Thousands join protests in Vienna against Austrian ball for 'far-right'

Freedom Party event welcomed Marine le Pen and 'extremists'

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 the Freedom Party's Academics' Ball. 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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam