Seven years after the German government failed in an attempt to ban a far-right party, calls have become louder for renewed efforts to outlaw a party that is under observation of the federal intelligence agency.
Banning the NPD has proved to be tricky
Germany's police union GdP and the Central Council of Jews in Germany have appealed for renewed efforts to ban the National Democratic Party (NPD), a fringe group with no federal-level representation, but with seats in two of Germany's 16 state parliaments.
"From my own and a police point of view, I urge and support a ban," police union head Bernhard Witthaut told Deutsche Welle. "I think it's terrible how they mock foreigners living in Germany, I think their concept of a state is terrible."
Witthaut was not alone in his comments. The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said in an interview over the weekend that the NPD, which currently has an estimated 7,000 members, had clearly set itself the goal of destroying democracy in Germany. The country must resist such attempts, he said, if necessary by issuing a ban.
Bernhard Witthaut said a new court case must be well prepared
The head of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, urged a more consistent prosecution of xenophobic attacks in Germany. Banning the NPD, he told the news agency dapd, could also "have a positive effect in the fight against right-wing extremism and racism."
The German government attempted to ban the NPD in a case heard by the country's highest court, the Constitutional Court, in 2001. But the case was thrown out two years later after it was disclosed that several people in the NPD's inner circle were German secret service undercover agents or informants.
Signal in the fight against far-right extremism
The police union's Witthaut said that some people in law enforcement believed it would be easier to deal with the far-right party if you knew how it operated and where it was active, whereas if the party were to go underground, it would be much more difficult to keep an eye on its activities.
But he said he was convinced that outlawing a party listed as racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist by Germany's domestic intelligence agency would be "an important signal in the fight against right-wing extremism."
"Many might view the risk of a renewed failure before Germany's highest court as such a grave aspect that they might dismiss steps in that direction," Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said on Monday. But he added that banning the NPD was desirable, and he would continue to lobby for a ban of the party.
Author: Dagmar Breitenbach
Editor: Nancy Isenson