This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of July, 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: 26 July 2018
Source: Twitter and various news media outlets
Author: Tony Hulsmans, member of New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), Flemish nationalist and conservative political party
Description of the anti-Muslim content: In a video, an N-VA party member, Tony Hulsmans, shouts antisemitic and Islamophobic insults while imitating Hitler and doing the Nazi salute. This video was shot about three years ago but re-emerged at the end of July, when it was reposted by a person on Facebook while commenting on an anti-refugee post by Hulsmans. Hulsmans, who stood as a councillor candidate in the town of Zonhoven, was soon dismissed from the N-VA list of candidates. However, he is still a party member.
Myth Debunked: Similar to the Le Parisien case, what is relevant here is not only the antisemitic and Islamophobic nature of the video, but the attention that the national media gave him. Surely local media are right to publish the story so as to inform residents who might vote for him, and the N-VA party, without having a full picture of what a council candidate believes in. But nation-wide media coverage –that includes titles such as La Libre, Le Soir, and HLN – ensured, instead, the notoriety of a racist fanatic who was unknown until the day before. Disproportionate media attention risks reinforcing harmful ideas and present racist candidates as serious contenders.
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