Get The Trolls Out! Belgian partner ENORB has directly complained to L’Echo, a French-language Belgian business newspaper for a piece published on January 5th, 2020. The article reported on the reaction by Muslim communities in Quebec to Bill 21, a law passed in June 2019. This legislation bars civil servants in positions of "authority”, such as judges, teachers, police officers, and other public figures, from wearing religious symbols — like the hijab, kippah, turban, and cross — while at work.
In their complaint, ENORB outlines several Islamophobic tropes used in the article. Throughout, the reporter is not accurate when describing the level of protests and the number of organisations that took a stand against the law. On the contrary, the article uses language to indicate growing numbers which could fuel fear: “demonstrations have been multiplying”, “campaigning with many other Muslims”. In one of these sentences, the journalist adds “despite the law being approved last June”, suggesting that as the law has already been approved, women are protesting for nothing. To read a detailed debunking of the article, please click here.
Alongside highlighting the many issues with the article, ENORB included suggestions for how the piece could have been written in a more inclusive manner in their complaint. Some of these suggestions included:
- State that different religious groups, not only Muslims, are against Bill 21
- Do not use the term “fundamentalists” to describe Muslims who are opposing the secularism law. It would also be more professional to clarify what the reporter means by “fundamentalism”
- Be more accurate when reporting about the numbers of Muslims protesting. If numbers are not available, it would be better to abstain from using words that fuel fear, and provide the names of the organisations campaigning against the law
- Avoid damaging and negative Islamophobic stereotypes, such as the depiction of Muslims as an angry and irrational group which is destabilizing the rule of law
We have so far not received any response from L’Echo; we will update this page if and when we do.