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German president has right to call neo-Nazis ‘loonies’ – top court

German president has right to call neo-Nazis ‘loonies’ – top court
The German top court has decided that the country’s President Joachim Gauck can call members of neo-Nazis ‘loonies’, in response to a complaint by the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

It follows a comment the president made to students after a German anti-immigrant party protested against a new refugee center.

The complaint by the anti-immigrant party was dismissed by the Federal Constitutional Court, the Local reported.

The party, which is officially represented in two eastern states' legislatures, argued that the president should refrain from judgment and remain neutral in domestic politics.

However, the court disagreed with the fringe party, which has about 6,000 members and scored just 1.3 per cent of the votes at the national elections last September.

"Specific statements by the federal president can only be objected to before the courts if the federal president takes sides in a way that clearly neglects the integrative task of his office, and thus takes sides in an arbitrary manner," it said in a statement.

"This was not the case here," the statement added.

President Gauck, once a Christian pro-democracy activist in East Germany, commented to students on the party after it staged the demonstrations against the refugee center in East Berlin last August.

"We need citizens who rally in the streets and put these loonies in their place," Gauck stated.

The court confirmed that the statement could be regarded as defamatory, but also noted that “the term ‘loonies’ serves as a collective term for people who have not learned the lessons of history and who, unimpressed by the dreadful consequences of National Socialism, hold nationalist and anti-democratic opinions."

Germany's upper house of parliament is working on a case before the constitutional court to ban the NPD, which was founded in 1964 as a successor to the neo-fascist German Reich Party, AFP reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman labeled the group an "anti-democratic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-constitutional party."

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a domestic security watchdog, has the party under observation.

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