Block Telegram to prevent ‘Covid terrorism’, demands Bavarian leader

Bavarian leader Markus Söder has called on the German government to "shut down" the messenger service Telegram in order to stop the emergence of "Covid terrorists."

Block Telegram to prevent 'Covid terrorism', demands Bavarian leader
The Telegram app on a smartphone. Photo: dpa | Fabian Sommer

Söder said that Germany could make Telegram inaccessible via geo-blocking, a method of making some online services unavailable in specific regions.

“In other parts of the world, Telegram may be a channel for democracy. In our country, it’s a channel for insecurity and fake news,” he said.

Claiming that Telegram was “by some distance” the platform moist used to spread hate, he expressed the concern that it could be used to form violent resistance groups against lockdown measures.

“We can’t allow for the formation of a ‘Covid RAF’ for who violence is acceptable,” he said referring to the Red Army Faction, a left-wing cell that terrorised Germany in the 1970s.

“Closed groups of conspiracy theorists are emerging on platforms like Telegram. Whenever more absurd fake news is sold there as truths, there is a danger that individuals will develop a supposed moral right of resistance from it.”

The German government has been putting pressure on Telegram to close down channels that spread conspiracy theories or where unregistered protests against Covid rules are organised.

Last week, the company shut down over 60 such channels, including one belonging to the vegan chef Attila Hildmann, who has gained notoriety for his extremist views during the pandemic.

“Telegram must no longer be an accelerant for right-wing extremists, conspiracy theorists and other agitators. Death threats and other dangerous messages of hate must be deleted and have legal consequences,” interior minister Nancy Faeser said last week in comments made to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Member comments

  1. A couple of years ago Russia had tried to block Telegram. First days it led to almost full outage of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud in the country, they were completely unaccessible. Telegram kept working. And in Russia those blocking mechanisms are in development for a decade at least. I’m really concerned Germany would succeed without causing major damage to innocent users and businesses.

  2. Who gets to decide whats dangerous? What is hate really?
    No speach should be sensored. No matter how vulgar.
    Calls for someone’s death or harm to be brought against a person, or a group. This is illegal and should be punished, as is the law.

    By banning fringe groups you give them legitimacy in a sense. Especially around covid times. Where they talk of government censorship. They are just standing there now saying. “See, we told you. “

  3. Söder and his mixed metaphores!
    Agree totally with Flynn.
    Local very peaceful weekly demo against Covid ‘practices and claims’ has been met by aggressive, abusive and ugly pro-covid groups.

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Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules acros the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

READ ALSO: Will Germany soon get rid of mandatory face masks on public transport?