As reported in the news feed last week, ten members plus seven other associates of the Austrian Identitaire movement (Identitäre Bewegung Österreich) have been charged with hate crimes. The article below from ORF Styria describes the legal action in more detail.
To a non-Austrian observer, the crackdown by the authorities may seem perplexing. A few months ago a new right-wing government took office in Austria — a coalition of the ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei, Austrian People’s Party) and the FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Austrian Freedom Party). The new government’s positions are very close to those of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — that is, they oppose mass migration, object to the diktats of Brussels, and call for stronger border control. So why would they go after the Identitarians?
The government’s actions are largely based on the policies of the FPÖ and its leader Heinz-Christian Strache. However, the FPÖ is the junior partner in the coalition, while the ÖVP is the senior partner. All indications are that Chancellor Sebastian “Boy” Kurz is a cynical opportunist with no discernible principles — he saw which way the political winds were blowing in Austria and trimmed his sails accordingly. It seems likely that the crackdown on the Identitaires is simply a move to nobble a potential rival power center.
So what does Mr. Strache think of all of this? Throughout his career his ideological positions have been very similar to those of the Identitaires. If his opinions — unlike those of his boss — are held sincerely, the blatant crackdown on the Identitaires must surely not sit well with him.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Incitement: Ten Identitarians Accused
The State’s Attorney of Graz has charged ten leading members of the Identitarian Movement — also estimated by Security as right-extremist. They are accused of incitement and criminal association.
As early as April, there were house searches at the homes of Identitarian spokesman Martin Sellner and co-leader Patrick Lenart. Now the State’s Attorney of Graz has charged ten leading representatives of the Identitarian Movement Austria (IBÖ) as well as seven other sympathizers with incitement and criminal association and to an extent, criminal mischief and coercion.
According to the authorities, most of the accused had already participated in 2012 in founding the “Organization for Preservation and Furtherance of Cultural Identity.” Besides the registered members there are a number of actively supportive sympathizers.
The rightist-extreme group is financed to a great extent by member donations. “The members see European cultural identity threatened by multiculturalism, liberalism and Islamization. The IBÖ and its activists are striving for the strict separation of peoples living in Europe, and reject the cultural ‘mixing’ of ethnicities,” says the statement from state Security.
“Islam and Islamist Terror Made Equivalent”
Since the founding of the movement in Austria, its representatives have attempted “to spread their xenophobic ideology through provocative actions, comments on the internet, demonstrations, regular local meetings, posters, as well as the sale of propaganda material by way of an enterprise founded in 2016 solely for that purpose.”
In the process, the prosecution explained, the group also made use of the public’s steadily mounting fear of radical Islamist terror attacks, in oder to represent Islam and any Muslim or Muslim group as potential terrorists.
Since the beginning of 2016, the leading members of the group have succeeded with often spectacular actions to raise the group’s public profile.
A “flourishing enterprise” has been built with their mail-order sale of uniform-like vests, jackets, pants and buttons, posters and stickers with the group’s logos, as well as books and tapes.
According to the charges, the goal of redeeming society has produced for two of the accused not only a regular income, but also the financing of some of the actions that boost the revenue of their right-extremist undertaking.
Many of the group’s actions are discussed in the charges. In April, 2016, several of the accused persons and other unknowns put a banner saying “Islamization Kills” on the roof of the building containing the office of the Styrian Green Party.
One of the leading members poured fake blood over the banner and announced through a megaphone that he Greens and SPÖ [socialists] had imported terrorism to Europe and were responsible for it. There was blood on the hands of the Greens and SPÖ, and that was why there was blood on the roof of their party headquarters.
According to the prosecution, a propaganda film of this action was broadcast on the internet with further “highly Islam-hostile phases” for instance “Islamization and immigration are killing Europe. How many more terrorist attacks does it take for you to wake up? Defend yourself and become active. Come to the movement, the Identitarian Movement.”
Another disruptive action by the right-extremists listed in the charges was at the University of Klagenfurt. In July, 2016, several of the accused and others stormed a lecture hall during a lecture on asylum and immigration and unfurled at the podium banners with “Stop Immigration” and “Integration is a Lie.” They distributed leaflets titled “Integration is a Lie” and pantomimed a stoning. A video of this action was also made and shown on the internet.
In March, 2017, two of the accused and others broke into a locked cabinet in the stairwell of a Viennese home to get onto the roof, and fastened there a 5 by 6 meter (16’ by 20’) banner with the silhouette of Prince Eugene of Savoy and “Erdogan — fetch your Turks home!”
“Objectives: Stoking Hatred and Contempt”
The objective of these actions and publicity-driven propaganda for the leading members of the right extremist group, says the Graz prosecutor, is “to stoke hatred against Islamic religious society and especially Turkish citizens, and degrade and make these groups contemptible to the public.” And that corresponds to the charge of incitement. The authorities are proceeding on the assumption that the IBÖ is a criminal organization set up so that its members commit incitement and malicious mischief.
The relevant sentence for the activities of the criminal enterprise is up to three years imprisonment.
|1.||Successful commander of the armies of the Holy Roman Empire; his fame was secured by his victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Zenta in 1697.