Growing violence against politicians: BKA fears danger to democracy

Status: 06.02.2022 7:44 p.m

Insults, threats, calls for homicide: the BKA has noticed a significant increase in violence against politicians. Interior Minister Faeser is concerned – and wants to take decisive action against online platforms like Telegram.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is concerned about the significant increase in politically motivated crime against politicians. “The sharp increase in these acts shows a brutalization and contempt for the state and democracy, which makes me very concerned and requires consistent action,” she told the “Handelsblatt”.

The newspaper had previously reported that such cases had increased significantly in recent years. According to preliminary figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), 4,458 crimes against officials and elected officials were found last year, the “Handelsblatt” reported. In 2017 there were only 1527.

Faeser said that the BKA, together with the federal states, is taking a closer look at hate crime. This applies to all online platforms and especially to Telegram. “We will continue to demand with all possible force that these do not allow themselves to be misused as fuel for hatred and conspiracy ideologies and that we comply with the legal obligations to delete and report calls for murder and similarly dangerous hate mail,” announced the minister.

BKA has a particular focus on Telegram

The BKA attributes the increase in criminal offenses to, among other things, radicalization tendencies in social media as a result of the corona pandemic. In particular, what is happening in the Messenger service Telegram is viewed with concern, the authority said.

Green parliamentary group leader Konstantin von Notz told the newspaper that the extent of hatred and hate speech against representatives of democratic institutions required “clear answers from the rule of law”. It must be ensured that insults, incitement to hatred and death threats are actually punished very resolutely. Von Notz also called for anyone who was threatened to be able to block information about their address in the population register more easily in the future.

“Development must be stopped”

According to the “Handelsblatt”, the BKA’s statement said that the overall development, including the crimes on Telegram, “could definitely be a danger to democracy if people no longer dare to express their opinions or take on an office.” This development must be stopped and fought by “consistent enforcement of the rule of law”.

According to the report, German security authorities found insults, threats and calls for homicides and other serious crimes on Telegram, especially in the context of the corona pandemic. Political officials and elected officials as well as people from science and medicine are particularly affected.

Telegram has long been the main medium for coordinating protests against corona measures and has been criticized for spreading death threats against politicians and false reports. The German authorities want the platform to delete criminal content more quickly and consistently.

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