Tag Archives: extremism

After France, Switzerland voted to ban face coverings including the burqa in public | Instant News


In an effort to crack down on radical Islam, after France, now Swiss people have chosen not to wear face coverings in public, including the burqa, niqab, hijab or other face covering worn by Muslim women.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), a far-right political party in Switzerland has put forward this proposal and campaigns with slogans such as “Stop extremism” have also been launched. Swiss voters supported this proposal as the percentage of voting passed 51% to 48.8% in Sunday’s referendum.

People campaign on Swiss streets with posters featuring a woman in a black niqab. Similar posters have been plastered on walls across Switzerland.

Also read: Ankara has rejected the “baseless” decision against Turkey taken by a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers demanding an end to military intervention by Turkey in their Arab brothers.

Also read: Myanmar Coup: Dozens of protesters returned to the streets after night raids by security forces

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The COVID-19 pandemic could make youth easy targets for radicalization | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News


This story of extremism begins, like many people in Germany, with Hitler. In particular, the Hitler meme. Someone posted a meme – illegal under German law because of its Nazi content– along with some other racist comments, on the school’s digital bulletin board.

Memes are just one of the social media tools in the toolbox used by media-savvy extremist groups. With “lighter content,” they are expanding their digital reach from the dark corners of the web to popular channels such as YouTube, Instagram and gaming platforms.

And their audience includes teenagers, says Lisa Kiefer, who heads a project called CleaRTeaching, which was launched in 2016 to help stop teenagers in Germany from becoming radicalized. The Hitler meme incident took place at one of the project’s partner schools.

Posting offensive, or for that matter, potentially illegal memes, doesn’t necessarily mean radicalization, Lisa Kiefer points out. However, this points to a disturbing trend among the underage population: They are now more likely to share extremist content, in many cases without realizing it.

That’s not unusual for students to share videos and other content that it “seemed completely harmless to them,” Kiefer said. “But it becomes a bigger problem when you know what’s really behind it. And there’s a lot going on.”

Radicalization in the era of COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing teens to stay at home, it is less likely that teachers will find out about problematic content such as Hitler memes circulating among students at school. And without teacher support, some students may become more vulnerable to online extremist groups.

Radicalization efforts have grown rapidly in Germany in recent years thanks to the internet, with the greatest concern not only around right-wing extremism, but also Islamist group.

And this effort becomes much more subtle.

Right-wing extremists, for example, have abandoned old school recruitment efforts by handing out Nazi music CDs. In fact, the “New Right” doesn’t really recruit in the classic sense of the word, according to right-wing extremist Andreas Speit, a prolific writer and reporter for the left. taz newspaper.

“They want to change the way people think and act in the pre-political realm in the hope of weakening the status quo,” said Speit. “And that is precisely their strategy on social media. They want to reach young adults with their right-wing hatred.”

Illegal right-wing content pie chart

That means distributing games promoting ideas to protect Europe, with protagonists conforming to the laws for an “ethnic-state”. That also matters adopt a slick Instagram accountwith subtle hints for anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs.

Neosalafi, an Islamist group in Germany, have also adopted an equally subtle strategy. In YouTube videos and social media posts, for example, they manipulate the fight against racism and exclusion to shore up Muslim solidarity. They may seem less extreme in appearance and message, but experts warn that’s not the case.

“I will say it again and again: What is behind this is a brutal / hardcore ideology,” said Bernd Ridwan-Bauknecht, a longtime teacher in the German public school system and who himself converted to Islam.

Since 2004, Bauknecht has taught Islamic religion classes, which are offered at several public schools, and has seen propaganda reach youth, whether from the Neosalafi scene in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, or from supporters of ISIS. further in recent years.

According to Bauknecht, radicalization is a complex process with many factors to consider. At the same time, he warned that more refined social media endeavors should not be underestimated. “They are a means to an end,” he said.

EN online Islamist content pie chart

Identifying at-risk youth

However, when it comes to helping students navigate those murky waters, things are not always as clear-cut as Hitler’s memes, which are clearly a violation of German law.

CleaRTeaching, which recently launched a national program to implement the findings of its pilot project, wants to introduce a holistic approach to combating radicalization. It combines awareness among students and teachers of their own beliefs and biases when dealing with ideological content. The emphasis is on context, dialogue and respect – and putting systems in place that can prevent radical violence in a worse case scenario.

Currently, Kiefer is concerned about a marked increase in “existential fear” among students at the vocational school where Clearingeaching operates.

Experiencing a crisis can be a catalyst for radicalization, along with a number of other problems, ranging from developmental problems during puberty to family problems to experiencing discrimination or exclusion.

