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German authorities have investigated hundreds of internet users over comments they made on a Facebook video posted by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
The massive police investigation is apparently meant as a warning to anonymous internet users critical of the country’s migrant policy.
No one can hide behind a screen, not even with pseudonyms or made-up names,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, warned.
The Facebook comments against agitating migrants came after a series of riots in refugee centers across Germany. Muslim asylum seekers hav against supposed lack of consideration shown by the German authorities during the fasting month of Ramadan. “With Ramadan Come the Riots,” a 2018 headline in the Germany daily Bild declared. In 2016, two migrants reportedly burned down a refugee center for allegedly not receiving extra chocolate spread ‘Nutella’ during the Ramanda festivities. The fire ended up causing an estimated $10 million worth of damage.
German prosecutors in the southern state of Bavaria said on Friday that they’ve launched 257 official incitement investigations over a Facebook campaign by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) that targeted asylum-seekers.
The investigations have resulted in fines for 97 people so far, prosecutors in the town of Deggendorf told local public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk. Three people have been formally charged with incitement, although it is not clear when their court dates will be.
Another 56 cases had to be dropped, as investigators could not determine exactly who was behind the comments as users hid their identities with pseudonyms.
The massive incitement case concerns a video posted in 2017 by Deggendorf’s local AfD branch that criticized a protest by asylum-seekers.
The demonstrators were carrying out a hunger strike and protesting against the conditions at a migrant processing center in the town.
The livestreamed video garnered hundreds of “insulting, hateful, and xenophobic comments,” reported Bayerischer Rundfunk, who was shown the comments that are currently under investigation.
The AfD slammed the government for cracking down heavily on dissent on social media while failing to secure the country’s borders. “We would wish that the state controls its own borders as it does online comments,” head of Bavarian AfD, Martin Sicher, said in response.