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Friday, 3 December 2010

German president becomes honorary godfather to neo-Nazi baby

Christian Wulff, the president of Germany, has sparked a row after becoming the honorary godfather to a child whose parents are alleged to have links to neo-Nazis.

It is traditional in Germany for large families to apply to the president's office to have him become the honorary spiritual guide for the seventh child.

When the parents from Lalendorf, eastern Germany, wrote to him, his office replied saying the president would be "delighted" to act as his honorary godfather, enclosing a parchment scroll and a cheque for 500 euros (£420).

The father works for a "eugenics institute", while his wife is a leading figure in the far-right women's group.

The mayor of the town where they live refused to hand over the parchment and money honouring the child, sending them back to the president's office.

Norbert Nieszery, local party head of the Social Democrat SPD party, wrote to President Wulff stating; "These parents are clearly prominent in the right-wing extremist scene.

"They have a high political goal: the abolishment of the democratic state based on law. They should not have an honour from the federal president to bandy about and claim with it that their aims are honourable."

A spokesman for Mr Wulff's office explained however that they went round state officials and sent the money and certificate directly to the family.

"The child is at the centre of this," the spokesman said, explaining that the honour was not for the parents.

Everyone is, however, encouraged to "ensure an atmosphere where children are raised to respect democracy," the spokesman added.