CAIRO - Worried that their anti-Muslim rhetoric undermines their society, German authorities are planning to place right-wing website under closer surveillance, throwing a spotlight on their role in fermenting hatred of Muslims in Europe
"Blogs and websites such as Politically Incorrect or NÃ¼rnberg 2.0 clearly promote a racism that extends deep into society," Ulla Jelpke, a member of parliament for the opposition Left Party, told The National newspaper on Monday, January 9.
"They call into question the dignity and the rights of a whole group of people solely because of their origin or their faith.
They thereby clearly run counter to core values of the constitution."
Right-wing groups came under the spotlight after attacks by Norwegian right-winger Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in July.
In an online manifesto, the Norwegian attacker has described his attacks as a crusade to save Europe from Muslim invasion.
Thought many right-wing websites condemned the attacks, many of the arguments in his 1500-page manifesto matched their own rhetoric.
Calls have grown for bringing websites in Germany under surveillance after revelations in November that a neo-Nazi terrorist cell murdered at least 10 people, eight of them Muslim immigrants of Turkish origin, in a killing spree spanning more than a decade.
The case has embarrassed German authorities and exposed them to criticism that they have been blind to the threat posed by racists.
The head of the Hamburg branch of the intelligence agency, Manfred Murck, said there were clear signs that the operators of many anti-Muslim sites "had a disturbed relationship with the democratic rule of law" and often espoused "infringements of human rights protected under our constitution".
Politically Incorrect website was founded in 2004 by Stefan Herre, 46, a physical education teacher based in Cologne.
With more than 60,000 readers per day, the website is one of Europe's largest anti-Islamic sites.
Thought the website's operators say they don't tolerate defamatory or insulting commentaries, it commented on November's neo-Nazi terror cell that "Islamic conquests" and "Marxist crimes" had killed more people than the neo-Nazis and the Holocaust.
The website NÃ¼rnberg 2.0 has a similar stance. Its homepage says it is dedicated to "documenting the systematic and unlawful Islamisation of Germany".
Ignoring these right-wing sites for years, the German government came under fire for allowing them to mushroom and tanish the Muslim minority.
"Prejudice against Muslims isn't a problem of the periphery but of the heart of society, Jelpke, the MP for the opposition Left Party, said.
That's why it's so dangerous."
Jelpke added it was "scandalous" that authorities had been ignoring such sites, blaming what he said institutional racism for the lack of determination to crack down on them.
Muslim leaders in Germany were also worried about the impact of these websites.
"We must be clear that the lines between right-wing populists and right-wing radicals are blurred. The one can pave the way for the other, Aiman Mazyek, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said in a recent interview with SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung.
Right-wing populists like to fan fear of Islam, and the resulting hostility to Islam is used by neo-Nazis as an entrance ticket into mainstream society.
He added that it was time for authorities to clamp down on these sites.
"Those who sow hatred and transport blatant racism cloaked as criticism of Islam aren't representing an opinion but committing a crime, Mazyek said.
No one minds criticism but there is no right to spreading racist ideology, which is precisely what inflammatory internet sites are doing."
In the government's first actions against right-wing websites, the state prosecutor's office in Munich said last week it had launched an investigation into Michael StÃ¼rzenberger, a politician who writes blogs for Politically Incorrect, on suspicion of incitement to racial hatred.
StÃ¼rzenberger, a former spokesman for the conservative Christian Social Union party, wrote on January 5 that "The totalitarian claim to power inherent in Islam and its legitimization of violence and killing cannot have a place in a democratic and free society."
Moreover, the domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said it had set up a working group to assess whether German-language sites such as Politically Incorrect and NÃ¼rnberg 2.0 are in breach of the constitution.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
According to a 2010 nationwide poll by the research institute Infratest-dimap, more than one third of the respondents would prefer "a Germany without Islam."