Police and the local paper in Dortmund, Germany are calling out Breitbart for producing a fake story alleging a mob attack happened on New Year’s Eve, whose culprits were over a thousand “Muslim” men chanting “Allahu Akbar” while setting fire to the oldest church in the country. It described incidents where the men launched fireworks at police and a group gathered around the “Free Syrian Army” flag.
Police and the local paper state that the right-wing conservative publication falsified reports from the scene to produce “fake news, hate and propaganda.” Police said there were no “extraordinary or spectacular” incidents that occurred that night.
Ruhr Nachrichten, the newspaper which Breitbart cited in its piece, stated that many of the elements Breitbart reported in its story were greatly exaggerated. Although stray fireworks did start a small blaze, the fire was only on netting covering scaffolding on the church and it was put out after about 12 minutes, the paper reported. The roof was not on fire and the church is not Germany’s oldest.
The local police also noted that the officers handled 185 incidents that evening, and described this past New Year’s Eve as “average to quiet.” They also explained that the night likely went smoothly due to the large police presence in the area.
There have been concerns in Germany that there could be a widespread of more fake news depicting violent situations regarding Muslims and immigrants ahead of this year’s elections as a means to help right-wing nationalist parties gain power. German officials have called for a special government unit to combat fake news ahead of the elections.
With the rise in fake news stories and fabricated stories targeting marginalized groups, it is important to monitor the legitimacy of all sources.
Breitbart’s story is still up without any corrections or editor’s notes.