BERLIN, March 20 (Xinhua) -- The German federal government decided on Wednesday to support a bid by the 16 states to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) instead of filing a separate request with the Constitutional Court.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the cabinet decided it was not necessary to file its own request to ban the NPD, adding that the government will support the activities of the states in this question, local media reported.
Germany is taking steps to ban the far-right NPD, which has an "anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic position" and was related to Hitler's Nazis, according to a government-commissioned report.
The party, which has about 6,300 members in 2011, has seats in parliaments of two states in eastern Germany: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony.
The movement to ban the NPD started last December as German state premiers unanimously agreed to seek a legal ban on the party.
The decision on the possible ban has to be made by Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. It will be the second bid to ban the party since the first attempt to outlaw the NPD in 2003 failed as the judge questioned the legitimacy of the evidence because informants were used as witnesses.
Merkel's junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), opposed any ban request by the federal government, saying the risk of another failure was too great and the far-right party's ideologies must be fought by political, rather than legal, means.
Demands for a ban on the party intensified after it was found out last year that a neo-Nazi terror group was involved in the murders of nine immigrants and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007, triggering calls for a crackdown on right-wing extremism.
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