Thursday, 18 April 2019 11:24

Belgian news outlet La Libre fosters categorisation of “good and bad Muslims”

A complaint by EFOMW requesting the Belgian news outlet La Libre to avoid dangerous simplifications when reporting on Muslims has been ignored by the editors. An opinion piece published in March has made widespread generalisations about what classifies as good Muslims and bad Muslims, creating misunderstandings that could lead to discrimination against those that the author sweepingly labels in a negative way.

A complaint by EFOMW requesting the Belgian news outlet La Libre to avoid dangerous simplifications when reporting on Muslims has been ignored by the editors.

An opinion piece published in March has made widespread generalisations about what classifies as good Muslims and bad Muslims, creating misunderstandings that could lead to discrimination against those that the author sweepingly labels in a negative way.

The article focuses on two NGOs looking to take over the management of the Grand Mosque in Brussels. They are referred to and juxtaposed as “Belgian Muslims”, those that according to the author should be in charge, and the “Saudi-influences Muslims”, described as “obscure competitors” and “dark opponents”.

EFOMW, GTTO partner, wrote a complaint to the editors of the newspaper. EFOMW requested that the journalists use a more nuanced approach to their reporting and avoid possible stigmatisation of those Muslims who follow more literalist strands of their faith. Critiquing Saudi influence is newsworthy and valid; however, using such commentary to call out a whole group of worshippers brands them collectively as bad and sets a dangerous precedent. Referring to this group as ‘obscure’ and ‘dark’ paints a scary image for the reader without providing much more supporting information or context, leaving the reader to assuming there is a big threat looming.

At the time of writing, La Libre has not replied to the complaint by EFOMW.

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