TheÂ Â Office of Constitutional Protection should protect the constitution, not pervert it and use it against German patriots who hold up the constitution to oppose Islamisation. But exactly that is happening in Munich, where our friendsÂ Michael StÃ¼rzenbergerÂ and Michael Mannheimer Â are now portrayed as the enemy of the people.
Silencing Speech on Islam
Michael StÃ¼rzenberger has the courage and the knowledge most of us lack. He speaks every Saturday Â in Munich’s inner city, in front of leftist loons and Mohammedan halal butchers. Needless to mention that this is only possible due to heavy police protection.
Bavaria’s Interior MinistryÂ announced April 12, 2013, that the provincial Office of Constitutional Protection (Verfassungsschutz) will monitor local chapters of the websiteÂ Politically IncorrectÂ (PI) and the small conservative Freedom Party (Die Freiheit). AsÂ reportedÂ in the media, Bavaria is the first province in Germany to take this step, an important German milestone in ostracizing criticism and/or condemnation of Islam.
As the ministryÂ websiteÂ explains, the Federal Republic of Germany is a “militant democracy[wehrhafteDemokratie].” TheÂ VerfassungsschutzÂ hereby functions as an “early warning system” against threats to a free society.Â VerfassungsschutzÂ offices at theÂ federalÂ and provincial levels “observe anti-constitutional efforts” (including with secret surveillance) across the political spectrum and report to authorities and the public.
The press release announcing the decision stated that a “hostility to Islam had developed outside of rightwing extremism that was significant for theÂ Verfassungsschutz.” The press release thereby focused on the provincial chapter ofÂ Die FreiheitÂ that “consisted, among others, of the hardcore of the local Munich PI group.” The “central leadership person” here wasÂ Michael StÃ¼rzenberger, the spokesman of the PI group and provincialÂ Die FreiheitÂ chairman since early 2012.The objective of these groups, Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann accused, was “to stoke general fears of Muslims and to defame them on the basis of their faith as enemies of a society of law. Freedom of religion, human dignity, and the principle of equal treatment as core elements of our underlying free democratic order are thereby harmed.”
The press release further criticizedÂ a referendum campaignÂ initiated by these groups in late 2012 opposed toa Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZentrumfÃ¼r Islam in Europa-MÃ¼nchenÂ or ZIE-M). StÃ¼rzenberger and his associates have opposed ZIE-M’s building because of, among other reasons, the questionable views and background of its proponent, the imamÂ Benjamin Idriz, a man who himself has previously appeared in BavarianVerfassungschutzÂ reports. The press release condemned this campaign as a “platform for generalizing Islam-hostile propaganda.”
In his press releaseÂ speech, though, Herrmann “distinguished” such propaganda “from criticism of Islam” such as the “referendum against the ZIE-M” that is “in principle… within… the fundamental right of free expression.” Herrmann argued that “rightwing extremists” exploit the fact that “other elements of the population critically deal with Islam, for example with respect to” gender equality. Hermann’s speech and the press release itself, meanwhile, noted that the “threat to Germany due to international Islamist terrorism remains unvaryingly high.” Accordingly, Herrmann and the press release both stated thatÂ VerfassungsschutzÂ monitoring did not apply to those “who support the referendum with their signature.”
The Bavarian action fulfills a wish often expressed in the past byÂ various German media outlets, StÃ¼rzenberger’s mutual enemy Idriz, andÂ Sebastian Edathy, Social Democratic (SPD) chairman of the German parliament’s interior committee. Yet analysis of PI andÂ Die Freiheit,Â widely seenÂ as a German version of Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party (Partijvoor de VrijheidorÂ PVV), does not reveal anti-constitutional sentiment. Regular PI readers know that this popular (over 100,000 visitors on one record day) conservative German website criticizes Islam’s aggressive and authoritarian aspects in a manner very similar to Robert Spencer’s AmericanÂ JihadwatchÂ website. Indeed, Spencer cooperates with PI’s Stefan Herre inÂ Stop the Islamization of NationsÂ (SION) and has participated in an August 4, 2012,Â international “counterjihad” conferenceÂ in Stockholm with StÃ¼rzenberger. Other conservative outlooks such as support for American and Israeli national security measures round out PI’s issue portfolio.
Given Herrmann’s own references to Germany’s Islamist threats and to elements that “critically deal with Islam,” it is not apparent why PI andÂ Die FreiheitÂ deserveÂ VerfassungschutzÂ attention. LikeÂ Wilders, StÃ¼rzenberger in response to the monitoring has written that PI’s “educational work does not direct itself against Muslims, but rather against the political ideology of Islam. Muslims are its first victim, above all women. We want to free them.”
VerfassungsschutzÂ monitoring alone entails no legal penalties, yet asÂ Germany’s supreme courtalready ruled in 2005, such a listing is a state “intervention-like measure” with “indirect effects.” This listing has a “disadvantageous” effect upon a media’s “action possibilities” in terms of advertisers, writers, and readers. Contrary to the Bavarian case, the 2005 decision demanded that anti-constitutional sentiments be “sufficiently weighty” to justify aÂ VerfassungsschutzÂ naming.
Analysis of the present case indicates a related concern raised by the 2005 decision. InappropriateVerfassungsschutzÂ statement compiling does not allow for proper public distinguishing between entities like PI merely under monitoring and others already designated “extremist.” Thus the high court demanded that any such listing “differentiate clearly” between the two. Yet Munich’s national daily, theÂ SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung, cavalierly referred to PI as “extremist” and “hostile to the constitution.”
“There are days on which a country falls over,” a German lawyer summarized in an email his dispirited view of the PI case. “It is then still difficult to speak of rule of law. Today is such a day. Bavaria pursues people as rightwing extremists and constitutional enemies merely because they speak the truth about Islam…. The world should know.” Advocates of open debate concerning Islam or any other matter, both within and without Germany, should heed this lawyer’s concern. After all, a threat to free speech anywhere, is a threat to free speech everywhere.