From a Belgian politician comparing Islam to Nazism, to fake news being portrayed misleadingly as actual news in Hungary, these June 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.
Greece – Conservative politician advocates for mass deportations
Date of publication: 8 June 2018
Author: Thanos Tzimeros, leader of centrist conservative party Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece)
Facebook post: “The only thing we disagree on is ‘may’. What do you mean by ‘they may be deported’? The correct word is ‘leave tomorrow at dawn’ with a life ban from the country. That's what we'd do as a government. Mass deportation. With a gift of a one-way ticket to the Muslim country of their choice. Our islands would be clean in maximum one month. I've had enough of the organised invasion of Islam, the cancer of humanity”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Thanos Tzimeros shared on his page an article of Athens Voice on the possible expulsion from Austria of a few dozens of foreign-funded imams to tackle political Islam. When sharing the article, Tzimeros agrees with the Austrian Chancellor’s announcement and adds that, if his party was in power, it would carry compulsory “mass deportation” that would “clean” Greece from Muslim people and Islam. Tzimeros uses very strong language against Muslim people and Islam that recall Nazi terminology.
Myth Debunked: A mass deportation is the expulsion of foreign-nationals as a group, on the basis of their ethnicity, religion, or nationality. The European Court of Human Rights states that, unless such a measure “is taken on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular case of each individual”, collective expulsions are prohibited. According to international laws (Art. 4, Protocol 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 1950; Art. 12-5, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 1981; Art. 22-9, American Convention on Human Rights, 1969), each person is entitled to an individual decision on their expulsion as some people might be entitled to special protection, for example asylum seekers. What Tzimeros is advocating for is in breach of human rights conventions and discriminates against a group on the basis of their religion. Furthermore, studies have proved that mass deportation are not only impractical and expensive, but also ineffective.
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Hungary – Propaganda media outlet takes news from fake news websites
Date of publication: 22 June 2018
Media outlet: Origo, Hungary’s second most popular news website. It is a pro-government news portal. It changed its editorial stance in 2015, moving from being critical of the Fidesz-led government to becoming more government-friendly in its political reporting
Headline: “In Linz, they force Austrians to sing Islamic songs”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Muslims are blamed to be the cause of tensions in Austrian schools. They are portrayed as intolerant and authoritarian in forcing children to sing Islamic songs and to use traditional garments. The fact that a non-Muslim pupil (“intimidated children”) was singing an Islamic song at home was described by Origo as an outrage.
Myth Debunked: The article has no reliable sources. Those people who are quoted, such as “a Viennese teacher”, “the Muslim teacher”, “the mother”, are not named, nor is reported the name of the school. Origo took the story from Infowars, a known fake news website that, in turn, had taken the story from Voice of Europe, another known fake news website. Origo, as a propaganda media outlet, publishes stories like this to back the government agenda and fuel anger against Muslims in Europe and Hungary.
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France – Politician accuses migrants to religiously colonise the country
Date of publication: 23 June 2018
Media outlet: On n’est pas couché, talk show broadcast on France 2
Author: Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of the right-wing political party Debout la France (“France Arise”). On the last elections, the party was allied with the Front National of the extreme-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen
Description of the anti-migrant and anti-Muslim content: Following the offer from France to take in migrants from the Aquarius rescue ship, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is interviewed about the country’s migration policies. He states that France is religiously colonised by migrants, economically colonised by the US and China, and politically colonised by Brussels and the EU. He also claims that France spends billions of Euros to welcome migrants to the detriment of housing benefits and health care. When Dupont-Aignan is talking about migrants religiously colonising France is not talking about Spaniards or Brits. Without saying it explicitly, he is talking about Muslim people.
