Archive for the ‘Europe and freedom’ category

Germany: Full Censorship Now Official

October 21, 2017

Germany: Full Censorship Now Official, Gatestone InstituteJudith Bergman, October 21, 2017

Germany has made no secret of its desire to see its new law copied by the rest of the EU.

When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state’s private thought police and given the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who shall be allowed to speak and what to say, and who shall be shut down, free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?

Perhaps fighting “Islamophobia” is now a higher priority than fighting terrorism?

A new German law introducing state censorship on social media platforms came into effect on October 1, 2017. The new law requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint — regardless of whether or the content is accurate or not. Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.

This state censorship makes free speech subject to the arbitrary decisions of corporate entities that are likely to censor more than absolutely necessary, rather than risk a crushing fine. When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state’s private thought police and given the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who shall be allowed to speak and what to say, and who shall be shut down, free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?

Meanwhile, the district court in Munich recently sentenced a German journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a senior Nazi official in Berlin in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of “inciting hatred towards Islam” and “denigrating Islam” by publishing the photograph. The court found Stürzenberger guilty of “disseminating the propaganda of anti-constitutional organizations”. While the mutual admiration that once existed between al-Husseini and German Nazis is an undisputed historical fact, now evidently history is being rewritten by German courts. Stürzenberger has appealed the verdict.

A German court recently sentenced journalist Michael Stürzenberger (pictured) to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a Nazi official in Berlin, in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of “inciting hatred towards Islam” and “denigrating Islam” by publishing the photograph. (Image Source: PI News video screenshot)

Germany has made no secret of its desire to see its new law copied by the rest of the EU, which already has a similar code of conduct for social media giants. The EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, recently said she might be willing to legislate in the future if the voluntary code of conduct does not produce the desired results. She said, however, that the voluntary code was working “relatively” well, with Facebook removing 66.5% of the material they had been notified was “hateful” between December and May this year. Twitter removed 37.4%, and YouTube took action on 66% of the notifications from users.

While purportedly concerned about online “hate speech,” one EU organization, the EU Parliament, had no qualms about letting its premises be used to host a convicted Arab terrorist, Leila Khaled, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at a conference about “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle” in September. (The EU, the US, Canada, and Australia, have all designated the PFLP a terrorist organization). The conference was organized by, among others, the Spanish delegation of Izquierda Unida (United Left) as part of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left bloc in the European Parliament.

In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May also said that she will tell internet firms to tackle extremist content:

“Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online… ultimately it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat. It is the extremist ideologies that fuel them. It is the ideologies that preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity. We must be far more robust in identifying these ideologies and defeating them — across all parts of our societies.”

Prime Minister May keeps insisting that “these ideologies” are spread “across all parts of our societies” when in reality, virtually all terrorism is Islamic. Meanwhile, her own Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has refused to ban the political wing of Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s hate speech, apparently, is perfectly acceptable to the British authorities. So is that of South African Muslim cleric and hate preacher Ebrahim Bham, who was once an interpreter to the Taliban’s head legal advisor. He was allowed to enter the UK to speak in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, a government building, at the “Palestine Expo” a large Jew-hate event in London in July. Bham is known for quoting Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels and saying that all Jews and Christians are “agents of Satan“. Meanwhile, a scholar such as Robert Spencer is banned from entering the UK, supposedly on the grounds that what he reports — accurately — is “Islamophobic”.

The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also recently stated that online “hate crimes” will be prosecuted “with the same robust and proactive approach used with offline offending”. The decision to treat online offenses in the same way as offline offenses is expected to increase hate crime prosecutions, already at the highest recorded level ever. Prosecutors completed 15,442 hate crime cases in 2015-16.

Jews in Britain, who have experienced a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism over the past three years, are frequently on the receiving end of hate crimes. Nevertheless, their cases constitute less than a fraction of the statistics. In 2016/17, the CPS prosecuted 14,480 hate crimes. According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism:

“we have yet to see a single year in which more than a couple of dozen anti-Semitic hate crimes were prosecuted. So far in 2017, we are aware of… 21 prosecutions, in 2016 there were 20, and in 2015 there were just 12. So serious are the failures by the CPS to take action that we have had to privately prosecute alleged anti-Semites ourselves and challenge the CPS through judicial review, the first of which we won in March. Last year only 1.9% of hate crime against Jews was prosecuted, signaling to police forces that their effort in investigating hate crimes against Jews might be wasted, and sending the strong message to anti-Semites that they need not fear the law… Each year since 2014 has been a record-breaking year for anti-Semitic crime: between 2014 and 2016, anti-Semitic crime surged by 45%”.

