Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests against the convention of the far-right NPD party in the western German city of Saarbrücken. The party had almost been banned earlier in the year for its extremist views.
The anti-NPD (National Democratic Party) rallies drew support from local residents and representatives from churches, unions, interest groups and other parties.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the premier of the small federal state of Saarland, of which Saarbrücken is the capital, was among those protesting against the NPD convention.
She told reporters that she was there to oppose right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism.
Earlier in the day, a number of demonstrators attempted to block NPD politicians from accessing the party conference, resulting in a delay for attendees of the convention.
'Hostile' towards the constitution
Considered the most extremist among far-right parties, the NPD was almost banned at the beginning of the year. The highest constitutional court stopped just short of an all-out ban while still remarking that the party and its activities were hostile towards the German constitution.
The party convention was expected to deal with the ramifications of this assessment, and evaluate what strategy the small party wants to adopt moving forward.
The NPD has attracted many neo-Nazis in the past, as the far-right continues to harbor violent individuals; however, its more moderate adherents might defect to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party when general elections take place in September.
The AfD is currently trending above 10 percent.
ss/jm (epd, dpa)