The Breitbart news site has come under harsh criticism from the police for posting a story hyping up a small fireworks fire at German church and claiming Muslims set the building on fire.
According to the Guardian, police in Dortmund, Germany slammed the incendiary website for combining a report of the small fire and unrelated stories and turning them into “fake news, hate and propaganda.”
At issue was a report on Breitbart, headlined “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve.” The story, written by Virginia Hale, claimed the mob “chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church.”
According to local police speaking with local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, no such thing happened. Instead a few stray fireworks landed on netting hanging on the church, causing the netting to catch fire — which was put out in less than 12 minutes.
According to the paper, the roof never caught fire, there were no “mob of Muslims” in the street and the church is not Germany’s oldest.
Addressing the Breitbart story, justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, ripped into the website, warning, “the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own”.
Officials also noted that Breitbart is owned by Trump advisor Stephen Bannon, who joined the president-elect’s campaign when it was floundering and helped shape the inflammatory racial rhetoric that contributed to Trump’s surprising victory.
The story, which was posted to the website on Jan 3 is still available without any corrections, updates or editor’s notes.