ART Channel, a private regional TV network in Greece uncritically “examined” anti-Muslim fake news published by a far-right newspaper during a talk-show. During the show, the presenter, the panellists and a third-party legal expert repeated Eleftheri Ora’s false claims that an Orthodox Church in the Votanikos area of Athens had been demolished to build a Mosque.
As we explained in our exposé of the original story reported in Eleftheri Ora, Greek fact-checking website Ellinika Hoaxes had exposed this incident as no more than a disingenuous attempt to discredit Muslims in Greece. Given Elftheri Ora’s reputation for spreading misinformation and hateful conspiracy theories, ART Channel’s decisions to accept a story reported in this newspaper alone raises serious questions about their credibility.
Symbiosis, GTTO partner in Greece, noted that participants of the talk-show used this unsubstantiated story to make various Islamophobic claims. For example, they claimed that the government’s willingness to sanction the demolition of an Orthodox Church to make way for the Mosque points to the existence of a powerful Islamic lobby in Greece (this argument is strikingly similar to a common anti-Semitic conspiracies about a Jewish World Government). The host went as far as comparing the demolition of this building to the Islamic State’s violent destruction of ‘un-Islamic’ buildings in Syria and Iraq.
Something else points to this being a disingenuous attempt to spread anti-Islamic hate. What other reason would a regional newspaper from Thessaloniki have to dedicate a fifteen minute segment to an unconfirmed incident that purportedly took place in Athens and was reported in fringe far-right newspaper with serious credibility issues?
Symbiosis raised these issues in an official complaint to the channel. Apart from making reference to the Journalists’ Code of Conduct, they explained that the Greek Law 4285/2014 forbids public incitement to violence. They underlined that a reputable broadcaster like ART Channel should not spread false information, especially in a way that could lead to violence. Symbiosis also questioned the impartiality and credibility of the panellists, because not a single one questioned this false-news story. At the date of publication, ART Channel had not responded to their complaint.