German lawmakers tighten laws against neo-Nazi marches

Germany's parliament Friday tightened laws against neo-Nazi demonstrations, seeking to block a planned far-right march on the 60th anniversary of the Nazis' surrender and protect a new national Holocaust memorial in Berlin. The bill, broadly backed by the main government and opposition parties, cited a "steady rise in far-right gatherings that ... resemble ever more the character of the Nazi regime's marches." Germany has a range of laws to combat neo-Nazi propaganda. But plans by the National Democratic Party to march at the Brandenburg Gate, near the new Holocaust memorial, on May 8 60 years after the Nazi defeat in World War II have raised alarm among politicians. The changes are designed to make it easier for authorities to ban neo-Nazi gatherings near memorials to victims of the Nazis or other high profile sites if the demonstration seems likely to "harm the dignity of the victims." Violators face fines or up to three years in prison. The leader of Germany's main Jewish organization, Paul Spiegel, has welcomed the tighter rules.

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