Court defends neo-Nazi freedom of expression

29th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

29 July 2004, KARLSRUHE - In a landmark decision, Germany's high court Thursday defended the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression for neo-Nazis.

29 July 2004

KARLSRUHE - In a landmark decision, Germany's high court Thursday defended the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression for neo-Nazis.

The Federal Constitutional Court rejected a state court ruling that banned a rally by rightwing extremists protesting against construction of a Jewish synagogue.

The lower court had upheld a ban issued by municipal authorities in the city of Bochum who said the rally violated federal laws against public utterance or display of Nazi ideology.

The high court, in reversing that lower court ruling, conceded that the opinions expressed by the rightwing radical group, the National Party of Germany (NPD), were clearly offensive and objectionable to many people.

However, the justices said the sensibilities of the majority opinion were outweighed in this case by the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.

In handing down their decision, the Karlsruhe justices wrote, "The basic guarantees of freedom of expression apply as well to minorities. These guarantees cannot be suspended simply because the ideas expressed by a minority contradict those held by the majority."

Meanwhile a prominent Jewish leader in Germany warned Wednesday against the rise of possible "right-wing terrorist networks" in the country.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, said he has discerned a new threat to Jews in Germany in recent months.

A foiled right-wing bombing of a Jewish synagogue in Munich last year "unfortunately proved everyone right who has long been predicting the rise of right-wing terrorist networks", he said in a speech at Dusseldorf University.

He said Jews in Germany increasingly depend on information from police and undercover agents for their safety.

Many anti-Semitic attacks are attributable to Islamic radicals, he added.

"Tensions in the Middle East unfortunately will contribute to the threat of attacks on Jewish targets in Germany for the foreseeable future," Spiegel said.

"In this regard, we are wholly dependent on the conscientiousness of law-enforcement authorities."

DPA

Subject: German news

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