Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Ahead of the European Parliamentary elections later this month, analysts who study social media content say some populist politicians are capitalizing on voter misconceptions about the EU, to push misinformation on hot button issues like immigration.

Populist figures meanwhile, say open and critical debate about different cultures is being sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.

With populist parties tipped to make big gains in the upcoming election, fact-checkers from across the continent are now combining forces to debunk the tide of political misinformation.

We spoke to some of them about their most startling stories — and what they reveal about the issues dividing nations.

Sex vouchers in Greece

Velopoulos, the founder of the Christian nationalist Greek Solution party, is known by Greeks for his inflammatory style and his comments in March were no exception. “In Germany, the Syrian or the Afghan migrant goes, gets a coupon twice a week, goes to the brothel, does the work and leaves,” he told audiences on the Alert TV channel he appears on.

“This is the Europe I don’t like,” said Velopoulos, whose Greek Solution party currently does not have any seats in the European Parliament.

He warned that “in a short while, let’s say in 2021,” Greeks “might see” their government also giving migrants “free vouchers to go to the brothels of Omonia Square” in the capital Athens.

“And even that will be paid by the Greek citizens.”

CNN reached out to Velopoulos but he had not replied at time of publishing.

Migrants stage a protest at Athens central train station, in April this year, over travel restrictions.

Velopoulos’ comments come as Greece emerges from nearly 10 years of austerity, where “populist politicians taking advantage of the continuing hardship still manage to get lots of traction among voters,” said journalist Thanos Sitistas Epachtitis, who originally debunked Velopoulos’ comments on the news site Ellinka Hoaxes.

The article is one of dozens featured on Fact Check EU, an independent project pulling together fact-checking reports from 19 media outlets across Europe. The outlets, including France’s Le Monde and Ireland’s The Journal, are all signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network.
Even though the sex coupon story is made-up, it “does try to exploit, manipulate and exacerbate the existing anti-immigrant sentiment in Greece,” said Lamprini Rori, a lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter and spokeswoman at the academic network Greek Politics Specialist Group.
Macedonia will change its name. Here's why it matters
She pointed to a 2018 poll by independent research and policy institute Dianeosis, that found just over 72% of Greeks believe there’s more crime because of the increase in migrants. The 2010 Greek financial crisis, coupled with an abrupt increase in refugees, had created “a poisonous cocktail for anti-immigrant sentiments,” said Rori.

Germany, which adopted a pro-immigrant stance following the 2015 refugee crisis and oversaw Greece’s financial bailout and austerity measures, has become a convenient “scapegoat” in these kinds of stories, said Rori.

The brothel story highlights another issue troubling conservative Greeks — the perceived moral decay of Europe, said Epachtitis. Greeks “have very strong feelings about religion — in our case, Orthodox Christianity — and are willing to listen to those politicians that promise to preserve it,” he added.

As for Velopoulos’ political future, Greece is due to hold a general election by the end of October — where his party is predicted to take just 2% of the national vote, according to Politico.EU.

Homophobia in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, populist politician Thierry Baudet has also perfected the fine art of an outrageous statement. But unlike Velopoulos, this has translated into big wins in the country’s March provincial elections, with his Euroskeptic Forum for Democracy, along with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, gaining the most votes to become the joint biggest party.
In March, Baudet, who has been described as the “suave new face of Dutch rightwing populism,” blamed an increase in homophobia in the Netherlands on “uncontrolled immigration.”
Thierry Baudet, leader of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), on election night 2017.
The claim was investigated by Eufactcheck.eu. The project, run by the European Journalism Training Association, is fact-checking political claims with the help of more than 150 students and staff from 20 journalism schools across Europe.
The group looked at several research reports but could find no data to support Baudet’s claims about immigration and increased homophobia.

After reviewing recent LGBT studies, they concluded Baudet’s remark that homophobia had increased in the Netherlands was “generally untrue.”

The group also cited a 2015 police study on homophobic crimes in the Netherlands that found 61.8% of homophobic crime suspects had Dutch nationality. The fact-checkers said the police did not differentiate between immigrant and non-immigrant suspects.

Baudet had not responded to CNN’s request for comment at time of publishing.

Dutch church holds 800-hour service to save family from deportation

Baudet’s tweet pits the liberal attitudes of Dutch people — encapsulated in their acceptance of homosexuality — as under attack by immigration, said Claes de Vreese, Professor and Chair of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam.

“Populists typically use strong rhetoric to create an image of a threatening outside group,” he said. De Vreese said Baudet’s claims were reminiscent of fellow far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who “also appropriated ‘gay rights’ as ‘Dutch rights’ under threat from immigration.”

