A Czech court has banned the country's far-right Workers' Party, which plans to appeal. The judge ruled the party's program to be xenophobic, racist, chauvinist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.
Czech far-right protests can turn violent
Tomas Vandas, the leader of the far-right Czech Workers' Party, told local television broadcasters that he intends to appeal against a court decision to outlaw his political group.
The Supreme Administrative Court in Brno outlawed the far-right party, describing it as xenophobic, racist, chauvinist, homophobic and anti-Semitic, in a verdict broadcast live on national television.
"This ruling needs to be understood as a preventative one, to maintain the constitutional and democratic order in the future," Judge Vojtech Simicek said on Wednesday.
The court also said that the party, founded in 2003, drew inspiration from the doctrines of the German Nazi party and had links to openly white supremacist and racist groups.
The Workers' Party is the first in the Czech Republic to be outlawed on the grounds of extremism. The most recent regional examples of such a move date from before the fall of Communist rule in 1989.
The Workers' Party, as part of its opposition to the process, called on its members to picket the courtroom and disrupt the decision, however, only about 50 of them showed up.
Weakening the movement
The court ruled that the party was influenced by Hitler's writing
More mainstream political groups welcomed the decision, especially Interior Minister Martin Pecina, who filed the motion on behalf of cabinet.
"I said right from the very beginning that in a democratic society the battle against extremism never ends. However, we can fight the manifestations of far-right activity," Pecina said in the courtroom in Brno after the verdict.
Pecina said that authorities faced a choice, either stamp these groups out as soon as they emerged, "or we can wait for police cars to be set on fire and petrol bombs to be thrown. So I'm convinced that we acted at the right moment, and that each step - like the one taken today - significantly weakens the neo-Nazi movement."
The Workers' Party has garnered support from the relatively thin ranks of Czech neo-Nazis, but also appealed to some voters frustrated by social and ethnic tensions, especially in neighborhoods inhabited by the minority Roma population.
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), a support group for the Roma population, welcomed the decision, saying they hoped it would improve living conditions for Roma people in the Czech Republic.
"More importantly, however, the Czech authorities must act aggressively to prosecute Workers' Party members and other individuals who committed crimes against the Roma," the ERRC's Rob Kushen said.
Editor: Holly Fox