Czech disinformation outlet misinforms readers that a refugee camp "like Calais" is growing in Prague
The dissemination of disinformation and fake news to manipulate Czech readers takes various forms. A fresh example from the Czech tabloid Parlamentní listy demonstrates that the images used in news reporting play a significant role in such efforts.
Some people in the Prague 6-Dědina municipal department are expressing concerns about something unfamiliar to them, namely, a newly-created asylum and migration center run by the Czech Interior Ministry there, and they certainly have every right to do so. However, no two people ever write about (or photograph) the exact same thing.
It's rather logical that the media would take up this subject. The tabloid Blesk did so rather moderately and accompanied its piece with a somewhat boring but truthful photograph, this one:
The headline reads "People outraged by immigration center in Dědina, fear for their children and their safety". The disinformation tabloid Parlamentní listy, however, was much more exaggerated in its approach (see below).
Parlamentní listy copied Blesk's reporting, spruced it up, and accompanied the piece with photographs that are far more emotionally charged. The headline to the piece reads: "Gangs of smoking foreigners! Prague 6 Immigration center near primary school said to terrify locals."
The Czech name of the photographer (Jan Rychetský) and the caption to the photograph ("Occupants of the illegal camp called 'The Jungle' are abandoning it") give readers the impression that the image is of an actual place in Prague, a real photograph from the periphery of an otherwise prestigious neighborhood. In fact, this is an old shot of a refugee camp near Calais, France, nicknamed "The Jungle".
Such disinformation is the entire point here. Parlamentní listy is building up quite a tradition of media manipulation, and not just of photographs.
Recently the publication published this photograph to its Facebook profile:
The simple headline, "France", without any more information or explanation of the source of the photo, evokes a "Muslim invasion" of Europe. What are the facts, though?
This photograph actually has nothing to do with France, but was taken during Ramadan in India (where Islam is the second most widespread religion, after Hinduisim) in August 2010. in light of this fact, Parlamentní listy's motto - "Nobody can force you to believe anything" - suddenly takes on a whole different meaning.
This article was first written for the Institute for Independent Journalism.
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