This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of January, 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: 17 January 2019
Media Outlet: RTBF, Belgian public-service broadcasting organisation.
Author: The former Secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification, Theo Francken, of the Flemish nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA).
Headline: “Humanitarian visas: Theo Francken favoured the arrival of Christians”.
Description of the anti-Muslim content: In this interview, Jan De Volderhead of the Belgian branch of the charity called Community of Sant’Egidio, discloses details on the country’s humanitarian visa programme. De Volder revealed that the Community of Sant’Egidio, which was selected by the Migration ministry to cooperate on humanitarian visas, received instructions to only select Christian Syrians. This shows that the former Secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification, Theo Francken, of the Flemish nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), has been choosing refugees on the basis of religion.
Myth debunked: As an EU report states, “Humanitarian visas are one of the tools that countries can use to enable people in need to access international protection legally and safely”. While it has not yet been fully implemented by all EU countries, the humanitarian visa system was proposed “to address the intolerable death toll in the Mediterranean [...], to combat human smuggling, and to manage arrivals, reception and processing of asylum claims better”. Using religion rather than vulnerability to select refugees is discriminatory. This anti-Muslim bias wrongly creates the impression that some people, Muslims, are less deserving of being granted refuge on the basis of faith. Asylum seeker selection should be based on people’s need and on the vulnerability, regardless of anyone’s religious background.
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