Almost one in three British Jews have apparently considered leaving Britain due to anti-Semitism in the past two years.

British authorities seem far more concerned with “Islamophobia” than with the increase in hate crimes against Jews. In fact, the police has teamed up with Transport for London authorities to encourage people to report hate crimes during “National Hate Crime Awareness Week”, which runs from October 14-21. Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police will hold more than 200 community events to “reassure communities that London’s public transport system is safe for everyone”. The events are specifically targeted at Muslims; officers have visited the East London Mosque to encourage reporting hate crimes.

Last year, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac) announced it was spending £1,730,726 of taxpayer money policing speech online after applying for a grant from the Home Office. Meanwhile, Khan said that he does not have the funds to monitor the 200 jihadists estimated to be in London, out of the 400 jihadists who have so far returned to the capital from Syria and Iraq. (He also implicitly admitted that he does not know the whereabouts of the jihadists who have returned). When asked by the journalist Piers Morgan why the mayor could not have them monitored, Khan answered:

“Because the Met Police budget, roughly speaking, 15 percent, 20 percent is funded by me, the mayor. The rest comes from central government. If the Met Police is being shrunk and reduced, they’ve got to prioritize and use their resources in a sensible, savvy way.”

When Morgan asked what could possibly be a bigger priority than, “people coming back from a Syrian battlefield with intent to harm British citizens”, Khan did not answer. Perhaps because it is hard to admit in public that fighting “Islamophobia” is now a higher priority than fighting terrorism?

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

More Migrant Riots Hit France

July 18, 2017

More Migrant Riots Hit France, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, July 18, 2017

A majority of Europeans agree that the waves of immigration into their countries have been getting out of hand. However, for the elitist leaders in Europe, spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an open borders policy remains the Holy Grail. Opposing continued mass migration into Europe is tantamount to hate speech, they believe. Thus, Chancellor Merkel was overheard last fall on a hot mic asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg what more he planned to do to stop anti-immigrant posts. Facebook is cooperating with actions to remove comments that it claims “promote xenophobia.”

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The European migration experiment is failing miserably. Self-declared “refugees” and migrants from Africa and the Middle East are importing their violence, chaos and regressive norms of behavior into formerly harmonious countries all over Western Europe. As Seth J. Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post last December, “They hate the very society they have often chosen to migrate to. Their new society tolerated their intolerance and taught them that this new country provided such unfettered freedom that it should be destroyed.”

For example, while many French people were busy celebrating Bastille Day – a year after the tragic Islamist massacre in Nice – riots and violence reportedly broke out on the nights of July 13 and 14 in suburbs of Paris heavily populated by migrants. A policeman was badly wounded and 897 cars were burned. Hundreds of individuals were placed in custody.

There was also a riot in the streets of Paris a few days ago by a mob of angry Congolese. They were infuriated by a scheduled concert at Paris’s Olympia music hall by a Congolese artist thought to be too close to the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo they detest. The concert was cancelled as a result of the clashes and threats of more violence. The Congolese living in Paris brought their tribal hatreds to the land that gave them the opportunity to leave such hatreds behind. They abused the freedoms they were afforded, turning on those freedoms by violently preventing an artistic performance from taking place.

These are far from isolated incidents of migrant violence in Western Europe this year. Indeed, all is not well for the Western traditions of pluralism and individual liberties in the multicultural sewer Europe is fast becoming. The number of vehicular killings, stabbings, shootings, sexual assaults, riots and car burnings has risen exponentially in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, as the tide of migration has intensified. No-go zones have multiplied. Free speech is becoming a casualty of hecklers’ veto and misplaced multicultural sensitivities. Yet Europe continues to admit even more migrants without any adequate vetting.

“When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home, where they run enormous risks,” Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said. “If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years. Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people.”

A majority of Europeans agree that the waves of immigration into their countries have been getting out of hand. However, for the elitist leaders in Europe, spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an open borders policy remains the Holy Grail. Opposing continued mass migration into Europe is tantamount to hate speech, they believe. Thus, Chancellor Merkel was overheard last fall on a hot mic asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg what more he planned to do to stop anti-immigrant posts. Facebook is cooperating with actions to remove comments that it claims “promote xenophobia.”

