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The BBC's Peter Morgan in Berlin
"Germany is still haunted by its past."
 real 28k

Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 18:11 GMT
Thousands protest as Nazis march
Neo-Nazis with banner
Neo-Nazis: "Despite the ban, we are not dead"
Thousands of anti-Nazi demostrators took to the streets in the north-west German city of Dortmund on Saturday, ahead of a march by a neo-Nazi organisation.

Several hundred neo-Nazis later marched through the city under heavy police escort, after local authorities failed to have the event banned.

A number of people were arrested as scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators.

The issue of far-right violence has come to the fore in Germany following a spate of attacks this year against immigrants and Jews.

Police battle with demonstrators
Scuffles broke out as demonstrators tried to cross police lines
Representatives of Germany's various state governments have delayed a decision on whether to outlaw a far-right political movement, the National Democratic Party.

The some 600 Neo-Nazis who marched on Saturday protested against the proposals to ban the NDP.

"Despite the ban, we are not dead," read one banner, which bore the red, white and black colours of pre-World War I Germany.

Police presence

Organisers of the anti-Nazi march said 20,000 people had turned out for the event.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder has called on Germans to speak out against racism
Marchers headed for the place which had been advertised as the rallying-point for the neo-Nazi march.

A heavy police presence accompanied the march, with the authorities apparently trying to prevent contact later in the day between neo-Nazi and anti-Nazi marchers.

At one point anti-Nazi demonstrators tried to break through police lines.

Two anti-Nazi and two neo-Nazi marchers are reported to have been arrested.

Ban attempt fails

The authorities in Dortmund had tried to prohibit Saturday's neo-Nazi march, but a court ruled late on Friday that it could proceed.

Wolfgang Clement, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, addressed the anti-Nazi demonstrators.

"This event shall serve as a beacon for the uprising of concerned people," he said.

He was referring to a recent call by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for German citizens to speak out against the recent upsurge in racist crime.

In the latest reported attack, an Algerian asylum-seeker was stabbed on Friday night after an argument about Germans and foreigners with two young men.

Mr Clement is among those German politicians who support a ban on the NDP.

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See also:

07 Oct 00 | Europe
Germans march against racism
31 Aug 00 | Europe
Europe fears spread of racism
14 Sep 00 | Europe
Germany bans neo-Nazi group
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