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: 19 April 2019
Media Outlet: Facebook page of Vlaams Belang, Flemish right-wing populist and nationalist political party
Description of the xenophobic content: Vlaams Belang shared an article on their Facebook page from the far-right media platform SCEPTR. The article is titled “A Year in prison for immigrant who rapes woman with mental disability” and is about a case in France where a man committed a horrific rape. The headline, however, refers to the man as an ‘allochtoon’, which is a derogatory term for migrant. Not only is this unnecessarily inflammatory, but it is also incorrect. The original article which the SCEPTR piece is based on was published by news website Het Laatste Nieuws, which reports that the man is from the North of France and refers to him in their article as a Frenchman. There is no information to suggest anything other than the perpetrator is French, so it is unclear why SCEPTR, and also Vlaams Belang, refers to the man as ‘allochtoon’. We can assume that the criminal’s name, Abdelfatah, has something to do with this incorrect conclusion.
It is important to note that this is not an isolated case for Vlaams Belang. They routinely report about shocking crimes which they allege are committed by migrants along with statements like “how long are we going to support this?” and “we are importing criminals”, specifically calling for a reduction in migration from Muslim countries. They have also referred to migrants as ‘allochtonen’ in past Facebook posts.
Myth debunked: Vlaams Belang is a political party in Belgium, and with this comes a certain responsibility. The party is known for its far-right stance; however, this is no excuse for sharing biased and incorrect information, and for using derogatory terms such as ‘allochtoon’. ‘Allochtoon’ means ‘emerging from another soil’ and while it was originally intended to be used as a neutral term, the some? media has used the word to unfavourably distinguish ‘allochtoon’ people from the rest of society. In response to this, the Dutch government decided stop using the word in 2016. It is clear that Vlaams Belang is using such terminology to spark anger and frustration, something which we can see reflected in the comments left under this specific Facebook post, and similar ones posted by the party in the past. Many comments refer to a supposed ‘Muslim invasion’ and claim Muslims are violent people who do not belong in Europe. Vlaams Belang continues to share extremely biased content to spur such reactions from its followers, which it then in turn uses for political gain. The Belgian elections will be taking place in less than one month, on the 26th of May, therefore it is vital to call out this type of behaviour by politicians. No political party should gain prominence on the back of hate and false claims.
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