This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of August, 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: 22 and 12 August 2019
Media outlets: PestiSrácok.hu and Origo.hu are two pro-government news sites that serve the interests of ruling Fidesz party by appealing to the far-right
Headline: “There are so many Muslims in Brussels that it is impossible to forbid cruel sacrifice” and “V4NA: Muslims kill animals on the street in Western Europe because of a religious holiday”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: For Hungarian pro-government media outlets, Eid al-Adha, the Islamic “Festival of Sacrifice” celebrated worldwide, has been an occasion to vilify Muslims in Europe. An article on Pesti Srácok starts by explaining the origins of the festival and how it honours the willingness of prophet Ibrahim/Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. The second part of the article, however, changes direction towards an anti-Muslim rant that puts together narratives of invasion and terrorism with a sarcastic tone. “Belgium has decided to ban this fine tradition (according to Flanders and Walloon law, the animal must first be shocked with electricity before it can be cut), but Brussels is an exception to the law. The reason for this is, of course, clear: since there are so many Muslims in the Belgian capital, they are in fact the axis of community culture.” The article ends saying: “By the way, in Molenbeek, 90 percent of the population is Muslim, but the area became truly famous for hiding for months Salah Abdeslam, one of the terrorists of the 2015 attack in Paris. There are 51 organizations in the district that are in direct contact with Islamist-terrorist organizations.” Another pro-government news site, Origo, uses a report by V4NA, a news agency that the Orbán administration recently established in London. The article focuses on the “sight of bloody carcasses” which is said to be “very disturbing to many in the Netherlands, France and Italy”. The report goes on to list the tweets and the Facebook posts of European far-right leaders against the Islamic traditional slaughter practice.
Myth Debunked: Eid al-Adha is a Muslim Festival that marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and commemorates the intended sacrifice by prophet Ibrahim to God. The story, which is an integral part of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, tells that Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his son to God when asked to prove his obedience. Seeing evidence of loyalty in Ibrahim, God intervenes and gives a sheep to kill instead. To celebrate this, Muslim families worldwide slaughter an animal following the Islamic law. The halal method prescribes that the animal’s throat, food-tract and jugular veins must be cut in one stroke of a sharp knife and that blood must be drained out of the carcass. Contrary to what many assume, however, most animals killed by halal methods in Europe are stunned before slaughter. While it is valid to question the non-stunning method to improve animal welfare standards or to advocate against the killing of animals for ethical reasons, this should not be used to for anti-Muslims fear-mongering. Further, Pesti Srácok and Origo websites have never previously campaigned for improved animal welfare in industrial-scale livestock farms. The concerns of the propaganda media about the animals’ suffering, or for the Europeans who allegedly have to see these slaughters on the street, are an excuse to attack Muslims. The articles published on Pesti Srácok and Origo feed the Hungarian government’s narrative that Muslims are barbarians, violent, and backward, and should not be welcomed in Europe. Contrary to the Fidesz-aligned publications, independent Hungarian news sites such as 444.hu and Népzava have reported the same religious event but in a journalistically professional way that does not exploit the growing Islamophobia.
More to read: