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News round-up, 18 July 2020


Death threats against left figures traced back to police computer

This year German cabaret artist Idil Baydar received a death threat from someone under the pseudonym "SS Obersturmbannführer." The perpetrator's trail could be traced back to the German police in Hesse. Other threats came from the same German federal state to many politicians from the Left Party. Denying structural racism, the police investigations over the last decade have consistently shown authorities operate on a biased assumption concerning immigrants. There also happens a lack of reliable facts and figures on the scope of racist activity within the country's police ranks. That is consistent with the BfV findings of considering right-wing extremism as the country's greatest security threat. Source: DW

Far-right activist kicked off YouTube

Martin Sellner, the head of the organization “Identitarian Movement Austria” has had his YouTube account shut down. The group is described by Austrian intelligence services as "agents of modern right-wing extremism." According to Google, which owns YouTube, Sellner contravened the site's hate speech policies. He had his Twitter account suspended some days ago, too. Additionally, Sellner had admitted he had been in contact with Brenton Tarrant, the Australian supremacist who killed 51 Muslims in New Zealand in 2019. The Identitarian movement deals with a conspiracy theory, the "Great Replacement", a propagated idea that states white Europeans are being deliberately supplanted by non-white immigrants. Source: DW

Journalist sentenced to over 2 years' prison in Turkey

The German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel has been sentenced to two years and almost ten months in prison in a trial. The verdict was delivered in Turkey “in absentia”, as the journalist is now in Germany. Among other things, Yücel was accused of spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan People's Party (PKK). Yücel spent a year in prison in Turkey before being charged. His arrest and imprisonment triggered a diplomatic crisis between Berlin and Ankara before his release and return to Germany. The journalist noted as well that the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled last year that holding him was illegal. Source: DW

Anmeldung goes digital

The German government will offer a completely digital registration process for residents, although the traditional face-to-face procedure will be kept available. Everyone living in Germany is required by law to register their reisdential address with the authorities, which until now has meant a time-consuming visit to a local government office. Digitization has been a goal for the past few years, and the coronavirus pandemic has served as a catalyst. The digital option will be tested first in Hamburg. The nationwide system will take more time, and is scheduled to go into operation in November 2021. Source: DW


BVG 'open for discussions' over racist metro station name

The decision to rename 'Mohrenstraße' station was generally well received, coming after pressure from Black Lives Matter protests, which criticised that the metro stop's name contains a derogatory term for black people. The state-owned metro operator BVG proposed to change the name of the station to Glinkastraße, after the composer Mikhail Glinka. However, this has also proved problematic due to Glinka's antisemitism. BVG spokeswoman Petra Nelken admitted to nd they had acted somewhat naively in selecting the new name. However, the chosen name followed the BVG´s principle of considering geographical orientation. She reminded also that Mitte administration is the one responsible for naming its streets. Decolonize Berlin proposed to BVG to jointly develop a memorial-cultural approach for such situations. The company says it is open for discussions. Source: nd

Bavaria court rules rent cap proposal unconstitutional

In Bavaria, the rent cap was not considered a legal competency of a federal state. This decision is attracting attention in Berlin, too. The right-wing CDU and FDP parties have filed a lawsuit against the Berlin law on rent caps at the Berlin State Constitutional Court. The Bavaria court decision is considered by Reiner Wild, managing director of the Berlin tenants' association, to be wrong, once “the decision is not prejudicial to the Federal Constitutional Court." No verdicts are expected before the end of 2020, but the Bavarian decision might indicate the rent cap should come embedded in an overall strategy. Source: nd

Suspected serial rapist taken into custody

A suspected serial rapist was arrested by Brandenburg police on Tuesday evening. The 29-year-old is said to be responsible for at least eight crimes in Berlin and Brandenburg since June 12. One of the victims is a minor, according to the investigating authorities. In three particularly horrific cases, the man is said to have intimidated the women with tools. For those cases, a maximum sentence of five years per offence can happen. On the day the suspect was arrested, a woman was raped in a forest near Potsdam. A huge police force operation responded to that and found a man near the crime scene who matched the description of the perpetrator. Source: nd

Compiled by Ana Ferreira

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