On the 7th January 2020, De Standaard published an article titled 'Van wielrenner to Dewinters pupil', which quoted an interview with Sam van Rooy, the new fraction leader of political party Vlaams Belang.
Van Rooy, famous for his strong stance on the 'Islamisation' of Flanders, was interviewed on his past, his beliefs and specifically his anti-Islam stance. The article normalises many anti-Muslim rhetoric and tropes, treating inflammatory statements with complete casualness.These include quoted statements placing the Koran on an equal level with Mein Kampf, calling mosques "barracks of jihad, and a prediction of a future religious war". The piece is accompanied by a professional photograph of both politicians smiling. The article was subsequently shared on Vlaams Belang’s Facebook page, where it gathered significant traction.
Our media monitor contacted De Standaard's editor to complain about the article, saying: "We are concerned about the article’s focus on Islam, and more specifically the lack of critical stance or context provided within the piece. [...] From the very first sentence, you continually equate Vlaams Belang to anti-Islam sentiments and narratives, and do so without providing any journalistic critique or context. Someone who reads this piece would easily assume that the statements made by Van Rooy are simply the truth because they are given no opposing or different information or opinion."
It is our belief at Get The Trolls Out, that politicians like Sam van Rooy should not be ignored by the media; in fact, because of Vlaams Belang’s increasing popularity, the media should be paying close attention to this political party. However, this should be done in a journalistically sound and fair manner, which De Standaard has failed to do. Our monitor ended his compliant by asking the editor to consider whether they felt the article 'legitimises a type of speech that causes the spread of hatred against one group of people'.
We have so far not recieved any comment from De Standaard.