From a French magazine editor denying the Holocaust to false news about refugees in Greece, these May 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.
France – Magazine director invites students not to believe school books on the Holocaust
Date of publication: 17 May 2018
Author: Jérôme Bourbon, the director of the French far-right magazine "Rivarol"
Tweet: “School friends, if, during your classes, they brainwash you about the Holocaust, tell them about the Palestinian blood, about the massacre of unarmed civilians. Do not let anyone accept this, please react, revolt, do not be Judeo-submissive"
Description of the antisemitic content: In this tweet, Bourbon is denying the overwhelming body of evidence about the genocide of six million Jews during World War 2. He also claims that everything taught in schools in relation to fascism and the Second World War is a lie. In fact, Bourbon blames Jews (“don’t be submissive to Jews”) for making society believe the events of World War II, and gives credit to youtubers and bloggers who may have no knowledge of history.
Myth Debunked: Denying or downplaying the Holocaust is a form of antisemitism. It is denying facts based on historical evidence. This is disinformation aimed at spreading hatred against Jews. Condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza should be done without indiscriminately targeting Jews worldwide and by using antisemitic language and imagery. The responsibility for action taken by the Israeli government or the Israeli army cannot be placed on Jews as a people. Bourbon’s Twitter account is not available anymore in France, after LICRA requested it is closed for inciting hatred.
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Belgium – Politician blames refugee parents for their daughter’s killing by the police
Date of publication: 25 May 2018
Media outlet: VRT
About the author: Bart De Wever is the leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a Flemish nationalist party in Belgium.
Headline: De Wever: “Mawda’s parents are not just victims, they also have to take responsibility”
Description of the anti-refugee and anti-Muslim content: Bart De Wever accuses two-year-old Mawda’s parents of being responsible for their daughter’s death. The girl was shot in the face during a police chase. The police opened fire on a van carrying 30 refugees near Mons, Belgium. The girl was in the car with her Kurdish-Iraqi parents and three-year old brother. The Guardian reports that “Mawda and her family are Kurdish refugees who had recently been deported to Germany but had made their way back to Belgium, where they were staying until they could afford to make their way to the UK.” De Wever blames the girl’s family for trying to migrate, thus causing their daughter’s death.
Myth Debunked: De Wever’s assertion is an example of victim-abuser reversal, where the victim/oppressed (the girl’s family) is accused, rather than its abuser/oppressor (the police and the immigration laws). Deaths at international borders are not an inevitable fatality, and certainly not the fault of those trying to cross for a better life. They are caused by repressive migration policies at the expense of people who were not lucky enough to be born on the “right” side of the border. Iraqi passports allow visa-free access to only 30 destinations. With a Belgian passport De Wever can get visa-free to 185 destinations – quite a different position to an Iraqi national. De Wever feels entitled to judge. What does he know about life as a Muslim refugee in Germany? Would he have said the same if it was a white Belgian girl with her white Belgian family? Most probably not.
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United Kingdom – Katie Hopkins smears Molenbeek and its residents
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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Belgium – Politician smears diversity in markets
Date of publication: 30 May 2018
Media outlet: Twitter
Author: Filip Dewinter
About the author: Filip Dewinter is a leader of the Vlaams Belang, Flemish nationalist far-right party.
Tweet: Welcome to #Antwerpistan...look, shudder and realise: this is your multicultural future! #Resistance #AntwerpIsOurs Sign the petition immigratiestop.be
Description of the anti-Muslim content: With this tweet, Dewinter is promoting Vlaams Belang’s campaign to stop immigration from outside the EU. He shares a video of women and men of different cultures, origins, and religions browsing in a market in Antwerp. Dewinter’s intention is to scare the viewer with an ‘excess’ of diversity. He also uses derogatory fabricated words such as “Antwerpistan”, using the suffix –istan after Antwerp to allude to, in his view, to the city’s resemblance to countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan which are, of course, all Muslim countries. The video ends with the politician encouraging people to sign a petition to the council of Antwerp to stop the arrival of non-EU immigrants.
Myth Debunked: Dewinter’s attack on what he calls multiculturalism is a thinly veiled attack on Muslims. Many of the women in the video are wearing headscarves. He is talking about Muslim people and black people when writing the word “shudder” in his tweet. The use of the slur “Antwerpistan” puts non-migrant groups in a position of superiority and also labels racial and religious differences as antagonistic to European identities. It is true that the demography of European cities in changing, but those which deal with integration and diversity using an intercultural approach have better overall citizen satisfaction and quality of life.
