This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of March, 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: 21 March 2020
Media outlet: Kathimerini, a leading Greek newspaper which is deemed trustworthy by the general public. It is conservative leaning.
Cartoonist: Elias Makris
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This cartoon was published on the Kathimerini official Twitter page. It shows two women in Turkey (which we can deduce from Aya Sofya pictured in the background along with a Turkish flag) both dressed in burqas. Pictured underneath the facial mesh of the burqa is an image of a virus, assumingly the coronavirus. Kathimerini published this cartoon, which was created by Elias Makris, without any text or explanation. Kathimerini is one of the biggest and most respected newspapers in Greece, and this cartoon was shared to their 46,900 followers on Twitter.
Myth debunked: It is significant to mention the timing of this cartoon; Kathimerini shared it at the height of Greece and Turkey’s border troubles, during which Greek security forces used violence against asylum seekers and migrants to force them back to Turkey. Greece framed this incident as an attempted invasion from Turkey, and its media suggested that Turkish news outlets were not allowed to report on the coronavirus pandemic, and that Turkey doesn't do its part to tackle the outbreak. It was at this time that the cartoon was published, and we can see some of these themes reflected clearly. The cartoonist seems to be implying that women who wear the burqa, and we can infer Muslims in general, are infected by the coronavirus. Additionally, the cartoonist seems to suggest that the women are hiding the virus, perhaps to use as a weapon. This would be in line with the far-right narrative that Muslim refugees come to Europe to invade and wreak havock, an extemely hateful and inflammatory idea. One of the big issues here is that there is no text to accompany the cartoon, which means that people will construct all kinds of meanings to this work. If we look at what Kathimerini has published in the past, there seems to be a reoccuring theme of anti-Muslim sentiments. This cartoon is in line with the fear-mongering style on this topic, and only further desensitises their audience to this hate. To use the deadly coronavirus to spread anti-Muslim hatred is cruel and unacceptable.
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