LISBON, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- A far-right nationalist conference convened on Saturday here amid strong protests, aiming at exchange of ideas about the future of Europe and fighting against corruption, according to Portuguese Lusa News Agency.
The event was organized by the Portuguese New Social Order movement (NOS) and attended by about 70 people from six far-right European parties, including members like Josele Sanchez (Spain), Blagovest Asenov (Bulgaria), Francesca Rizzi (Italy), Mattias Deyda (Germany), Yvan Benedetti (France).
Adrianna Gasiorek of Poland, who had a confirmed presence, did not attend the congress, according to Lusa.
"We are a target to shoot down, we are aware of that," NOS leader Mario Machado said, who was once convicted of multiple hate crimes and racial discrimination, recalling that NOS was the only political organization to be expelled from Facebook.
The meeting triggered strong protests from a total of 65 anti-fascist organizations -- 28 Portuguese and 37 foreign. Around 2,000 protesters held demonstrations in downtown Lisbon.
Protesters believed that the conference should be banned for violation of Portuguese constitution, saying that racism is not opinion but a crime.
Quoted by Lusa, leader of the SOS Racism association Mamadou Ba said the demonstration is a warning cry to defend democracy as it is threatened with "the rise of fascism and populism".
"It's a cry of citizenship. The objective is to make a public warning about the meeting of openly declared racist organizations, whose existence in itself is an affront to the constitution of the Portuguese republic," he said.
The anti-fascist organizations signed a manifesto against the "nationalist conference" and launched an electronic public petition calling for a ban on the initiative.
In the petition, which already has nearly 10,000 signatures within a week, anti-fascist groups claim that the protest is aimed at giving a clear message of the Portuguese people "Neo-Nazis are not welcome! Fascism never again! "
This document demands that the meeting be prevented, claiming that the Constitution prohibits the existence of "racist or supporting fascist ideology or even promoting violence".