This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of May, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 11 May 2018
Media outlet: Twitter
Author: Katie Hopkins, British media personality
Tweet: “My report from The Jihadi Capital of Europe - Belgium - with @TuckerCarlson and @Foxnews – Islam Party wants to transform Belgium. Columnist Katie Hopkins on a rising force in Belgian politics.”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: After spending three days in Molenbeek, a municipality in the Brussels metropolitan area, Katie Hopkins published a series of video clips. Among the extensive footage she posted on Twitter, is a video interview with Fox News that encapsulates her anti-Muslim position well. Hopkins depicts Molenbeek, the neighbourhood where two of the Paris terrorist attackers lived, as a no-go zone and casts aspersions on it for its high concentration Moroccan residents which she refers to as “one type of population”. She also criticises the mayor of Molenbeek and other politicians for strategically adopting a do-nothing approach against terrorism in order to win votes from Muslim residents during elections periods. Lastly, Hopkins engages in fear-mongering about the possibility of councillors from the Islam Party being elected later on this year.
Myth Debunked: Calling Molenbeek “the Jihadi capital of Europe” is a derogatory exaggeration. Belgium is the country with the highest reported number of recruits to Islamist armed groups per capita in Western Europe, but defining Brussels a Jihadi capital is wrong and dishonest. Youth radicalisation is a recognised problem and is being tackled by authorities. The mayor never said this is a marginal problem. According to the law, unless there is evidence that a person is plotting an attack, people cannot be arrested for their thoughts alone. Molenbeek is not just the place where the Paris terrorists plotted the attack: it is a poor but dynamic and diverse neighbourhood, with Moroccan, Belgian, Turkish, Sub-Saharan, Romanian, Spanish, French, Italian residents – like in any multicultural neighbourhood in a any big city. Contrary to what Hopkins states, terrorism does not happen because people are turning a blind eye. On the contrary, a report by Human Rights Watch states that what is undermining counter terror efforts are laws that are too broad and abusive policing. Police and lawmakers are clearly not ignoring the problem but using a heavy-handed approach that is not effective. Above all, the Islam party is not representative of the Muslim residents of Molenbeek or Belgium. Their programme is not that different to conservative parties’ across Europe, mixed with anti-capitalist and green party elements.
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