NPR : News

Filed Under:

French Soldier's Skeleton Scarf Goes Viral, Military Launches Investigation

The photo is quite striking, to be sure.

Agence France Press photographer Issouf Sanogo writes that when he was with French soldiers in central Mali on Sunday, "a helicopter was coming in to land and churning up tremendous dust clouds. Instinctively, all the soldiers grabbed their scarfs to avoid getting a mouthful of sand."

Sanogo started taking pictures.

"I spotted this soldier wearing a strange scarf," he adds on AFP's Behind The News blog. "At the time, nothing about the scene seemed especially unusual or shocking. The soldier wasn't posing and there was nothing staged about the image."

But later, when the photo was distributed to news outlets around the world and started to go viral, the grinning skeleton image on that scarf didn't sit well with French military officials. It's too much like something from Call of Duty for them. As AFP adds:

"The military command reacted angrily to the picture, with a top-brass spokesman in Paris calling the soldier's behaviour 'unacceptable.'

" 'This image is not representative of France's action in Mali,' the spokesman, Colonel Thierry Burkhard, said at a news conference, adding the army was working to identify the masked man."

French soldiers are in Mali, as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been reporting, to assist that nation's government in its battle against al-Qaida linked Islamist fighters.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Sweet Name Of Kids' Clinic Gives Some People Heartburn

The Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic gets its name from a student-run charity race in Raleigh, N.C., that has already raised $1 million for kids. Still, some find the name unhealthy.

60 Years Later, What Can Activists Learn From The Montgomery Bus Boycott?

Decades after Rosa Parks changed history, a new generation faces the challenge of remaking the civil rights movement for the next century. What can they learn from the past to build for the future?

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.