Our partner organisation 'Karpos' wrote to Star Channel in Greece, complaining about the 'Leaders' show on March 9th, entitled 'Islam at Our Borders.'
The show stereotyped Muslims, constantly repeated the notion that Muslims 'could not be Europeanised' and that their culture was incompatible with Greece's. They sent a letter of comaplaint to the show's editor, Ilias Papanikolaou:
Dear Mr. Papanikolaou,
We are writing to express our dissatisfaction with the way you approached and presented a topic that concerns the faith of millions of people around the world, during your 'Leaders' program on March 9, entitled “Islam at Our Borders ”.
Our dissatisfaction relates to the journalistic angle that you seem to adopt. It is not just to the fact that we find what you expressed offensive, not only that it is offensive to our fellow Muslim citizens, but also to the very notion of secularism and the freedoms that our country allows and defends.
Our organization participates in hate speech monitoring and recording program in the Greek Media, and it identifies articles that express elements of hatred against minorities and vulnerable groups. On this occasion, your show was bought to our attention.
The main issue that we would like to bring to your attention, as we appreciate your long experience in the industry, is the problematic position taken by the journalist during the interview. It does not only matter what that position is, but also that the journalist in question expressed his offensive, deepest beliefs and did not simply speak in facts.
Your show is full of derogatory statements about Islam, their followers and Muslim countries (let's remember Balochistan and the general impression that Islam is an oppressive religion and that violence is flooding the world east of Greece). Your questions were often anti-Islamic, and you ended up (along with your guest) often concluding that incoming Muslims cannot be Europeanized because they do not wish to be. We would expect you instead, to cite the relevant data on the integration of Muslim refugees and migrants into Europe.
In addition, you were attempting to link the policies of the Turkish President with the immigrants and refugees who wanted to enter Greek-European territory at the beginning of last month. If we are not mistaken, you were implying the existence of a plan to invade and conquer by Erdogan's Islamic army. These, and more, are opinions that, although we completely disagree with them, do not consider it a crime if somebody embraces and promotes them. Unless however, they are a journalist, who are required to follow certain rules and expectations from the public, as defined by standard journalistic ethics.
With this letter we are not trying to deceive you about your work. We would rather open up an honest dialogue about the responsibilities of journalism officials when it comes to issues related to people's sensitive beliefs - such as religion.
If the content of the show, with the distortions and stereotypes it reproduced, was directed against Christianity, there would be a huge reaction in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion - and rightly so. Now that Islam concerns only a minority of our fellow citizens, it seems easier for such approaches to go unnoticed. But do not forget that our Greek compatriots are also affected and that, in the end, Islam has been on our borders since the time of the Treaty of Lausanne - not to mention the way Christians and Muslims have lived together for centuries. Islam is the official religion of many Greek citizens and MPs but also of thousands of people, refugees and immigrants living in our country today, and this is not because they invaded to conquer it, but because they were forced to escape life-threatening conditions. Respect for their religious choices is a key element of cultural development.
Thank you for your time, and we hope that in future you use your professional skills in a more ethical journalistic direction.
The Karpos team