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: 21 April 2020
Media outlet: Doorbraak.be, Belgian opinion website. This was shared on their website as well as through their podcast on Spotify, called ‘Doorbraak Radio’
Author: David Geens
Headline: “Bernard Daelemans and Sam Van Rooy: There is an ethnic component explaining riots in Anderlecht”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is in response to clashes between police and youth in Anderlecht (a municipality in Brussels), which took place after a young man, Adil, died while trying to evade a police control point in the city. People were outraged, and saw this as one of many cases caused by police brutality and racial profiling in Brussels. Clashes ensued, resulting in over 45 people being arrested, and the situation was resolved within 24 hours. The article on Doorbraak.be quotes Bernard Daelemans, editor-in-chief of left-wing Flemish nationalist monthly paper 'Meervoud', and Sam van Rooy, prominent Vlaams Belang politician. The article states: “No big spark is needed in the Anderlecht-Kuregem to create explosive riots. Recently we experienced it in full lockdown period. According to Sam Van Rooy, Flemish Member of Parliament for Vlaams Belang, this usually concerns young people with the same cultural-ethnic background. "I still see Islam as a binding factor here," says Van Rooy, "also in riots in other Western European metropolises. Islamic teachings teach them to hate our free, Western way of life.” Van Rooy is also quoted as saying: “Various groups of Muslims cause various problems, in which you always see Islam as the common link.” Later on in the article, both men weigh in: “Daelemans notes that immigrants with a Moroccan background form the largest group in Brussels and also the largest group in youth unemployment. From his experiences he finds that they have little motivation to make efforts in learning because of their fixation on racism. ‘There seems to be some fatalism ingrained in their culture,’ he said. Van Rooy assists with this: ‘That is the Inch Allah of the Muslim. They should not excel, because ultimately everything is in the hands of Allah.’”
Myth debunked: This article is riddled with anti-Muslim statements, which are made without providing any real context or facts. Firstly, nowhere in the article is an explanation given why the clashes occurred even though this is an important element in this discussion. Instead, van Rooy and Daelemans are given free reign to make inflammatory statements without any counter arguments. The main focus of their argument is Islam, for which they claim teaches it’s followers to hate the West and that it is the cause for riots around the region. This is a serious statement to make, yet no evidence is provided in the article to support it. Moreover, Daelemans makes several sweeping statements about Moroccan immigrants, essentially claiming that they are lazy. Again, where is the evidence for this? The clashes in Anderlecht were covered in a lot of mainstream publications, yet those reports are starkly different to this one by Doorbraak.be. Firstly, there is no mention in official reports about the religion and cultural background of those that took part, because it is not relevant. And most importantly, the legitimate news pieces did not make inflammatory anti-Muslims remarks and did not stoke hate. Unfortunately, this article is not very out of character, for both Doorbraak.be and van Rooy. Both have a track record of sharing anti-Muslims sentiments and making strong hateful statements without any context or reason. Both have a large reach, exposing people time and time again to this hate, that they become desensitised to it.
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