Cash Fines for Hate Speech Directed at German-Turkish officials


cemozdemirBERLIN (Deutsche Welle) — A Berlin court handed financial fines to two people who directed online abuse at German parliamentarians of Turkish origin, according to media reports on November 3. Both officials had backed the parliament’s Armenian Genocide resolution, angering many Turks and Erdogan supporters.

A Turkish national was handed a fine of 600 euros ($665) for comments aimed at Bundestag member Sevim Dagdelen, of the Left party, on Facebook.

Another man was fined 700 euros for verbally abusing the co-leader of Germany’s Green Party, Cem Özdemir. In return, charges against him were dropped, at least provisionally.

Dagdelen and Özdemir had backed the German parliament’s Armenian genocide resolution in July, which formally labeled the Ottoman Empire’s killing of 1.5 million Armenians and other Christian minorities during World War I as  ”genocide.” Both officials were subsequently bombarded with online abuse from Turkish nationalists, including those residing in Germany.

Both targeted officials welcomed the court’s decision. “It is good that the internet is not a lawless environment,” Dagdelen told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “I hope that the judgment has a deterring effect.” However, there remain outstanding threats of violence and murder that must be curtailed, she said. “I intend to pursue these civil claims.”

Özdemir said that he welcomed the court’s decision to punish online insults and threats. However, “some state prosecutors are reacting too cautiously,” he said. “Some take the issue seriously within our formidable democracy. Others are somewhat more lenient.”