This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of July, 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: 14 July 2019
Media Outlet: Vima Orthodoxias (‘Orthodox Tribune’) is a website which reports on ecclesiastic issues as well as overall religious and social content
Author: Serena Nomikou
Headline: “The Islamic State of Sweden”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Vima Orthodoxias hosted Serena Nomikou, a writer who is known for their conspirationist and anti-Muslim views. She which refuted the accidental nature of the Notre Dame fire, blaming Muslims for the event. In this Vima Orthodoxias piece, Nomikou discusses Sweden, labeling it an ‘Islamic State’ due to the high population of migrants from the Middle East. Throughout the piece, she claims that the country is being overtaken by immigrants and that have created a situation where “the level of crime and violence that this once quiet country faced is like a small-scale war.” She goes on to claim that “car fires, unknown until recently, are now a daily occurrence and are commonplace, as are bomb blasts—none of which is true. Deadly shootings have risen sharply in a short period of time, witnesses have become intimidated and the code of silence has prevailed in Sweden's socially and economically depressed migrant areas.” The image used for the article - often used in conspiracy websites like Breitbart and Infowars - shows a Swedish flag on the background with two masked men, who look like Islamic fighters photoshopped on top of it.
This is not the first time Vima Orthodoxias has published pieces with such extreme anti-Muslim views. how the platform published an article authored by Bishop Amvrosios which also contained many similarly extreme tropes. This month, Vima Orthodoxias hosted Bishop Amvrosios again, talked about the apparent “domination of Islam” coming to Greece. It seems this rhetoric is becoming common place for the religious news platform, whose owners are failing to properly fact-check articles in favor of fuelling anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Myth debunked: There is a severe lack of evidence supporting this article. Throughout the piece, Nomikou makes very serious claims without backing them up with any proof. Although she says that a series of sources support her claims, thereby showing awareness of the importance of supporting evidence, there is not a single link to additional resources in the article. However, through a simple Google search we can find that many of the things she is claiming are either untrue or highly exaggerated. For example, Nomikou claims that car fires are now commonplace and occurring daily in Sweden. There is no evidence backing this claim. Yes, in 2018, there was a severe incident during which around 80 cars were set on fire by gangs, mainly in the city of Gothenburg. This rightly got a lot of media attention; however, since then, there are little to no reports to be found about the “daily” fires the author is referring to. It is also interesting to note that while the headline of the article refers to the ‘Islamic State of Sweden,’ the author barely mentions Islam or Muslims in her article. Is this because the author assumes we will make this connection between migrants and Muslims subconsciously, as she does? There are no sources which support the claim that Islam is behind a supposed ‘war-like’ Sweden, yet this is what the article is leading with through its headline and imagery.
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