[Marxism] Bild Apologizes for False Article on Sexual Assaults in Frankfurt by Migrants

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 17 07:47:09 MST 2017

NY Times, Feb. 17 2017
Bild Apologizes for False Article on Sexual Assaults in Frankfurt by 

BERLIN — The German mass-circulation daily Bild has “emphatically” 
apologized to its readers for an article that said a “mob” of Arab men 
had sexually assaulted women on New Year’s Eve in a Frankfurt 
restaurant, after the police said that an investigation had failed to 
turn up any evidence.

The accusations carried echoes of genuine attacks on New Year’s Eve a 
year earlier, and Nadja Niesen, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in 
Frankfurt, said on Thursday that the authorities had opened a 
preliminary investigation of two people suspected of fabricating a crime.

In its Feb. 6 report, Bild, the most widely read newspaper in Germany, 
quoted Jan Mai, the owner of a cafe in downtown Frankfurt, as saying 
that 50 “Arab-looking men” had assaulted women on Dec. 31. It also 
quoted a woman it identified only as Irina A., 27, who said she had been 
among those who were groped “everywhere” by the men.

The article mirrored a high-profile episode in Cologne a year earlier, 
when hundreds of women reported being robbed or sexually attacked on New 
Year’s Eve, some by groups of migrants and newly arrived asylum seekers.

The Bild report from Frankfurt was picked up by other outlets and was 
widely shared on social media. More than a week later, after the 
Frankfurt police and other news organizations cast doubt on the 
allegations, Bild conceded that the attacks described in the article 
“did not take place,” and it removed the article from its digital platforms.

“The editorial staff of Bild emphatically apologizes for this untrue 
report and the allegations that it made against those concerned,” the 
newspaper said in a note published online on Tuesday that cited the 
police findings and pledged an internal review. “This reporting in no 
way reflects the journalistic standards of Bild.”

Bild has a daily circulation of 2.5 million and often sets the tone for 
political discussions in Germany, and the decision by prosecutors to 
open an investigation reflects broader concerns in the country about the 
spreading of false stories and anti-immigrant or anti-European propaganda.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, under whose leadership Germany admitted 
890,000 asylum seekers in 2015, is seeking a fourth term this year. Both 
she and her refugee policy have been the subjects of false news reports 
and base insults, which officials worry are aimed at whipping up fear 
and at shifting perceptions before the vote on Sept. 24.

Marcus Pretzell, a member of the far-right party Alternative for 
Germany, described the 12 victims of a truck attack on a Christmas 
market in Berlin as “Merkel’s dead” on social media.

Separately, a report in the Russian news media claimed that a 
Russian-German teenager had been raped by refugees, setting off protests 
by Russian-speaking Germans who said they felt unsafe, and spreading to 
the highest levels of diplomacy before the accusations were questioned 
seriously enough to dampen their spread.

Other newspapers, including the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine 
Zeitung and the left-leaning Taz, had swiftly published articles 
questioning the claims in the Russian report. But they were not accepted 
as false until the police discovered that the teenager had been with her 
boyfriend at the time of the alleged assault.

The Frankfurt police initially disputed the Bild article on the New 
Year’s Eve attack, saying that they had no reports of such events that 
night. On Tuesday, they said that an investigation of testimony by the 
owner of the cafe and by a woman who said she had been assaulted had 
failed to turn up any evidence.

“The questioning of the named witnesses led to considerable doubt about 
the events described,” the Frankfurt police said in a statement on 
Tuesday, adding that they were examining whether those who fabricated 
the accusations could be asked to pay for the cost of the investigation.

Mr. Mai could not be reached on Thursday. Both his personal Facebook 
page and that of his cafe appear to have been taken down.

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