Populist parties in Netherlands have a strange balancing act — defending a country known for its tradition of tolerance, with an uncompromising stance on immigration.

The next test for Baudet is whether he can ride his wave of popularity all the way to success in the European elections.

Islam and free speech

“Criticism of Islam is forbidden!” said a Facebook post from Germany’s far-right AfD politician Martin Sichert in March. The post added that according to the European Court of Human Rights, the “protection of Islam is more important than freedom of expression in Europe.”

Sichert was referring to the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian political scientist who in 2009 gave a seminar on Islam in which she compared the Prophet Mohammed’s relationship with a child to pedophilia. The seminar in Vienna was promoted by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted by an Austrian court of disparaging religious doctrines and fined €480. She appealed several times, but the decision was eventually upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2018.
According to German research news site, CORRECTIV, the AfD politician’s Facebook comments were “grossly oversimplifying a complex issue.” The group’s investigation into Sichert’s claims was featured on the site Fact Check EU.

“It cannot be concluded from the judgment of the court that the ‘protection of Islam’ is more important than freedom of expression,” said CORRECTIV. “The judgment does not even contain the phrase, ‘protection of Islam,'” it added.

Sichert told CNN he “firmly stood by” his comments. In a lengthy statement, he said: “If we deny ourselves an open and critical debate about different religions or cultures, we are basically sacrificing our freedom of speech and expression on the altar of political

“It is not the Islam that is being criticized here,” said Sichert of his Facebook post. “But the politics and courts, who are failing to uphold and protect our fundamental rights — all in fear that this may be uncomfortable to some.”

The case sheds light on a bigger issue troubling many right-wing, and some centrist, voters in Germany, according to Werner Patzelt, a political analyst who has closely followed the rise of the right-wing movement. And that is “the feeling that all kind of criticism of Islam is forbidden under the flag of political correctness.”

The “EU itself does not exert any pressure of political correctness,” Patzelt added. But, he said, in the eyes of right-wing populists, the EU is nevertheless the “invented or felt enemy” because its policies hinder nation states’ abilities to protect themselves.

The AfD, once on the fringes of politics, is now the third-largest party in Germany following big gains at the 2017 election.

And within days, populist parties across the continent could take their national successes to a European level.

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Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

The US claims Huawei, one of China’s most important companies, poses a spying risk to Western technology infrastructure. The latest move against the firm comes amid a worsening trade war between Beijing and Washington, after talks expected to bring a breakthrough fell apart, resulting in billions of dollars in further tariffs from both sides.

The Huawei issue cuts to the heart of tensions between security and economic interests when it comes to China and Chinese influence. While many countries around the world share Washington’s suspicion — even hostility — towards Beijing, they are unwilling to take the economic hit that openly standing apart from China would entail.

UK in chaos

Nowhere will Trump’s order cause more chaos — outside perhaps Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen — than in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May fired her defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, after it was alleged he was the source of a news report that the UK was preparing to give Huawei access to parts of the country’s 5G network.
May accused Williamson — who had previously expressed “very deep concerns” about Huawei — of leaking information from a meeting of the UK National Security Council, a claim he has “strenuously” denied. The council’s discussions are normally strictly guarded and the publication of its discussions sparked an immediate furor in the UK.

The Huawei issue has exposed new tensions within May’s Conservative Party, already riven over Brexit and shopping around for a new leader to takeover when the Prime Minster stands down in the wake of the UK eventually agreeing how to leave the European Union.

May and her allies are believed to favor limited involvement of Huawei in British network infrastructure, but not a full ban. This is based on the advice of GCHQ, the British intelligence agency responsible for communications surveillance, which has advised close monitoring of Huawei.

Others in the party strongly favor a complete ban, following Washington’s lead. Last month, Tom Tugenhadt, Conservative chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, said in allowing Huawei to build parts of the country’s 5G network “we will be nesting a dragon in the critical national infrastructure of the UK.”

He accused May — in ignoring US and Australian advice against Huawei — of “putting in danger the 70 year intelligence sharing relationship that has underpinned the security of the UK is worth it, for Chinese commercial gain.”

That sense of commercial gain is likely to come into sharp focus should the UK finally leave the EU. Brexit supporters have made it clear they hope better trade relations with China will help boost the British economy in the face of an unavoidable dip following a split with Europe.

Tugenhadt’s committee is conducting an inquiry into “China and the international rules-based system.” In the panel’s most recent report, it said members “see considerable grounds for concern about Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure.”

