The Czech town of Plžen is bracing itself for an expected march on Saturday by up to 400 nationalist radicals. As part of the demonstration, the extremists are set to march in front of a synagogue in the town. The police have threatened to intervene to prevent the demonstration, while a gathering of those opposed to the nationalists, including far-left and anarchist groups is also expected to take place at the same location.
For the second time this year, the city of Plzeň in West Bohemia is bracing itself for a march by neo-Nazi skinheads. As many as 400 skinheads will march down a route that takes them past Plzeň’s Great Synagogue, the second largest in Europe. Efforts to ban the march have exhausted all legal avenues; the authorities are now concentrating on keeping groups of skinheads and anti-Nazi protestors apart. And politicians are looking to how future marches can be avoided without curtailing the freedom of speech. Rob Cameron has more.
A police spokesperson has said that there will be 1000 officers on duty in
Plzeň on Saturday, when a neo-Nazi march proceeds through the city centre.
Riot police, traffic police, detectives and investigators, mounted police
and dog-handlers will be on high-alert amid fears that there will be
clashes between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist activists.
The march is ostensibly being held to protest against limitations on the right to assemble and restrictions on freedom of expression. The regional court authorised the march after upholding a complaint lodged when a similar event was banned by city authorities in January. Police have advised the public to stay away from the streets where the march will be held on Saturday afternoon.
The Town Hall in Plzeň will not try to prevent the neo-Nazi march scheduled to take place on March 1 from being held but it will provide extensive security measures. The authorities in Plzeň had banned a previous march planned for January 19, arguing that it was organized in protest of restrictions of freedom of speech. The organizers, with links to Czech neo-Nazi movement, contested the ban at a court which said Plzeň City Hall did not have the right to ban it. The City Hall then complained about the verdict at the Supreme Administrative Court which has confirmed the ruling. The City Hall wants to lodge an appeal at the Constitutional Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court rejected on Thursday a complaint by Plzeň City Hall concerning a banned neo-Nazi march that was planned for January. The authorities in Plzeň, western Bohemia, had banned the march that was allegedly organized in protest of restrictions of freedom of speech. The organizers, with links to Czech neo-Nazi movement, contested the ban at a court which said Plzeň City Hall did not have the right to ban it. The City Hall then complained about the verdict at the Supreme Administrative Court which has confirmed the ruling. The neo-Nazis are now planning to march in Plzeň on March 1.
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The Czech Republic’s freedom of speech and assembly laws have been tested to the full in recent months by a small but determined group of neo-Nazis. For the second time this year, the city of Plzeň in West Bohemia is bracing itself for a march by far-right radicals, and politicians are wondering whether it might not be time to prune the country’s legislation to prevent such marches from going ahead.
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