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On July 28th 2018, the Daily Mail published an article describing the French Capital as “Powder Keg Paris” in which they claimed that up to 300,000 illegal migrants were living in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
The Mail article claimed that drug dealing, crime and poverty were rising in the area due to the “quite simple” explanation of “immigration on a mammoth scale”.
However, the Mail was initially forced to remove the piece from their website after criticism from French activist Marwan Muhammad, a former director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, who published a Twitter thread claiming that the piece contained more than a dozen factual errors.
Muhammad began his thread by stating:
@MailOnline. I’ve read your “devastating” article on “illegal migrants in Saint Denis”. We too in France have tabloïds who couldn’t care less about the truth, but I really have to say: you’re in a league of your own. Everything in your paper is wrong. A fact checking:”
The French anti-racist campaigner then went on to list a full 15 errors he had spotted in the piece – inaccuracies such as:
- The Mail article claimed there are up to 300,000 illegal immigrants living in Saint Denis. However, the total population of Saint Denis is only around 110,000.
- The Mail article claimed there were more than 160 mosques in Saint Denis. There are actually only 12.
- The Mail article contains a quote suggesting that, because of the situation, Christmas had effectively been cancelled in Saint Denis. It hadn’t.
- The Mail article claimed that “Even left-wingers” had acknowledged the “scale of the problem“, citing a report written by former French government Minister Jean Louis Borloo. Mr Borloo is actually a right-winger.
Muhammad then finished his forensic deconstruction of the Mail’s article by stating:
“So, in summary, from the very first line to the last, your article is a sum of lies, inaccuracies, factual mistakes and data/quotes with no sources. If this is your definition of journalism, then don’t be suprised when people call you a racially obsessed tabloid, with no ethics.”
And now, a good 6 months later, the Mail have finally been forced to issue their correction to the article – and it really is beyond ridiculous.
Do take a read below:
“A July 28 feature about a Paris suburb which was the subject of a French parliamentary report said that up to 300,000 illegal immigrants lived there and referred to it throughout as Saint Denis. In fact, the suburb is called Seine-Saint-Denis, in which the smaller commune of Saint Denis is situated, and the report referred to estimates of 150-400,000 illegal immigrants. The article also said 1,700 jihadists are believed to have returned after fighting for IS. This is in fact the number of people understood to have left France – not Seine-Saint- Denis – to join IS. The claim that the suburb is home to ‘350 known jihadis’ was based on comments of an anonymous official who told another publication that there are about ‘30 possible terrorists living in this area and about 300 extremists who would support them’, and there are no official figures for the number of jihadis there. We are also happy to clarify that the reference to 160 ‘mosques’ should have been to ‘mosques and prayer rooms’; the French veil ban was introduced for reasons of security as well as integration; Mireille Knoll was murdered in a different part of Paris; yasser Louati no longer works at French anti-Islamophobia group CCIF; and Christian de Moliner is a teacher, not a professor. We apologise for any confusion.”
Responding to the Mail’s belated correction, Miqdaad Versi, Head of the Media Monitoring team at the Muslim Council of Britain, said:
“This article was an example of the worst type of journalism – a reporter doing a hatchet job on Muslim immigrants in a fearmongering double-page spread replete with factual inaccuracies. The press regulator requires the burden of proof to be on the complainant, meaning that even more false statements about Muslims were not corrected. I can only hope that the new Editor of the Daily Mail recognises the serious dangers of such irresponsible reporting which is – as was the case here – shared by the far-right to support their narrative. The underlying prejudice that underpinned this article and its passing through the editorial team, is deeply worrying. This cannot happen again – although I fear it will be.”
And, unsurprisingly, Twitter also reacted with utter disdain for the Mail’s astonishingly brazen fake news:
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) February 6, 2019
Daily Mail apologise for 8 serious inaccuracies that undermine the fundamental premise of the hatchet job written by Andrew Malone about Muslim immigrants in Paris – after my complaint (6 months after the original article) pic.twitter.com/LyKpATNkWh
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) February 6, 2019
We'd like to clarify, the story was set somewhere in France, however all the details, characters and events were made up for dramatic effect.
— Closet Politics (@closetpolitics) February 6, 2019
A tissue of lies from the Mail from start to finish. No surprise there. It took more than 6 months to correct by which time it’s the damage is done and very few people are going to see the correction. How often are they getting away with this sort of thing?
— Bill Esterson (@Bill_Esterson) February 6, 2019
Proof if ever needed it that, if for whatever reason you choose to get your news from the Daily Mail, you really are being spoon-fed far-right lies and propaganda on a truly epic scale.