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German official denounces ‘incitement’ online after mask murder


German Health Minister partly blamed ‘incitement’ against government pandemic rules on social media for murder of gas station worker by man who refused to wear a face mask .

A 49-year-old German was arrested on Sunday for the fatal shooting that took place the day before in the western town of Idar-Oberstein. Authorities said the suspect told officers he was rejecting the coronavirus measures.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn partly blamed social media ‘incitement’ for the murder (Annegret Hilse / Pool Photo via AP, File)

Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin that the suspect initially returned home after being refused service for not wearing a mask, only to return later and allegedly shot in the head. gas station employee.

“The question is, what is the environment, what are the circumstances in which such a crime can occur? He asked. “It has a lot to do with the incitement, the hate, which is posted on social media.”

A Twitter account linked to the suspect followed several far-right political figures, including senior officials of the Alternative for Germany party. Posts from the account, which was last used in October 2019, reflect an aversion to immigrants, climate activists and government.

Spahn said songs of “traitors!” Heard during anti-containment protests during the pandemic could be seen by some as a legitimation of the violence.

“Words always end up becoming deeds,” he said.

Spahn called on the Germans to speak out if friends, relatives or neighbors start to spread conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

“We must say clearly and resolutely ‘no’ to any form of pandemic extremism,” he said.

Tributes were paid to the gas station worker on Wednesday, a 20-year-old student identified on condolence cards only by his first name, Alex.