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Germany Targets 36 People Suspected Of Online ‘Hate Speech’

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent

German police carried out coordinated raids Tuesday against 36 people suspected of “hateful posting” on social media.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said most of the raids targeted “right-wing incitement.” Two people are accused of posting left-wing extremist content while a Munich resident is suspected of spreading homophobia.

The Munich man has written more than 44 posts, and allegedly said he wants to get rid of gays in a comment on picture of two men kissing each other, Suddeutsche Zeitung reports.

“Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet,” BKA President Holger Münch said in a statement, according to Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

The German parliament is currently debating a proposal to force social media platforms to either delete hate speech quickly or risk hefty fines. (RELATED: Germany Considers Million Dollar Hate Speech Fines)

The problems that many critics point out are the vague definitions of the term “hate speech” and the restrictions that the proposed law may have on freedom of speech. Justice Minister Heiko Maas disagrees, arguing it will only help protect freedom of speech in Germany.

“The point of the proposed legislation is that statements that violate the law must be deleted,” Maas said May 19, according to Deutsche Welle. “These are not examples of freedom of speech. They’re attacks on freedom of speech. The worst danger to freedom of speech is a situation where threats go unpunished.”

Flagrant violations need to be removed within 24 hours while more complex cases have to be removed within one week, according to the proposal. Failure to remove posts may result in fines of up to 50 million euros ($56 million dollars).

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