BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's highest court ordered public broadcaster ARD to air a small neo-Nazi party's election campaign clip, overturning a ban on the advertisement imposed on grounds that it amounted to incitement against foreigners.
Last month ARD refused an advert by the National Democratic Party (NDP) for its European Parliament election campaign in which it calls for the creation of "safe zones" for Germans who have become "victims" of mass immigration.
A Berlin court rejected an NPD appeal against ARD's decision. The Federal Constitutional Court overturned that decision, saying it infringed on the NPD's right to campaign and put it at a disadvantage against other parties.
"A constitutional complaint (by the NPD) is therefore at the moment neither inadmissible nor unfounded," the court ruled.
The NPD is hoping to make gains in the European Parliament, where it has one lawmaker, in elections later this month.
Two years ago, the Constitutional Court said the NPD resembled Adolf Hitler's Nazi party but stopped short of banning it because it was too weak to endanger democracy.
Nationalist, anti-EU parties in the European Parliament blame the EU's open border policy for a surge in migrant arrivals in 2015, mainly Muslims fleeing wars in the Middle East.
The NPD doesn't belong to any bloc in the European Parliament.
Its advertisement features a voice-over saying: "Since the arbitrary opening of the border in 2015 and the uncontrolled mass migration that followed, Germans have become almost daily victims." The voice-over is accompanied by images of crime scenes and names of victims of violence, including murder.
The NPD and Germany's main far-right opposition party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), both say crime is on the rise because of an influx of mainly young Muslim men.
Germany's interior minister said earlier this week that anti-Semitic crime had risen 20% last year and blamed most incidents on individuals espousing far-right world views.
Germany's Jews are alarmed by the rise of the AfD, whose leaders have been accused of playing down Nazi crimes and for having described a national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as a "memorial of shame."
The AfD entered the Bundestag (national lower house of parliament) for the first time in an election in 2017, a feat that has eluded the NPD since its founding in the 1960s.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Heinrich)