Breitbart published a fake story about a “Muslim mob” that set fire to an historic German church, The Guardian reports.
Breitbart said a crowd chanting “Allahu Akbar” set fire to a church in the city of Dortmund on New Year’s Eve.
German authorities have warned about fake news in response.
Dortmund’s police said there were no “extraordinary or spectacular” incidents.
The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said some of its New Year’s Eve reporting had been changed by Breitbart to make “fake news, hate and propaganda”.
The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said, “the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own”.
Tens of thousands clicked and shared the Breitbart.com story with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.
The Breitbard piece said men “chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church”, and congregated, “around the flag of al-Qaida and Islamic State collaborators the Free Syrian Army.”
Many of those details are false, including mistakenly stray fireworks started a small fire that was quickly put out, the roof was not on fire and the church is not Germany’s oldest.
Bild, Germany’s top-selling daily newspaper, warned against Breitbart’s influence, which has grown with Steve Bannon placed highly in the Trump administration as the website plans to launch German and French language sites. Bild wrote Breitbart could try to, “aggravate the tense political climate in Germany”.
(image via Breitbart screengrab)