Syrians react to passport found at Paris attack scene

A spoof image of a steel Syrian passport Image copyright ALI ALRAWI/ TWITTER
Image caption Many images of 'indestructible' Syrian passports were created and shared online by Syrians after one was found at the scene of one of the deadly Paris attacks

The Syrian passport found at the scene of one of the Paris attacks is causing a strong reaction among Syrians online, some of whom fear the consequences in Western policy.

One of the seven people named by French officials as suspected perpetrators of the deadly Paris attacks is believed to be Syrian - because of a passport found at the scene. Ahmad al-Mohammad, a 25-year-old from Idlib, is believed to have died after he blew himself up at the Stade de France. A Syrian passport bearing his name was found at the scene.

Investigators are still trying to establish whether the passport is genuine. The Paris prosecutor's office said fingerprints from the attacker matched those of a person who came to Europe with migrants via the Greek island of Leros. According to other reports, a man in Serbia has now been detained after the passport he was carrying also included many of the details on the passport found at the Paris attack scene - leading to speculation that multiple passports could have been from the same forger.

The possibility of one of the perpetrators being a Syrian would have implications for Europe's debate over admitting refugees, and this was not lost on the thousands of Syrians, inside and outside the country, who commented online. "God help the Syrian refugees in France and everywhere else," tweeted one. "They were already having a rough time and they will have an even tougher time now."

Others joined the English-language Twitter conversation under the hashtag "Pray For Syria," which has seen nearly 750,000 messages posted since Sunday - many condemning French airstrikes against so-called Islamic State in Raqqa.


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Other Syrian Facebook users questioned the authenticity of the passport. "I do not get it," said one of them. "How come he blew himself up, but his passport survived?" Another argued: "Syrians have become a bogeyman; they are blamed for anything that happens in the world. It was even said that they were behind the sandstorm in Jordan."

Many commented on a status shared by a popular Syrian Al-Jazeera TV anchor, Faysal Al-Qasim, who posted a short excerpt from a Syrian soap opera where a character asks: "What kind of an idiot criminal forgets his ID at the crime scene?"

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption "Bullet- and bomb-proof", says an inscription photoshopped onto a picture of a Syrian passport shared by those who wonder how it could have survived a suicide bomb blast in Paris

Germany's justice minister waded into the debate about the passport on Monday, warning that so-called Islamic State could be trying to exploit Europe's refugee debate, according to reports. Justice Minister Heiko Maas called for "very, very great prudence, until things are clear". He told public broadcaster ARD: "We are aware that IS is known to leave false tracks behind to politicise and radicalise the issue over refugees in Europe."

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The most-read story on the BBC News website on Sunday was about a terror attack - but not the one currently dominating the news. READ MORE

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