A far-right party in Switzerland plans to push ahead with a rock concert for its supporters despite having their event banned by cantonal police.
The nationalist Partei National Orientierter Schweizer (PNOS), claimed on their Facebook page that the concert would go ahead, though they did not announce precisely where. The event was originally planned for St Gallen, in eastern Switzerland.
Cantonal police there said on Tuesday they had forbidden the event to preserve “public security and order”, although they had not received an actual application for a permit.
In response, PNOS wrote on their Facebook page that “there are 25 other cantons where we can celebrate undisturbed”, and disregarded the police decision entirely in another post to the page.
The party added that it will “of course take action against this legal order. The concert will take place regardless (possibly in St Gallen), with or without the blessing of the St Gallen cantonal police.”
Though the group did not specify a location for the concert, it said the event will take place in Switzerland on Saturday and instructs people to call a mobile phone number on that day to find out the location. The group warned it would take legal action if authorities try to stop musicians from entering Switzerland to perform at the concert.
A previous controversial concert
A similar event in October 2016 attracted controversy, as the local commune in St Gallen gave permission for the event to go ahead but said they were not informed of the type of bands that would be playing. Around 5,000 people showed up, rather than the hundreds that they were expecting.
After investigating claims of violations of anti-racism laws, the St Gallen prosecutor’s office said that no criminal act could be established.
How big a problem is rightwing extremism in Switzerland?
The Federal Intelligence Services (FIS) have no figures on the number of rightwing extremists in Switzerland. Their 2016 annual report said the situation is largely calm but the potential for violence exists in both rightwing and leftwing extremist circles.
In 2015, there were 28 incidents connected with violent rightwing extremism and 199 incidents connected with violent leftwing extremism of which the FIS is aware.
Although Switzerland has anti-racism laws that cover elements of rightwing extremism, in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that making a Nazi salute in public does not violate these laws, provided the person “is only expressing their own Nazi convictions”.