Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa along with a team of delegates left the country a few days ago to attend the G20 Interfaith Forum 2021, held at Bologna, Italy. While a few groups staged protests demanding justice for victims of Easter Sunday attacks in Italy, there were some who held demonstrations in favor of the Prime Minister. Read more on this in our Sinhala Fact check.
In this backdrop, a series of videos went viral in social media, depicting that the Sri Lankan community in Italy booed the Prime Minister when he was coming out of a conference hall. However, Factcrescendo Sri Lanka investigation found this to be an altered video.
Social Media Notes
A video post shared among social media users indicated that PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa had to face an unpleasant situation when they were coming out from the conference hall, where the Interfaith Forum 2021 was being held. According to this video footage, the crowd was booing PM Rajapaksa and heard from the background audio.
The related video is seen below.
Thousands of people have viewed this video and many people have shared it.
We had observed that the official Facebook page of PM Rajapaksa published a video from the same angle as seen in the viral video on social media.
The English translation of the PM’s video post caption read as “Thank you to the patriotic Sri Lankan friends and to the Italians who came here to welcome me at the G20 Interfaith Summit which is held in Bologna, Italy.”
When we compared the two footage there was an evident difference in the audio feeds of both clips. The background audio feed of the viral video appeared to be intensified and there the sound of drumming heard from the background was not heard at the beginning of the video posted by the PM’s FB page.
Few of the Sri Lankan media outlets also shared the same video posted by PM’s social media as seen here
According to the video shared by official media outlets also, it seems like the crowd warmly welcomed and cheered to the Prime Minister and his wife and there was no voice as “hoo kiyanna epaa, jaya wewa kiyanna” ( හූ කියන්න එපා. ජයවේවා කියන්න), as heard from the video viral on social media.
Comparison of the edited video and the original video can be seen below.
We have also noticed videos taken from a couple of other angles uploaded a few hours before the viral video surfaced and one such video is seen below.
In this occasion, it can be even be seen that someone calling and cheering to the PM’s wife “Jaya Wewa Shiranthi madam”
Below is yet another angle of the same occasion and crowd cheering as “bravo”, a goodwill term used in Italian, can also be heard from the background.
We identified this place as the entrance to Grand Hotel Majestic
Even though, we are not in a position to independently verify that at least few of the crowd booed or hooted at the PM, from the footages of these various angles, it’s clear that PM and his wife were cheered and warmly welcomed by the Sri Lankans and the Italian crowd present at the occasion.
Furthermore, using keyword search we were able to identify the footage from which the audio feed had been taken, to manipulate the original video. The audio feed in the viral video matches with the audio in the video footage published by News-i YoutTube channel in November 2019. On the occasion of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa taking oath, a group of that time UNP MP’s were booed by the crowd.
Here is the link to our Sinhala fact check of this video.
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According to our investigation, we have identified that the viral video used to claim that PM and his wife were hooted at the entrance of the Grand Hotel Majestic at Bologna, Italy is altered. The audio in the video was digitally manipulated. Background sound of the official footage published by PM’s FB page and few other media channels, had been intensified and mixed with an audio feed from a two-year-old incident in which a group of UNP MP’s were hooted by the crowd at the occasion of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s oath taking ceremony.
Title:Did a Crowd Boo PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in Italy?Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha