Germany trying again to ban ultrarightist party

BERLIN (JTA) — Interior ministers in Germany are making another bid to ban the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party.

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At a meeting Wednesday in the east German city of Rostock, the interior ministers of the nation’s 16 states agreed to recommend that the Supreme Court try again to ban the party, which they say incites violence, promotes hate and aggressively pushes an anti-democratic agenda. Their recommendation, which must be agreed to by all of the governors, would require the support of the upper and lower houses of parliament or the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel before the high court can take action.

A ban would remove the party from the two state parliaments where it holds seats and deprive NPD of taxpayer funds it receives for passing the 5 percent threshold in an election. NPD representatives have failed to make it to the national parliaments.

NPD, which has an estimated 7,200 members nationwide, runs on a platform that blames social and economic problems on “foreigners” and belittles the Holocaust in public forums.

“It is high time that the unspeakable deeds of the NPD be put to an end,” Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Wednesday.

The announcement comes a year after the government disclosed the existence of the far-right German terror group National Socialist Union, which is believed to be responsible for at least 10 murders of so-called foreigners and a police officer over an 11-year period.

Last year, Merkel said a ban of the NPD could weaken related organizations. Merkel reportedly is to meet with the 16 ministers on Thursday.

Chances of success against the NPD are greater than ever, Federal Minister of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich told the German news agency dpa. He said there was a significant collection of material evidence, including some 1,000 pages of documents demonstrating the party’s aggressive, militant promotion of anti-democratic policies.

In 2003, in an embarrassment for the government and a victory for the neo-Nazis, Germany’s high court terminated hearings on banning the NPD after discovering that much of the hard evidence against the group was provided by planted infiltrators who may themselves have instigated illegal activities.

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