Controversial websites deserve blame for rising Islamaphobia: Univ. Amsterdam researcher

Controversial websites GeenStijl and Powned definitely make use of Islamophobic language and may play a part in the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the Netherlands, University of Amsterdam researcher Dr. Ineke van der Valk said to NPO Radio 1.

Van der Valk has been researching discrimination against Muslims for years. This year she analyzed blogs posted by GeenStijl and Powned since their inception, in 2003 and 2013 respectively, until the end of 2015. In total she found 18 thousand articles about Muslims or Islam and 260 thousand comments on the matter.

The websites often frame Muslims and Islam as political or cultural threats, according to Van der Valk's analysis. On both sites the image of Muslims and Islam are solely negative. "There is a whole category of words like sandboxes, deserts, middle ages etc. to emphasize that Muslims are underdeveloped and backward. That is a negative other-presentation against the positive self-presentation. With that they want to actually say: 'we are developed and we know how it is and we are of this age'. Not insulting in itself, but in context they say that Muslims are backward", Van der Valk said to NPO. 

She was not surprised that a large number of women called for GeenStijl to be boycotted over sexism claims last week. "What now appears in the newspaper about journalists being insulted, is a discourse I also encountered in my research. When it comes to Muslims, ti very often involves women. Then they are also addressed in terms of whores, which is strikingly sexist language."

GeenStijl responded on their site by pointing the finger at broadcaster NPO, instead of the research itself, and praising nationalistic right-wing site ThePostOnline. "Good morning Netherlands! And that you have to work today is of course our fault too. But fortunately a large part of your earned cents go to the State Broadcaster so that they can make this kind of sick scum. Long live TPO. Death to the NPO", GeenStijl wrote.