A taxpayer-funded pressure group demanding the media promote only positive views of minorities in Europe has called coverage of recent terrorist attacks “toxic”, saying it risks “angry” people generalising about Muslims on social media.
The UK-based, Council of Europe and European Commission funded Media Diversity Institute (MDI) claimed that “responsible” media responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre should point to French colonialism in Algeria and to discuss whether Mohammed cartoons are actually freedom of speech “in a modern 21st century”.
MDI said when the media features “shocking” testimony and reporting on Islamic terror attacks, it risks increasing anti-Islam sentiment. Looking at how the media reported terror attacks in Paris, Nice, and Orlando, the MDI said sensationalism “may lead to toxification of the public sphere”.
The taxpayer-funded pressure group criticised TV France 2 for including “shocking images and testimonies” following the Nice attack in which an Islamist left 84 people dead. This included an eyewitness account of the event which recounted “how the driver ran over women and children”.
Instead, the MDI urged the media to report in a way that will encourage the public to “avoid acting impulsively and to avoid spreading hate speech on social networks”.
“In the situations such as the one after the attack in Nice, social networks are full of generalisations and stereotyping mostly of Muslims and their faith,” it wrote.
Slamming “media sensationalism” in coverage of Islamic terror attacks, the MDI stated that what’s needed in the world that “often finds difficult processing all the news on dead, displaced, hungry and angry people, is more responsible, professional, inclusive and ethical journalism”.
In its criticism of coverage following Nice and other terror attacks, the MDI pointed to its article “Five Media Mistakes Over Charlie Hebdo”, which it said addresses ethical issues relating to reporting on Muslims in Europe.
The piece noted errors the MDI felt were made by the media in its coverage of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, an attack by Islamists which left 11 people dead. The body said journalists should have given “context” for the murders, and it cited “good examples” of this. These were an article by Robert Fisk which talked about France’s violent colonisation of Algeria, and a piece by Slavoj Žižek arguing that terror attacks happen because the radical left lacks influence in society.
The review attacked the media for only featuring liberal Muslim voices to weigh in on the debate, and said news organisations should have included a variety of different Islamic perspectives on the slaughter of journalists who published a cartoon of Mohammed. The MDI also said outlets should have discussed whether such cartoons still constitute freedom of speech in “a modern 21st century”.
The MDI’s demand that coverage of Islamic terror attacks be censored comes after suggestions that the French government suppressed news of torture at the Bataclan terror attacks. The plea also comes at a time when the left wing media are circulating graphic footage of policemen in the USA killing black men, clips which have been accused of stirring up hatred towards police and white people.
The MDI urges positive media coverage of “diversity” in Europe, which it says inspires “social and economic progress, vibrant communities, and a richness of life”. Its website states that the MDI’s aim is to “prevent the media from intentionally or unintentionally spreading prejudice, intolerance and hatred”.
The organisation conducts research, holds workshops and training courses for journalists, monitors the media and stages conferences with “media decision makers”. It also encourages fewer white people and more ethnic minorities in journalism, and works with civil society organisations on “how to use the media to overcome negative and inaccurate portrayals of their communities”.
UK taxpayers are also footing the bill for this pressure group that aggressively opposes the interests of European peoples. The UK Foreign Office and Department for International Development both fund MDI, which is a UK-registered charity.
In 2014 the Open Society Foundations funded an MDI project to counter “xenophobic attitudes”and “promote positive views of migration” during the European Union election campaign. One of the projects the MDI is currently working on is “Get the trolls out! A Programme to Engage European Youth to Combat Antisemitism”, alongside the Council of Europe body “No Hate Speech”, which seeks to ban websites and internet content critical of migrants, Islam and women from the internet.