“We were Disinformed on the Way to Europe”

 

By Igor Kanižaj, Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK)

In the wake of the new migrants’ route in Southeast Europe, the Croatian colleagues in the Mind Over Media EU team launched the first workshop for migrants and asylum seekers on propaganda. It was held in an asylum seekers center in Kutina, Croatia, in Arabic and English.

Based upon the new curriculum developed within the MOM EU project DKMK (Association for Communication and Media Culture) has implemented the workshop designed for migrants and asylum seekers. In the first part of the workshop, the participants had to reflect on four different media techniques and propaganda definitions. The participants had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the messages they were exposed to from media but also from public officials and representatives in the countries on the way to Europe.

It was eye-opening to learn about migrants’ experiences in being exposed to different kinds of propaganda messages on their way to better life in Europe. Our associate Aissa Regg has shared his experience from the workshop: “They said that the picture which they’ve got about Croatia was that the country is not paradise, but it will give them protection and good life conditions. As they came here, they were placed in Kutina and they understood that the local people are also leaving the country in a search for better life. “

Several of the participants told us that on their way to Croatia different public officials and representatives in several countries have informed them that in Croatia their disabled children will get comprehensive medical help although they say that “this was just a false promise”.

In discussion it was emphasized that the primary sources of these information were not the media but mostly local officials. They also talked about being given the information that “Croatian police is tough and aggressive and beating the migrants”. However, most of them agreed  that the treatment which they got from the police was better than from any police officials from other countries.

This was the first workshop on propaganda in Arabic for Aissa, who was also one of the asylum seekers just a few months ago. “It was good experience, it was easy to communicate with them; first because of the same language, and second because we have the same experience.”

His wife Tina Regg is also member of our Croatian MOM EU team: “This workshop was the most remarkable one for me in several years of holding lectures in Association for Communication and Media Culture. It was very interesting to hear how my country is being presented to this vulnerable group of people in other countries on Balkan route. Not just because it does not happen often that we can hear such stories but also because these people came to understand that propaganda was all around them even on these sensitive issue.”

 

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