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Mail Online Deleted An Article About "Illegal Migrants" Overwhelming A Paris Suburb

The site said the piece was based on a report that claimed Saint Denis was home to 300,000 migrants — but there were a few problems with it.

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The Mail Online has deleted a lengthy news article focused on "illegal migrants" living in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis, after a string of apparent inaccuracies were highlighted on social media.

Mail Online

The Daily Mail sent reporter Andrew Malone to Paris for an article published on July 27, which has now been removed from the site. Malone appears to have deactivated or suspended his Twitter account.

The piece was headlined: "Powder Keg Paris: As a devastating report reveals 300,000 illegal migrants are living in one French suburb... ANDREW MALONE explores the tensions in a community at odds with mainstream society."

The online version of the article is no longer available.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Paris resident Marwan Muhammad claimed that the article made a number of errors...

Hello @MailOnline. I've read your "devastating" article on "illegal migrants in Saint Denis". We too in France have tabloïds who couldn't care less about the truth, but I really have to say: you're in a league of your own. Everything in your paper is wrong. A fact checking: 👇🏽 https://t.co/zWiqlffxsP

...including mistaking Saint Denis, the city, for Seine-Saint-Denis, the department northeast of Paris.

Mistake 1: from beginning to end, your reporter confuses "Saint Denis" (the city) and "Seine Saint Denis" (the département). There's a small difference between the two: "Seine Saint Denis" includes 40 cities, over 236 km2. A simple look at a map would have saved you the trouble. https://t.co/md0OWN84ug

And while the parliamentary report that the article is based upon does warn of the social and economic problems caused by immigration, it doesn't give a certain number of immigrants living in France illegally.

Mistake 4 (the worst): Your reporter claims there are "as many as 300000 illegal immigrants" in Saint Denis "according to French parliamentarians". They say the exact opposite: "The only thing we are sure about is that the State doesn't know how many illegal immigrants there are" https://t.co/7Ou7H3gHKE

The report said that the total number of people in Seine-Saint-Denis without leave to remain in France "would be between 150,000, 250,000 people, even 400,000", although the authors admit there is a large margin of error.

In a sentence the authors highlight in bold, the report says: "The only certainty is the uncertainty in which the state is plunged regarding the number of foreigners in an irregular situation in Seine-Saint-Denis."

It's unclear where the Mail's claim of 300,000 comes from.

The article referred to the area having become a "parallel state" with sharia courts — a view that has long been held by commentators who are critical of Islam, and that has been repeatedly dismissed and debunked.

Mistake 5: There are no religious courts in France (unlike other countries) and no shari'a council (except in the mind of the worst islamophobes). The same laws apply everywhere in France, to everyone (except in some president's entourage ;-)). Where, PRECISELY, did you see this? https://t.co/dbTzdqlTkd

Other tweeters replied with their own takes, including BBC News presenter and reporter Hugh Sykes who recently spent a day in Saint Denis.

@_MarwanMuhammad @MailOnline Random snaps from a recent afternoon in St. Denis. Terrifying.

Local councillor Majid Messaoudene said that the article had set out to "stigmatise" and "harm" the area and its people.

.@MailOnline a publié 1 "enquête" à charge sur @VilleSaintDenis notamment Objectif : stigmatiser les populations et les territoires. En tant qu'élu de cette ville je remercie @_MarwanMuhammad pour avoir démontré la volonté manifeste de nuire du "journaliste" aujourd'hui suspendu https://t.co/QlNhyZwRL2

Muhammad told BuzzFeed News: "At this stage, I don't know what the Mail's response will be. They've taken the article down, but still haven't apologised, not only to the people they stigmatise through their articles, but also to their readership, whose opinion they misinform through such poor journalistic work.

"Being used to tabloïds, even in France, I'm not shocked anymore by the ongoing flow of racist, Islamophobic and anti-migrant fake news that is published.

"But I think there is a big responsibility on two key players, who should take a strong stance: IPSO, whose responsibility it is to protect journalistic standards and brands; and groups who still support the Daily Mail financially, through advertisement."

Mail Online has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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