Our partner organisation Karpos wrote to Newsbomb.gr in Greece, complaining about a recent article on the platform which was based on misinformation and pushed far-right tropes.
The article focussed on the north-eastern region of Komotini in Greece, which has a large Greek Muslim community. The headline and opening statement of the article seem to suggest that mosques in Komotini continue to use loudspeakers for their call to prayer despite the law passed by the Greek government, disobeying authorities. However, as they later state themselves, this is not the case. To read our full debunking of the article, click here.
Karpos sent a letter of complaint to the publisher:
We are writing to express our displeasure for a post on your website, on April 9, 2020 entitled “Coronavirus: What happened to the ban of loudspeakers in the mosques of Komotini?”, which we believe does not serve objective information purposes and misleads the reader, further stigmatizing the Muslim community of Greece.
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. It was through this work that we located the aforementioned post on your website. In it, there is talk of the operation of the loudspeakers in some Muslim mosques, from which the time of prayer is announced to the faithful. The citation of audio-visual material provided by citizens of the area supports this hypothesis. However, two important points are not clear from the outset: on the one hand, time and, on the other hand, the ultimate purpose of operation. Let us explain:
While you finally mention that the use of loudspeakers took place before the issuance of the relevant JMC which prohibited the use of the bell in churches, this is not done from the beginning, as it should be, clearly (from the lead of the text), nor is it expressed unequivocally, with as a result, an issue is created by an essentially "non-issue". The attempted confrontation between Christians and Muslims and the suspicion of tolerance of Muslim religious practices against Christian citizens is not only unfortunate in terms of journalism, but also ultimately dangerous as it strengthens the existing climate of competition between fanatics of both religions.
On the other hand, the ban on the use of the bell by the State serves exclusively the purpose of preventing worshipers from attending the temples due to the dangers of spreading the crown. Because the sound of the bell signals the call of the faithful to the church, the beginning and end of the service and the sacraments. On the contrary, the recorded message of the Muslim places of worship that was heard in public serves to inform the time about the individual prayer of the faithful, which is not required to be done in the Muslim places of worship. In this sense, it would not be tolerable or preferable to continue this public information towards the Christian population. However, according to reports, even this stopped after the issuance of the JMC.
The article, trying to defend the Christian faith that the Middle East obviously considers to be yours (something we consider non-existent as the Orthodox faith is deeply entrenched in the country), targets, albeit vaguely, a community of our fellow citizens.
As active and informed citizens, we demand from the media ethical and objective approaches, which will not complicate the public's right to information with nuggets of phobic stereotypes. We hope that as experienced journalists you will also take this approach into account and ensure more active ways of information in the future.
The Karpos team