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Germany – Philosopher claims “suicidal tendencies” endemic to Islam will destroy Europe
Date of publication: 9 May 2018
Media outlet: The European
About the source: The European defines itself as “the debate magazine”. It features opinion articles, columns and interviews. It has English and German language versions.
Author: Rudolf Bradner, philosopher
Headline: The Muslim Paradox
Description of the anti-Muslim content: The author claims that Islam, with its “suicidal tendencies”, has destroyed Muslim societies. Moreover, migrants coming to Europe bring those religious identities and traditions from the countries they are fleeing and it is exactly those traditions that will destroy Europe as well. For him, this is the Muslim paradox. The author compares the “segregated societies” that “refuse integration and acculturation” and obey the Koran, to the “achievements of the European culture of knowledge”. He predicts that Sharia law will dominate Europe, thus collapsing “the entire philosophical-scientific culture of knowledge - the basis of Europe's technological and economic supremacy and its wealth.” He claims that no single Muslim country has a culture of scientific knowledge and technological productivity because of Muslims’ “mental attitude”. The consequences of the approaching “Islamisation of Europe” are “impoverishment, dissolution of all legal relationships and tribal devastation of European countries”.
Myth Debunked: Beyond the stereotypical Islamophobic assumptions that Muslim people constitute a monolithic and homogenous block where everyone has the same thoughts and cultural tradition, wherever in the world they live, this article is a despicable display of colonialist superiority. That same “culture of knowledge” and science that, to the author, makes Europe so glorious, did not prevent European countries committing crimes against humanity. In fact as part of its civilising mission, European empires have used the guise of bringing progress and modernity to commit atrocities in their colonies.
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Greece – False news about refugees in Greek island camp
Date of publication: 27 May 2018
Media outlet: Makelio
About the source: Makelio, which means “massacre”, is a daily newspaper published in Greece. Its editor also works as a commentator for mainstream TV channels.
Headline: “Mytilini has become Afrin! Jihadists all over the island have killed 4 Kurds who did not observe the Ramadan. Fear is spread among the citizens while at the same time Tsipras is busy legislating about gays and drug users”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: The newspaper claims that four people have died as a result of tensions at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos. It states that they were killed by ISIS militants trying to reach mainland Greece. “They don’t care about killing their own people, imagine what they will do to us!” The police have never confirmed that the killers were ISIS militants. Mr. Toskas, Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection, has officially stated that the incident was not a result of Islamic extremists. It is a fabrication by the newspaper.
Myth Debunked: The four people mentioned in the article did not actually die. They were injured and taken to hospital. This media outlet simply fabricated that the killers were affiliated with ISIS, the reporter also mentions different facts, not connected with the incident, in an attempt to bolster their arguments and create a false reality. More significantly, this tragic incident draws attention to the poor living conditions of people forced to live in limbo. The newspaper is purposely spreading false information in order to slur Muslim refugees and add fuel to the flames of an issue that deeply divides people in Greece. Of course criminality is and should be condemned but it should not be connected with ISIS or fundamentalism without evidence. Furthermore, this opportunity is being used by the reporter to attack the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras for giving priority to same-sex couples’ legislation over the security of citizens.
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Hungary – Yannopoulos’s anti-Muslim rants without free media
Date of publication: 26 May 2018
Media outlet: M1 channel
About the source: M1 is a channel of the nationwide public television broadcasting organization Magyar Televízió. It is a pro-governmental media outlet.
Headline: “Milo Yiannopoulos: Islam is the greatest threat to civilization”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Milo Yannopoulos, British alt-right provocateur and former senior editor at Breitbart News, delivered a speech at the “Risks and Opportunities in the 21st Century” event in Budapest 25 May, 2018. He was invited by the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society, a group funded by the Hungarian government. Yannopoulos’s opening sentence was “The devil is real. And he lies, his name is George Soros.” On this interview for M1 channel, he said it’s time to end political correctness towards Muslims and that European values and Islam are not compatible.
Myth Debunked: Milo Yannopoulos was invited to deliver a speech by a Foundation which is very close to the government. Only government propaganda media outlets were invited to the event, so no reporters were present to ask tough questions and contradict racist speakers such as Yannopoulus. Propaganda media, such as M1, gave a voice to Yannopoulus’ anti-Muslim rants, in line with the government agenda.
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