The current furore surrounding neo-Nazis in Germany is amplified by the reactions of the neo-Nazis´ opponents. The violence over the weekend in Kiel was provoked by 7,000 left-wing protesters who were trying to attack a group of some 300 neo-Nazi NPD marchers.
On the one hand, this opposition is to be welcomed. The NPD is a deeply unpleasant party and its attacks on foreigners (even when only verbal, as in the "Have a good trip!" poster featuring the backs of immigrants) are despicable. On the other hand, unsavoury antics such as those indulged in by the 7,000 left-wing rabble-rousers give the neo-Nazi NPD a disproportionate amount of public attention and, as a result, influence. In a similar vein are the fumblings of mainstream politicians, some of whom who wish to ban the NPD outright - a procedure fraught with dangers to rights of freedom of opinion, expression and association. Impotent political agonising about whether or not they should be outlawed attracts spotlights and glamour to the neo-Nazis.
The weekend´s violence is especially unwelcome in that it taints opposition to the neo-Nazis with criminality and anti-social vandalism: the left-wing protesters set rubber tyres and bins alight and smashed up street signs and shop displays. Such rentamob behaviour will alienate mainstream opinion and, perversely, increase support for the neo-Nazis.
Telegraph News Police use water cannon to quell violent protest at neo-Nazi rally