This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of February, 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: 11 February 2020
Media outlet: Doorbraak.be, Belgian opinion website
Author: Johan Sanctorum
Headline: “Tournée Minérale? Okay, as long as it doesn't become a Tournée Halal”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is about Tournée Minérale, a Belgian initiative which encourages people to abstain from alchohol in the month of February. This is similar to campaigns in other countries, like Dry January. For several years, the organisers, Foundation against Cancer and The Drug Line (VDA), have said that one reason to stop drinking alcohol is to prevent certain violent acts, such as fights in bars between intoxicated. The author of this piece in Doorbraak.be highlights this point specifically, and writes the piece as an open letter to campaign spokesperson Marijs Geirnaert. While the author starts by talking more generally about Belgian drinking culture, he quickly turns his attention to Islam, titling this section of the article “Alchohol and Sharia”. He states: “But the biggest denial, Marijs, of your thesis about family happiness is the religion that absolutely forbids alcohol as a diabolical invention, keeps tea at hectoliters, and nevertheless throws gays off the roofs, trades young girls and children as sex slaves, and for the rest curses the whole world that Allah and his prophet do not unconditionally worship. I am indeed talking about Islam, also in the Molenbeek version, where hatred for the decadent West and kafirs emerges from the tea houses, and not from the traditional inns, if there are any.” He continues: “I mean, Marijs: people with bad intentions don't need alcohol at all. See Paris, Zaventem and so on. Completely sober, religious madmen can cause the greatest catastrophes, perfectly halal when living bombs are walking around in an airport hall.” The author then suggests that perhaps having a beer with said ‘madmen’ would ‘calm’ things down.
Myth debunked: The author of this article seems to be grasping at straws to find an opportunity to criticise Islam and its followers. The Tournée Minérale campaign, and similar initiatives around the world, have been around for years. Their aim is to encourage people to drink less alcohol, and see the positive impact of this on their lives. The way the author links this with Islam and Muslims is confusing - if not shocking - and does not make any editorial sense. Sanctorum jumps from the connection between alcohol and violence to directly associating Islam and its followers with violence. He spreads some extremely hateful and generalising statements about Muslims, and throughout the piece associates Muslims with violence, at no point making any differentiation between Muslims and Islamic terrorists. The title of the article also alludes to a form of conspiracy theory, that Tournée Minérale would in some way introduce a more Halal culture in Belgium. The way the Tournée Minérale campaign is being used to spread hateful comments about Muslims is not surprising, coming from Doorbraak.be. We have reported on this platform in the past through the GTTO project: in September 2019, they quoted a very hateful anti-Muslim speech without providing any context or alternative views and in March 2019 they published an article explicitly blaming Islam for being a violent religion that poses security threats to Belgian society. The article is thus in line with Doorbraak.be’s anti-Muslim editorial stance, which makes it even more worrying. The constant hateful rhetoric used on the site against Muslims can easily influence a reader who is repeatedly exposed to it, and in turn, develop into real-life consequences.
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