Politically Incorrect Posters and Islam
On July 9, 2013, Munich police confiscated a poster used at a city demonstration opposing the proposed Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (Zentrum für Islam in Europa-München, or ZIE-M) due to preliminary hate speech suspicions. The Munich confiscation raises questions about the ability to state unvarnished facts about Islam, however displeasing.
The conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI) documented the seizure, including a video of the event. In the video, Michael Stürzenberger, one of PI's managers and a leader in the small, anti-Islam Freedom Party (Die Freiheit) directs yet another Munich rally collecting signatures for a referendum to stop ZIE-M's construction. Die Freiheit, PI, Stürzenberger, and ZIE-M have featured in this author's previous writings here, here, here, and here, for example.
Munich police officers then take down amidst the demonstration's assembled signs and carry away a poster with the inscription "Cowardly and Brutal: Imported murderers in Germany" as well as an Islamic star and crescent. As an enlargeable image of the poster shows, underneath the inscription are ten photos of Muslim foreigners who murdered in Germany. The blood-red text under the pictures states that "since 1990 more than 7,500 Germans, as well as foreigners, have been the victims of murderers who overwhelmingly came from Muslim countries." In between two red lines stands in capital letters "Forgive nothing! Forget nothing!" Internet addresses at the poster's bottom lead to one website documenting honor murders in Germany and another tallying foreigner violence against Germans in conjunction with a published book. Prior police intervention had led to the taping over of two of the faces on the demonstration's particular poster copy because one of the murderers was not yet legally condemned and the other was not an adult.
What was confiscated is an appropriation of a poster (available for download here) produced by the German Marxist group Gegen die Strömung. This poster carries the headline "Murdered by NSU-Nazis Murderers" alongside a Nazi symbol. The nine pictures on the poster show the eight individuals of Turkish background and one of Greek descent murdered in a xenophobic killing spree by three individuals of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in the years 2000-2006. The NSU also killed a policewoman and injured 22 in a 2004 Cologne bomb attack in a heavily Turkish neighborhood.
Speaking through a loudspeaker on the video, Stürzenberger proclaims to his fellow Munich residents that "you are witnesses to the fact that here in Munich a two-class justice system is applied." While Stürzenberger announces that a state prosecutor has ordered the poster's confiscation for a possible violation of the German Criminal Code's Section 130 against "Incitement to Hate," Stürzenberger says that the showing of German criminals is "no problem." Stürzenberger discusses as well how his demonstrators had to cover all violence scenes, including traces of blood, in a poster presenting sharia's corporal punishments. Yet Muslims at a Munich rally the previous Friday (July 5) were able to show images of a girl with a ripped out heart, a beheaded man with his head next to his corpse, and a film of the beheading and corpse mutilation of a priest. "Muslims in Munich may do everything," Stürzenberger declares, "but we who educate about Islam may do almost nothing. We are censured, charged with hate speech."
At the end of the video, Stürzenberger indicates another mounted poster showing a Muslim warrior holding a Koran and carrying a rocket launcher. The poster's red letters proclaim that "the terror comes direct from the Koran," citing the original author of this passage, the native Turkish award-winning writer Zafer Senocak, who has lived and worked in Berlin since 1970. Senocak had written in a similarly titled December 29, 2007, article in Germany's conservative Die Welt newspaper that the "terror comes from the heart of Islam[;] it comes direct from the Koran."
Yet, as indicated by Stürzenberger in the video, Munich authorities had previously confiscated this poster on April 6, 2012. The authorities suspected "defamation of a world religion," punishable under Section 166 of the German Criminal Code against "Defamation of religions, religious and ideological associations" before ending investigation in early June 2013. Speaking of this poster being held for a year before its release, Stürzenberger suggested that the murderers' mug shots poster would also have to wait a year before seeing the public again.
Thus, Stürzenberger and his allies have repeatedly run into legal trouble simply by indicating too great of an association of Islam with terrorism and crime. Critical evaluation of these views has therefore a lower priority than pleasing various group sensibilities. Such political correctness is wrong not only as a matter of free speech principle, but also with respect to proper policy formation. Both liberty and security will simultaneously be the losers.