubbed it of all Tweets calling for war.
Tweets from the French Benoite account mimicked that of Bana — calling for a no-fly zone over Paris, WWIII, and airstrikes on France to save “her people” from the “brutal French regime.”
What goes around . . .
The French parody account, Benoite, quickly picked up steam, gaining several thousand followers over the course of just a few days. Indeed, people noticed the irony that President Macron, who supported the so-called revolution in Syria, now faced a genuine revolution at his own doorstep.
Predictable Twitter shutdown
However, Benoite’s account was effectively suspended by Twitter on December 10, just days after its launch. While Twitter initially stated the account was suspended for exhibiting “automated behavior,” attempts to recover the account fell short. After an attempt was made to reopen the account, Twitter followed up with a message claiming that since backup or “serial” accounts were made, the suspension would remain.
Speaking to MintPress News, one of the creators of the account, James Carey, expressed his frustrations with the suspension:
I just want people to know it’s bullshit we can be reported by people with al-Qaeda Twitter avatars. It shows how ridiculous the anti-Syria crowd is that those people will team up with YPG supporters to ban anything pro-Syria. Twitter will actually reward Free Syrian Army (FSA) supporters for reporting Syria supporters and there isn’t even an FSA anymore.
Also speaking to MintPress News, Grace Lee, another creator, highlighted the hypocrisy behind accusations of Russian meddling in regards to the Benoite account:
The insane part is that ‘large’ newspapers accused us of being Russian bots or trolls. This highlights how the rest of ‘conspiracies’ in the news about Russia being behind might actually be just as dumb. Most of the news actually claimed we are Russian with confidence. Like they had evidence to back the claim up.”
The French government has used tear gas and water cannons in attempts to disperse protestors.
Despite the French media downplaying the protesters’ grievances, the Yellow Vest movement has only gained more traction and followers since its inception. In addition to demanding Macron’s resignation, protestors want an increased minimum wage, a stronger response to climate change, an end to austerity measures, increased taxes on the wealthy, and stronger government accountability.
Top Photo | European lawmakers raise placards reading “Stop the War in Syria” in protest against airstrikes launched by the U.S., Britain and France in Syria last week criticizing the legitimacy of the operation, as French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, April 17, 2018. Jean Francois Badias | AP
Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.