Czech Court Overturns Ban on neo-Nazi March Past City Synagogue

March originally set to take place on anniversary of the first transport of Plzen's Jews to concentration camp.

A Czech court Friday overturned a ban on a neo- Nazi march that organizers had originally planned to lead past a synagogue in the city of Plzen a day after the 66th anniversary of the first transport of the city's Jews to a concentration camp, CTK news agency reported.

The Plzen County court ruled that the ban was not grounded in law, and allowed the event's convener Vaclav Bures - whom the police claim to be a far-right extremist - to hold the march within 30 days after the verdict was handed down.

Bures, 32, told CTK he planned to go ahead with the march originally scheduled for January 19. The city may appeal Thursday's verdict to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Plzen Mayor Pavel Roedl banned the march two days before it had been due to take place, arguing that it would put residents in danger.

"I don't want to be mayor of a city in which radicals are allowed to give the Nazi salute," Roedl was quoted as saying.

As a result, the event organizers filed a criminal complaint against the mayor for alleged scaremongering, slander and abuse of public office.

Their lawyers pointed out that Roedl's issuing of the ban less than three days before the march, was illegal.

Although the Plzen march planned to pass through the city's synagogue on the Sabbath and despite painful connotations for the city's Jewish community, banning neo-Nazi marches has proved tricky for the Czech Republic in the past, as organizers have learned to exploit laws that safeguard freedom of assembly.

When far-right extremists in Prague registered to pass through the city's historical Jewish quarter on November 10 and then march during the anniversary of the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom, they had officially claimed their purpose was to protest the Czech participation in the Iraq war.

Czech legislation renders the banning of protests very difficult. However, the police may cancel events once it becomes clear that protesters are inciting hate, which is deemed illegal in the Czech Republic.

More Jewish World news and features