This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of April, 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: 10 April 2018
Media outlet: levif.be
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.
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