A banned anti-immigrant election poster produced by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) that urged citizens to “Stop the invasion: Migration kills” cannot be considered racist and has a factual basis, a judge in the German city of Giessen has ruled.
The NPD is widely considered a neo-Nazi party.
Deutsche Welle reported Saturday that Judge Andreas Hofer cited several instances of historical migration which he said in his judgment had caused “death and ruin,” and declared that the poster “at least partly reflected reality.”
The case came after the mayor of the town of Ranstadt prevented NPD from putting up its anti-immigrant posters.
The German public broadcaster also reported that Hofer had expressed criticism of his country’s immigration policies in the past, stating in 2015 that “abstractly, too much migration in the form of immigration to Germany could lead to the death of German culture.”
In May, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled on free speech grounds that broadcaster ARD must air an NPD ad in which the party asserted that Germans had become “victims almost daily” because of the “uncontrolled mass immigration.”
After earlier court defeats for the NPD, the federal court found there was no firm evidence that the group’s reworked TV spot was illegally inciting racial hatred, as claimed by ARD’s Berlin regional broadcaster RBB.
The NPD has seats in many town halls in Germany’s ex-communist east but negligible poll ratings at the national level.
Germany’s upper house of parliament lost a bid in 2017 to ban the NPD, as the Constitutional Court ruled the xenophobic fringe group was too insignificant to pose a real threat to the democratic order.
But the far-right AfD party, which has also railed against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow in more than one million asylum-seekers during a 2015-16 influx, is currently the largest opposition party in the German parliament and has made gains in several regional legislatures.