German justice minister: Facebook must delete posts inciting hatred against refugees

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas says Facebook must delete posts inciting hatred following a spate of violent anti-refugee protests.

HEIDENAU, GERMANY (AUGUST 27, 2015) (REUTERS)- German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday (August 27) that social media site Facebook should delete posts inciting hatred against refugees.

“We do not want that sort of thing to be circulated freely on the internet. If Facebook says “of course we do not want to circulate posts inciting hatred”, then it must delete them,” Maas told reporters outside a high school in Heidenau, the eastern German town where violent anti-refugee protests erupted at the weekend.

In a letter to Facebook public policy director Richard Allan in Dublin obtained by Reuters, Maas said he had received many complaints from users that their protests on racist posts have been ignored. He suggested a meeting in Berlin on September 14.

“We will be happy to support Facebook in any way we can, but ultimately I think it is in Facebook’s own interest, because no form of social media wants to be seen as a platform used excessively by right-wing extremists to spread ideological rubbish,” Maas added.

31 police officers were hurt in scuffles that broke out at the protests in the town over the weekend, and Chancellor Angela Merkel was jeered at by dozens of protesters when she visited the town on Wednesday (August 26).

Europe is struggling to cope with a flood of migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and beyond.

Germany, which has relatively liberal asylum laws, is set to receive the largest share, estimated at some 800,000 people this year, equivalent to almost 1 percent of the total population.

With almost daily attacks on asylum shelters, politicians have warned of rising hostility toward foreigners.

Merkel has said her conservative-led government would change laws next month to ease the burden on German towns struggling to provide accommodation and other help for new arrivals.

Earlier on Wednesday her cabinet approved plans to double funding for municipalities this year to 1 billion euros and the amount available in the longer run is likely to increase.