28 March 2019 • Gideon Wille
In the eye of a media storm
He suddenly made the national media last weekend. It was his video that showed a demonstrator shouting a threatening slogan addressed to Thierry Baudet during an anti-racism demonstration. Shashi Roopram, Research Skills lecturer at Small Business & Retail Management, was reporting on the demonstration for UP! Network, a media platform he set up. It was quite an experience for Shashi, during the demonstration and after the video was released. What impact did it have on him?
What type of platform is UP?
“UP!Network is a right-wing oriented media platform set up in 2017 by myself and Avish Jajairam. We wanted there to be a different voice in the media. The existing migrant media are very left wing, so people are quick to assume all migrants are left wing, while that is not the case. Migrant talk shows always take a particular approach; the emphasis is often on anti-racism and discrimination. In our view, that feeds victimisation and it is therefore no longer about the individual’s or the community’s own strength. We want to break through that discourse.”
What was the anti-racism demonstration like?
“My job started out pretty easy. When the demonstration was almost over, someone told me that at the front of the demonstration, people were chanting slogans about shooting Baudet. We went over there and filmed the statements. I was shocked, but noticed that the Antifa demonstrators seemed to find it amusing. When I asked some probing questions, people started turning against us. I was pushed, people pulled at the cameraman and the camera was knocked away several times. We were threatened and told we should delete the footage. In the end, we couldn’t do our job anymore. I’ve never encountered anything like that before. I was extremely shocked. At a certain point we had to leave for our own safety. We were scared we were being followed, so we immediately went into a restaurant. We didn’t want to be attacked for what we’d filmed.”
‘If you want to shoot Thierry dead, then say bang’, chanted the Antifa demonstrator in your video. It made the national media, including the NOS Journaal and RTL Nieuws. How do you feel about that?
“It’s strange seeing yourself on the NOS Journaal and RTL Nieuws. I was surprised it had such an impact; that wasn’t what I was expecting when I filmed it. It was simply a madhouse on Sunday.”
What kind of reactions did you get?
“Most reactions were positive, we also had mud thrown at us of course, but that’s nothing new. With previous items I got into discussions on social media, while my family told me not to. In this situation, I don’t need to join in the discussion because many people were fighting my corner; 90% were positive. Even politicians from the left denounced the comments by the demonstrator. Some people say that we ruined their demonstration; the only thing being highlighted is that one statement. People on the left of the spectrum don’t feel heard. But it is not about whether you are for or against Baudet, it is about us, left and right, not creating an atmosphere in which politicians are demonised. Of course you can be critical of Baudet, with his statements about Boreal Europe and such, but, above all, let’s focus on the content.”
Can you combine the roles of lecturer and (citizen) journalist?
“I am very outspoken. So yes, sometimes the roles of lecturer and journalist clash. I am becoming increasingly aware of that. I do think you have a responsibility. I work at THUAS, we have certain core values and I won’t do anything that goes against those. My students have various backgrounds and religions, so I keep that in mind. It is an issue. When you are in front of a class, students should be able to feel safe with you. I don’t want students to feel unsafe because I speak up. Or that they think they will be put at a disadvantage because of where they come from. I am wary of that. I am looking for more of a balance on the Up!Network, for instance not only interviewing Pegida but also extreme left parties. I don’t want people saying that I am a mouthpiece for a specific extremist group.
Postscript by editor: The demonstrator in the film has been arrested and accused of threatening and inciting behaviour by the Public Prosecution Service. Shashi reported being threatened to the police.
The video was uploaded to UP!Network.
Shashi Roopram filmed a demonstrator chanting threatening slogans addressed to Thierry Baudet and made the national media.