The future for free speech in Europe gets darker.
National parliamentarians from Die Linke, Germany’s post-communist Left Party, recently presented the federal German government with a Minor Inquiry (Kleine Anfrage or KA) concerning the government’s policy towards the conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI). This is only the latest effort by left-wing multiculturalists to quash open discussion, and criticism on Islam by designating the discourse “anti-democratic”and “right-wing extremist."
As the online rules of order for the German parliament or Bundestag explain, the KA in Section 104 allows the Bundestag’s president to receive questions for the federal government about “certain delineated areas.” Normally the president calls upon the government to answer the questions in writing within 14 days, although agreement with the KA authors can extend this time limit. As the German-language KA Wikipedia entry explains, this procedure serves as a means of parliamentary control over the government by calling upon it to give account of a given state of affairs.
Die Linke’s May 13, 2013, KA (document 17/13573, available in PDF format here) notes that “Islam-hostile internet portals” like PI with its “tens of thousands of visitors daily” and parties such as the Freedom Party (Die Freiheit) and Germany’s Pro movement (Pro NRW/Pro Deutschland) “warn against a supposed ‘Islamization of Europe.’” In PI reader comments, meanwhile, Muslims “are collectively humiliated and denigrated in a racist, xenophobic, insulting, hate-filled, and at times violence-glorifying manner.”
Referenced by the KA and previously reported by this author (see here and here), PI and Die Freiheit, with common members such as Michael Stürzenberger, have conducted a petition drive for a referendum to stop a proposed Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (Zentrum für Islams in Europa-München or ZIE-M). The KA references a story from the Munich-based German national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung discussing how Stürzenberger commonly compares the Koran with Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Die Freiheit rallies have featured signs stating “Christ is truth, Muhammad is a lie.” Previously reported by this author as well (see here and here), the KA also notes that the Bavarian Office of Constitutional Protection (Verfassungsschutz) has recently begun monitoring Bavarian chapters of PI/Die Freiheit due to “anti-constitutional” sentiments.
A previous August 18, 2011, Die Linke KA (17/6823) had also dealt with PI/Die Freiheit in the wake of the July 22, 2011, massacre perpetrated in Norway by Anders Behring Brevik. This earlier KA bemoaned in Germany an “increasing hostility to Islam precisely among high earners and people with high levels of education.” In this context “populist and xenophobic campaigns against ‘Islam’” appeared to the “extreme right in Europe” as a “recipe for success for their propaganda” and an “entrance ticket into the political middle.” Die Freiheit was one of several attempts to found “anti-Islam parties” while PI had become a “central forum of Islam haters in the German-speaking area.”
Yet in citing an article from Berlin’s leftwing Tageszeitung (taz), the 2011 KA noted that the federal Verfassungsschutz had not deemed PI’s outlook as anti-constitutional given PI’s self-professed “pro-Israeli, pro-American” character. The article noted additionally PI’s “emphatic profession of loyalty to the Grundgesetz,” Germany’s Basic Law or constitution.
The government’s answer on September 5, 2011, (17/6910) to the various questions concerning matters such as membership and statements of PI/Die Freiheit and other groups in the 2011 KA continued this analysis. With respect to Die Freiheit, there were “not sufficient indications” to classify Die Freiheit as “rightwing extremist.” The “overwhelming majority of PI entries,” meanwhile, “made no use of classical rightwing extremist argumentation patterns, but rather was to be situated within the Islam-critical spectrum.” While some PI contributions had “anti-Muslim or in parts even racist content,” these were “practically exclusively” in the comments section and were “even there the exception.” Thus a “rightwing extremist effort (still) did not allow itself to be discerned” at PI.
Not to be deterred, Die Linke responded on October 31, 2011, with yet another KA (17/7569) about “anti-Muslim agitation” citing several sources such as newspapers warning against PI, Die Freiheit, and other groups. In this KA, Die Linke indicated that it was not so much interested in a “secret service surveillance of the Islam- and Muslim-hostile scene” by the federal Verfassungschutz as a “societal ostracism of this body of thought just like every other form of racism and anti-Semitism.” Among other questions, Die Linke wanted to know what connections PI had to “religious groupings from the evangelical, dogmatic-Catholic, and old Catholic milieus.” The government’s response (17/7761) on November 17, 2011, however, reiterated the position taken in 17/6910 and noted that “individual statements” did not suffice to define an entity as “extremist” but rather demanded an “overall observation.”
In 17/13573 Die Linke repeated many of its previous questions and inquired whether the federal government still maintains its previous outlook in light of recent Bavarian decisions. This is the latest Die Linke salvo in an ongoing campaign to bring about a self-proclaimed political “ostracism” of PI/Die Freiheit and other groups. Yet the irony was not lost on Stürzenberger, who pointed out to PI that Die Linke, with much of its roots in East Germany’s Communist Party, is itself an object of federal Verfassungsschutz surveillance.
The future of a free and open discussion of Islam in Germany seems perilous with the likes of Die Linke, a totalitarian-legacy group, continually demonstrating its propensity to use the German federal government as a tool of intimidation against Islam’s critiques.
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