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Germany: Courts say President may call extreme right-wing xenophobes "crazy"

Berlin, 11.6.2014 21:18, (ROMEA)
Joachim Gauck has been President of Germany since 18 March 2012. (PHOTO:  Council of Europe)
Joachim Gauck has been President of Germany since 18 March 2012. (PHOTO: Council of Europe)

German President Joachim Gauck did not violate the Constitution when he called adherents of the ultra-right National Democratic Party of the Germany (NPD) "crazy" last year. The decision was made yesterday by the German Constitutional Court, to whom the NPD turned with a lawsuit against the head of state. 

At the end of last August, just before elections to the Federal Assembly, Gauck called the participants in a demonstration initiated by the NPD against a new residential hotel for asylum-seekers in the East Berlin quarter of Hellersdorf "crazy". "We need citizens to take to the streets and show those crazies where they belong," Gauck told a group of schoolchildren in Berlin.

The German right-wingers turned to the Constitutional Court with a request that the head of state be banned from making such allegedly offensive statements in future. The NPD has now lost its case.

The court found that Gauck did not violate the principle of impartiality with his remark, that he upheld his "integration and representation function" and that he did not exceed his powers. While the label of "crazy" in and of itself can be perceived as insulting, in this specific case the president was using it in response to "radical right-wing, xenophobic convictions" and calling for the advocacy of such convictions to be defended through democratic means, according to the court in Karlsruhe. 

Gauck has welcomed the court's opinion. "The Federal President is grateful for the clarification by the Federal Constitutional Court," German Secretary of State David Gill said yesterday in Karlsruhe after a phone call with Gauck.

The NPD, however, has called the Constitutional Court judgment "grotesque". The party claims the court is permitting the president to create a caste system among the citizens.

German counter-intelligence says the NPD is an anti-Semitic, racist, revisionist party endeavoring to destroy the democratic order. Last year an initiative was launched by the federated states seeking a court ban on the party, something that has been attempted unsuccessfully in the past by the German government.

The NPD has never won a seat in the Federal Assembly, but it does have representatives in the state legislatures of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony. The head of the NPD, Udo Pastörs, is a diehard Holocaust denier who was convicted of inciting hatred when he called Germany a "Jewish republic" and German citizens of Turkish origin "sperm guns".   


ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Extremism, Germany, Soud, Výroky, Xenophobia



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