Thursday, November 8, 2007

Prague neo-Nazis planning Kristallnacht reenactment?

Prague neo-Nazis plan march in Jewish quarter despite city ban - Haaretz:

Neo-Nazis are determined to march through Prague's historic Jewish Quarter on the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass program despite a court order banning their demonstrations, the extremists said Thursday on their website.

The city is now bracing for a Saturday evening of tension and street fights as Prague's Jewish groups, politicians and human-rights activists plan to gather in the district to commemorate victims of the pogrom and bar the neo-Nazis from marching there.

"We are not afraid of them," Jewish Liberal Union deputy chairwoman Jirina Novakova said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg are due to privately meet with Prague Jewish leaders before the commemoration, the Foreign Ministry said.

Officials said that some 1,400 state and city police would be deployed to the streets to maintain order and break up the banned march.

"It will depend on what will happen on the spot," police spokeswoman Eva Brozova said.

The Prague Municipal Court Thursday ended a two-months legal battle over the protest registered by a group whose founders are according to police and human-rights activists "known supporters" of neo-Nazi movements in the Czech Republic.

The police detained the group's leading founder Erik Sedlacek, 25, at a neo-Nazi May Day protest this year, and he had also been charged with hate crimes involving his anti-Semitic texts, the police said.

The Young National Democrats registered their march against Czech participation in the Iraq war to pass through the historic Jewish ghetto in late August.

"In reality, Israel and the American-Israeli lobby are behind the war in Iraq. Therefore there is not a better place here for such a demonstration," the group, which communicates with reporters only via email, told the Respekt weekly.

The extremists registered their march for November 10, or the 69th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, in which Nazis killed dozens of Germany's Jews, destroyed thousands of their homes, synagogues and businesses, and dispatched some 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.

The group, which denies having links to neo-Nazis, claimed not to have initially known that its protest was to take place on the anniversary of the pogrom.

The group's plan has outraged Prague Jews and politicians of all stripes since first reported in September.

As courts had previously revoked city bans of similar protests, city officials first asked the extremists to relocate their march. But following the uproar the city has banned all march routes registered by the group for November 10.

While lower courts had canceled earlier city bans, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favour of the city on Monday setting the tone for the newest ruling.

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