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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Protest to preserve Denmark's hippy enclave
Demonstrators in support of Christiania cheer, 30 August 2003 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The hippy community is recognised by the government
Thousands of people have held a protest in Copenhagen to voice support for the city's famed hippy enclave Christiania.

The crowd was protesting against government plans to build expensive homes in the area.

Up to 7,000 people turned out for the protest, including many of the area's 1,000 residents, known as Christianites.

They waved banners and Christiania's flag - three yellow dots on a red background - many of them openly smoking marijuana.

"The government doesn't want ordinary Danes to see that there is an alternative way to live," writer Ebbe Kloevedal Reich told supporters.

When the Liberal-Conservative government took office in 2001, it promised to end the sale of hashish in Christiania, and redevelop the area. A timetable for the government's plans is expected later this year.

'Social experiment'

Christiania - the name given to the area by its hippy inhabitants - is a former 18th Century navy fort, occupying 34 hectares (84 acres) of state-owned land behind Copenhagen's old ramparts.

The hippies moved into the derelict area in 1971. The flower-power community supported nudity and free marijuana and opposed the concepts of government and police. It also opposed European integration.

Demonstrators in support of Christiania hold up placards spoofing the US governments Most Wanted deck of cards
Protesters say Christiania is here to stay
In 1987, the Danish Government recognised Christiania as a "social experiment". Four years later it approved the community, and in return the residents started paying community taxes.

Christiania allows the sale of illegal marijuana but keeps out hard drugs such as heroin. However the government is trying to crack down on all drugs in the area and has ordered police raids on street booths, where marijuana is openly sold.

Kjeld Olesen, who served as a Social Democratic foreign and defence minister in the 1960s and 1970s, was among the protesters.

"Christiania is here to stay," he told the Associated Press news agency. "Technically speaking, Christiania is still a social experience and the use of the land is legal."

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