The German government is debating whether to increase surveillance of German citizens who are trying to prevent the spread of radical Islam in Germany.
The move comes in reaction to a three-week-long smear campaign by members of the German mainstream media, who have been relentless in their efforts to discredit the so-called counter-jihad movement in Germany.
Opinion polls show that growing numbers of Germans are worried about the consequences of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged mass immigration from Muslim countries.
Germans are especially concerned about the refusal of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society, and about the emergence of a parallel legal system in Germany based on Islamic Sharia law.
In an effort to reverse this tide of public opinion, the guardians of German multiculturalism have been working overtime to regain the initiative, mostly by trying to intimidate the critics of Islam into silence.
The media campaign has been led by the Frankfurter Rundschau, a financially troubled daily newspaper based in Frankfurt am Main, the Berliner Zeitung, and the leftwing Spiegel, a newsmagazine based in Hamburg that has long served as the mouthpiece for German multiculturalism.
A particular object of wrath is a highly popular German-language Internet website called Politically Incorrect (PI), which over the years has grown into a major information resource for people concerned about the spread of Islam in Germany.
PI's motto reads "Against the Mainstream, Pro-American, Pro-Israel, Against the Islamification of Europe" -- which represents everything the German left abhors. Not surprisingly, many German media elites want PI shut down.
Over the past several weeks, several German newspapers have used a stock of more than 10,000 stolen private emails to insinuate that the people behind PI are "undemocratic" and pose a threat to the German constitutional order. They are demanding that the PI website, as well as the counter-jihad movement (referred to as "Islamophobes") more generally, be subject to surveillance by the domestic German intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV).
Frankfurter Rundschau, for example, has fomented the hysteria by publishing dozens of agitprop articles, some by Mely Kiyak, a first-generation German whose parents were Turkish-Kurdish immigrants. Kiyak, who calls herself a "political pioneer," portrays all critics of Islam as hate-mongers.
One article is titled "Politically Incorrect: Vulgar, Uninhibited, Racist," and says that "the Internet portal 'Politically Incorrect' is part of an international network of Islam haters and Muslim stalkers. This is confirmed by research conducted by the Frankfurter Rundschau."
In another article, titled "PI News: Prototype of the New Right," Frankfurter Rundschau links criticism of Islam with anti-Semitism: "The 'New Right' has been growing for ten years and has momentum. The blog 'Politically Incorrect' shows what the movement looks like. The director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, Wolfgang Benz, sees parallels to anti-Semitism." Open expressions of anti-Semitism are illegal in post-war Germany; the inference here is that those who criticize Islam are guilty of committing a crime.
Other Frankfurter Rundschau articles are titled: "Politically Incorrect: Where the Internet Stinks;" "Rightwing Populists: United in their Hatred of Muslims," and "Politically Correct Hatred."
The Berliner Zeitung, in a frenzied article titled "Politically Incorrect: Inside the Network of Islam Haters," asserts: "PI is far more than a harmless website. It is rather a highly conspiratorial organization that works to demonize an entire faith community. It plays a vital role in an international network of those who hate Islam. It provides racists and glorifiers of violence who share the world view of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik with a forum."
Spiegel magazine, in an article titled "Germany's Anti-Muslim Scene: Authorities Debate Surveillance of Islamophobes," asserts that right-wing populism is a new form of extremism: "Islamophobes in Germany could come under increased surveillance by the country's domestic intelligence agency. There are concerns that the anti-Muslim scene is becoming increasingly dangerous. In essence, the question is whether the hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding, or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution."
For its part, Spiegel magazine has worked hard to portray all critics of Islam as belonging to the "far right" even though opinion polls overwhelmingly show that voters from across the political spectrum are concerned about the spread of Islam in Germany.
An opinion survey called "Perception and Acceptance of Religious Diversity," which was conducted by the sociology department of the University of Münster in partnership with the prestigious TNS Emnid political polling firm, shows that the majority of Germans disagree with a statement by German President Christian Wulff that Islam "belongs in Germany" because of the four million Muslims who now live there. Germany has Western Europe's second-biggest Islamic population after France, with Turks the single biggest minority.
The study shows that only 34% of the West Germans and 26% of the East Germans have a positive view of Muslims. Fewer than 5% of the Germans think Islam is a tolerant religion, and only 30% say they approve of the building of mosques. The number of Germans who approve of the building of minarets or the introduction of Muslim holidays is even lower.
Fewer than 10% of the West Germans and 5% of the East Germans say that Islam is a peaceful religion. More than 40% of Germans believe that the practice of Islam should be vigorously restricted.
Only 20% of the Germans believe that Islam is suitable for the Western world. Significantly, more than 80% of the Germans agree with the statement "that Muslims must adapt to our culture." More than one million immigrants living permanently in Germany cannot speak German.
Another survey, called "Global Views on Immigration" and conducted by the London-based Ipsos global research firm, found that more than half the Germans believe "there are too many immigrants" in their country.
In response to the polling question "Would you say that immigration has generally had a positive or negative impact?" 54% of the Germans said the impact has been negative. Nearly 60% of the Germans agree with the survey statement: "Immigration has placed too much pressure on public services" in Germany.
The report "Muslim-Western Tensions Persist," published by the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center, shows that 61% of the Germans believe their relations with Muslims are bad. The poll also shows that 72% of the Germans believe Muslims in their countries do not want to integrate; and 79% of the Germans believe Islam is "the most violent" religion. More than two-thirds of the Germans are worried about Islamic extremists in their country.
A separate poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that 71% of the Germans believe Islamic veils should be banned in public, including in schools, hospitals and government offices.
Another survey, published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank linked to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), found that 55% of the Germans believe that Arabs are "unpleasant," and over 33% believe the country is being "overrun" by immigrants. The study also noted that "far-right attitudes" are not isolated at the extremes of German society, but to a large degree are "at the center of it."
The surveys show clearly and consistently that most Germans are worried about the impact that Muslim immigration is having on their daily lives. In a country stifled by political correctness and a long-running war on free speech, Politically Incorrect is giving a voice to frustrated Germans who see the harm being wrought by the cult of multiculturalism. The tide of public opinion in Germany has shifted, and Germany's establishment is unlikely to succeed in reversing it.
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.