Saturday, July 09, 2011

Macedonia: Shakira Used for Local Political Propaganda

Several pro-government media from Macedonia revived an old Internet hoax about supposed Macedonian roots of global music star Shakira in order to provide more air time for a local politician.

In a seemingly coordinated effort on June 29-30, 2011, Sitel TV and Makedonija 24/Kurir virtually simultaneously relayed the "news" that at Shakira "dedicated her concert in Beirut to her father, who is half-Lebanese, half-Macedonia," that she will become a lobbyist for Macedonia, and that as UN goodwill ambassador she opened a summit in Israel, attended by Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov.

While the unattributed and unsigned text of the announcements in various media is virtually identical, Sitel and Makedonija 24 used different video clips to illustrate it. There's a recording from Shakira's concert (no date) in which she says she dedicates it to her father, but it is the announcer's voice-over that adds the "information" about his Macedonian heritage. The claim about her being lobbyist remains totally unfounded, serves as reminder to the population about Government campaign claiming they invest much in lobbying efforts. The second section, intended to promote the president, contains number of his close-ups from other events. 

The "news" was retransmitted by number of portals and local agencies, and then the daily Utrinski Vesnik published an article [mk] on July 6, 2011. Entitled "Macedonian blood flows through Shakira's veins," they say they've confirmed the claim, because that information about Shakira's father can be found on several websites, including FoxNews and Madam Tussauds Hollywood (without links). 

This is at least the second time for Macedonian media to inspire joy and happiness about Macedonia's importance by claiming relation to Shakira and attempt to lure readers using the obviously huge interest about the pop-star. In 2006, spurred by article in Utrinski Vesnik, the portal Taratur provided links [mk] to several Shakira bios which include the tidbit about her Macedonian heritage, including FoxNews article from November 29, 2006, which seems to be the perpetual source of the rumor all along. It does not provide any references, nor does the like-minded bio on Madam Tussauds site.

However, on February 2, 2007, Vest daily debunked the claim in an article [mk, en] about an interview made with Shakira in Berlin. When asked about her Macedonian heritage, the Columbian pop star laughed and said it's not true, even though she would not mind to have such ancestry. The full interview was shown on Sitel TV. This article used a more benign form of nationalist spin, with the headline claiming that the singer "wants to be Macedonian."

Shakira by Wikipedia. Photo: Georges Biard, CC-BY-SA.

Macedonian-language version of this propaganda deconstruction attempt was published on the versions of this blog on Blogeraj & Blogspot.

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