This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of April, 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 April 2019
Media Outlet: TR.news, website founded by Tommy Robinson claiming to “report the unreported news to the forgotten people of Britain.”
Author: Shazia Hobbs
Headline: “Shazia Hobbs – We Need to Talk About Islam”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is authored by Shazia Hobbs, a writer who has written for far-right platforms such as Jihad Watch and has spoken at far-right political party For Britain rallies. It is a response to a piece written by Moazzam Begg for the Middle East Eye, in which he talks about the British far-right and Islamophobia. Hobbs starts her article by stating: “I believe that it’s time to talk honestly about Islam and the hatred that is contained within the verses of the Koran, the Hadiths and the Sira.” What follows is a series of inflammatory and at times false claims, all with clear anti-Muslim undertones. Hobbs claims that there are “churches being burnt down all across Europe” while Mosques are continually being built in Europe, many more than necessary according to her. She goes on to state that “Austria has the right idea of expelling Imams and shutting down mosques.” Hobbs also criticizes high profile Muslims like Begg for not “using their platform to speak about the rot at the heart of their communities, the racism, the rape of children, honor violence, forced marriage and domestic abuse.” To conclude the article, Hobbs seems to blame the violence perpetrated by the far-right against Muslims on Muslims themselves: “Maybe the so-called ‘far right’ would cease to exist if Islam stopped being a real and credible threat to us all.”
The TR.news website was set up by Tommy Robinson after he was kicked off all major social media websites, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is the former leader of the English Defence League and is currently the ‘grooming gangs adviser’ of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). TR.news has a similar structure to a regular news website; however, there is a clear far-right editorial policy, with the majority of articles focusing on the supposed rise of Islam in European societies, particularly the UK.
Myth debunked: This article uses several anti-Muslim tropes and makes sensationalist claims with little or no evidence. Hobbs claims that churches are being burned down all across Europe; however, when one looks for articles supporting these claims, there is very little to find. The only news platform that seems to actively report on this is German PI News (Politically Incorrect), a far-right news platform. There have indeed been very unfortunate cases where churches have been vandalized in Europe; however, the claim that churches are burning all around Europe is extremely sensationalist and paints an image of Christianity being under attack in Europe. This is specifically the case in this article, as Hobbs seems to link to supposed rise in Islam and Mosques to the burning of churches, an unsubstantiated claim in line with far-right narratives. The assertion that the far-right would no longer exist if Islam stopped being a threat to Europe is not only extremely insulting to all Muslims who have suffered abuse at the hands of the far-right but also fails to acknowledge the history of the far-right. The far-right did not emerge in response to Islam, as Hobbs seems to claim, but instead has a nationalistic background. More recently the far-right has largely focused its attention on Islam, but this does not mean that the far-right would cease existence if the ‘threat’ of Islam subsided. It seems Hobbs is blaming Islam for a multitude of issues in Europe, including the violent rise of the far-right, without any basis in fact.
We cannot debunk this article without mentioning the founder of TR.news; Tommy Robinson. He is well-known in the UK as belonging to the far-right and holding extreme anti-Muslim views. There is a clear and just reason why he has been banned from all major social media platforms; he continues to spread hate. It is for this reason that all articles on TR.news need to be taken with many grains of salt and also why this article by Shazia Hobbs featured on the website is not surprising. It is in line with the far-right narrative and tropes used often by Tommy Robinson and his followers, for which he has created a new platform in TR.news.
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