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German lawmakers booted for neo-Nazi garb

JOERN HAUFE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Police escorted eight NPD members out of Saxony’s Parliament for their alleged ‘‘openly provocative act.’’

BERLIN - The president of Saxony’s state Parliament expelled eight far-right lawmakers from the assembly Wednesday for wearing clothes favored by German neo-Nazis.

The National Democratic Party lawmakers refused to remove T-shirts and shirts from the Thor Steinar company in an “openly provocative act,’’ Parliament spokesman Ivo Klatte said.

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The brand, with its runic symbols and Nordic themes, is popular among neo-Nazis in Germany, even though the company has distanced itself from far-right extremism in the past.

The lawmakers were banned from Parliament’s next three sessions after refusing to change or leave, Klatte said. They left voluntarily only after police entered the assembly hall to enforce their expulsion.

Parliament’s rules forbid clothes, posters, or stickers expressing a political opinion in the assembly hall, Klatte said.

Thor Steinar clothes are “typical for the far-right scene,’’ and assembly president Matthias Roessler said that wearing them amounted to an overt expression of a political opinion, Klatte said.

Lawmakers from center-left and far-left opposition parties have been sanctioned in the past for wearing political stickers or posters in Parliament.

The National Democratic Party lawmakers said the shirts were worn as a protest action targeted at the rules banning such clothes, said party spokesman Thorsten Thomsen.

“No caucus member was wearing clothes that explicitly express a political opinion,’’ he said, adding that Thor Steinar was merely a fashion brand.

The National Democratic Party entered the state Parliament in 2004 with eight lawmakers. A year later members caused outrage when they walked out instead of observing a moment of silence for Holocaust victims.

In 2008, on the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s elevation to German chancellor, the party’s lawmakers in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania refused to rise from their seats during a moment of silence in honor of the Nazis’ victims.

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