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.
Media Outlet: westerse-beshaving.org
Description of the anti-Muslim content: The online blog Westerse Beschaving (Western Culture) is a platform dedicated to spreading anti-Muslim hate. It does this through cherry picking quotes from the Quran to ‘prove’ that Muslims are violent, sexist and backwards, and therefore do not belong in the West. The blog is set up in a similar style to Wikipedia, a disinformation tactic that makes it aesthetically look like an official and reliable source. One recent piece, titled “Hating, because it’s required” uses certain verses from the Quran to argue that Muslims are required to hate all non-Muslims, and use extreme violence to showcase this hate. It states: “This is the basis and foundation of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. War, hostility and hatred from the believer to the unbeliever.” The piece further goes on to quote an ISIS propaganda video to show how Muslims are taught to hate non-Muslims, framing this as an understanding for all of Islam, rather than an extremist group. It is one of many pieces on the platform that implements this editorial style and narrative to further an Islamophobic agenda.
The blog is often used by people who want to get an anti-Muslim point across. Specifically, the blog is referenced a lot in the comment section of the Vlaams Belang Facebook page. Vlaams Belang, a right-wing populist Belgian political party, often spreads Islamophobic sentiments; it is not surprising that they often use Westerse Beschaving as a source.
Myth Debunked: The main issue with the Westerse Beschaving blog is the process of cherry-picking certain Quranic verses to spread a message that all Muslims are hateful and violent. The quotes are taken out of context, and never provided alongside the historical and theological origins of the Quran, Islam or specific verses mentioned. Without this context, the authors are able to manipulate these topics into a dangerous narrative.
It is not just Islam; taking religious texts out of context is an issue that spans across religions. This is why a specific verse must always be put in the context of the broader passage and the overall message of the religious text. If we fail to do this, we run the risk of mischaracterizing a religion, the bread and butter of anti-religious hatred. The main issue in this case in the intent. Westerse Beschaving is specifically using this technique to paint a very negative image of Islam, and to ‘prove’ that Muslims do not belong in the West. It is not in line with Westerse Beschaving’s ideology to put verses into context and explain to their readers the theological background of the Quran. Outlining what certain verses mean in the broader context of the Quran would defeat the dangerous rhetoric Westerse Beschaving is trying very hard to push. Moreover, using sources such as ISIS propaganda to make certain points about Islam and Muslims is not only extremely hurtful and unfair, but very misrepresentative.
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