Wednesday, 25 April 2018 16:36

April - Media Monitoring Highlights

From violent claims of Islam waging war against Christianity in Germany to antisemitic posters and chants in football stadiums, our April highlights are an overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. 

From violent claims of Islam waging war against Christianity in Germany to antisemitic posters and chants in football stadiums, our April highlights are an overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. 

Belgium – The Islam party does not represent all Belgian Muslims

mediapart 10 04 18Date of publication: 10 April 2018

Media outlet:

About the source: Le Vif/L’Express is a French weekly news magazine published in Brussels 

Author: Alain Destexhe 

About the author: Alain Destexhe is a member of the Brussels Regional Parliament for the Reformist Movement party


Headline: "The tree of the ‘Islam’ party that hides the forest"

Description of the anti-Muslim content:

In this opinion piece, Alain Destexhe claims that the ultra-conservative Islam Party is a small problem compared to the “rampant Islamisation” of the country. Destexhe asserts that all Belgian Muslims agree with the views and proposals of the ultra-conservative Islam party and goes on to predict that the Muslim community will increase from 700,000 to 2 millions. He asks his readers to “open their eyes” and uses disparaging and fear-mongering language against Muslim people (“proliferation of headscarves in the street”; “the disappearance of pork from school canteens”). 

Myth Debunked: 

Treating the entire Muslim population as one monolithic block that holds same political views and thoughts is a very common anti-Muslim prejudice. The Islam party is an ultra-conservative party, whose hard-line views are not shared by the majority of Muslims. The Islam party have appropriated the word “Islam” and, as a result, the electorate might erroneously believe that the political views they advocate for are shared by the Muslim community as a whole. Destexhe distorts survey findings to depict an alarming situation where an overwhelming majority of Muslims hold very conservative opinions. In an attempt to prove his point, Destexhe quotes a survey from the Berlin Social Science Centre:“66 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 82 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible to which every Muslim should adhere and 70 percent say that religious law supersedes the laws of their”. However, it’s not clear what survey respondents meant, for example, with “returning to the roots of Islam”: it could refer to giving alms to the poor, or praying five times a day, rather than holding fundamentalist views, as Destexhe implies. Alain Destexhe was banned from standing in the council elections in 2018 because of past offences towards immigrants and Muslims. Recently he attacked a fellow party member for being “excessively permissive” in relation to Ramadan.

More to read:

Mohsin Hamid: 'Islam is not a monolith'

The shaping of Islam and Islamophobia in Belgium 


France – Councillor says there are “too many Arabs”

The Times of IsraelDate of publication: 26 April 2018

Media outlet: Army Radio Galatz

About the source: Galatz is an Israeli radio network operated by the Israel Defense Forces

Author: Aviv Zonabend

About the author: Aviv Zonabend is a councillor in the city of Toulouse, France.


Description of the anti-Muslim content

Interviewed in Hebrew by Army Radio Galatz, Zonabend said that there are “very many, too many” Arabs in the city of Toulouse with a total of 11-12 percent of its population. He also said that there are “very few” Jews and that about 600 families had left the city for Israel in the past five years. When French media picked the story up, Zonabend blamed his “poor Hebrew, a language I do not speak” and said he had meant to say Islamists not Arabs. The mayor of Toulouse has ordered an inquiry into the case and threatened to fire him if an official translation confirms his comments. 

Myth Debunked:

Concern about anti-Jewish sentiment should not be used to justify bigotry against Muslims. Equally, being from a discriminated minority does not mean it is acceptable to then treat other minorities with prejudice. Antisemitism should not be tackled by using anti-Muslim rhetoric, but rather by joining forces to counter intolerance as a whole. Furthermore, Zonabend makes an implicit connection between what he sees as a “high number of Arabs” and the migration of 600 Jewish families to Israel. This is not based on any evidence.

More to read:

For Jews, The Fight Against Islamophobia Must Begin At Home

 Our own worst enemy: Jewish Islamophobia (VIDEO) 


Belgium – Antisemitic chants and posters in football stadium

Beerschot Wilrijk TweetDate of publication: 18 April 2018

Media outlet: Twitter

Author: KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk 

About the author: Beerschot Wilrijk is a Belgium football club located in Wilrijk, Antwerp. They have 5200 followers on Twitter and about 40.000 on Facebook.

Link to tweet:  

Description of the antisemitic content:

During the Beerschot-Antwerp match on 15 April 2018, Beerschot Wilrijk supporters sang antisemitic chants and displayed antisemitic banners. Prompted by the Pro League, Beerschot club released a statement assuring everyone that they “sincerely acknowledge Jewish suffering during the Second World War", and as a sign of respect the delegation from the club will visit the Kazerne Dossin, the Memorial Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen, Belgium. The club also said they will ban supporters with antisemitic banners or who sing antisemetic songs in the stadium, including the word “Jew”. However, the statement goes on to say that this does not apply to the song “if you don’t’ jump, you’re a Jew” because it is racist or hateful as “Jew” is simply a very old nickname given to Antwerp FC that is even used by Antwerp FC fans. Despite their promised to ban anti-Semitism in the club, their social media pages still show photos of the stadium and their fans with antisemitic posters. One such posters calls for a ban of the Jewish star of David. 

Myth Debunked: 

Antisemitic banners and chants are commonplace discriminatory practices in football stadiums in Europe. “Calling opponent team supporters ‘Jews’ is commonly used by far-right groups in Europe as a means of causing offence,” states the Global Guide to Discriminatory Practices in Football. “It reflects an anti-Semitic worldview which inflicts xenophobic stereotypes about Jewish people onto fans of the opposing team.”  

