Heinz-Christian Strache

Austria’s Far Right, Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache plays the victim after his latest gaff:

“(Reuters) – The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is taking a public relations beating after refusing to apologize for likening anti-fascist protesters to a Nazi mob and his supporters to Jews.

Heinz-Christian Strache’s comment that “We are the new Jews” to an undercover journalist at a Vienna ball that critics say draws right-wing extremists has caused uproar and triggered at least a temporary setback for his resurgent euroskeptic party. “

Surprisingly, at least 11% of Austrians thought this neofascist in a suit fit to be Austria’s Chancellor, but as the Guardian reminded us in 2008:

“The far-right triumph was greater than its breakthrough in 1999 when Haider’s Freedom party came second in a general election with 27% of the vote and entered government, sparking a crisis that saw Austria isolated internationally.

Strache, who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa “female ninjas” “

The Indy has more:

“The Viennese ball might have escaped with UNESCO’s rap on the knuckles, had it not been for an initially unreported anti-Semitic tirade delivered from Strache’s ballroom box to some 3,000 of his right wing guests last Friday, describing Austria’s far-right as the “New Jews”.

By yesterday it had become the focus of a blistering political row about everyday anti-Semitism and the disturbing, yet seemingly inexorable, rise of popular right-wing Austrian nationalism.

Referring to the protesters outside, Mr Strache told his audience they should not be prepared to have their “wonderful cultural party” ruined by protesters whom he described as “anti-democratic perpetrators of violence”. He then claimed the violence outside was like “Kristallnacht” – the 1938 Nazi pogrom that foreshadowed the Holocaust – and declared to his ball guests: “We are the new Jews!” Reports in the Austrian press subsequently revealed that Strache’s Freedom Party aide, Klaus Nittmann, had referred to the yellow star the Nazi regime forced Jews to wear and told ball guests: “Organisations behind the ball end up getting a Jewish Star pinned on them.”

And in what was seen by many as adding insult to injury, last Friday’s Vienna student ball just happened to fall on Holocaust remembrance day – the anniversary of the Soviet army’s liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. Eva Glawischnig, head of Austria’s Green Party, suggested that those who attended were effectively “dancing on the graves of Auschwitz”. The organisers chose to ignore the charge.

Austria’s Jewish community has since been sufficiently outraged and insulted to demand that state prosecutors investigate Strache. Austria’s ruling centrist People’s Party described his words as a “slap in the face for all victims of the Nazis’ criminal regime”. Strache’s Freedom Party dismissed the criticism as “artificial and ridiculous outrage”, while Strache himself said he did not intend to “play down the agony forced upon the Jews”.

Yet his outburst has raised more disturbing questions about his party, an organisation which is now Austria’s second political force. It made huge gains in recent Vienna city elections with a virulently Islamophobic campaign.”

So the spectre of fascism hasn’t really died, just changed into a sharper suit and plays the victim.

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