This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of April, 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: 9 April 2020
Media outlet: Newsbomb.gr, news website which is amongst the top three most popular news websites in Greece
Headline: “Coronavirus: What happened to the ban of loudspeakers in the mosques of Komotini?”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is about measures taken by the Greek government around coronavirus and subsequent social distancing. The Greek government has banned religious gatherings of every religion and many forms of public religious expression that would threaten the lockdown by attracting believers to churches (such as the ringing of the bell in churches or the use of loudspeakers during mass). The article presents videos taken in the north-eastern region of Komotini in Greece, which has a large Greek Muslim community, that show mosques using loudspeakers to invite believers to pray 5 times per day. The article stated: “Huge social media uproar was caused by videos where the muezzin can be clearly heard to call for prayer (from April 6 to 12) in Komotini's mosques, however without the presence of citizens. Many wondered why loudspeakers were banned in Orthodox churches, while in mosques in Komotini the loudspeakers were in operation - The following videos that were published by citizens reasonably caused big questions - What exactly happened?” The article later explains that the videos were actually taken before the Greek government implemented measures prohibiting the use of loudspeakers in religious practices. The author concludes with posing the questions: "Up to which point will this absurdity continue? Except it is not absurdity and it is something more serious. Maybe some people don't want any element of "Greekness" and Orthodoxy to be even heard. Maybe some have decided to disconnect Hellenism from Orthodoxy in every structure of our life as a nation."
Myth debunked: The main issue with this article is misinformation and misleading the reader. The headline and opening statement of the article seem to suggest that mosques in Komotini continue to use loudspeakers for their call to prayer despite the law passed by the Greek government, disobeying authorities. However, as they later state themselves, this is not the case. The videos were taken before the measures were implemented and have since been suspended, obeying the laws in place. Far down in the article the author actually embeds an official statement from the Mufti of Komotini explaining exactly this. So why is the article structured as if the Muslim community in Komotini is disobeying Greek law, and receiving special exemption?
There is a clear narrative being pushed in this piece, which is especially evident in the statement towards the end of the article, which claims that ‘some people’ want to eliminate elements of ‘Greekness’ and ‘Orthodoxy’ from the country. Here, the author is suggesting that there are people in Greece who want to get rid of the culture and replace it with something else. While it is not explicitly stated, we can assume that the author is talking about Muslims in Greece, as this is who the article is talking about. These statements are resonant of the Great Replacement Theory, which is explained by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue as: “A theory that argues that white European populations are being deliberately replaced at an ethnic and cultural level through migration and the growth of minority communities. This propagation relies on demographic projections to point to population changes in the West and the possibility that ethnically white populations are becoming minority groups. Certain ethnic and religious groups – primarily Muslims – are typically singled out as being culturally incompatible with the lives of majority groups in Western countries and thus a particular threat.” While the author of this article is subtle, the language and themes he is using are in line with this theory. Being one of the top three news sites in Greece, this is extremely dangerous to promote to such a large audience. Not only is this article based on misinformation, but it is pushing far-right tropes.
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