Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm

German Justice minister Heiko Maas fell victim to anti-hate speech rules he himself championed. Maas had in a 2010 tweet called Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, “an idiot.” The post was deleted after Twitter received several complaints, fueling a simmering row over the new regulation. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2018

Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm

BERLIN: Germany signalled Monday it was open to amending a controversial law combatting online hate speech as the justice minister fell victim to the rules he himself championed.
The move came after Twitter deleted a post by Heiko Maas dating back to 2010 before he was appointed justice minister, in which he called a fellow politician “an idiot.”
The post was deleted after Twitter received several complaints, fueling a simmering row over the new regulation which critics say stifle freedom of speech.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said an evaluation would be carried out within six months to examine how well the new law was working.
“It’s best to conduct the evaluation with an open mind, and then we’ll see what experience can be drawn from it, what impact and then all that would be weighed up,” he told reporters.
Germany adopted the law, one of the toughest in the world, after a surge in racist and incendiary speech online, particularly after the arrival of more than one million asylum-seekers since 2015.
The legislation, which came into force on Jan. 1, requires social media giants to remove hate speech and other illegal content, or risk fines of up to €50 million ($57 million).
Companies such as Twitter and Facebook have 24 hours to remove posts that openly violate German law after they are flagged by users.
But critics said the law pushes social media companies into taking a pro-active stance in deleting potentially offensive posts, effectively handing them the power of censorship.
Parties including the AfD, the pro-business FDP, far-left Linke as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies CSU are lining up to demand it be scrapped or amended.
The row returned to haunt the justice minister over the weekend when he found his tweet about Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, had been deleted.
Speaking to Bild on Monday, Maas said he “did not receive any information from Twitter about why the tweet was deleted,” admitting there are “things that I would no longer tweet today.”
Barely a week after coming into force, the new law has sparked intense debate as it snared high-profile individuals.
Far-right MP Beatrix von Storch became the first prominent politician to fall foul of the new rules with posts deleted from both Twitter and Facebook.
Von Storch, deputy leader of the anti-immigration AfD party’s parliamentary group, had criticized Cologne police for sending a New Year’s greeting in Arabic on Twitter.
“What the hell is going on with this country? Why is an official police site ... tweeting in Arabic?” she wrote. “Did you mean to placate the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?”
Her colleague Jens Maier is facing a criminal complaint over a tweet that called Boris Becker’s son a “half-negro.”
The AfD capitalized on discontent against a mass influx of asylum seekers to Germany since 2015 to make the strongest showing for a far-right party in a national election in the post-war era.


Google honors female Egyptian lawyer Mufidah Abdul-Rahman

Updated 20 January 2020

Google honors female Egyptian lawyer Mufidah Abdul-Rahman

  • Abdul-Rahman was born 106 years ago in Cairo in 1914, she died on Sept. 3, 2002
  • Abdul-Rahman co-founded the National Feminist Party, an organization that fights for universal suffrage in Egypt

DUBAI: Mufidah Abdul-Rahman, one of Egypt’s first female lawyers was honored in a Google doodle on Monday.

Abdul-Rahman was born 106 years ago in Cairo in 1914, she died on Sept. 3, 2002 when she was 88. She graduated from Cairo University’s Faculty of Law and became the premiere female attorney in the country.

A strong supporter of gender equality in Egypt, she regularly strove to improve women’s rights and was first female lawyer to take cases to the Court of Cassation in Egypt and present cases before a military court.

Abdul-Rahman was a strong supporter of gender equality in Egypt, she regularly strove to improve women’s rights and was first female lawyer to take cases to the Court of Cassation in Egypt. (Courtesy of Google)

While practicing law, she co-founded the National Feminist Party, an organization that fights for universal suffrage in Egypt.

Abdul-Rahman was also recruited into the women’s rights group Bint Al-Nil (Daughter of the Nile).

Abdul-Rahman was a strong supporter of gender equality in Egypt, she regularly strove to improve women’s rights and was first female lawyer to take cases to the Court of Cassation in Egypt. (Courtesy of Google)

Google Doodle has honored a number of Egyptian greats in the past, including actor Omar El-Sherif, Singer Umm Kalthoum, actress Faten Hammama and more.