Bob Seely, another Conservative member of the committee, has argued that “Huawei — by definition — cannot be a trusted provider because it comes form a one-party state and is mandated to work with Chinese security services.”

He has said he hopes Huawei will become an issue in the upcoming Tory leadership contest, and is one of several MPs within the party pressuring May to reverse her position.

The Chinese company has strenuously denied espionage claims, saying that agreeing to spy for Beijing would be equivalent to committing economy suicide.

Speaking during a visit to London this week, Huawei chairman Liang Hua said the company was “willing to sign a no-spy agreement with the UK government … No spying, no back doors.”

Germany uncertain

Another of Huawei’s rotating chairmen, Ken Hu, is also in Europe this week. On Thursday, Hu will attend the annual Viva Tech conference in Paris, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is believed to be on the fence about Huawei, but is less likely to issue a full ban than the UK. However, Macron has been encouraging other European leaders to take a stronger stance on China, and he may seek to use Trump’s latest move against Huawei as a means to push this agenda.
Certainly, other European countries are more skeptical. The continent also plays host to two of Huawei’s biggest competitors when it comes to 5G, Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland.

During a recent visit to the UK and Germany, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that allowing Huawei into those countries’ telecoms infrastructure would make partnering with them “more difficult.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far refused to bow to US pressure to ban Huawei, however, even as opposition to its involvement is reportedly growing among some sectors of the German security state.
“Security, particularly when it comes to the expansion of the 5G network, but also elsewhere in the digital area, is a very important concern for the German government, so we are defining our standards for ourselves,” Merkel said in March, according to Reuters.

She said the German government would discuss any concerns with European partners, “as well as the appropriate offices in the United States.”

That pressure could see Merkel change her position, as she seeks European agreement on this issue. In an interview with the Guardian this week, she said that China, Russia and the US “are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions. That is often difficult given our different interests. But we do get this done.”
Trump’s latest salvo against Huawei, and indications that more could follow if relations with Beijing do not improve, could juice those discussions. But in a Europe already riven over Brexit and struggling to come up with a coherent strategy on China, it’s not clear a consensus is actually on the cards.

Source link

nuno-show.nl

Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

Trump throws more fuel on Europe’s Huawei nightmare

The US claims Huawei, one of China’s most important companies, poses a spying risk to Western technology infrastructure. The latest move against the firm comes amid a worsening trade war between Beijing and Washington, after talks expected to bring a breakthrough fell apart, resulting in billions of dollars in further tariffs from both sides.

The Huawei issue cuts to the heart of tensions between security and economic interests when it comes to China and Chinese influence. While many countries around the world share Washington’s suspicion — even hostility — towards Beijing, they are unwilling to take the economic hit that openly standing apart from China would entail.

UK in chaos

Nowhere will Trump’s order cause more chaos — outside perhaps Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen — than in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May fired her defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, after it was alleged he was the source of a news report that the UK was preparing to give Huawei access to parts of the country’s 5G network.
May accused Williamson — who had previously expressed “very deep concerns” about Huawei — of leaking information from a meeting of the UK National Security Council, a claim he has “strenuously” denied. The council’s discussions are normally strictly guarded and the publication of its discussions sparked an immediate furore in the UK.

The Huawei issue has exposed new tensions within May’s Conservative Party, already riven over Brexit and shopping around for a new leader to takeover when the Prime Minster stands down in the wake of the UK eventually agreeing how to leave the European Union.

May and her allies are believed to favor limited involvement of Huawei in British network infrastructure, but not a full ban. This is based on the advice of GCHQ, the British intelligence agency responsible for communications surveillance, which has advised close monitoring of Huawei.

Others in the party strongly favor a complete ban, following Washington’s lead. Last month, Tom Tugenhadt, Conservative chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, said in allowing Huawei to build parts of the country’s 5G network “we will be nesting a dragon in the critical national infrastructure of the UK.”

He accused May — in ignoring US and Australian advice against Huawei — of “putting in danger the 70 year intelligence sharing relationship that has underpinned the security of the UK is worth it, for Chinese commercial gain.”

That sense of commercial gain is likely to come into sharp focus should the UK finally leave the EU. Brexit supporters have made it clear they hope better trade relations with China will help boost the British economy in the face of an unavoidable dip following a split with Europe.

Tugenhadt’s committee is currently conducting an inquiry into “China and the international rules-based system.” In the panel’s most recent report, it said members “see considerable grounds for concern about Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure.”

Bob Seely, another Conservative member of the committee, has argued that “Huawei — by definition — cannot be a trusted provider because it comes form a one-party state and is mandated to work with Chinese security services.”

