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    Germany’s Top Court Rules TV Station Must Air Neo-Nazi Campaign Ad

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    Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that TV broadcaster ARD must air a political ad by the neo-Nazi National Party of Germany (NPD), out of respect for free speech rights.

    The court ruling overturned a previous ban on the group's ad imposed by ARD's Berlin regional broadcaster, RBB, on the grounds that it incited violence against foreigners. The court found that the NPD's reworked campaign ad wasn't illegally inciting racial hatred, AFP reported.

    Noting that the TV station's refusal placed the group at a disadvantage in the upcoming elections compared to other parties, the court ruled that "a constitutional complaint [by the NPD] is therefore at the moment neither inadmissible nor unfounded."

    The ad, which is for a seat in the European Parliament, features images of crime scenes and names of victims of violence, with a voice-over saying, "Since the arbitrary opening of the border in 2015 and the uncontrolled mass migration that followed, Germans have become almost daily victims."

    The high court weighed banning the NPD in 2017 on the grounds that it resembles the infamous National Socialist German Workers Party, better known as the Nazis, who seized power in Germany in 1933 and instituted a fascist dictatorship that murdered its way through German society — and much of Europe, which it systematically invaded before being stopped by an international alliance of countries in 1945.

    In the two new German states that emerged from the Second World War, the Nazis were banned from political life, and even showing their classic symbols, such as the swastika, was illegal.

    In 2017 the court ruled the NPD wasn't a sufficient threat to Germany democracy to warrant a ban, and so it held back from outlawing the group. The NPD has had some local successes in the formerly-socialist eastern part of the country, but it doesn't really have a presence on the national political scene, where it holds no offices, Reuters noted.

    However, other signs point to a continued rise on the political far-right. Earlier this week, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that anti-Semitic violence had risen by 20% in Germany in the last year and that 90% of that violence was committed by far-right groups. Jews served as the primary scapegoat for the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s, and a genocide directed by the Nazis against the Jews saw 6 million people systematically murdered.

    Another far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has fared much better than the NPD, entering the European Parliament in 2014 with 7% of the vote — and it's expected to double that percentage this time around. AfD has also blasted the German government's welcoming of refugees into the country, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to permit 1 million asylum-seekers to enter the country during 2015 and 2016. Reuters noted that AfD has worried Jewish Germans by downplaying the importance of anti-Semitic crimes and calling a national memorial to victims of the Holocaust a "memorial of shame."

    Elections to the European Parliament will happen in all 28 EU member countries between May 23 and 26.

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    Tags:
    political ads, refugees, anti-Semitism, far-right, Neo-Nazi, ruling, station, television, European Parliament, German Constitutional Court, Nazi National Party, Horst Seehofer, Germany
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