Thousands join protests in Vienna against Austrian ball for 'far-right'
Freedom Party event welcomed Marine le Pen and 'extremists'
Saturday 25 January 2014
Protestors were arrested in Vienna last night as around 6,000 people gathered in the streets to demonstrate against a ball held by the right-wing Freedom Party.
Police said around 12 people were apprehended as tensions boiled over and demonstrators damaged shops and police vehicles.
They were opposing the annual Academics’ Ball, which is seen by some as a magnet for the far-right fringe.
Freedom Party officials deny that, and say they are the target of left-wing extremists.
Police are being criticised for declaring parts of the demonstration area off-limits for journalists.
They said it was to protect reporters from injury but Austrian news organisations argued the decision restricted media freedoms.
Officials had shut off large sections of the inner city ahead of the ball in the imperial Hofburg palace, which is an annual flashpoint for clashes with leftist opponents of the event.
Controversially, police also banned everyone within the city's outer ring road from covering their faces, arguing it could prevent police from identifying potential troublemakers.
The head of the Freedom Party in Vienna, Johann Gudenus, told a news conference on Tuesday he defended the right of protesters to demonstrate but said this did not include the use of violence.
A man is arrested during a protest against the staging of an annual ball hosted by an Austrian extreme right party in the centre of Vienna on January 24, 2014 “That is the fascism of the 21st century,” he said.
His remarks recalled Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache's reported description of himself and other ball-goers as the “new Jews” after some visitors were intimidated by protesters at the 2012 Akademikerball, which was held that year on International Holocaust Remembrance day.
The organisation “Jetzt Zeichen Setzen!” (Take a Stand Now), which campaigns for remembrance of victims of Nazism, published an open letter this month against the ball signed by six Holocaust survivors.
“As survivors of the Nazi era, we are stunned that the Hofburg, which belongs to the republic, is still opening its doors to representatives of extreme-right organisations from Austria and Europe,” it said.
In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria, whose 200,000-strong Jewish population was wiped out in the Holocaust.
The ball has previously attracted such far-right luminaries as French National Front leader Marine le Pen.
Last year, nine protesters were arrested for civil disorder and two ball-goers were slightly hurt.
Additional reporting by AP and Reuters
- 1 Rice Bucket Challenge: India's take on the Ice Bucket Challenge 'for Indian needs'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Teenager dies after suspected ice bucket challenge goes horribly wrong
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
Matt Damon uses toilet water in ice bucket challenge to stress sanitation issues in developing world
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Rubble Bucket Challenge: Ice Bucket Challenge adapted in solidarity with Gazans whose homes have been destroyed in conflict
Car tax disc changes: Make sure you know the new rules from 1 October or risk £1,000 fine
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading
- < Previous
- Next >
£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...
£50-£60K Plus Benefits: Charter Selection: Highly successful leading womens l...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...