Thousands of people in Germany have staged a rally against the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the country’s far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).
More than 4,000 demonstrators from 30 organizations, including trade unions, social associations, and youth groups took part in the demonstration against Germany’s biggest far-right party in the western city of Saarbrucken on Saturday.
The protesters chanted slogans and held banners that read, “No to the NPD Party Day in Saarbruecken,” and “School without racism.”
The Saturday rally was peaceful and was held on the party’s establishment anniversary.
The far right party, which was founded in 1964, holds a single seat in the European Parliament but is not represented in the German parliament. Back in January, German lawmakers tried to outlaw the NDP, but the country’s Federal Constitutional Court deemed the party too ineffective to pose a real threat to democracy.
Some politicians argue that the country should not legitimize the NPD by allowing it to exist, but others oppose a ban as a counterproductive measure that would merely push its members to turn to underground activities.
The NDP and other far-right groups in Germany have strongly criticized the way Berlin has been handling an unprecedented refugee flow into the country. They say lax controls on the entry of the refugees could create serious problems for the Germans.
More than a million people were admitted into Germany as part of an influx of refugees that began to hit Europe in early 2015.
Many blame German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal asylum policies for the surge in security threats. The criticism forced Berlin to revise criteria for accepting refugees, saying only those from war-ravaged territories, including Syria, would be welcome. German authorities recorded 280,000 refugee arrivals in 2016.
Refugee advocates and supporters of Merkel, meanwhile, have called on the government to take stronger action against far-right, nationalist groups, which have carried out numerous attacks on refugees.