Thought Police: Germany Conducts Mass Raids over Online ‘Insults’ Against Politicians

BERLIN - NOVEMBER 23: German police armed with submachine guns patrol next to the Reichstag, seat of the Bundestag, or German parliament, on the day Bundestag members began debates over the 2011 German federal budget on November 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Heavily-armed police checked vehicles arriving at the Reichstag …
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Federal police in Germany have conducted mass raids across 13 states on Tuesday over online ‘insults’ levied against politicians.

A large number of apartments and houses were raided in Germany on Tuesday as Federal police in the country look to prosecute those who made allegedly hateful remarks against elected officials online.

In total, federal authorities have said that they have checked over 600 statements for so-called “criminal content”, with 100 people being “searched and questioned” across 13 different German states.

According to a report by Der Spiegel, a significant number of raids have also been conducted, with the houses and apartments of those suspected of posting illegal online messages being searched by law enforcement for incriminating evidence.

A press release by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office claimed that Tuesday’s so-called “joint day of action” was sparked by posts targeting politicians around the 2021 Federal elections, with elected officials in Germany having special legal privileges making it illegal for their constituents to level certain insults against them.

“The basis for these investigations is Section 188 of the Criminal Code (StGB), which was revised in spring 2021 and makes insults, slander and defamation of people in political life particularly punishable,” the Federal Criminal Police Office statement reads.

“Public officials and elected representatives are given special criminal protection under [Section]188 StGB , regardless of the political level, against hate postings,” it continues.

The President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, Holger Münch, also commented on the hardline enforcement of Germany’s speech laws, threatening those in the country who would dare insult politicians that they will meet the same fate.

“With the day of action, we are making it clear: Anyone who posts hate messages must expect the police to be at the door afterwards,” Münch said, also noting that his force has been “pursuing criminal content on the Internet even more intensively since February of this year”.

Another official, Hessian Attorney General Torsten Kunze, also commented on the German speech crackdown, claiming that it was somehow a necessary measure to protect democracy, though the official did not cite any evidence for this claim.

“This day of action illustrates the extent to which public officials and elected representatives are insulted, slandered and threatened on the Internet,” he said. “In order to prevent the withdrawal of those affected from reaching a level that endangers democracy, we are prosecuting these crimes consistently and in close cooperation with the public prosecutors of the other federal states.”

Germany’s day of thought police raids against those who are suspected of insulting or defaming elected politicians is only the latest example of the country’s interesting understanding of what protecting democracy means.

The central European country has become infamous for targeting certain political viewpoints, going so far as to put the country’s populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party under surveillance as a so-called “suspicious entity”.

What’s more, when the party tried to challenge this decision in court, it was ruled that the state spying on the political party was legal, with the court claiming that the party was supposedly a threat to democracy.

“The party stands for racism, the party stands for exclusion of minorities, the party stands for contempt of the social system,” said Thomas Haldenwang, the President of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which ruled on the surveillance case.

Haldenwang went on to say that his court’s decision to allow state surveillance of a party representing a minority political view was a “good day for democracy”.

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