Today’s Independent carries a report about the Romanian newspaper Libertatea and its response to a hysterical story in Thursday’s Sun. It would seem that our (less than) beloved Currant Bun has met its match in the invective stakes.
On 16 November the Sun ran a report with the shocking headline “Migrants AIDS epidemic threat”. According to the story the UK was facing an Aids epidemic on the basis that two thirds of all new HIV cases were found in immigrants and that the problem was “set to hit crisis point when Romania and Bulgaria — nations with some of Europe’s highest Aids rates — join the EU next year.”
The source of the story was a Health Protection Agency report which showed that up to 70% of new HIV, TB and Malaria cases seem in the UK was due to migration. However, the report stressed that it reflected a small fraction of people not born in the UK. And that there was little evidence to suggest the general population was being placed at increased risk.
This did not stop the Sun putting a lurid spin on the report of course - why let the truth come in the way of some gratuitous hysteria?
The report seems to have hit a raw nerve with Libertatea: dashing to the defence of its fellow countrymen, devoted much of Friday’s (17 November)issue to hitting back at the Sun, suggesting the British newspaper train its eye a little closer to home if it wants to find evidence of wrongdoing.
It accuses the British of exporting paedophilia, drunkenness and hooliganism - a threat it says is far more serious than that posed by Romanians when the country officially joins the European Union in January. It goes on to lampoon the notion that "rapists, muggers, card forgers, whores and pimps will storm into Trafalgar Square" in 2007. In the editorial it blasts "too perfidious Albion" insisting the old colonial label is still apt. It also calls on Tony Blair to stand up against the Press for peddling myths demonising a nation which has committed troops to serve alongside British forces in Iraq.
"Starting about two months ago various UK publications, spearheaded by The Sun, flung upon Romanian citizens the sort of abjection which is hard-to-imagine," the editorial said. "Romania is presented as a cursed land, the Sodom and Gomorrah which will spill crime, disease and misfortune into England." It also used the edition to launch a campaign to highlight the epidemic of British paedophiles being countered by the Romanian authorities.
Well it seems that the Sun truly has met its match. For a sequel please stick the boot into the Mail and the Express!