German government sets up task force to prosecute “inappropriate content”
As Hungary confirmed the number of migrants heading towards Europe to be in the range of 30-35 million, Germany is still refusing to put an upper-limit to the number of migrants it can accommodate. Berlin, unwilling to change its open border policy, is urging EU member states to take in their “fair share” of migrants. Germany’s deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democrat) is calling for economic sanctions against East European countries, if they continue their opposition to Germany’s (and EU’s) generous stand on migrant intake.
Back home, mainstream media is in lockstep with the political establishment. From the “Die Linke”, successor of East-German communist party, to Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian-Democrats, all significant political parties back the current course. German politicians and commentators are now boasting of a “political consensus” on migration policy.
Not satisfied with shutting down the debate on the political stage, German authorities are now taking on the dissent to its migration policy on internet and social media platforms. German government is pulling out all stops to ensure Facebook complies with its idea of acceptable speech. Wall Street journal reports:
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said after a meeting with Facebook executives in Berlin that the ministry would coordinate the creation of a task force with Facebook and other Internet competitors to evaluate whether inappropriate content flagged by users falls under freedom of speech or is illegal under German law.
Furthermore, Facebook Inc. has agreed to fund activist groups to play vigilantes on the social media:
Facebook also said it would give financial support to organizations that collect complaints against online hate speech to help remove comments faster. The social network earlier in the day announced other measures, including a task force to encourage users to draft countermessages to hate speech on the Web and campaigns to generally strengthen antihate speech on the Internet.
In recent weeks, German authorities have shown zero-tolerance towards individuals posting critical or hateful comments on the social media and internet. Police have confiscated computers and courts have imposed heavy fines to the tune of thousands of Euros.
This judicial activism would come as a surprise to anyone who witnessed German authorities’ inaction in face of massive anti-Semitic outbursts and violence during the Gaza conflict of 2014. Police across Germany failed to take action against demonstrators calling openly for violence against Jews. In July 2014, Police in Frankfurt allowed its megaphone-van to relay antisemitic hate. And when 3 men were arrested for burning the Synagogue in Wuppertal, courts acquitted them of hate crime — calling their crime an “act of protest [against Israel].” The men were found guilty of lesser charges and released on probation.
Same German authorities that were willing to extend “freedom of protest” to the burning of synagogues, and turned a blind eyes to anti-Semitic outbursts last year, are now acting surprisingly thin skinned in face of protests against their own policies.
Refusing a public debate on migration will only benefit Far-Right in Germany. Germany’s official response of shutting down the debate and wishing for it to go away, might come at a heavy price.
(Cover image courtesy Phoenix, You Tube)