The students most at risk, says Kiefer, are those who are “looking for meaning and are also angry with the condition of society. And right now, we are at a point where a lot of people are angry about a lot of things.”

Screenshot of Islamist propaganda

This Islamist Instagram post claims the spread of diseases like COVID-19 is a punishment from God

Extreme content in a pandemic

COVID-19 itself has become a food for online propaganda. Islamist posts identified by the German internet watchdog for the safety of children, jugendschutz.net, has equated a pandemic with punishment from God for sinful behavior and has prophesied the end of time.

The far-right post has also used the crisis to spread conspiracy theories that the lockdown was the beginning of a dictatorship under Chancellor Angela Merkel. They also mix up pandemic conspiracy theories anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs.

But how often do teens see this? That’s a question that’s nearly impossible to answer, according to Julia Klatt, who works with Mobile Beratung gegen Rechtsextremismus NRW, a mobile counseling program tasked with eliminating right-wing extremism and promoting anti-discrimination efforts in North Rhine-Westphalia.

What Klatt can confirm is that prior to the pandemic, most requests for counseling were when students were exposed to “right-wing or racist memes, or generally, pictures or messages in a WhatsApp group classroom.”

And despite the pandemic’s constraints, this demand is not slowing down noticeably.

The emergence of alternative groups

One thing that looms large for programs like mobile counseling and Clearingeaching is the emergence of conspiracy theories through alternative groups such as Lateral thinker, QAnon and anti-vaxxers.

According to a study this month by the Commission to Protect Minors in the Media (KJM), more than one in three posts from alternative groups, including influencers, were found to be illegal or dangerous for minors. Their sample examined 800 posts and videos and also found that this was true for more than half of the content taken from Telegram and VK, nearly 40% from YouTube and just under 30% in the case of Twitter and Facebook.

There is also a growing concern that engaging with “less dangerous content” may eventually result in more extreme views. Comprehensive study 2019 surveying more than 330,000 videos on nearly 350 YouTube channels shows that this occurs partly through indoctrination as well as through algorithms.

Both Kiefer of CleaRteaching and Klatt of the traveling counseling group are seeing this trend increasing – and it’s not just students they worry about.

“I’ve had a request for help saying, for example, my mother, or my father, or my uncle is involved [in one of those groups]. What should I do, what can I do to save them ?, “Klatt said.

Klatt and Kiefer both hope this is a growing problem in the coming months, as it becomes increasingly problematic in the wider society.

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The spy looked at Germany to the far right – POLITICO | Instant News


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Does Germany need to protect its citizens from the lure of the right?

The question has sparked passion in Berlin this week as the domestic intelligence service, known by its German acronym BfV, is considering whether to put the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under scrutiny on suspicion of right-wing extremism.

According to Germany constitution, “Parties which… their supporters behave in a manner aimed at undermining or eliminating the free… unconstitutional democratic order” and thus may be prohibited by the Federal Constitutional Court.

In order for the court to make such a decision, it needs evidence that BfV unearths first, which is why BfV has a wide range of ways to monitor a party once it is deemed worthy of “suspicion”. The appointment gives the authority the right to intercept members’ electronic communications and even implant undercover informants in party ranks.

While the AfD’s right-wing tendencies are no secret, the party is also the largest opposition group in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. That makes the decision whether to move the party closer to a ban extremely difficult. It also risks being seen as confirmation of one of the AfD’s core themes: that the “establishment” is out to get it.

Therefore, Home Minister Horst Seehofer has taken his time to assess the 1,000-page report sent to his ministry by BfV on whether there is any reason to put the AfD under scrutiny. Any legal setback later on will be embarrassing, like the two failed attempts to ban the neo-Nazi NPD party in 2003 and 2017, defeating Berlin to this day.

First attempt failed in 2003 when the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a large number of BfV informants in the party, including its leadership, made it impossible to determine the extent to which the NPD had been externally controlled. Fourteen years later, the second attempt failed because judges considered the NPD a threat to democracy too insignificant to guarantee the prohibition of all parties.

Andrea Lindholz, who chairs the Bundestag’s interior committee and is a member of the Parliamentary Oversight Panel which controls Germany’s security services, expressed confidence that any decision to place the AfD under surveillance would be legally watertight. “The interior minister stressed the importance of ensuring that the decision is as safe as legally possible,” said Lindholz, a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), the same party as Seehofer.

