I’ll sue Facebook: Syrian famed for selfie with Merkel tells Al Arabiya

Facebook has been called to court in the Southern German city of Würzburg on February 6

Leila Alwan
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The 19-year-old Syrian refugee renowned for capturing a selfie with Merkel in 2015 is suing Facebook for not taking the necessary action against false news posts using his photo.

Anas Modamani fled to Germany from war-torn Syria in 2015 after finishing high school and now works as an accountant in Berlin.

Modamani told Al Arabiya English that he holds Facebook accountable for allowing his picture to be posted without fact checking.

“Obviously, this will impact my reputation. I am working and studying the German language, excelling in my subject. Away from all problems and drama, this is the last thing I need,” he said.

Facebook has been called to court in the Southern German city of Würzburg on February 6.

His photo that was taken in September 2015 when Merkel visited a refugee shelter in Spandau district became the iconic image used by many media outlets to depict Germany’s reaction to the refugee crisis.

Later on in the year, the same picture circulated on social media posts claiming Modamani was affiliated with criminal and terrorist activities.

In March 2016, articles incorrectly identified Modamani as Najim Laacharoui, one of the terrorists behind the Brussels bombings, and later on linked him to an attempted suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany.

Modamani said many of the outlets and news posts that used his picture were by people against Merkel.

“They used my photo to get back at Merkel for taking in so many refugees, and to tarnish their image,” he said.

He said he won’t know anything about how his complaint will fare until the first court hearing.

According to Modamani, an architect friend of his from China who resides in Berlin has been very supportive and is helping him with this situation.

He also mentioned his German host family who he says are also very supportive and caring.

Again in Christmas, a post on Facebook used Modamani’s picture alleging he was part of the group that set fire to a homelessman at the Berlin subway station, while the real suspects turned themselves in to the police.

The selfie of him and Merkel was cropped and edited inside a picture of a truck linking him to the truck attack in Germany, which Facebook blocked.

Modamani told Al Arabiya English that he has a message for the refugees: “For those who are doing anything wrong in Germany, this is reflecting badly on the refugees here because people are putting us all in the same box, and it’s not helping us carry on with our lives.”

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