He has said he hopes Huawei will become an issue in the upcoming Tory leadership contest, and is one of several MPs within the party pressuring May to reverse her position.

The Chinese company has strenuously denied espionage claims, saying that agreeing to spy for Beijing would be equivalent to committing economy suicide.

Speaking during a visit to London this week, Huawei chairman Liang Hua said the company was “willing to sign a no-spy agreement with the UK government … No spying, no back doors.”

Germany uncertain

Another of Huawei’s rotating chairmen, Ken Hu, is also in Europe this week. On Thursday, Hu will attend the annual Viva Tech conference in Paris, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is believed to be on the fence about Huawei, but is less likely to issue a full ban than the UK. However, Macron has been encouraging other European leaders to take a stronger stance on China, and he may seek to use Trump’s latest move against Huawei as a means to push this agenda.
Certainly, other European countries are more skeptical. The continent also plays host to two of Huawei’s biggest competitors when it comes to 5G, Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland.

During a recent visit to the UK and Germany, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that allowing Huawei into those countries’ telecoms infrastructure would make partnering with them “more difficult.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far refused to bow to US pressure to ban Huawei, however, even as opposition to its involvement is reportedly growing among some sectors of the German security state.
“Security, particularly when it comes to the expansion of the 5G network, but also elsewhere in the digital area, is a very important concern for the German government, so we are defining our standards for ourselves,” Merkel said in March, according to Reuters.

She said the German government would discuss any concerns with European partners, “as well as the appropriate offices in the United States.”

That pressure could see Merkel change her position, as she seeks European agreement on this issue. In an interview with the Guardian this week, she said that China, Russia and the US “are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions. That is often difficult given our different interests. But we do get this done.”
Trump’s latest salvo against Huawei, and indications that more could follow if relations with Beijing do not improve, could juice those discussions. But in a Europe already riven over Brexit and struggling to come up with a coherent strategy on China, it’s not clear a consensus is actually on the cards.

Source link

nuno-show.nl

Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Sex vouchers for migrants? The truth behind Europe’s fake stories

Ahead of the European Parliamentary elections later this month, analysts who study social media content say some populist politicians are capitalizing on voter misconceptions about the EU, to push misinformation on hot button issues like immigration.

Populist figures meanwhile, say open and critical debate about different cultures is being sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.

With populist parties tipped to make big gains in the upcoming election, fact-checkers from across the continent are now combining forces to debunk the tide of political misinformation.

We spoke to some of them about their most startling stories — and what they reveal about the issues dividing a nation.

Sex vouchers in Greece

Velopoulos, the founder of the Christian nationalist Greek Solution party, is known by Greeks for his inflammatory style and his comments in March were no exception. “In Germany, the Syrian or the Afghan migrant goes, gets a coupon twice a week, goes to the brothel, does the work and leaves,” he told audiences on the Alert TV channel he appears on.

“This is the Europe I don’t like,” said Velopoulos, whose Greek Solution party currently does not have any seats in the European Parliament.

He warned that “in a short while, let’s say in 2021,” Greeks “might see” their government also giving migrants “free vouchers to go to the brothels of Omonia Square” in the capital Athens.

“And even that will be paid by the Greek citizens.”

CNN reached out to Velopoulos but he had not replied at time of publishing.

Migrants stage a protest at Athens central train station, in April this year, over travel restrictions.

Velopoulos’ comments come as Greece emerges from nearly ten years of austerity, where “populist politicians taking advantage of the continuing hardship still manage to get lots of traction among voters,” said journalist Thanos Sitistas Epachtitis, who originally debunked Velopoulos’ comments on the news site Ellinka Hoaxes.

The article is one of dozens featured on Fact Check EU, an independent project pulling together fact-checking reports from 19 media outlets across Europe. The outlets, including France’s Le Monde and Ireland’s The Journal, are all signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network.
Even though the sex coupon story is made-up, it “does try to exploit, manipulate and exacerbate the existing anti-immigrant sentiment in Greece,” said Lamprini Rori, a lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter and spokeswoman at the academic network Greek Politics Specialist Group.
Macedonia will change its name. Here's why it matters
She pointed to a 2018 poll by independent research and policy institute Dianeosis, that found just over 72% of Greeks believe there’s more crime because of the increase in migrants. The 2010 Greek financial crisis, coupled with an abrupt increase in refugees, had created “a poisonous cocktail for anti-immigrant sentiments,” said Rori.