The debate over whether to put the AfD under scrutiny arises as Germany is once again reflecting on the darkest chapter in its history. On Wednesday, the German parliament commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day, with addresses by Holocaust survivors who spoke out against the AfD. Saturday marks Adolf Hitler’s 88th birthday as chancellor of the German Reich.

Germany’s handling of the case is also closely watched by countries across Europe, where the struggle to stifle the populist right-wing movement has become an enduring challenge.

After reports earlier this month that intelligence services were likely to be closely monitoring the entire AfD, the party reacted immediately. Worried about the possibility of being watched during an important election year, the AfD filed a lawsuit in a Cologne court to avoid being placed under official suspicion by the BfV.

A few days earlier, on January 21, AfD deputy chairman Jörg Meuthen, a member of parliament, published an pers conference, noting that an internal document from the Berlin state branch of the BfV concluded that “there is no sufficient factual indication of anti-constitutional aspirations on the part of AfD Berlin that can justify the elevation of the status of the suspect case. “

The fact that the AfD even had access to an internal newspaper led to irritation in Berlin, because it is highly recommended that there is a mole in the agency. Responding to the leak, Berlin’s Interior Minister, Andreas Geisel, said there were “methodological flaws” in the paper and suspended the head of the unit that compiled it.

Mainstream politicians say there are good reasons to consider putting the AfD under scrutiny. “There is no doubt that many statements by AfD politicians prove that this party is not a democratic alternative,” said Lindholz.

The lawmaker also cited the fact that a handful of people invited by AfD politicians tried to interfere with parliamentary processes last November, when the Bundestag changed a law, the Population Protection Act, to allow restrictions related to the coronavirus.

One of the offenders was filmed harassing Economy Minister Peter Altmaier. The incident sparked outrage in Berlin and across the country.

“The incident surrounding the Population Protection Act shows once again that within this party there are people who are insulting and abusing our liberal democracy,” said Lindholz.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the BfV branch in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt decided to use the AfD under supervision at the regional level. Local parties have a reputation for hiding some of the AfD’s most radical members.

Suspicious spy

Back in Berlin, local media reported last week that according to sources at BfV, the person suspected of leaking internal documents to the AfD was a “Maaßen man, “An allusion to the former president of the agency Hans-Georg Maassen, who was sent into early retirement in 2018 amid allegations – which he denies – that he sympathizes with some of the AfD’s more radical views.

The issue of the alleged ideological proximity of Maaßen to AfD was also raised during a government press conference in Berlin this week, as the former chief spy worked for the law firm representing the AfD in a lawsuit the side filed in a Cologne court. An interior ministry spokesman said it should be checked whether the situation creates any legal problems.

But before the matter is taken any further, Maaßen announced Tuesday that he will do so quit working for a law firm because he can be a witness in this case.

Maaßen, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party but an outspoken critic of chancellor-centric currents, was once accused of advising the AfD to reduce its radicalism to become a more sustainable movement. He denies the allegations but his right-wing views, which he regularly broadcasts on Twitter and elsewhere, have earned him a reputation for being at least AfD-friendly.

Despite Maaßen’s role, calls for moderation in the AfD have grown louder in recent years, particularly from deputy leader Meuthen, who wants to allay fears that his party is a right-wing extremist ticking bomb. AfD publishes statement this month confirmed that the entire party was “fully committed to [a definition of] the German people as the sum of all German citizens “and not, as many extremists wish, the” blood “problem.

The declaration was signed by Meuthen, deputy leader Alice Weidel and many other senior AfD politicians, including Björn Höcke, the AfD leader in the eastern state of Thuringia who became famous for making frequent racist and fascist statements. Höcke, who has neo-Nazi ties and has been overseen by the BfV since last year, is also one of the AfD’s far-right extremist leaders. wing Faction (“wing”), which officially disbanded in April 2020.

But doubts remain as to whether the former radical members of the faction have really stopped collaborating and wielding influence in the party.

“Many members [Flügel], who are classified as right-wing extremists, are still active in this party, ”said Lindholz. “Höcke is still the leader of the parliamentary group in the state parliament of Thuringia. Surely all this indicates that the sudden dissolution wing in the end only fig leaves born out of necessity. “

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Capitol Hill riots prompt Germany to review online hate speech laws | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News


Many social networks were quick to impose bans on the US president from using their platforms, because his posts were deemed to have incited violence. For many critics, this restriction was four years late.

“I’m not surprised [by what happened at Capitol Hill], “German Social Democratic MP Helge Lindh told DW.

