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German court orders removal of 'Hang the Greens' posters

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Election campaign is in full swing as Germans prepare to cast the ballot on Sunday.
Election campaign is in full swing as Germans prepare to cast the ballot on Sunday.   -   Copyright  Michael Sohn/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A German court has ordered a small far-right party to take down election posters with the slogan "Hang the Greens", overturning a decision by a lower court and ruling that the posters were a danger to public safety.

Earlier this month, authorities in the eastern city of Zwickau had said that the tiny Third Way party must remove the posters.

The party appealed to an administrative court in Chemnitz, which declared that it was unclear whether the conditions to limit freedom of expression were fulfilled and ruled that the posters could stay — though it stipulated that they must be kept at a minimum 100-metre distance from the Green party's posters.

Zwickau appealed that decision. On Tuesday, Saxony state's highest administrative court found that the slogan amounted to incitement and the posters constituted a danger to public safety, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

Judges said a much smaller sentence on the posters — "make our nationalist-revolutionary movement known with poster advertising in our party colours in the city and in the countryside" — made no difference to the verdict, and that most people wouldn't notice it.

In a separate ruling on Friday, a court in Munich banned the party from using the same slogan in public there.

The environmentalist Greens are one of three parties running for the chance to put forth Germany's next leader after Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday's parliamentary election.

Merkel, 67, is not running for reelection.

Also on Tuesday, Armin Laschet — the candidate for chancellor of Merkel's center-right bloc — said he was grateful for "cross-party solidarity" after someone altered posters in Cologne with his image and the slogan "Entschlossen fuer Deutschland" (Determined for Germany) to read "Erschossen fuer Deutschland" (Shot dead for Germany).

"We are seeing aggression at the moment that is not good for the country," Laschet said. He also welcomed the Munich ruling against the "Hang the Greens" posters.