Swiss Court Rules That Closed Neo-Nazi Meeting Can Be Considered Public

The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that a closed door, invitation only, gathering of neo-Nazis could be defined as a public meeting and therefore subject to the country's anti-racism law. Professor Marcel Niggli of Freiberg University said that the ruling clarified a legal grey area and would give local authorities legal powers to refuse to hire out rooms for racist meetings.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has criticised the move as an assault on the right to free assembly. The party, which counts Justice Minister Christoph Blocher amongst its members, said the ruling “virtually eliminates the private sphere”, and takes the fight against racism well beyond the boundaries set by the 1994 anti-racism law.

Explaining its ruling, however, the court said a discussion would not be considered public or held to break the law, provided listeners and participants knew one another through family, friendship, work or the community.

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