“If you continue to lead debates against democracy, if you continue to use negative speech, hate speech, against established democratic mechanisms, one day people will think this kind of democracy is unacceptable, they will lose faith in democracy, and that’s why they react. This is a stimulus. If you permanently speak in a negative sense about democratic institutions one day they will attack these institutions… and they will literally do it. “

Lindh believes Germany is also “not doing enough” to control hate speech online. She has been the recipient of online harassment that has culminated in the threat of physical assault.

Maintain the constitution

In Germany, it is legal to combat hate speech online is considered one of the most important proposals of the current legislature, following racist and anti-semitic attacks in 2019 and 2020.

In June 2020, the Bundestag approved the law who will ensure prosecution of those who commit hate or provoke, online.

Under the draft law, social networks are required to submit data of users who post threats or incite hatred to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).

“We have to dry up the breeding ground where this extremism thrives,” said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht at the time.

But data protection and privacy provisions in Germany’s Basic Law caused reluctance by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to sign the law.

The law, which had been passed by two chambers of the German parliament, stalled due to guidelines issued by the Constitutional Court. At the time, Steinmeier urged that the necessary changes “be designed and introduced as quickly as possible.”

The essence of disagreement is the requirement for social networks like Facebook and Twitter to report hate comments to the police, who can then do so access data, such as IP addresses, from the author.

Fresh momentum

Revisions to the law will be debated by the Bundestag in its first reading next week and could be passed by the end of the month to allow Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, to pass it in early February.

“The attack on Capitol Hill shows us how powerful social media networks are,” CDU lawmaker Thorsten Frei told Rheinische Post newspaper. Therefore, enabling the police to investigate all channels and identify the perpetrators is an urgent matter.

Online hate speech should have no place in any democracy, Helge Lindh warns. “This is not, as right-wing populists believe, an expression of democracy, it’s the opposite. It’s against minorities, it’s racist, it’s driven by prejudice. This is the main problem.”

What happened in the US capital reminded Lindh of the recent events in Berlin: First, right-wing protesters stormed the stairs of the Reichstag building in August, take part in a demonstration against the anti-Corona virus action. Then the Bundestag was penetrated by a handful of far-right extremists in November, while lawmakers discussed a new Infection Protection Act, extending government powers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had a little bit of ‘Washington’ in Berlin,” Lindh remembers, “Some of the protesters, some extremists, who had been invited by the AfD, this far-right party, came to the Bundestag. It was basically an appetizer for the events coming. “

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Germany wants to train priests to combat extremism | Instant News


But the idea has been gaining attention in European countries for some time. President Emmanuel Macron announced France’s plans to start training its own priests and stop importing them from countries such as Morocco and Algeria in February.

In Germany, moves to initiate training for imams have been led by the Muslim community rather than the government, although the state has agreed to provide funding.

It’s not just about fighting extremism. Decades of using imams from abroad have made Germany’s Muslim community dependent on foreign governments. The sole employer of the largest imams in Germany is Ditib, a Turkish government body which trains them, pays their salaries and decides when they leave Germany.

In recent years, German politicians and commentators have begun to voice concern over the influence Turkey is exerting on the German Muslim community – and how tame that influence is.

This new course is not limited to offering traditional priest training in German. While students will be taught how to perform prayers, funerals and the like, they will also attend classes on social plurality and be taught about extremism so they can protect young Muslims from it. This course will be open to Sunni and Shia Muslims – and, interestingly, to both men and women.

There is a risk that this could be seen as an attempt to impose Western cultural ideas on Islam, but the new path is being pursued by Muslims, and has the support and support of Germany’s Muslim Central Council.

“There is no conservative or liberal Islam,” said Aiman ​​Mazyek, chairman of the Muslim Central Council. “It is a political concept. Islam is faith, religion. These questions only arise when you begin to politicize Islam. “

There is also broad support for new courses among devotees at Friday prayers at the Sehitlik mosque.

“There is nothing in Islam that says you cannot have a female imam,” said Metin Biliktu, a young man. “It is better for female priests for women and male priests for men. But there’s no reason they can’t study. “

Yunus Yildiz said he supported the course but added: “There needs to be more than just courses. They need to be paid a salary so that they can have a career as priests. And I’m not sure they can learn all of them in a few years. Imams in Muslim countries have been in Muslim schools throughout their childhood. “

Huseyin Solapgir, an elderly congregation, was very enthusiastic. “It would be great if they did that,” he said. “I have been coming to this mosque since it was built in the nineties. I’ve seen it change. At first it was really a Turkish mosque, only for the Turkish community.

“Now there are people from all Muslim communities. The new priest was great, he spoke German and English. But young Muslims, they want something different. A German priest, maybe that’s the next step. “

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