Fake News: Merkel Did NOT Ban Media Reporting Migrant Beheaded 1-Year-Old Girl In Germany

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Merkel Did NOT Ban Media Reporting Migrant Beheaded 1-Year-Old Girl In Germany

Did Angela Merkel or the German government ban German media from reporting on a migrant who also killed his 1-year-old daughter when he murdered his ex-wife in a stabbing attack? No, that's not true: the story and the killer's motives were widely reported in Germany right after the attack happened in April 2018. The claim that the German goverment tried to ban reporters from mentioning the child are pulled out of thin air by a website that takes real news stories but adds outrage-inducing headlines in order to get more visitors for economic gain through advertising. There is no ban in effect.

The story originated from an article published by YourNewsWire on July 6, 2018 titled "Migrant Beheads 1-Year-Old Girl In Germany; Merkel Bans Media Reporting" (archived here) which opened:

Angela Merkel's pro-migrant government has banned German media from reporting on a barbaric crime involving a Muslim migrant who allegedly beheaded his one-year-old baby daughter on a train station platform in Hamburg.

According to eyewitnesses, the 33-year-old suspect, Mourtala Madou, beheaded his one-year-old daughter in front of a horrified crowd of commuters at Jungfernstieg station on Thursday April 12, and then stabbed his German girlfriend, the mother of the child.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, implying the German government is suppressing the story out of poltical motives:

Migrant Beheads 1-Year-Old Girl In Germany; Merkel Bans Media Reporting

German government fear this is the story that will bring them down.

In reality the attack was widely reported in Germany, for example in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's biggest newspapers:

Mitten in Hamburg, mitten am Tag

Ein 33-Jähriger hat im Hamburger S-Bahnhof Jungfernstieg auf seine Exfrau und seine einjährige Tochter eingestochen. Das Kind verstarb noch am Tatort, die Frau erlag ihren Verletzungen im Krankenhaus. Der Täter rief später persönlich die Polizei und ist inzwischen gefasst. Um kurz nach zwölf liegt über dem Jungfernstieg eine seltsame Stimmung zwischen Horror und Normalität.

Right in the first sentence it says a 33-year old man stabbed his ex-wife and 1-year-old daughter. The girl died on the scene, the ex-wife died later in hospital.

The paper followed up with more background on the motives and identity of the killer:

Der Messerattacke ging ein Sorgerechtsstreit voraus

Am Tag nach der Messerattacke in Hamburg mit zwei Toten werden Details zum Täter bekannt. Mourtala M. kam über Lampedusa nach Hamburg und zeigte sich früh kooperativ mit den Behörden. Der tödlichen Attacke am Jungfernstieg ging offenbar ein verlorener Sorgerechtsstreit voraus, nach dem der Mann fürchtete, ausgewiesen zu werden.

The man was a migrant who was in a custody battle over his daughter and he feared he would be sent back. The story mentions his immigration background and name and explains why all of that is relevant to the killing. In fact the article came with a note from the editors:

Anmerkung der Redaktion

In der Regel berichtet die SZ nicht über ethnische, religiöse oder nationale Zugehörigkeiten mutmaßlicher Straftäter. Wir weichen nur bei begründetem öffentlichen Interesse von dieser im Pressekodex vereinbarten Linie ab. Das kann bei außergewöhnlichen Straftaten wie Terroranschlägen oder Kapitalverbrechen der Fall sein oder bei Straftaten, die aus einer größeren Gruppe heraus begangen werden (wie Silvester 2015 in Köln). Ein öffentliches Interesse besteht auch bei Fahndungsaufrufen oder wenn die Biografie einer verdächtigen Person für die Straftat von Bedeutung ist. Wir entscheiden das im Einzelfall und sind grundsätzlich zurückhaltend, um keine Vorurteile gegenüber Minderheiten zu schüren.

Google translation:

Editor's note

As a rule, the SZ does not report on ethnic, religious or national allegations of suspected offenders. We only deviate from this line agreed in the Press Code for justified public interest. This may be the case for exceptional offenses such as terrorist attacks or capital crimes, or for crimes committed by a larger group (such as New Year's Eve 2015 in Cologne). There is also a public interest in search of a wanted man or if the biography of a suspected person is relevant to the offense. We decide this on a case-by-case basis and are fundamentally reluctant to avoid prejudice against minorities.

So the paper even explicitly mentioned the migration background even though they don't normally do this if it isn't relevant to a story.

Here is even more German media coverage of the killing, all mentioning the child being murdered:

Messerattacke am Jungfernstieg: Vater ersticht Ex-Frau und Kind offenbar aus „Wut und Rache" - WELT

Messerattacke am Jungfernstieg Vater ersticht Ex-Frau und Kind offenbar aus „Wut und Rache" Ein Mann ersticht seine Tochter und seine Ex-Frau auf einem Bahnsteig am Hamburger Jungfernstieg. Der Mann aus dem Niger hatte zuvor das Sorgerecht verloren. Das hätte Einfluss auf sein Aufenthaltsrecht haben können.

Reaktionen nach Messerattacke am Jungfernstieg: "Das übersteigt jede vorstellbare Grausamkeit" - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Panorama

Ein Buggy steht auf einem leeren S-Bahnsteig. Am Vormittag hat ein 33-jähriger Mann am Bahnhof Jungfernstieg in Hamburg offenbar seine Ex-Frau und ihre gemeinsame einjährige Tochter erstochen. Die Tat schockiert nicht nur diejenigen, die sie als Passanten miterleben mussten.

Mann tötet Ex-Frau und Tochter - jetzt kümmern sich die Behörden um Geschwister

Nach der grausamen Messerattacke am Jungfernstieg, bei der ein einjähriges Mädchen und seine Mutter (†34) getötet wurden, haben sich die Behörden der Geschwister des Kindes angenommen. „Meine Gedanken sind bei den Geschwistern, um die sich der Kinder- und Jugendnotdienst nun liebevoll kümmern wird", twitterte Sozialsenatorin Melanie Leonhard ( SPD) am Donnerstag.

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:


The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

We wrote about yournewswire.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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