For several months the German police have been sporadically raiding the homes of people suspected of criticizing immigration on social media. Today the crackdown intensified considerably: sixty residences were raided. Note that Bavaria was once again the focus of police action — it must really be a hotbed of resistance against the Bundesrepublik’s policy on “refugees”.
Many thanks to Nash Montana for translating this article from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and to Egri Nök for the hat tip:
Germany: First nationwide raid against hate posts on the internet
Because hate on the Internet is rising, the BKA (Bundeskriminalamt, Federal Criminal Police Office) wants to set an example: this morning sixty apartments were searched nationwide. One emphasis is on Bavaria — that’s where the accusations weigh especially heavily.
On Wednesday, in their first nationwide operation to fight against hate crime on the Internet, the police searched the homes of sixty accused in fourteen states, among them eleven suspects from Berlin. The goal is to counter rapidly accelerating “verbal radicalism” and related criminal offenses on the net, the BKA explains in Wiesbaden. The supposed anonymity of the Internet lowers inhibitions about writing hate speech.
25 police precincts worked together at a national level for this raid. Investigations are made based on the suspicion of sedition, related to the use of emblems of organizations that are unconstitutional. The offending language is also connected with utterances against refugees, say the Berlin state police. One investigation from the prosecutor’s office in Kempten assumed particular importance, the BKA announced. According to the information, it concerned a secret Facebook group in which the users glorify national socialism as well as exchanging xenophobic and anti-Semitic content. According to the police, with regard to that group, about forty homes of suspects were searched in thirteen states.
BKA chief: putting a stop to the coarsening of language
“The number of cases of politically right motivated hate criminality on the Internet has also risen in the wake of the European refugee situation,” says BKA chief Holger Münch. “The hate criminality on the net must not poison the social climate.” Attacks on refugee shelters are often the result of radicalization that begins on the Internet. “Therefore we have to put a stop to the coarsening of language, and investigate punishable content on the Internet.” With this operation the citizens also must become more sensitive, the BKA says. Whoever finds hate posts on the Internet should immediately report them.
Federal minister of justice Heiko Maas (SPD, Socialists) welcomed the operation. “The determined action of the administration should make everyone think before they pound on the keys to post on Facebook,” the minister says. “The creators of punishable hate posts are looking at punishments that will hurt. The Internet is not a lawless room. There is no tolerance for punishable offenses on the net.” Maas also warned that the citizens and society as well carry responsibility to counter radical incitement. “Analog as well as digital, it stands: We cannot leave the field to radical haters. The silent majority can no longer be silent.” Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière (CDU, Christian Democrats) said: “We have moral principles, online as well as offline.” Verbal violence is not acceptable and it lays the ground for real violence. “Our law also works on the Internet,” says de Maizière.
Just how much this topic has gained focus in political debates is revealed also through earlier remarks made by the Minister of Justice. The trolls have in the meantime become monsters, Maas wrote last November 2015 in the Tagesspiegel. Next to Islamic hate preachers who move about on the net, it is mostly German ‘anger citizens’ who spread hate. And with the rising number of refugees in Germany, the persecution of that group of people has risen. But the persecution of refugees is hard to counter with just Facebook regulations: subsequent to those, posts are only deleted that disparage ethnic groups, sexual orientation or gender. Refugees are not acknowledged as a group.
Stress with the employer
Hate comments on the Internet are punished with relatively high monetary penalties. “Merkel has to be stoned more often,” one user wrote, and had to pay €2000. Someone who posted in a group that was collecting donations for asylum seekers wrote that he would donate a hand grenade and a gas cylinder; he had to pay €7500 as the penalty for sedition. Many states have in the meantime installed so-called “Internet watches”, where hate comments can be reported online.
A person who posts hate speech under his real name should in the meantime fully expect that other users will tell that person’s employer. This is what happened to an employee of Condor Security, who wrote on Facebook that he wanted to plow down refugees with a snow plow. A short while later the company announced that they had let the man go. Another example: A Hermes [similar to FedEx] delivery man commented on the picture of the dead three-year-old Aydan Kurdi at the beach in Lesbos “We are not grieving; we are celebrating it.” He also lost his job. The man was also charged with “denigration of the memory of the deceased”.