Police in Germany are investigating two far-right politicians over anti-Muslim messages on New Year’s Eve.

Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the AfD party, had her Twitter account temporarily suspended on January 1 after posting an inflammatory message.

As reported by the BBC, she accused Cologne police of appeasing “barbaric, gang-raping Muslim hordes of men” after they tweeted a new-year message in Arabic.

Alice Weidel, one of the party’s leaders, is also being investigating. She wrote on Facebook that authorities were submitting to “imported, marauding, groping, abusive, knife-stabbing migrant mobs”.

Police said both women may be guilty of incitement to hatred. If so, they could face fines or a prison sentence.

AfD leaders called the actions censorship, saying the German authorities were acting like the Stasi in communist East Germany.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, internet activists and journalist organisations have also raised objections, not least because the government has deliberately left the task of deleting content or blocking users to the internet platforms themselves, rather than having courts make decisions.