The Muslim bashing far right fringe is well known for blatantly exaggerating stories, even to the point of invention. Untrue claims of “no go zones”, imposition of Sharia Law, and Halal scares are part and parcel of the means by which the easily led are kept in a frightened state. But there is a problem with peddling all those porkies: sooner or later, they come back to bite the perpetrators. And so it has come to pass yet again.
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Out there in Islamophobia never-never land, pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins has managed not to learn any lessons from dumping Mail Online with a whopping libel bill, her own personal libel loss, losing gigs at the Sun and Mail Online, and being reduced to inventing ever-more outrageous stories for the likes of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Now she isn’t learning about a suburb of Brussels.
Molenbeek, home to around 95,000 inhabitants, gained notoriety as some of those who carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks lived there. So when Hatey Katie saw footage of a fire in the area this week, she added two and two, to obtain a number considerably bigger than four. And she was once again wrong.
“Molenbeek. What on earth would cause an explosion like that in the Jihadi Capital of Europe at the start of Ramadan? *coughs*” she sneered two days ago, seemingly unaware that Ramadan had not yet begun. Dimitri Strobbe, who took the footage, was not impressed. “Hey miss @KTHopkins, I never agreed on you using my footage. And certainly not this way. This is just a fire in a building. Be a journalist, not a populist. Love from Molenbeek!” It was a warehouse fire. Warehouse fires happen.
There were reports to Twitter support, which gave Ms Hopkins an opportunity to show she can’t understand Nederlands: “Please do call the police, sir. A few more of them in the Molenbeek area would not go amiss”. It didn’t say that. When she finally realised this, it was time for a little self-promotion: “Please do catch up with all my truths from Molenbeek”. The problem is that “truths” is just what she is not peddling.
As Flanders News has told, “The municipal authorities in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek have lodged a complaint with the judicial authorities against the controversial British columnist and reporter Katie Hopkins”. It got worse: “Using images of Tuesday evening’s serious fire that gutted a warehouse in Koekelberg, a municipality that neighbours Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Mr Hopkins tried to link the fire to jihadism and the start of Ramadan”.
So the fire, which had nothing to do with Ramadan or terrorism, did not actually happen in Molenbeek. That’s the kind of “truth” that Ms Hopkins is bringing her audience. And it’s why the Mayor of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek has decided that “enough is enough”.
Meanwhile, Hatey Katie is off to the USA (sadly, she has a return ticket). The “truths” she will take with her include “A firsthand account of the No-Go zones from Sweden to Sicily [that don’t exist], de facto Sharia in the UK [there isn’t any], a surge in terror attacks in London [there hasn’t been one] and even Imams selecting which Police officers are allowed to patrol near their mosques [totally untrue]”.
Then she may find another of those court judgments waiting for her on her return. Freedom of speech is one thing. Inability to own the consequences is quite another.