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: 25 August 2019
Media Outlet: Doorbraak.be, Belgian opinion website
Author: Pieter Bauwens
Headline: “Flanders Flemish, Europe European”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article, which ran as a piece on the Doorbraak.be website, is about the 18th annual IJzerwake event in Belgium. The IJzerwake is an organisation that unites radical Flemish nationalists who are striving for Flemish independence. The annual event is organised to commemorate the victims of the two World Wars, but is also largely a place for political figures to share their views on Flemish independence and other current topics. Many of the IJzerwake members are from far-right political party Vlaams Belang. The chairman of IJzewake, Wim de Wit, made some very sensationalist and hateful comments during his speech at this year’s event. He claimed that “in principle, freedom of expression still applies, except when it comes to Muslims, Negroes, holibi’s [homosexual, lesbian and bisexual individuals], Transgender people, transvestites, Gypsies, feminists and certain politicians.” He further stated that Muslims in Europe live in a “parallel society” and claimed that Muslim men in Europe are able to get away with the mistreatment of women, as our freedom of religion laws allow them to mentally and physically mistreat women. Wim de Wit is quoted in the Doorbraak.be without any critique, and the article is framed in a manner which suggests that the author and publication agree with this stance.
Myth debunked: The issue here is the lack of a critical journalistic approach to the IJzerwake event, and more specifically Wim de Wit’s comments. The role of a journalist is not only to share news with society, but also to do so in an ethical manner. This often means that more than one source is used in a news piece, and alternative points of view are shared. None of this took place in the Doorbraak.be article, in which only Wim de Wit is repeatedly quoted. Nowhere in the article does anyone else get a view or platform to share their opinion or knowledge on the matter. This frames the article to seem as if this is the only truth on this topic, and that there is nothing further to discuss. Islam and its followers, particularly the males, are evil and aggressive, and ‘we’ are not allowed to criticise them: that it the conclusion one draws upon reading this piece.
This piece of unethical reporting is not something new for the Doorbraak.be platform. Earlier this year, we reported on an incident where the website ran an article which equated Islam with terrorism. Furthermore, the website is now running an advertisement for its new publication, titled: “For Freedom, so Against Islamisation.” According to the book description: “In our non-Muslim, Western society, things happen every day that indicate that we are being Islamised and Islamising, the result of both conscious and unconscious words and deeds of Muslims and non-Muslims.” It is clear that Doorbraak.be has a strong anti-Muslim stance; this article is another example of Doorbraak.be's hateful rhetoric.
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