This article part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of August, 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 September 2018
Author: Theo Francken, Belgian N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) politician. He is the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration in the Michel Government. Francken has attracted criticism in the past for spreading anti-migrant ideas.
Description of the anti-migrant content: Francken retweeted two tweets by Peter Imanuelsen in relation to recent elections in Sweden. Imanuelsen is a far-right internet personality who has denied the Holocaust and spread homophobic messages in the past. The first tweet, which Francken re-tweeted without comment, stated that the Social Democrats were having their worst election result since 1908. The second tweet was about the election results from the Swedish area of Rinkeby, which Imanuelsen alleges to be a no-go zone with a 90% migrant population. Along with this tweet, Francken said “electoral gold”. After receiving criticism over the tweets, Francken deleted both, claiming he thought the tweets were from a journalist.
Myth debunked: There are two main issues here; the author of the original tweets and the message behind the actual content of the tweets, Peter Imanuelsen has published content in the past denying the Holocaust and regularly posts degrading and hateful words about Islam and immigration. Theo Francken is a Belgian politician with a large online following; he should not be republishing content from a well-known alt-right conspiracy theorist. Even though he did delete the tweets after receiving negative feedback, and claims he thought Peter Imanuelsen was a journalist, Francken should have checked his source before retweeting. The tweet shared by Francken also implies and reinforces the narrative that the Left is importing immigrants to vote for them. The fact that he agrees to call Rinkeby a no go-zone reinforces the stigma that zones with a high percentage of migrants are dangerous.
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