December 6, 2018
In a quest to fight the “far-right,” a German activist group has launched a provocative name-and-shame campaign targeting Chemnitz anti-migrant protesters. The ploy sparked a police probe and was likened to Nazi practices.
“Report your colleagues, neighbors or acquaintances this very day and get cash in return immediately!” – that is not some crazy slogan of the Nazi times or an advert of the infamous East German secret police, the Stasi, but a new “operation”launched by a self-styled German art collective, which targets those declared a ‘threat to democracy.’
The group behind the campaign called ‘Soko Chemnitz’ decided to use the provocative slogan to lure ordinary Germans into helping them identify and “shame” those who took part in massive anti-migrant protests that rocked the east German city of Chemnitz back in August.
Dubbed a “Center for political beauty,” the group said it somehow procured about 3 million images of the 7,000 Chemnitz protesters and displayed them on a specially created website, asking the Germans to help them reveal the identities of those people. They also offered sums between €50 ($56.7) and €120 ($136.13) for revealing information on any person from their list.
Additionally, the group vowed to pay an extra €200 ($226.9) if an identified person turned out to be a police officer, an extra €500 ($567.2) for a security services informant and a whopping €1,000 ($1,134.4) for members of the German domestic security service, the BfV.
The activists did not mince words while describing their targets as “idiots” and calling their list “a treasure chest of Germany’s internal enemies.” Not stopping at public shaming, the campaign called on the employers to “take actions”against the “far-right mobsters” in their ranks, even offering a list of advice on the dismissal of employees under various legal pretexts. Their ultimate aim is to “expel those problem Germans from business and civil service.”
The campaign has apparently seen no shortage of support since it was launched on Monday. The original post gathered hundreds of retweets, and organizers proudly announced on their website that they had already received some 3,000 tipoffs and then doxxed some of the protesters.
While the campaign made headlines in all major German outlets, the reaction has mostly been reserved, if not supportive. A regional Koelner Stadt Anzeiger paper even published an opinion piece justifying the “wrongness” of the action by basically claiming that goal justified the means. The op-ed argued it has been triggered by the government’s reluctance to act in the face of the growing far-right threat.
— RT (@RT_com) September 6, 2018
On social media, however, people soon clashed over the controversial methods, failing to agree on whether to condemn or support them. Many seemed to back, lauding it as a “wakeup call” and a legitimate “resistance” against the “Nazis.”
Others argued that the campaign is not an internet “satire” but is actually “intimidation” of people, who exercise their constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. Some also compared it to the activities of the Stasi or even the Nazis. Such action is “unthinkable” even if it is a joke, one man tweeted.
Chemnitz debate: common people speak out pic.twitter.com/o4Rarx2zWl
— RT (@RT_com) September 5, 2018
The German anti-immigration party, Alternative for German (AfD), whose members were particularly targeted in the campaign, have accused the activists of using “Nazi methods”: “In the most vile form of the block mentality, [the group] destroyed the lives of people, who in fact did nothing but exercised their fundamental right for the freedom of assembly,” one of the AfD leaders, Alexander Gauland said.
The German authorities were not amused by the provocative stunt. Police said the campaign might involve “serious violations” of the privacy laws as well as copyright infringements. Nine criminal complaints have been filed against the activists so far.
Police also had to close the self-styled “campaign office” in Chemnitz filled with “wanted” placards after 12 masked protesters gathered near it shouting threats. The police justified its action with “security reasons” while the group vowed to challenge the closure in court.
Saxony’s interior minister also condemned the action by saying that it threatens “cohesion of society.” He said the police would look into the actions of the group. Meanwhile, the Berlin Data Protection Commissioner’s Office said it would open its own investigation into the campaign.
This article was posted: Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 8:51 am