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The Central Council of Jews in Germany wants the government to begin a criminal investigation into Google and YouTube for airing neo-Nazi and Nazi videos they claim violate Germany's strict laws against inciting hatred toward minorities.
German leaders and citizens are struggling with their nation's image and how to eliminate hate groups after recent spate of brutal and high-profile attacks on minorities in the country. The most high-profile case involved a mob beating of eight Indians less than two weeks ago, when people in a crowd allegedly shouted "Foreigners Out!"
Tuesday, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its "Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the E.U.," which indicates a 14% increase in the amount of racist violence and crime in Germany from 2005 to 2006, when groups reported 18,142 such incidents.
The report chided Germany for being slow to implement the E.U. Racial Equality Directive, but praised other recent efforts to combat hate in Germany. The report cautioned that the increase in violent incidents could be attributed to better reporting. Either way, the recent incidents are front-page news in a nation still trying to improve its democracy and image nearly 75 years after Hitler took power.
The country's newspapers are filled with reports of violence, editorials condemning leaders for not doing more to quell it, and feature packages reflecting on the problem.
Report Mainz aired a story this week featuring Salomon Korn, VP of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who called for an investigation of YouTube for allegedly allowing the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda. They include World War II Nazi propaganda clips, as well as recent clips from neo-Nazi groups active in Germany.
German journalists said one of the YouTube-aired clips was viewed more than 400,000 times in eight months, despite pleas from several German groups to take it down.
Without dealing with the specific accusations, a YouTube spokesman said via e-mail: "We understand that these are real and sensitive matters and we respect the feelings and opinions of the people concerned. The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to speak and be heard. But by making it easier for people to express themselves the Web also raises cultural and political concerns in certain countries. That's why we make it easy for users to flag content they believe violates our terms and conditions -- and where it does, we remove it. And it's why we work with the relevant local legal authorities when it comes to content that may break local laws. We think this approach strikes the right balance between freedom of expression and respect for local law."
Solomon and Dieter Wiefelspuetz, a Social Democratic Party (SPD) member and speaker of German parliament, want federal prosecutors to open an inquiry for incitement to hatredEditor's Note: This story was updated at 3 p.m. to add YouTube's comments.