The #white helmets claim their creation of the video was well intentioned, and explain their reasons.
The mannequin challenge video was “an error of judgement”
The video in question, released on Tuesday (November 22nd), depicts two members of the Syria civil defense group, also known as the white helmets, in the midst of rubble and debris, static, helping an injured man. For around twenty seconds, they stand still in what seems a very believable pose. One could even think they staged it in the middle of a real rescue operation, that’s how well the video is made. After that, the injured man starts screaming and the rescue develops as one would expect it to.
The video wasn’t well received on social media. Some argued that this was too serious a subject to play with. Others took advantage of the video to show how, in their opinion, the white helmets can, and possibly have, staged videos to shock western populations. They claim, according to their website, to act “neutrally, impartially and for all Syrians.”
After realizing the backlash, they released, on Thursday (November 24th), the following statement: The video and the related posts were recorded by RFS media with Syria Civil Defense (White Helmets) volunteers, who hoped to create a connection between the horror of Syria and the outside world, using the viral #Mannequin challenge," the statement read […] This was an error of judgement, and we apologize on behalf of the volunteers involved.
The group is known for using trendy subjects in order to appeal to a wider audience. The video has since been deleted from their online accounts.
The video is a blow to their credibility
According to Vanessa Beleey, a journalist who has written extensively about the white helmets, instead of helping, the video poses questions about other videos published by the white helmets. It harms their credibility and makes the general public wonder about their legitimacy.
It’s also worth noting that the white helmets were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.