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Extremism

Politician's anti-neo-Nazi speech becomes YouTube hit

A young Social Democrat politician spoke out against xenophobia at a rally of Germany's right-wing NPD party. The video of his speech became a YouTube favorite, even though - or because - the NPD is trying to ban it.

Patrick Dahlemann has more than 5,000 Facebook friends - and that number is growing by the hour. He's become a hero in a matter of days since he posted a video that's been giving the right-wing National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) party a headache. The video shows him delivering a fervent speech against xenophobia and the NPD's policies and makes a heartfelt plea for more humanity.

Here's how it happened.

The NPD held a rally in late July against plans to set up a home for asylum seekers in a small town in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. A few NPD members and supporters had planted themselves in front of the estate that was supposed to be converted into the asylum-seekers' home. The NPD is stronger in eastern Germany than the rest of the country and especially strong in smaller towns and rural regions. Stefan Köster, the state's NPD leader, was there chanting the party's xenophobic slogans.

The 25-year-old Social Democratic Party (SPD) member Patrick Dahlemann was in the audience and wanted to refute Köster. Astonishingly, the NPD politician gave the microphone to Dahlemann. Ignoring the heckling from the audience, Dahlemann made a plea, "Please don't fall for what these neo-Nazis are telling you."

The whole thing was filmed and Dahlemann has used excerpts from this video to make his own short film. It shows the Social Democrat's own speech and parts of Köster's speech. Dahlemann commented on the NPD politician's statements and also talks to a police officer who confirmed that Köster's slogans were xenophobic. The film's goal is to educate and sensitize people to the NPD's far-right propaganda.

Fight against the Hydra

Dahlemann recently uploaded the film to his YouTube channel. The video became popular quickly and garnered 180,000 clicks in just a few days. But then it was suddenly gone.

The NPD managed to convince YouTube to delete the clip. Their reason: the party owns any pictures or videos of their events. Viewers looking for the film on YouTube only got the message that the video was not available anymore because of copyright issues involving the NPD.

But the right-wing party hasn't reacted quickly enough. Many users have uploaded the clip to YouTube themselves. It seems that as soon the NPD has one link deleted, two others pop up.

"The NPD is trying to ban this video from the Internet," one YouTube user wrote. "Me and many other people are trying to prevent that from happening. That's why I, too, posted the video on YouTube and Google+."

An man with a shaved head is shown from behind in front of an NPD flag. (Photo: picture-alliance/ dpa)

The NPD holds no seats in the German parliament but is represented in two eastern German states

Dahlemann's speech is not the first video that's causing trouble for the NPD. In 2007, Germany's famous transvestite Olivia Jones reported from the NPD party convention for a German TV channel and asked attendees why people should vote for the NPD. Hardly any party members were able to answer the question. Jones and her camera crew had plenty of time to show up the rightwing xenophobes. A satire magazine uploaded the video online and it has become an instant hit with more than 2 million hits.

"He should run for chancellor"

Dahlemann's efforts weren't about ridiculing the NPD, but exposing how the NPD tries to lure in new voters. That has made him German Internet users' new favorite politician.

"Awesome, great, he should run for chancellor," one user wrote. Another proclaimed: "I am really excited by this kind of commitment. To stand up in front of a crowd of neo-Nazis is truly impressive."

Dahlemann said he is happy about all the support and shrugged off the inevitable threats from the right. He announced on his Facebook page that the short film "can be found on numerous sites and video platforms." Facebook users have also showered him with praise and support: "Respect! This is the right way to deal with these people. Fantastic. Stick to your guns."

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