Thursday, 28 February 2019 14:42

Hungary – Public Service TV Airs Discriminatory Interview about Muslims

Public service television channel M1 hosted Tamás Dezső from the government think-tank Migration Research Centre to discuss the integration of Muslim immigrants. The extremely biased and ill-informed piece provided no context to the discussion. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for February.

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.

Hungary MMHDate of publication: 16 February 2019

Media Outlet: M1, public service television channel


Headline: “Immigrants are integrated into Muslim communities”

Description of the anti-Muslim content: During their weekend news report, M1 invited Tamás Dezső, an expert at the Migration Research Centre, to discuss the integration of Muslim immigrants. The Migration Research Institute is a Hungarian think-tank closely linked to the government. They have been known to distribute research skewed towards the government’s message on topics such as Islam and immigrants. 

The news piece opened with a very quick and uninformed run-through of events: “Europe 2015 – Mass immigration starts from Syria and Africa because of war and danger. Then Europe 2016 - the terrorist threat increases, 2017- integration does not work, Europe 2018 – anti-Christian sentiments and anti-Semitism grows.” This opening sets the tone for the interview, during which Dezső claims there are no integrated Muslim communities in Europe, and that most Muslims belong to radical religious communities. During the interview, Dezső said: “Muslims look at Europe as a depraved society without religion. As the numbers of immigrants grow, Muslim communities will get stronger and stronger. There is competition between Muslim leaders and inclusive governments because such governments want to integrate immigrants into their societies.”

Myth debunked: This interview was aired on a public service media channel, which at its core should aim to inform and educate the public and be independent and non-partisan. Instead, the interview was extremely biased from the onset; the introduction linked several phenomenon in Europe in a causal manner, insinuating that immigrants and refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015 are the reason for the rise in antisemitism and anti-Christian sentiments. The interview itself failed to supply context for the claims Dezső was making and the interviewer made no effort to ask Dezső questions to counter his claims, making the whole piece extremely one-sided. The claims Dezső makes during the interview are highly inflammatory; stating that “Muslims look at Europe as a depraved society” without providing any evidence is not only unprofessional but sets a dangerous precedent. For such content to be aired on a public service media channel, which people look to for accurate and fair reporting, can be dangerous. Hungary is already dealing with dangerous anti-Muslim narratives, being spread by people as high up as the Prime Minister, and this type of content only furthers this trend. 

More to read:

The Challenges of Fake News and the Role of Public Service Broadcasters in Communicating Europe

Why an anti-Islam campaign has taken root in Hungary, a country with few Muslims

Europe’s Public Service Media: Between Responsibility and Accountability


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