2019 unfortunately took off where the last year left us, with many examples of individuals and entire media outlets spreading anti-religious and racist views. We’ve created a countdown of some of the worst perpetrators of the year:
In number 12, we have the Belgium paper Doorbraak who published an article recounting a speech Wim de Wit made at an IJzerwake event in which he claimed “In principle, freedom of expression still applies, except when it comes to Muslims, Negroes, holibi’s [homosexual, lesbian and bisexual individuals], Transgender people, transvestites, Gypsies, feminists and certain politicians.”. Read our article where we criticise Doorbraak for their lack of journalistic criticism of the speech.
In 11th place, we have the French TV Channel LCI, which broadcast an episode of ’24 Pujadas’ where they invited Robert Ménard (known for his racist, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim stance) along with Guillaume Tabard (editor-in-chief of Le Figaro) onto the show, where Tabard said ‘We had lived through deadly Islamist terrorism in France, so if we want to keep score, we are not yet even’. Read our article on why LCI’s decision to include these guests and the statement is insensitive and wrong.
In 10th place, is the Hungarian public service website Hirado for reporting a government press conference on Brussels’ distribution of migrant cards. Despite the government spokesman suggesting that the recipients of this financial assistance were ‘anonymous’, and that there might be some ISIS members involved, Hirado decided not to critically report on this discriminatory rhetoric, thus allowing the Islamophobic statements to appear factual.
Coming in at number 9 is the Belgium party Vlaams Belang for their Islamophobic rhetoric in November. When an asylum centre in the city of Bilzen was torched down, many assumed it was supporters of Vlaams Belang due to their protests on the site a few days prior. Their party leader was outraged by the assumptions but used his speech to spread anti-Islam views and that Islamisation of the country would be supported by his opponents.
Greek lifestyle magazine ‘Athens’ is in at number 8, for publishing an article where the author suggests that ‘Jewish banks’ are partially a cause of the Greek debt. This article displays blatant antisemitism, promoting dangerous antisemitic theories and furthering well-established conspiracy theories.
In 7th place, is the French online newspaper Atlantico, for an article published about the Decathlon – Hijab controversy, where the sports chain created a ‘running’ hijab, which caused a backlash on social media by people claiming it was an example of the ‘Islamisation’ of France. The article’s headline suggested the hijab was a ‘victory for the Muslim Brotherhood’, thus spreading anti-Muslim sentiment.
In at number 6 is PI News, a far-right German news website, which discusses the latest birth rate figures, and suggests that the rise in foreign-born babies reflected the ‘Islamisation’ of Germany and Europe. It also states the number of ‘true’ Germans is lower than what the figures reveal. Using these far-right tropes, the article spreads strong anti-Islam ideas, and encourages its readers to agree with them about the scale of the ‘problem’.
Number 5 is another entry from Hirado, along with its sister public broadcaster MTI, and it is due to their spreading of fear-mongering lies on refugees, stating in an article that ‘40,000 migrants are about to set off from Turkey and Greece towards Central Europe, to be joined along the way by many more’, followed by multiple similar stories on the subject.
In number 4, is the Belgium group Vismooil’n VZW for their extremely antisemitic float which displayed caricatured orthodox Jews with several antisemitic features, including long ugly noses, bags full of cash and coins and rats in their dresses, while attending the annual Carnival parade in the Belgian city of Aalst. TV broadcasters and city officials barely made any comments on its antisemitic nature.
In 3rd place, is the British far-right news site Politicalite. The article reads like a conspiracy theory and uses many of the well-known far-right tropes such as the ‘Great Replacement’ theory. It is written by Bethany Helmsley, who also writes for a blog called ‘Spotting The Serpent’s Tail’ where they recently published a post calling for ‘for the “cleansing” of those who make Britain multicultural.’
German paper Der Spiegel just misses out on top spot, settling for second place. The article suggests it was an ‘investigative piece’, but it used well-known anti-Semitic tropes to push an anti-Jewish narrative, specifically in reference to two lobby groups which they suggested had influenced German politicians.
And our troll of the year goes to – Rod Liddle and the Spectator. In November, columnist Rod Liddle had an article published in the right-wing paper, suggesting that ‘Muslims should be prevented from voting in the next general election’ causing outrage on social media for its clear Islamophobic comments. Following the backlash, Riddle defended himself by saying that his suggestions were ‘patently a joke’, despite the multiple examples of Islamophobia in his work prior to this.
An article by the columnist Rod Liddle suggesting that Muslims should be prevented from voting in the next general election has caused widespread criticism for its Islamophobic statements. The Media Diversity Insitute published an article highlighting how Rod Liddle’s racist statements are far from being isolated, and Get the Trolls Out! joined the Stop Funding Hate campaign, by putting pressure on companies to stop advertising on media outlets that make profit out of hateful articles.
The pro-government news sites Pesti Srácok and Origo report about the Eid al-Adha celebrations in Europe by presenting Islamophobic narratives of Muslims as dangerous, barbarian and violent. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for August.
Right-wing blog Westerse Beschaving acts as an information portal for those looking for ‘proof’ of Islam’s incompatibility with the West. It uses quotes from the Quran out of context to spread this narrative. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for July.
The religious news platform Vima Orthodoxias gave a platform to known conspiracy theorist, author Serena Nomikou. In the article, Nomikou made very extreme anti-Muslim claims backed by zero evidence. This is Greece’s media monitoring highlight for July.
In an interview with “Le Soir,” Conservative N-VA MP & former editor of Joods Actual Michael Freilich said that Muslim and Jewish religious head coverings were not comparable, saying that a Jewish kippah is a symbol of faith, white a Muslim hijab is a symbol of oppression. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for July.
The Telegraph published a video on Twitter of England cricket players Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid walking away from the champagne celebrations following their World Cup win, falsely framing the situation in a negative light. This is the UK’s media monitoring highlight for July.
The pro-government news site Origo uses data on discrimination against Christians across the world to spread fears on the presence of Islam in Europe. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for July.
The Daily Mail failed to recognise the Islamophobia and the inaccuracies in one of its articles, after the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) filed a complaint.
The article, published on Mail Online on 3 May 2019, claimed that “Mohammed was the most popular first name for boys born in Berlin in 2018”, but a closer look at the results of the Society for the German Language (GfdS) study revealed that this is not accurate.
The EUJS has reacted to an Islamophobic statement by the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneissl. At the opening conference of the Slovakian Chairmanship of the OSCE in February, which focused on the topic of antisemitism, Karin Kneissl, foreign minister in Austria's right wing, nationalist coalition government, stated that if we speak of antisemitism we should look to Muslims and immigrants.