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Court: nazis ‘too irrelevant to be banned’

Widespread unease at ruling on far-right party

GERMANY’S top court rejected yesterday a bid by the senate to ban the nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) for racism, anti-semitism and seeking to undermine the constitution.

Federal Constitutional Court Chief Justice Andreas Vosskuhle said the party’s goals would indeed undermine the constitution but “there are currently no concrete indications that its actions will lead to success.”

Mr Vosskuhle said that with only one seat in the European Parliament and none in the Bundestag the NPD was too irrelevant to ban. Politicians from across the spectrum expressed disquiet over the failure to ban the NPD.

Thomas Kreuzer, head of the Christian Social Union — the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union — said it was a “perfect fallacy to say that we allow radicals to work in parties until they are within the reach of their ability to achieve their goals.”

Veteran Die Linke MP and Bundestag vice-president Petra Pau said the ruling came at a time when “a wave of nationalism and racism floods the country.”

A newer far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, has exploited the refugee crisis — Germany has taken in over a million refugees fleeing war and genocide in the Middle East — to whip up hysteria against immigrants and Muslims.

Ms Pau called for a “rebellion of the decent” who believe in “human dignity and civil rights.”

Fellow Die Linke MP Ulle Jelpke was also angry, noting that the NPD was “a structural backbone of the violent rightwing extremist scene” and its inability to overthrow the constitution did not render it harmless.

“If not for the state, the NPD poses a real threat to all those who fit its designation of an enemy,” she pointed out.

“It is short-sighted to determine the threat posed by a party by its election results — they incite their followers to attack.

“A prohibition would be a sign that our society is not ready to tolerate nazis.”

Die Linke co-chairman Bernd Riexinger said the NPD would “put aside the chalk it has eaten” — a reference to the wolf from Red Riding Hood eating chalk to disguise its voice — and “do everything to fuel” a lurch to the right in public attitudes.

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