06:55 GMT +313 December 2019
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    Right-wing demonstrators hold a sign Rapefugees not welcome - !Stay away! and a sign with a crossed out mosque as they march in Cologne, Germany Saturday Jan. 9, 2016

    Free Speech or Hate Speech? German Paper Shuts Down Anti-Migrant Comments

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    Spiegel Online has turned off readers’ comments on the current migrant crisis, amid an avalanche of hateful remarks about the situation on its forum page.

    For one, the readers are no longer able to comment on an article about Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who spoke about refugees “flooding” into Europe from the Mediterranean Sea.

    “Unlike with other stories, you won’t find a readers’ forum under this text. Unfortunately, we have been getting too many inadequate, hateful and outright illegal comments. That’s why, in keeping with our online ethics, we decided to turn off some of the comments coming in,” a note from the Editor said on Wednesday.

    The article in question quoted the Czech Minister as saying that the refugees were like floodwater which first fills up the basement of the house you live in and then the ground floor and finally engulfs the entire building.

    “I have seen many floods: this is a crisis that needs to be actively dealt with,” Babis said in an interview with the Czech daily newspaper MF Dnes.

    He pointed to the recent events in Cologne and other German cities where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and mugged by migrants, most of them from North Africa and warned that this could happen again.

    “Chancellor [Angela Merkel] has been changing her position [on the migrant issue], but very slowly because she wants to avoid making mistakes,” Babis said.

    Spiegel Online mentioned the much-criticized remarks earlier made by Babis’ German colleague Wolfgang Schaeuble, who likened the incoming migrants to “an avalanche.”

    Europe is struggling to cope with a massive migration crisis, as over  a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, fleeing violence in their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people.


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