“The rampant spread of conspiracy myths, which have no factual basis, is likely to infect larger sections of the population with a fundamental dissatisfaction with the rule of law,” Herrmann said. “If this discontent solidifies in the long term, it offers extremists an ideal breeding ground for training new followers or sympathizers.” The resulting danger to the rule of law should not be underestimated, he warned.
The number of conspiracy myths circulating on the Internet in particular has increased dramatically. “Even the most absurd myths find supporters,” Herrmann warned. As examples, he cited the blame of certain groups of the population such as migrants or Jews or the warnings of a supposed secret “world government”.
Far-right actors took advantage: “By using the keyword ‘Corona dictatorship’, they accuse government agencies of completely depriving the population in the shadow of the pandemic and, at the same time, of engaging in unnoticed mass immigration with the aim of marginalizing the “German people” “, explained the minister.
The corona crisis is also putting left-wing extremists in the cards. “The restrictive measures introduced to contain the pandemic are seen by the scene as a pretext for the alleged expansion of state repression.” This line of argument fits perfectly into their tactics of general denigration of all state and police measures such as illegal repression.
According to Herrmann, the participation of right-wing extremists in so-called hygiene protests could only be verified in isolated cases. Nonetheless, he criticized the weekend’s demonstration in Berlin – there, for example, you could see the black, white and red flag of the Reich, often used by right-wing extremists.
The minister stressed that the freedom of assembly would be protected. Politically, however, we have to deal with “senseless messages”, such as those broadcast during the Berlin demonstration. “It is not a criminal offense to spread such nonsense, and you can take to the streets for it.” However, this does not mean that participants are allowed to disregard measures to protect against infection.
Herrmann announced that such violations would be systematically punished – and possibly harsher penalties as well. “We are currently discussing the extent to which we should further increase fines in certain areas in order to achieve an even stronger deterrent effect,” he told BR television on Monday evening. This also includes violations of quarantine regulations or the requirement to be tested after returning from a corona risk area.