German court tells Munich Hofbraeukeller to host right-wing AfD

Frauke Petry and the Hofbraeukeller Image copyright Hofbraeukeller/AFP
Image caption AfD leader Frauke Petry is due to speak to party members on Friday evening

A Munich beer hall where Adolf Hitler launched his political career has been ordered to overturn a ban on a meeting by right-wing populist party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD).

AfD had booked the Hofbraeukeller for an address by party leader Frauke Petry to hundreds of supporters.

But the beer hall cancelled the booking after the party agreed a policy that Islam was "not part of Germany".

Landlord Ricky Steinberg said he feared protests outside the venue.

He said that under the terms of the contract he was entitled to call off Friday evening's meeting on grounds of security. "I could really do without the hullaballoo," he was quoted as saying.

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But the Munich district court ruled on Thursday that the beer hall was tied to the rental contract. AfD officials said they had already paid a €6,100 (£4,800; $7,000) deposit for the event.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The centre-left SPD (pictured) and other mainstream parties have held meetings at the beer hall before

AfD officials have suggested that the beer hall was leant on by the mainstream political parties to ban the event. They argued that they had offered to provide the venue with security and insisted that no protest against the meeting had been planned.

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Mr Steinberg has run the Hofbraeukeller for almost 20 years and it has been widely used by mainstream parties in the past, including Bavaria's centre-right CSU and the centre-left SPD.

However, its historical connection to Adolf Hitler is particularly relevant in Germany now, with the AfD adopting policies that are synonymous with the far right.

Hitler gave his first political speech at the Hofbraeukeller in September 1919.

The AfD's founder, economics professor Bernd Lucke, resigned in July 2015 as the movement - originally focused on pulling Germany out of the euro - moved farther to the right.

The new leader, Frauke Petry, said in January this year that police should have the right to shoot at migrants "if necessary", to prevent illegal border crossings.

Then, on 1 May, an AfD conference adopted a ban on minarets, the Muslim call to prayer and the full-face veil, with a motion that said Islam was "not part of Germany".

While the AfD has gradually embraced right-wing, populist policies, it is also forging ahead in opinion polls.

Latest polls suggest it commands 15% of the vote, five points behind the centre-left SPD.

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