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German police ban performances at far-right concert

July 6, 2019

The rock bands had violated the rules set for the concert, according to police in the German state of Thuringia. About 400 counter-demonstrators protested the event.

A 2018 far-right rock festival in Themar, Thuringia
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/FrM

Police in Thuringia halted two of the three bands from performing at a far-right rock concert on Friday.

A police spokesman said the bands didn't adhere to conditions put in place by authorities for the controversial musical show in the village of Themar, 180 kilometers (111 miles) northeast of Frankfurt. 

The band Sturmwehr (Storm Forces) played a banned song, while Unbeliebte Jungs (Unpopular Boys) played a track that was not on the list which they submitted to authorities prior to the concert.

As a result, police banned both groups from performing at "Tage der nationalen Bewegung" (Days of National Movement) until Sunday.

"Organizers have decided to exclude the band 'Sturmwehr' on suspicion of a criminal offense. We are enforcing the measure and are accompanying the band from the premises," Thuringia police said in a Twitter message.

A third band was allowed a short performance at the concert.

On Saturday, about 400 counter-demonstrators protested the continuation of the event, as police confiscated barrels of beer and six-packs from participants, who had been warned not to bring alcohol.

Organizers said they were expecting about 1,000 people to show up, but police counted only about 700 on Saturday afternoon.

Read more: Report: Number of neo-Nazi rock concerts on the rise in Germany

Strict conditions

Security was beefed up in Themar ahead of the far-right rock concert this weekend.

Police are cracking down on banned neo-Nazi symbols or playing of the controversial extremist songs.

Quadriga - Germany's Neo-Nazis - To Ban Or Not To Ban?

Authorities also imposed restrictions on alcohol consumption at the concert. Police even monitored a petrol station where the concert-goers were able to buy booze during previous concerts.

At least 400 people showed up at the Friday evening concert, while 800 to 1,200 people are expected to attend the show on Saturday.

Far-right surge

Far-right groups regularly hold rock concerts in eastern Germany, where their support is relatively higher than other parts of the country.

In December last year, German police shut down a far-right concert in Ostritz, a small town in the eastern state of Saxony, after members of the crowd started chanting the Nazi salute "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory).

Read more: Germany: Far-right revelers attack police and reporters at rock festival

In April 2018, hundreds of neo-Nazis gathered in the same area to participate in a festival timed to coincide with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's birthday.

Far-right groups in Germany have witnessed a rise in popularity since the start of a refugee crisis in 2015.

The fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by asylum-seekers, in the city of Chemnitz in August 2018, triggered violent far-right protests across Saxony.

Read more: Violence in Chemnitz: A timeline of events

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