Neo-Nazis Rally To Support Haider
BERLIN (AP) _ About 500 neo-Nazis chanting anti-foreigner slogans marched through central Berlin on Sunday, saying they wanted to show support for Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider on the anniversary of the 1938 Nazi annexation of Austria.
Ten marchers from the extreme-right National Party of Germany were arrested on charges that included violating public assembly laws, but no serious disturbances were reported by mid-afternoon. About 1,400 police were deployed to prevent trouble.
Some 1,200 counter-demonstrators staged their own ``Europe without racism″ rally at the landmark Brandenburg Gate, on the opposite side from where the neo-Nazi march was to end.
Citing free speech grounds, a Berlin appeals court Saturday overturned a city ban on the neo-Nazi march, which had the motto ``We are one people _ national solidarity with Vienna.″
March organizers said they wanted to protest the European Union sanctions leveled against Austria because of its inclusion of Haider’s far-right Freedom Party in the governing coalition. Haider’s party campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.
Haider, who is stepping down as leader of the party, has in the past made comments sympathetic to Nazi labor policies. He later apologized.
Sunday’s march was to go through the city’s Kreuzberg district, a heavily Turkish neighborhood, but was rerouted by police at the last minute to avoid clashes with radical leftists who had staked out positions along the route. Turks are the largest minority in Germany.
Marchers chanted anti-EU and anti-foreigner slogans like ``Germany for the Germans″ and ``asylum seekers out.″
The appeals court did uphold a ban forbidding the march from going through the Brandenburg Gate _ a politically charged landmark in the former Nazi capital.
On Jan. 29, some 500 neo-Nazis were allowed through the gate during a protest against plans to erect a national Holocaust memorial nearby, setting off a storm of media criticism. It was believed to be the first neo-Nazi march through the gate since Nazi troops held their torchlight processions under Hitler.