Myth Debunked: Dupont-Aignan chose to use the word “colonised” when referring to migrants living in France. This is not just paradoxical, but also offensive. Up until 60 years ago, France was one of the biggest colonial powers in the world and controlled, among other regions, most of North Africa. A million of European settlers moved to Algeria, where a brutal Independence War (1954–1962) left a death toll of about 1.5 million Algerians. Under the colonial rule, assimilation to French culture and language was the underlying policy. Furthermore, in 2016, a total of 256.000 migrants arrived in France. Of this, 78.000 were refugees and asylum seekers, while most of immigrants arrived on a family reunification or work visa. How can Dupont-Aignan blame migrants for putting a strain on the welfare system if most of them come to work?
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Belgium – Nationalist politician compares Islam to Nazism
Date of publication: 8 June 2018
Media outlet: Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN), a Dutch-language daily newspaper published in the Netherlands and Belgium
Author: Sam van Rooy, interviewed by Philippe Truyts. Sam van Rooy is a spokesperson for the Antwerp regional section of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang
Headline: “’Islamisation is a bigger problem than terrorism’ - Sam van Rooy: crown prince of Filip Dewinter and third on VB-list”
Description of the anti-Muslim and antisemitic content: In this interview, Sam van Rooy talks about his new book ‘For freedom against Islamisation’ and shares his views on Islam. He says that Islam is as bad as national socialism. When challenged by the journalist on this statement, van Rooy argues that, in 14 centuries, Islam claimed 270 million lives, and that it must be treated as a totalitarian ideology. Van Rooy also added that terrorism, as a problem, is less important than “the gradual Islamisation of our entire society, through demographic, legal, economic and political means.”
Myth Debunked: Comparing ISIS, Islamist terrorists, or Islam in general, to Nazism is a narrative used by many far-right wing politicians before. This is wrong under several aspects. First, it assumes that the beliefs of all Muslims are the same, whether they are war-mongers or peace-makers. While religion has certainly been used to justify nefarious acts, comparing Islam to national socialism means saying that the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are complicit in the crimes of a minority of extremist, and neglecting that Muslims are the first victim of terrorist attacks across the world. The second reason why the comparison is wrong is that it minimises the Holocaust and the horror of the extermination camps. The Nazi racial ideology, which targeted Jews and other groups for persecution and annihilation, was enforced between 1933 and 1945 by a state through a series of laws and policies that planned and systematically implemented the genocide of six million Jews and tens of thousands of people of other groups considered as ‘racially inferior’. As Katharine Gelber, Professor at the University of Queensland, argues, even when used to refer to a systematic and horrific abuse of human rights, the term “Nazi” should be avoided because it “risks diluting the term, blurring the meaning of what occurred during the Nazi period and overlooking key, defining aspects of the historical record such as the state-sanctioned nature of the Holocaust”.
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Germany – Islam as whole blamed for murder of 14-year old girl
Date of publication: 11 June 2018
Media outlet: Epoch Times Deutschland is a right-wing news website. It is the German edition of the newspaper Epoch Times, headquartered in New York City.
Author: Alfred Schlicht
Headline: The case of Susanna and Islam - Men are above women, violence can be used
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is an opinion piece following the murder of 14-year old Susanna Feldman in south-western Germany . As the BBC reports, the suspected rapist and killer is a failed Iraqi asylum seeker who was later arrested in Iraq. The author states that the murder of Susanna Feldman is the result of Muslim culture and religion and that Muslims do not want to become a part of German or European society. Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), as well as the far right and alt right, used this tragic murder case for their racist and anti-Merkel propaganda. The article in Epoch Times is part of this discourse and blames Islam as a whole for the rape and murder of Susanna.
Myth Debunked: The author himself recognises that “there are also ethno-German violent offenders, is true, but an irrelevant truism.” This is not irrelevant. Statistically speaking, from Honduras to Germany, from India to South Africa, the most likely person to kill a woman is her current or former partner, or a family member. Would we say, as Alfred Schlicht says, that “ethno-Germans” kill because the Bible presents “a picture of women that is incompatible with our value system”? Would we quote 1 Timothy 2:12, in which St Paul's says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent”? All over the world women live and experience violence and inequality of many levels in the patriarchal society where they live, regardless of race, religion and nationality.
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