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Anti-fascist protests in Portugal as European far-right groups attend a conference

Anti-fascist protests in Portugal as European far-right groups attend a conference
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Members of far-right groups from across Europe attended a conference in Lisbon despite opposition protests.

The gathering was organised by the country's rightwing Nova Ordem Social movement.

The group's leader, Mario Machado, was released from prison in 2017 after serving ten years for crimes including racial discrimination.

"We respect the (anti-fascist) protests," claimed Machado. "We think they should do it because it's helpful in bringing visibility to our conference. We'd like it if they went out and protested every time we organise an event. That would be very positive. But we really believe in freedom of speech."

Only around 65 people attended the conference. Outside the venue, a larger crowd of protesters voiced their opposition to the meeting and to fascism.

Prime minister Antonio Costa has been heavily criticised for allowing it to take place

"These conferences shouldn't be allowed to happen in our country where new racist, fascist movements from different countries gather," explained left-wing lawmaker and protester Isabel Pires.

"From our point of view, this should not be allowed and we already had the opportunity to say this in the protest and I maintain this position."

Portugal does have a far-right party, the PNR, but it only drew 0.5% of the vote in the elections and the country remains one of four in Europe with no far-right representation in parliament.

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