This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of March, 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: 4 March 2019
Media Outlet: Dimokratia, a popular Greek newspaper which leans to the right.
Author: G. Charvalias
Headline: “Persecution of Christians in the times of SYRIZA”
Description of the xenophobic content: This article is based on a case that dates back to November 2018. It concerns Apelli beach on the island of Lesvos, a beach visited by refugees living on the island. During the summer of 2018, a small cross was erected on the beach. The intention was unclear: some asserted that the cross acted as a memorial for those who had lost their lives in the area, whereas others claimed that the cross was raised in an attempt to discourage migrants and refugees from visiting the beach. In November of the same year the cross was removed; it is not known who removed it. Recently, with the summer season approaching and the beach opening again to the public, a group of 35 people raised a new cross, this time a bigger and metal one. The group of people was arrested by police but the cross remained on the site. Dimokratia’s front page calls this case “persecution of Christians” and goes on to claim that at a “time where hooded gangs and hooligans are partying and provoking common sense, they prefer to arrest those who are believers.”
Myth debunked: The issue with this front page article is the editorial decisions leading to this inflammatory reporting. The case is a sensitive and ongoing one and should be reported on. However, there are some basic editorial principles which have not been followed by this Dimokratia journalist. The article is one sided right from the get go and asserts its position by stating that this case is an attack on Christians. Nowhere in the article does the author mention the people who have claimed there was xenophobic intent behind raising the cross, therefore not giving a voice to the other side of this debate. Moreover, the headline is extremely emotive and plays into the narrative that Christians in Europe are being persecuted, which according to the far-right, is because of the rise of Islam. The piece could have given platform to multiple voices and started a healthy discussion, but instead Demokratia has helped further xenophobic sentiments.
More to read: