Germany moves to ease the deportation of foreigners who glorify terrorist acts

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s government on Wednesday launched new legislation to ease the deportation of foreigners who publicly approve of terrorist acts. Under the law, a single comment on social media could provide grounds for kicking people out.

The measure approved by the Cabinet was pledged by Chancellor Olaf Scholz following a knife attack last month on members of a group that describes itself as opposing “political Islam,” an assault that left a police officer dead. It comes as Scholz’s government faces broader pressure to curb migration.

The Interior Ministry said that the law on residence will be changed so that approving or promoting “a single terrorist crime” is grounds for a “particularly serious interest in expulsion.” That means that in future a single comment that “glorifies and endorses a terrorist crime on social media” could constitute a reason for expulsion.

Anyone who publicly approves of an offense “in a manner which is suited to causing a disturbance of the public peace” could also be expelled, and a conviction would not be required. Liking a social media post would not be sufficient grounds for deportation, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

Faeser said that Hamas’ acts during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel have been “celebrated in a repugnant way” on social media in Germany, and the attack in Mannheim “also was glorified on the net by many in the most appalling way.”

“Such brutalization online stokes a climate of violence that can drive extremists to new acts of violence,” Faeser added. “So it’s very clear to me that Islamist agitators who mentally live in the Stone Age have no place in our country. Anyone who has no German passport and glorifies terrorist acts here must, wherever possible, be expelled and deported.”

She said she was confident that lawmakers will approve the change soon, and that she didn’t see it falling foul of freedom of speech laws.

The government faces ongoing pressure to reduce the number of migrants coming to and staying in Germany. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved legislation that is intended to ease deportations of unsuccessful asylum-seekers.

At the same time, Scholz’s socially liberal administration is easing the rules on gaining citizenship and ending restrictions on holding dual citizenship. It says the plan will bolster the integration of immigrants and help attract skilled workers, while opposition conservatives have argued that it cheapens German citizenship.

Faeser defended the new naturalization law, which takes effect on Thursday.

The legislation stipulates that people being naturalized must be able to support themselves and their relatives. The existing law requires that would-be citizens be committed to the “free democratic fundamental order,” and the new version specifies that antisemitic and racist acts are incompatible with that.

The government has said that issues such as antisemitism, Israel’s right to exist and Jewish life in Germany are being given a greater weight in the citizenship test applicants have to undergo.

Faeser said that, by that measure, “we have made obtaining German citizenship more difficult.”

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