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Syrian refugee regrets Merkel selfie

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2017 06:11 pm
Because of fake news:

Quote:
Syrian refugee regrets Merkel selfie

Syrian refugee Anas Modamani waited with his mobile phone ready at the entrance to his shelter in Berlin on September 10 2015 – and when German Chancellor Angela Merkel emerged, he snapped a selfie.

The photo quickly went viral, becoming a symbol for Merkel’s refugee policy, when she opened Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers. Overnight, Modamani became one of the most recognisable refugees in Germany.

“That photo changed my life,” Modamani told Al Jazeera.

Since then, however, the photo has appeared in numerous false stories on social media linking him to attacks across Europe, including the deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market. He was also falsely identified as one of the refugees who set fire to a sleeping homeless man in Berlin last December.

The first false post that Modamani could pinpoint was in March 2016, when his photo was identified as Najim Laachraoui, one of the terrorists behind the Brussels bombings in March 2016; the story claimed that Merkel “took a selfie with a terrorist”.

“I cried when I saw it,” said Modamani, 19. “I want to live in peace in Germany. I fled from the war and bloodshed in Syria to live in safety … I was too afraid to leave my house after I saw what people wrote about me. This is not just my problem. It’s a problem of our time.” [..]

Thomas Noetzel, a political science professor at the University of Marburg, noted that the posts about Modamani were also an attack on Angela Merkel.

“[The Modamani posts] are grist for the mill of right-wing populists, by claiming that she let dangerous people into the country,” Noetzel told Al Jazeera [..].”

Modamani says he simply wants people to stop using his photo in malicious posts.

“I want to make a life for myself here,” he said. “Syria has my heart, but Germany is my second home now. I’ve lived through the war in Syria for years. It became more and more dangerous and I got to a point where I couldn’t see any more blood being spilled.”

Modamani arrived in Germany in July 2015 after leaving his friends and family behind in Darayya, a suburb of Damascus. His arduous, dangerous journey took him across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece in a rickety boat. From there, he followed the Balkan route to central Europe, moving from one crowded refugee settlement to the next.

“It was one of the toughest times in my life,” he recalled. “I had little to eat, I didn’t speak English and my family wasn’t with me.”

He now has a foster family and friends in Berlin, works for a fast-food chain and takes German language classes. He wants to study and find a better job in Germany, but he remains uncertain about his future, concerned about how the now-infamous photo could be misused, or how anyone who searches for him online may see him connected to “terrorism”.

“I’m scared thinking about it, even when I just send off an application online,” he said. “It makes me feel helpless and powerless.”


I snipped the parts of the article that delve into the debate about the extent to which Facebook should be held responsible for defamatory posts on its network. Also interesting subject matter (and you can always click through to find those parts too). But feels like a separate conversation.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2017 07:31 pm
On a related note:

Quote:
Mass sexual assaults by refugees in Frankfurt ‘completely made up’

Prosecutors in Frankfurt are investigating two people for making up a crime, after they claimed in a national newspaper that dozens of Arab men rioted and sexually assaulted women at New Year.

The claims first appeared in Bild newspaper on February 6th, which described the men as a “rioting sex mob,” speculating that they had come from a refugee home in central Hesse.

In an article since taken down from its website, the tabloid interviewed a well-known chef who runs a restaurant on Fressgass street, as well as a 27-year-old woman.

The chef, Jan Mai, claimed that 50 Arab men caused havoc in his restaurant as well as in others. He also claimed that they sexually assaulted women and stole jackets.

The woman told the newspaper that “they grabbed me under my skirt, between the legs and on my breast - everywhere.”

But police confirmed on Tuesday to the Frankfurter Rundschau that their investigation of the allegations had led them to believe that they were spurious.

“Interviews with alleged witnesses, guests and employees led to major doubts with the version of events that had been presented,” the police said.

“One of the alleged victims was not even in Frankfurt at the time the allegations are said to have taken place.”

The police were indeed unequivocal in how they understood the events to have unfolded.

“Masses of refugees were not responsible for any sexual assaults in the Fressgass over New Year. The accusations are completely baseless,” the police said.

Before the Bild report, no sexual assaults were reported to police from Fressgass over New Year.

Prosecutors are now looking into whether Mai and the 27-year-old woman made up the story.

Bild newspaper is bitterly resented by the German left, which accuses it of having stoked hatred against immigrants over decades.

On its website Bild published a statement on Tuesday, saying “Bild apologizes expressly for the untruthful article and the accusations made in it. [..]
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nimh
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2017 07:36 pm
None of this is to say that there aren't real problems!

Just to say, don't believe everything you read. There's bad stuff that actually happens. Terrorist attacks. Crime and harassment. And then there's the far right and its US allies exaggerating and outright inventing stuff. Up to all of us to make sure we identify which is which.
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