Austria: Outcry over anti-Semitic cartoon

2012-08-20 15:30
Jewish people (AP, File)

Jewish people (AP, File)

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Vienna - The leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) was under fire on Monday from the Jewish community and politicians after posting on Facebook an apparent anti-Semitic caricature.

The cartoon, posted on Saturday and since slightly amended, showed an overweight man with a crooked nose and cufflinks with the Star of David in front of plates of food, while an emaciated man looked on.

The fat man represented the banking system and his thin companion the people, according to the legend.

But the resemblance to old anti-Semitic cartoons drew severe condemnation on Monday.

"It's not a coincidence that a caricature of Jews, like the ones in [Nazi newspaper] 'Stuermer' in the 1930s and 1940s appeared on the Facebook page of FPOe leader Strache," the president of the Jewish community Oskar Deutsch said.

The Greens called it "pure provocation" and Socialist deputy Petra Bayr said she was "deeply shocked" by these "new anti-Semitic and Islamophobic verbal slips" from Strache.

Threat to sue

Over the weekend, the FPOe leader had also posted another picture on Facebook, taken at a local fest and showing him next to a roast suckling pig with the rhymes: "Isst du Schwein, darfst du rein" (If you eat pork, you can come in).

The picture remains on his page but the caption has disappeared.

"It's about time the FPOe finally did something against the incendiary and discriminating tones within the party itself," the secretary of the conservative People's Party urged Monday.

A Vienna lawyer has meanwhile threatened to sue the FPOe for incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Austria.

Strache however insists that the cartoon was only meant as criticism of a banking system that is growing increasingly powerful at the expense of the people.

He has repeatedly rejected any accusation of anti-Semitism but FPOe campaign posters often boast Islamophobic slogans.

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