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AfD profile fined 13,000 euros for using banned slogans in Germany

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Björn Höcke is one of two leaders in the AfD in Thuringia. Here he is photographed in the courtroom of the state court in Halle on Tuesday. Photo: Ronny Hartmann/Pool Photo via AP / NTB

Of NTB | 14.05.2024 22:29:51

Crime and justice: During the trial in April, the far-right politician claimed that he did not know this was a Nazi slogan when he used the words in an election campaign speech in 2021.

The slogan, which means “all for Germany” in Norwegian, was used by the SA, the paramilitary sub-organisation of Adolf Hitler’s party.

52-year-old Höcke is among the best-known and most powerful leaders in the anti-immigration and anti-Islam AfD. In September, he stands for election as head of government in Thuringia. AfD has great support in the opinion polls in the state.

The former history teacher pleaded not guilty when the case went to court, and the defenders asked for a full acquittal. The prosecution believed he was fully aware of the slogan’s origin and meaning, but Höcke himself claimed that he thought it was an “everyday expression”.

– You are an eloquent, intelligent man who knows what you are saying, said judge Jan Stengel to Höcke in court.

– If this judgment is upheld, freedom of expression is dead in Germany. The possibility of dissent is at stake, Höcke wrote in an English-language message on X after the conviction.

Höcke has never sat in the national leadership of the AfD, but he is considered very influential in the eleven-year-old party, which has moved increasingly further to the far right wing of German politics.

It is doubtful that the judgment against Höcke will have any significant political consequences for Höcke. Legally, it has no bearing on his candidacy.

Displaying Nazi slogans and symbols is prohibited in Germany, and violations can result in fines or imprisonment for up to three years. The verdict against Höcke is a fine of 13,000 euros, equivalent to just over NOK 150,000.

Both parties can appeal the ruling.

On a national basis, the AfD has a support of around 18 per cent in opinion polls. In Thuringia and Saxony, both parts of the former communist East Germany, support in the polls ahead of this autumn’s elections has been up to around 30 per cent.

(© NTB)

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