Germany's Constitutional Court has heard the last arguments in a hearing to ban the ultranationalist NPD party. The group incites racial hatred and glorifies Nazism, politicians have told the court.
The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) ought to be banned because it promotes the hatred of refugees as well as Nazi ideology, according to two politicians who spoke before Germany's highest court on Thursday. The case follows a landmark joint request made by all of the country's 16 federal states to ban the ultranationalist NPD.
Declaring a political party illegal in Germany can only happen after significant legal hurdles have been cleared. Mindful to the many organizations and parties banned by Hitler's Third Reich, the Constitutional Court must be convinced that a party is "combative and aggressive" in order to prohibit it.
Stanislaw Tillich, the leader of the eastern state of Saxony, which is the only state where the NPD has members in parliament, tried to convince the judges of the danger the party posed as he addressed the court. Dismissing concerns from justice Peter Müller (pictured above) that the group of only 5,200 members in a country of over 80 million posed no serious threat, Tillich argued that the small size of the party's roster did not render it harmless.
Tillich described the NPD's militant rhetoric, which he said could incite the public to violence, particularly against the more than 1.1 million refugees who entered Germany in 2015.
Former leader: NPD sees murderous NSU as heroes
Holger Apfel, who led the NPD from 2011 to 2013, agreed that the party was defiantly stuck in the "Nazi way of thinking," despite his attempts to modernize it. He countered Tillich's claims, however, that the organization was dangerous, saying the party "shouldn't be taken seriously." He also added the caveat that some NPD members glorified violent neo-Nazis. One such group of heroes was the NSU, which carried out a string of racially motivated murders in Germany from 2000 to 2007.
The stakes are high for those who wish to see the nationalists banned, as a previous attempt in 2003 failed publicly when undercover informants in the upper tiers of the NPD led to the ban against the party to be dismissed.
Thursday marked the last day of the closed-door proceedings. A decision from the Constitutional Court is not expected for a few months.
es/sms (dpa, Reuters)
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