Court nixes assembly ban in German town hit by violence

Court nixes assembly ban in German town hit by violence

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court on Saturday overturned a weekend ban on assemblies in an eastern town where anti-foreigner violence a week ago shook the country.

Local authorities had imposed a blanket ban on all public assemblies in Heidenau, near Dresden, through Monday morning. The move came after a far-right mob a week ago hurled bottles and fireworks at police protecting a temporary shelter being set up for 600 refugees.

A regional court allowed a welcome party for refugees to take place Friday but otherwise upheld the ban. However, the Federal Constitutional Court lifted the ban completely on Saturday, citing a lack of evidence that allowing any public gathering would lead to an "unmanageable emergency."

Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Heidenau on Wednesday and said what happened there was "shameful and repulsive." On Saturday, a few thousand people demonstrated in Dresden in favor of refugees and against anti-foreigner sentiment.

Germany has been largely welcoming to a massive influx of migrants this year, but attacks on them and shelters have also increased.

Among recent fires that worried authorities was one Wednesday at a gym near refugee accomodation in Berlin. Police said Saturday, however, that an 8-year-old boy told them he and other refugee children had been playing with fire and that apparently set off the blaze.

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