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Thousands protest against far-right NPD march in Schneeberg

Thousands have turned out to protest against the far-right NPD and to support asylum seekers in an eastern German village. Hundreds of right-wing extremists had demonstrated against an asylum shelter for refugees.

Heeding the call from the "Alliance for Humanity," at least 1,000 people turned out to march against the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) on Saturday in the eastern German village of Schneeberg. In a separate demonstration, 1,000 left-wing activists also showed up to protest against the NPD.

"If the NDP were in power, then some of us would need asylum, because we would be persecuted," Saxony's interior minister, Markus Ulbig, told those demonstrating against the NPD.

"We want to demonstrate that we have nothing in common with the NPD and that the residents of Schneeberg will not allow themselves to be instrumentalized," Ulbig said.

Anti-refugee demonstration

Some 1,500 right-wing extremists had descended upon Schneeberg on Saturday, where they demonstrated against granting asylum to refugees. Schneeberg is the site of an asylum shelter that houses around 256 refugees, including 100 children.

The anti-refugee rally was organized by the NPD, Germany's largest far-right political organization. Schneeberg is located in Saxony, where the NPD holds eight seats in the regional parliament. The NPD has parliamentary representation in only one other German state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Police spokeswoman Heidi Hennig said that several participants in the NPD demonstration were being investigated for carrying illegal weapons and attacking a press photographer. Hennig said there were minor clashes between left-wing demonstrators and NPD supporters.

slk/jm (AP, dpa, epd)