Far-right AfD wins court case against German Interior Minister

Germany's far-right AfD party on Tuesday won a case against the country's Interior Minister for flouting neutrality rules by publishing sharp criticism of the anti-immigration group on his ministry's website.

Far-right AfD wins court case against German Interior Minister
The AfD's Jörg Meuthen standing at the Federal Constitutional Court on Tuesday June 9th. Photo: DPA

Horst Seehofer had described the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as “corrosive to the state” in an interview that was posted on the website.

But Germany's highest court on Tuesday ruled that by using official resources to publish the interview, Seehofer violated the AfD's chances of getting equal treatment in political competition.

The AfD's co-chief Jörg Meuthen immediately hailed the ruling as an “important contribution to political fair play in Germany”.

In the interview in September 2018, Seehofer said the AfD's MPs are “against this country”.

Germany's constitutional court noted that while the criticisms themselves were not objectionable, the minister “may not use state resources to exert a targeted influence on the political decision-making process”.

READ ALSO: Germany's far-right AfD weakened by infighting amid coronavirus crisis

The neutrality requirement must apply both during and outside of election campaigns, because voters are informed continuously during the political process and not just during an electoral races, it noted.

The interview has since been removed from the ministry's website.

Since its 2013 founding and entry into German parliament four years later, the AfD has repeatedly sparked uproars over its extremist positions.

Its most radical fringe was placed under police surveillance in March, and a row is simmering within the party over whether to sever links with the ultra-radical faction.

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French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.