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Germany considers ban on far-right party
BERLIN, Germany -- Interior ministers from Germany's 16 federal states are meeting to discuss a possible ban on the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) following a wave of race-hate attacks.
The NPD, which favours an end to immigration, plans to demonstrate against the move at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on Friday.
Interior Minister Otto Schily, who has backed a ban on the fringe party, said: "It is a very serious decision. Everyone must assume the responsibility for the decision they take."
Police have lined the streets around the Brandenburg Gate, under which the Nazis once marched in torch-lit parades. Today the landmark is covered with scaffolding awaiting repairs.
Any government attempt to ban the NPD would have to win Constitutional Court backing, a process that could take years.
Yet even the first step in that process now looks less likely as some members of the conservative opposition Christian Democrats have said they need more time to study the matter.
Some critics say the discussion of a ban gives the NPD free publicity, and even if it happens, it may have little impact if members gather under the banner of a new party.
The NPD has vowed to fight any ban in the courts.
Germany's domestic intelligence office says the NPD opposes and actively seeks to undermine the country's democratic and legal foundations.
The NPD's ideas display "close affinity" with Nazi ideology and can be characterised as "aggressive and racist hatred of foreigners," according to the office's 1999 national security report.
The document further states that the NPD is anti-Semitic, plays down Nazi crimes and denies the Holocaust ever happened.
It says the party's main aim is to "abolish Germany's democratic institutions and to replace them with a new political system."
In order to achieve this, the party is using polemic and defamatory tactics in its sustained attacks on democratic institutions and their representatives, the intelligence body says.
While the NPD has not been a political force at national level, the party does hold some seats in local councils, including the city parliament of Frankfurt.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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National Democratic Party
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