Alicia Powe wrote in a recent article at the right-wing fringe “news” operation WorldNetDaily:
Many Muslim immigrants express a sentiment of entitlement, believing they one day will replace the natives and the land in which they are strangers will come under the authority of Islamic law.
It’s already happening in France, according to a report published by the Gatestone Institute by Giuliu Meotti, cultural editor for Il Folgio.
He says, in the last 30 years, more mosques and Muslim prayer centers “have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century.”
At the same time, Christian churches are being bulldozed.
The opening paragraph is pure opinion from Powe ― she presents no evidence to support her claim ― and has no business in an article claiming to be “news.”
The report Powe is writing about, from the right-wing, anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute ― whose ideology Powe does not identify, and about which Powe made no effort to find a contradictory view ― is rather bogus. The headline claim ― that more mosques and Muslim prayer centers “have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century” ― is both misleading and outright false.
It’s misleading because it omits the fact that there were already 90,000 Catholic churches in France at the beginning of the 20th century, so Catholicism had quite the head start on Islam.
Powe uncritically quoted the Gatestone report as claiming that there are “nearly 2,400 mosques” in France. In fact, according to Haaretz, “There are 2,449 registered Muslim prayer rooms in France, only a small number of which are officially defined as mosques. Prayer rooms can exist in any form but a mosque is a free-standing structure that costs millions of euros to build.” Haaretz also reports that “45,000 new churches” have been built in the past century-plus in France. That seems to put the lie to Gatestone’s assertion.
Why is that 100-year length of time such a big deal? Because as Powe admits, “France is able to demolish old churches because the government appropriated all church property and the cost of maintaining them in 1907.” Which means there’s no link whatsoever between closing churches and opening mosques.
While Powe uncritically quoted the Gatestone report as portraying an attempt in France to systematically replace churches with mosques, she cited only one example of a church being turned into a mosque. Which is pretty close to the real-life rate: Haaretz stated that since 1905, only five churches have been turned into mosques.
To sum up: Powe basically wrote a press release about a bogus report from a right-wing anti-Muslim group, and she couldn’t be bothered to do even the most basic journalism to verify anything.
This is just another instance of fake news, which took two dishonest right-wing operations to peddle.