Officials in Germany will meet tomorrow to decide whether right wing groups who are vocally critical of Islam-- so-called "Islamophobes"-- will be placed under domestic intelligence agency scrutiny alongside other extremists.
The German daily newspaper Der Spiegel reported today that "Islamophobes" could be placed under surveillance by the BfV, the German equivalent of Britain's MI-5 or, less precisely, our FBI.
The meeting to decide this designation will be held between "the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Heinz Fromm, and the agency's leaders in the 16 German states."
The German states of Bavaria and Hamburg have already started to view "Islamophobes" and other "right-wing populists" as extremists who pose a threat to order and security. Hamburg officials have declared they monitor a German internet web forum with the less-than-threatening name "Politically Incorrect," though they say the site is not technically under watch by spies.
Why are German authorities looking at the site then?
An unnamed German official told Der Spiegel it was "undemocratic" and meant to "incite young people."
Der Spiegel summarized the question facing the intelligence agencies as 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."
The German government already criminalizes political parties deemed offensive or threatening to public order. Last week, Germany outlawed what had been its largest Neo-Nazi party. The country also has stringent anti-hate speech laws on the books, which can call for serious criminal penalties.