German Justice Minister shouldn’t praise a radical left punk band’s actions when the state’s own security agency has them under surveillance for inciting hatred

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I’ve often said politicians should be banned from social media outlets like Twitter. Impulsive and ill thought out reactions to 140 word tweets from invisible ranters  distract politicians from getting down to the job at hand. None more so than German Justice Minister Heiko Maas of the SPD.

Maas decided to tweet that an extreme left wing punk rock band, Feine Sahne Fischfillet,  (which is being surveilled by the German version of the NSA for threatening violence against the police and wanting to destroy democracy not to mention several band members being prosecuted) was doing a wonderful job for “setting a good sign against intolerance and racism” at a recent concert organised in Anklam, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

When the local media got hold of the tweet it forced Maas to blame his “social media team” for it. No apology or remorse for the action. It was someone else’s fault. Are people seriously willing to buy the fact he allows comments to go out in his name unchecked, especially given his position?

Chancellor Merkel is suffering in the polls thanks to her misguided altruism. More than 50% of Germans do not wish her to serve a fourth term. Not surprising given the recent terrorist attacks and Merkel’s refusal to stop the flow of migrants. Is it any wonder the right wing AfD continues to climb in the polls.

In Berlin, radical left anarchists are burning cars and smashing bank buildings in retaliation for what they claim is police brutality. Far-left activists in Berlin warned that they would exact €1m in revenge for any police raids on their squats and other ‘projects’ in the capital Dozens of cars were burned last weekend.

The police have reported a significant increase in far-left violence nationwide in 2015, with politically motivated left-wing crimes jumping 18 percent to 9,600. The refugee influx is a root cause with far-right groups have reacting violently and far-left groups attacking them in response. In January this year 211 far-right extremists were arrested for hosting an anti-refugee rally in Leipzig complaining Chancellor Merkel is ruining their homeland after the cover up after the new year sexual assaults in Cologne.

The Interior Ministry revealed that 39,000 (+19%YoY) politically motivated crimes were committed in 2015, with 23,000 having a far right motive. Crimes against refugees have soared from 199 in 2014 to over 1,000 in 2015.

We should recall in April 2015 the German blog http://www.Netzpolitik.org published posts with leaked information about the plans of Germany’s secret service to expand its digital-surveillance budget. In July the blog’s publishers, received a letter from the federal prosecutor saying that they and their anonymous sources were being investigated for treason. Two panic buttons were pressed: data privacy and freedom of the press. When news of the investigation broke out it brought thousands of Germans on to the streets. Angela Merkel and Heiko Maas distanced themselves from the prosecutor, Harald Range.

However in an August 4th press conference Mr Range attacked Mr Maas for “meddling in the independent judiciary”. Range said he refused to allow his position to be influenced by politics in any way.

Mr Maas fired Mr Range soon after his comments. Merkel and Maas acted as though they had nothing at all to do with the investigation that cost Range his job. With Range gone, a mess still remains that could still lead to other politicians, ministers or agency chiefs getting pushed out.  How independent is Germany’s judiciary system?

Der Spiegel wrote at the time,

“In recent days, the chancellor, Justice Minister Heiko Maas and Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière have sanctimoniously thrown their support behind freedom of the press. But reality often looks different. In reality, senior government officials and intelligence agency heads in Germany have long been pursuing a policy of intimidating and deterring journalists and their sources...

Leaks and whistleblowers are being hunted down and criminalized. Treason, a word that had hardly been heard for decades, is once again being used as part of the repertoire of politicians in Berlin — and all in the alleged name of protecting the common good. Security is to be increased in order to better protect the country from terrorism. At the same time, however, the balance between the executive, legislative, judiciary and the press as the Fourth Estate is being thrown off.

Ever since, the German government and its security agencies have made every attempt possible to ensure that they control what information becomes public. It is Merkel’s cabinet alone that determines what is defined as a state secret. And any person who casts doubt on that right, even if it is for good reason, runs the risk of being pursued with the full force of the law.”

Let us hope in future Mr Maas listens to punk music as enjoyment rather than use it for political posturing.

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