Does Ibrahim’s claim about Hepatitis B expose white fragility?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Migrant Tales published a story about Ibrahim’s* “voluntary” return to Iraq after coming to Finland in October 2015.  While there were many that felt for Ibrahim’s case, some were more preoccupied with what he alleged, or that he contracted Hepatitis B when going to a Finnish dentist. 

In journalism, you run up against a lot of claims. Since we do not know if they are true of not, we sometimes give the source the benefit of the doubt by using the word alleged, which means that he claims but isn’t yet proven.

Sometimes, these types of stories reveal the most surprising things like white fragility.

Guidelines on what you can take back with you to Iraq. After almost three years, Ibrahim’s possessions must fit in two 23-kg pieces of luggage.

It is important to remember that Ibrahim alleges that he got infected in Finland even if we don’t have any proof that this actually happened. Considering the high standard of Finland’s health care system, such cases are unheard of. Even so, this is how Ibrahim sees it.

Facebook’s Refugee Hospitality Club did a most inhospitable thing and removed the post because they said that contracting Hepatitis B at the dentists cannot happen in Finland. The administrator of the Facebook site did not allege but said it was a fact that this could not happen at the dentist’s.

The first draft of the story did not have “alleged,” which was later added.

A women on Migrant Tales Facebook wall hits back:

“I have read it. Your statement is ignoring your responsibility in publishing something. It is not the insult part. It is the implications of that statement. If true it is a huge issue. I doubt you even understand how huge or you wouldn’t be so nonchalant about it.

As it is so unlikely, almost impossible truth to be said, without proof you are shooting yourself to your foot. If you publish unproven allegations no one will believe you when you publish unlikely but true stories.”

My response:

Thank you to all those readers who did not get offended by what Ibrahim alleged. Knowing him well, I doubt it was ever his intention.

* The name of the asylum seeker was changed in order to protect his identity.

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