Though this might seem innocuous to some – including the Beerschot club which does not regards these antisemitic chants as insulting – if unchallenged, these practices create an unsafe environment for everyone, especially Jewish people. If some supporters see it as good fun and not intentionally antisemitic, these songs and banners are nevertheless offending a minority group. As the Community Security Trust explains, “This can force some to hide the fact they are Jewish or even to stop participating altogether.” 

Some football clubs, such as Antwerp in Belgium, Tottenham in England and Ajax in the Netherlands, have a reputation for being “Jewish clubs,” and its supporters regard this as an honour (despite not being Jewish). Some teams use their Jewish image as a badge of honour and supporters say that, in doing so, they are appropriating insulting terms and reversing their meaning. However, this practice is problematic. First of all, fierce rivalry between football clubs means that having a Jewish image regrettably prompts antisemitic responses from opposing teams – and this can have violent consequences outside the stadiums too. Secondly, football fans claiming a collective Jewish identity that is not actually theirs, when they are defending it  are not in fact defending Jews, but their team. 

Despite their laudable commitment to fighting antisemitism, Beerschot club seems to acknowledge antisemitism as part of European history, but not part of its present. Paying a visit to the Holocaust Museum is an excellent way of understanding the sufferings of Jewish people in Europe, but it’s important not to relegate antisemitism to the past. Antisemitic violence and hatred did not end with the Holocaust. 

More to read:

Playing The Game: Reporting Antisemitism in Football

Global Guide to Discriminatory Practices in Football

Whatever their intention, Spurs fans should stop calling themselves Yids


Germany – CDU politician accuses Muslims of destroying Christianity

journalistenwatchDate of publication: 28 April 2018

Media outlet: JouWatch

About the source: JouWatch is a far-right blog focusing on the media coverage by other outlets

Author:  Peter Helmes

About the author: Peter Helmes is a CDU politician 


Headline: On the way to Islamisation! They want to break our backs/crucifixes (it's a play on words as "kreuz" in German can mean “back” as well as “crucifix” or “cross”)

Description of the anti-Muslim content:

Peter Helmes’ tirade accuses Muslims of “destroying Christianity and our Christian culture” with the “support of their allies”, the Green and Left parties. He complains about Christian symbols being removed from public places, such as doctors surgeries, and claims that Christian religious sites are being vandalised. In his opinion, ethnic Germans should be blamed for allowing Muslims, “who are now also supposed to belong to Germany”, to win the “war against Christians”. He uses words such as “enemies of Europe's Christian-Western values”

Myth Debunked: 

Helmes’s tirade on Jouwatch has its roots in theories on the Clash of the Civilisations, the Decline of the West, and Tropes of Orientalism. Helmes implies a fundamental incompatibility between the West, fully identified with Christianity, and Islam which is portrayed as barbaric and backwards. Applying the victim-abuser reversal strategy, the Muslim minority in Germany is depicted as the victimiser. There is no such a thing as a war being waged by Islam against Christianity, as it is claimed in the article, and Muslim communities are part of German society and citizenship today. Demands for secularism comes instead from non-Muslim citizens. Extreme false claims like Helmes’ constitute violence against Muslims whose lives are affected by this stigmatisation. 

More to read:

The Clash of Ignorance.  Labels like "Islam" and "the West" serve only to confuse us about a disorderly reality.

There is no such thing as western civilisation

European Islamophobia Report 2016 - Germany


Hungary – Sensationalism won’t solve antisemitism AprilDate of publication: 20 April 2018

Media outlet:

About the source: is a Hungarian right wing news outlet which mainly publishes opinion pieces. 

Author: Vincze Viktor Attila, journalist


Headline: “Outrageous: it was an Arab and not a Jew who was attacked by a Syrian migrant in Berlin”

Description of the anti-Muslim content:

This article reports on an Israeli Arab in Berlin who was attacked by a young Syrian refugee mistakenly thinking that he was Jewish. The victim, Adam, and his friend were attacked while walking on the street. They were wearing kippahs, the Jewish skullcaps, because a friend from Israel had told Adam that it was too dangerous to wear one in Berlin and he wanted to test it out. The article frames the story in a very sensationalist way in order to put the blame for anti-Semitism on Muslim refugees. 

Myth Debunked: 

While the German police database registered that 90 percent of all antisemitic crimes are committed by far-right individuals, other studies, such as The head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said that antisemitism is sinful  showed that German respondents’ mainly perceive perpetrators as having a Muslim background. In Germany there is a gap in research when it comes to perpetrators’ backgrounds in violent antisemitic incidents. In any case, it is wrong to generalise and stigmatize a whole community on the basis of acts by a group of them. After the antisemitic attack against the Israeli Arab in Berlin, representatives of the Muslim communities in Germany condemned the attack. The head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said that antisemitism is sinful and must be tackled. Muslim women at the “Kippah march” worn the skullcap over their hijabs in solidarity with Jewish community. And Berlin State Secretary, of Palestinian background, said in a video on Twitter "I am shaken to the core and appalled and ashamed of this man who speaks my language."Antisemitism in Berlin is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed, but it did not start in 2015 with the arrival of Syrian refugees. 

More to read:

An Author's Quest to Explain Muslim Anti-Semitism

Rethinking empathy: emotions triggered by the Holocaust among Muslim-minority in GermanyRethinking empathy: emotions triggered by the Holocaust among Muslim-minority in Germany

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.