Trivialisation often goes hand in hand with discrimination, as is the case in an article by the Belgian newspaper Le Soir,  in the article “China and its Muslims, a complicated relationship”.

Get the Trolls Out! Belgian partner European Network on Religion and Belief sent a letter of complaint to Le Soir, requesting the headline is changed. The phrasing “China and its Muslims” stigmatizes and denigrates the Chinese Muslim population, presenting them as a separate part of the country. 

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The pro-government news sites Pesti Srácok and Origo report about the Eid al-Adha celebrations in Europe by presenting Islamophobic narratives of Muslims as dangerous, barbarian and violent. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for August.

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Right-wing blog Westerse Beschaving acts as an information portal for those looking for ‘proof’ of Islam’s incompatibility with the West. It uses quotes from the Quran out of context to spread this narrative. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for July.

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The religious news platform Vima Orthodoxias gave a platform to known conspiracy theorist, author Serena Nomikou. In the article, Nomikou made very extreme anti-Muslim claims backed by zero evidence. This is Greece’s media monitoring highlight for July.

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In an interview with “Le Soir,” Conservative N-VA MP & former editor of Joods Actual Michael Freilich said that Muslim and Jewish religious head coverings were not comparable, saying that a Jewish kippah is a symbol of faith, white a Muslim hijab is a symbol of oppression. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for July.

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The Telegraph published a video on Twitter of England cricket players Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid walking away from the champagne celebrations following their World Cup win, falsely framing the situation in a negative light. This is the UK’s media monitoring highlight for July.

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The pro-government news site Origo uses data on discrimination against Christians across the world to spread fears on the presence of Islam in Europe. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for July.

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Tommy Robinson is a far-right, neo-fascist, white nationalist figure from the UK. As a result of a campaign by activists and British MPs, Robinson was banned from all major social media. In response, Robinson set up tr.news to promote his hateful worldview. Recently, tr.news published a banner to advertise Robinson’s book Enemy of the State, featuring the Amazon logo. 

Published in Complaints

The Media Diversity Institute(MDI) has filed a complaint against an article by The Daily Mail that spreads fear about Muslims.  

The article, published on Mail Online on 3 May 2019, claimed that “Mohammed was the most popular first name for boys born in Berlin in 2018”, but a closer look at the results of the Society for the German Language (GfdS) study revealed that this is not accurate.

In the complaint letter addressed to the Managing Editor at The Daily Mail, MDI expressed its concerns about the way the statistics were interpreted to spread anti-Muslim fears among the readers.

In German, there is a distinction between “vornamen” and “erstnamen”. In English, both translate as “first name”. A “vorname” is the general term for “first name”, but “erstname” is the very first name out of a series of first names.

For Berlin, the graphics on the GfdS website presents both the “vornamen” (“1. Alexander, 2. Maximilian, 3. Paul”) and the “erstnamen” (“1. Mohammed, 2. Luis, 3. Emil”). While most of the German media presented the statistics referring to the “vorname”, the statistic that the Mail Online quoted referred to the top 10 “erstnamen” in Berlin in 2018, 

In the complaint, MDI pointed out that Daily Mail reporter Tim Stickings “looked at one federal state (Berlin) and then only at one very specific sub-set (“erstnamen”) of a sub-set (boy’s names) for one year (2018).” In short, it seems that Tim Stickings sifted through the study on most popular first names ignoring the wider picture and the overall facts and opting instead for one name, “Mohammed”, which was number one in one category and then proceeded to build an article around this less relevant result”. 

Out of around 22,000 baby boys born in Berlin in 2018, only 280 have “Mohammed” as “erstname”. A very low number, that also includes all its 25 variations, something that is unusual with other names. Mohammed is also frequently given as a very first name, which means it leads to a higher frequency than other names in the same category.

The complaint letter says that “by focusing on a hyper-specific case and inflating its significance, your article distorts facts and misleads readers.” “The way the statistics are interpreted and framed in your article suggests that the Muslim population in Berlin has outnumbered non-Muslim residents”, the letter continued. “It also suggests that this is a wider trend across Germany which is linked to the arrival of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. In doing so, your reporting implies that this trend is problematic, that having “Mohammed” among the top first names is something negative and  worth highlighting.”

In the context of a media coverage as defined by ECRI as using “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology”, MDI believes that the Mail Online article is dog-whistling Islamophobia. It recalls inflammatory narratives of “Islamisation” and spreads unfounded fears among those who read your newspaper.

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The EUJS has reacted to an Islamophobic statement by the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneissl. At the opening conference of the Slovakian Chairmanship of the OSCE in February, which focused on the topic of antisemitism, Karin Kneissl, foreign minister in Austria's right wing, nationalist coalition government, stated that if we speak of antisemitism we should look to Muslims and immigrants.

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