German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has expressed concerns about the rise of right-wing extremism as his country marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.
He warned of “neo-Nazis and their dark networks” and called on people to fight racism and anti-Semitism.
Thousands demonstrated in Dusseldorf on Saturday in the latest in a series of protests against the far right.
This follows reports that senior figures in the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have joined discussions about deporting citizens of foreign origins.
Germany is facing controversy over banning far-right political parties.
In a pre-recorded speech marking the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp by Soviet forces, he said: “New reports are emerging all the time: about neo-Nazis and their dark networks. At the same time, right-wing populists are gaining ground, stoking fear and sowing hatred.”
“But this development is not something we must simply accept,” Schulz said, calling on Germans to stand up to the far right and protect democracy in Germany.
“Our country is standing on its feet now. Millions of citizens are taking to the streets in favor of democracy and respect and humanity for one another. After all, that is what it is all about. It is the cohesion of Democrats that makes our democracy strong.” …And showing it confidently in front of the public – as is happening now – is a good thing.”
Mr. Schulz also welcomed the historic ruling to cut funding to the far-right party, De Heimat.
On Wednesday, the German Constitutional Court ruled to prevent the party from receiving more government funding and tax breaks that German parties legally receive.
The ruling also marks the first time Germany has cut government financial support for a party without banning it.
Germany witnessed widespread demonstrations against right-wing extremism after it was revealed that prominent figures in the far-right Alternative for Germany party had attended a meeting in which mass deportations of citizens of foreign origin were allegedly discussed.
Protesters hope Wednesday's ruling will serve as a model for dealing with growing support for the AfD, which ranks second nationally at more than 20%.
It also polled first with just over 30% in three eastern German states, where key regional elections will be held later this year.
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