German police raid homes to curb hate speech

17 Jul 2016 | By Shiladitya

German police raided 60 homes in an effort to take action against people suspected of posting hate content on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

According to the police, the aim of the raids was to tackle a "substantial rise in verbal radicalism".

This is the first time that German authorities have used force to tackle the issue of hate crime.

In context: Germany clamps down on online hate-speech

Hate speechThe rise of hate speech in Germany

The President of the BKA, Holger Münch, said that politically motivated hate crime on the internet had been on the rise in Germany since the country took in one million migrants and refugees in 2015.

Typical crimes included "glorification of Nazism and xenophobic, anti-Semitic and other forms of right-wing extremism".

He also said that attacks on refugee shelters had their origins in online radicalisation.

6 in 10 Germans afraid of implications of sheltering refugees

According to a survey by the Pew Research Centre, 6 in 10 Germans think that sheltering refugees might have a negative impact on the German economy and might breed an increase in terrorism.
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German law's stance on hate speech

German lawGerman law's stance on hate speech

Incitement of "hatred against a national, racial, religious group or a group defined by their ethnic origins" is a crime in Germany with a penalty of 5 years of imprisonment.

German law further restricts free speech when it comes to glorifying Nazism, inciting violence and Holocaust denial.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere aims to implement these same laws for internet users in Germany.

Survey shows political extremism is a major concern in Germany

According to a survey by R+V Insurance, almost 75% of Germans are concerned about growing terrorism. Rise of political extremism in Germany comes a close second in the list of concerns of German people, with 68% thinking that it is a major worry.

Social media task forcesFacebook, Twitter and Google to work with German authorities

In September 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out to Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook was being used for online radicalisation.

Soon after, the German Justice Minister criticized Facebook's weak anti-hate speech stance.

In response, Facebook soon formed an online task force in collaboration with the German Ministry of Justice to take down hate content within 24 hours.

Twitter and Google also followed suit.

17 Jul 2016German police raid homes to curb hate speech

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The raidsDetails of the raids

The raids were coordinated by the German federal police agency, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA).

It involved 25 police departments across 14 provinces in Germany.

As many as 40 legal investigations were opened in the wake of the raids.

The President of the BKA said in a statement, "Today's action make it clear that police authorities...act firmly against hate and incitement on the internet."