This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of February, 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: 25 February 2019
Media Outlet: Doorbraak.be, opinion website
Author: Johan Sanctorum
Headline: “Deny and delay until they die”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article criticizes the Belgian government’s approach to dealing with terrorism, and the lack of media coverage around it. It focusses specifically on the case of Philippe Vandenberghe, who has been on a hunger strike for over two weeks to protest against the Belgian government’s treatment of terrorist attack victims. He specifically critiques the lacklustre support to victims by the government’s health insurance provider. In the piece, the author Johan Sanctorum makes a direct comparison between terrorism and Islam; insinuating that terrorism is an element of the Muslim religion. He states: “And that's how we come to the point: the government refuses to see Islam as a risk, as an objective war hazard against which one must and can arm itself.” In this statement, the author leaps from discussing terrorism directly to Islam, claiming that the religion is dangerous and that we must protect ourselves from it. Sanctorum also claims that victims of terrorist attacks are left out of the media spotlight, because we are not allowed to point out “violent religious ideology that belongs to the subsidized religions in Belgium.”
Myth debunked: Claiming that terrorist attacks and Islam as a religion are one and the same sets a dangerous precedent, and is incorrect. It is true that there have been terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists in Belgium, and in other parts of the world, but this small minority of extremists does not represent Islam as a whole. It is often the case that Muslims as a whole are blamed for terrorist attacks carried out by extremists; however, this treatment rarely extends to other religions or political beliefs. For example, white shooters in the United States are often referred to as lone wolves, and their religious and political beliefs often ignored. The author transitions from using terminology related to terrorism to that referring to Islam without any form of explanation, signalling that it is all the same. To further suggest arming oneself against Islam is a distressing statement, and it is this type of language that motivates people to commit hate crimes.
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