TVA apologizes for mosque story, says it will investigate ‘journalistic process’

By René Bruemmer
Montreal Gazette | December 15, 2017

The TVA news network apologized Friday for a controversial and since debunked report on mosques banning women from a nearby construction site, but a national Muslim organization says the network needs to go further.

At the mosques Friday, worshippers filled the halls and leaders praised the government and other media for their quick work to bring out the truth, but many said the damage wrought by the news report had already been done, once again stirring anti-Muslim sentiment and bringing fear and a sense of exclusion to members of the Muslim community.

Outside the mosques, roughly a dozen protesters claimed they were there to denounce discrimination against women, saying they still believed the news report to be true. They were surrounded by dozens of police officers.

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In their statement, TVA offered an apology to those “affected” by the news story.

“The report was based on comments made on camera Tuesday by two entrepreneurs. However, the versions we received from these individuals has changed since yesterday,” the statement said. “TVA Nouvelles regrets this situation and wishes to apologize to the different individuals and viewers who were affected by this news story.”

The company said its management will continue to conduct an internal investigation to verify the steps of the journalistic process undertaken.

The news network issued the statement a day after the Commission de la construction du Québec found no sign whatsoever that anyone associated with two mosques in Côte-des-Neiges asked for women to be excluded from a work site outside their doors.

But the National Council of Canadian Muslims said TVA should issue an on-air apology to the mosque and to Quebec’s Muslim community.

“We condemn this false media story targeting the Ahl-Ill Bait mosque that has led to the vilification of the Quebec Muslim community and to serious threats against the safety of the mosque,” NCCM spokesperson Eve Torres said in a statement published Friday.

“We are deeply concerned by the surge of hateful messages directed towards both Quebec Muslims and the mosque congregation in the aftermath of this false story. This is especially troubling in light of the upcoming first anniversary of the horrific attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec on Jan. 29.”

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