What Middle East news got wrong this week: Finland's rape-condoning billboard

Published January 14th, 2016 - 01:54 GMT
Photoshop is the age of Europe's refugee crisis. (Snopes)
Photoshop is the age of Europe's refugee crisis. (Snopes)

The Story

In a storm of controversy and renewed discussions over refugees in Europe after a series of max sexual assaults on New Years Eve in Cologne, Germany, a photo began circularing online showing a billboard in Finland appearing to condone rape perpetrated by refugees. 

Here's the image: 

The image appeared across social media and on reputable news sites, (Snopes' debunking mentioned USA Daily Politics and Jews News, to name a few) but the news was, of course, completely false. 

The Blunder

Turns out, this isn't the first time the doctored billboard has fooled the Internet. According to Snopes, the image has been ciruclating since 2008, apparently created back then to "tarnish Finland's Green League political party Vihreat," whose logo appears at the poster's top right corner.

The original billboard actually appears in Liberia and was installed by aid organization Doctors Without Borders. But it's not about refugees, and it certainly doesn't condone rape. Instead, it's a message from the organization that help is available for rape victims in need. 

Here's the original:

The doctored image that appeared this week obviously has massive changes, not least of which is the inclusion of a blonde, white woman at its center and the referece to refugees. And while it seems like by now the Internet should be able to easily spot such racist ploys, of course, yet again, it has not. 

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