Germany, which adopted a pro-immigrant stance following the 2015 refugee crisis and oversaw Greece’s financial bailout and austerity measures, has become a convenient “scapegoat” in these kinds of stories, said Rori.

The brothel story highlights another issue troubling conservative Greeks — the perceived moral decay of Europe, said Epachtitis. Greeks “have very strong feelings about religion — in our case, Orthodox Christianity — and are willing to listen to those politicians that promise to preserve it,” he added.

As for Velopoulos’ political future, Greece is due to hold a general election by the end of October — where his party is predicted to take just 2% of the national vote, according to Politico.EU.

Homophobia in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, populist politician Thierry Baudet has also perfected the fine art of an outrageous statement. But unlike Velopoulos, this has translated into big wins in the country’s March provincial elections, with his Euroskeptic Forum for Democracy, along with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, gaining the most votes to become the joint biggest party.
In March, Baudet, who has been described as the “suave new face of Dutch rightwing populism,” blamed an increase in homophobia in the Netherlands on “uncontrolled immigration.”
Thierry Baudet, leader of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), on election night 2017.
The claim was investigated by Eufactcheck.eu. The project, run by the European Journalism Training Association, is fact-checking political claims with the help of more than 150 students and staff from 20 journalism schools across Europe.
The group looked at several research reports but could find no data to support Baudet’s claims about immigration and increased homophobia.

After reviewing recent LGBT studies, they concluded Baudet’s remark that Homophobia had increased in the Netherlands was “generally untrue.”

The group also cited a 2015 police study on homophobic crimes in the Netherlands that found 61.8% of homophobic crime suspects had Dutch nationality. The fact-checkers said the police did not differentiate between immigrant and non-immigrant suspects.

Baudet had not responded to CNN’s request for comment at time of publishing.

Dutch church holds 800-hour service to save family from deportation

Baudet’s tweet pits the liberal attitudes of Dutch people — encapsulated in their acceptance of homosexuality — as under attack by immigration, said Claes de Vreese, Professor and Chair of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam.

“Populists typically use strong rhetoric to create an image of a threatening outside group,” he said. De Vreese said Baudet’s claims were reminiscent of fellow far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who “also appropriated ‘gay rights’ as ‘Dutch rights’ under threat from immigration.”

Populist parties in Netherlands have a strange balancing act — defending a country known for its tradition of tolerance, with an uncompromising stance on immigration.

The next test for Baudet is whether he can ride his wave of popularity all the way to success in the European elections.

Islam and free speech

“Criticism of Islam is forbidden!” said a Facebook post from Germany’s far-right AfD politician Martin Sichert in March. The post added that according to the European Court of Human Rights, the “protection of Islam is more important than freedom of expression in Europe.”

Sichert was referring to the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian political scientist who in 2009 gave a seminar on Islam in which she compared the Prophet Mohammed’s relationship with a child to pedophilia. The seminar in Vienna was promoted by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted by an Austrian court of disparaging religious doctrines and fined €480. She appealed several times, but the decision was eventually upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2018.
According to German research news site, CORRECTIV, the AfD politician’s Facebook comments were “grossly oversimplifying a complex issue.” The group’s investigation into Sichert’s claims was also featured on the site Fact Check EU.

“It cannot be concluded from the judgment of the court that the ‘protection of Islam’ is more important than freedom of expression,” said CORRECTIV. “The judgment does not even contain the phrase, ‘protection of Islam,'” it added.

Sichert told CNN he “firmly stood by” his comments. In a lengthy statement he said: “If we deny ourselves an open and critical debate about different religions or cultures, we are basically sacrificing our freedom of speech and expression on the altar of political correctness.

'I'm really enjoying this!' A more relaxed Angela Merkel rediscovers her voice

“It is not the Islam that is being criticized here,” said Sichert of his Facebook post. “But the politics and courts, who are failing to uphold and protect our fundamental rights — all in fear that this may be uncomfortable to some.”

The case sheds light on a bigger issue troubling many right-wing, and some centrist, voters in Germany, according to Werner Patzelt, a political analyst who has closely followed the rise of the right-wing movement. And that is “the feeling that all kind of criticism of Islam is forbidden under the flag of political correctness.”

The “EU itself does not exert any pressure of political correctness,” Patzelt added. But, he said, in the eyes of right-wing populists, the EU is nevertheless the “invented or felt enemy” because its policies hinder nation states’ abilities to protect themselves.

The AfD, once on the fringes of politics, is now the third-largest party in Germany following big gains at the 2017 election.

And within days, populist parties across the continent could take their national successes to a European level.

Source link

nuno-show.nl

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