Germany's parliament tries to ban hate crimes

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The Independent Online

Germany's parliament has followed the government in lodging applications with the country's supreme court for a ban on a far–right party accused of encouraging hate crimes.

Germany's parliament has followed the government in lodging applications with the country's supreme court for a ban on a far–right party accused of encouraging hate crimes.

The applications by both lower and upper houses to ban the National Democratic Party was filed early today with the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, court sources said on condition of anonymity.

Parliament's lower house presented its case against the party, known by its German initials NPD, this week. It argued that the party has a "clear affinity" with Nazism.

The government submitted its bid in January. The triple application, although not legally required, is meant to show politicians' united front against a resurgence of violent neo–Nazis.

The lower house's documents cited "an abundance of historical sources that show the NPD has a clear affinity with Nazism," racist ideology and aggressive rhetoric. It belittles Nazi crimes and has a "merely tactical relationship to legality," the documents said.

The NPD, although it gained hundreds of new members last year, remains electorally insignificant. But the government and parliament insist that a ban is needed to bar it from facilities such as television advertising and state campaign funding.

If the supreme court accepts the motions, the government expects it to hear the case next year.

Postwar Germany has only banned two parties: a successor to the Nazis in 1952 and the Communist Party in 1956. The party must be proven not only to reject the German constitution but also be found to have violent tendencies.

Government statistics this month showed far–right offenses in Germany surged to their highest since World War II, up nearly 60 percent from 1999. Violent crimes with a far–right, anti–Semitic or anti–foreigner motivation – ranging from robbery to murder – jumped by 34 percent.

Concern over the past year at a surge in neo–Nazi violence has spurred the government to pledge a crackdown on the far right and to call for ordinary Germans to stand up for the victims.

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