Germany alarmed over thriving neo-Nazi websites

An internet watch group has expressed alarm over the rising number of right-wing extremist websites in Germany, amid concerns of extremism spreading across Europe.

Germany’s right-wing extremist scene is developing a professional, media-savvy internet presence, using the internet as a leading platform for spreading propaganda, the Jugendschutz.net said in its annual report.

The report added that the web supplies extremist providers with the option of changing their web address to avoid scrutiny, so that keeping up with all the neo-Nazi websites available on the World Wide Web (currently over 1,707) is virtually impossible.

Another problem faced by watchdogs in reporting a website to be removed from the net by proper authorities is that in some countries, such as the United States, “right-wing material is protected by the first amendment,” the report said.

The 2002-founded watchdog, which is tasked with uprooting inappropriate internet material that target a young audience, contacts the web provider or passes the details to the police in case of illegal internet portals.

“They have websites which are quite modern, which are hip, which are interesting for young people. Videos and music are important factors, and they use all the common web 2.0 platforms: social networks and video platforms to put out their propaganda,” the watchdog head, Stefan Glaser, said Saturday.

Glaser said a main concern was that the new subtlety in design means the young people would not be able to clearly distinguish when they enter a neo-Nazi site.

Figures from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency also showed that the number of far-right crimes in Germany increased by 16 percent in 2008, Spiegel reported in May.

The European Parliament election in June was marred by record low turn-outs and gains for center-right and right-wing parties across the continent.

Analyst linked both to the economic downturn and public disillusionment with their leftist governments over various unpopular ventures, such as the military mission in Afghanistan.

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