In the Netherlands, the police paid visits to people using social media to express their anti-mass migration views. One Dutch man described his encounter with the police. “They asked me to be careful about my Twitter behavior, because if there are riots, then I’m responsible,” the Dutch man said. He had tweeted: “The college of Sliedrecht has a proposal to receive 250 refugees in the coming 2 years. What a bad plan! #letusresist.” The police told him to watch his tone because his tweets “may seem seditious.”

Free speech is the enemy of both elitist governments, which believe they know what is best for their benighted “subjects,” and of extremists, who believe only they possess the truth and that the expression of contrary opinions is heresy. Elitist governments use their instruments of power to suppress free speech. The extremists use violence and play the race card against those they consider to be the so-called “oppressors” and their enablers.

Leftists who reject the pluralistic norms of capitalist, democratic Western societies encourage mass migration of unassimilated individuals from conflicting cultures to destabilize and then radically transform such democratic societies. Thus, we see twitter posts such as “We must #EndWhiteness with mass immigration.” And rather than express empathy with victims of immigrant violence, leftists have sided with the migrants in opposition to concerns of local citizens about public safety. This happened, for example, in Sweden a couple of years ago after an Algerian and a Syrian living in the same migrant center were jailed for each raping the same Swedish woman on the same night.

When they are not rioting themselves, such as in Hamburg earlier this month, left wing activists have also stoked immigrant violence for their own ends. The red-green axis of leftists and Islamists is alive and well.

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising

July 6, 2017

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, July 6, 2017

President Donald Trump delivers a speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle, Thursday, July 6, 2017, in Warsaw. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

If you want to know why Donald Trump will go down in history as a great president, listen to (or read, when it is available) his speech in Krasinski Square, Warsaw today.

Yes, there is a lot of the usual diplomatic persiflage: “Thank you, President Duda. Thank you, Poland.” But be an adult and distinguish the gem from the setting. While the anti-Trump press was busy running stories warning about “unease in Brussels” over Trump’s visit to Poland, Trump once again totally outflanked his critics.  Those who have ears, let them hear:

  1. The United States is absolutely committed to securing Poland’s access to alternative sources of energy.  Now, to whom do you think that was addressed?  What country would use access to oil and gas as political blackmail (do what we say or you can’t warm your homes, light your streets, run your factories)? Who would do such a thing?
  2. The United States is absolutely committed to its trans-Atlantic partnership. That partnership, said Trump in his aspirational mode, has never been stronger: suitably translated, that means that he wishes to assure that it will never be stronger.  It was a proffered hand.  Will the EU bureaucrats reach out and grasp it?
  3. Speaking of bureaucrats, Trump also—mirabile dictu—warned about “steady creep of government bureaucracy” that, left unchecked, saps a people’s will and makes the flourishing of individual initiative, the very marrow of freedom, impossible.  This was a direct kick against the administrative state: I like to see it. Darin the Swamp.
  4. Trump reaffirmed his absolute commitment to Article 5 of the NATO agreement — the bit that pledges members to “collective defense”: an attack on one member is an attack on all. He praised Poland for stepping up to meet its statutory financial commitment to NATO and urged other European countries to do the same. A strong NATO means a strong Europe.
  5. Trump reaffirmed his commitment to battle against “radical Islamic terrorism” and other forms of extremism and highlighted his call in Riyadh in May for Muslim countries to step up and help quash the violence of jihad.
  6. He noted other challenges faced by the West, including cyber-warfare and Russia’s “destabilizing activities” in Ukraine, Syria, and Iran.
  7. But the best part came about three-quarters of the way through.  After reminding his audience about the million people who gathered to hear John Paul II celebrate Mass in 1979, he asked: what did the people want? Answer: “We want God.” This led into the heart of Trump’s speech.  The prerequisite for the success of Western civilization is not material riches. Economic prosperity and military might on their own are not sufficient. The critical leaven is the confidence in core Western values: such things as free speech, the equality of women, respect for individual rights, the rule of law, the affirmation of faith and family.  Hence, the “fundamental question” facing Western nations today is whether the people continue to nurture the cultural self-confidence in those fundamental values. If they do, the West is unbeatable. If those values dissipate, the West is lost.  “As long as we know our history,” Trump said, “we will know how to build our future.” Trump spent a lot of time in his speech rehearsing Poland’s heroic resistance to Nazi atrocities in the Warsaw uprising and its equally heroic resistance to Soviet aggression during and after the war. Not since Ronald Reagan has an American president gone so clearly to the nub of what makes the West great and what threatens that greatness.