The HOMEAFFAIRS Briefing is a regular specialised digest of the wider discussion on internal security policy. This time, let us look at the ongoing relation between extremism and the tech world.

EU States Must Regulate Internet Companies to Reduce Online Extremism

  • Large internet companies are still facing the problem of extremist content on their platforms. Their own initiatives for removing extremist content have not led to compelling outcomes so far, and EU States must step up state intervention in this area.
  • In late August, a popular Pakistani singer used Twitter to call for the hanging of European cartoonists who had allegedly offended Islam. Her tweet received some 2500 „likes“ and was only deleted after 5 days during which Twitter came under international pressure.
  • YouTube also struggles with hatred on its platform. A survey of the Counter-Extremism Project analysed 1,348 extremist videos which altogether received some 163,000 views. 91% of the analysed videos were uploaded more than once, putting into question Youtube’s ability to remove known extremist content. Moreover, 60% of the monitored accounts remained active despite breaching Youtube‘s rules by uploading extremist content.
  • Facebook likewise contends with extremism. The “suggested friends” feature enabled jihadists the world over to meet one another with ease. In July 2018, British investigative journalists revealed that Facebook had been tolerant towards popular far-right groups because they „generate a lot of revenue“.
  • Clearly, the internet giants are either unable or unwilling to effectively address extremist content on their own platforms. In any case, they cannot deal with the problem on their own.
  • Therefore, the EU Member States should develop effective regulations aimed at forcing internet companies to remove extremist content under the threat of sanctions. The European Commission is already considering regulations to address violent extremist content. This process should be extended to also cover non-violent extremist offences, such as providing support to movements which seek to suppress fundamental rights and freedoms or subvert the rule of law.

Every two weeks, our team crafts internal security policy recommendations that incorporate handpicked publications from respected research organisations and experts in Europe and elsewhere. In this issue, we prepared recommendations looking at Hezbollah and the changing debate in Germany on migration.

EU States Should Designate Hezbollah a Terrorist Organization

  • As argued by Josh Lipowsky from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), the EU Member States and the EU as a whole should designate the Shi’ite Islamic extremist organisation Hezbollah as a single terrorist entity, instead of falsely drawing a line between its military and political wings.
  • Having listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization in 2012, the EU continues to insist on dialogue with all Lebanese political parties, including Hezbollah’s political wing.
  • The United States and Canada list the entire Hezbollah as a terrorist group. In Europe, such an approach was so far taken only by France and the Netherlands.
  • The public statements of Hizbollah itself clearly prove the folly of turning a blind eye to the organisation’s political wing. In 2013, Hezbollah’s spokesman said: “Hezbollah is a single large organization, we have no wings that are separate from one another. What’s being said in Brussels doesn’t exist for us.”
  • The passivity of European governments in acting against Hezbollah enable the organisation to build legitimacy and proliferate Islamic extremism.
  • The EU must recognise Hezbollah for what it truly is – a violent terrorist organization advocating Islamic extremism.

In Germany, the Public Debate on Migration Must be Opened Up

  • In searching for causes of the events in Chemnitz, the German magazine Cicero rightly points to the one-sided and lecturing approach of some political representatives and media outlets in addressing migration.
  • As a result of an irresponsible national migration policy during the migration crisis, the German asylum system is now overwhelmed and exploited by illegal migrants with no right to asylum.
  • There are few encouraging signs that the immigrants are being successfully integrated into German society. Furthermore, the newly arrived migrants contribute to criminality. In 2017, around 40.000 people became victims of crimes committed by migrants.
  • The governing parties’ passivity in addressing real problems associated with migration fosters a feeling among voters of having been abandoned by their representatives. These sentiments are amplified by some media outlets, which ignore or actively downplay the negative consequences of mismanaged migration. All attempts to discuss the issue are labelled as racist or worse, further polarising the already divided public.
  • The cumulative effect of this approach is the public perception that problems associated with migration are a taboo subject. It is only natural that this should spark outrage among large sectors of the public and boost the popularity of far-right groups.
  • To reverse this trend, mainstream political parties and media outlets must concede failure to adequately address migration in the past and engage with real concerns of the general public. Failure to do so risks handing political power to far-right groups, which threaten to address migration without recourse to rule of law or liberal democracy.

HOMEAFFAIRS – Internal Security Forum Prague 2018

From 21 to 23 November 2018, we will organise the 4th year of HOMEAFFAIRS – Internal Security Forum Prague. The Forum is a specialised platform for policy makers, non-governmental experts and business representatives to discuss the most pressing internal security challenges.

This year’s participants will join closed and open sessions to discuss measures to prevent mass irregular migration and counter Islamic extremism. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.