• Germany’s populist AfD seeks to turn online ’censorship’ to its advantage

    Gauland calls new law ’Stasi tactics’

    A Tuesday press release from party chair Alexander Gauland was given a rather grand title: “Freedom of opinion came to an end in 2017.”

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    “The censorship law of [acting Justice Minister] Heiko Maas is already showing its negative effects on freedom on the first day of the new year,” Gauland said. “These Stasi tactics remind me of the GDR [former East Germany]. I call on every single social media user to resist this repression and to publish the deleted comments over and over again!”

    But the AfD’s efforts to draw attention were most pronounced on social media itself, an effective channel of communication for the party. Parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel and her deputy, Beatrix von Storch, are both facing investigation by law enforcement authorities in Cologne on the basis of suspected incitement of racial hatred online. The party shared this news with photos of the two politicians, with gags photo-shopped onto their mouths, and linked it to the German government’s recent comments about protests in Iran.