This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights for May, 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 May 2019
Media outlets: Origo, a pro-government news site. It changed its editorial stance in 2015, moving from being critical of the Fidesz-led government to be supportive of the current government in its political reporting.
Headline: “A Muslim bus driver in Paris didn't allow a woman to get on the bus because he thought her skirt was too short ”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Origo reported an incident that happened in France, in which it claims a Muslim bus driver in Paris did not allow a 29-year-old woman and her friend to get on the bus because her clothing was not appropriate. The article states: “The driver pulled over at the bus stop, but did not open the door and went on. But, soon after, he had to stop at a red light. The woman ran after the bus, knocked on the door and asked to open it. The driver squinted: ‘if you dress properly, you can get on’. And he left the young woman there.” The article also reports that the father of the young woman, who is an Algerian poet, wrote a post on Facebook denouncing the episode and which was subsequently removed by the platform. The post was removed because it contained anti-Muslim hate speech, but the article by Origo does not say that and rather focus on the fact that the Facebook “censored” the truth and that the father was right to call the bus driver “an Islamist”. The article then ends with a comment about RATP, the public transport company in Paris: “it is even more outrageous that […]a council-run company, RATP, has allowed to be infiltrated by the parallel society of Muslim immigrants or people with immigrant backgrounds to terrorise other people there”.
Myth Debunked: The article is based on an incident that happened at the beginning of May in Paris, but the dynamics of the episode are not clear yet and are under investigation. On one side, the woman and her father claim that the (allegedly) Muslim bus driver did not let her get on the bus because her skirt was too short. On the other side, the bus driver, supported by his trade union, claims that he refused to let the young woman and her friend in because they were smoking a cigarette when the bus was stopping and that the two women tried to board the bus 30 meters further but he refused to let them in because it was not an official bus stop. Despite the ongoing inquiry over the incident, Origo reports the news story with certainty. It is true that the father’s post was removed by Facebook, but it is incorrect to call this censorship. Rather, the post violated the platform’s community standards because it contained hate speech that went beyond the criticism of the bus driver’s behaviour. Origo operates like some fake news sites, adopting deliberate misinformation strategies to promote their pro-government agenda. In this instance, the story is partially based on facts, which are highlighted and simplified to create a distorted representation of reality and incite hatred against Muslims. Other facts, those that would add complexity to the events, are not included. Using the same fear-mongering techniques, Origo has published many deceptive articles that describe France and Germany as “Islamised countries”.
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