Prague – A Czech court Friday overturned the ban on a neo- Nazi march that organizers had originally planned to lead past a synagogue in the city of Plzen a day after the 66th anniversary of the first transport of Plzen Jews to a concentration camp, CTK news agency reported.
The Plzen County court ruled that the ban was not grounded in law and allowed the event’s convener Vaclav Bures – a far-right extremist, according to the police – to summon the march within 30 days after receiving the verdict.
Bures, 32, told CTK that he plans to go ahead with the march that had been planned for January 19. The city may appeal Thursday’s verdict to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Plzen Mayor Pavel Roedl banned the march two days before it had been due to take place, arguing that it would put residents’ health and property in danger.
“I don’t want to be the mayor of a city in which radicals have a free possibility to give the Nazi salute,” Roedl was quoted as saying.
The radicals filed a criminal complaint against the mayor for alleged scaremongering, slander and abuse of public office.
Their lawyers pointed out that the Roedl had issued the ban less than three days before the march date, which was illegal.
Banning neo-Nazi marches in advance has proved tricky for the Czech Republic as organizers have learnt to circumvent the laws that safeguard freedom of assembly.
Although the Plzen march planned to pass the synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath and the painful anniversary for the city’s Jewish community, Bures told authorities that the marchers plan to protest restrictions to freedom of speech and assembly.
In Prague, when far-right extremists registered to pass through the city’s historical Jewish quarter on November 10, or the anniversary of the so-called Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom, they officially claimed they wished to protest the Czech participation in the Iraq war.
Czech legislation makes banning protests registered for a purpose the does not openly incite hatred very difficult. The police may however stop events after it becomes clear that protesters are promoting a hate ideology, which is illegal in the Czech Republic.