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Hungarian TV falls for fake story on Ramadan name change

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Hungarian TV falls for fake story on Ramadan name change

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A television news show in Hungary made a major gaffe after broadcasting a fake, satirical story from Germany as fact.

Hirado, the main news programme of public broadcaster MTVA, reported that the city Essen — which literally means "to eat" in German — had decided to change its name to Fasten to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The German satirical news website, noktara.de, originally put out the spoof name change story on Saturday. It said Essen's mayor had agreed to the temporary switch after receiving a petition with 5,000 signatures.

Despite the satirical nature of the original story it was picked up by Hirado who broadcasted it as fact.

Attila Varga, a journalist for Hungarian news website index.hu, told Euronews such mistakes were commonplace.

“In the last two or three years all we’ve heard about is migrants this, migrants that, fake news this, fake news that,” he said. “So a large portion of Hungarians just don’t care anymore.

“Those who do care have been laughing and writing about it, publishing it and sharing it.”

Ramadan began last week and sees Muslims spend a month focusing on God, or Allah. They fast during daylight hours, pray and abstain from sex.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has often presented himself as the defender of Christianity in Europe amid the influx of Muslim migrants from Syria and elsewhere in recent years.

His re-election campaign this year made regular reference to refugees even though there were just 151,132 foreign citizens living amid Hungary’s 9.8 million populace last year.