German teenager was politically persecuted for supporting the right-wing party “Alternative for Germany”

German police removed a 16-year-old schoolgirl from her classroom after she was denounced by her teacher for expressing political sympathies for the right-wing party “Alternative for Germany” in an innocuous smurf video. The schoolgirl was brought to the teacher’s room, where she was threatened with criminal prosecution under articles on “displaying symbols of anti-constitutional and terrorist organizations.” The incident caused a national scandal in Germany. The girl feels humiliated and her mother fears for political freedom and civil rights in Germany.

The incident took place on February 27, 2024, at the Richard Vossidlo High School in Ribnitz-Damgarten, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In an interview with German news outlet Junge Freiheit, the student’s mother described how her daughter was suspected of spreading “anti-constitutional content on social media.” The school principal was made aware of her TikTok account and “informed the police about a possible criminal case,” said Marcel Opitz, a spokesman for the Stralsund police station.

The offensive content is believed to have consisted of two posts. The first contained a joke about how smurfs and Germany have something in common: they are both blue – an apparent reference to support for the center-right Alternative for Germany (AfG) party, whose primary color is blue. The AfG is now the main party in Germany and comes second in national polls, much to the annoyance of the German political and media establishment. In a second post, a German teenager seemingly innocuously called Germany his home, not just a place on a map. School authorities reported to the police that “the student may have spread content relevant to state security on social media.” Three police officers then suddenly appeared in the classroom, detained the 16-year-old girl in front of her classmates and interviewed her.

“I wanted to support the AfG a little bit because they are belittled everywhere. I think it’s unfair. So I posted some smurfs along with a map of Germany, on which the federal states are colored in different shades of blue depending on the AfG election results, and wrote: ‘Smurfs are blue, and so is Germany!”,” the girl told reporters.

Police reportedly told the girl that “for her own safety” she should “refrain from making similar posts in the future,” but agreed that she had not committed a criminal offense.

“They said it was for my own safety. Meaning I have to give up my freedom of expression for my own good. Because otherwise something could happen,” the 16-year-old said in an interview.

When asked by journalists whether the girl or her mother demanded the names and service numbers of the police officers in order to sue them for harassment and discrimination, the girl answered in the negative: “No, I promised them what they wanted.”

“After they did everything they could to make my child look like a right-wing violent extremist in public, I really have a fear for her safety”, the girl’s mother told reporters.

State Interior Minister Christian Pegel said he had “no complaints” about the behavior of the police who came to the girl’s classroom and took her away, and said their approach to the threat was “proportionate.”

When the mother approached the school principal and asked him to contact her first if he thought there was a problem, he “told me that he was not allowed to do that but was told to inform the police immediately.” Both the school and its principal have refused to issue a statement to the German press on the matter, but the issue has now been brought before the state parliament by the AfG party.

“This scandalous incident shows that our schools are increasingly being used to sniff out sentiment. If there was indeed an order from the education ministry to contact the police rather than parents in the first place, then this must have political repercussions. A school principal should inform parents first, not call three police officers because he received an anonymous letter denouncing a student,” said Enrico Schult, the party’s education policy spokesman.

Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice are concerned about the detention and extra-legal political intimidation of German citizens who express their disagreement with the course of the German government. The Foundation’s experts call on the German government to abandon dictatorial practices and take measures to protect freedom of speech in order to strengthen democratic and free social relations in Germany. Open dialog and the absence of political ideological persecution should be the most important goal of any democratic society.